One more time.
I’ll be honest in saying that, especially for division 5, my focus will be more on the team reviews than on the power rankings. It’s very difficult to predict to a T what each individual team’s role setup will be, and even when I have a decent read on a team’s role setup, the information I can glean from MMRs and Dotabuffs isn’t really a good enough substitute for having watched or played with many of these players — especially in some of the roles they might be playing here. All of this contributes to the teams all feeling somewhat well-matched, and the ranking margins are razor-thin for the most part; I might look at this list again tomorrow and re-order it then.
8. Owl-OTN | Soulnafein, Owl, Azyran, G0nd4r, friendlyguy
Captain Owl-OTN looks to be a decent value core in this division, G0nd4r is probably one of the — if not the — best 4s of the division, and their role setup seems fairly straightforward, meaning they’re not likely to have some of the struggles other teams might have. Those are all nice things to have, but — there’s always a but — they on paper have probably the weakest safelane duo with Soulnafein and friendlyguy, and in a division where just about every team has a decent at worst offlane, I could see this team struggling, and from there it might become a matter of the rest of the team’s ability to create needed space on the map. A glance over Owl’s hero pool suggests a slight preference for higher farm priority heroes, and while Azyran does have the fortune of playing with Gondar, he does seem to be more of a support player, so while their role setup seems fairly logical, playstyle adjustments might be required to get the ball rolling.
7. Moyo | Moyo, Lightning, Mr. Pink, Codenamechicken, harlanrogers
I’ve got no confirmation, but I do believe — based on a loose couple pubs on Dotabuff — that we might be seeing Moyo carry here! To be fair, I also partially draw that conclusion from a lack of other carry player on the team except maybe Mr. Pink. I don’t know much about Codenamechicken or harlanrogers — Moyo’s really gone out and drafted four players that have never played RD2L before. The aforementioned three are also all mostly on the lower MMR side of the pool, and that might be more necessity than desire, as Moyo splashed an incredible 86 coins on Lightning, who does seem to be one of the premiere mid players in the pool. Was that worth it? Time will tell the full tale, but until then, I’m actually going to say no. A couple of newcomers and a veteran potentially off role coming together to form one of the lower average MMR stacks doesn’t really impress me, despite the above-average mid player.
6. synecDOchetA | Revenger, synecDOcheTA, Sakoh, Teky, Lofbergio
Continuing with the trend of captains whom we’ll likely see on a core role for the first time in RD2L, Synecdocheta managed to also pick up the highest MMR in the pool in Sakoh. However, while having a 4k player in div 5 is nice, I expect we’ll see him playing off-role, both in order to have the kind of impact that is easier to achieve from a core role, but also to accommodate Teky and Lofbergio, both of who are likely to play support. Attentive veterans might also recognize Revenger’s name as one of the lower MMR players who received praise for overperfoming in the past, though that was generally based on his main season performances in support roles (I recall Severe calling Revenger and Thronplunder the two best low MMR players a while back; make of that what you will). His recent activity seems sparse, however, so I see this team relying a fair bit on Synecdocheta as the win condition, and I’d imagine Sakoh and Lofbergio would need to put their captaining chops on display to make sure this group plays disciplined Dota.
5. GreggyYO | GreggyYO, Crasha, Bleapo, atnight, NawgthyPanda
I think Greggy managed to check most of the boxes with this draft. He got himself a decent lane partner in NawgthyPanda, and the captain’s Dotabuff suggests he’s fairly likely to have a good time as a fairly farm intensive carry player. Bleapo is an offlaner with what appears to be a fairly esoteric hero pool, most notably his nigh 600 games on Pango with an insane 65% winrate, but I think this is actually fairly decent in this division. If he can play off-kilter offlaners, enemy safelanes might not have experience in dealing with them and could easily get caught off guard. His lane partner atnight, thus far known to his captain mostly (and unfortunately for him) as an associate of mine, is a capable 4 for his MMR, with a couple of odd heroes in his pool to match Bleapo’s. All of this makes a lot of sense, and then we get to Crasha. Crasha is a couple of things — a veteran, a decent player for his MMR, seemingly a bit washed if Dotabuff activity is anything to judge by. The one thing he isn’t, however, is a mid player, and I think that’ll present a bit of an issue. I’ve seen Crasha play 1 and 5 in RD2L, and no one on this team really seems to play any mid either, which will prove to be a challenge unless someone — presumably Crasha or Greggy — can pick up a couple of heroes in the early days of mini.
4. Nonesk | Nonesk, m., Dumblefrog, borninbronx, CaptainRubick
M alert! Washed or not, M should probably be one of the best players in division 5, and the rest of the team isn’t very bad at all. The unknown here is also their lowest MMR in Dumblefrog, but his Dotabuff looks slightly more promising than most 1.6k players’. From there we’ve got a host of seasoned RD2L veterans; I’d like to say I’m cleverly predicting Nonesk to take up the safelane with deep analysis, but I’ve just seen the team’s pubs together and he played carry (and did well to boot!). CaptainRubick has generally always been regarded as a player who does better than their MMR would suggest, and borninbronx has been described by many teammates as a very positive person who’s willing to learn, all of which together makes for what should be a fairly decent team.
3. Blank | Terrutas, Hamma, DanSpiderBender, Yes Ketchup, Blank
I won’t ignore the elephant in the room. Terrutas’ Dotabuff is just the tiniest bit sketchy; a 2 month hiatus which was preceded by a wall of wins averaging upwards of 15 kills a game on all manner of heroes, all of which they’ve played less than 40 times could imply a number of things. If this checks out, though, Terrutas and Hamma should make for a terrifying div 5 duo core, and they’re backed up with a very solid supporting cast as the cherry on top: Yes Ketchup and Blank have done well in support roles in the main season, with the former especially having, by all accounts, improved a fair bit. That leaves DanSpiderBender, the self-described “best Crusader player you can draft”; the closest thing resembling an offlaner in his most player heroes is a 38% winrate Furion, so I have my reservations about that claim, but I think this is a very strong team nonetheless — to the point that it’s one that I’ve had ranked as high as 1st in early drafts of the ranking. I can’t really commit to that until we see more of Terrutas, though, as he’s the crucial piece here.
2. Thronplunder | Thronplunder, mikee16, Okami Shiranui, Icon, slothdemon
Thronplunder carry is back, hide all you hold dear: this man started off last mini with something ridiculous like a 40 KDA over a couple games. I’m actually fairly certain he’ll be a standout carry player this mini as well, and I think his lane with Slothdemon should be one of the stronger safelanes in the competition. Add on top of that an offlane of Okami and Icon which wouldn’t look massively out of place even in a main season, and that’s your sidelanes just about settled. The limiting factor here is also an unknown one — at 2.1k, Mikee is one of the lowest MMR mids in the division, so those strong sidelanes might end up needing to really pull their weight, which is also why I’ve not ranked this team higher. However, a brief scroll through Mikee’s Dotabuff will show you 30 kill Arc Warden games and a thick fuckin’ activity feed, so if he can manage to hold his own against players 1k+ MMR above him, this team is a menace and a title contender. No pressure though.
1. OLW | ManBearSlav, OLW, sopelsiu, John, xyu
It’s a bit unfortunate really that, despite getting picked, good ol’ Xyu might still not get to play his role. However, if my assumption is correct, he’ll be trading that for a pair of mid 3k cores in ManBearSlav and OLW who — despite the occasional questionable hero winrate — should put in work in this division. Sopelsiu and John are both new players whom I don’t have a lot of info on, but (especially considering some of the Dotabuffs I’ve stumbled across for this) seem to play a good bit of Dota, with fairly intriguing pub performance — especially for Sopelsiu, who seems to be doing well on a host of different heroes, on top of their most played records. Overall, this seems to be a fairly stable lineup, with no notable weak spots.
8. Laavi | Hailo, Laavi, STJ, Kalem, PAIERS
As I look over the sheet, I see a promising start. Laavi, for all his issues, is a decently capable core; STJ is a massively valuable offlane pickup, everything checks out, good, good. Okay, Hailo? Hm, could swear he was also an offlaner but maybe I’m missing something…then Kalem? I mean, I understand that there are a lot of strong offlaners in the pool, but I’m unsure what grabbing three of them accomplishes. At least Paiers is a 5, but in my eyes, this lineup will really struggle with the roles. Laavi and STJ will likely do just fine, but while Hailo and Kalem are far from the only players in the division who’ll need to adjust to different roles for their team, not many other teams have people off-role on 1 and 4, and I think that could easily bottleneck this team’s potential.
7. KCC | Kanto, GrimR, KCC, bihrat, Diddi 2.0
This is a bit of a mixed bag. With three completely new players in Kanto, KCC and bihrat, it’s hard to get an accurate image of what this team’s capable of. Diddi has proven to be a fairly stable support many times, and I’m pretty excited to see Grim in his natural mid role after playing a lot of offlane in RD2L. While I do think he’ll surprise a good few players, him and Kanto will still make for one of the lower MMR duo cores in the division, but Kanto’s Dotabuff is also fairly promising, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see both of them perform above their MMR. From there, KCC is one of the highest MMR players in the division, and should therefore be able to bully a good number of enemy safelanes. This, however, hinges on Bihrat’s ability to keep up, and while he does have an impressive 700 Mirana games, his 4 pool as a whole doesn’t seem massively flexible. Overall, this team hinges on the new players showing up and the lower MMR cores justifying the faith put into them.
6. Reddydas | Reddydas, Cheshire Cat, hi5, Ogreboy, Jayachdee
There’s some wonky stuff going on here. Reddydas is at it again with the aversion towards picking core players, managing to grab 3 players who you’d usually see play 3 or 5. Ogreboy is likely a lock for 4 here, and will probably secure a good few Sniper bans. From there, though, it’s a toss up for the rest of the roles. I think hi5 is actually a tad bit underrated as an offlaner, and while I’d say he’s more of a 5 than Jay, who’s usually occupying the offlane, the role preferences indicate the lineup I’ve listed here. That presumably leaves Cheshire Cat in mid, which his recent pubs back up, which is my biggest worry for this team. While his most played heroes include a fair few cores, his experience, by and large, lies in the support role. That said, the mid pool in this division is a bit of a mixed bag, and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if he held his own. That leaves us with Reddydas playing carry, which I think is actually going to do really well; I think Reddydas is easily one of the best cores in the division, and if they can get him on his best heroes as the win condition, I see him carrying fairly hard. Hard enough to pick up the slack for other weak points? That, I can’t say.
5. Regu | Sparta, Regu, Boruu, Spetch, Daft
While my first instinct, based on hero pools and Dotabuffs, is that Spetch would go mid with Regu 4, I’ve learned to have more faith in the role preferences listed on the sheet, and in this case, it indicates that Regu wants to play mid this season. I think the real strong point of this team is some good old Breakaway synergy; this is the classic Mini friendship stack, through and through, except unlike most, it’s actually in the division it belongs in. I think Sparta — given time to shake off rust — can prove to be a really decent carry in div 4, and at that point, it’ll become a matter of what Regu mid is like. God knows this is just him cutting out some extra steps from his usual 4 gameplay; instead of waiting for your mid to be dying to TP in and farm, you just start there — genius! Jokes aside, the amount of time required to adjust to the role setup and gel a bit will make or break this team’s season: if they can come into playoffs having figured their playstyle out, the plentiful previous shared experience between players on this team will prove to be a boon; if not, they’ll struggle a fair bit.
4. Ben1 | DmWp, Rinku, Raikiri, Lucky, Ben1
Despite being at a glance on the lower MMR side of things, DmWp and Rinku have both individually proven that they can stand up to higher MMR players, and if they can make that happen in mini as well, they’ll do just fine as the duo core. However, the massive strength of this team is the (slightly silly for div 4) pickup of Raikiri, who I think had a place in the higher division, and will very likely dominate lanes in this div. His hero pool and playstyle in the offlane are also fairly conducive to the idea of being more of a 2.5 than a 3, which I don’t see being punished very harshly here and should therefore either get the ball rolling a lot quicker in good games, or provide a strong safety net in bad ones. Lucky and Ben are both very stable supports, which overall makes this a fairly stable team as well — this is particularly helpful in terms of lanes and consistency in winning them, which will be key for this team.
3. Chris | Chris, Zoren, Hanswurst, King Fox, Timitson
This draft feels like the result of someone really doing their best to pay attention to whispers around the league. All of the players Chris drafted here have at various points been described as being highly valuable for their MMR, which is an assessment I’d call accurate. While Zoren might have issues with rigidity of play against the best mids in the league, he’s a menace in this division. Hanswurst is the lowest MMR player on the team, but just about every performance he’s put forward in RD2L has shown his ability to play above that level. King Fox garnered praise from teammates for his 4 play, and Timitson has been a mainstay of the classic “Value for MMR” group of supports that are so hotly sought after in RD2L drafts. This leaves us with Chris, who we’ve only seen play on support roles in RD2L, in the role of safelane carry — which his Dotabuff would suggest he’s already practicing for. All of that, I think, makes for a really stable team, albeit one perhaps lacking massive game-changing standouts. If I had to point to anyone as potentially being that, it’d — perhaps surprisingly — be the duo of Hanswurst and King Fox, whose hero pools definitely show potential to take over games.
2. Maus | SirDuke, Grimmjow, Mangology, Maus, Anderkent
Maus has slyly turned into one of the better player drafters in RD2L; after the Walooame experience, he manages to pick up what seems to be a really high average MMR team, especially when excluding the captain himself. SirDuke is one of the best couple of carries in the division, Grimmjow — for all his faults — has MMR on his side in the vast majority of the midlane matchups he’s likely to encounter, which already makes for a pretty damn nice duo core. Mangology is also on the higher MMR side of things, actually being above the 120 player mark, and has also done fairly well in the main season as the offlaner for Maus’ team — netting a couple nominations as the MVP in a couple of games — and while Maus can be hit or miss, Anderkent is yet another higher MMR player and a capable support, even if most of what we’ve seen from him in the league has been in the offlane. I think this gives this team possibly the highest potential in the division, but the barrier to that will purely be staying sane and positive. I’d hope that Maus and Anderkent, both generally being pretty positive people, will do their best to keep spirits high when things get hectic…and if not, hey, fun season review, right?
1. LukeSkyFAKER | Gunner, Luke, Falls, zGrozemag, why you heff to be mad
This team’s terrifying. Gunner and Luke make for a duo core that could prove to be stronger than even Maus’, and only then can we talk about what puts this team across the line — fucking Falls, man. Falls is a threat in main seasons, but if you put him against even weaker safelanes, he’s going to absolutely shred; it feels like any captain worth their salt has to open the draft by banning Falls’ Void Spirit and Night Stalker just about every game, because despite his high-3k MMR, Falls can easily pop off and have impact higher than some 5ks. Grozemag is additionally a great pickup here, largely due to his flexibility and somewhat understated ability to have the occasional standout performance. At that point it really doesn’t matter who the last player is, but Luke opted to grab why you heff to be mad (whom I implore to get a new name), a player who’s played RD2L previously in the position he still needed to fill. All in all, I think this is the team I have the highest expectations for, and I think this tri-core is going to put in work.
8. RampagingBench | T-Reds, RampagingBench, Uvs, Chef, Bernard
I won’t dignify this team with an actual review. I’m just going to say that it’s shameful and farcical that this was allowed to happen, and it undermines the event. Really dumb.
7. Disturbed Jawker | Nyphoot, Jawker, RageDino, z_o_m, Nullagon
I’m unsure that there was a need to dip so far down to grab Nyphoot for the carry here, but it is what it is, and he’ll probably be fine as carries go in this division. RageDino will likely prove to be a good pickup, though I can imagine he’ll have some issues in-game due to the fact that his lane partner Zom little other than Techies. Nullagon is one of the better supports in the division, and Jawker seems to have a pretty interesting mid hero pool, but will go into games on the back foot, seeing as there’s a good couple mid players who should be looking to win against him. All in all, I don’t have massively high expectations for this team; I don’t really the standout player who’s supposed to take over games, but maybe they’ll make up for that with good ol’ friendship, as Nyphoot, Jawker and Zom seem to be associates.
6. LegitSplit | LegitSplit, xdd, exZ, 21fiends, Butters
This is a bit of a toughie. On paper, this is one of the best — if not the best — tricore in the division, with LegitSplit, xdd and exZ averaging out to about 5.2k MMR; xdd seemed to do fairly well last mini, exZ at 5.2k is a bit of a sandbag even with rust, and LegitSplit has done a serviceable carry job in past RD2L seasons. 21fiends is a fairly skilled 4 with pretty high playmaking potential on his heroes, and while I think Butters could’ve been a strong div 4 core, he’ll probably do an okay job as a 5 here. All of that would probably warrant a higher ranking, but in visualizing how games will go for this team, I can foresee some struggles in lining up playstyles as well as a bit of frustration when things don’t go well. That said, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see this team outdo these expectations, but their path to success — to me — looks slightly less straightforward than for some of the other teams.
5. Denden | Denden, Kalisdar, m4u5ik, Kimer, Hiboo
It might be a bit of a meme, but I do think there’s some merit to the idea that Kimer and Denden are players who tend to perform better in higher skill environments. This idea might be unwarranted, or there might be some mental aspect to it that makes it true; either way, they’re both good players who should in theory, based on their prior accomplishments, do really well here…but I don’t see it. I think Kalisdar has shown that he can definitely do better than expected from mid, but I feel like his hero pool is a bit limited, and he might struggle due to it. Then again, he can sort of simulate his main season experience of having a farm oriented carry to balance that out I guess? I think I actually dislike having Hiboo on 5 here but I also see that being the go-to setup for this team; his impact grows exponentially when he plays offlane, as seen in the main season. This team might have some issues that others won’t, so while it’s a decent squad, their placement here could surprise some — but it’s a list after all, so someone’s gotta occupy this spot, and I think the other teams appeal to me more on paper.
4. Syrphx | GLK, PONPO, Syrphx, Smile, Skully
I’ll start by saying that I’m not actually too sure about the role setup here; both Syrphx and GLK are mostly carry players, with a similar amount of offlane experience, but I think this team is banking on ex-6k GLK performing somewhere between his old and current MMR, and are therefore likely — also based on his recent games — to plant him in the safelane. Ignoring that conundrum, they’re left with a highly capable mid player in PONPO, who shouldn’t struggle with more than a couple of other mids in the division, as well as a really solid support duo with Smile and Skully. Smile in particular has shown many times that he can play a fair bit above his MMR, something I’d attribute to him playing a lot with better players. Overall, this team has a fairly high potential, but to justify a ranking this high, they’ll need to put that into practice when the time comes.
3. Cloud | Joll, Grac, Cloud, Mattador, Poly
I feel like another writer might have this team higher up, but when I look at this lineup, I just see a hint of unsettling volatility. Grac has a knack (hah) for playing through entire matches muted, and while one could argue that Poly and especially Joll can (and likely will) more than make up for that dead space in the comms, I can also easily imagine a lack of communication making for some frustration that could send this team spiraling. That might’ve bumped them down, if it were not for raw potential. Joll is, for all his shenanigans, a 5k carry; Grac is a very skilled mid player who has held his own against much better players in the IHL — though his communication issues are a challenge; Cloud is a highly capable offlaner who’s really been putting time into pubs recently. Mattador and Poly make for a decent support duo as well (assuming that Mattador will take up a support role here), so it all checks out on paper. It’s just a matter of all of this transferring into the game without any of the potential issues.
2. Valchers | Stl, Valchers, Chucklemouse, Gecko, Fred
I think it’s fairly easy to make an argument for Valchers having had a spot in division 2, so when he dropped to div 3, all he needed to do as a captain was build a solid team around himself to be set up for success — and in my opinion, he’s accomplished that. Valchers and Chucklemouse should likely be fairly dominant in the division, and while he dipped lower into the pool for all of Stl, Gecko and Fred, they’re all really stable and fairly valuable players whose MMR I don’t think will detract from the team. I don’t really have much to say about this team past that; they’re strong, if perhaps a bit overreliant on their star players, but I’m not particularly concerned about that, and I don’t think they are either.
1. ssd | Nino, ssd, Brainy Gonzo, Unha, Cam
This team looks fucking scary. Captain ssd is easily one of the top mids in the division, and he managed to pick up a what seems to be a decent carry in (the third, so far, counting ElNino and Tonino) Nino. I assume Nino’s lane support will be Cam, who’s sporting the lowest MMR on the team, who looks to be a decently valuable 5, with over 500 games on Oracle and a good bit of activity. Then we have the highest MMR lane in the division, with a 5.6k pos 4 in Unha, and — after a recent climb — a 5.8k offlaner in Brainy Gonzo, both of whom had a strong look towards division 2. It’s strange to me that ssd managed to pick up the both of them, but here we are, with what I think is the strongest team in the division. They’ve got good lanes, no massive weak points (though admittedly also no players who look likely to pop off consistently), a drafter and shotcaller in Gonzo, all of which has me looking at them as favorites.
8. Debowy | Takeshi, Maslyy, Melalez, Ergotisme, Debowy
The two teams I’ve got in tier 3 share one common thread, in that they’ve both got div 3 material players. For this team it’s Ergo, who hasn’t really impressed at higher levels for a good while now, and while there’s something to be said for the amount of games he’s played laning with Melalez in the last couple of seasons, I still think he’ll be a fairly underwhelming 4 in a division with a lot of strong players in that role. I don’t think Takeshi, Maslyy and Debowy really bring a lot of must-ban heroes to the table either (except arguably Debowy’s Bane, or at a stretch his Tree or Rhasta), which I think Melalez and Ergo would need to get their best heroes in officials (Phoenix and Centaur, and ET and Tusk, respectively), and this’ll undercut the impact this team’s offlane will be able to have. Predraft I considered Maslyy to be one of the mid players below the cutoff who could warrant picking in div 2 (alongside Valchers and potentially Grac and ssd), and I think he’ll actually do fairly okay, since the mid lane looks a bit odd for most teams iin the division. From there Takeshi and Debowy make for a stable safelane, but I think Debowy’s still a bit fresh to the high 5k bracket, and I think we saw the weaknesses of this lane — which in theory should be this team’s strongest — over in the main season, with doubts over these issues disappearing in the mini. Still, I think this is definitely a competitive team with potential to take the occasional game off teams that seem stronger on paper.
7. Dan | SwagMander, Dan, FinnyB, Tribo, Nappa
Dan took a bit of a deeper dive in the draft, reaching down below the 80 mark to pick up his buddy FinnyB for the offlane, as well as Nappa for 5 (who I do think would’ve been picked anyway); this does start them off with a slightly lower MMR stack, but given that FinnyB can keep up, neither of them should prove to be massive issues. Tribo’s back to RD2L, and I’ve seen first hand just how much impact he can have on his very best heroes, but I have some concerns about his recent activity (or rather a lack thereof, as he comes back from a break), and I think he’ll definitely need to shake rust off pretty quickly to contribute to this team in the way I think they’ll require of him. Dan and SwagMander then make for a fairly strong duo core; nothing to write home about — but then again, I think that applies only to the pair of Kk and Waloo — but good nonetheless. I guess we haven’t really seen how Swag is dealing with some of his heroes eating a couple of nerfs, but I think if he can get over that hump and refresh his hero pool he’ll be fine. Overall, though, there are just a few too many ifs and buts for me to rank this team much higher; they have good potential in my eyes, but realizing that potential will depend on figuring out a couple things.
6. Legatus Steg | Legatus Steg, Zasa, Snufkin, Barg, Dildawg
I came into writing these rankings with the idea that this would be my bottom ranked team, but I don’t actually think it’s that grim. Steg is probably slightly underrated as a carry, and while Zasa carries a nigh-permanent reputation of being washed up, I think he can still easily be a valuable piece in a team, if him popping off isn’t a prerequisite for his team to succeed, which I’m not sure is the case here. While I think the better role setup in terms of experience for this lineup would see Dildawg in the offlane with Snufkin playing 5, I have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll the cognizance to minimize potential conflicts by separating Barg and Dildawg for at least the laning stage, which will result in the role setup I’ve predicted here. At that point, Snufkin’s offlane hero pool could potentially be an issue once Phoenix is taken out of contention, but I think he should make for a decent lane with Barg, and Dildawg can focus on securing Steg’s lane. This is the kind of team that won’t likely see one person really taking over, and it’ll have to be a concerted team effort, one which I can see working if the (admittedly likely) frustration stays its hand and doesn’t bubble up.
5. Darba | Darba, Saltimpagos, Windo, Nozomi, Endon
Ranking this team as high as 5th is a bit of a gamble; I have massive doubts about Salti’s ability in the midlane, but Windo is a highly capable player paired with Nozomi, who should by all accounts be a top pos 4 in the division. I don’t really know what to make of Darba’s place as the carry in this div, though; I think he definitely has the potential to perform well, but he has more than a handful of doubters, especially in relation to his playstyle in the role and how it’ll match up in a higher division. Endon is essentially a big question mark, with a recent activity feed that is worrying at best. If he can play up to the standard of the 5.8k MMR he’s listed at, though, he should provide Darba with an alright lane, which could potentially give this team two really strong sidelanes. Past the unknown factors like Nozomi and Endon that are hard to judge at this point, a large part of why this team is higher than one might potentially expect them to be is that the midlane competition isn’t actually that frightening, so excluding a couple teams, if Saltimpagos has even half the midlane chops Darba seemingly expects him to, it might not be that much of a disaster.
4. Xela | Xela, Kuroame, Roran, SgtAverage, Holy Harry
This is a bit of a peculiar stack; I’d wager Xela was caught a bit off guard by getting Roran, so while we’d usually see him in the 4 role, SgtAverage is likely to lay primary claim to it here. That lane should be strong nonetheless; Roran has traditionally shown up for minis, no matter what role he’s in, and I can imagine him being a decent fit with Average. That gives the team a very nice safelane pairing of Xela and Harry, whose main season success together wasn’t very surprising; I think many people were interested in having Harry on their team for his ability to draft and call the shots, and that’ll prove to be a boon for this team, where I think this ability of his will bring Xela, Kuro and Average in line, and with that draw out their potential. Speaking of potential, Kuro continues his midlane adventures after a decent showing in the role in WED; as I’ve previously mentioned, the midlane lineup for the most part isn’t super scary, so I think Kuro will be able to hold his own. However, with all of that said, I don’t actually see this team as a favorite necessarily; while they’re all individually good players, I don’t see the squad as a whole really stepping it up in big games, even if they have the pieces to succeed.
3. Haraway | Schuffi, Dekait, Haraway, Yunai, MoltenKnight
This team is such a mixed bag; their 2–3–4 of Dekait-Haraway-Yunai is pretty dang scary, and there’s a good balance, personality-wise, that I think will allow for this team to play as a unit in due time. However, while I do value MoltenKnight fairly highly as a support, I think he might turn out to be a bit out of place, and there were likely some stronger 5 options available. Based on my own experience, though, he should fit quite neatly into Haraway’s plans, which I’d guess is the reason he’s here in the first place. All of that checks out; then we get to Schuffi. With the Yunai pickup, we won’t see Schuffi in his usual 4 role, and he’ll instead be occupying the carry role, something I haven’t really seen him do a lot at all — which he can attest to himself, judging by his sheet role preference of 1/5/1/5/3. Still, I’m sure this is something he talked about with Haraway, and he’s generally a very flexible and versatile player, so while I’d imagine he’ll struggle with the usual off-role issues with late-game decision making owing to a lack of experience in specific scenarios. Nevertheless, this team’s looking fairly strong, and while their safelane might struggle, I think they’ll be able to deal with it together.
2. Madsen | Acid, SMMN, Frasse, Muffinsan, Madsen
Sometimes I’m unsure about the role setup I’ll put down for a team, so I’ll look at the sheet, check if they might have played pubs together, hell, maybe I’ll just straight up ask. Here I am though, talking about my own team, unsure of what to put down! With only Frasse and Muffin locked into 3 and 4 respectively, we’re looking at our options for the rest of the lineup, and the one listed here has one massive advantage — it gives my team an incredibly strong core duo, one which allows both of the players in it to play their preferred style, something that isn’t easily achieved if I were to play my usual carry role. The alternative is to have SMMN in the support role, one that he’s got a lot more experience with than I do, but when you’re stuck by default with a liability like myself (as I always am, admins please help), you gotta get creative. Jokes aside, Acid is a top tier core in the division, and he’s coming in straight off a main season win in which he proved his ability to play the role of the primary win condition. Frasse is a top offlaner in a slightly questionable offlane draft pool, and I’ve paired him with an overlooked 4 in Muffin, who plays far above his listed 5.0k MMR. I was pretty shocked to get SMMN, but he’ll be massively valuable wherever we end up putting him, and at that point, it’s just a matter of figuring how I fit into the equation — and I’ve already gotten carried by worse overall teams against better competition, so I’m fairly confident.
1. Waloo | Kk, Waloo, jihadi swamp, Valaryon, Polarbear
Kk and Waloo is a fucking frightening duo core; these are both players who could’ve easily snuck into div 1, and I think they’ll be able to figure out how they adjust their roles and playstyles around each other, seeing as they both play both carry and mid. I think this solution starts with Kk 1 and Waloo 2, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them swap around based on heroes, since they both sport a couple menacing picks in the other role. This will be jihadi swamp’s first outing as an offlaner in RD2L, having played carry in Wesside’s main season team, but I think he’ll actually do fairly well based on some of the things I’ve seen and will be far from a weak point. That leaves us with what I think is this team’s only issue (at least that can be identified at this point) — Valaryon and Polarbear are both solid supports…in the safelane. While I’ve seen Polar play the very occasional game of pos 4, I don’t really a serviceable 4 hero pool for either of these players. This is something that occasionally happens in the main season, and the usual result is either the 4 finding one or two heroes that fit the role and just banking on them not getting banned, or — the more common solution, in my experience — playing traditional 5 heroes as 4s. While this can work, I think it often really limits what you can do in drafts, especially in regards to the offlaner, and tends to result in weaker lanes. If they can figure out some way around this, this team will seem really strong — but just like the bottom team in the rankings is still competitive, this team is still beatable, and the entire division is likely to be a matter of who shows up consistently on game days.
8. Maus | Matotimo, Crayon, Sky, Sca1ar, Agnitos
Man, I just got done writing about how Maus has become a good player drafter like a couple hours ago and then he serves up this team? Jokes aside, I’m sure this’ll catch some people a bit off guard, but I have a couple of reasons for putting this team where it is. The centerpiece of the team is obviously Crayon, who while being an insane fucking player, doesn’t necessarily solo matches in an RD2L environment, which I think a lot of people are expecting from him here. While I’ve been (very pleasantly!) surprised by Mato’s carry play recently, he’s still probably one of the weaker players in that role in div 1; he does have the massive benefit of laning with Agnitos as his 5, who should generally provide Mato with okay lanes, even when accounting for how strong some offlane duos are in this div — speaking of which, Sky+Scalar doesn’t qualify as one of those to me. Both are solid players, but definitely a bit inconsistent, and I think that inconsistency will come to hurt this team. That said, I don’t think there’s a massive gap between teams in division 1, so this squad should still be able to grab some wins — if nothing else, Crayon’s sure to go berserk a couple times.
7. Ben1 | Szajtek, Bekabow, ElNino, Citron, Crispy Bacon
Consensus points to this team being one of the worst in the division, and I’m inclined to agree. While they have some great players, I think there are too many conditions that need to be fulfilled for them to really succeed; Szajtek and Crispy Bacon make for a really strong safelane, which is obviously a massive positive, and is the part of this team that I think can be comfortably predicted to do well. However, many people — myself included — will question if Bekabow is equipped to deal with some of the best mids in the league, and I’m not sure that he necessarily is. While ElNino is obviously a top offlaner, this is the kind of top competition where he’ll really need to saddle in and avoid the occasional bad start he might otherwise get off to. That will depend in large part on how NA import Citron (also known as Silou) adjusts to playing on ping; a low 6k is a low 6k, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that playing in a different region requires adapting playstyles as well. If they can get past these challenges, this team could prove to do better than expected, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
6. Roo | Wooo, Neon, Paul, Mikel, REALLY
A common trend in division 1, I think this team also has some questions to answer before one can really judge it fairly. For this squad specifically, the first thing that pops out is if Neon will be able to keep up in the top div; he’s definitely a capable mid player with a good hero pool, but the likes of Crayon, inx and Bronhi are a different breed, and Neon will likely have to play some of his best Dota to stay competitive. From there, it’s worth also talking about the support setup; with Mikel unlikely to claim a core role here, he’ll be sat firmly in the offlane with Paul, where I do expect them to do fairly well, but it’ll be a matter of how they gel style-wise. Mikel being the 4 naturally means that REALLY will be pushed from that role into 5, which he’s generally not been as comfortable on. All in all, it’s hard to judge this team properly; Woo is undoubtedly the star here, and the team will need him to show up (which he very likely will, if we’re being honest) if they’re to have a shot.
5. Moyo | Burge, Harbinger, Cory, Ikki, Myst
Moyo started the draft by picking up the nuttiest support duo in the division for only half the coins, then adding on a great offlaner in Cory for spare change. At that point this could’ve gone on to become the best team, but I don’t think Burge and Harb were the missing pieces here. While they’re both very solid players, Harb’s no longer the 4k binning 6ks — he’s one of the 6ks being binned, and Burge will likely need some time to adjust to the level of competition here. Still, what might’ve been a slightly missed opportunity doesn’t mean this team can’t still be very threatening; Ikki and Myst provide the sidelanes with excellent supports to Cory and Burge respectively, and if Harb can manage to put out consistent performances, this team will still be able to threaten many teams.
4. Reddydas | Totti, inx4c, Frosty, Play, ColNilsOlav
I’m a bit unsure about this team, to be completely honest. One moment I’ll look over it and think it’s one of the best ones with no doubt, then I’ll look over it again 15 minutes later and be unsure if they’re even top 4. I feel like Frosty might end up being a bit in over his head in div 1, seeing as his 6k is a fairly recent accomplishment, but ideally he’ll manage to gel with Play and they’ll do an okay job in the lane. If that were to be the case, this team then has a very decent safelane with Totti and Nils, and one of the best mids with Inx. There’s just a lot of potential here, but I can see realizing that potential to possibly be an issue, so I’ll keep them in at 4th.
3. Melalez | GabePork, Moonchild, Zakke, Lil Cheat, Shift
This team’s a bit of a mixed bag, and I could pretty easily make an argument to have them lower down, if it were not for Shift. While I think the average MMR is a slight concern, and can definitely imagine the mid or offlane have issues, I think these lower average lanes will still be able to do okay with Shift pulling the strings as the game develops, and if GabePork can perform consistently (and perhaps adapt his playstyle when needed), this team will win games that they wouldn’t look likely to. Moonchild brings similar concerns as the likes of Neon, Harb or Bekabow in terms of keeping up in the 1v1 against the top players, but there’s a reason he’s in this division, and I think this team as a whole will do fairly well.
2. Denden | Logical, Tuturu, Nsphere, Arvid, Severe
It’s really hard to call what will happen with this team. I’m unsure if this is the role setup they’ll go with, though I do think it’s the likeliest one, and if it does come to fruition, it looks like a strong team. Logical and Severe could make for an incredibly strong safelane duo, and they’re both very skilled players. I haven’t seen Tuturu around for a while; back in the day he used to play a fair bit of mid, but he seems to nowadays be an offlane player. I think that role here will be reserved for Nsphere, though, with newcomer Arvid as his lane partner, so Tuturu is likely to be the mid here. If he is, and he plays the role to the level of the 6.5k MMR he’s listed at, this team could potentially be a championship contender — but that’s, at this time, a few too many conditions to rank them much higher.
1. Syrphx | Kalimoo, Bronhi, Ovidiu, Thunderdyne, Neox
My lord, this team is filthy…for the most part. Ovi’s a great offlaner, Bronhi’s a top mid, and Thunderdyne-Neox is an incredible support duo, possibly rivaling even Ikki-Myst. This could’ve easily been the best team I’d ever seen in RD2L (and hell, it still might be), but with the last pick, Neox asked Syrphx to grab Kalimoo. Now, don’t get me wrong, Kalimoo’s a great player, and I think his last main season performance showed he’s able to occasionally perform in a core role if needed, but I’m not sure he’s the piece that was needed to complete this team. Still, Neox is going to be supporting the 1, so I’m sure there’s something to him choosing Kalimoo specifically; I’ll mention that other options included the likes of Mikel, Kk, Waloo, Xela or Acid, but I won’t ramble on any longer about this. This team is still a powerhouse, so while I personally feel like the full potential for it was missed out on, it’s still my favorite for the mini — even though I think nothing is close to being locked in or free in this division, so if they want it, they’ll need to go out and get it.
This piece marks the start of a lengthy hiatus from content creation. Thanks for reading everyone — not just this piece, but all 70-something I’ve published. If you want to show your support, you can as always buy me a coffee, but equally I would love to see content in RD2L continue to blossom without me for a while, so if you have ideas, if you have motivation — go out there and create it. If you don’t, go easy on whoever does.
Good luck in Mini — see you around.