16 Teams set to collide as ESL One series returns to Southeast Asia
2018 is set to open with a veritable flood of high level Dota 2, as the month of January is chocked full of Pro Circuit events and qualifiers. One of those events has its list of teams finalized and ready to go, as the qualifiers for the ESL One Genting Minor have come to a close. Organized by ESL and the Mineski Events Team, the latest tournament in the ESL One series will turn the eyes of the Dota 2 world towards Southeast Asia to close out the January action. Running from the 23rd through the 28th of January, the ESL One Genting Minor will bring sixteen of the world’s best teams to the Arena of Stars at Resort World Genting in Malaysia for a chance to perform on the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage. With sixteen teams in the field for this Minor, the event promises an intriguing mix of veteran squads, up and coming talent, and Pro Circuit newcomers. Seven of the Top 8 teams in the Pro Circuit standings will be participating in this event, and twelve of the teams have already earned Qualifying Points so far this season. Two of the participating squads, Planet Dog and PENTA Sports, will be making their Pro Circuit debuts in Genting, hoping to lay claim to some portion of a prize pool of $400,000 USD and 400 Qualifying Points. We can take a more detailed look at how those pools will be distributed before we move on to the participating teams.
1st: $160,000 (Total) & 200 Qualifying Points (per player)
2nd: $60,000 (Total) & 120 Qualifying Points (per player)
3rd-4th: $30,000 (Total) & 40 Qualifying Points (per player)
With such a large number of teams in the field of participants at this Minor, even more emphasis will be put on the performances of those teams. The increased prize pools for this event make a quality finish even more valuable than usual, and presents a huge opportunity for a team to improve its standing on the Pro Circuit. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the sixteen teams that will be battling it out in Genting to end the month.
- Disclaimer time: this post will contain some brief and shallow details for each of the competing teams. A more thorough breakdown of the participating teams will come closer to the start of the event itself.
The Direct Invitees
Virtus.pro (Commonwealth of Independent States) – Virtus.pro may not hold the 1st place position in the Pro Circuit standings anymore, but the CIS squad is still unquestionably one of the strongest teams on the Pro Circuit. VP will be making its seventh appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season, with its previous five attempts resulting in a Qualifying Point total of 2700. Even the month long substitution of the team’s coach Artstyle for normal team captain Solo didn’t prove to be enough to slow the squad down. The team’s last two Pro Circuit appearances of 2017 came with Artstyle as an active player, and VP came away with back to back Top 4 finishes. Even with a points penalty being applied for those two events, VP still stands in a tie for 2nd place in the Pro Circuit rankings. Even with the field of participants stacked with top tier teams, Virtus.pro should still come into the first event of 2018 as a favorite to win.
Team Liquid (Europe) – The defending TI champion haven’t had much need to play in qualifiers so far this season, as the European squad has been directly invited to all but one of its events to this point. The team will be making its sixth appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season, with all of its previous campaigns resulting in Qualifying Points. Those performances have earned Team Liquid a tie for 2nd place in the Pro Circuit standings, with the European squad poised to continue its string of success in the new year. Team Liquid will have quite the challenge in Genting with a field of formidable opponents, but the TI7 winner has proven itself more than capable of taking on the world’s best before.
Newbee (China) – Newbee has spent the early stages of the season being the standard bearer for Chinese Dota, as the squad currently stands as a highest ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit. The ESL One Genting Minor will be Newbee’s seventh Pro Circuit LAN of the season, with the team’s previous efforts earning it a place as the 4th ranked team in the standings. As one of four Chinese teams at this event, the pressure will be on Newbee to represent its region with a quality performance to open the new year, but we’ve seen this team keep calm and perform under high levels of pressure before. Newbee have been one of the more consistent squads within its region to this point in the season, and so long as the team maintains that composure and high level of play, it should have a good shot at claiming victory in Genting.
Mineski (Southeast Asia) – Southeast Asian squad Mineski spent the entirety of the 2017 section of the season sitting at the top of the hierarchy within the SEA region. Back to back Top 2 finishes to open the season put Mineski at sixth in the Pro Circuit standings, but the team hasn’t been able to add to that total since. With 2018 bringing more Pro Circuit action, Mineski finds its hold over the Southeast Asian region threatened as rivals are beginning to rise. The ESL One Genting Minor will be the team’s sixth of the season, and depending on how things go in Mineski’s other Pro Circuit appearances in January, the squad might just find itself in greater need of Qualifying Points than it thought. Both Fnatic and TNC Pro Team have gotten themselves on the board with Qualifying Points near the end of 2017, and those squads will be looking for any opportunity to gain ground on Mineski. Mineski will need to recapture that success that it saw at the beginning of the season if it wants to maintain the separation between itself and its regional rivals.
Evil Geniuses (North America) – North American squad Evil Geniuses had a rather successful opening to the season, earning a 5th place position in the Pro Circuit standings and establishing itself as one of the leading teams in its region. However, its the team’s recent moves outside of the game that are generating more significant buzz, as the team announced a roster change in late December. Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen joined the lineup as a support player and the team’s captain, while Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora left the team. The move also shifted Clinton “Fear” Loomis back to the carry position, while moving Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan from the mid lane to the off lane position. The ESL One Genting Minor will be the team’s seventh Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and the team’s third with this new roster. By that time, we will likely have a much more clear picture of how the team will play, but for now the air of uncertainty and mystery makes EG an intriguing team to watch as it opens 2018.
Team Secret (Europe) – Team Secret comes into 2018 as the top team in the Pro Circuit standings, having amassed a total of 3690 Qualifying Points so far this season. The European powerhouse has been ridiculously strong this season, putting up dominant performances one after another both within its home region and on the international stage. The ESL One Genting Minor will be the eighth Pro Circuit appearance for Team Secret, as the team has been a fixture at just about every event so far this season. With near unwavering confidence and a string of impressive victories to back it up, Team Secret will make its way to Genting expecting another quality performance to add to its ever-growing list of achievements this season. Bringing down the Pro Circuit leader would be a boast-worthy feat for any of the teams in the field as the Minor, but defeating this titan of the Dota 2 world will prove to be much easier said than done.
Vici Gaming (China) – Vici Gaming stands as the second highest ranked Chinese squad on the Pro Circuit, sitting in a somewhat comfortable tie with OG for 7th place overall. That position is impressive for a team that had numerous questions surrounding it as it came into the season with an almost entirely new roster. Vici Gaming has proven itself to be a leader in the Chinese region, consistently and repeatedly coming out on top over would be challengers. We’ve seen Chinese teams put together strong stretches against local opponents before, but Vici Gaming has managed to find the success on the international level that separates it from some of those previous regional leaders. The team will make its fifth appearance at a Pro Circuit event in Genting, with two of its previous attempts having resulted in Qualifying Points for the Chinese squad. Most of the attention may go to Newbee at this event when looking at Chinese teams, but Vici Gaming has more than a good shot to make a run for a Top 4 finish at this event as well, and the lack of scrutiny may very well play to its advantage.
Fnatic (Southeast Asia) – Southeast Asian squad Fnatic got off to one of the worst starts possible for a Pro Circuit team, but some mid-season changes have turned the team’s fortunes around. The acquisistion of Abed “Abed” Yusop in November transformed the team from a punchline in the SEA region into a legitimate competitor and potential rival to regional leader Mineski. The team will be making its fifth Pro Circuit appearance in Genting, with its most recent performance at the Dota Summit 8 Minor providing the team with its first Qualifying Points of the season, albeit with a small penalty due to the roster change. Fnatic appears to be ready to put its slow start behind it, and with roster ready to go and a chance to perform on home soil, the SEA squad has the perfect chance to continue its climb up the Pro Circuit rankings.
The Qualifier Winners
TNC Pro Team (Southeast Asia) – TNC Pro Team was another SEA squad to suffer from a slow start this season, as the TI7 participant was largely silent to begin its campaign on the Pro Circuit. After some early struggles though, the team appears to be getting itself back into form, with the squad managing to earn a 2nd place finish at the MDL Macau Minor in its Pro Circuit debut. TNC Pro Team spent the last month of two of 2017 on a tear both at home in the Southeast Asian region and on the international stage, and the team will have a chance to recapture that momentum in 2018. The ESL One Genting Minor will be TNC Pro Team’s third Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and with fellow SEA squads Fnatic and Mineski in the field of participants, the event presents a key opportunity to both improve its standings in the Pro Circuit ranks, and make a claim for the proverbial crown in the Southeast Asian region.
PENTA Sports (Europe) – PENTA Sports may not be a team that most fans are familiar with, but the squad has been fighting in the European region all season long, and now it finally gets its chance to shine. After a very rough start to the season, the team began picking up some momentum, with its increasingly better performances in Pro Circuit qualifiers buoyed by success in third party events and tournaments. After climbing its way up the hierarchy in the European region, the team finally made its breakthrough with an impressive 2-0 victory against OG in the qualifier for this Minor, paving the way for the team’s Pro Circuit debut in Genting. With a mix of young talent and veteran experience, PENTA Sports could present an unexpected challenge to the established power of the Pro Circuit, and should be a squad to look out for at this event.
Planet Dog (Europe) – Planet Dog has returned, although by this point there may be quite a few fans who have never heard of or don’t remember this squad. The team came together to compete in the TI7 Europe Qualifier, and actually managed to qualify for the prestigious event and signed with the HellRaisers organization. That partnership didn’t last long in the new season, with the team being dropped by HellRaisers in December and replacing Uroš “Swiftending” Galić with Dmitry “Ditya Ra” Minenkov. Just a little over a week later, the team announced that Neta “33” Shapira would be leaving to join North American squad OpTic Gaming and leaving the team with just four players. As of the writing of this post, the team has not announced who will be standing in for the team in Genting, but these roster changes will certainly present a significant issue for the team moving forward. Roster change and uncertainty is definitely not the kind of issues a team wants to deal with in the middle of the season, especially not a few weeks before its Pro Circuit debut. However, we will keep our eyes on this squad to see if Planet Dog can come together in time to put up a quality performance in Genting.
Natus Vincere (Commonwealth of Independent States) – Long gone are the days when Na’Vi ruled over the CIS region alone and uncontested, as the team has struggled through a few years of less than ideal results. However, this season appears to have rekindled a flame in the old juggernaut of the Dota scene, as a new Na’Vi roster is on the rise both in the CIS region and on the international stage. Na’Vi will be making its fifth Pro Circuit appearance of the season after ending 2017 with back to back Top 4 finishes. Those performances put the CIS squad in 9th place in the Pro Circuit standings with 315 Qualifying Points as a team. The team may not be one of the leading teams on the Pro Circuit, but Na’Vi has proven itself capable of putting together quality performances against top international competition before. A strong run in Genting could be enough to push Na’Vi into the upper echelon of squads in the rankings, but only if it can makes its way past some of the Pro Circuit’s most formidable teams.
LGD.Forever Young (China) – Chinese squad LGD.Forever Young has been performing well in its home region so far this season. Unfortunately for the team, those impressive regional performances have led to limited opportunities to play on the international level. The ESL One Genting Minor will be the team’s fourth Pro Circuit appearance of the season, and its second of 2018. The squad has had some inconsistent performances at its two Pro Circuit events so far, finishing in 3rd at the Perfect World Masters but only coming up with a 6th place finish at the MDL Macau Minor. The hope is that the team manages to get itself back into the stronger form we saw earlier in the season. If the Chinesse squad can do that, then it has a decent chance to put together a quality run in Genting.
VGJ.Thunder (China) – VGJ.Thunder has not been able to make a lot of noise so far this season, with the team trying to find a place for it self in a crowded Chinese region. The team opened its season with a performance at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, but wasn’t able to crack the Top 4 at that event. Since then, the team hasn’t been able to return to the Pro Circuit stage, though its performance within the Chinese region has significantly improved. The ESL One Genting Minor will be the team’s third appearance at a Pro Circuit event, and the team may still be searching for its first Qualifying Points of the season by the time this event rolls around. VGJ.Thunder’s improvements in its home region have been impressive and encouraging, but it’s a significantly more difficult step to compete on the international stage. We’ll see if the Chinese squad is ready to take that next step as the team heads to Genting.
compLexity Gaming (North America) – CompLexity Gaming has taken some impressive strides forward this season, establishing itself as a leading team in the North American region. At the end of 2017, the team still trailed fellow North American squad Evil Geniuses in terms of Qualifying Points. However, recent roster changes from EG creates an opportunity for compLexity Gaming to gain some ground in its home region. CompLexity Gaming will be making its fifth Pro Circuit appearance, and its track record on the international stage to this point has been fairly impressive. The team claimed two Top 4 finishes in 2017, and came close to another at the end of the year with its 5th place finish at the Dota Summit 8 Minor. As long as the team doesn’t suffer a significant lapse in play, the North American squad is in a strong position to perform well in Genting.
SG e-sports (South America) – Brazilian squad SG e-sports began the season with a tight grip on the South American region, dominating the region and locking up multiple spots at early season events. The team will be making its fifth appearance at a Pro Circuit event in Genting, but the South American squad has yet to earn itself any Qualifying Points this season. With squads like Infamous, paiN Gaming, and Sacred looking stronger in the South American region, SG e-sports may find itself having to fight a bit harder to continue earning spots at Pro Circuit events. The team may not have been able to convert its opportunities on the international stage just yet, but that experience may help the South American squad in its quest to become the first team from the region to earn Qualifying Points this season.