ESL One Birmingham 2018 is a Dota Pro Circuit Major scheduled to take place in Birmingham, UK between May 23rd and May 27th. The tournament will be attended by 12 of the world’s best teams, has a prize pool of USD $1 million and offers 1500 qualification points for The International 2018.

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Teams at ESL One Birmingham

Participants and competitive format ESL One Birmingham 2018 brings together 12 teams from a total of six regions:

North America: OpTic Gaming, Evil Geniuses

South America: paiN Gaming

Europe: Team Liquid, OG

CIS: Team Spirit, Virtus.pro

China: LGD.Forever Young, Newbee

Southeast Asia: Fnatic, Mineski

Tournament format

For the group stage, the teams will be divided into three groups of four:

Group A
• Evil Geniuses
• Fnatic
• Virtus.pro
• Team Spirit

Group B
• OG
• paiN Gaming
• Team Liquid
• Vici Gaming

Group C
• OpTic Gaming
• LGD.Forever Young
• Mineski
• Newbee

Each of these groups will be played in a double-elimination bracket format (GSL). The third- and fourth-placed teams from every group are eliminated. Second-placed teams advance to the quarter finals. First-placed teams play Bo1 matches against each other to decide who advances directly to the semi finals and who joins the remaining three teams in the quarters. The first- and second-placed teams of these three advance to the semis, while the other must play through the quarter finals.

ESL One prize money

Being a Major on the Dota 2 circuit, ESL One Birmingham 2018 offers not only prize money but qualification points as well. These rewards will be divided among participating teams in the following way:

1st place: 750 points; $500,000

2nd place: 450 points; $200,000

3rd place: 225 points; $100,000

4th place: 75 points; $60,000

5th-6th place: 0 points; $34,000

7th-9th place: 0 points; $16,000

10th-12th place: 0 points; $8,000

Teams to watch

Fnatic

Fnatic is one of those teams with a great roster, enormous potential and consistent results, except there’s one problem: these results are always slightly below what’s required to gain big qualification points for The International 2018 and climb faster in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings. Fnatic got many top four and top six finishes this season, but it still has problems against most of the top teams. The team should do enough to finish top six in Birmingham, but it is unlikely to climb any higher than fifth-sixth.

Vici Gaming

Vici Gaming finished third at the recent MDL Changsha Major. The Chinese team is currently sitting at number six in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and has multiple top four finishes in DPC events this year, including four grand finals. These guys have to be considered an excellent chance to reach the semis.

Newbee

The TI 7 finalists have had a pretty rough season, but the team’s results have been good enough for a top eight placement within the Dota Pro Circuit rankings. Newbee is currently sitting at number seventh in this hierarchy with 2445 points. The team finished fourth at the recent MDL Changsha Major, proving that it’s still one of the world’s best.

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Team Liquid

Team Liquid performs very well when there’s no pressure, so this tournament might just be the perfect opportunity to win another title. Liquid is already qualified for The International 2018, so this is just a rehearsal for the most awaited event of the year. The team is currently sitting at number three in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings with 6084 points, but KuroKy and his squad will surely want to prove to everyone that they’re capable of becoming the first team in the history of Dota to win two TIs. Given the group seedings and the level of opposition at ESL One, Team Liquid has a high chance of reaching the grand final.

Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses have a lot to play for at ESL One Birmingham 2018 and need a top three finish in order to climb back into the eight and secure a direct invite to The International. If they fail to do this, there is a very high chance we won’t see EG at TI8, simply because two of their regional opponents – VGJ.Storm and OpTic Gaming – are incredibly strong right now. EG’s best results this season were a title at GESC: Indonesia Dota2 Minor and a third-place finish at DreamLeague Season 8. It’s not very likely that EG will get a top four finish in Birmingham, but a top six should be within their reach.

OpTic Gaming

OpTic Gaming is the strongest underdog of this tournament and we’ve yet to see how much ppd and his teammates have improved since their title win at StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5. Given the group seedings and the level of competition at ESL One Birmingham 2018, it will be difficult for OpTic to get out of the group stage. Still, the team is led by a former TI champion and should be regarded as a strong contender that could produce big upsets.

Virtus.pro

Virtus.pro is another team that’s famous for performing well at big events and has already won two ESL One Majors this year. Solo and his teammates will probably experiment with original drafts and strategies at this tournament, so from a betting perspective it might be risky to take VP’s side in certain matches – especially against world-class opponents. Still, Virtus.pro is a top three contender for sure and should have a deep run at ESL One. Currently the number one team in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, VP is expected to get a top four finish at this event.

Mineski

Although not that far from peak form, Mineski is still slightly weaker than the other top candidates. Currently sitting at number five in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, the Southeast Asian team finished fifth-sixth at MDL Changsha Major after losing to Newbee. A similar outcome looms at ESL One Birmingham 2018.

Betting tips for ESL One group stage

Fnatic vs. Evil Geniuses

Wednesday, May 23 – 11am BST

This is a match between two teams of similar strength, but Fnatic has the upper hand. EG showed many signs of weakness in their last tournament and lost against multiple teams, including Fnatic. Both EG and Fnatic have everything to play for at ESL One Birmingham 2018, so this battle will no doubt be fierce. Betway puts the odds at -117.65 each, anticipating a close match in which anyone could win.

Betting prediction: Fnatic to win

Virtus.pro vs. Team Spirit

Wednesday, May 23 – 11am BST

The skill difference between these two sides is absolutely huge. Unless VP decides to go for a weird draft and just YOLO it, Solo and his squad should get a quick victory over Team Spirit. Betway has installed Virtus.pro as overwhelming -833.33 favorites, but even that price seems high considering the enormous likelihood of victory.

Betting prediction: Virtus.pro to win

Team Liquid vs. paiN Gaming

Wednesday, May 23 – 12:10pm BST

This is another match in which one of the teams is much stronger than the other. No doubt, paiN Gaming has improved a lot after w33’s transfer, but the squad is still light years away from Liquid in terms of overall strategy and team play. That is not even to mention the fact that Liquid has one of the strongest players in the world for each role. Betway puts the odds at -666.67 to +375 in favor of Team Liquid, giving you a 15 per cent profit for an almost certain result.

Betting prediction: Team Liquid to win

OG vs. Vici Gaming

Wednesday, May 23 – 12:10pm BST

OG had a short period of glory at MDL Changsha Major, defeating iG Vitality and even Mineski. However, the rest of the teams quickly realized what their strategy was and simply banned their favorite heroes. After that it was back to struggle town for the Europeans, who have had a rough season so far and clearly lack a set of coherent strategies that have been properly tested and implemented. Given Vici Gaming’s strength and versatility, it is hard to see OG having any chance whatsoever. Betway is paying -250 odds for Vici, which makes this easily the best betting opportunity for the first day of ESL One Birmingham 2018.

Betting prediction: Vici Gaming to win

OpTic Gaming vs. Newbee

Wednesday, May 23 – 1:20pm BST

This is perhaps the most balanced match on day one, taking place between two strong opponents that have excellent rosters and great team strategies. Both have formidable captains, but Newbee has a slight advantage in terms of experience and individual skill. It has also been performing quite well recently, which is why Betway is giving them a slight edge at -142.86 against OpTic’s +105 return.

Betting prediction: Newbee to win

Mineski vs. LGD.Forever Young

Wednesday, May 23 – 11pm BST

It has been a while since we’ve seen LGD.Forever Young on the big stage, so it’s a complete mystery what this team is capable of at this point. LFY qualified for this event by defeating Keen Gaming, VGJ.Thunder and Invictus Gaming in the Chinese qualifier, which suggests that it might be a fairly strong contender. And given Mineski’s rather mediocre form in recent weeks, this match is the perfect opportunity to have a crack at the underdog. Betway puts the odds at -222.22 to +155 in favor of Mineski, so there is plenty of value in tipping an upset.

Betting prediction: LGD. Forever Young to win

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