Team Secret, Newbee and Natus Vincere round out the teams that are directly invited to play at EPICENTER XL.
Team Secret currently holds the No. 1 spot in the Pro Circuit season leaderboards with 4,260 Qualifying Points. They’ve made three Grand Finals appearances in Pro Circuit tournaments so far, winning two, capped by a 3-0 sweep of the reigning TI champions, Team Liquid, at the ROG DreamLeague Season 8 Major back in December.
Newbee, which is the best Dota 2 team in China today, also has won two Pro Circuit tournaments, although their success has mostly come in Minors. Nevertheless, they’re a tough team to beat; they’re one of the only four teams to beat the reigning TI champions, Team Liquid, in a series so far this season.
Finally, Natus Vincere is a crowd favorite. Though they have yet to win a Pro Circuit tournament, they have made deep runs. They also won Russian Dota 2 tournament Adrenaline Cyber League back in November.
These three titans will join the back-to-back defending champions Team Liquid and Virtus Pro as the five Dota 2 teams who will headline the event.
The list of participating teams is far from complete for now; the other six slots will go to the teams who will make it through their respective regional qualifiers. Meanwhile, the 12th and final spot will go to the one team who will emerge victorious at the EPICENTER XL Madness Qualifier – an event open to interested teams of all levels – in March.
EPICENTER XL is part of the Pro Circuit, a slate of Valve-sponsored tournaments held throughout the year that lead up to The International 2018. As part of the Pro Circuit and having received a Major designation, EPICENTER XL will be much bigger than its predecessors. From $500,000 back in 2017, EPICENTER XL doubles the prize pool at $1,000,000. The Major will also have 1,500 Qualifying Points for The International 2018 up for grabs. More importantly, though, EPICENTER XL is a monumental tournament for Russian eSports; it’s the first-ever Russian-hosted eSports tournament to receive Major status across all titles.