Dota 2 Minor Recap: Dota Summit 8

3-Peat in Los Angeles: Virtus.pro claim 3rd straight Summit title with win over Fnatic. OG, Team Kinguin round out top 4 at Dota Summit 8.

The final Pro Circuit event of 2017 has come to a close, and after five days of action in Los Angeles, a champion has been crowned. 9 teams came to L.A. looking for a chance to end the year on a high note, but in the end Virtus.pro was the squad that managed to claim the title of Minor Champion at the Dota Summit 8. With an overall record of 11-1 at the event, VP once again plowed its way through the competition en route to the team’s fourth Top 4 finish of the season. The victory marks the second Top 4 finish for VP with Artstyle standing in for Solo, and pushes the CIS squad into a tie with Team Liquid for 2nd place on the Pro Circuit standings. VP may have claimed the top spot at the Minor, but it wasn’t the only team to walk away from the BTS House with Qualifying Points. 2nd place squad Fnatic earned its first Top 4 finish of the season and the 11th place spot in the standings, though it came with a point reduction due to the team’s recent acquisition of Abed in November. Rounding out the Top 4 at the event was a duo of European squads in OG and Team Kinguin. OG claimed enough points to move up into a tie with Vici Gaming for 7th place, while Team Kinguin earned its first Qualifying Points of the season to put itself in a tie with Immortals for 15th place. With the action at an end at the final event of the year, its time to take a look at how the 9 participants fared in L.A., as well as what comes next for these teams as the 2018 segment of the season approaches.

OG 425px-OG_RB_Logo

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $36,000 (Total) & 30 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Following an uncharacteristically quiet opening to the season, European squad OG has finally emerged on the Pro Circuit and taken its place among the best teams in the Dota 2 world. Coming off of a 1st place finish and the team’s first Qualifying Points of the season, OG looked like a team with all of the talent and momentum needed to succeed at the final Minor of 2017. With the team appearing ready to put its slow start behind it, the team made its way to Los Angeles with a sense of determination and confidence.

OG began its run through the Group Stage fairly late into the event, not seeing action until Day 3 at the Dota Summit 8 Minor. The extra wait didn’t seem to slow the team down any as it took on South American squad Sacred in its opening series, with the team taking three straight wins to move itself into contention for first place in Group A. OG would face off against Virtus.pro in its second series on Day 3, but the CIS squad would prove to be a much tougher challenge than Sacred had been. After two lopsided games and back to back quality performances from RAMZES666 and No[o]ne, OG finally looked to be building some momentum for itself in the series as it took control of the mid and late-game stage of Game 3. However, OG couldn’t close out the match, with VP mounting a comeback effort behind Medusa and Pudge to complete the sweep and hand OG a 0-3 loss in the series. The team’s 3-3 record was enough to move OG into the Wild Card Stage and a match up with North American squad Evil Geniuses. OG proved more than a match for EG, as the European squad took two relatively easy wins to claim the series 2-0 and advance to the Finals of the Wild Card Stage. In the finals, OG would face yet another North American squad, with its next opponent being compLexity Gaming. OG claimed the win in Game 1 of the series behind a spectacular 14-0-4 performance from Resolut1on on Anti-Mage, but compLexity Gaming didn’t go down without a fight. Limpp’s Death Prophet led the North American team to a dominant victory in Game 2 to even up the series and force a decisive Game 3. That final game proved to be a one sided affair, as OG got another amazing performance from Resolut1on, this time on Storm Spirit, to close out the series and move on to the Playoff Stage. The Semifinal match up for OG would be Southeast Asian squad Fnatic for a spot in the Grand Final and a shot at the Minor Title. OG hit first in Game 1, with N0tail taking over the game on Tiny with a 16-0-8 scoreline that kept Fnatic down throughout the entire match. Fnatic came back in Game 2, with key performances from Abed on Templar Assassin and Ohaiyo on Omniknight that propelled the team to a win that forced a third game in the series. Game 3 went back and forth throughout the mid and late-game stages, but in the end Fnatic’s core duo of Phantom Lancer and Medusa were able to pull the team back into a position to close out the match and end OG’s run at the Minor. With that 1-2 loss in the Sminfinals, OG finished its time at the Dota Summit 8 Minor with a 3rd-4th place finish.

OG looked just as strong as many had anticipated coming into the event, with the team carrying that momentum from its win at the MDL Macau Minor into this event and putting together another impressive performance. OG was projected to finish within the Top 4 at this event in my preview post, and the team found itself in that exact position, and got there in just about the exact way that had been predicted. The team wasn’t able to top VP in Group A, but we saw the European squad power through its North American opponents in the Wild Card Stage. The loss to Fnatic in the Semifinals comes as a slight surprise, but the SEA squad has been improving rapidly since the addition of Abed to its lineup, and the series came down to the wire with Game 3 being so close to the very end. As it stands, the performance for OG in Los Angeles marks back to back Top 4 finishes at Pro Circuit events for the team. This recent surge to close out 2017 puts OG within the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit standings, and the team will have quite a few opportunities to improve that position moving forward. The team will have one last qualifier run before the end of year, with OG participating in the Europe Qualifier for the ESL One Genting Minor. On top of that, the team will open up play in 2018 with appearances at both the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor and the Galaxy Battles II Major in January.

 

Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Place: 6th-7th

Winnings: $9,000

Fresh off of a breakthrough performance at the DreamLeague Season 8 Major, Evil Geniuses was looking like a team that was capable of claiming the leading position within the North American region. The squad held the most Qualifying Points of any of the North American teams, but with three NA squads in the field at the Dota Summit 8 Minor, the team’s position at the top of the regional hierarchy would be put to the test. Beyond its regional position, the Dota Summit 8 Minor provided a crucial opportunity for EG to perform against international competition and potentially improve its standing on the Pro Circuit.

The North American squad’s run in Los Angeles began with a bit of difficulty on Day 1, as the team found itself facing off against the all-Polish squad Team Kinguin. EG came out strong in Game 1, dominating its opponent behind big performances from Arteezy, Suma1L, and Cr1t-. EG’s momentum was turned on its head in Game 2, as Nisha took control of the match with a Tiny pick and Team Kinguin led for nearly the entirety of the game. EG needed a win in Game 3 to prevent Team Kinguin from winning the group, and it looked as though the squad would be able to pull it off as it held a lead through the mid and late game stages. However, EG couldn’t keep Team Kinguin’s lineup down forever, as Nisha’s Medusa and Exotic_Deer’s Enchantress eventually came online and became too powerful for EG to contain. After leading the game for around 50 minutes, EG found its lead being taken away as Team Kinguin pulled off the comeback win. The 1-2 series on Day 1 put added pressure on EG to perform on Day 2 as the team faced off against fellow North American squad compLexity Gaming with its tournament life potentially on the line. EG came out aggressively in Game 1, drafting a Legion Commander for UNiVeRsE that dominated the game and earned the team a relatively easy victory in the series opener. Game 2 followed a similar pattern to Game 1, although this time it was Suma1L who had the stand out performance, going 15-2-9 on Tinker in another one sided match. EG couldn’t close out the series sweep though, as its support duo of Spirit Breaker and Earth Spirit were heavily punished and couldn’t establish the early aggression that the team wanted. CompLexity Gaming took control in the mid game stages and didn’t look back, leading to a 2-1 series win for EG. At the end of the Group Stage, EG stood with a 3-3 record that earned it a spot within the Wild Card Stage and a match up against European squad OG. EG’s momentum from the Group Stage didn’t seem to carry over much in the face of OG, as the team lost the opening game of the series behind an insane performace from JerAx on Tusk. Game 2 proved even harder for EG, as its lineup struggled to compete with the core duo of Arc Warden and Tiny from OG. Two one sided games gave EG a quick 0-2 loss in its Wild Card series, ending the team’s run at the Minor with a 6th-7th place finish.

EG looked like a potential leader within the North American region coming into this event, but the team’s performance in Los Angeles didn’t do as much to cement that position as it could have. The struggles in the Group Stage against Team Kinguin are somewhat disappointing, although given the Polish squad’s recent performances on the international stage the losses may not be so surprising after all. Coming into the event, I had EG projected to finish within the Top 4, based upon the assumption that the North American squad would be able to win its group. That assumption proved incorrect, and EG was subjected to a Wild Card Stage that pit it against OG, a far larger threat than either of the two teams it faced in Group B. The result in Los Angeles doesn’t help EG much, but the team still holds a very favorable position in the Pro Circuit standings. The question for this team will be whether it can maintain its hold on the North American region moving forward. EG will be busy to start the 2018 segment of the season, as the team is set to participate in the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor, the Galaxy Battles II Major, and the ESL One Genting Minor in January.

 

OpTic Gaming OpTic_Gaming

Place: 6th-7th

Winnings: $9,000

After making waves within the North American region to begin the season, OpTic Gaming earned its first chance to play on the Pro Circuit stage with an appearance at the Dota Summit 8 Minor. The team had been looking strong within its home region, and had displayed some strong play in its international matches at third party events. However, the trip to Los Angeles to take on some of the best teams on the Pro Circuit would be a true test of the team’s strength. The roster for OpTic Gaming looked a bit different than the one we had seen so far this season, as Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen had left the team at the end of November. With Martin “Saksa” Sazdov serving as a long term stand in, the squad would be making its Pro Circuit debut with a slightly altered look in L.A.

OpTic Gaming got its run at the Minor started in impressive fashion, with the team taking on Chinese squad LGD Gaming in the first series in Group C. The North American squad looked dominant across the first two games of the series, riding quality performances from CC&C, zai, and Pajkatt to two relatively easy victories against its Chinese opponent. Game 3 saw LGD Gaming put up more of a fight, holding a lead into the mid and late game stages that had OpTic Gaming on the back foot. However, OpTic Gaming managed to keep itself calm and collected, relying on its core duo of Lifestealer and Medusa to bring it back into the game and snatch momentum and victory away from LGD Gaming in a series of game clinching teamfight wins. That performance had OpTic Gaming sitting on a 3-0 record, but its next opponent that day would prove to be a much tougher challenge as OpTic Gaming closed out its Group Stage matches with a series against Fnatic. Game 1 went the way of OpTic Gaming, as the squad took control of what had been an even match for the first 30 minutes behind an impressive performance from zai on Puck. Fnatic would bounce back however, coming back in Game 2 led by an EternaLEnVy Tiny that posted a 15-4-6 scoreline in a come from behind win to even the series. That win forced a decisive Game 3, but OpTic Gaming found itself quickly outmatched by its SEA opponents. A dominant performance from Abed on Tinker (13-0-7) capped off an impressive display that left OpTic Gaming behind from the very beginning of the game. The Game 3 loss resulted in a 1-2 split for OpTic Gaming in the series, but the team’s earlier success allowed it to place second in Group C with a 4-2 overall record. That record put OpTic Gaming into the Wild Card Stage, where it would face fellow North American team compLexity Gaming. OpTic Gaming opened up the series with a big win in Game 1, outscoring compLexity Gaming 25-8 in a one sided match. CompLexity came back with a vengeance though, with Chessie posting back to back huge performances (21-2-19 across 2 games) to help hand OpTic Gaming a 1-2 series loss. That loss ended OpTic Gaming’s run for a top 4 spot, with the team earning a 6th-7th place finish in its Pro Circuit debut.

Hopes were high for OpTic Gaming coming into this event, even with the team playing with a stand in and making its first appearance at a Pro Circuit event. My preview post had the team projected as a Top 4 team due to the volatility of its opponents within Group C. However, the North American squad fell short of that projection, with Fnatic putting together an impressive performance to take away the top spot in Group C and forcing OpTic Gaming into the Wild Card Stage. The loss to compLexity Gaming in the Wild Card Stage is somewhat disappointing, as North American match ups had been to backbone of OpTic Gaming’s resume to this point in the season. The 2017 segment of the season is now over for OpTic gaming, as the team has no further events or qualifiers scheduled before the end of the year. Looking ahead to 2018, the team will have some opportunities it could take advantage of, but also some questions that need to be answered. The team is set to participate in the Galaxy Battles II Major in January, but whether the team will continue to play with Saksa or find a new permanent roster member remains to be seen.

 

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Place: 5th

Winnings: $18,000

After a strong start to the season saw the team stepping into a prominent role within the North American region, compLexity Gaming was looking for one last chance to improve its Pro Circuit standing before the end of the year. As one of three North American squads at the Dota Summit 8 Minor in Los Angeles, compLexity Gaming had a key opportunity to earn Qualifying Points and show its strength on the international stage while also getting a leg up on its regional rivals.

CompLexity Gaming got the action started in Group B with a series against all-Polish squad Team Kinguin on Day 1 of the event. The North American squad came out aggressively in Game 1, taking a modest lead into the mid game stage. However, the core duo of Razor and Medusa for Team Kinguin proved too strong for compLexity Gaming to handle in the late game, and Game 1 went to the Polish squad. The team came back strong in Game 2, dominating the match  behind big performances from Moo and Chessie to even the series. Unfortunately, compLexity Gaming’s momentum from Game 2 didn’t carry over into Game 3, as Team Kinguin took control of the game fairly early on and didn’t look back to hand compLexity Gaming a 1-2 loss. Day 2 saw compLexity Gaming finish out its Group Stage matches with a series against fellow North American team Evil Geniuses for a chance to potentially advance to the Wild Card Stage. EG hit compLexity Gaming hard right away, taking two lopsided wins to put it on the back foot in the series. CompLexity Gaming managed to rally for a win in Game 3 for another 1-2 series that left the team with a 2-4 record overall. That record gave the team enough wins to claim the final spot in the Wild Card Stage, where the team faced off against OpTic Gaming. Game 1 was a rough affair for compLexity Gaming, as OpTic Gaming held it to just 8 kills in a dominant match. In desperate need of a win in Game 2 to keep its dream of a Top 4 finish alive, compLexity Gaming leaned on Chessie, and he delivered spectacularly with a 9-0-9 performance on Morphling as the team took a wire-to-wire victory to even up the series and force a Game 3. The deciding game would see the Blomdin brothers step up again for compLexity Gaming, as Chessie posted a 12-2-10 scoreline on Ursa while Limmp’s Phantom Lancer dealt over 8k building damage to push the team past OpTic Gaming with a 2-1 series victory. That win set compLexity Gaming up for a Wild Card Bracket Final match up with European powerhouse OG for the final spot in the Playoff Stage. The North American squad was punched in the mouth in Game 1, as Resolut1on’s Anti-Mage posted a a 14-0-4 performance and wiped out a moderately sized lead for compLexity Gaming to claim an opening match victory. CompLexity Gaming bounced back to win Game 2, relying on a clutch showing from Limmp on Death Prophet as well as a Doom pick for Moo that helped throw OG off balance. Game 3 would prove to be a less dramatic affair than the previous two games though, as OG dominated the match up, outkilling compLexity Gaming 31-9 to knock the North American squad out of the running for the Playoff Stage. With this final 1-2 loss, compLexity Gaming ended its run at the Dota Summit 8 Minor with a 5th place finish.

The showing from compLexity Gaming was an impressive one, despite the fact that the team fell short of the mark to earn a Top 4 finish in L.A. My preview post had compLexity Gaming projected to finish in the 5th place position, and the team lived up to that prediction almost to a tee. The team was competitive within its group, but didn’t have enough to overcome EG and Team Kinguin and found itself within the Wild Card Stage. Despite the team looking strong to this point in the season, getting through OG is a tough challenge for almost any team on the Pro Circuit right now. All things considered, the performance for compLexity Gaming at this Minor should be looked at as a positive factor for the team, especially when looking at the positions of the other North American squads at the event. With both OpTic Gaming and Evil Geniuses falling into the 6th-7th place range, compLexity Gaming can move forward with more confidence that it can compete and win on a more frequent basis within the North American region in 2018. The team will have plenty of chances to prove itself both at home and on the international stage following this final Minor of the year, as the schedule for compLexity Gaming is starting to fill up. The team is just days away from the North America Qualifier for the ESL One Genting Minor, and it will open up the 2018 segment of the season with a trip to Washington, DC to participate in the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor in January.

 

Sacred Sacredlogo

Place: 8th-9th

Winnings: $6,000

Even with South American squad Sacred having been formed just under two months ago, the team had already become a threat within its home region. With no South American team claiming Qualifying Points so far this season, the region is still lacking a clear leader, and the Dota Summit 8 presented an opportunity for Sacred to potentially step into that role. Unfortunately, the team didn’t have its full roster in its attempt to take advantage of that opportunity, as DeMoN stood in for Masoku at the event. The use of a substitute had the potential to be a significant obstacle for a team making its Pro Circuit debut.

Sacred’s first appearance at a Pro Circuit event was not a particularly successful one, as the South American team faced significant struggles at this final event of 2017. The South American squad opened group play in Los Angeles with a 3 game series against CIS powerhouse Virtus.pro on Day 1 of the event. Even with Artstyle still serving as a stand in for VP, the CIS squad proved too much for Sacred to handle, as the South American team lost all three matches in the series. Those matches weren’t very close either, as VP held leads from the laning stage all the way through to the end of the match in all three games. The 0-3 performance on Day 1 left Sacred backed up into a corner, as it needed wins against OG on Day 3 to keep its hopes alive at the event. Game 1 saw the team holding a small lead in the early stages, but that positive start quickly faded away once the mid and late game stages hit and OG claimed victory in the series opener. Games 2 and 3 were much less contentious affairs, with OG dominating the matches and holding Sacred to a combined total of 18 kills across those final two games. The drubbing at the hands of OG ended Sacred’s Group Stage run with an overall record of 0-6, leaving the team in last place in Group A and giving it no chance to make it to the Wild Card Stage. With the team out of the running for a tiebreaker scenario, Sacred ended its run at the Dota Summit 8 Minor with an 8th-9th place finish in the team’s Pro Circuit debut.

Sacred’s struggles and poor performance at this event is certainly a disappointing outcome, but it was by no means an unexpected one. The team had looked somewhat strong within the South American region, but the fact that it has only recently formed its roster and the lack of experience on an international level this season made it hard to have any confidence that Sacred would find much success in Los Angeles. The team’s group placing was no help either, as it was nearly impossible for the team to make it out of the Group Stage when it had to play against both Virtus.pro and OG to do so. Add on to all of this the fact that the team had to play with a stand in instead of Masoku, and Sacred’s struggles at this event become easily understandable. The team came into the event projected to finish in the 8th-9th place range, and Sacred’s considerably negative situation created the perfect storm of hardships to make that projection a reality. The Dota Summit 8 minor may not have been the best debut for Sacred, but the team will have chances to turn that rough start around in the future. Sacred will be participating in the upcoming South America Qualifier for the ESL One Genting Minor, hopefully with its full roster available.

 

Team Kinguin 627px-Team_Kinguin

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $36,000 (Total) & 30 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

After years fighting and persisting along the peripheral of the European region, Team Kinguin has finally broken through this season and emerged as a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. The all-Polish squad had been looking increasingly powerful and confident within the European region, with the results to back that confidence up. After an impressive Pro Circuit debut saw the team come just short of earning Qualifying Points at the Perfect World Masters Minor, the team came to Los Angeles hungry for its chance to be in the spotlight at the Dota Summit 8.

Team Kinguin’s opening series came on Day 1 of the event with the Polish squad taking on North American team compLexity Gaming. After claiming a Game 1 victory off the back of a Medusa and Razor core duo, Team Kinguin stumbled a but in Game 2 as compLexity Gaming put together a dominant performance to hold the lead throughout the match and even up the series. Looking for a crucial win in Game 3, Team Kinguin put Nisha on Morphling, and took a bit of a risk with a core Nature’s Prophet pick for Exotic_Deer. The picks ended up paying off, as Team Kinguin took control in the mid-game stage and didn’t look back to claim a 2-1 series win. Those wins put Team Kinguin in a strong spot, but to win Group B completely, the squad would have to face another North American opponent in Evil Geniuses. The Polish squad came out a bit unprepared in Game 1, as EG dominated the match up with solid performances from Arteezy and Suma1L (22-1-16 combined). From there though, Team Kinguin quickly regained its prior momentum, with Nisha leading the team to a victory in Game 2 with a huge performance on Tiny, and a combination of Nisha’s Medusa and Exotic_Deer’s Enchantress taking over Game 3. The back to back wins earned Team Kinguin a 4-2 record overall that placed it at the top of Group B and guaranteed the team a spot in the Playoff Stage. Unfortunately, Team Kinguin’s first opponent in the Playoff Bracket was CIS powerhouse Virtus.pro, and despite the best efforts of the Polish squad, it wasn’t enough to overcome VP. A quick, 0-2 loss saw Team Kinguin overwhelmed by the CIS squad, but the team’s performance was still enough to earn its first Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit.

The Top 4 finish for Team Kinguin certainly came as a surprise considering this team made its Pro Circuit debut just a few short weeks ago. However, considering how well the team held itself in that first international appearance, perhaps this quick breakthrough should not be so surprising after all. My preview post had Team Kinguin projected to finish in the 6th-7th range, based upon the belief that the team would not be able to get past both Evil Geniuses and compLexity in the same group. That prediction proved wildly inaccurate, as the Polish squad handled business against both North American challengers and actually won the top spot in Group B. Twice now I have underestimated Team Kinguin’s abilities, and twice now I have been proven to be in the wrong projecting the team so low. Team Kinguin’s Top 4 performance in Los Angeles may not move it to the top of the Pro Circuit standings, but it certainly puts the squad on the map within the European region. The team may not be on the same footing as squad’s like Team Liquid and Team Secret, but with one or both of those teams likely to be directly invited to future events, Team Kinguin stands in a favorable position to dominate European Qualifiers. The team will have a few chances to win those qualifiers coming up in the future, as the team is set to participate in the Europe Qualifier for the ESL One Genting Minor, as well as the Wild Card Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major.

 

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Place: 1st

Winnings: $120,000 (Total), 112.5 Qualifying Points (Per regular Player), & 75 Qualifying Points (Per Substitute Player)

Coming into the Dota Summit 8 Minor, Virtus.pro stood as one of the Pro Circuit’s strongest and most accomplished teams. The CIS squad had spent the season to that point proving time and again that it was more than capable of taking on and defeating the best teams in the Dota 2 world. Even the month long substitution of the team’s coach in the place of usual team captain Solo hasn’t appeared to slow the squad down. With Artstyle still in the active lineup and coming off of a successful run at the MDL Macau Minor, Virtus.pro made its way to Los Angeles looking to cap off a fantastic start to the season with one last Top 4 finish in 2017.

VP opened its Group Stage matches on Day 1 with a series against South American squad Sacred in Group A. Virtus.pro quickly proved that it far outmatched its South American opponent, as VP dominated all three games against Sacred to begin its Group Stage run with a perfect 3-0 record. The CIS squad wouldn’t play again until Day 3 of the event, as the team faced off against European squad OG to see which team would come out on top of Group A and secure a spot in the Playoff Stage. Though OG put up a decent fight in some of the games, the European squad found itself unable to slow VP down as the CIS squad bulldozed its way to another 3-0 series victory to guarantee a Top 4 spot at the Minor. The team’s 6-0 overall record won it a spot in the Playoff Stage, where VP would face off against another European opponent in Team Kinguin. VP’s dominant performance continued against Team Kinguin, as No[o]ne led the team to an easy victory in Game 1 with an 11-1-7 stat line as Tiny. Game 2 was just as one sided, though this time VP leaned on RAMZES666 on Razor (12-2-13) to secure the victory and close out the series in quick fashion with a 2-0 win. The series win against Team Kinguin set up VP for a Grand Finals series against Fnatic, with the title of Minor Champion on the line. Game 1 saw VP once again dominate its opponent, with RAMZES666 and No[o]ne combining for 24 kills with just 1 death between them as the CIS squad got out to a 1-0 lead. Though Fnatic fought back to claim a lopsided victory in Game 2, the SEA squad couldn’t hold back the momentum of VP for long. Game 3 saw 9Pasha explode for 15 kills and 14 assists with just 2 deaths as Shadow Demon to squash Fnatic’s momentum in the series, and the combination of RAMZES666 and No[o]ne came together again for a 20-3-13 stat line in Game 4 to close out the series 3-1 over Fnatic.

Virtus.pro’s performance at the Dota Summit 8 Minor further cements the squad’s position as one of the world’s absolute best teams. My preview post had VP projected for a Top 4 finish, and the CIS squad were more than capable of living up to that prediction. At this point, the team appears to have few, if any weaknesses, defeating any and all challengers regardless of region or even the team’s draft. The 1st place finish in L.A. marks the team’s fourth Top 4 finish so far this season, and there is no real reason to suspect that the team won’t continue to claim Top 4 spots in 2018. Not even the temporary replacement of the team’s captain (Solo) has been able to slow this team down, a fact that simply put sounds too absurd to be believed if we weren’t witnessing it in real time at these events. VP may not be the overall leader in terms of Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit, but at this stage the team has to be considered the most dangerous squad to play against given its insane level of flexibility and near unwavering consistency this season. The team may be done for the rest of the month, but 2018 is already shaping up to be busy for the CIS powerhouse, as January will see the team perform at both the Galaxy Battles II Major and the ESL One Genting Minor.

 

LGD Gaming 800px-LGD

Place: 8th-9th

Winnings: $6,000

LGD Gaming entered the final Minor of 2017 caught in a downward spiral that saw the Chinese squad playing some of its worst Dota of the season. The team began the season looking like one of the stronger teams within the Chinese region, and a potential competitor on the international stage in the Pro Circuit. However, back to back disastrous Pro Circuit appearances at the Perfect World Masters and MDL Macau Minors had the squad looking weak and dysfunctional as it headed into the final Pro Circuit event of the year. On top of these recent struggles, LGD Gaming would be participating in the Dota Summit 8 Minor with a stand in, as coach QQQ would once again be playing in the place of Victoria for the squad. The year’s final Minor provided one last chance to turn around what had been a brutal stretch for LGD Gaming, but things didn’t look good for the Chinese team heading into the event.

As it turned out, LGD Gaming would not be turning around its recent poor play, as the team struggled to an alarming degree in Los Angeles. The Chinese squad saw its first action on Day 2 of the event, facing off against North American team OpTic Gaming in the first series of Group C. Game 1 did not go LGD Gaming’s way, as OpTic Gaming claimed a win in the opening match despite Maybe posting 0 deaths on his Puck. Game 2 saw the Chinese squad last a bit longer overall, but the match was still heavily one sided as OpTic Gaming controlled the mid and late game stages. LGD Gaming came out strong in Game 3, relying on Monkey King and Shadow Fiend cores to build up a small lead in the mid game. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t prepared for OpTic Gaming’s power spike in the late game stage, as the North American team relied on cores of Medusa and Lifestealer to take the lead and momentum away from LGD Gaming and complete the sweep of  the series with its third straight victory. The team was back in action the next day, this time facing SEA squad Fnatic with its event life on the line. This series didn’t go much better for LGD Gaming, as the team was outmatched in all three games against Fnatic. The team was held to fifteen kills or fewer in all three matches, its supports were ineffective at rotating and pressuring Fnatic’s lineup. The result was a series in which Fnatic’s Abed had 43 kills across the three matches, and EternaLEnVy did not die a single time. LGD Gaming’s 0-6 record in the Group Stage landed it last place in Group C, and ended the team’s run at the Minor with an 8th-9th place finish.

LGD Gaming came into this event off the back of some serious struggles in its recent appearances, but there was still some hope that the squad could perhaps turn the corner and bounce back form those poor performances. My preview post had the team projected to fall into the 8th-9th place range, which is exactly where the Chinese squad ended up. However, I still expected LGD Gaming to at least be a consideration for a spot in the Wild Card Stage via a win or two against OpTic Gaming or Fnatic. The fact that the team couldn’t secure a single win at this event is very concerning, especially since we witnessed situations where the team had put itself into a couple of winnable scenarios. With its third straight finish in last place at a Pro Circuit event, the team’s future is now a point of uncertainty as 2017 comes to a close. Even with the event having just come to a close, there is already talk of the organization rehashing its roster and potentially making changes for the 2018 segment of the season. Either way, LGD Gaming has a few chances left to salvage something positive before the end of the year. The team will be participating in the China Qualifier for the Galaxy Battles II Major, as well as the qualifier for the ESL One Genting Minor too before 2017 meets its end.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $60,000 (Total), 67.5 Qualifying Points (Per Original Roster Player), & 45 Qualifying Points (Per New Roster Player)

After beginning the season with a string of frustrating and disappointing performances, SEA squad Fnatic appeared to be turning the corner and getting itself back on track both in its home region and on the Pro Circuit. The addition of Abed in November lifted the squad from a relative afterthought in Southeast Asia to a position as one of the region’s leading teams. The Dota Summit 8 Minor offered the team one last chance to get itself on the board in the Pro Circuit standings before the year came to a close.

Fnatic would begin its Group Stage matches on Day 2 of the event with a series against North American squad OpTic Gaming. Game 1 remained a close affair through the mid-game stages, but Fnatic lost control in the late-game and couldn’t mount a comeback as OpTic Gaming took the opening game of the series. Fnatic bounced back after that opening loss, winning Game 2 behind an impressive performance from EternaLEnVy on Tiny and taking Game 3 off the back of a dominant showing from Abed’s Tinker. The team’s next opponent in Group C was LGD Gaming, and Fnatic would have a significantly easier time against the Chinese squad. Fnatic had complete control over all three games of the series, with EternaLEnVy posting 0 deaths across the entire series and Abed posting 43 kills in total. The 3-0 win over LGD Gaming gave Fnatic the top spot in Group C, and advanced the SEA squad directly to the Playoff Stage where it would face OG. The first two games of the series were both one sided match ups, with OG claiming the win in Game 1 and Fnatic evening the series with a win in Game 2. Game 3 came down to the wire, but in the end, Fnatic was able to rely on its core duo of Medusa and Phantom Lancer to overcome a late-game deficit and win the series 2-1. The win against OG set Fnatic up for a Grand Final best-of-5 series against Virtus.pro for the title of Minor Champion. Fnatic didn’t have an answer for VP in Game 1, as the CIS squad was able to control the match from the very start behind a combined 24-1-11 scoreline from RAMZESS666 and No[o]ne. Game 2 saw Fnatic flip the script against VP, as the SEA squad held a wire to wire lead to tie up the series. Unfortunately, the momentum for Fnatic died out after that second game, as VP dominated the next two matches to close out the series and send Fnatic home with a 2nd place finish at the Dota Summit 8.

Fnatic came into the Dota Summit 8 Minor as a team looking increasingly stronger after what had been a deeply disappointing start to the season. However, there hadn’t been a large enough sample size of international matches since the addition of Abed to the lineup to be sure that the team could compete on the Pro Circuit. Because of those concerns, I had Fnatic projected to finish within the 6th-7th place range, with potential to improve given the relatively weak makeup of Group C. Fnatic managed to exceed those expectations, winning Group C outright, defeating OG, and even taking a game off of VP in the Grand Final for a 2nd place finish. Fnatic’s success in Los Angeles finally puts the team on the board in the Pro Circuit rankings, but because of the recent addition of Abed to the team, Fnatic did suffer a penalty to its Qualifying Point earnings from this event. Even so, the team’s performance at the Minor is a big step forward for Fnatic, and a sign of improvement that may be enough to carry the SEA squad to further success in 2018. As of the end of this Minor, Fnatic’s schedule is currently clear, but the team will likely be back in action soon once the Pro Circuit shifts into its 2018 segment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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