posted by Abelle,
EPICENTER XL will be an important event for every team competing but for a few, it could make the difference for a direct invite to The International 2018.

There aren't many teams left on the Dota Pro Circuit this year who have both secured themselves some points and remain eligible for a direct invite to TI. Many have made roster changes — even teams with several points secured whose continued direct invites have frustrated the community, like in OG's case. For those few teams left, the final four Majors and one Minor are more important than ever to further secure their place in the Top 8 and a spot at the most prestigious and lucrative event of the year. For two teams at EPICENTER XL, securing points is especially crucial. They are PSG.LGD and Natus Vincere.

A precarious position

PSG.LGD's Chalice at Starladder | i-League Invitational #4
Photo source: StarLadder

PSG.LGD currently sit in 8th place on the DPC ranking. They're a fair way ahead of the teams behind them — 487 from Evil Geniuses in 9th and 622 from Na`Vi. The closer race is the spread of teams between 8th and 5th place. The total number of points seperating LGD from Newbee's 5th place spot is just 398. Fourth place at EPICENTER wouldn't be enough for LGD to overtake the pack, but it would bump them up to 7th as things currently stand.

Considering LGD's impressive 2nd place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018, they are very likely to climb the ranks after this event. The two teams currently ahead of them in the ranking are VGJ.Thunder and Vici Gaming but neither of them are at EPICENTER. Newbee sits in 5th, but if they continue to struggle like they did at DAC they might not make Top 4.

The best LGD could do after EPICENTER is to add the 1st place bounty of 2250 points to their tally. As things currently stand, that would be enough to put them in 4th place — but not enough to guarantee an invite to TI. As of the latest DPC results, statsman and math whiz Ben "Noxville" Steenhuisen has calculated that the cutoff currently sits at 5402, and winning EPICENTER would get LGD to 4072.

LGD will have a couple more chances for points before the Pro Circuit ends — they've already qualified for both the China Dota 2 Supermajor and Mars Media Dota 2 League: Changsha, though they'll miss out on ESL One Birmingham 2018.

If LGD don't grab any points at this event, they stand a chance of losing a spot in the Top 8. Even a team with 0 points could overtake them if that team takes 1st, however unlikely that may be. Only one team remains out of all the EPICENTER teams ranked below LGD who are still eligible for an invite. That's Na`Vi.

Na`Vi's big shot

With just 622 points between them and LGD, Na`Vi stand a fair chance of cracking the Top 8 at this event. If they can pull off securing a TI invite, it would certainly make up for the year they've had and the fact that they missed the first TI in their organization's history last year. This isn't Na`Vi's last chance at points either. They've been directly invited to the Supermajor and grabbed the CIS qualifier spot at ESL One Birmingham. In order to overtake LGD, Na`Vi will need to place 3rd or higher at EPICENTER — and LGD will need to remain where they are.

Even if they don't surpass LGD, another bump in points for Na`Vi will move them in a good direction. 5th place Vici Gaming have three more events to secure points but 6th place VGJ.T have just one.

The trick will be for Na`Vi to actually sustain that level of performance. What we've seen from them in recent months has been mixed at best. Their most recent Majors have been disappointing, with poor finishes in Katowice and Bucharest. On the other hand, the two Minors that followed those events saw some improvement, even a Top 4 in GESC E-Series: Jakarta. Seeing them actually manage to qualify for TI8 feels like an outside chance, but not an impossible one. Even if they don't, they're in a very good position to win CIS qualifiers since are already guaranteed an invite.

Header photo source: StarLadder

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