This week, theScore esports' Dota 2 team takes a look at each of the four teams that qualified for The Manila Major through the regional preliminaries. On Tuesday, we looked at Newbee; today in part 3, we focus on the medley of big names that have come together on Digital Chaos.
Digital Chaos have struggled to qualify for a Valve event since their formation in September 2015, but — just like Team Empire — they managed to pick up a killer roster in the 2016 spring shuffle, and now they're headed to a Major.
Digital Chaos’ roster may be a product of necessity, but necessity is the mother of invention. When Arteezy and Universe left Evil Geniuses to join Team Secret, EG responded by snapping up DC players (and EG alumni) Aui_2000 and Bulba. That left DC with two openings, and two displaced former Shanghai champions, w33 and Misery, looking for a team. DC were able to close the loop on the three-way trade only days before the roster registration deadline.
DC had already made a promising pickup in the months prior to the shuffle, bringing in Resolut1on from the CIS, the former captain of Team Empire who had led them on a premier tournament win streak in early 2015. Though he hadn't yet played at a LAN with DC, Resolut1on formed the kernel of the new roster, as the sole “unchanged” member locked in for The Manila Major and TI6.
Saksa came to Digital Chaos from the European squad Mamas Boys (formerly 4 Clover & Lepricon), but he hasn’t been part of the pro scene for long. He made his skill known after climbing the MMR leaderboard and hitting the lofty 8 0 0 0 M A T C H M A K I N G P O I N T S mark. Unlike star 8k players Miracle- and QO, Saksa plays the four-position support role.
Moo is the sole NA Dota player on the squad — a bizarre situation, given that the team lives, practices and competes in America. He came to DC as another roster shuffle orphan, after Team Archon tried to register for The Manila Major and discovered to their dismay that their position-four support had been banned by Valve.
Moo has been playing on various NA Dota squads since 2013, but his first major team was ROOT Gaming, which he joined in early 2015; he then briefly moved to Team FIRE, which was signed by Team Archon. His most impressive credential is having qualified for The Shanghai Major with Archon, though they were knocked out in the group stage with a 0-4 game record.
The post-Shanghai shuffle would be the second time the organization took in Valve tournament winners who'd been kicked shortly after taking a championship. Rosters gonna shuffle, and SUNSfan’s gonna pick up the pieces. But this time, he didn’t just land champions but there’s a full roster that can back them up.
So far, however, the new Digital Chaos have had very few chances to prove themselves. The only official matches they’ve played have been in domestic qualifiers, often against minor teams. In the ESL One Frankfurt Americas Qualifier, they took two easy games off Brazilian squad T Show — each clocking in at under 30 minutes — before running out of steam against their NA rivals, Shazam. The 2-1 semifinal loss spelled the end of their run in the single elimination bracket, and unfortunately fans didn't get to see how DC would match up against compLexity, currently the region's second strongest team and the eventual winner of the qualifier.
At The Manila Major Qualifier, DC cleaned house in their group, with four 2-0 victories giving them top seed in the playoff round. With compLexity and EG invited to Manila, their biggest competition at the qualifier was once again Shazam, though the two teams didn't meet until the winner's bracket final. When they did clash, Shazam once again gave DC trouble, sending them to the lower bracket.
Dragneel (the winners of the first Americas Open Qualifier) were waiting in the loser’s final, but a frustrating and disappointing sequence of events led to a double forfeit, which cleared the way to a Grand Final rematch with Shazam. It was in their third meeting that DC finally found their footing against their rivals. Three sub-30 minute games later, they claimed their spot in The Manila Major.
Even with that victory, however, DC avoided the most dangerous teams in NA: compLexity, who made it into the Top 8 at Shanghai and have one of the most stable rosters that will be headed to Manila, and Evil Geniuses, who still carry four-fifths of the roster that won The International 5. DC will not only have to prove that they can compete on the international stage, but that they can contest the top teams in their own region.
Unlike Team Archon at The Shanghai Major, Digital Chaos have a great shot at making waves at The Manila Major. From the look of their games, they haven't had the initial problems that have plagued Team Secret and EG since their three-way roster swap. A Top 3 finish would be a very long shot to hope for — but they definitely won’t be pushovers.
Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.