Dota 2 Rosters Locked! What Do Teams Look Like Heading To The Kiev Major

Na'Vi's Dendi has a lot of new faces around him.Na'Vi's Dendi has a lot of new faces around him.Credit: Daniel Najarian, @missing_data

The Boston Major, to the surprise of absolutely no one, delivered huge amounts of high-quality Dota 2 action. But, as per usual, this was immediately followed by a massive shuffle of pro team rosters. Thankfully, with The International 7 still over the horizon, there were few shocking moves and, seemingly, no particularly bad blood over any transactions.

While add/drop periods are often full of ugliness, this time the proceedings were significantly calmer. Instead of the focus being on which players were surprisingly cut, the focus is on which free-agent players would find new homes and what new teams would form. 

A full list of the roster changes can be found on the official Dota 2 website, but these are the biggest transactions.

ViCi Gaming @ViCi_Gaming

FY (Former VICI Gaming) and Freeze (Former EHOME.L) are joining Team VGJ

Teams That Were Shaken Up

For the most part, teams that performed well at the elite level in 2016 remain intact (or, at least, haven't been heavily changed since the post-TI6 roster lock). Evil Geniuses, Digital Chaos, Newbee and many more remain untouched and have strong footing for the push towards spring's big shows.

Breakout stars like Ad Finem and Team NP are largely in the same boat, holding on to the lineups that brought them to surprising heights. Meanwhile, some teams that seemed doomed to disband after a tumultuous autumn have stuck together.

Most of the action has taken place among teams on the fringe of the international level, replacing just one or two players in the hope that the move can push them over the top. Here are the teams that made the most noteworthy moves:

LGD GamingLGD.FYTeam VG.JVici Gaming
Majors Registration

The most interesting therein is the shuffling of the LGD squads. Both LGD and its sister team, LGD Forever Young, have had a fair bit of success since TI6 and, one way or another, found their way into the Boston Major. 

The retirement of LFY captain (and all-time great player) Zhang "xiao8" Ning has seemingly shifted the organization's priorities, however, with veteran Yao Zhengzheng being swapped from LFY to LGD for Xiao "Jixing" Zhihao and the unheralded Lei "White" Yipei replacing Xiao8. As a result, LGD once again looks like one of China's premiere teams. Unfortunately, that's not the case with LFY.

Both LGD teams were shaken up by Xiao8's retirement.Both LGD teams were shaken up by Xiao8's retirement.Credit: PGLesports

Fellow Chinese conglomerate Vici Gaming made similar trades between its primary VG squad and Team VG.J after both posted ho-hum seasons. Staple players Xu "fy" Linsen and Lu "Fenrir" Chao have been reunited on VG.J in an attempt to recapture the magic that saw the organization become one of Dota 2's best from TI4 through TI5. Xu "Hym" Zhi replaces fy on VG, while pubstar Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang rounds out the team. Much like LGD, one of those squads (VG.J) looks significantly more formidable, while the other (VG) faces an uphill battle.

Moving over to Europe, fan-favorites Natus Vincere hit the reset button on its team for the second time in a 14-month span, and once again look to build a team around the game's most popular star, Danil "Dendi" Ishutin. This time, however, the team looked west to flesh out its roster, retaining Victor "GeneRaL" Nigrini, signing Danish prospect Malthe "Biver" Winther and adding veterans Roman "rmN-" Paley and Per Anders Olsson "Pajkatt" Lille. 

It's an interesting lineup that should be seen as an upgrade, at least in terms of experience and upside. That said, Na'Vi's castoffs Akbar "SoNNeikO" Butaev and Dmitry "Ditya Ra" Minenkov were likely Vega Squadron's gain.

Natus VincereVega SquadronJanuary 25thExecration
PajkattDitya RaEraGabbi
Majors Registration

Escape Gaming is no more as a brand in Dota 2, but Max "qojqva" Broecker, Troels "syndereN" Nielsen and Adrian "Era" Kryeziu are sticking together under a new banner, January 25. The team is rounded out by former Escape sub Kalle "Trixi" Saarinen and former Fnatic.EU core Kai "H4nn1" Hanbuckers. Those are solid replacements for a team that actually made its way into the TI6, but it has a hard road ahead in a crowded field of European teams. 

South Korea's MVP Phoenix may be gone.South Korea's MVP Phoenix may be gone.Credit: PGLesports

The SEA region, unfortunately, is a complete mess at this point. MVP Phoenix is no more and has not registered for the Kiev Major, leaving the fate of the most accomplished crew in Korea unknown. Fnatic is yet to pull together a full-time five-man team after losing three of its players in November. The Team Execration that received an ill-fated direct invite to the Boston Major is all but gone, losing three of its players in the process. 

Finally, a number of other squads that had spots empty after the Boston Major have found replacements. Maurice "KheZu" Gutmann is Team Secret's new offlaner, 9014 MMR player Maroun "GH" Merhej joins Team Secret and Justin Rosselle is officially done with compLexity Gaming, with Jaron "monkeys-forever" Clinton seemingly becoming his full-time replacement.

DemoN has pulled together several other veteran players.DemoN has pulled together several other veteran players.Credit: Daniel Najarian, @missing_data

The New Teams

While there weren't too many teams that underwent serious shakeups, a huge number of new teams with high-level talent were formed. Just take a look:

WanteDTeam OnyxB)earsEHOME
ChessieAbedFATA-old chicken
Majors Registration

There's a lot to sort through there, but the most interesting team (for a variety of reasons) is WanteD. Formed by former Evil Geniuses captain Peter "ppd" Dager, the team brings together former compLexity Gaming standout Rasmus "Chessie" Blomdin, MVP Phoenix carry Kim "QO" Seon-Yeop and NA circuit staple Jio "Jeyo" Madayag in a team that has the pure talent to compete for spots in the Kiev Major and The International 7. 

Of course, the forming of the team raised the eyebrows of many around the esports scene. Dager was recently appointed the CEO of the entire Evil Geniuses organization, and many have questioned whether he (or anyone) can truly juggle an executive position in a company with the unending grind of professional Dota 2. For what it's worth, he discussed this topic in a vlog on his YouTube channel.

WanteD isn't the only new North American team on the scene, though. Dota veterans Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho, Mason Venne and Sam "BuLba" Sosale have teamed up with SEA alums Abed Azel "Abed" Yusop and Kim "DuBu" Doo-Young, previously from Execration and MVP Phoenix, respectively, to form Team Onyx. At face value, the team isn't especially compelling, given how none of them have enjoyed consistent success at the international level. Still, these are five good players that could potentially jell and make noise heading into the Kiev Major.

It wasn't just the North American scene that added new teams, though. Adrian "FATA-" Trinks, who played mid for Team Liquid's excellent 2016, is back after a brief hiatus with his own squad, B)ears. His new crew is a unique blend of talent that includes SEA standouts Lee "Forev" Sang-Don and Adam Erwann Shah "343" bin Akhtar Hussein, alongside EU journeyman Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat and pubstar Feras "Feero" Hroob. There's a lot to like about that lineup, and it will be interesting to see how well they can click and what they're capable of afterward. 

Finally, the roster of Chinese Dota staple EHOME was scattered to the wind after a rough outing at the Boston Major and a ghastly run in season two of the DPL. The sole survivor of 2016's EHOME is Wang "old chicken" Zhiyong, who welcomes a returning Chen "Cty" Tianyu after a run in Vici Gaming, as well as three members of EHOME's sister teams.

Wykrhm Reddy @wykrhm

The Kiev Major will be hosted by @pglesports in beautiful Ukraine in April 2017. It's gonna be lit. #SpringMajor

To the Kiev Major!

It's always difficult to pin down what the future can hold in Dota 2.

A team made up of excellent players will lose to a team of good players that has strong chemistry, making it difficult to feel bullish about any team before seeing them play. Add to that the numerous players that are talented but have not yet been tested at the pro level, then put the still-shifting post-7.00 meta on top, and there are just too many X-factors at play to confidently claim anyone is going anywhere.

The safest bets are the many top-notch teams that remain intact. Wings Gaming, Evil Geniuses, OG, Newbee, Virtus.Pro and Digital Chaos are all proven commodities and, if the completely unsurprising results to ESL One Genting are any indication, that will continue to be the case.

Crazier things have happened, though, and there is a deep pool of talent in action right now. Buckle in, Dota 2 fans. There's a fun ride between here and April's Kiev Major.

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