The days of long introductory blogs are gone — I know what you’re here for.
I’d point to two recurring themes across Division 2. The first is how much the eventual outcome of the season will depend on the ability of rusty players to get back into the swing of things, and the second is how teams will resolve conundrums surrounding their (likely suboptimal) role setups. In that regard, the teams which have sensible roles, don’t rely heavily on players coming back from long breaks, and have a good spread of MMR across their lanes are on the higher end of the ranking here.
Additionally, the change in format made to accommodate a 6–team division (with greater importance put on the outcome of the group stage games) will certainly cause a shakeup to the usual dynamics of events like these, and the teams that come out swinging are likely to retain their spot at the top.
As part of the contest to see who can most accurately predict the outcome of Season 0, I’ve received 14 full predictions (ie, predictions for both divisions).
Rather than going over all of them individually here, you can click here to see a sheet with all submissions. In the meantime, I’ll go over the rankings that we get when averaging out all of the submissions.
7. Dodgy Dan
6. Multicast | SirDuke, Chef, STJ (Captain), Arrakis, Ben1
Average: 4178 | 4580, 2610, 4860, 4340, 4500
The gossip mill has churned out rumors of Chef occupying the midlane for STJ’s squad. While the trustworthiness of said gossip mill is…dubious, at best, I’m fairly certain that it’s an idea being considered by the team. Whether or not we’ll actually see it happen — or, indeed, how long it’ll last if we do — is hard to tell. The other roles line up fairly well in that case, and I struggle to spot the alternative, as some of the other 4 would likely end up in a role I haven’t seen them play.
Naturally, this isn’t ideal — the mid competition in this division is pretty damn strong, and Chef would inevitably struggle to have much of an impact, no matter how willing he might be to practice and improve. If I had to speculate on an alternative setup, it’d see STJ move over to mid, and potentially Arrakis scooting over to the offlane and bringing Ben1 with him in order to free up position 5 for Chef. It all depends in some ways on what they really want to get out of the season; letting everyone play what they prefer might be more fun, and if this is what they prioritize — all power to them — but if they want to compete, I don’t think having the lowest MMR player in the division play mid is exactly conducive to competing.
Ignoring for a second experience and role comfort, I can still see this team struggling with the more, uh, competitive lineup I mention. SirDuke and Ben1 admittedly make for one of the best safelane pairings in the division, and STJ is a very stable offlaner — but this will be Arrakis’ debut in a competitive setting, and for this team to make things work, no matter the setup, they’d likely need more time than they’ve got this season.
5. Auxenseiter | Thronplunder, Elpie (Captain), Aux, Skully, Ernie
Average: 4184 | 3080, 5290, 4600, 4680, 3270
Another team, another competitive debut — this time with Ernie, whose first steps outside of the pub realm comes in a team with people she knows well and who are likely to ease this transition.
My boy Aux also mounts his comeback, ruining ambitions of an all-German stack — but I’m sure he’s picked up some Deutsch, since Balkan educations are structured around setting up quality exports. He might not struggle with differentiating between der/die/das, but offlane is a new environment for him, having built his rep on his position 5 play, particularly on the likes of Oracle and Io. That said, he’s been playing a lot of offlane in pubs, and the team already has a plethora of support players, so past the occasional flex I see him sticking it out as the third core.
Speaking of flex, Elpie’s gone full circle, having played seasons of 4 and 5 and a lot of 3 in pubs since his last appearance in the midlane. That said, I don’t expect him to struggle much getting back into the swing of things there, and I think he’ll benefit a lot from playing on a team with friends.
That leaves Thronplunder and Skully. I’m glad to see Thron playing core, since I’d say his core play is significantly better than his support play, and while he might be the lowest MMR carry in the division, I think he’s fairly well equipped to make use of the space that his teammates are likely to provide. Skully manages to squeeze into his preferred pos 4, and it’s well known that I think Skully is a very valuable player for his MMR — though admittedly I think his biggest strengths, ie his positioning and spellcasting, shine through more on 5. There’s a good chance that the role setup of this team changes throughout the season, depending on their early results, but I’m unsure what this would look like at this point.
Overall, this is a solid stack — one that I expect will have a lot of fun with their season — but I think they’ll need a bit of time to adjust, while the teams I rank higher seem likelier to be ready out of the box, which is crucial in a format where not everyone makes it out of the group stage.
4. Mango and the Tangos | Excel, Mangology (Captain), Nonesk, Mitko, Paiers
Average: 4420 | 5350, 5340, 3750, 3770, 3890
If there’s anything we’re good at in CL, it’s dragging people out of retirement. Excel is back after more than half a year, and while he’s bound to have accumulated a fuckload of rust, I can’t see a 6k peak core struggling much to pick the game back up.
His way back is sure to be eased by the presence of ex-teammate Nonesk, though — in what’s a bit of a theme with this team — he’s not likely to find him in the role he’d usually look. With Paiers on the team, I see Nonesk moving over to the offlane with Mitko as the 4. This interestingly leaves Mango in the midlane; I’ve always primarily associated him with the 3 role — largely because I think he does good work there — so I’m not sure what to expect from him in a higher farm priority. He’s a versatile player, and has plenty of pub experience in mid, but I worry that he’s slightly too quiet to dictate the pace of the game like he might need to, especially considering his tendency to go on the aggressive without much communication.
In fact, I’d single that out as one of two potential struggles this team will face. Mango, Mitko and Paiers have all in my experience been on the quieter side. Nonesk is playing a role that he doesn’t have much experience in competitive with, and the one person I’d say is highly capable of controlling the flow of the game — Excel — would have to do so from what I’d argue is the hardest role to do it in — on top of having to get back into a game that’s seen many changes since he last played. That brings me to my second concern — there is a heavy dependence on Excel finding his footing in this team and taking charge.
3. Irevallo no Battlefuro | Irevall, Brainy Gonzo, Batsphemy, LPSD (Captain), John
Average: 4350 | 4560, 5350, 4030, 4500, 3310
I’ll be honest, seeing the 71 coin bid on Gonzo didn’t inspire much confidence for the rest of LPSD’s draft here, but he managed to clutch it out and assemble a fairly strong stack on paper.
The obvious starting point here is the Polish connection — LPSD and Irevall are good friends who play together a fair bit (be it Dota or clicking heads in CS — again, Polish). It’s somewhat unfortunate that they’re both largely carry players, and I’m going under the assumption that LPSD will switch over to his second preference of pos 4.
That said, while I think star player Gonzo is a very capable mid player, there’s a VERY solid chance LPSD goes back to playing mid and allows Gonzo to play offlane (which I believe is a higher comfort role), which would also put Bat on 4 rather than 3, where I think he’s likelier to have an impact. Did I mention we’re great at pulling people out of retirement yet?
This leaves John, likely to be Irevall’s lane partner, who I was somewhat surprised to have a role preference of 1/1/1/1/5, considering I’d seen him touted as a highly valuable 4 in past teams, but I expect him to do a decent enough job with 5.
Overall, this team can be very strong in my opinion, especially if they land on a role setup they’re comfortable on, since I think they have decent lanes and an experienced drafter in Gonzo.
2. 4 chads & 1 virgin | mzzy (Captain), Joll, Burt, Sr, muetobs
Average: 4392 | 4900, 4730, 4620, 3740, 3970
A name that not everyone is likely to recognize, me and mzzy go way back — to NA, in fact — but a lot of people might remember him as the 6th man on the team that won season 0 of Franchise league. This team also featured Sr, whom we’d lovingly dubbed our mini-Agnitos.
Mzzy is a very capable — if rusty — carry player, and he’s managed to put together a very solid roster here, at least on paper. Alongside Joll and Burt, this team has an incredibly stable tri core, without any tradeoffs in the support duo. Muetobs is likely to provide mzzy with a nice lane experience, and sr is a bit of a jack of all trades and generally does well no matter where you put him — and I can easily see him catching some safelanes off guard alongside Burt, another very rusty player who could prove to be a menace if he can unwash. Ban LC please.
I’d say that Joll has really come into his own in recent times, proving to be a surprisingly explosive mid player, able to control games and stand up to higher MMR players. He’s also likely to contribute to what I can only expect to be good vibes on the team.
This team’s ranking is perhaps the most volatile of the bunch; it’s a high-risk, high-reward squad whose success ultimately hinges on the ability of mzzy and Burt to get back into the swing of things in time.
1. Dismas fan club | Stl, Boelens, Mewes (Captain), Krota, icOn
Average: 4216 | 4400, 5230, 5360, 3460, 2630
It’s genuinely been a good while since I’ve seen someone splash their entire budget on two players and still end up with a very good team. The tri core of Stl-Boelens-Mewes is likely the best in the division (though this is heavily predicated on whether — and how well — some players can shake off rust), and Krota and Icon still make a decent enough support duo, though I’m not 100% sure on who’s 4 and who’s 5 as both have a preference for 4.
While Boelens may be focusing on other interests past Dota after what is easily one of the most horrific MMR drops I’ve personally witnessed, leaving an ex-high 5k in mid 4k, she’s played a lot more Dota recently compared to the likes of Excel or Burt whose breaks were significantly longer and featured no Dota whatsoever. The current meta is also fairly kind to Boelens’ best heroes, and I think she’s the likeliest candidate to roll over teams in the division.
From there, Stl is a very stable carry player, one I think will strive in being the lowest MMR core due to having less pressure. Speaking of pressure, Mewes is highly likely to exert lots of it, being possibly the best offlaner in the division, and having his one potential weakness — a somewhat small hero pool, at least in terms of impact (where I think there’s a drop off after his best heroes) — being covered by Boelens’ presence in the team. You want to ban SK and Dark Seer? Okay, enjoy your Visage and Lycan.
The premier division of the inaugural Clarity season is a very enticing one. While I didn’t have too hard a time seeing likely gaps between teams, I do believe that all teams can take games off each other here.
A fairly common trend throughout my reviews of the teams is that their success is predicated on whether or not this fairly short season will provide enough time to work on any issues — and that teams who come into the league with experience playing together have a distinct advantage — and in that regard, I think that the group stage will be of massive importance. The teams who manage to use their group matches as a learning experience are the likeliest to make a splash in the playoffs.
8. Chucklemouse and the Chippermice | Szajtek, ponpo, Chucklemouse, ZaikS, Codex (Captain)
Average: 5892| 7510, 5240, 5660, 5480, 5570
While it’s fairly obvious that the general consensus is that this is the weakest team in the division (and I evidently agree), I don’t know that things are that bleak for the Codex squad. I’m fairly certain that each team in the division can take games off each other…it’s just a matter of how many.
Let’s start with the positives: Szajtek and Codex make for a menacing safelane duo, and having a good 5 in a pool where they’re scarce is a massive boon for the best carry around. Admittedly this is somewhat offset by the staggering quality of most offlanes in the div, but good starts will be crucial for Szajtek to thrive. I think that much is obvious to most.
The concern for this team is enabling their star player past the laning stage; while Ponpo’s no slouch (especially after playing on a team coached by his captain on this team), he’s still a notch below the competition in the midlane, and will need to step his game up once more to really compete.
That takes us to the offlane, which I’d say most would single out as the weakest in the div. Chuckle is a capable 3, but in a competitive setting he’s unlikely to be allowed his best hero, and after Puck and Mars, it’s hard to tell how impactful the rest of his hero pool is. ZaikS is known to most as another offlane player, but judging by his preferences we’re likely to see him play 4 instead, and in that regard, he’s a bit of an unknown quantity.
This team’s strength is likely to be their ability to review and work on issues off the back of Codex’s coaching experience, but whether or not this is going to be enough to get past teams that are stronger individually is to be seen.
7. No Redeeming Qualities | Lokie, SMMN (Captain), Haraway, Barg, Nibbles
Average: 5988| 6300, 5800, 6000, 6240, 5600
This team’s certainly an interesting one; I struggle to weigh them against most of the other ones. This is largely due to this being (at least as far as I know) Lokie’s competitive debut in his new role as a safelane carry, especially considering he’ll most likely be paired with Nibbles as his lane partner, whom most will associate more with the 4 role (and to that end, with off-kilter 4 heroes).
Beyond that, though, we’ve seen a fair bit of the other 3 in their roles here. Haraway and Barg shouldn’t have many issues laning together and come into this with a fair bit of experience playing with each other. SMMN is a fairly reliable mid player, though the extent of his impact on the game has historically depended heavily on whether or not he can secure one of his best heroes (I’m seriously reconsidering the number of vouched DP players), without which he might be a notch below some of his lane opponents.
A legitimate concern for this team might be the flow of communication; transitioning into core roles has been known to stifle the shotcalling ability of vocal and commanding players, and this is fairly likely to apply to Lokie on this team. With SMMN also being a quiet player, a lot of responsibility in terms of dictating the pace of the game may well fall on the shoulders of Haraway and Barg.
Depending on how the safelane works out, this team can be a very solid and stable one across the board. Despite not necessarily having an individual standout player, if they can adjust to each other, they could easily compete — but this is predicated on a couple more conditions than most other teams, hence the lower ranking.
6. THE CLARITY LEAGUE ZOO | SwagMander, Water, Dodgy Dan (Captain), Scalar, Endon
Average: 5868| 5470, 6130, 5670, 6460, 5610
I’ll start with a fairly harsh comment here; if this team works out well, they’ll at best be a solid middle-of-the-pack competitor, but not one I can see threatening for the title. If it doesn’t, getting to round 2 of playoffs might become a tall ask.
Endon’s coming off a very long break from Dota, and Swag has historically struggled to perform to his potential in games where he doesn’t have a great start. I wouldn’t really highlight this as much if his lane opponents for really the entire season didn’t look nightmarish to play against (something I’m also acutely aware of myself), and I think this team’s success depends significantly on how well Swag is able to adjust — and in turn, how fast Endon is able to shake off the rust.
That said, there are a fair few positives for this team — enough to justify them squeezing into tier 2 — starting with Water. Despite dropping to an MMR value starting with the number 5, he’s still bound to be a great core here, especially if the team emphasizes setting him up for good games. I think Dan’s also settled fairly well into the offlane, where a couple of his issues become less detrimental, and some of his strengths get to shine through. To that end, I think his lane partner Scalar has also improved a fair bit — I’d generally viewed him as being a fairly low impact player for his MMR, but I think his climb hasn’t happened without reason, and he does a significantly better job of communicating and setting the tempo from his role.
From my perspective, this team needs to have a good think on how to best enable their individual players’ strengths, and approach any issues they encounter critically in order to hit their stride and improve — but I’m unsure who would be the one to take the charge in this regard.
5. Belle Stackerino | Takeshi, Tides, Avalanche (Captain), Schuffi, Nappa
Average: 5888 | 5710, 6050, 6500, 6100, 5080
I’m still shocked that this team ended up with an actual core duo — and a decent one at that.
My first impression is that Cloud’s roster here is essentially a better version of SMMN and Dan’s teams in some respects; they similarly don’t have a single player you can point to as being the one to dominate games, but I can very easily see them getting into the swing of things fairly easily in comparison to other teams; Takeshi and Nappa are familiar with each other in lane, they’re used to playing with Cloud, and Schuffi’s coming out of another recent team with Tides.
Additionally, I don’t have a hard time seeing win conditions for this team. No matter whether it’s Takeshi, Tides or Cloud that have a good start, any of the 3 can take control and are fairly good at directing their team to play around them and their power spikes, allowing the others to catch up. At that point, I’d say this team is also well equipped to play teamfights well, due to existing synergies and communication habits.
The concern in my eyes is what happens if there’s not an advantage for one of the cores; while I think all members of the team are individually good at bouncing ideas around and following calls, I’m unsure who puts on the captain’s armband when things look a bit rough. If they can manage to set themselves up for success — something I think they could do by expanding their individual hero pools — this could become a fairly hard team to play into.
4. EXODIA THE FORBIDDEN ONE | Waloo (Captain), RampagingBench, Ovidiu, Crysen, Melalez
Average: 6224 | 5960, 5400, 6420, 7760, 5580
In classic Waloo fashion, he’s drafted a team that I can argue into any rank from first to last depending on what angle I look at it.
Let’s start with the obvious: the Ovi Crysen lane. What the FUCK. It’s just a pretty insane lane, that’s all there is to it — but it might need to be more than just that.
I think Waloo will, once again, succumb to his internalized desire to hit creeps instead of heroes, and let Bench figure out how to stand up to the menacing mids in the division. I’ll be honest in saying I don’t really expect much from him individually, and this becomes problematic when we look at the safelane. While Melalez is a decent enough 5, many other teams have intimidating offlane duos, and I can easily see Waloo suffer in the early game and then have to spend time catching back up. If Bench doesn’t have a great time either, this team might get rolled over by an active team.
Now, this sounds a bit grim, but that’s where we go back to the stars of the team. Crysen’s easily able to create pressure on the map, to the point that I can easily imagine him offsetting the disadvantage Bench will be put at against higher MMR mids with the clever rotations he’s capable off. If Crysen can pair up with Ovi and dominate lanes, enemy carries will end up fairly miserable as well, and I have few doubts that it’s this offlane duo — if any — that’s capable of creating the space their team needs…and that’s when Waloo walks out of the jungle.
3. Strawberry Collectors | Crispy Bacon, Omegasaw, Waterfalls (Captain), Muffinsan, Ness
Average: 5786 | 5830, 5940, 6610, 5140, 5410
I think people lack…significant info.
It’s fairly easy to look at endless unranked games, filled with awful hero picks and clowny items, and assume this team’s league performance will mirror that — especially if you weren’t around when the majority of the players on this team were active in leagues.
I’ll speak largely from personal experience here — all of them can play good heroes too; they won’t hesitate to pick them; they’re likely to be the most prepared team going into just about every game if Waterfalls and Omegasaw stick to their lengthy prematch planning habit. They’re easily the most synergistic and ready-out-of-the-box team in the league, having played a couple hundred games with each other. Drafting against them will be…very hard. I have 0 doubts they’ll be competitive.
With all of that said, they’re still facing stronger competition than they have previously. They run the risk of getting figured out — at least playstyle wise, as I don’t think there’s any chance of really working around their draft style — and I can see them struggling to deal with certain teams, especially post group stage, when the other teams come into their own as well.
2. New League Who Dis | Madsen (Captain), Neon, Raikiri, Yunai, Holy Harry
Average: 5766 | 5330, 5950, 6010, 6280, 5260
Few things make me as happy as going into a draft and getting what I wanted — and then some.
Neon and Yunai have both been improving consistently in the last few months, and the synergy they come into the league with makes our team a contender by default. I’ve talked a fair bit about how much time teams will need to adjust to each other, and going in with existing experience is a massive boon in that regard. Picking up a good 5 in a middling 5 player pool was a big relief, and getting a free 6k offlane player wrapped things up in a nice bow on my end.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some potential issues. Hoarding captains can be either great or awful, but I think with time it becomes a massive advantage to have vocal players who can look at things critically, given that they manage to adjust to it. I’d consider myself to be on the more active end of the safelane player spectrum, so being paired with Neon could result in us struggling to find the heroes for the lategame. It doesn’t help that I’m one of the worst players to make it into the division, either, but will all of that said, this is still a team that I expect will contend, if nothing else then due purely to the tryhard nature of the individual players on it (though, that kind of goes without saying — I wouldn’t exactly draft a team I didn’t think could contend).
Overall, though, I think we don’t have a lot of the issues some other teams might, and everything does make sense on paper, with all of the role fits being natural.
1. Nyk’s tractor go brrr | Thunderdyne (Captain), Moonchild, Nyctea, Sassy, Nyk
Average: 6008 | 6750, 5850, 6610, 5650, 5180
Y’know I really tried. I really wanted to squeeze myself into first, if for no other reason than to start the content off with the good ol’…but Thunderdyne’s got a scary fucking team here.
With the captain himself likely to go to the safelane with Nyk, he’s got the scariest tri-core in the league (admittedly I don’t know much about Nyctea, but I mean, 6.6k?), as well as a very solid 4 in Sassy. This leaves the very rusty Nyk as the final player, but in all honesty, rounding the team out with a bubbly final player is completely fine when the rest of the roster is as stacked as this one.
It’s hard to really spot many issues here. Thunderdyne’s been playing enough core for me to see him doing completely fine, even if he’s a bit prone to the occasional throw (though I’m unsure how likely that is to happen if he takes the game seriously enough). I’d say this team’s a bit of a lock for the finals, at least on paper…but I’ve been doing this shit long enough to know that paper’s fucking meaningless. (Fucking Waloo man…)
Thanks for reading everyone — apologies for the delay.
Enjoy your season!