Questionable invite for Team Secret
The last Dota 2 ESL One event in Frankfurt has taken place about three months ago but the next event in New York is already waiting. Some teams will have to qualify while others will have the privilege of being invited. CDEC Gaming (TI 5 runner ups), Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses (TI 5 winners) and Team Secret have been invited.
The reasons for the invites are fairly obvious as CDEC Gaming has been doing extremely good at TI5 while Virtus.pro has shown a pretty dominant performance throughout the last couple of months.
Evil Geniuses got their invite as they are the winners of TI5 and Team Secret got invited as they are the last ESL One champions from the event in Frankfurt. However, from the winning lineup and the lineup which competed at TI 5 only one player remains. Therefore it is questionable if the invite can be justified or if something needs to change. Obviously there are two answers to the question if the invite is justified or not – yes and no. We will take a look at both sides, gather arguments and try to make a decision in the end.
Reasons why the invite is justified
Team Secret still exists as a team and they got four new players to complete their roster. One of the original members, Puppey, is still a member of the team and ready for some more action. All the new players who joined are well known in the community, some already have titles or good rankings under their belt, some even participated in at least one TI. Therefore the team features some very skilled individuals who have been around in Dota 2 for some time. Although there have not been any tournaments where the new roster could have demonstrated their skill, there definitely is a lot of potential for these players.
In addition to that most tournaments invited their former champions for the next season and that is something you can't take away from Team Secret, as they won the last ESL One event in Dota 2. Apparently there has been no desire to change that up as the ESL could have adapted and used a kind of transfer period for players to get their new lineups finalized. There is no rule which forces a team to participate with at least X players from the lineup which attended the last event so that is not a reason either. Team Secret deserves a chance to prove themselves. There have been no recent results whatsoever but one can assume that the new team trained already and is eager to show what they are capable off. ESL One New York 2015 could be their chance to make a name for themselves.
Reasons why the invite is not justified
The roster shuffle was in full swing and many teams changed players but not many teams saw as drastic changes as in Team Secret. Only Puppey remains from the original roster all four other players have been replaced. Therefore the new Team Secret isn't anything close to the former roster. They have been dominating a couple of tournaments, crushing their opponents but that time is over.
Why would a team be invited which didn't exactly win the last tournament of ESL One? Only Puppey remains and one could think that just the fact they won ESL One Frankfurt 2015 got them their invite. This doesn't make a lot of sense then because if "just" a name or brand gets you an invite no other teams than the known ones would have any chance to get invited to a tournament. Even if one is fine with that the new roster hasn't delivered any recent results. It is totally unknown if they play good or decent at least. It is like you invite a whole new team with no idea about their teamplay or skill. This can be good but it can also backfire which would result in a quick elimination of one team while other teams might have done a lot better.
This tournament will be the first for the new Team Secret and other well known good teams will not get an invite or make it the tournament itself. As a tournament organizer I usually want the best teams and the best players to have an awesome event with great matches. One knows that good teams, teams which did good at TI or other recent tournaments, will have no shot at ESL One and regarding the size and recognition of the tournament the best of the best should be invited not just the teams or organizations which are known.
Summary and conclusion
So did Team Secret deserve the invite and was the invite justified? Every individual could give a different answer to that question but some facts can't be ignored. They got their invite just because of their name not because of good recent results, a stable roster or an impressive recent skill level. If invites happen because of results that a nearly completely different team achieved earlier the invites might as well be renamed to "organizations who won the last XY event". This sends out the wrong message to all the teams who are working really hard to get to an event of such a size. Some of them give everything they got and they barely make it to qualifiers. Meanwhile teams/rosters who have done nothing at all get an invite just because the former players dominated the scene for some time. They are getting all the credit for the hard work of former players.
The "new" Team Secret didn't showcase anything so far and they are rewarded with an invite for one of the biggest events of the year for having accomplished nothing at all so far.
This article is a short opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Natus Vincere, its staff, its players or teams.