The WePlay AniMajor will finally be entering its Playoff stage on Wednesday (8 June), where the last team standing will be crowned the new Major champions and take home the lion's share of US$200,000 out of the tournament's US$500,000 prize pool.
However, there's more than just prize money at stake for the 12 remaining teams in the tournament. Aside from winning the AniMajor, the ultimate goal for these teams is to enter the Top 8 and earn a cut of the tournament's 2,700 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) point pool.
Those DPC points will then go towards securing an all-important direct invite to The International 10 (TI10), where a whopping US$40 million and the Aegis of Champions will be up for grabs. In order to be one of the 12 teams to be guaranteed to receive a direct invite, teams must reach a certain threshold of DPC points. Right now, the threshold is at 801 points.
Ahead of the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs, here's how the race for direct invites to TI10 is shaping up:
Four teams have already secured a direct invite to TI10: Evil Geniuses (EG) from North America, Invictus Gaming (IG) from China, Virtus.pro (VP) from the CIS, and Team Secret from Europe.
Four others have a 99 per cent chance of receiving a direct invite and they are all starting in the upper bracket of the Playoffs: Alliance from Europe, PSG.LGD and Team Aster from China, as well as Quincy Crew from North America. Those four teams have 800 DPC points and will be guaranteed direct invites if they finish in the Top 8.
That leaves four direct invites up for grabs between six teams in the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs: Team Nigma from Europe, TNC Predator and T1 from Southeast Asia, Vici Gaming (VG) from China, Team Spirit from the CIS, and NoPing Esports from South America.
Here's how those six teams can secure their direct invites:
Nigma currently have 370 DPC points and need to earn 431 points to reach the threshold for a direct invite, meaning they need to finish in the Top 2 to guarantee themselves a spot in TI10.
In order to do that in the most direct manner, they need to defeat VP in their opening match of the upper bracket then beat either Alliance or PSG.LGD in the upper bracket semi-finals, and then win the upper bracket finals against whichever team emerges from the other side of the upper bracket. It's a tall order but, when considering how well Nigma performed through both the Wildcard and Group Stage, it certainly seems possible. Alternatively, if they lose along the way in the upper bracket, they will need to take the longer road in the lower bracket.
With that said, a Top 6 finish still puts Nigma in the running for a direct invite. But in such a scenario, they have to hope that the other teams gunning for a direct invite don't secure invites before they do.
TNC Predator currently have 372 DPC points and need to earn 431 points to reach the threshold for a direct invite. Like Nigma they need to finish in the Top 2 in order to do so, which seems very unlikely when considering TNC is starting in the lower bracket.
TNC's best bet is to reach the third round of the lower bracket and finish in the Top 6. In order to do so, they need to win their first match against either Aster or T1 then defeat the winner of the match between EG and Quincy Crew or NoPing Esports. Just reaching the Top 6 will be difficult for TNC, but even then whether or not they will earn a direct invite will be largely out of their hands.
T1 currently have 670 DPC points and need to earn 131 points to reach the threshold for a direct invite, meaning they just need to finish in the Top 8 and get 200 points.
T1 are in a good position to do so as they are starting in the upper bracket. If they somehow win their opening match against Chinese powerhouse Team Aster, then T1 will be heading to TI10.
If they lose, they just need to defeat regional rivals TNC in the lower bracket.
VG currently have 600 DPC points and need to earn 200 points to reach the threshold for a direct invite, meaning they need to finish in the Top 8. In order to do so, VG need to defeat the loser of the upper bracket match between VP and Nigma.
VG should hope that Nigma wins that matchup. In their match against Nigma in the Group Stage, VG were utterly dominated in a series that only lasted for a total of 39 minutes. VP, despite being the stronger team on paper, would be the more favourable matchup for VG if the Chinese team wants to make it to TI10.
Team Spirit currently have 385 DPC points and need to earn 416 points to reach the threshold for a direct invite, meaning they somehow need to finish in the Top 2. With all due respect to Spirit, such an outcome seems nigh impossible.
A more sensible route for them is to reach the third round of the lower bracket and finish in the Top 6. However, such an outcome still seems very unlikely since they will have to defeat either Alliance or PSG.LGD and then either Nigma, VP, or VG.
NoPing Esports currently have 585 DPC points and need to earn 216 points to reach the threshold for a direct invite. They need to just win one match and finish in the Top 8, which is much easier said than done.
NoPing will start in the upper bracket against Quincy Crew, a matchup they are not favoured to win. Should they lose that, they will then drop down to the lower bracket against EG, an even more difficult opponent. NoPing's path to TI10 is very difficult but not impossible. All they need to do is win two games against either Quincy Crew or EG.
Outside looking in
Aside from the six teams mentioned above, there are still three other squads that are technically in the running for a direct invite to TI10 but are not playing in the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs: Beastcoast and Thunder Predator from South America as well as OB Esports x Neon from Southeast Asia.
Both Beastcoast and Thunder Predator have 800 DPC points while OB Esports x Neon has 650 points. Since they have no way of earning additional points, they will have to hope that the six teams still in the running don't earn more points than they do. Otherwise, they will have to earn their spot in TI10 through the regional qualifiers from 23 June to 10 July.
The WePlay AniMajor will run until 13 June as the remaining teams battle for their cut of the US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool. For everything you need to know about the WePlay AniMajor, check here.
After the WePlay AniMajor, the 2021 DPC will conclude with TI10. The latest iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament will be held in Stockholm, Sweden this August and will feature a massive US$40 million prize pool.
Check out esports videos from Yahoo TV: