News

A brief history of Dota Majors in Southeast Asia

More than 20 Dota Majors have been played since the very first Major was played back in November 2015 — but one of Dota 2’s most passionate fanbases, Southeast Asia, has only had the pleasure of hosting three.

The first time a Major was held in SEA was the Manila Major in 2016, while the last one was the Singapore Major in 2021.

We take a look back at what happened at SEA’s previous Dota Majors.

Dota Majors hosted in Southeast Asia

The Manila Major (2016)The Kuala Lumpur Major (2018)The Singapore Major (2021)

The Manila Major

Credit: PGL

Date: June 7-12, 2016Location: Mall of Asia Arena, Manila, The PhilippinesChampions: OGPrize Money: US$3,000,000

The Manila Major was the largest and most prestigious Dota 2 tournament ever held in South East Asia at the time. The event itself took place in the Mall of Asia Arena which could seat 16,000 Dota fans at max capacity. And yes, tickets sold out for the grand final weekend. To top it all off, the Manila Major had a whopping USD$3,000,000 prize pool! Who wouldn’t want a slice of that pie?

Whilst also being the last Major for the 2016 DPC, many teams saw this as their last opportunity to receive a direct invite to TI6 instead of playing the dangerous game called TI qualifiers.

Over the course of the event, the world learned of SEA’s passion for Dota 2 through Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner’s fan segments that were peppered into the main broadcast. 

You thought that was impressive? To this day, fans still reminisce of the legendary Manila crowd who frequently overshadowed even the casters during main stage matches.

Later on during the main event, event organizers PGL had to lower the volume of the crowd mic because it was so deafening! Turn down your volume before watching the clip below, you’ll thank me later.

The Major also stands out for a few moments that will go down in history as some of the greatest to ever happen in the Dota 2 esports world.

First up, the world learned of Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti’s fabled Enigma whose devastating Black Holes knocked Chinese powerhouse LGD down to the lower bracket.

That wasn’t all. Actor Kristian Nairn, who played Hodor in Game of Thrones, LITERALLY held the door open for the Manila Major finalists, OG and Team Liquid!

The Major ended with OG proudly clutching the trophy in front of a full house. This was a momentous occasion for the team as OG became the first team to win two Majors in a competitive season after their dream lower bracket run at the Frankfurt Major.

How to use Hero Chat Wheel in Dota 2What is Cheese in Dota 2? It’s more than just an item

The Kuala Lumpur Major

Credit: PGL

Date: November 9-18, 2018Location: Axiata Arena, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaChampions: Virtus.proPrize Money: US$1,000,000

It was Kuala Lumpur’s turn to host a Major in 2018, making Malaysia the second SEA country to host a Major. The event took place at Axiata Arena and boasted a US$1,000,000 prize pool. Unlike the Manila Major, the KL Major was part of the new DPC system that was implemented back in 2017. Teams were no longer competing for a direct invite but instead DPC points that would determine who would qualify directly into TI9.

The KL Major birthed some of the greatest side content to grace the Dota 2 scene. Back in 2017, Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg was denied entry into the US for TI7, due to not having the correct Visa to work in the country. Since then, the community has turned the event into a meme where Bulldog would never be able to leave Sweden. Yes, PGL went along with the meme and yes, it’s worth watching.

The spotlight wasn’t just on Bulldog either. Shoutcaster Owen “ODPixel” Davies used the KL Major to show off just why the Dota 2 community calls him the “Rap God”.

Fans at the Major witnessed a European grand final between Virtus.pro and Team Secret. Leading up to the grand final, Team Secret had beaten VP 2:1 in the upper bracket final. Yet, during the bo5 grand final, Secret went on to draft midlaner Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, core Shadow Shaman.

An unconventional hero to put in the midlane, Team Secret wanted to overwhelm Virtus.pro with Terrorblade and Shadow Shaman’s pushing capabilities. The CIS team weren’t going down easily however as they had drafted a superior team fight lineup that halted any kind of aggression Secret tried to apply. In game one, at 34 minutes, Team Secret were the ones to call gg.

The teams continued to go back and forth in the grand final but with the score tied 2-2, only one would emerge victorious. It all came down to the fifth game.

Game five looked like it was in the bag for Team Secret. The panel praised Team Secret’s Timbersaw pick, which theoretically should destroy VP’s Dragon Knight, Tiny, and Magnus. And all was going well for Team Secret until VP’s Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev revealed the Black King Bar on his Terrorblade.

With Clement “Puppey” Ivanov’s Global Silences now nullified by the Black King Bar, there was nothing stopping RAMZES666 from steamrolling Team Secret with his mighty Terrorblade. At 42 minutes, Secret conceded the match and Virtus.pro became the champions of the Kuala Lumpur Major.

Screenshot by Danelie Purdue/ ONE Esports

The Singapore Major

Credit: ONE Esports

Date: March 27 – April 4, 2021Location: SingaporePrize Money: US$500,000

Dota returned to SEA with the ONE Esports Singapore Major presented by PGL.

The Singapore Major will feature 18 of the best teams from around the world, and was the first Major broadcast in glorious 4K resolution at 60 fps.

The tournament was notable for the ascension of two young midlaners — then Neon Esports’ Erin “Yopaj” Ferrer and Zhou “Emo” Yi.

Yopaj, now playing for BOOM Esports, was a revelation throughout the tournament. Playing for a team filled with roster turmoil — having had to sub out a player two different times due to COVID-19 and swap roles to accommodate — Yopaj helped Neon reach a top six-placement in the Major.

In a battle for top four, Neon and Secret played out one of the most epic matches of the year, where Yopaj’s phenomenal Windrunner play almost helped to overturn a serious net worth deficit.

Later, we also got to see four SEA players in the grand finals — Evil Geniuses’ Abed “Abed” Yusop and Daryl “iceiceice” Koh, and Invictus Gaming’s Thiay “JT-” Jun Wen and Chan “Oli” Chon Kien.

EG was on the cusp of knocking out their opponent in three straight games, holding a 2-0 lead over Chinese squad IG. But in game three, Emo put on a show with his Void Spirit, before pulling out the well-earned trash talk.

IG stormed back to take the next two games, taking the series to a deciding game five. Emo pulled out another line: “Let’s see who is real Evil Genius.”

In one of the greatest comebacks in competitive history, IG pulled off the reverse sweep to send EG home — and claiming the title for themselves.

With how hyped SEA Majors have been, fans can only hope that more top-tier tournaments will take place in the region — with a raucous crowd ready to roar.