The field is now set for ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023, the last big Dota 2 tournament of the year featuring 12 teams will be fighting to claim the lion's share of the US$1 million prize pool from 11 to 17 December.
With three-time Major champions and The International (TI) 2023 runners-up Gaimin Gladiators as well as Chinese powerhouses LGD Gaming and Azure Ray getting direct invites, the nine remaining slots in the event where filled through the recently-concluded regional qualifiers.
The list of qualified teams include Team Liquid and Team Secret from Western Europe, BetBoom Team and 9Pandas from Eastern Europe, Team Falcons from MENA, Invictus Gaming from China, Blacklist International from Southeast Asia, TSM from North America, and Wawitas Sagazes from South America.
Many of the qualified teams to Kuala Lumpur made big splashes during the post-TI 2023 roster shuffle and will be among those to keep an eye on for the 2024 season, here's everything you need to know about them:
Team Liquid (Western Europe)
Following their Top 6 finish at TI 2023, Liquid retooled by acquiring TI 2022 champion Neta "33" Shapira from the now-disbanded Tundra Esports to replace Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg, who has taken an indefinite break from pro play.
The addition of 33 immediately paid dividends for Liquid, as they had a perfect run through the Western European qualifier to take the first of two qualifier spots for the region in Kuala Lumpur.
As one of the most dynamic offlaners in the history of the game, 33 unlocks all new dimensions for Liquid in terms of strategic flexibility. As a result, Liquid — already one of the best teams in the world — is looking even better now even after zai's exit. While it remains to be seen if 33's addition will finally let Liquid overcome their biggest rivals in Gaimin Gladiators, they are already looking like one of the biggest favourites to take the title in Kuala Lumpur.
Team Liquid roster:
Michael "miCKe" Vu
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Neta "33" Shapira
Samuel "Boxi" Svahn
Aydin "Insania" Sarkohi
William "Blitz" Lee (coach)
Team Secret (Western Europe)
Following a disastrous 2023 season where Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's legendary streak of competing in every iteration of TI ended, Team Secret looked to bounce back by bringing back former players Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng and Miroslav "BOOM" Bičan while Tue "ah fu" Soon Chuan joins as a new coach.
There were initially many doubts surrounding Secret's decision, as fans expected the team to go for a rebuild with new players instead. However, Secret proved their doubters wrong by taking the second qualifier spot for Western Europe through a lower bracket run that saw them defeat the likes of a new-look OG and Entity.
It remains to be seen how this revamped Secret squad will fare against international competition, but the chance to build on this promising start in Kuala Lumpur is just what they need ahead of the 2024 season.
Team Secret roster:
Remco "Crystallis" Arets
Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng
Miroslav "BOOM" Bičan
Daniyal "yamich" Lazebnyy
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Tue "ah fu" Soon Chuan (coach)
BetBoom Team (Eastern Europe)
After finishing in the Top 6 at TI 2023, BetBoom Team chose to run it back with their new roster. It proved to be a wise decision, as they claimed the first of two qualifier spots for Eastern Europe without much difficulty.
While TI 2023 champions Team Spirit remain the strongest team in both Eastern Europe and the world, BetBoom will at least have the chance to cement their claim as the second best team in their region in Kuala Lumpur. A team running it back after a chaotic offseason may not generate as much hype, but seeing how they fare against all the new rosters assembled will surely be exciting to see.
BetBoom Team roster:
Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko
Danil "gpk" Skutin
Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko
Vitalie "Save-" Melnic
Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek
9Pandas (Eastern Europe)
9Pandas had by far the worst showing of all Eastern European teams at TI 2023, bombing out in 9th-12th place, so it was expected they would make roster changes during the offseason.
While the organisation did not make any official announcements, they earned a spot in Kuala Lumpur with Alik "V-Tune" Vorobey taking over as the carry player as Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev shifted to the offlane role. Meanwhile, Andrey "Afoninje" Afonin and Vladimir "RodjER" Nikogosian formed the support duo.
9Pandas will be playing in Kuala Lumpur with a different roster too, as RodjER will not be attending the tournament. With the team's roster still in flux, 9Pandas may have a hard time keeping up with the rest of the competition.
Alik "V-Tune" Vorobey
Gleb "kiyotaka" Zyryanov
Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev
Andrey "Afoninje" Afonin
Team Falcons (MENA)
Saudi Arabia-based organisation Team Falcons made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by acquiring a star-studded roster that featured Oliver "skiter" Lepko, Stanislav "Malr1ne" Potorak, Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf, Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen, and Wu "Sneyking" Jingjun.
While the team fielded Western and Eastern European players, they earned their place in Kuala Lumpur through the MENA qualifier, notably beating out PSG.Quest in the process.
While Falcons' roster is undoubtedly stacked, they won't have much of a challenge if they will keep playing in MENA for the upcoming season. Kuala Lumpur will give the team a much-needed opportunity to prove themselves against top-tier competition from other regions.
Team Falcons roster:
Oliver "skiter" Lepko
Stanislav "Malr1ne" Potorak
Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf
Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen
Wu "Sneyking" Jingjun
Invictus Gaming (China)
After a disappointing two-year stretch for one of the most decorated organisations in Dota 2, Invictus Gaming (IG) made a huge comeback by assembling arguably the most stacked roster in China featuring Du "Monet" Peng, Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang, Thiay "JT-" Jun Wen, Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao, and Yap "xNova" Jian Wei.
With LGD Gaming and Azure Ray still without official rosters for the upcoming season, IG is looking like the strongest team in China right now. They will be looking to build on the region's outstanding performance in TI 2023 and reassert its position as one of the top regions in Dota 2. Kuala Lumpur will be a worthy proving ground for this new Chinese powerhouse.
Invictus Gaming roster:
Du "Monet" Peng
Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
Thiay "JT-" Jun Wen
Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao
Yap "xNova" Jian Wei
Blacklist International (Southeast Asia)
The 2023 season was a down year for Southeast Asia, but the Philippines' Blacklist International will be looking to bring the region back to relevance as Abed "Abed" Yusop returns from his four-year stint in North America to join the team alongside Kim "Gabbi" Santos and Carlo "Carlo" Manalo.
Southeast Asia saw a lot of upheaval during the offseason and Blacklist had to beat out many promising squads like Geek Fam, Talon Esports, and Bleed Esports to earn their spot in Kuala Lumpur. This new Filipino superteam has already proven itself against regional rivals, now their next challenge will be to prove themselves against the best other regions have to offer on Southeast Asian soil.
Blacklist International roster:
Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto
Abed "Abed" Yusop
Kim "Gabbi" Santos
Timothy "TIMS" Randrup
Carlo "Carlo" Manalo
TSM (North America)
After their 9th-12th place finish at TI 2023, TSM parted ways with Matthew "Ari" Walker and played in the North American qualifier with Aleksandr "Immersion" Khmelevskoi. They earned their spot in Kuala Lumpur by notably defeating the new-look Nouns Esports, avenging their previous loss at TI.
With Shopify Rebellion still without an official roster, TSM are in prime position to take over as the top team in North America. A good showing in Kuala Lumpur will allow the team to cement their position in their home region and prove themselves as worthy competitors against the best the world has to offer.
Enzo "Timado" Gianoli
Jonathan "Bryle" De Guia
Gainullin "kasane" Ilyas
Aleksandr "Immersion" Khmelevskoi
Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon
Wawitas Sagazes (South America)
With no South American teams even making the Top 12 at TI 2023, the region saw the biggest upheavals as top teams like Beastcoast and Evil Geniuses disbanded.
In their wake, the Wawitas Sagazes stack —comprised of Edward "Lumière" Valencia, Gonzalo "DarkMago" Herrera, Oscar "Oscar" Jimenez, Rodrigo "n1ght" Cruz, and Jose "Panda" Padilla — emerged as a rising power by winning the South American qualifier.
South America has a lot of ground to make up for in the 2024 season, and Wawitas Sagazes can help their region bounce back with a good showing in Kuala Lumpur.
Wawitas Sagazes roster:
Edward "Lumière" Valencia
Gonzalo "DarkMago" Herrera
Oscar "Oscar" Jimenez
Rodrigo "n1ght" Cruz
Jose "Panda" Padilla
ESL One Kuala Lumpur will begin with a three-day Group Stage, taking place from 11 to 13 December, and will split the 12 participating teams into two groups of six teams each to compete in a single round-robin format.
The top six teams from the Group Stage will then proceed to the Playoffs, which will be hosted in the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre from 15 to 17 December. The Playoffs will follow a double-elimination format.