It’s China vs. the world as Shanghai plays host to first Chinese Minor of new season.
Hello Dota fans, and welcome to October! A new month brings more than chilled winds and changing leaves, as the Dota 2 season marches on with more and more events and qualifiers. This busy month will bring the first LAN events of the season, with two Minors and the first Major set to take place by the end of October. However, the focus here is not on those events to come in October, but those even further ahead in the schedule. Qualifiers are already beginning for the next slew of Minors and Majors, with some events already locking in their fields of competitors. One such tournament to do this is the Perfect World Masters, the first Chinese event of the season.
The Perfect World Masters, as its name would suggest, will be organized and hosted by Perfect World, the company that handles the distribution of Dota 2 in the Chinese region on behalf of Valve. Hosted in the city of Shanghai from the 19th through the 26th of November, the Perfect World Masters will be the first chance for Chinese teams to show their strength on home soil. Those Chinese teams will have more than a few opportunities to display their strength, as The Perfect World Masters will be the first event of the season to deviate from the 8 team field we’ve seen so far. The Majors and Minors that have finalized their teams so far have stuck with a system of 2 direct invites, and 1 qualifier winner from each of the 6 Valve mandated regions. Perfect World is changing things up a bit, inviting 3 teams directly to go along with 1 qualifier winner from the NA, SA, SEA, EU, and CIS regions and 2 qualifying teams from China. The result is a field of 10 teams to make their way to Shanghai, with 4 of those squads being Chinese. Those 10 teams will be playing for a chance to take home a share of a $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points for the Dota 2 Pro Circuit, although the exact details of how the pools will be distributed has not been released yet. As per Valve’s official announcement, the Qualifying Points will be meted out in one of two ways: a split of 150(1st), 90(2nd), 45(3rd), and 15(4th) or a split of 150(1st), 90(2nd), 30(3rd & 4th) depending on whether the tournament format distinguishes between 3rd and 4th place.
With some basic details regarding the tournament itself out of the way, let’s shift focus and take a look at the 10 teams that will be playing in Shanghai this November. As previously mentioned, the list of teams is a bit unorthodox for this Minor, with the field containing an extra direct invite as well as an extra qualifying team from the Chinese region. It’s time again to clarify to readers that this post will contain only a brief overview of the teams at the Perfect World Masters, with a more thorough and in-depth breakdown of the teams to come in the days prior to the start of the Minor.
The Direct Invitees
Newbee(China) – It seems as though Newbee is being included in just about every one of these tournament posts, but that’s what happens when a team makes it to the Grand Finals of The International. It’s going to take either a catastrophic meltdown from Newbee or an awe inspiring performance from a rival squad to knock the Chinese powerhouse from its favorable position. The team’s TI7 roster remains intact and presumably at the top of its game. Add on the fact that the squad was recently featured in an episodes of Valve’s “True Sight” series and Newbee are looking to be a much more popular and recognizable team not just for Chinese fans but for Western audiences as well. This confluence of talent, roster stability, and publicity set up Newbee for a strong showing in its first event in the Chinese region.
LGD.Forever Young(China) – In May of this year, LGD.Forever Young made one of the more interesting roster moves in the Chinese region. The team added He “Inflame” Yongzheng and Tue “Ahfu” Soon Chuan to the lineup, making Ahfu one of a select few non-Chinese players to play under the banner of a Chinese organization. At the time, the move seemed innocuous, with Inflame and Ahfu being considered up and coming players but not big enough players to dramatically change the squad’s prospects. Those perspectives were quickly proven to be wildly inaccurate, as LGD.FY exploded onto the scene and fought its way to TI7. The combination of young talent and veteran experience and skill in the form of team captain Leong “ddc” Fat-meng and midlaner Xie “Super” Junhao fueled a dominant run for the Chinese squad at TI, including a run of 10 straight wins in the group stage. Following a 3rd place finish in Seattle, LGD.FY opted to keep its roster stable, making no changes during the offseason. Though the roster remains the same, the results have not quite been as positive as LGD.FY may have hoped, as the team has come up just a bit short in its qualifier runs so far. The direct invite status for this Minor could serve as the perfect spark to jump start LGD.FY’s season.
Team Secret(Europe) – We’ve finally found an event in the new season in which Team Secret hasn’t won the European Qualifiers, because the squad has already been directly invited to the Perfect World Masters. If you’ve read any of my other tournaments posts, then you’ve probably already heard the praise for this squad, but here it is again anyway. After adding both Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard and Adrian “Fata” Trinks, many believed that Team Secret would get off to a slower start while it adjusted to the new lineup. Instead, the European squad did the exact opposite, coming right out of the gate on fire and leaving all of its regional rivals in its dust. Team Secret began its season with 3 straight qualifier wins in the European region, and none of the teams it came up against seemed capable of slowing the squad down. While the new roster has yet to see any action outside of the European region, it’s hard not to view this team as a favorite in Shanghai as Team Secret will be competing in its 4th straight tournament of the season.
The Qualifier Winners
LGD Gaming(China) – Following a 4th place finish in Seattle at TI7, LGD Gaming was feeling confident and optimistic about the new season. The offseason brought a slight hiccup as the team lost offlaner Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei, who joined rival Chinese squad Vici Gaming. However LGD Gaming didn’t come away from the situation empty handed, adding veteran Chinese player Xu “fy” Linsen. The addition of a skilled veteran like fy has helped LGD maintain a high level of play so far this season, as the squad has finished no lower than 3rd in Chinese regional qualifiers. Unfortunately, the team has not managed to make a breakthrough in those qualifiers until now, as the Perfect World Masters is the first event of season that LGD Gaming has managed to qualify for. The Chinese squad is hoping that its qualifier victory can be paired with a strong showing in Shanghai to push the team over that final hump and into more consistent participation in Minors and Majors as the season goes on.
Vici Gaming(China) – Following a failure to qualify for TI7, Vici Gaming decided to undergo some significant roster changes in an attempt to improve its fortunes heading into the new season. Former coach Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng returned to the active roster at the support position, and the team added fellow support Lu “Fenrir” Chao along with offlaner Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei and carry Zhang “Paparazi” Chengjun to form a talented squad with the potential to compete in the Chinese region. The new roster got off to a slower start than it may have liked, falling short of the mark in the qualifiers for the first Minor and Major of the season. Since then though, the team has hit its stride, qualifying for 3 straight Minors, as well as winning the Chinese Open Qualifier for the DreamLeague Major. Perhaps the most impressive part of Vici Gaming’s recent results is that the team’s path has led it right through many regional rivals and TI-participating teams. The fact that the team has held its own and even won with relative frequency against top Chinese teams is a strong sign that this Vici Gaming lineup can take the next step forward. This Minor in its home region gives Vici Gaming an opportunity to prove not only that it can compete with top intentional teams, but that its recent victories at home are more than just a fluke.
compLexity Gaming(North America) – The North American region has been fairly open so far this season, with 3 different teams having won spots in events. CompLexity Gaming is one of those victorious teams, having qualified for both the Perfect World Masters and the upcoming StarLadder i-League Minor. The team made some changes in the offseason, bringing back Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin and Linus “Limmp” Blomdin and shifting David “Moo” Hull to the offlane position. The changes have allowed compLexity to compete effectively within its home region, as the team has not finished below the 4th place position in any tournament or qualifier so far this season. A bigger test for compLexity will come in these Minors, as the team will have to show that it can carry over its regional performances into success at the international level.
SG e-sports(South America) – The offseason hit SG e-sports harder than most this year, with the team replacing 4 of its 5 members. The new roster has wasted now time making a name for itself, starting the season strong with a string of solid performances in the South American region. These efforts have been rewarded, as SG has now qualified for 2 Minors and 1 Major. These wins have established this relatively new roster as one of the strongest teams in the region. While the team is essentially untested against teams outside of its home region, this may be just as much a blessing as a curse for SG e-sports. With a recently formed roster and a smaller sample size of games to analyze, the Brazilian squad may be overlooked by its opponents who may be more concerned with rivals from the other regions. The team may come into these events are underdogs, but the professional scene has shown us more than a few upsets over the years, and SG e-sports could be in prime position to make a surprise run in Shanghai.
Team Kinguin(Europe) – Team Kinguin may be a squad that many are unfamiliar with, but the Polish team are no strangers to the Dota 2 scene. Having previously played as ALTERNATE aTTaX, Singularity, and Let’s Do It, the squad has languished at the edges of the European region for a few years now. Though the team is now associated with a more popular organization in Kinguin, the results have not left much for prospective fans to be excited about. The team has failed to qualify for any events until now, having placed no better than 3rd in any of the previous European Qualifiers. With Team Secret receiving a direct invite to the Perfect World Masters, Team Kinguin has finally found its chance to break through in the crowded EU region. This opportunity in Shanghai is huge for Team Kinguin, but its a narrow window for the team to take advantage of. If the squad fails to produce a solid result in this Minor, its chances of qualifying for another event seem slim should Team Secret return to the field of qualifier teams.
Vega Squadron(Commonwealth of Independent States) – CIS team Vega Squadron will be making its first appearance of the season in Shanghai for the Perfect World Masters, having won the CIS qualifier. The team stayed together through the offseason, hoping that roster stability might help the team progress to the next level of competition. Those hopes have taken a slight hit so far this season, as the team has struggled within its home region. With teams like Virtus.Pro, Team Empire, and Na’Vi in the field for most of the CIS qualifiers so far, Vega Squadron has seemingly had trouble establishing itself and creating a sense of consistency. This Minor represents a huge opportunity for Vega Squadron to break through and claim a spot at the top of the hierarchy in the CIS region and set itself up for a successful season. Should that fail to happen, Vega Squadron may have a harrowing future in front of them, as the strength of the CIS region may limit the team’s opportunities moving forward.
Mineski(Southeast Asia) – Mineski’s run of domination within the Southeast Asian region continues, as the team has now qualified for its 4th Minor of the young season. After an offseason that saw 3 members of the team replaced, the organization has finally succeeded in its goal of putting an effective, competitive squad around team captain Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung. Across Major and Minors qualifiers so far this season, Mineski has posted an overall record of 31-8, dropping only a single series against Fnatic in the ESL One Hamburg Qualifier. While other teams within the SEA region may get back on track and challenge Mineski in the future, for now the team holds sway over the region. This level of dominance and control affords Mineski a multitude of opportunities to make runs through the various Minos and Majors, and the SEA squad will be looking to take advantage of this both in Shanghai and throughout the season.