Mini Season 9 Team Reviews / Power Rankings

I’ll save the blogging for the end. Power ranking time y’all.

Division 4

The lowest division in a season is always tough to predict; it’s often home to the largest number of players new to the league, and relying purely on Dotabuffs and the little knowledge I might have on the veterans means that accurate reads on role setups are hard to make.

I expected this mini’s lowest average MMR division to feature more variance compared to last season, but as it turns out, the differences in the playerbase are reflected moreso on the highest divisions, meaning that Div 4 this season is fairly similar to Div 5 last season all across the board.

My opinion of this division upon the conclusion of the draft is that the standout players will matter less than well-balanced teams; ones without potentially weak links to be exploited. From what I’ve watched of RD2L games around this MMR range, it’s imperative for teams to all individually possess a firm grasp on the fundamentals (to whichever degree that’s possible in a 3k average MMR division) — the mini season is short, and doesn’t exactly allow for someone to build from scratch as they go if they want to succeed. This is reflected in the rankings, with teams who have significantly below average players — and teams with multiple players likely to play off-role — generally being on the lower end.

At the end of the day, though, the margins here are fairly thin, and I can genuinely see every team taking a game off any other team. My focus here is on the team reviews, and the rankings are a rough representation of my conclusions — which is why they’ve changed a ludicrous amount after the completion of the writeups.

Tier 3

8. Okami | Bandito, Okami, icOn, bernard humperdink, atnight

Average: 2614 | 3490, 3010, 2960, 290, 3320

I’ll give props where they’re due — Okami is the ballsiest taxer I’ve ever witnessed in action. It’s rare to see someone operate with such blatant disregard towards the possibility of getting some random they don’t even want for more than half their budget, but he did exactly that, multiple times.

That’s also, unfortunately, where the positives of Okami’s draft end in my perspective; while he himself is certainly capable of transitioning into a farming core role in this division, the scenarios in which captains like him want to make use of that capability are generally ones where they’ve picked up better players than themselves to fulfill that role. This isn’t the case for this team.

Icon, bernard and atnight all function best as 4s, and picking up all three of them is likely to lead to a subpar role setup. My expectation is that either Icon or atnight will often default to the 5 role in an effort to provide Bandito (the lucky one, getting to play his preferred role) with a better laning experience, and the other will join Bernard in the other side lane as the 3. Crude as it may sound, the development of a role setup for this team will center around minimizing the potential negative impact Bernard might have as the lowest MMR player in the league, and I’d say it’s consensus at this point that he can put in serviceable performances in the 4 role on heroes such as Spirit Breaker.

The trade-off, then, is likely gimping the potential value of both Icon and atnight, both of whom thrive as position 4 playmakers. The alternative is making the lane harder for Bandito, a first timer who’ll have to seriously impress to positively impact this team’s chances at winning.

All in all, this gives the team a mediocre offlane, and a mid and safe lane setup that is at best average, seeing as both lanes will host a player stepping outside their comfort zone. Nevertheless, I’m not putting it past them to get a couple wins, especially if they adjust to their roles well and play an up-tempo style that I feel would benefit the individual skillsets here.

7. ManBearSlav | ManBearSlav, m., officer andres, John, Kxavic

Average: 2812 | 3120, 3440, 3230, 3120, 1150

I’ll start again at the positives; this team’s roles make sense, and it’s fair to assume the draft was based around making sure of that. Based on past reviews, I’d expect this team to have a very friendly and positive atmosphere which will ideally leash m. a bit — at least until shit hits the fan.

Speaking of m., for all his reported issues, he’s still on the higher end of the MMR’s in this division’s mid lane. I’m wary of how the pressure of performing might affect him, though; I think m. is easily the main win condition for this team, which leads me into what I’d say is my biggest issue with this team.

ManBearSlav is, from what I know, not a very farm-focused player — to the extent that previous season reviews have dubbed him a “position 1 support”. Taking up less farm can be an entirely valid way to approach the carry role, but he’s laning with the second lowest MMR player in the division in Kxavic. Paired with most team’s offlane duos being generally quite stable, I’m afraid that this team will have a rough time in the midgame with an underfarmed core, especially against certain teams that this one looks to have a seriously poor matchup against.

The potential saving grace for this team comes from their own offlane duo; Andres and John have performed fairly well in their respective roles in past seasons, and it’s crucial for them to do so again here. If my prediction on this team’s safelane comes to fruition, it’ll take organized 4-man play on the map to create the space for ManBearSlav to catch up. This does line up well with m.’s hero pool, but their execution still needs to be very good — and they’ll need to stay in high spirits when the game looks rough, rather than go quiet, as some might have a tendency to do.

Tier 2

6. Panda | Lightning, Panda, I’MHOTEP, d3code, TheMassiveGinger

Average: 2778 | 3940, 3200, 2800, 2490, 1460

As we get into tier 2, the gaps between teams contract and it becomes much tougher to separate teams and rank them in a way that still looks right after an hour. With my final sweep over this division, it’s Panda’s team that drops all the way down to 6th, previously having been as high up as 4th.

There are plenty of positives to start off with here. Lightning is about as close as we’ll get to a standout star player in this division, having put in good shifts both in past minis, as well as in a mixed MMR environment with his WED team in season 21, which I think will have helped him improve further. I’MHOTEP seems like a steal almost, and in general considering the amount spent on Lightning, this team’s role setup makes a fair bit of sense.

On the other hand, it’s still hard to call that 72 coin pickup anything other than an overspend — with Panda likely to play mid, I imagine Lightning will play carry, and a lot of the advantage that you might get from picking such a high MMR carry in this division is likely to be offset when he’s paired up with a very low MMR support in TheMassiveGinger. When taking that into account, it becomes a matter of comparing the rest of the team to the competition, and while I’MHOTEP and d3code make for an okay offlane — and Panda provides a serviceable mid performance — I struggle to rank this team above some others. ManBearSlav’s team is a somewhat close comparison to this one, and at that point I’d call Lightning’s ability to take over the game with some space as a defining factor to putting this team higher. Generally, this team’s success depends on their ability to mesh well from my perspective — and if they do that, I can see them being more competitive than this rank might suggest.

5. DmWp | Rock Bottom, DmWp, Shadowolf, Synecdocheta, Lolkasimo

Average: 2970 | 3110, 3680, 2570, 2680, 2810

It’s at this point that we get into the more balanced teams, MMR-wise (which is just the nice way of saying “we don’t see MMR’s starting with a 1”); most teams from here on out have a pretty significant chance at winning it, and the differences are pretty slim — the ultimate outcome of the division will, I predict, depend largely on which team adapts and grows the most by the time playoffs come around. I say this because this is a team I’d had in my top 3 — and the other teams in this tier formerly occupied tier 1.

My opinion on DmWp’s team going in was a bit skewed; I think I bought into some of the hype surrounding it initially, but having looked at all the teams this one no longer stands out as much. DmWp’s past performances in a core role — standing up to significantly higher MMR players — are certainly notable, but I stand by my opinion that he’s hardly going to dominate teams alone (brought up previously in discussions about coin allocation). From there, pairing up with Rock Bottom makes for a very strong core duo in this division, but I’m honestly not convinced that this is exactly anything to write home about in the grand scheme of things.

When you move past the strong core duo, you get an offlaner with a decent hero pool in Shadowolf, and what I’d point to as the likeliest weakness of this team: the support duo.

Two-thirds of all pubs played by Synecdocheta and Lolkasimo have been on core roles, and I think that’s bound to be a concern; even with solid cores, you still have to enable them with decent lanes, and I’m unconvinced that the mini group stage gives you enough time to get over that hurdle — one that multiple other teams don’t have to face.

4. Moyo | xyu, Owl, Moyo, Ruski, Pajazo

Average: 3036 | 3000, 3390, 2760, 3080, 2950

This is a weird one.

Moyo was experienced enough to put together a very sensible draft. Known and friendly players — all of whom play their fair share of pubs, fairly high MMRs and no apparent role clashes that they can’t address fairly easily…and yet, I’m unconvinced that they’re a top top team.

I value stability and consistency very highly, but with this team, I’m concerned that they don’t necessarily have anyone who tips the scales in even games — no one to pop off and win it. Owl’s been a mainstay in the core ranks of the lowest division, has a deep hero pool and is on paper one of the best mids in the division — yet I don’t really see his teams get that far, even if he does occasionally dominate games. I haven’t gotten to see much of Xyu’s carry play in an RD2L context (assuming he does in fact finally get the role here!), but I’d wager he’ll also struggle to consistently take over games. This is less to say that Xyu and Owl make for a bad core duo — they’re at absolute very worst “average” (and I think the team surrounding them is better than that of other similar duos) — and more to suggest that I’ve ranked other teams above this one.

In all honesty, the idea that nothing really sticks out about this team is both their biggest pro and a con — they’re very stable, and I don’t see any of them weighing the team down (and therefore have a hard time imagining this team will do plain bad), but at the same time, I’m not sure anyone on this team will really lead the charge and make shit happen in the harder games. I can’t exactly comment much on Ruski and Pajazo and their gameplay, but my key takeaway for this team is that I believe they’ll need someone to step up and really make things happen if they’re to challenge for a championship — considering that they have the tools to do so.

3. Van Daminator | Emalina / Ezz, Hamma, Codenamechicken, Quack like a Duck, Van Daminator

Average: 2856 | 3960, 3100, 2460, 2600, 2160

This team now only borders tier 1, having been my favorites in past iterations of the rankings.

It’s easy to spot why they’d be good. A top-2 MMR core in Emalina, with a super solid core duo partner in Hamma, backed up by a supporting cast consisting of players in their main roles. Their core duo should likely make for a pair that provides multiple win conditions to the team — and based on my own season review, Quack could easily provide a 3rd in this division.

Now, less-known higher MMR cores falling to a lower div is hardly uncommon in RD2L, but it certainly fucks with whichever poor sap is sat there writing power rankings, because it’s essentially a coinflip. They might just be a fuckload better than anyone else in the div and instawin, they might do literally nothing of note and you’re left looking silly for ranking their team high. I’ll justify this placement by saying I’m sure Hamma will carry if Emalina doesn’t or that Quack’s gonna destroy with Visage or some such.

That said, the cast surrounding the star player is the exact reason why this team is ranked higher than rosters with a similar make up — I think they’ll have a better time in their lanes, and have the players to capitalize on advantages. Looking purely at the hero pools at work here, this team should be able to close out games that they start well — but as with multiple others, the key factor to enabling that is good communication.

Tier 1

2. maGE | SYF, Mikee, Hanswurst, Insp1r3, maGE

Average: 2924 | 2890, 3100, 3810, 2570, 2250

The tier 2 rollercoaster was wild, and it’s had an impact on tier 1 as well. This is a team I’d originally had bordering the third tier; they’re now sat at second.

The key strength I’d point out for maGE’s team here is that they’re an incredibly tough matchup for a fair few other teams, with their offlaner, Hanswurst, being the third highest MMR player in the entire division. With an offlane hero pool capable of destroying lanes and then proceeding to dominate the game, Hanswurst should be able to lock down games against some of the weaker safelane duos in the division, with Insp1r3 looking like a decently experienced 4 for his MMR.

What pushes this team upwards in the rankings, however, is the fact that they’re not solely reliant on their highest MMR player. Mikee was touted as a high-value pick in previous seasons, and his notable MMR climb to low 3k is a reflection of just how true this was. I think he’s bound to continue impressing, and predict him to remain a very stable midlane presence. My best guess for the safelane setup sees SYF as the core and maGE as the support, largely due to the MMR difference (especially if SYF’s signup claim of playing to a mid-3k level holds up to scrutiny — even if these statements rarely do) — but I could nonetheless imagine it being the other way around when accounting for comfort.

I’d say this is probably the team I had the hardest time landing on a ranking for; if I had to point out something to attribute this to, it’d probably be that I haven’t seen these players do much in RD2L. At the end of the day, having looked at all the teams individually, I just couldn’t really point to good enough reasons to keep this team as low in the rankings as I’d initially had them. It’s a well-balanced team overall, lacking significant downside, with the potential threat of Mikee popping off if he can transition his pub grind into tournament performances.

1. Teky | Mash, Teky, PapaSthterny, FredAstaire, Friendlyguy

Average: 2928 | 3500, 2700, 3040, 2600, 2800

I’ll be real with you — I had this team ranked all over the place in various drafts of the rankings. On paper, my initial feeling was that it looks like a stable team, brought down by the necessity to play people off role.

Doing more research on it, though, caused a complete 180. This team’s core trio has already played a good number of games together, and they appear to have been utterly dominant, with Teky and Papa making use of the heroes they’ve got experience on in their usual roles to ease the transition into the 2 and 3 roles respectively. Mash has been putting in work on the carry role, and Fred and Friendlyguy make for a great and reliable support duo in the division.

There’s a decent chance that I’m valuing a couple of pubs entirely too much in this ranking, but one major insight I’ve gleaned from the last couple of seasons is that — especially in a division based format — practice is key. It helps that this should, by all accounts, be a great team to play in, with lots of friendly players, and the vast majority of my concerns for this team — largely Teky’s and Papa’s new roles — are significantly alleviated by their recent activity, proving that they’ve improved from their RD2L experience, especially on a mechanical level. If they do end up practicing as much as it looks like they will, I can see these problems being offset very soon.

Of course, there’s a fairly decent chance that these pubs don’t end up mattering, and they could get rolled over…but I think this is just a very well rounded team, with stable lanes and multiple win conditions, lacking any massive red flags — and with what looks like to be the ambition to improve and gun for the championship, I’ll mark them down as my favorites.

Division 3

In what’s potentially a stark contrast compared to Div 4, I can see individual players’ star power mattering a lot more in this division. This is largely because I believe that the smaller MMR ranges in this div’s teams will lead to fewer issues with a lower skill support offsetting a core player’s potential, so teams will have an easier time enabling standout players as win conditions.

On the flip side, as you go up the divisions, the individual impact of players in non-core roles also increases, and I think a couple of teams in this division serve as a good potential showcase of that.

This was probably the hardest division to rank — and that’s after what you just read in Div 4. There’s a couple of factors that contribute to this — a fair few players here have gained (or in some cases lost) a significant amount of MMR since I last saw them, and there are a lot of fairly odd role setups. This meant that my initial thoughts upon the conclusion of the draft have changed significantly after some research, and even then, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these teams take a series against any of the others.

Tier 3

8. Rinku | KCC, Rinku, hi5, WormFrizzer, Paiers

Average: 3996 | 4400, 4210, 4030, 3300, 4040

I don’t know that there’s a better showcase of how competitive this division is than this being my lowest ranked team. A good MMR spread in the tri core and veteran supports are almost exactly what I consider as the baseline for a decent RD2L team, but I think this team has a couple issues that might make them less consistent than their opponents.

I’ll start with what I believe to be this team’s strengths — hi5, in the right set of circumstances, can absolutely take over games from the offlane in this division. Both Rinku and himself are capable of playing at a very high tempo on the right heroes, and I can see them snatching up some great wins when they get off to a great start in lanes. Hi5 also has a tendency to be quite vocal (admittedly often to the chagrin of higher MMR players in inhouses), but he has the potential to call the shots in this team and have them play around him.

This idea, however, is somewhat preconditioned on his lanes going very well; this leads us to Captain Rubick (aka WormFrizzer). While he’s by no means an awful player, I can’t help but question how this team ended up with a 4 player who is far below the average MMR of the division, considering the plethora of players in the role in this season’s draft pool (to the extent that other teams have role issues due to picking up too many of them!). Paiers is everpresent in RD2L, but I’ve had the impression that he’s never quite managed to play to his MMR in comp, and I think he’ll need to do so this time around to justify the pickup.

Rinku’s a longstanding veteran, one of the few lower MMR players to always wiggle their way into a core role — but unfortunately rarely to a winning result. If I could point to one thing that would make this team better in my eyes, it’d be Rinku stepping up to the plate and start to well and truly dominate games from the 2. Finally, KCC’s likely going to be starting at the 1 here — despite usually being an offlane player — and I have mixed expectations. He’s the teams highest MMR player, but looking at his previous RD2L success (or lack thereof — though it’d be fair to dismiss this history due to playing in mediocre friendship stacks), I can’t really imagine him outperforming proven cores.

All in all, this team has the potential to do well, but most of their previous records would suggest this won’t be the case. That said, I’m definitely down to witness a redemption arc for a bunch of vets!

7. Sakoh | Mattador, Zorenb, Rain.Reloader, Sakoh, Thronplunder

Average: 4132 | 5000, 4550, 3550, 4200, 3360

I straight up have no idea what to make of this one.

Mattador’s always been more of a support player in my mind (at least in a competitive environment), though Dotabuff suggests I might be wrong on that; Rain’s been playing Dota again since about November after not touching the game for like 2 years; Thron’s a…questionable pickup for 5, as I can’t imagine he’s too keen on playing the role when he could’ve been playing carry in Div 4 (and I’d wager Sakoh’s pickup of him largely has to do with name recognition).

This leaves us with Zoren and Sakoh, who, well, fair enough. The both of them are likely to put in a fairly consistent level of performances as always, though I’ll mention here that I’d like to see Zoren play less passive in this division.

It’s hard to tell, really; Mattador could’ve easily found a spot in a higher division, but he’s a jack of all trades, master of none — and I can’t help but think this team’ll need him to perform at least very close to his MMR in the carry role, which is something I think they might struggle with.

This team’s win condition at a glance comes in the form of Sakoh enabling Zoren with rotations and then playing off that advantage, as I see their sidelanes struggling against some higher MMR duos. Mattador’s carry play remains the deciding factor, though, and is likely to ultimately decide how well this team really does.

Tier 2

6. Ashteezy | Godzilla, Ashteezy, Falls, King Fox, Ariu

Average: 4208 | 4350, 4100, 4100, 4760, 3730

If roles, like, weren’t a thing, this team’d be fine.

Unfortunately, they, uh, are.

All of these players individually are pretty good, and if they, well, played different positions, this team might’ve been on the higher end of tier 2, but I can’t help but think multiple players are going to end up being kinda gimped here. Ashteezy and King Fox are both mainly 4 players, and no matter what they do, they’ll likely be reducing the potential impact that one of them can have.

My prediction for this team is that we’ll see Ariu take up the safelane support role — avoiding the risk of him underperforming in a core role after a very (very) lengthy break, with Ashteezy sliding over to mid. There’s the possibility of Godzilla playing mid, with Ash playing carry, but the setup’s not exactly ideal no matter what you do.

Falls and King Fox should easily make for a top tier offlane duo, but I have significant concerns about their coordination, both being incredibly quiet (or, well, mute, in Falls’ case) players. This is largely problematic because this team would ideally like to play around the two of them, and to that end it’d be great if one of them would step it up in terms of communication.

Admittedly, my portrayal of this team might sound a bit grim, but they could VERY easily outperform this ranking if Ashteezy proves to play a decent mid and if they come into this with a decent mutual understanding of each others’ play, but at this point this feels like too many conditions that many other teams don’t fulfill.

5. Greenman | Greenman, Regu, LeProff, Jayachdee, Ben1

Average: 4088 | 4200, 4840, 3210, 4050, 4140

Greenman’s squad here has a significant number of strengths. Greenman and Ben (who’s now about, what, 4.7k, rather than 4.1?) should make for a top 2 safelane duo; Regu is arguably decent enough to have been snagged on the cheap for a div 2 team, and while he’s far from a mid player (especially in the hero pool department), he’s still good enough to put in a serviceable shift in the role in Div 3. If anything, you could argue that his, uh, esoteric?, mid hero pool will complement Greenman’s farm intensive playstyle well.

From there, though, I think this team’s offlane will struggle significantly. LeProff is a questionable offlane pickup for this division, and I’m unsure how Jay will perform in this team — he’d recently transitioned from the 3 to the 5, and I have concerns about the viability of his hero pool in yet another role (especially if and when Furion is banned).

I struggle to call this team bad, really, because I expect Greenman and Regu to do fairly well, but they seem overall less well-rounded and stable than the teams I’ve opted to rank higher.

4. LukeSkyFAKER | Joll, LukeSkyFAKER, GrimR, Mitko, Nonesk

Average: 3944| 4800, 3900, 3800, 3590, 3630

I’ll lead by saying that Joll is, in my opinion, the likeliest player to individually dominate in this div, and this is the crux of why I’ve ranked this team as high as I have.

Admittedly, this team does rely a fair bit on Luke also stepping up — and that’s potentially a concern for this team, as his previous outings in lower divisions haven’t been nearly as impressive as they needed to be.

While the rest of the team is fairly low MMR, I’d describe all of them as being generally high value; Nonesk is a capable enough 5 who should enable Joll’s laning (especially with some guidance), and while Grim and Mitko are easily the weak point of the team (and are likely going to have a rough time against a couple teams), the rest of the lanes are likely to offset that.

If Luke and Joll step up, that is.

3. Ipwnturkeys | whatisreal, Ipwnturkeys, zGrozemag, Bleapo, NoKetchup

Average: 4156 | 5020, 4390, 4120, 3710, 3540

I’m once again choosing to go for the risky options to top the rankings; there’s a fair few unknowns from here on out, but I see a lot of potential in the following teams.

whatisreal’s turned to the grind after not playing for a long while, but as the highest MMR player in the div and significant experience in his role, I expect him to shake this rust off fast, and make an impact in a division that he’s arguably not supposed to be in.

From there, newcomer and captain Ipwnturkeys might have marked his mid comfort at only a 2, but I think he won’t struggle much in brushing off the dust from the plethora of mid heroes populating his most played. Despite a listed MMR of 4.3k, his Dotabuff suggests he’s a couple hundred above that, and while claims of past glory in signup statements are historically dubious at best, if he does end up playing anywhere close to his supposed 5.3k peak, this team will have the most dangerous core duo in the div.

Grozemag has his downfalls, but he’s a versatile offlaner who should be a good fit with the core duo here. The support duo of Bleapo and Ketchup is on the lower end, but the former looks to have a really decent 4 pool and seems to already be practicing the role, while the latter has done well enough as a 5 in prior teams.

Overall, this team’s very unpredictable, but have an extremely high ceiling. If they reach it, they’re easy contenders — if they don’t, they might be a bottom team. Time will tell, I guess?

Tier 1

2. Moggoblin | Mint, Lucky, Vanderquack, Moggoblin, Muetobs

Average: 4142 | 5000, 4080, 4000, 3820, 3810

I’ll switch things up and start with the major concerns this time. Mint, despite being a 5k player, has sparse (at best) recent activity, and for this team’s sake it’d be a boon if he just had his profile private for a long time and hasn’t parsed history yet. That said, his recent games seem promising enough and I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that he’ll do fine.

Similarly, I’m predicting Lucky — by and large mostly a support player — to take up the 2 role, and while it might take a bit of time for him to get into the swing of things, I don’t think he’ll necessarily detract from the overall quality of the team. That said, he’s the likeliest player to underperform on this team, considering some of the better mid players in the div.

Sparse activity remains a theme with Vanderquack (an associate of a long time RD2L vet who I’d imagine might help him out with shaking off the rust), but he’s paired with a stable 4 in Moggoblin, who has done well in previous outings in RD2L. From there, I can easily see muetobs enabling Mint’s lane — and in general being one of the better 5s in the division.

Call me crazy — I might just be, considering how unpredictable this team is — but I think they’re gonna do very well in this season, with Mint hopefully leading the charge.

1. G0nd4r | Marty, Gsk, Diddi, G0nd4r, Daft

Average: 4180 | 4600, 4310, 4150, 3890, 3950

I honestly don’t have that much to say about this team — it just looks super solid.

Marty and Gsk are both almost purely mid players, and while I’m unsure how that’ll really work out in practice, my prediction is that they’ll switch around based on the heroes they pick. I’m gonna say that Marty is gonna be the 1 by default, purely because he appears to play slightly more carry, but in any case, I think they’ll make for a very good core duo in this div, especially considering the plethora of awful annoying shit they can whip out at any point, like Gsk’s Visage or Brood.

From there, the supporting cast is stable as well; Diddi’s been a consistent RD2L player in whichever role he ends up playing from my experience, and I think his lane with Gondar’s going to do okay.

Finally, I think there’s a good reason Gondar had to shell out 40 coins for Daft — he’s by all accounts a very good support, with a deep hero pool that I think will be key to enabling his lane partner.

The obvious question is how well Marty and Gsk can work together, but considering the common thread with my top 3 teams here of unpredictability and high potential, I feel like this team likely starts closest to their ceiling.

Division 2

From here on out, the process becomes a bit easier on my end. I’m more familiar with the players in the top two divisions, but that’s hardly a guarantee for the accuracy of the rankings.

If anything, while I may have had an easier time ranking these teams, this could easily turn out to be the most unpredictable division — there’s been loose themes for the lower two divisions, and if I had to define one for div 2, it’d be the teams’ mentalities.

I think how well teams gel — both play and personality wise — will be the deciding factor in this division, and I think the ability of individual players to have consistently massive and game-changing impact is limited.

Tier 3

8. Gains | Aizu, PONPO, Gains, Bambina, Mev

Average: 4900 | 4400, 5240, 4770, 4920, 5170

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Gains went into this with the express purpose of assembling a stack with Aizu, and while the picks he went with to round out the rest of the roster are pretty decent, they’re not quite enough to create what I think is going to be a winning team.

I think a large part of his plan here was to ensure that he’d get Bambina, who looks like an insanely high value 4 — wide pool, has obviously been significantly higher MMR at some point in the past — and while he did accomplish that, he didn’t shell out much for Aizu’s eventual core partner. Ponpo is a decent mid player, and his recent win in SUN with Codex coaching the team is fairly likely to lead to him improving, but I think this team would’ve needed a top shelf mid player to contend, considering Aizu’s fairly low MMR.

Mev is a nice 5 pickup in a pool lacking higher MMR safelane supports, and while this does give the team likely the best support duo in the division (and I’m still lowkey mad Gains yoinked Bambina), there’s a lack of win conditions here from my perspective.

7. Grimmjow | Grimmjow, Rapdis, Viper, Mangology, Dildawg

Average: 5236 | 4760, 5610, 5070, 4890, 5850

It’s a bit unfortunate for Grimmjow to be captaining in this div; if he wasn’t a captain, he wouldn’t have necessarily been guaranteed to end up on a Div 2 team, and if he did, he’d have been a late and cheap fringe pick.

Nevertheless, he put together a pretty decent team here, largely as a consequence of the same concept that he himself has benefitted from in other drafts as a player — people with a negative reputation tend to go fairly cheap. Thus, a 20 coin high 5k support in a low 5k average division lacking supports.

The offlane pool, on the flip side, was barren, and Viper was a decent enough pick in the situation. I’ll mention at this point that there’s a chance that Viper ends up playing 5 and Dildawg takes up the offlane core role, but I doubt it, as I think both have a preference for the roles I’ve listed here.

Rapdis is definitely on the higher end of the mid pool, returning to RD2L after a long time away (and having climbed a significant amount of MMR since then, I might add), while Mangology is an okay 4 — I think he could’ve done a decent job in the offlane for another team.

Overall, this team is…well, it’s okay at best. There’s a lot of pressure on Rapdis to really make things happen — Grimmjow and Viper are both fairly passive players (unless we’re talking about diving tier 4’s, in which case Grimmjow’s your guy), and Mango’s generally fairly quiet. I’m predicting that Dildawg’s gonna have to end up talking a fuckload (which, to be fair, doesn’t seem like something he’d have a problem with), but probably more importantly, the team’s gonna need to listen.

Tier 2

6. Brainy Gonzo | SwagMander, Brainy Gonzo, Sparvel, Kryx, zom

Average: 5212 | 5520, 5500, 5020, 5020, 5000

This is about right for what you’d expect after getting taxed to 75% of your budget for you first pick, but I think this wasn’t the worst player pool for that specific situation.

I’m giving a lot of credit specifically to the amount of Dota Swag and Gonzo have played together, especially in a competitive setting, and that synergy is what I predict to be the cornerstone of any potential success this team might have. Sparvel seems like more of a mid player than anything, but should be an okay offlaner, and his lane partner Kryx has proven to be a fairly reliable option with a stable hero pool.

This leaves Zom, who I assume will be playing 5 (though I might have him and Kryx swapped?). More than 750 Techies games. Fuck me. Disgusting.

In any case, I think Gonzo made the best of a bad situation here, and while I do think Swag’s a very good core in this division, I think this team doesn’t really have the overall quality to be a contender.

5. Kalisdar | Denden, Valaki, NaClO, LegitSplit, Kalisdar

Average: 5154 | 5100, 5420, 5310, 5140, 4800

How many carry players can you fit on one team? Kalisdar’s team here would suggest that the answer is about 4 and a half.

I’m guessing that LegitSplit and Valaki made all the captains in the division well aware of them being a package deal, but I don’t think Kalisdar realized how much he’d need to commit to make that happen. It’s pretty funny that he got taxed hard enough for LegitSplit that he ended up being 7 coins more expensive than Valaki, but in hindsight this was probably better for Kalisdar.

In any case, the role situation isn’t too grim. Kalisdar’s played 5 previously in RD2L — including teams where Denden was also his lane partner — and both NaClO and LegitSplit seemed open to playing the roles they’ll likely be assuming in this team, with both already hard at work practicing.

Nevertheless, I think this team might just end up playing a bit too slow to match the competition, and having multiple players in roles they’re not very experienced in isn’t going to help in that regard, with the saving grace being that they all have fairly high individual skill ceilings in matches.

4. SassyFoodsRep | Grac, Huttendrutt, STJ, SassyFoodsRep, Fred

Average: 5276 | 5700, 5800, 5010, 5270, 4600

If we’re looking at individual player skill, this is just far and away the best team in the division. Grac and Hutten are both very good cores — admittedly, they’re both almost purely mid, but I’m predicting Grac 1 because Hutten’s pretty likely to whine if he doesn’t get the role — Sassy was supposedly a 6k+ player recently (until he butchered the recal), and STJ and Fred are quality players for this div.

Why in god’s name is this team not ranked first, then?

Well, if I rank someone first, it means I expect them to win the championship. I’m not sure this team lasts long enough for that. Grac’s a mute, Huttendrutt is potentially the single most grating individual I’ve come to know in any Dota community, and I’m not sure STJ’s gonna stay sane there either.

Fred’s a saint and Sassy’s too new for me to know much, but all I can say about him is that he’s picked a hell of a team. In like, multiple ways. Baptism by fire. If they’re not at each others’ throats they probably win it.

3. Syrphx | Valchers, Masly, Syrphx, Gecko, Butters

Average: 4980 | 5300, 5610, 4950, 4700, 4340

Syrphx did something really cool with the draft; recognizing the number of great value support picks towards the lower end of the draft pool, as well as below the cutoff, he didn’t hesitate to spend his entire budget on two early core picks.

This gave him a core duo of Valchers and Masly, and he’s fairly confident playing offlane (and I’d imagine he had no issues doing so with a core duo like this). Butters and Gecko are both high value supports, both bringing good hero pools with picks that enemy teams will need to watch out for.

I don’t really have much to say here; I think this is genuinely a pretty strong team, with a 1/2 duo who can flex depending on heroes. The one concern I have for them is that there’s not really a very vocal shotcaller on the team, and I do think this’ll pop up as an issue occasionally.

Tier 1

2. Madsen | LPSD, Dodgy Dan, Madsen, Chris3105, Skully

Average: 5004 | 4660, 5800, 5350, 4790, 4420

This is the second mini power ranking in a row where I’m less sure about my own team’s role setup than most other teams’.

In any case, I still value LPSD at about low 5k, and while he does need some leashing, playing in the offlane allows me to focus on being the leasher, rather than the, uh, leashee? It’s easily my second best role, and with Dan easily being one of the best mids in the division, I’d argue my team has a top tier tricore.

I think many others had a similar idea in focusing on their cores and safelane supports, and then looking towards the plentiful pool of high value, lower MMR position 4 players. Chris has the kind of hero pool I really wanted for my 4, and is more vocal than a lot of potentially similar options.

That only leaves Skully, who some might point to as the weak link of the team; I’d argue that the opposite is true, and that he’s one of the best 5s in the entire division.

Either way, it’s a team I think is going to be really fun to play with, and is likely to contend.

1. Haraway | Muffinsan, Raffie, Haraway, Kimer, Kronboss

Average: 5158 | 5100, 5300, 5500, 4610, 5280

I know that Haraway’s happy with this team, and he has reason to be. He got players he wanted, and in a surprising turn of events, the players he wanted make for a good team. Jokes aside, I don’t think that there’s too much to be said about this team. I don’t think they’re massive favorites of anything — it looks to be a competitive division — but to bring up an idea I’ve mentioned before in these rankings, amongst multiple high potential teams, Haraway’s starts closest to achieving it.

Muffinsan and Raffie both make for solid cores in their respective roles — both with their own occasional issues (Haraway might need to head over to the pet store and pick up a leash or two), and Kimer and Haraway should make for a really good offlane duo in this div, especially if they can sneak a certain Estonian onto Kimer’s account.

I don’t know much about Kronboss (other than the fact that I was certain he’d end up on the Syrphx team pre-draft), but he’s a high MMR flex player which is a good fit here.

I’ll echo the sentiment I have for my own team — I think this is a fun team to play with that will contend for the championship.

Division 1

The premiere division of RD2L — there’s fewer gimmicks to look at here. I’m focusing entirely on the quality of the teams.

Tier 3

8. Kalisdar | lookalive, Cvaekt, Frosty, Yunai, Myst

Average: 6094 | 6230, 5900, 6080, 6230, 6030

I am not convinced by this team. While being the second lowest average MMR team doesn’t have to mean much in RD2L, it’s not like this team has players who are significantly below the average and I think that in this case it’s an indication that there’s less individual quality on this team.

Cvaekt is an alright core player, but I think he should’ve ideally landed in a support role in this division, considering it’s been the role he’s focused on more in the last while. I think he’s likely to struggle against the rest of the competition 1v1.

lookalive and Myst make for a nice and tidy little safelane, and this team will have to rely on them making shit happen consistently.

The offlane features Frosty paired up with Yunai, and I can’t help but be underwhelmed with this duo; admittedly the offlane duos look to be a weakness for most teams, but I haven’t necessarily been too impressed with either of these guys in their previous outings at the higher levels of RD2L.

It’s worth mentioning that this team is also fairly susceptible to personality clashes; I think rough games will only really get rougher here. One positive is that, between Yunai and Myst, this team will probably have good enough direction in games, but it’ll be a matter of execution if they’re to make use of that.

7. Poly | Xela, Acid, Cory, Barg, Kalimoo

Average: 6112 | 6480, 5690, 6000, 6100, 6290

This honestly isn’t as awful a team as many people might’ve made it out to be; it’s not great either though.

I think a lot of people would point at personality clashes as a potential issue, but I feel like these guys are all individually capable of taking a step back and not getting into it — whether they’ll do so if it comes to it remains to be seen.

Past that, Xela and Acid are an okay core duo — they’re nothing to write home about, and I suspect they might need to adjust their farm intensity to allow space for the other. Cory and Barg honestly might make for one of the better offlane partnerships in the division, but I think they can both struggle with consistency sometimes. Kalimoo is a bit of an enigma as always; we’ve seen him both under and overperform in RD2L in the past, but this team needs him to just, well, perform…preferably to the level his MMR might indicate.

Overall, this team’s essentially just okay, but I don’t really see anything to persuade me that they’ll be a top team. I think it’ll be a fun team to watch, though — it feels like all of these players individually either do really well or fall completely flat, and if that’s a quality that the team as a whole holds, it’ll be entertaining to neutrals.

Tier 2

6. Hazel | Szajtek, Waloo, Nsphere, Sardanapalos, Nappa

Average: 6148 | 7520, 5930, 6050, 6100, 5140

As much as I hate to say it, I think Nsphere might just be the deciding factor on this team.

Szajtek and Waloo are both very capable cores, but have struggled to really make a splash at the highest level of competition in RD2L in the past. Sardanapalos is perhaps a questionable pickup, as he’s been known to not necessarily play to his MMR, and Nappa’s by far the lowest MMR player in the division — though I think most would agree that it’s not far fetched to see him here, considering the lack of 5s, as well as his reliability and experience in playing in games well above his MMR.

Keeping that in mind, it’s hard to look past Nsphere as the x-factor. He’s willed wins into existence doing the weirdest shit, and generally tends to do fairly well in minis. If he manages to have a noticeable impact in these matches — and pulls the strings behind the scenes in the team — he can turn this rag tag bunch into potential fringe contenders.

Even so, I think there’s still a lot of pressure on this team’s cores to really step up this time around. It’s hard to tell what exactly has kept them back in the past, but if Szajtek and Waloo change things up, they could become the scariest core duo in the division.

5. Sparta | TOP, Bronhi, SgtAverage, Saltimpagos, Blackbriar

Average: 6048 | 7230, 5810, 5500, 6000, 5700

Cross off TOP’s name and I’m not sure this team cracks tier 2, but it’s inarguable that he makes any team at least a potential contender.

The duo of TOP and Bronhi is absolutely this team’s biggest strength, and I’d argue the rest of the team falls a bit flat — at which point it becomes a question of just how good that core duo is. Good enough to contend? I’m unsure. There’s a bunch of just very good teams. Compared to those stable teams, what’s this one working with?

SgtAverage is probably about as out of place in this division as he feels he is — add onto that that he likely won’t even be playing what many would say is his best role, and you’re left with Saltimpagos and Blackbriar. Both are solid players, but aren’t exactly the greatest Div 1 supports.

This team is likely to struggle, but it’s really hard to rank a TOP (hah!) team any lower than this.

4. Moyo | Jedi Judas, Wesside, Sky, Nyctea, Codex

Average: 6190 | 6050, 6610, 6600, 6130, 5560

A bit of an odd team, it’s nonetheless a very well rounded one. Let’s go down the line here.

Defining Judas’ skill level depends almost entirely on who you ask. To some, he’s an overrated AFK farmer; to others, he’s a capable carry who easily deserves his 6k. I think Codex is a really good fit for Judas in the lane, and I feel like they’ll have a good dynamic throughout the entire game.

Wess is a bit of an enigma; he’s won seasons, but he’s also been highly underwhelming for a player of his MMR. Admittedly, I think he’s the kind of player who is likelier to thrive in a higher skill environment, and I’m quite excited to see a potentially more serious Wess.

Nyctea is a bit of an unknown, but seems to be keen on keeping up with the meta and practicing their role, which I think also makes for a good fit with Sky. Speaking of whom, I think there’s a bit of a trend for the players on this team — they’re either gods or, well, godawful, depending on who you ask.

This team has a really high ceiling in my opinion, and I think they have the individual players to realize that if they really give it their best as well.

3. SgtAverage | Neon, Tides, Schuffi, Mikel, Shift

Average: 6122 | 5650, 5960, 6000, 5700, 7300

Welcome to the Shift show.

If you sub in any player other than Shift into the final slot in this roster, I’m calling them tier 3 at the very best, but I genuinely believe — based on what I’ve seen and heard — that he’ll really get the most out of the players on this roster, and that they’ll all end up improving a fair bit with him as well.

Neon and Tides are both mid players, but it seems that Neon will transition over to the 1 and they’ll swap around based on heroes. Schuffi’s recently climbed up to 6k playing offlane, and, well, Mikel is Mikel — I think he’ll do fine, though will likely need to turn down his propensity to take waves his cores might be able to take to enable Neon and Tides.

Honestly, I think ranking this team as high as I have here is a bit bold, but my thinking is that, while they’re not contenders just yet, I believe they might be by the time the playoffs come around.

Tier 1

2. Syrphx | Takeshi, Moonchild, Cloud, Zakke, Neox

Average: 6220 | 5700, 5850, 6200, 6600, 6750

This is a really good squad in my opinion.

Neox and Zakke make for a great support duo to enable their lane partners and control the pace of the game. Moonchild is a really good mid player whose MMR is, in my opinion, super misleading, and Cloud’s been steadily improving.

This leaves Takeshi as the odd man out, being the lowest MMR in the team — and one of the lowest in the division, if you don’t account for him being adjusted up, pre-draft — but I genuinely think he’s a capable carry player who will benefit significantly from the direction that a reliable shotcaller like Neox will provide (read: BIG ol’ leash).

I don’t have much to say past that. Honestly, this just straight up looks like a good team.

1. Maus | Harbinger, Water, jihadi swamp, Crysen, Dredi

Average: 6456 | 6120, 6450, 5630, 7680, 6400

And this looks like an even better one.

Crysen for 61 coins is highway robbery, but it doesn’t really become obscene until the Water pickup. This means this team has a duo of a now 8k (if the chatter’s to be trusted) 4 player, and a 6.5k mid player, who have played a fuckload of games together and have even won tournaments together. Just that would’ve made this team a contender, but picking up Dredi as one of the best 5s in the pool makes for an absolutely insane support duo.

Some sacrifices needed to be made, so the tri core is rounded out with Harb and Jihadi Swamp. Jihadi’s been a bit underwhelming in RD2L, but I think laning with Crysen’s going to go a long way to offsetting that.

Harb would’ve preferred to play mid, but I think he’ll give up the role to Water and instead play safelane, where once again I can easily see a lack of experience being offset by partnering up with Dredi, whose hero pool is likely to make the lane a lot easier.

Naturally, the concern for this team is that we’re all overrating Crysen — and potentially also Water — but, uh, I’m not betting against them.

Holy fuck. I remember why I stopped doing this shit.

This is likely to be my last content piece for RD2L. Massive thanks to everyone who’s read and supported my content — trust me when I say the community is really the only reason I did it.

Thanks for reading — and have a good mini.

Clarity League Content Writer | Main Over at medium.com/@Maadsen | Buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/madsen03

Clarity League Content Writer | Main Over at medium.com/@Maadsen | Buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/madsen03