Dota 2 Minor Team Preview: AMD SAPPHIRE Dota Pit League

Top teams clash in Croatia as Dota Pit holds first Minor of patch 7.07

Just days after the end of the season’s first Major, Dota 2 fans around the world found themselves having even further reason for celebration. The release of version 7.07  brought with it a litany of changes, including two new heroes and several new items. While those heroes won’t be seen in a professional environment for some time, the gameplay changes and new items will be on display as the Dota Pit League Minor is set to begin on November 2. With the participating teams still adjusting to the changes brought by the new game version, this Minor should prove to be especially interesting as brand new strategies and tactics will be put to the test. Eight of the world’s best teams have made their way to Split, Croatia for a chance to play some of 7.07’s first professional matches and earn a share of the tournament’s prize money and Qualifying Points. Unfortunately, there is still no exact information regarding the splitting of the prize pool, but we can take a look at how the Qualifying Points will be distributed among the participating teams.

1st: 150 Qualifying Points(per player)

2nd: 90 Qualifying Points(per player)

3rd: 45 Qualifying Points(per player)

4th: 15 Qualifying Points(per player)

5th/6th: 0 Qualifying Points

7th/8th: 0 Qualifying Points

Up to this point, all of the Pro Circuit events have followed the same format, with 2 groups of teams feeding into a 4 team, single elimination playoff bracket. In this format, there is no distinction between the 3rd and 4th place positions allowing for the same point amount to be given to both teams. the Dota Pit Minor will not have a group stage, instead utilizing a double elimination bracket that will result in 1 team occupying each of the top 4 positions. With that in mind, we’ll now focus on the teams themselves and look at the 8 participating teams.

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd(900 Points)

Roster: 1. Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen   2. Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi   3. Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov   4. Maroun “GH” Merhej   5. Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi(Captain)

The TI7 champion has started the season in the form that we would expect from one of the strongest and most talented squads in the world. The team tore through the StarLadder i-League Minor, winning the event with a 9-1 overall record that saw it claim the top spot on the Pro Circuit rankings to begin the season. That performance was followed up by another solid outing at the first Major of the season in Hamburg, with a 3rd-4th place finish for the European squad. Team Liquid was not quite as dominant in Hamburg as they had been in Kiev, with the squad losing series 1-2 against both eventual champion Virtus.Pro and runner-up Team Secret. These losses may have some fans a bit concerned, but there’s no reason to push the panic button on Team Liquid just yet. Team Liquid remains one of the world’s strongest and most reliable teams, and as exciting as its start to the season was, it is a bit unreasonable to expect any team to continue winning at the rate that Team Liquid had been.

Heading into this Minor, Team Liquid stands as a near guarantee for a top 4 spot and another batch of Qualifying Points. The team’s struggles, if they can even really be called that, at the Major shouldn’t be a significant concern for this team moving forward. Should Team Liquid somehow under-perform and fall out of the top 4 at this event, then it will be time for concern and discussion about a drop off, but that occurrence seems unlikely, and Team Liquid look to be more than capable of maintaining the level of play that earned it 2 straight top 4 finishes to begin its season.

Newbee Newbee_logo

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 5th(450 Points)

Roster: 1. Xu “Moogy” Han   2. Song “Sccc” Chun   3. Damien “kpii” Chok   4. Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi   5. Zeng “Faith” Hongda(Captain)

Newbee’s season has been interesting to watch so far to say the least, as the team has already seen both significant struggles and success so far. The team’s campaign began with a victory in its home region, as the TI7 runner-up defeating fellow Chinese squads LGD Gaming, LGD.Forever Young, and Vici Gaming to claim a spot in the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. With its solid performance against regional rivals, it appeared that Newbee was beginning the season at the same level that had fueled its run to the TI7 grand finals. However, the Chinese squad fell on its face in the season’s first Minor as the team struggled in Kiev and failed to win a single game at the event for a last place(7th-8th) finish. The result was shocking, and almost immediately there were questions about Newbee’s ability to compete on an international stage. For the faithful, the hope was that the StarLadder i-League Minor was simply an aberration; an outlier performance that the team could quickly put behind it. That faith was rewarded, as Newbee came back for the ESL One Hamburg Major looking like its old self again on its way to a top 4 finish and its first Qualifying Points of the season. With its solid performance in Hamburg going a long way to balance out its poor showing in Kiev, Newbee appears to be back in form, but the team will have to maintain this level of play moving forward to truly put the doubts to rest.

Newbee’s early season struggle was concerning, but the talent and experience of this squad cannot be questioned, and the team’s bounce back performance in Hamburg has it sitting near the top among the participants at the Dota Pit Minor. Newbee looks to be a good bet for another top 4 finish at this event, so long as it don’t relapse into the lackluster play that it presented at the StarLadder i-League Minor.

OG 425px-OG_RB_Logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-10th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein   2. Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok   3. Gustav “s4” Magnusson   4. Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka   5. Tal “Fly” Aizik(Captain)

OG has had some trouble to begin this new season, though not all of it comes directly from the team. The rise of Team Secret in the European region has largely overshadowed the rest of its teams, as Puppey’s squad has dominated regional competition so far. Even with that in consideration though, OG have still been playing at a level that seems to be below the team’s capabilities. The team has participated in 4 qualifiers so far, winning only the one that earned it a spot at this Minor for its first Pro Circuit event of the season. Coincidentally, this was the first of those 4 qualifiers in which Team Secret did not play, but I feel as though I’ve started to belabor that point at this stage. The point that should be focused on here is that OG have had difficulties finding success so far this season, but the team’s roster still holds some of most talented and experienced players in the scene, and this opportunity to finally compete on the international stage may be just the wake up call that OG needs.

OG’s talent is obvious and its experience and litany of accomplishments are both impressive and formidable, but the fact remains that the team has not looked nearly as strong as it likely should to begin the season. Taking that into consideration, I’m going to take a bit of a risk and predict that OG actually falls short of the top 4 at the Dota Pit Minor, falling within the 5th-6th range. That projection is somewhat modest for such an accomplished squad, but OG’s struggles make it harder to have the same level of confidence in the team as in years past. That being said, OG are still one solid performance and one key series victory away from moving into the top 4.

Virtus.Pro 600px-Virtus

Region: Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS)

Qualification: CIS Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 1st(2250 Points)

Roster: 1. Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev   2. Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko   3. Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov   4. Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk   5. Alexei “Solo” Berezin(Captain)

Virtus.Pro has captured the attention of the Dota 2 world again after its victory at the ESL One Hamburg Major. The win at the season’s first Major catapulted the CIS squad to the top of the standings on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit, and VP has reclaimed its position as one of the best teams in the world. VP’s performance in Hamburg is particularly impressive considering the teams that it had to get through in order to claim its first Major title. The CIS team won series against Team Liquid, Newbee, and Team Secret at the Major, proving its ability to compete with and beat some of the world’s best teams. Aside from its performance in Hamburg, Dota fans haven’t seen much of VP, as the team has been somewhat selective in terms of which events and qualifiers it has participated in. That selectivity may be working in Virtus.Pro’s favor so far, as its impressive run at the Major stands as many fans’ first and only impression of the squad this season.

Virtus.Pro come into this event as an obvious choice for a top 4 finish, especially considering most of the other teams in consideration for that position are squads that VP just beat in Hamburg. It would take a pretty surprising meltdown from the CIS squad or a truly inspired performance from an underdog team to knock VP out of the top 4 at this event. Virtus.Pro looks more than capable of outplaying its competitors in Croatia, and a top 4 finish at the Dota Pit Minor would allow it to expand its hold on the 1st place position in the Pro Circuit standings.

Immortals 599px-Immortals_org

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-7th(90 Points)

Roster: 1. Kim “QO” Seon-yeob   2. Pyo “MP” No-a   3. Lee “Forev” Sang-don   4. Kim “Febby” Yong-min   5. Kim “DuBu” Doo-young(Captain)

Immortals has found some mixed levels of success so far, competing in a North American region that has no clearly defined leader at this point in the season. The team has won 2 of the 5 qualifiers that it has participated in this season, but has also seen significant struggles against its regional rivals including 2 qualifier finishes in the bottom half of the standings. Though the squad wasn’t able to fully control the North American region, it has found success playing on the international stage so far this season. The team earned a top 4 finish at its first Pro Circuit event at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, winning 2 series against Team Secret and threatening both LGD Gaming and Mineski. With those solid performances against international competition, Immortals has distinguished itself and emerged as a potential competitor on the Pro Circuit.

Coming into this Minor, Immortals stands in a favorable position among the participating teams. Immortals has had its struggles in its home region, but it isn’t the only squad to have gotten off to a rough start. Teams like OG, Fnatic, and Vici Gaming have also struggled to begin the season, and in this scenario the proven results appear to make the difference. Immortals’ top 4 finish in Bucharest puts it just a hair above these rivals, as Immortals has a somewhat risky projection of a top 4 finish at the Dota Pit Minor. Should Immortals hold to its recent level of play, and its previously mentioned competitors continue to struggle as they have, this projection may hold true. However, a single mistake or lapse in play could easily cost Immortals its shot to earn more Qualifying Points and improve its standing on the Pro Circuit.

SG e-sports SG_e-sportslogo

Region: South America

Qualification: South America Qualifier

Pro Circuit Rank: T-10th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Guilherme “Costabile” Costábile   2. Adriano “4dr” Machado   3. Rodrigo “Liposa” Santos   4. Thiago “Thiolicor” Cordeiro   5. Lucas “Bardo” Bardosa(Captain)

SG e-sports has emerged as one of the leading teams in the South American region, as the team has been impressive in qualifiers so far this season. However, the Brazilian squad has not yet managed to convert that regional success into positive results on the international stage. The team has made appearances at both the StarLadder i-League Minor and the ESL One Hamburg Major, but has finished in the bottom half of the standings at both events. Though these performances may not look very impressive on paper, they represent a significant step forward for a squad that has little to no experience on the international stage.

SG e-sports may be taking steps towards becoming a competitor on the Pro Circuit, but it doesn’t appear to be ready just yet. The team is still having significant difficulties going up against international opponents, and it doesn’t seem like that trend will come to an end at the Dota Pit Minor. The team should most likely fall within the 7th-8th place range for a last place finish barring some sort of Cinderella run from the South American underdog.

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-10th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun   2. Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang   3. Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei   4. Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng   5. Lu “Fenrir” Chao

Vici Gaming is another example of a team that has started out strong within its home region, but failed to find that same level of success on the international stage. The team has qualified for 4 Pro Circuit events so far this season, proving that the team is at least capable of competing against its Chinese rivals. However, its performance at the first of those 4 events, the StarLadder i-League Minor, did not match up to those regional victories. Vici Gaming failed to win a single game at the Minor, losing series against both SG e-sports and  Mineski to finish in the 7th-8th position. That kind of performance doesn’t inspire an extreme level of confidence in the Chinese squad, but Vici Gaming has enough talent and experience to still foster some hope for this team.

Heading into the Dota Pit Minor, Vici Gaming looks like one of the weaker squads among the participating teams. However, with other squads such as SG e-sports and Fnatic suffering through similar rough patches, Vici Gaming can expect to fall within the 5th-6th position at this event. Vici Gaming has a roster full of talented players and experienced veterans, and it is still possible that the team could make a breakthrough and surprise fans with a strong performance at the Dota Pit Minor. However, such a run would come as quite a surprise for a Vici Gaming squad desperately looking for an opportunity to turn its season around.

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Region: Southeast Asia(SEA)

Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier 2nd place. Replacement Team

Pro Circuit Rank: T-10th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao(Captain)   2. Steve “Xcalibur” Ye   3. Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin   4. Djardel “DJ” Mampusti   5. Johan “pieliedie” Åström

Fnatic’s season has been disastrous so far, as the SEA team has gone from one disappointing performance to another this season. The team has participated in 5 qualifiers so far, but has failed to make the cut in any of them, reaching both the Major and this Minor because of the inability of the original SEA Qualifier winners to attend the event. The team’s performance at the ESL One Hamburg Major was about as poor as people had been expecting, with the squad finishing in last place and failing to win a single game. The season hasn’t gone well for Fnatic so far, but the SEA squad has received another chance to turn around its poor start in the form of a spot at the Dota Pit Minor.

Fnatic may be receiving another chance to perform on the international stage, but it isn’t likely to take advantage of this opportunity. Despite the team having accomplished and talented players on its roster, Fnatic hasn’t been able to come together in a winning combination just yet. Fnatic’s struggles make it too difficult to project this team as anything higher than a last place team at this event. Fans may still hold out hope that Fnatic can turn its awful start around at the Minor, but such an outcome would come as a massive surprise for an under-performing SEA squad.

 

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