Dota 2 Minor Recap: PGL Open Bucharest

Mineski claims title, LGD comes up big shorthanded, and North America shines in Bucharest

The action has come to an end in Bucharest, and Southeast Asian powerhouse Mineski is the last squad standing at the season’s second Minor. After an impressive 2nd place showing at the StarLadder i-League Minor to begin the season, Mineski managed a breakthrough, winning its first event of the year and its second straight top 2 finish. 5 teams made their season debut on LAN at this event, joining 3 squads that had previously participated in the season’s first Minor in Kiev. If you want a more detailed look at some of the games and series of the event, I posted a series of daily posts going over the specific match ups from each day. In this post, we’ll be taking a wider look at the teams themselves, evaluating how the performance of the squads stacked up against their expectations heading into the event and what’s ahead on their respective schedules.

Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $30,000(total) and 30 Qualifying Points(per player)

As one of the two teams to be directly invited to this event(the other being LGD Gaming), Evil Geniuses had some high expectations in Bucharest. The team was still coming off of a relatively recent roster shift, bringing Clinton “Fear” Loomis back to the team and having him take over the captain’s duties from Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen. These changes left a small bit of uncertainty that left EG just shy of the “win or bust” mindset. However, even with the squad not standing as a favorite in Bucharest, it could still expect to perform well in a field with a handful of unproven teams.

Perform well is exactly what EG did in the group stage, although the team didn’t exactly breeze through its first few series. The team managed a tough 2-1 win against Chinese squad VGJ.Thunder, including an 82 minute long match in game 3. A quick 0-2 loss to Mineski setup up a do or die rematch against VGJ.Thunder that EG managed to win to make it into the playoff bracket. EG’s playoff run ended quickly with an 0-2 loss to LGD Gaming, earning Evil Geniuses a top 4 finish in the combined 3rd-4th position. The wins against VGJ.Thunder gave us a good look at how EG responds and adapts to negative situations, and just how resilient and determined this squad can be. VGJ.Thunder may not be looked at as one of the top teams in the world, but the Chinese squad is no slouch, having fought and won its way through a stacked Chinese Qualifier. EG’s losses aren’t exactly black marks on its record either, as the team’s only series losses came against Mineski(1st place) and LGD Gaming(2nd place).

Evil Geniuses managed to perform up to expectations as the North American team made its first appearance at a LAN event this season. The team’s top 4 performance in Bucharest puts the team in a strong position to start the season, and its a position that the squad will have an opportunity to improve very soon. EG don’t get much rest in between events, as the team is heading to Hamburg to participate in the first Major of the season; ESL One Hamburg.

LGD Gaming 800px-LGD

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $65,000(total), 67 Qualifying Points(per non-substitute player), 45 Qualifying Points(substitute player)

LGD Gaming came in as the other directly invited team for this Minor, and like fellow direct invitee Evil Geniuses the expectations were relatively high for the Chinese squad. However, a small problem arose for LGD as support player Chen “Victoria” Guanhong was unable to attend the event due to illness. In his place, LGD’s coach Yao “QQQ” Yi served as a stand in for the duration of the Minor.

LGD Gaming may not have had the full strength of its usual roster, but that didn’t appear to have much of an impact on the team’s performance. The team made its way through the group stage with little difficulty, blowing past Infamous 2-0 and taking a 2-1 victory against Immortals to earn a spot in the playoff bracket. EG didn’t wind up being much of a challenge for the Chinese squad either, as the team defeated the North American squad 2-0. Only a run in with Mineski in the grand final brought LGD Gaming’s momentum to a halt, with the SEA squad handing LGD a quick 0-2 defeat to end its run at the Minor. The team’s wins at the Minor were impressive, particularly because of how quickly it managed to defeat its opponents. The team’s initial win against Infamous may not have been a high profile victory, but its subsequent wins against Immortals and Evil Geniuses showed that the Chinese squad could contend with some of the strongest teams in the world. LGD may not have put up much of a fight against Mineski, but no team should be disappointed by a loss to a Mineski squad whose only defeats on LAN came at the hands of the TI7 champions Team Liquid.

It would have been understandable for LGD Gaming to lower its expectations and level of play having to play without one of its usual players, but the team showed an impressive level of resilience and skill in Bucharest. The team’s use of a substitute puts a slight damper on its 2nd place finish, as the Chinese squad received a reduced amount of Qualifying Points. Even with the points reduction, LGD’s top 2 finish in Bucharest puts it in 3rd place overall on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit. The team will have some time to enjoy its new position, as LGD Gaming’s next scheduled event is the Perfect World Masters Minor beginning November 19th.

Immortals 599px-Immortals_org

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $30,000(total) and 30 Qualifying Points(per player)

Heading into the Minor, Immortals had moderate expectations for itself in terms of its performance. The team had looked impressive within its home region of North America, but it hadn’t yet seen any action against international opponents. With that in mind, it was hard to gauge for certain how the team would perform in Bucharest. The team’s lack of recent matches outside of North America left open the possibility that it could under-perform and find itself in the bottom half of the field. On the other hand, the team certainly had the skill and experience need to potentially make a run into the top 4.

Immortals’ performance found the team leaning more towards the latter option, as the squad put together an impressive group stage record. A somewhat surprising 2-0 series against Team Secret got the team off to a strong start, though a subsequent 1-2 loss to LGD forced the NA squad into an elimination rematch against Team Secret. Team Secret performed better in this second series, but Immortals still came out on top to earn a playoff bracket slot. Unfortunately, this semifinal series would end the team’s run at the Minor, as Immortals matched up against the eventual Minor champion Mineski. Immortals put together an impressive resume in Bucharest, winning 2 series against Team Secret, as well as taking games against both LGD Gaming and Mineski despite losing those series.

Immortals had a wide range of potential outcomes for this event, and the team’s previous performances made it somewhat difficult to identify which outcome was the most likely to occur. Fortunately for the team, it managed to fight its way into one of the more positive outcomes, as Immortals put together a strong run into a top 4 spot. The North American squad will have a chance to build its solid performance, as Immortals will participate in the DotaPit Minor at the start of November.

Infamous 600px-Infamous_2017_logo

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $7,500

Let’s be perfectly honest here, the expectations for Infamous at this event were about as low as possible among the participating teams. There were already some doubts surrounding the team, as it had originally failed to qualify for the event after finishing the regional qualifiers in the combined 3rd-4th position. After the 1st and 2nd place teams were both disqualified, the team managed to win a replacement series against SG e-sports to win a spot in Bucharest. Though this was an impressive accomplishment, it didn’t do much to alleviate the other concern regarding this team; the lack of experience at both LAN events and outside of its home region.

The team’s performance in Bucharest quickly affirmed the low expectations that had been laid out for it coming into the event. Infamous struggled heavily in the group stage, losing both its series against LGD Gaming and Team Secret. Not only did Infamous lose these two series, it was eliminated from contention at the Minor without having won a single game. There’s not a whole lot to talk about for Infamous in terms of its performance, but the biggest benefit for the South American squad wasn’t reliant on the team’s results.

Expectations for Infamous at its first LAN event were low, and the team’s performance didn’t do a whole lot to change that. The team’s 0-4 record might not mean much in the short term, but teams from South America often lack experience outside of their home region. For Infamous, the biggest take away from this event was the team being able to gain valuable experience against international talent in a LAN environment. Hopefully, the South American squad can make the most of that experience while it takes a bit of a break from the big stage. The team’s next scheduled event is the DreamLeague Season 8 Major in Sweden beginning December 1st.

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $15,000

Team Secret began the season on a tear, racking up wins in European qualifiers and dominating its regional competition. After earning a top 4 finish at the previous Minor, many looked at Team Secret as an easy choice to repeat that performance in Bucharest. With 5 teams appearing in their first LAN event of the season, Team Secret was one of the few teams with solid and proven results on the big stage. Unfortunately for the European squad, a repeat trip to the playoffs and a second top 4 finish wasn’t in the cards, as the team came up against stout competition in the group stage.

Team Secret opened its group stage series with a match up against North American organization Immortals, and it didn’t go well for the European team. An aggressive strategy from Immortals knocked Secret off guard en route to a quick 0-2 loss that left more than a few spectators surprised. Team Secret needed to recover from a tough loss, and luckily the team was thrown a softball in that regard, facing South American squad Infamous in its second group stage series. Team Secret pulled together a solid 2-0 win against Infamous, keeping its playoff hopes alive as it faced Immortals again in an elimination rematch for the final playoff spot in Group A. Secret managed to perform better than it had the first time around against Immortals, but it still wasn’t enough as the team fell 1-2. The team missed out on the playoffs and ended the event in the combined 5th-6th position in what had to be a somewhat puzzling and disappointing performance for the European squad. Immortals is certainly a solid team with skilled players, but after Team Secret’s run of dominance in the European region as well as its top 4 finish at the StarLadder i-League Minor, most were probably expecting a stronger showing from the squad.

Team Secret came into Bucharest with high expectations, as well as the performance record to back up its ambition. Despite the team’s strong record coming into the event, it struggled in the group stage significantly. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as the team’s less than stellar performance shouldn’t do too much to lower its standing as one of the stronger teams on the Pro Circuit. Losing 2 series to a single team will likely have left a bad taste in the mouths of Team Secret’s players, but the squad will very quickly have an opportunity to put those matches behind it. Team Secret joins Evil Geniuses as one of two participants in this Minor that will also be competing in the season’s first Major at ESL One Hamburg in just a few short days.

Natus Vincere(Na’Vi) 668px-Natus_Vincere

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $7,500

Na’Vi was one of the more interesting teams to assess coming into this event, at least in terms of where to place the CIS squad expectation-wise. The team had performed well enough in its regional qualifiers, and the team’s run at the previous Minor was impressive despite falling short of a top 4 finish. With that said, the team didn’t really seem like much more than a mid-level team in Bucharest, reliant on a big upset or a miraculous performance to fall into the top 4. Unfortunately, the team managed to come up short of even those modest expectations, finishing in the combined 7th-8th position for a last place finish.

Na’Vi drew Mineski in its first group stage series, an unfortunate occurrence for any team this season. However, Na’Vi put up quite the fight against the SEA powerhouse, taking a win in game 2 before falling 1-2 in the series. The loss was still an encouraging performance for the CIS team, showing that Na’Vi hold its own against some of the best teams in the world. Unfortunately, Na’Vi couldn’t overcome its next obstacle, falling to Chinese squad VGJ.Thunder 1-2 and getting eliminated from the Minor. The loss to VGJ.Thunder is a bit disappointing, especially considering how one sided the final 2 games of that series looked. This was a series that Na’Vi had the capability to win, and perfectly represents the kind of 50-50 match ups that the CIS squad will have to win in the future if it wants a shot at top 4 finishes and Qualifying Points.

Na’Vi didn’t look particularly strong heading into this Minor, and the team’s results in Bucharest don’t do a whole lot to alleviate the concerns surrounding it. Despite putting up respectable fights against Mineski and VGJ.Thunder, the CIS squad just didn’t quite have enough to pull out a win in either of its series in the group stage. The one silver lining for this team is that its performance in those series was not as poor as its last place finish would suggest, and the team has something to build on going forward at least. Na’Vi will have some opportunities to get itself back into shape in the near future, just not at any LAN events. The only thing on the team’s schedule for now is its ongoing participation in the combined EU & CIS Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major, which is set to resume play in around 2 week’s time.

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 1st

Winnings: $130,000(total) and 150 Qualifying Points(per player)

After putting together one of the strongest teams in the SEA region in the offseason and earning a 2nd place finish at the season’s first Minor, the expectations were sky high for Mineski. The TI7 champions Team Liquid were the only thing that had stopped the SEA squad from claiming victory at the StarLadder i-League Minor, and with Liquid sitting this event out, Mineski was the favorite to take home the title in Bucharest. The team certainly lived up to those expectations, putting together an impressive tournament and claiming the roster’s first event win of the season, and a second straight finish in the top 2.

Mineski was dominant in the group stage, dropping only a single game on its path to the playoff bracket. That single loss came in the team’s opening series against Na’Vi in which the team did a little bit of experimenting with its lineup. After that point, it was all business for the SEA powerhouse, as the team finished off Na’Vi for a 2-1 win and subsequently beat down EG in a 2-0 victory. EG put up a fight in game 2, drawing the match out past the 74 minute mark, but it never looked as though the game was actually out of MIneski’s control. Following its group stage victories, Mineski went on to face Immortals in the semifinals. Despite a game 1 blitz that caught Mineski off guard, Immortals wasn’t able to find much success against the SEA team either, falling 1-2 and clearing the path for Mineski to the grand final against LGD Gaming. That match up didn’t prove to be very competitive either, as Mineski won 2-0 in just a little under 65 minutes of total game time.

Mineski’s victory in Bucharest cements the team’s place as one of the strongest teams in the entirety of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit. The win also gives the team the highest Qualifying Points total on the Circuit as well, setting Mineski up for a strong and exciting run through the rest of the season. There wasn’t much to talk about in terms of weaknesses for Mineski at this event, as the team handled its business against any and all opponents. The team did drop a game against both Na’Vi and Immortals, but it wouldn’t necessarily be reasonable to expect a team to go entirely undefeated through an event. The losses were impressive for the opposing squads, but didn’t seem to be indicative of anyone “solving” Mineski just yet. Teams will have a bit of time to try and figure out how to beat Mineski, as the SEA squad will not be active again until November 19th for the start of the Perfect World Masters Minor in Shanghai.

VGJ.Thunder 600px-VGJ_201710_logo_notext

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $15,000

Heading into the team’s first LAN event of the season, it was hard to expect much from VGJ.Thunder. Despite finding a small amount of success in the Chinese region, VGJ.Thunder was still a team with an entirely new roster and no LAN matches on record for the season. While the individual players may have been skilled and experienced, the uncertainty from the team as a whole lowered expectations for what the team could do in Bucharest. VGJ.Thunder managed to outperform those meager expectations though, putting together a solid performance that placed it near the middle of the competitors in the combined 5th-6th position.

VGJ.Thunder began its group stage with a series against Evil Geniuses, and the Chinese immediately showed that it came to Bucharest ready to compete. The team pushed EG to a full 3 game series, including a deciding game 3 match that went on for over 82 minutes. The close loss to EG showed that VGJ.Thunder had the potential to contend with its peers in Group B, and that potential was realized in the team’s next series against Na’Vi. VGJ.Thunder managed to win a hard fought 2-1 series against the CIS representative, setting up a rematch with EG for a slot in the playoff bracket. Unfortunately for the Chinese squad, the rematch didn’t go nearly as well as its initial series against EG, with VGJ.Thunder losing 0-2 and falling just short of the playoff bracket. Despite those losses, VGJ.Thunder put together a solid performance in Bucharest, challenging Evil Geniuses and defeating Na’Vi in a group where many were expecting the team to finish at the bottom.

VGJ.Thunder performed admirably in Bucharest, putting together an impressive showing despite not making it out of the group stage. Most weren’t expecting much in the way of results from the Chinese squad anyway, so coming away with an overall record of 3-5 is still something of a bright spot for the team. Unfortunately, VGJ.Thunder won’t have another performance on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit in the near future, as the PGL Open Bucharest was the only event that the team has qualified for so far. However, we haven’t seen the last of the Chinese squad, as VGJ.Thunder continues to participate in the Top Division of the ongoing Dota 2 Professional League in China. With action in the DPL expected to resume in November, VGJ.Thunder will have a chance to build on its performance in Bucharest before heading into the next run of regional qualifiers.

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