Dota 2 Minor Team Preview: Perfect World Masters

10 teams set to compete in Shanghai as Pro Circuit makes long awaited debut in China with Perfect World Masters

Following a brief hiatus after the conclusion of the Dota Pit Minor, the Dota 2 Pro Circuit returns to the forefront of the esports scene with the season’s next Minor: The Perfect World Masters. Set to begin on November 19th and run through the 26th, the Perfect World Masters marks the first ever Pro Circuit event to be hosted in the Chinese region. Organized by Perfect World(hence the name), the Minor will bring 10 of the world’s strongest teams to the Jingan Sport Center in Shanghai, China for a week long challenge on the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage. With the 7.07 update and its subsequent sub-versions settling in for both players and fans, these competing teams should have no shortage of new strategies and drafts to put on display at this event. With 6 of the 10 participating teams already on the board in the Pro Circuit Standings, the Perfect World Masters could be a prime opportunity to gain ground and climb up the Pro Circuit ranks. For the other 4 participants, a solid performance in Shanghai would add it to the list of the Dota 2 world’s leading teams. At stake in Shanghai is the standard set of rewards for a Pro Circuit Minor, with a prize pool of $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points up for grabs.

1st:  $150,000(Total) and 150 Qualifying Points(per player)

2nd: $60,000(Total) and 90 Qualifying Points(per player)

3rd: $30,000(Total) and 45 Qualifying Points(per player)

4th: $18,000(Total) and 15 Qualifying Points(per player)

5th-6th: $12,000(Per Team)

7th-8th: $6,000(Per Team)

9th-10th: $3,000(Per Team)

Though the prize pool for the Perfect World Masters may be standard for a Minor, the event itself presents some twists in terms of its format. First and foremost is the addition of 2 extra teams from the traditional field of 8, with an extra directly invited team as well as a second team from the Chinese Regional Qualifier. The tournament will open with a group stage, with 2 groups of 5 teams playing a round robin, Best-of-2 series format. The top 4 teams from each group will advance to the playoff stage, while the last place team in each group will be eliminated from the event. The playoff bracket will consist of a double elimination bracket, with the first round of the lower bracket being best-of-1 matches. All other series in the playoff bracket will be in a best-of-3 format, culminating in a best-of-5 Grand Final.

With that information on the event, the prize pool, and the tournament format covered, let’s take a look at the team’s themselves and how they stack up heading into the Perfect World Masters.

  • Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data.

Newbee Newbee_logo

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 5th(585 Points)

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

Projected Finish: Top 4

Newbee has managed to quickly reestablish its hold over its position as one of the leading teams in the Chinese region, and the Dota 2 world as a whole. The Chinese squad will be attending its 4th Pro Circuit event so far this season, and its success at previous events has afforded the team with a favorable ranking in the Pro Circuit Standings. Though Newbee’s season got off to a less than auspicious start at the StarLadder i-League Minor, the team seems to have long since put that initial poor performance behind it. The team appears to have returned to top form, not only putting together back to back top 4 finishes in international competition, but also finding more consistent results in its home region. The team placed 2nd in the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League in China, narrowly losing out to LGD.Forever Young in a 2-3 Grand Final series. Though the team has fallen just short in 2 qualifiers so far this month, the squad’s pedigree, proven international results, and ability to compete consistently against top regional rivals puts Newbee in a solid position to improve its current standing on the Pro Circuit.

Newbee’s talent and plethora of experience playing Dota at the highest level have not let the squad down so far this season. The team’s performance of late has laid to rest almost all of the doubts that had been hanging around it earlier in the season. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to expect Newbee to earn itself yet another top 4 finish at this Minor. With many of the other teams in the field either unproven on the big stage or lacking comparable results, Newbee’s experience should provide it an distinct advantage in Shanghai. However surprising it may be, the potential for an upset from a Chinese rival or a challenger from one of the other regions is still a possibility that could spoil Newbee’s fun at the Perfect World Masters. If Newbee manages to handle itself with the same level of skill and consistency that it has been in this recent stretch of events, that threat of an upset should be only a minuscule concern for one of the Pro Circuit’s strongest squads.

LGD.Forever Young LGD.Forever_Young

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: T-11th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Du “Monet” Peng   2. Xie “Super” Junhao   3. He “Inflame” Yongzheng   4. Tue “Ahfu” Soon Chuan   5. Leong “ddc” Fat-meng(Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Following a 3rd place finish at TI7 and the announcement that the team would not be making roster changes in the offseason, the hopes were high that LGD.Forever Young would be able to establish itself as a top team in the new Pro Circuit. Unfortunately for the Chinese squad, that goal has proved elusive so far this season, with LGD.Forever Young qualifying for only a single Pro Circuit event prior to the start of the Perfect World Masters. Though the team hasn’t quite been able to consistently make the cut in a qualifier so far, it has certainly come close to qualification on multiple occasions. In 7 regional qualifiers this season, LGD.Forever Young has finished no worse than 4th(including 3 2nd place finishes). The team’s sole victory so far this season has come from winning the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League(DPL) in China, a feat that earned LGD.Forever Young a spot at the MDL Macau Minor in December. Though that win qualified LGD.Forever Young for a Pro Circuit event, the DPL itself was not associated with the Dota 2 Pro Circuit directly(and was not taken into account in the previously mentioned stats for LGD.FY in regional qualifiers). LGD.Forever Young has shown so far this season that it is capable of competing within its home region, but it remains to be seen if that regional success can be carried over onto the international stage.

LGD.Forever Young’s performances within the Chinese region have certainly been encouraging, showing that the team at least has the potential to hold its own against opponents within its home region. However, the lack of experience outside of China this season as well as the team’s near misses in regional qualifiers also raise some concerns for LGD.Forever Young in Shanghai. The Chinese squad is more than talented enough to produce solid results at this Minor, but the previously mentioned issues make it difficult to have a high level of confidence in LGD.Forever Young at this event. As it stands now, LGD Forever Young can be expected to fall within the 7th-8th place range, but the team is one or two key wins away from a run at a higher position at the Perfect World Masters Minor.

Team Secret Secret_logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 2nd(1440 Points)

Roster: 1. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard   2. Chen “Cty” Tianyu(Substitute)   3. Adrian “Fata” Trinks   4. Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat   5. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov(Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

Team Secret came into the new season looking to make a statement, and the European squad has certainly managed to accomplish that so far, racing ahead to a 2nd place position in the Pro Circuit standings. The team will be attending its 4th Pro Circuit event of the season in the Perfect World Masters, and the squad is a perfect 4/4 in European qualifiers so far. Team Secret has displayed the rare ability to play at a high level both within its home region and against international opponents, making the team one of the most formidable challenges on the Pro Circuit this season. At the team’s most recent LAN appearance in Hamburg, we saw the European squad take series against both Newbee and defending TI champion Team Liquid; two of the leading teams in the Pro Circuit standings. In the combined Europe and CIS Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major, Team Secret finished at the top of a group that included such teams as Team Liquid, Virtus.Pro, OG, and Na’Vi, securing the team spots in back to back Majors. All of these accomplishments are more roundabout ways of conveying the same message: Team Secret is hot, and the team doesn’t appear to be cooling down anytime soon.

With Team Secret playing at such an impressive level right now, it’s nearly impossible to project this squad as anything other than a favorite in Shanghai. The team is a virtual lock for a top 4 position at the Perfect World Masters, and anything below that projection would be a significant upset and disappointment for a squad working its way into the discussion as one of the best teams in the world. It’s fully possible that a rival team manages to bring down Team Secret in a series in Shanghai. but the double elimination format of the playoff bracket would require the team to drop multiple series in order to fall out of the top 4, which is an occurrence that seems highly unlikely as of now. If that occurrence somehow comes to pass, a massive opportunity will present itself for another team to take a big step forward, but should Team Secret maintain the level of play that it has held all season long to this point, it should walk away from Shanghai with an even more secure hold on its favorable ranking in the Pro Circuit Standings.

LGD Gaming 800px-LGD

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Winner(1st Place)

Pro Circuit Rank: 7th(202.5 Points)

Roster: 1. Wang “Ame” Chunyu   2. Lu “Maybe” Yao   3. Xu “fy” Linsen   4. Yao “Yao” Zhengzheng(Captain)   5. Chen “Victoria” Guanhong

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

LGD Gaming is another of the Chinese squads that will be participating in this Minor, and one of 3 Chinese teams to have already earned Qualifying Points so far this season. The team claimed a 2nd place finish at its only Pro Circuit event of the season at the PGL Open Bucharest, though it was forced to do so without its normal support player Chen “Victoria” Guanhong. Because of the team’s use of a substitute, it suffered a penalty to its Qualifying Points earnings from this event, leading to the team’s rather unorthodox point total(202.5). Since its last LAN appearance, LGD Gaming has been somewhat selective in terms of events and regional qualifiers. The team has competed in the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League as well as the Chinese Qualifier for the Dota Summit 8 Minor, placing 5th-6th in the former and winning the latter. These two recent performances send some mixed signals with regards to LGD Gaming, as the squad has shown that it has more than enough skill to defeat its regional rivals, but may have difficulties playing at that level on a consistent basis.

That inconsistency hurts LGD Gaming to some degree when gauging the squad’s expectations for the Perfect World Masters Minor. The team is certainly a talented group, but its nearly impossible to determine which version of the team will show up in Shanghai. Should we see the version of LGD Gaming that charged its way through the Dota Summit 8 Qualifier, the team could be in for a quality run at the Minor. However, if the team struggles to break out of the middle of the pack as it did in the DPL, the squad could be in for much less impressive or glamorous run. With those scenarios in mind, LGD Gaming come into the Perfect World Masters projected to fall within the 5th-6th range, with perhaps the largest room to climb or fall of all the participating teams.

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Winner(2nd Place)

Pro Circuit Rank: 6th(270 Points)

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

Projected Finish: Top 4

Vici Gaming entered the new season as almost an afterthought in a Chinese region that had undergone another offseason shuffle, but the squad has quickly proved that it was a mistake to underestimate it. The team has already attended 2 Pro Circuit events so far this season, and has managed to reach qualification status in 5 of its 7 qualifier runs. On top of its success on the Pro Circuit, Vici Gaming also earned a 4th place finish in the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League, further cementing the squad’s ability to compete and win against top Chinese competition. The team’s success is not just limited to its home region though, as the its 2 LAN appearances on the Pro Circuit have earned the team enough Qualifying Points(270) to claim a 6th place ranking in the standings. Vici Gaming’s performance at the Dota Pit Minor went a long way towards convincing fans that this team could compete with top teams, as the Chinese squad took down OG, Virtus.Pro, and Newbee and just narrowly lost to Team Liquid in a 2-3 Grand Final series. Vici Gaming’s ability to convert regional success into results on the international stage goes a long way to separate the team from rival Chinese squads.

Vici Gaming’s string of strong results to open the season make it one of the stronger teams to watch coming into the Perfect World Masters. The team has proven itself more than capable of finding success against both Chinese opponents and intentional challengers. These performances make Vici Gaming a strong projection for a top 4 finish in Shanghai, as its experience and previous results appear to give it an edge over most of the other teams in the field. An unexpected setback could certainly derail Vici Gaming’s plans for success at the Perfect World Masters, but barring that sort of relapse for the Chinese squad, all signs point towards a successful campaign in Shanghai.

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-8th(90 Points)

Roster: 1. Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin   2. Linus “Limmp” Blomdin   3. David “Moo” Hull   4. Zakari “Zfreek” Freedman   5. Kyle “melonzz” Freedman(Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

The North American region has become significantly more competitive this season than in years past, and compLexity Gaming finds itself in the thick of that regional competition. The team’s participation in the Perfect World Masters will mark its second Pro Circuit event of the season, as compLexity Gaming had previously taken part in the StarLadder i-League Minor to begin the season. That initial event proved fruitful for comPlexity Gaming, as the North American squad managed  a top 4 finish that has put the team in a 3 way tie for 8th place in the standings with 90 Qualifying Points. Since that Minor, compLexity Gaming has been taking steps to find more consistent results against its regional competitors. The team won the North America Qualifier for the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor, taking series over fellow NA teams OpTic Gaming, VGJ.Storm, and Immortals to secure its spot at the event. This success was followed up with an impressive performance in another qualifier, this time for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. CompLexity Gaming managed to defeat both OpTic Gaming and Digital Chaos, but fell just short of winning the qualifier, losing 2 series against Evil Geniuses. The team most recently competed in the Finals of the North American Qualifier for the Dota Summit 8 Minor, defeating Immortals to earn another trip to a Pro Circuit event. These recent performances are incredibly encouraging for a squad looking to take the lead in a relatively even North American region.

CompLexity Gaming’s successes of late definitely serve to raise the profile of the team heading into the Perfect World Masters. Its regional performances combined with its previous international experience and top 4 finish at the StarLadder i-League Minor result in the potential for a strong run in Shanghai. However, there is a line that needs to be drawn between potential and expectation for compLexity Gaming. While the team is certainly capable of a run into the top 4, it still seems a bit unreasonable to fully expect that outcome from the team considering some of the other top tier squads in the field. CompLexity Gaming can be safely projected to fall within the 5th-6th range at the Perfect World Masters, but should the team be able play confidently and consistently, the possibility stands for a jump up to a much more beneficial finish for the North American squad.

SG e-sports SG_e-sportslogo

Region: South America

Qualification: South America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-11th(0 Points)

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

Projected Finish: 9th-10th

SG e-sports has held a firm grip on the South American region for just about the entirety of the season so far. The Perfect World Masters will be the team’s fourth Pro Circuit event of the season, as the Brazilian squad has been dominating its regional qualifiers. Despite this early success for the team, SG e-sports is beginning to run into a couple of issues as the season continues on, both  on the international level and within its home region. Out of the team’s three previous appearances at Pro Circuit events, the best result it has managed to earn were 2 finishes in the 5th-6th position that failed to secure it any Qualifying Points. As a team with limited experience outside of South America, SG e-sports was not exactly expected to perform well at these events, but the team is reaching a point where its hoping that these learning experiences on the intentional stage begin translating into more positive results. That brings us to the team’s other issue, that being that these opportunities may not be so frequent as they have been to start this season. The South American region is beginning to grow more competitive, with teams such as Infamous, Sacred, and Pain Gaming becoming more prominent and difficult challenges for SG e-sports of late. The team ended up falling short in its last two qualifier runs, losing out to Infamous and Sacred who will represent South America at the MDL Macau and Dota Summit 8 Minors, respectively. While it was a bit unreasonable to think that SG e-sports would control the South American region for the entire season, the rise of rival teams so close to home raises some concerns for the team moving forward.

These issues don’t paint a pretty picture for SG e-sports heading into this event. With a lack of results on the international level and challengers rising back home, the team’s current position is precarious at best. A solid performance in Shanghai could go a long way to alleviate some of the concerns for the Brazilian squad, but expecting such from SG e-sports doesn’t appear to be a wise move at the moment. The team is certainly fun to watch on the big stage, but the results don’t point towards the team having a sudden breakthrough at this event, placing SG e-sports at the bottom of the projected standings in the 9th-10th position. To be perfectly honest, it would take an absolutely miraculous run for SG e-sports to make its way into the top half of the field at the Perfect World Masters, and that miracle doesn’t look to likely to happen in Shanghai. However, the Dota 2 world has seen “impossible” performances before from the most unlikely of sources, so I wouldn’t give up all hope on SG e-sports just yet.

Team Kinguin 627px-Team_Kinguin

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-11th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Natan “Exotic_Deer” Michalewicz   2. Michał “Nisha” Jankowski   3. Paweł “Patos” Naruszewicz   4. Rafał “eL lisasH” Wójcik(Captain)   5. Jakub “kacor” Kocjan

Projected Finish: 9th-10th

Team Kinguin will finally be making its debut on the Pro Circuit in Shanghai, and the all-Polish squad is probably not a roster that you’re all that familiar with. That’s somewhat understandable, as the team has been on the peripheral of the European scene for a while now, and has undergone a few names changes in the last year or so as well. The majority of the roster has played under the names of Alternate aTTaX, Let’s Do It, and Team Singularity in 2017 before being signed by Team Kinguin in September. The team’s participation in the Perfect World Masters represents its first success in the regional qualifiers, with the squad having fallen short in three previous attempts. The breakthrough for the team in a region struggling to emerge from the shadow of giants like Team Secret and Team Liquid is no small accomplishment, but now the Polish squad must prepare itself to take on an entirely new level of competition on the Pro Circuit.

Team Kinguin’s run to reach the Perfect World Masters is an encouraging story and speaks volumes about the squads talent and potential. However, in the face of some of the strongest teams in the world, we just haven’t seen enough from the team to put its expectations very high for this event. Team Kinguin ranks at the bottom of my projections for this event, falling into the 9th-10th range among the participating teams. This isn’t a knock on the team by any means, but without more examples to draw from outside of the European region, it is impossible to predict with any degree of certainty how Team Kinguin will stack up against international opponents. In that regard, a lower projection seems safer than placing the team at a higher level of expectations. However, there is something to be said for a team coming in as a relatively unknown underdog, and the potential is there for Team Kinguin to surprise its opponents and step up on the big stage.

Vega Squadron 579px-Vega_Squadron_2016

Region: Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS)

Qualification: CIS Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-11th(0 Points)

Roster: 1. Illya “ALOHADANCE” Korobkin   2. Sergey “G” Bragin   3. Vasily “AfterLife” Shishkin   4. Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov   5. Semion “CemaTheSlayeR” Krivulya(Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Vega Squadron is another team that will be making its first appearance at a Pro Circuit event in Shanghai, though its road to the Perfect World Masters has not been an easy one. The CIS region has been revitalized this season, with squads like Na’Vi and Team Empire rising to challenge Virtus.Pro and up and coming teams like Effect, Team Spirit, and Gambit rising as potential challengers. In the wake of this uprising, Vega Squadron has had difficulties finding its footing, with this appearance at the Perfect World Masters being the team’s only success out of seven regional qualifiers so far. Vega Squadron has not been a major player in the CIS discussion to this point in the season, but that all could change in Shanghai if the team can put together a solid run at the Minor.

Unfortunately for Vega Squadron, that run doesn’t appear to be very likely to happen. The team has struggled significantly within its own home region, and with little to no matches outside of the CIS region to examine it’s hard to have a high level of confidence in the team’s ability to perform on the big stage. Of course, the team has all the talent it would need to spark a run, with its roster being filled with veteran talent and experienced CIS players. However, the projections for this team, as with all teams, need to be based on the team’s current standing rather than its potential. In that regard, Vega Squadron come into my projections in the 7th-8th place range, having the skill and experience to edge out the weaker teams but looking a step or two behind the mid-level squads. It may sound like doom and gloom for Vega Squadron from the previous assessment, but the truth is that Vega Squadron has the potential to outpace the meager expectations I have laid out for them. Should the team manage to find the right spark, the CIS squad could present a legitimate challenge to even the strongest teams in the field at Shanghai.

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 4th(720 Points)

Roster: 1. Kam “NaNa” Boon Seng   2. Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung(Captain)   3. Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang   4. Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong   5. Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

Projected Finish: Top 4

The King of Southeast Asia returns for another event on the Pro Circuit, as Mineski looks to build upon what has already been an astronomically strong start to its season. The team will be making its third appearance at a Pro Circuit event, and the SEA squad has yet to come away from a Minor without claiming Qualifying Points. Mineski has won five of the eight regional qualifiers that it has participated in so far this season, and has established a firm hold over the SEA region in the process. The team is playing at an impressive level so far this season, but a small issue is arising at home that may present a concern for the SEA powerhouse. After a string of disappointing results and failures, the Southeast Asian region is beginning to heat up, with potential rivals and challengers to Mineski starting to look stronger by the day. Fnatic’s recent roster change helped it defeat Mineski 2-3 in the finals of the Dota Summit 8 Qualifier, and TNC Pro Team managed to beat Mineski 1-2 to snag the SEA spot for the MDL Macau Minor as well. While it was unreasonable to expect Mineski to remain uncontested forever, this surge from rival SEA teams means that the squad is under a bit more pressure to continue converting these opportunities into Qualifying Points.

Fortunately for Mineski and its fans, the team appears to be in prime position to do just that at the Perfect World Masters. Mineski has shown the ability to consistently and definitively compete with and defeat the best teams in the world, earning the 4th spot in the Pro Circuit Standings with back to back top 2 finishes at Minors. Mineski is a safe bet for another top 4 finish in Shanghai, as its experience and talent put it on par with the best teams in the field of participants. No team is invincible, and there is a possibility that one of the mid-level teams manages to jump up and pull off an upset, but such an outcome would be a significant surprise for a Mineski squad that appears to be playing in top form heading into this Minor.

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