Dota 2 Minor Recap: Perfect World Masters

Newbee claim first Pro Circuit event win. Vici Gaming, LGD.Forever Young, compLexity Gaming round out top 4 as Chinese teams shine in Shanghai.

The dust has finally settled in Shanghai, and after a week of Dota 2 action, just one team remains standing as champion of the Perfect World Masters. Ten teams fought for the title at this latest Minor, but at the end of the day its Chinese squad Newbee that walks away victorious with its first Minor win of the season. The event proved a landmark success for the Chinese region, as three out the four Chinese teams at the Perfect World Masters managed to crack the top 4, significantly increasing the standing of the region in the Pro Circuit standings. Newbee found itself shifting up a spot in the standings from five to four, Vici Gaming doubled its Qualifying Point total(though it didn’t move out of sixth) and LGD.Forever Young earned a spot in the standings with its first Qualifying Points of the year. Chinese teams weren’t the only squads to come out ahead in Shanghai, as compLexity Gaming earned itself enough Qualifying Points to become the highest ranked team in North America(breaking a three way tie in the process). With the money and Qualifying Points awarded and the standings sufficiently shifted, we can look at how the ten participants performed at the Perfect World Masters, as well as what lies on the horizon for these teams.

Newbee Newbee_logo

Place: 1st

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

Coming into the Perfect World Masters, there were a multitude of questions regarding just how strong the Chinese region was. Chinese teams had been performing admirably, but there were some who expressed an expectation for more from the best of China. With the strength of the region in question, the responsibility fell to Newbee, as one of China’s premier squads, to make a statement in Shanghai to showcase Chinese power. The TI7 runner-up was ready to make that statement, and with four Chinese teams in the field at the Perfect World Masters it appeared that Chinese Dota had its best chance to perform at this Minor.

Newbee began its run in Shanghai with a solid performance in the group stage of the event. Placed into Group B, the Chinese squad pulled out a 2-0 win over Mineski and 1-1 splits against Team Kinguin and fellow Chinese squad LGD Gaming. An 0-2 loss to Team Secret was the only setback in a strong performance that allowed Newbee to advance to the playoff stage. The playoff bracket is where Newbee truly began to shine, as the team took on all comers on its path to the title. The team began with a 2-1 victory over LGD.Forever Young, following up that victory with a 2-0 rout of debuting European squad Team Kinguin. Newbee would run into Vici Gaming in both the Winner’s Bracket Finals and the Grand Finals of the event, claiming a 2-1 win in the first encounter and a 3-0 victory in the second to crown itself the Perfect World Masters champions.

Coming into the Perfect World Masters, my preview post had Newbee projected as a top 4 finish, and the Chinese squad certainly didn’t disappoint. The team’s talent and experience shone through at the Minor, and Newbee’s consistent ability to edge out its Chinese rivals played an incredibly large role once again. This victory cements Newbee’s position as the leading team within the Chinese region, laying to rest any lingering doubts regarding the team’s strength or “offseason rust” after its 2nd place run at TI7. The team’s success is not just limited to China either, as the Qualifying Points that Newbee earned in Shanghai move it into fourth place in the Pro Circuit standings. Newbee won’t have too much time to rest and enjoy its victory, as the team will serve as China’s representative at the DreamLeague Season 8 Major set to begin in just a few days. An opportunity to build upon this Minor title with a strong performance in Sweden should have Newbee back on top of its game and ready to go as December rolls around.

 

LGD.Forever Young LGD.Forever_Young

Place: 3rd

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

The season to this point for LGD.Forever Young had been marked by an incredible level of consistency within the Chinese region. The team’s eight finishes within the top 4 in qualifiers and qualifying events this season is an astoundingly impressive feat. In fact, one would have to go back all the way to the Dota Summit 7 China Qualifier(May 2017) to find any event in which LGD.Forever Young failed to produce a top 4 finish. Such an amazing level of consistent play makes it all the more interesting that the Chinese squad had not attended a Pro Circuit event prior to this trip to the Shanghai for the Perfect World Masters. So far this season, LGD.Forever Young’s trademark consistency had seen it fall just short of qualification time and time again. However, a chance to finally debut on the Pro Circuit stage was an opportunity that the team and its fans were hoping would push LGD.Forever Young over that last hurdle and into contention on the international stage.

LGD.Forever Young didn’t disappoint in Shanghai, as the team opened up its tournament run with a solid performance in the group stage. The Chinese squad claimed 2-0 wins against compLexity Gaming and Vici Gaming, as well as 1-1 splits against SG e-sports and Vega Squadron. These performances left the team with a 2-2-0 series record(6-2 overall) that secured it second place in Group A and a spot in the playoff bracket. Unfortunately for LGD.Forever Young, it had the misfortune of facing fellow Chinese squad Newbee in the opening round of the playoff stage. The team managed to take the first game from the TI7 runner-up, but lost the next two for a 1-2 defeat that dropped it into the lower bracket. LGD.Forever Young quickly swept past Vega Squadron in a best-of-one elimination match, and followed that up with an impressive 2-0 rout of Team Secret to continue its advance through the lower bracket and secure a top 4 spot at the Minor. The next round saw LGD.Forever Young face compLexity Gaming once again, in a rematch of their group stage encounter. CompLexity Gaming took a quick win in game 1, but the Chinese squad came charging back to claim 2 straight games to finish off the series 2-1. With the final western team now removed from the tournament, LGD.Forever Young turned its attention to its Chinese rivals and a match up with Vici Gaming. Unfortunately, the run for LGD.Forever Young would meet a swift and brutal end here, as Vici Gaming annihilated the Chinese squad in 2 straight games for an 0-2 series loss that lasted around 45 minutes of game time. LGD.Forever Young’s run may have ended abruptly, but the team comes away from Shanghai with a 3rd place finish in its first Pro Circuit event of the season.

LGD.Forever Young’s 3rd place finish at the Perfect World Masters was well beyond what had been projected for the Chinese squad in my preview post. The team came into the event with consistent results within its home region, but no recent results against international competition. For that reason, the team was projected to fall within the 7th-8th range, but the team showed that it was more than capable of pushing past those issues and producing when it mattered most. The squad held to its previous consistency when faced with its regional rivals, posting a 3-4 record against Chinese squads across the entire event. The lack of matches against international opponents proved to be of little concern for LGD.Forever Young either, as the team lost just 3 games to non-Chinese opponents(2 group stage matches & game 1 against compLexity Gaming). The top 4 finish in Shanghai puts the squad on the map in the Pro Circuit standings, and also helps to cement what has already been a solid start to the season within its home region. LGD.Forever Young will have opportunities to improve that strong start even more in the coming weeks, as the team will participate in the MDL Macau Minor in December and the Galaxy Battles II Major in January.

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $12,000

Team Secret came into the Perfect World Masters as one of the Pro Circuit’s strongest and most accomplished teams, having amassed enough Qualifying Points(1440) to hold the 2nd place position in the standings. The European powerhouse had seen three Pro Circuit events prior to its trip to Shanghai, coming away with two top 4 performances. Hopes were high that Team Secret would add a third top 4 finish to its list of accomplishments this season, but those plans ran into a setback early. On the day that the Perfect World Masters was set to begin, Team Secret announced that its normal mid player, Yiek “MidOne” Nai Zheng would be unable to compete due to personal matters. To replace MidOne the team brought in Chen “Cty” Tianyu(currently signed with Chinese team EHOME) to serve as a substitute for the event. Even with the added difficulties of playing with a substitute, Team Secret was one of the more formidable squads in the field, and still a potential candidate for a top 4 spot.

Unfortunately for Team Secret, that potential for a top 4 finish didn’t quite translate into tangible results, as the team fell just short of the mark to earn Qualifying Points at the Perfect World Masters. The team’s run in Shanghai was actually quite successful when you factor in the fact that it was playing with a substitute that spoke a different language from the rest of the team’s players. Team Secret had a strong showing in the group stage, taking a 2-0 win against Newbee and 1-1 splits against both LGD Gaming and Mineski, but fell 0-2 to Team Kinguin. Those results left Team Secret with a 1-2-1 series record(4-4 overall) that earned it 5 points and the 2nd place position in Group B. The European squad’s first match up in the playoff bracket came against North American team compLexity Gaming. CompLexity Gaming came out strong and took the first game of the series, but Team Secret was able to bounce back for a 2-1 result that advanced it to the Upper Bracket Semifinals. This is where the troubles began for Team Secret, as its next opponent was Vici Gaming. The Chinese squad simply overpowered Team Secret, handing it an 0-2 loss in less than an hour of in-game time. The loss dropped Team Secret to the lower bracket, but it would find no reprieve there as its next opponent was yet another strong Chinese squad in LGD.Forever Young. Team Secret’s rough series against Vici Gaming was replicated here, as LGD.Forever Young proved too tough a challenge for the European squad to handle. Another 0-2 loss ended Team Secret’s hopes at a top 4 finish, placing the squad in the 5th-6th place position.

Team Secret’s performance fell a bit short of where our preview post had projected them to be. However, that prediction was made under the assumption that Team Secret would be playing with its full roster rather than needing a last minute substitute. Within this context, the 5th-6th place finish that Team Secret earned is actually incredibly impressive. As far as I am aware, Cty speaks little to no languages outside of his native tongue, so for a team to progress as far as Team Secret did facing significant communication issues is a feat in and of itself. Considering that the team didn’t play with its normal roster, this performance at the Perfect World Masters can likely be viewed as an aberration rather than the beginning of a downward trend for the European squad. Team Secret will have multiple chances to prove just that in the coming weeks, as the team is set to compete in the DreamLeague Season 8 Major and the Europe Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major before the end of the year, as well as the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor in January.

 

LGD Gaming 800px-LGD

Place: 9th-10th

Winnings: $3,000

After LGD Gaming’s impressive 2nd place finish at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, there was hope that the Chinese squad would be able to produce another top 4 finish and claim more Qualifying Points on home soil at the Perfect World Masters. The return of Chen “Victoria” Guanhong to the active lineup led some to believe that the team was ready to challenge the elite teams of the Dota 2 world and climb up the Pro Circuit standings. With veteran leadership and an impressive carry duo to lean on, LGD Gaming looked poised for a strong campaign.

LGD Gaming’s climb up the Pro Circuit rankings may be coming in the future, but unfortunately for the Chinese squad, that run would not begin in Shanghai at the Perfect World Masters. LGD Gaming found some difficulties in the group stage, struggling to overcome its opponents in a best-of-two round robin format. The team earned 1-1 splits against Team Kinguin, Newbee, and Team Secret, while losing 0-2 to Mineski for a series record of 0-3-1(3-5 overall). That record earned the team 3 points, but that total left LGD Gaming with the lowest score in Group B and short of the mark to move on to the playoff stage. With the Chinese squad eliminated in the group stage, LGD Gaming came away from the Perfect World Masters with a 9th-10th place finish.

That last place finish is well below the mark that I predicted in my preview post, in which I projected the Chinese squad to fall within the 5th-6th range. LGD Gaming was the team that I considered to have the largest potential to either climb or fall in the standings depending on its performance, and unfortunately we saw that potential realized in the worst possible way for the squad. The team’s poor performance is not entirely down to its own failures though, as the group it found itself in was no walk in the park. Team Secret, Newbee, and Mineski aren’t exactly teams that LGD Gaming is expected to 2-0, and even the so called “easy” opponent in Team Kinguin proved a formidable opponent for all of the teams in the group. Within that context, the poor finish is still disappointing, but perhaps not cause to sound the alarms just yet. For LGD Gaming, opportunities to put this weak showing behind it are fast approaching, as the team is set to participate in both the MDL Macau and Dota Summit 8 Minors in December.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Place: 2nd

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

Vici Gaming came into the Perfect World Masters as one of China’s emerging powers, having earned 90 Qualifying Points across 2 Pro Circuit appearances prior to its trip to Shanghai. The team had plenty of talent and experience, as well as the results both at home in the Chinese region and on the international stage. All it needed at this point was more opportunities to put its strengths on display, and the Perfect World Masters provided just such an opportunity. With Vici Gaming standings as one of four Chinese squads at the Mionr, the time had come for a performance to put the Dota 2 world on notice.

Vici Gaming came out of the gates on fire, dominating the group stage and claiming the top spot in Group A. The team took 2-0 wins over compLexity Gaming, SG e-sports, and Vega Squadron, with its only stumble coming from an 0-2 loss to fellow Chinese squad LGD.Forever Young. Its position at the top of the group afforded Vici Gaming the opportunity to select its opponent in the first round of the playoff stage, and the Chinese squad opted to face off against SEA powerhouse Mineski. It proved to be a wise decision, as Vici Gaming routed the SEA squad in a 2-0 victory to advance to the next round and a match up with Team Secret. The European power didn’t prove to be a much tougher obstacle, as Vici Gaming tore through Team Secret 2-0 in another relatively quick series. The Upper Bracket Finals saw Vici Gaming run into some trouble, as the team faced fellow Chinese power Newbee. Despite coming away from a win in game 1 of the series, Vici Gaming couldn’t close out the win, losing the next two games for a 1-2 loss that dropped it into the lower bracket. For Vici Gaming to earn a rematch with Newbee, its would now have to face another of its Chinese rivals in LGD.Forever Young. In an absolutely stunning performance, Vici Gaming avenged its group stage loss, taking a 2-0 win in a series lasting only around forty-five minutes. Vici Gaming’s dominant win put it in the Grand Finals for another match up with Newbee, but by this point the TI7 runner-up was locked in, and nothing was going to stop it from claiming the title in Shanghai. Vici Gaming was defeated in three straight games, losing the series 0-3 and ending its run at the Perfect World Masters with a 2nd place finish.

Vici Gaming came into the Perfect World Masters as one of the stronger teams in the field, and while my preview post has its fair share of incorrect predictions, Vici Gaming’s performance was not one of them. The team was projected as a top 4 team, and it lived up to that in Shanghai with an impressive performance. Vici Gaming’s ability to contend with top Chinese teams puts it in a strong position moving forward, but what truly separates it from some of its regional rivals is the team’s consistent wins against international competition. Should Vici Gaming maintain this level of play, there’s little reason to doubt that the team can continue rising in the Pro Circuit standings. The team gets a bit of a break from the Pro Circuit, as the team has no scheduled events in the month of December and will return to action in January for the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor.

 

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Place: 4th

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

The North American region may have become more competitive this season than in recent times, but compLexity Gaming has risen to the challenge so far. As one of three NA squads to have earned Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit so far, compLexity Gaming came into the Perfect World Masters looking for a solid performance to both solidify its position as a leading team in its home region, and to climb up the ranks in the Pro Circuit standings. The team’s previous appearance at a Pro Circuit event proved successful, and there was hope that the squad could recapture that momentum and go two for two with a top 4 finish in Shanghai.

CompLexity Gaming got off to a decent start in its group stage matches, earning a 2-0 win over Vega Squadron as well as a 1-1 split against SG e-sports. The NA squad struggled a but when faced with Chinese opponents, losing 0-2 to both Vici Gaming and LGD.Forever Young to finish its group stage run with a 1-1-2 series record(3-5 overall) that pushed it into the playoff bracket. CompLexity Gaming ran into Team Secret in the first round of the playoffs, and the European squad proved a tough test for the North American team. Even with Team Secret still playing with a substitute player, compLexity couldn’t capitalize on its game 1 win and lost the series 1-2 to drop into the lower bracket. The team survived a best-of-one elimination match against SEA powerhouse Mineski, and followed that win up with a tough 2-1 victory over Team Kinguin. That series win set up a Group A rematch with compLexity Gaming going up against LGD.Forever Young once again. CompLexity fared slightly better against the Chinese squad compared to their first match up, but the NA team fell short again, losing the series 1-2 to bring its run in Shanghai to an end. With that final loss, compLexity Gaming finished its time at the Perfect World Masters with a 4th place finish.

The top 4 finish for compLexity Gaming is a step above where I had predicted this team to finish in the preview post for the Perfect World Masters. CompLexity Gaming certainly came into this event with the potential for a top 4 finish based upon its previous performance on the international stage and its strong recent results in the NA region. To see that potential realized by this team is highly encouraging, and also the tiniest bit surprising. With teams like Team Secret and Mineski having some troubles at this event, compLexity Gaming was given a golden opportunity to push itself into a more favorable position, and the team had the skill and the determination to fully take advantage of that chance. The top 4 finish and the Qualifying Points that accompany it makes compLexity Gaming the highest ranked North American team on the Pro Circuit, breaking the previous three way tie(Evil Geniuses, Immortals, and compLexity Gaming all previously had 90 Qualifying Points). CompLexity Gaming have taken another big step towards becoming North America’s premier team, and the squad will have plenty of opportunities to continue building upon this success in the near future. The team will be participating in both the Dota Summit 8 and Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minors in December and January, in addition to playing in the North America Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major. Should compLexity Gaming hold its momentum and maintain this level of play at home and on the international stage, then its rank should continue to rise as the season goes on.

 

SG e-sports SG_e-sportslogo

Place: 9th-10th

Winnings: $3,000

SG e-sports’ success in the South American region has granted the Brazilian squad quite a few opportunities so far this season. However, with rivals teams in the region beginning to heat up and emerge as threats, the team’s previous dominance is in danger of coming to an end. The team had competed at three Pro Circuit events prior to the Perfect World Masters, but had yet to put together a solid performance at any of those events. It is reasonable to a certain extent for teams from South America, a region that has only recently been fully integrated in to the wider international scene, to need time and experience before we expect high levels of success. However, with SG e-sports not performing well in its previous Pro Circuit events, there were some doubts as to whether the team would be able to improve at a fast enough rate to compete on the international stage. Considering the rise of rivals in its home region, the Perfect World Masters represented an opportunity that SG e-sports desperately needed to convert into a positive result.

Unfortunately for SG e-sports, the Brazilian squad did not manage to take advantage of its opportunity in Shanghai. The team ran into some serious trouble in the group stage, finding limited success in the round robin best-of-two format. SG e-sports earned 1-1 splits against compLexity Gaming and LGD.Forever Young, but fell 0-2 to both Vega Squadron and Vici Gaming. The team’s group stage run left it with a 0-2-2 series record(2-6 overall) that earned it just 2 points and put the team short of the mark to advance to the playoff stage. SG e-sports was eliminated from the Perfect World Masters, finishing its time in Shanghai with a 9th-10th finish.

SG e-sports’ struggles at the Perfect World Masters were predicted to a certain degree in the preview post for this event. The team faced quite a list of tough opponents in Group A, with the only team that it seemed to have a strong chance at beating being the at the time unproved Vega Squadron. The Brazilian squad has potential for sure, but that potential just isn’t being realized at a rate that allows the team to compete on the international stage. While it was always possible for the team to miraculously put together a strong run in Shanghai, the truth is that the squad’s significant struggles at this event were largely expected. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this poor performance is that SG e-sports must return home to a South American region in which multiple contenders and rivals are on the rise. The team may not have any more scheduled appearances on the international stage, but it will have a golden opportunity to address its potential rivals at home. The team has been invited to the second stage of the South America Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major, and a solid performance there could help the South American squad in its efforts to retain control of its home region.

 

Team Kinguin 627px-Team_Kinguin

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $12,000

After languishing in the peripheral of the European scene, Polish squad team Kinguin finally achieved its breakthrough moment in the region. The team had long been considered a strong team within the tier 2 category in Europe, but the Perfect World Masters offered a chance for the team to make its Pro Circuit debut and prove itself on the international stage. With the European region controlled by powerhouse squads like Team Secret and Team Liquid, an opportunity like this was one Team Kinguin was especially hoping to take advantage of.

For a team making its Pro Circuit debut, Team Kinguin certainly looked confident on the international stage. The team performed incredibly well in the group stage, winning its series against Team Secret 2-0 and taking 1-1 splits against LGD Gaming, Mineski, and Newbee. Those solid performances led to a 1-3-0 series record(5-3 overall) that earned Team Kinguin 6 points, the top spot in Group B, and a spot in the playoff bracket in Shanghai. As the top team in its group, Team Kinguin had the advantage of choosing its opponent in the opening series of the playoff bracket, and the Polish squad selected CIS team Vega Squadron for its first match up. Vega Squadron didn’t go down without a fight, but in the end Team Kinguin came away with a 2-1 series victory that advanced the team to the Upper Bracket Semifinals and a date with Newbee. The Chinese squad proved a decidedly tougher opponent than Vega Squadron had been, and Team Kinguin found itself falling short as it fell 0-2 to Newbee. The loss dropped Team Kinguin down to the lower bracket to face compLexity Gaming in an elimination series. The Polish squad put up stout resistance against compLexity Gaming, but in the end it didn’t quite have enough to defeat the NA squad, losing the series 1-2. That final loss ended Team Kinguin’s run at the Minor, with the team finishing in the 5th-6th position.

Team Kinguin may have fallen just short of a top 4 finish in Shanghai, but the team’s performance at the Perfect World Masters was well beyond what I had predicted for it. Based upon the lack of experience and results, the preview post for this event had Team Kinguin projected in the 9th-10th range, though that was based more upon the team’s relatively unproven status as opposed to a lack of skill from its players. At any rate, the Polish squad proved my predictions wildly inaccurate, as the team displayed a wealth of skill and potential in its first campaign on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit. The team may not have been able to take that final step into a top 4 position this time, but fans and rival teams alike must now have this squad on its radar in the future. Team Kinguin has more opportunities to perform near at hand, as the team has been invited to the second stage of the Europe Qualifier for the Galaxy Battle II Major, in addition to having earned the European spot at the Dota Summit 8 in December. With the combination of this solid performance in Shanghai and its opportunities in the near future, Team Kinguin could be poised to emerge as a real contender in the European region.

 

Vega Squadron 579px-Vega_Squadron_2016

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $6,000

Vega Squadron is a team that has largely been lost in the crowd in the CIS region. The region’s recent revitalization and surge in competitiveness has resulted in a multitude of squads rising up to try to stake their claim to opportunities for Qualifying Points and exposure on the international stage. The Perfect World Masters represented the first breakthrough onto that stage for Vega Squadron, and the team was hoping that its debut on the Pro Circuit could help it in its quest to establish itself as a top team in the CIS region.

Vega Squadron performed admirably for a team making its debut on the Pro Circuit stage, but the CIS squad still struggled a bit on the international stage. The group stage began quite poorly for the team, with Vega Squadron losing its first 2 series against Vici Gaming and compLeixty Gaming 0-2 on Day 1. Day 2 went reasonably better for the team, with the squad earning a 1-1 split against LGD.Forever Young and a 2-0 victory against SG e-sports for a series record of 1-1-2(3-5 overall). The team’s Day 2 reversal earned Vega Squadron 4 points, enough to advance into the playoff bracket and a match up with Team Kinguin. Vega Squadron managed to put up a strong fight against the Polish squad, but fell 1-2 to drop down into the lower bracket. There, Vega Squadron had to face LGD.Forever Young in a best-of-one elimination match. The Chinese powerhouse made quick work of the CIS squad, knocking Vega Squadron out of the bracket and out of the event with a 7th-8th place finish.

The finish is not particularly glamorous or exciting for Vega Squadron, but it falls right in line with where I had projected this squad to be when all was said and done in Shanghai. The team’s talent was on display at the Minor for sure, but the team just lacked that extra step it needed to pull out the wins against tougher opponents. Vega Squadron may not be ready to bring down CIS titans like Virtus.pro, Na’Vi, and Team Empire just yet, but the team’s performance at the Perfect World Masters certainly showed that it has the potential to copmete in the region. Vega Squadron will have a chance to turn that potential into results almost immediately, as the team is participating in the final stage of the CIS Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $6,000

For the majority of the season, Mineski has stood as the gatekeeper of Southeast Asia, controlling the region with consistent success. Two previous trips to Pro Circuit events had both netted the SEA squad Qualifying Points, establishing the team as a powerhouse both at home and on the international stage. Mineski’s strong start put the team in one of the Pro Circuit’s most favorable positions, but its status as King of the SEA region is beginning to come under fire as regional rivals are becoming more and more prominent. Teams like Fnatic and TNC Pro Team finally look ready to challenge Mineski on a more consistent basis, putting added pressure on the squad to push for more Qualifying Points and perform at events like the Perfect World Masters.

The pressure may have been a little bit too high for Mineski at this event, as the SEA leader met its first major setback on the Pro Circuit. The group stage proved a significant challenge for the team as it found itself up against fierce opposition. Mineski claimed a 2-0 win against LGD Gaming, earned 1-1 splits against Team Kinguin and Team Secret, and fell 0-2 to Newbee to finish the group stage with a 1-2-1 series record(4-4 overall). The team’s group stage record earned it five points, enough to advance on to the playoff stage for a match up with Vici Gaming. The Chinese squad proved too strong for Mineski to handle, as it lost the series 0-2 to fall to lower bracket and a dreaded best-of-one elimination match against compLexity Gaming. Mineski’s misfortune followed it to the lower bracket, as the team lost its do-or-die match against compLexity Gaming and were eliminated from the Minor with a 7th-8th place finish.

This early exit for Mineski comes as a significant surprise, and the team’s 7th-8th place finish falls alarmingly short of predictions. In the preview post for this event, I projected the SEA squad as a candidate for a top 4 spot based upon its consistency and track record to open the season. However, that consistency seemed to elude the team in Shanghai, and Mineski found itself facing a series of opponents who simply refused to be intimidated by the squad’s prior success. For Mineski, this stumble comes at a bit of an inopportune time, as SEA rivals appear to be on the rise just as Mineski suffers a setback on the international stage. However, Mineski’s position in the Pro Circuit standings provides a perfect buffer that should help keep some distance between the team and its rising regional competition. Mineski will soon have the chance to both reassert itself over its rivals at home and attempt to further cement its position on the Pro Circuit, as the team is scheduled to participate in the final stage of the SEA Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major, and will be traveling to Washington, D.C. for the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor in January.

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