Mineski crowned champions in Bucharest, claim top spot in Dota 2 Pro Circuit
Day 4 of the season’s second Minor saw a champion crowned in Bucharest as the event came to an exciting conclusion. The question coming into the Minor’s final day was which of the 4 remaining teams would claim victory and walk away with the lion’s share of prize money and Qualifying Points. Immortals, Mineski, LGD Gaming, and Evil Geniuses were the 4 squads to make their way through a harrowing group stage to advance into the playoff bracket, but only one of these teams would still be standing by the end of the day.
Semifinals: Immortals(1) vs Mineski(2)
The first match up of Day 4 would see Immortals and Mineski clash for the first time this season, with a spot in the grand finals on the line. Mineski dominated its matches in Group B, losing only a single game against Na’Vi on its path to the playoffs. For Immortals, the road was a bit longer and more complicated, as the Korean squad defeated Team Secret in its opening match but lost its subsequent series against LGD Gaming 1-2. A high stakes rematch against team Secret in the Decider Match won Immortals its spot in the playoff bracket, but Mineski stood as an even tougher test for the North American squad, as the SEA team looked to build on its previous 2nd place finish at the StarLadder i-League Minor.
Immortals had gotten to this point in the Minor off the back of highly aggressive lineups and tactics, and the team continued to rely on that style in game 1. A roaming team with a fighting core trio of Phantom Assassin, Puck, and Broodmother looked to fight early and often. Mineski sought to weather the storm of early aggression, drafting a lineup built around Anti-Mage and Razer with potential to scale well in the late-game stages. Unfortunately for the SEA squad, the game never made it that far. Immortals were active and aggressive from the first moments of the game, forcing Mineski into fights it didn’t want and severely limiting its farming opportunities. Mineski did not have a net worth lead at any point in this game, as Immortals dominated the match from start to finish to claim a 1-0 lead.
Mineski needed a change in strategy after a disastrous game 1, and its draft in game 2 reflected this. The squad did away with the late-game oriented cores, picking up Monkey King, Mirana, and Pugna in a lineup that it hoped could more easily contend with Immortals’ aggressive play style. Immortals opted for a somewhat less aggressive lineup than it had used in game 1, picking up a trio of Sven, Puck, and Enchantress that provided a dangerous level of farming and fighting potential. QO’s Sven started pulling away a bit in the mid-game, but Mineski was finding enough farm as a team to keep the game close. As the game progressed into the late stages, Mineski’s team fighting power tilted the game in its favor. After losing a series of fights and 2 lanes of barracks, Immortals conceded defeat, tying up the series at 1-1.
Heading into game 3, Mineski chose to stick with the early fighting strategy that had won it game 2, drafting a series of either tanky or mobile heroes. For Immortals, the plan was to try to recapture the aggression that had served it well in prior matches, with the team drafting a Puck and Spirit Breaker to go along with an Io and Bloodseeker to pressure Mineski early. That early aggression quickly turned against Immortals, as Mineski’s lineup was able to survive the initial burst of damage and buy enough time for reinforcements to arrive and control the fight. It quickly became apparent that Immortals lacked damage, and while the Io pick afforded it a measure of mobility, there wasn’t enough damage output to capitalize on that mobility. Mineski had control of this game from the earliest stages, and the SEA squad never looked back en route to a 2-1 series victory.
Mineski’s win against Immortals won the team a spot in the grand finals, and secured the second straight top 2 finish for a team that is cementing its place as one of the best teams on the Pro Circuit. The team showed an impressive ability to adapt to the play style of its opponents and turn the enemy’s draft against it, and the coordination and decision making of its players has held up remarkably well so far. The SEA powerhouse looked to finish the event with one last win, as the team awaited the winner of the EG and LGD Gaming series. For Immortals, the loss marked the end of the team’s run in Bucharest, but a top 4 finish served as a strong starting point in the North American squads’ season debut.
Semifinals: Evil Geniuses(0) vs LGD Gaming(2)
The other semifinal matchup would again feature a North American organization, as Evil Geniuses took on the Group A winner LGD Gaming for the chance to meet up with Mineski in the grand finals. LGD Gaming had looked dominant in its group stages matches, tearing through Infamous before taking an impressive 2-1 win against a hot Immortals squad. The team looked strong and coordinated in its efforts, which was particularly impressive considering it had QQQ(a.k.a. 357) standing in for its usual support, Victoria. For Evil Geniuses, the path to the semifinals had not been as simple. The team won a long and very much drawn out series against VGJ.Thunder before falling 0-2 to Mineski. After a long two series on Day 2, EG managed to bounce back on Day 3 to defeat VGJ.Thunder in a rematch to decide who would face LGD Gaming in this semifinal series. EG’s path to the playoff bracket may not have been as smooth as LGD’s, but the North American team showed a level of grit and resilience that had the potential to be the difference maker against a powerful and confident Chinese squad in LGD Gaming.
Evil Geniuses came into game 1 with a plan to play aggressively, drafting a Spirit Breaker and Io along with a farming duo of Ember Spirit and Lifestealer. LGD Gaming opted for a roaming and team fighting lineup based around a trio of Chaos Knight, Ursa, and Enchantress. The teams remained relatively even heading into the mid-game, but LGD soon began to pull ahead. The Chinese team’s high damage and sustainability in fights stymied EG’s attempts to take favorable engagements. EG’s lineup found itself limited against the mass crowd control that came from LGD’s lineup, and with no answers in sight for the North American squad, it was quickly forced to surrender game 1 to LGD.
EG looked to turn things around and even up the series in game 2, drafting a Lifestealer and Storm Spirit alongside a trio of roaming supports and lockdown heroes. LGD Gaming opted for a Terrorblade and Mirana combination supported by teamfight oriented supports. Early on, it appeared that EG’s early rotations and frequent ganks were having their desired effects. LGD were not finding any kills or farm early, and its cores were being heavily punished and limited by the constant movement from EG. However, LGD managed to survive through this stage of early aggression, slowly finding farm on its cores and taking favorable fights that had the Chinese squad quickly closing the gap between the two teams. By the mid and late game stages, EG’s initiation and ganking potential was faltering, and LGD’s lineup was able to deal more damage and better control the flow of fights. With team fights tilted in its favor, LGD were able to utilize the power of Terrorblade and Mirana to quickly push out lanes and take control of the map. EG were soon forced back within its own base, but couldn’t hold back the onslaught from LGD, losing the final fight to complete a come from behind victory for LGD Gaming.
LGD Gaming simply looked like the better team in this series, as the Chinese squad outplayed Evil Geniuses in both games for a 2-0 win. EG looked strong in the early stages of both games, but the team’s lineups fell short when it came to teamfights in the mid and late game. For EG, some serious issues with team coordination and decision making loomed large in its 2 losses, with LGD Gaming being able to take advantage of those mistakes. EG will likely be frustrated with this results, as the team was in positions where it had a realistic chance to win these games. Though the North American squad falls short of making an appearance in the grand finals, the team still managed a top 4 finish in its first event of the season, and lived up to its billing as a directly invited team. As for the other direct invitee, LGD Gaming earned a spot in the grand finals and a chance to go head to head against Mineski.
Grand Finals: Mineski(2) vs LGD Gaming(0)
The grand finals of the PGL Open Bucharest Minor would see Southeast Asia and China go head to head, as Mineski and LGD Gaming were the last two teams left standing in the playoff bracket. Both teams looked incredibly strong in their semifinal series, despite running into a few problems against their respective opponents. For Mineski, an opening game defeat against an insanely aggressive Immortals draft forced the team to adapt and shift its own play style. The SEA squad focused on controlling the team fights that Immortals wanted to create, turning the North American team’s game plan against it and winning the next 2 games for a 2-1 win. Meanwhile, LGD Gaming showed both patience and resilience in its series against Evil Geniuses, weathering the storm of early aggression from EG in both games before regrouping and taking control of the game with solid team fighting and counter initiation on its way to a 2-0 victory. The stage was set for a clash of titans in Bucharest, as these last 2 teams faced off for the title of Minor Champion.
Game 1 saw Mineski draft an aggressive lineup, with Monkey King, Phantom Assassin, and Mirana joined by and Earth Spirit and Lich support duo. For LGD Gaming, the strategy was more team fight oriented, with Sand King and Silencer picked to back up a core combination of Ember Spirit and Ursa. LGD was on the back foot from the outset, as Mineski’s aggressive play forced it into engagements early. While LGD Gaming’s cores were able to hold their own in these fights, the rest of the lineup found itself vulnerable to the repeated rotations on the part of Mineski. LGD Gaming never got a chance to firmly establish itself, as Mineski’s aggression served to continuously expand the team’s net worth lead. After a series of lost fights and with no apparent path back into the game, LGD conceded game 1 to the SEA squad.
LGD Gaming looked to bounce back from a tough game 1 loss with a tankier team with more of an emphasis on being able to fight early. Unfortunately, Mineski seemed to have anticipated this, drafting a core trio of Broodmother, Vengeful Spirit, and Puck along with a Silencer and Earth Spirit support combination to pressure and punish the LGD lineup. Mineski’s roster came out even more aggressive in game 2 than it had in game 1, ganking early, often, and without mercy. LGD Gaming’s heroes were picked off again and again in a match in which Mineski held the net worth advantage from start to finish. LGD Gaming tried its best to hold out for a comeback play, but after 30 minutes and a series of devastating team fight losses, the Chinese squad finally threw in the towel, giving Mineski a 2-0 in the grand finals.
Well, the grand finals of the season’s second Minor were certainly exciting, although not particularly competitive. Mineski simply rolled over LGD Gaming with 2 of the more dominant performances we had seen at this event. Despite the 1 sided losses, LGD Gaming still comes away from this series and this Minor with a top 2 finish under its belt. Considering the fact that the team played the entire event with its coach standing in for one of its usual players, this is a particularly impressive feat, although it did have a bit of a drawback. Because LGD Gaming were forced to use a substitute player during the tournament, the team received fewer points than usual for its 2nd place finish. Instead of each player earning 90 Qualifying Points, the 4 main players will each received 67.5 points, while the stand in(QQQ) earned 45 points. Mineski, on the other hand, received full points for its performance and secured its first Minor victory and its 2nd top 2 finish in as many attempts. The win netted each of Mineski’s players 150 Qualifying Points each, and put the team at the top of the Pro Circuit. With the festivitied in Bucharest at an end, both teams now have some time to relax and recover, as the next event scheduled for either team is the Perfect World Masters Minor in just under a month’s time.