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2020 is coming to a close after it ravaged the lives of most of us in many aspects. While the coronavirus changed entirely our day by day life in many aspects, it also forced everyone to adapt to a new “normal” and find solutions to a lot of problems brought by the pandemic. 

Esports were not spared and challenges occurred every month of the year for everyone working in the field. For the Dota 2 scene, 2020 was the first year without the cornerstone championship, The International. It was a year when Valve’s lack of communication and involvement hindered the professional scene more than ever, but through all the difficulties and the mess, the community still found moments to cherish and enjoy the game they love. 

Here is a look back at the best and worst moments of the year as they happened starting with January 2020.

The year started absolutely marvelously with the WePlay! Bukovel Minor. A fairytale setup in a sky resort in the Carpathian Mountains set the fans expectations for greater tournaments for the whole year. 

Best of January 2020

WePlay!Bukovel Minor has without a doubt delivered the best production value of a Minor in the history of the DPC season. It was also the first event to witness a tier 5 neutral item drop in the second game of the best-of-five grand finals between Nigma and Royal Never Give Up.

Team Secret started what was to become their most dominant year ever by winning DreamLeague Season 3, the only Major of 2020. 

At the end of the month, the whole Dota 2 community got to relive alongside OG their incredible performance of defending the Aegis of Champions at TI9 as True Sight was released on January 28 with a live premiere in Berlin, Germany at the Babylon Theatre.

SumaiL was announced to have joined OG right after the True Sight premiere. 

credits: OG

Worst of January 2020

OG roster change hit the team’s fans first with JerAx’s retirement announcement, then with Ceb stepping down from active play once again and Ana going into an inactive status for an unknown period. 

Best of February 2020

The competitive scene and especially the tier 2 teams got a new hope from Valve, as the game developer announced a change for the 2020-2021 Dota Pro circuit and introduced Regional Leagues split into three seasons, each season ending with a Major.  

WePlay! Esports managed to eclipse their own Bukovel Minor production value with Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon which set new standards in the industry. 

Worst of February 2020

Mid-February, during the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor China qualifiers erupted a match fixing scandal that later on would get the Newbee expelled from the Chinese DOTA2 Professional Association and all players lifetime banned from ImbaTV and CDA tournaments.

PSG.LGD made a curious roster change, removing Wang “Ame” Chunyul from the roster, but the worst part came just five days later when they also benched his replacement, Lai “Ahjit” Jay with Li “ASD” Zhiwen.

J.Storm became the first North American organization to leave the Dota 2 scene, even before the world was put on pause by the pandemic. J.Storm have never made an official comment regarding their decision, leaving their roster to enter the ESL One Major qualifiers without a sponsor.  This marked the beginning of Business Associates. 

March 2020 

The month of March witnessed the first events going to be canceled as coronavirus spread became a pandemic problem. ESL One Los Angeles Major, EPICENTER and OGA Dota PIT were the first DPC events to get initially postponed and later on cancelled.

Best of April 2020

Alliance surprised the fans for the second time in a span of a couple of weeks by welcoming back their TI winner, Gustav “s4” Magnusson, after keeping the headlines in the previous month when they dropped Neta “33” Shapira and Adrian “Fata” Trinks from the roster. The two of them were founding members of the roster signed by Alliance in the post TI9 shuffle. 

OG made a historical 40,000 gold deficit comeback against Team Secret in the ESL One Los Angeles Online upper bracket semifinals. 

Worst of April 2020

The International 10 gets postponed. In their announcement, Valve talked about the possibility of not hosting TI at all in 2020 and stated that the event is “likely to happen in 2021.” 

Best of May 2020

TI10 battle pass is released with plenty of content and the prize pool reaches 10 Million dollars in less than three days setting a new record for the fastest growth.

Abed becomes the first player to reach 11K MMR

Worst of May 2020

Evil Geniuses reveal new crest and slogan and receive huge backlash from the community forcing the oldest North American organization to rethink their rebranding.

image credits: Evil Geniuses

June – the worst month for the whole Dota 2 community

The #MeToo movement reached the esports world and for Dota 2 that meant the end of their careers for Toby “TobiWan” Dawson and Grant “GranDGranT” Harris, both accused of sexual harassment and predatory behavior. Esports veteran Paul “Redeye” Chaloner has also left the stage after being exposed for abuse of power.

Best of July 2020

Valve released the Anti Mage Persona and split the community in half. While a lot of players took no time to express their disappointment with ‘Wei, the Anti-Mage female disciple, Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei celebrated the arrival of the in-game cosmetic with a top notch cosplay appearance.

The heart and soul of OG for the past four years, Sébastien “Ceb” Debs returned to the active play mere days ahead of OG’s opening series at OGA Dota PIT Season 2. He made his return with a powerful quote stating that during his time off he realized that what drives him is the performance itself. “I honestly kinda take offense in the simple fact that other teams think that they can beat us,” said Ceb upon his return to the competitive scene.

In the same month, Fnatic also made the headlines by welcoming back Marc Polo Luis “Raven” Fausto in the carry role. 

Worst of July 2020

Despite their early success with the Chicken Fighters squad signed after ppd’s retirement, Ninjas in Pyjamas decided to drop the Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev. While not much details were given when the change happened, reports cited that the NiP executive board took decision without consulting with the team. SoNNeikO’s intriguing departure marked the downfall of the team, who never found a permanent replacement for him and by the end of November the organization announced its exit from the Dota 2 scene. 

Following the #MeToo scandal from June, Tobiwan denied all allegations against him and announced his exit from the scene. His last words to the Dota 2 community were “Never again in the history of DOTA”

Best of August 2020

Despite TI10 being indefinitely postponed, the prize pool reached the $34,000,000 milestone to become the largest prize in esports history.

At the end of the month, Indonesia Ministry of Youth and Esports along with the National Sports Committee (KONI) in the country have officially recognized esports as a sport discipline.

WePlay! Esports kept the bar high even through the online season delivering one of the biggest and most spectacular tournaments, the OMEGA League.

Beyond the Summit did their best to keep the tradition going, and although August did not deliver the yearly TI, the NA studio announced the return of BOT TI. A month later, Tiny would win the competition. 

Worst of August

The Chinese scene took the month off to undergo a big shuffle and the strongest teams lost their best players. The shuffle was covered in an unprecedented drama around the formation of a new star-studded line-up. Vici Gaming waved goodbye to Yang, Eurus and coach rOtK, PSG.LGD lost the entire roster, same did EHOME while Team Aster lost Fade and Sccc.

At the end of OMEGA League Rich Campbell announced his intention to quit desk hosting and casting. OMEGA League marked his last event.

Fnatic started to have a real roster issue. Ahead of the ESL One Thailand Online, Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang went on a break until the DPC season would resume. A month later he was announced to have ended his contract with the organization as he “set sights for another region.

Best of September 2020

Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi pulls out the most epic Throne defense seen in the history of Dota 2.

After a whole year of struggles and roster changes, Natus Vincere set course for a new beginning recruiting the FlyToMoon roster.

On September 18, the double TI champion Topias Miikka “Topson” Taavitsainen made the transition from Chadson to Dadson as he announced the birth of his first child.

The online season served well for a few lower tier teams that got to do their practice against the best in their region. In Europe, Vikin.gg bloomed throughout the year as real tier one contenders and their true break-out moment came at BTS Pro Series Season 3, where they claimed their first important victory of the year. From there on, their form only improved and after a top 3 finish at EPIC League, they took down Team Liquid 3-1 to win the Dota Summit 13 championship title.

By the end of September, the China big shuffle was wrapping up and PSG.LGD surprised the fans with a whole new line-up and the return of Zhang “xiao8” Ning to the organization.

September also brought a great achievement for Team Secret and Quincy Crew, both being the absolute dominant forces in their respective regions winning eight and respectively seven tournaments in a row.  

Worst of September 2020

The uncertainty surrounding the Dota Pro Circuit and The International 10 took a toll on some of the organizations, who were forced to shut down citing financial difficulties through the pandemic. Reality Rift and Geek Fam were the first from Southeast Asia to criticize the lack of involvement from Valve and ceased all operations.

Unfortunately, the month of September was a dark one for the Dota 2 community, who also mourned the passing of Alexander “Flow” Sazonov. Flow died at only 25 years old after fighting cancer for almost three years.

Flow

In what was a rather surprising announcement, TNC released their captain Park “March” Tae-won after winning ESL One Thailand Online. While TNC are yet to find a replacement for March, the latter has already found a new place to call home joining the South Koran organization T1 in the coach capacity. 

Roster changes kept the headlines through the month of September, not only in Southeast Asia, where besides March leaving TNC, iceiceice was also officially departing from Fnatic, but also in CIS. After a series of unsatisfactory results, Virtus.pro benched the entire line-up of their main Dota 2 team promising a roster update to come shortly. 

Best of October 2020

TI10 prize pool continued to grow and surpassed the 40M dollars mark at the beginning of October. The community’s generosity was rewarded by Valve later on the same month when Diretide made a surprising return after 7 years. 

The China super team finally got revealed, and although what followed was a miserable mess, Elephant.4AM kept the headline at the beginning of the month with their roster featuring the best players in the region united under the same roof. 

Cr1t became the first support player to reach 11K MMR.

Worst of October 2020

Elephant.4AM delivered one of the ugliest dramas that dragged through several weeks and  with a lot of back and forth accusations between many of the parties involved. Liu “Sylar” Jiajun was kicked from the team only one day after the roster reveal, Vici Gaming’s Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun was nearly forced to pay for his own transfer fee while Bai “rOtK” Fan was left on the outside after being told that the organization doesn’t have any more money to sign him. 

In the aftermath of all the Elephant.4AM early days of drama, rOtK announced in an emotional stream that he would take a break from the competitive scene. 

Best of November 2020

Valve announces the return of DPC for January 18, 2021

Evil Geniuses round out their roster with the addition of iceiceice

Esports Awards 2020 crown Team Secret as Best Team of the Year, while Michał “Nisha” Jankowski took home the Esports Player of the Year title and Lee “Heen” Seung Gon won Coach of the Year category. 

Virtus.pro finally gave an update on their main team roster. The plot twist was releasing their former main squad while they promoted the entire VP.Prodigy to the main team. The decision immediately paid off as the youngster line-up ended the year with the EPIC League title. 

In what is a hilarious highlight of the many matches played through the 2020 online season, Team Liquid’s Michael “miCKe” Vu deleted a six slotted Spectre with the biggest crit hit since Dota 2 was ported on Source 2. miCke inflicted with his Phantom Assassin 4532 damage in one swift dagger blow.

Worst of November 2020

The Elephan.4AM drama faded mid-November when the partnership between the two organizations ended. After pointing fingers at each other for unpaid contractual agreements, 4AM have left the partnership. The team carried on with an updated logo representing only the Elephant investor. 

The Filipino organization Adroit Esports joined the rather long list by now of esports organizations and teams that were forced to cease all operations due to financial struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic. All members of Adroit’s Dota 2 team, as well as the Adroit staff, have been released from any contractual obligations.

Best of December 2020

Patch 7.28, the Mistwoods update finally gets released introducing a new hero, new abilities for all heroes through Aghanim’s Shards and Aghanim’s Scepter reworks and a bunch of new items.

ppd and Fear end their retirement and reunite under the old SADBOYS tag. The team played in the last online event of the year for the NA and SA regions, BTS Pro Series Season 4 and placed third. 

Worst of December 2020

The star-studded line-up emerged from the ashes of Virtus.pro main roster, made a controversial debut at EPIC League and after failing to maintain their Division 2 slot, they disbanded with just one tournament record.

And on that note, we wrap up for 2020. We look forward to 2021, hoping for the LAN tournaments return, we are excited to follow along with you the Dota Pro Circuit Regional Leagues set to start mid-January, we thank you for all the times you’ve been visiting our website and our social media channels. 

The VPesports team wholeheartedly wishes you a Happy New Year! 

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