Dota 2 Minor Team Preview: ESL One Genting

Pro Circuit makes first trip to Southeast Asia as ESL hosts Minor in Genting

After opening 2018 with exciting action at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor, the Pro Circuit shifts to the other side of the world as fans and teams prepare for the tenth event of the season. With the Galaxy Battles II event being stripped of its Major status and removed from the Pro Circuit schedule by Valve, there has been a longer than usual break between events. However, the ESL One Genting Minor is set to make up for that extended hiatus with the promise of high quality Dota as the Pro Circuit’s best teams make the journey to Malaysia. Organized by ESL, the latest event in the ESL One series of tournaments brings sixteen squads to the Arena of Stars at Resort World Genting for the first Pro Circuit event in Southeast Asia this season. (Galaxy Battles II would have been the first SEA event prior to losing its Major status) Running from the 23rd through the 28th, the ESL One Genting Minor will feature the largest prize pool of any Minor held this season so far, with $400,000 USD and 400 Qualifying Points on the line for the participating teams as outlined below.

1st: $160,000 (Total) and 200 Qualifying Points(per player)

2nd: $80,000 (Total) and 120 Qualifying Points(per player)

3rd-4th: $40,000 (Per Team) and 40 Qualifying Points(per player)

5th-6th: $20,000 (Per Team)

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

9th-12th: $4,000 (Per Team)

13th-16th: $2,000 (Per Team)

With sixteen teams in the field for this event, the ESL One Genting Minor is presenting a somewhat altered format from what Dota 2 fans have seen so far on the Pro Circuit. The event will begin with a Group Stage, with the sixteen teams divided into two groups of eight teams each. Within those groups, the teams will play in a double-elimination bracket with the first round’s matches being played Bo1 and all others being played Bo3. The top three teams from each group will advance to the Playoff Stage, with the Group winner going directly to the Playoff Semifinals, the runner-up entering the Playoff Stage as a High Seed, and the third place team going to the Playoff Stage as the Low Seed. The Playoff Stage will feature a single-elimination bracket, with the High and Low Seeds from the Group Stage playing each other, and the Group winners receiving a first round bye. Within the Playoff Stage the series will be played in a Bo3 format up until the Finals, which will be Bo5. With that rather complex format outlined, we can shift our focus over to the sixteen teams that will be playing in Genting.

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

 

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Region: CIS

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: T-2nd (2700 Qualifying Points)

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

Projected Finish: Top 4

The season so far for Virtus.pro has gone about as well as the CIS squad could have hoped for, as it currently stands in a tie for 2nd place in the Pro Circuit standings. That 2nd place position is the result of five Pro Circuit LANs this season, with the ESL One Genting Minor serving as the team’s sixth event. VP has been playing with a level of skill and confidence that is nearly unrivaled on the Pro Circuit, and the squad’s confidence has been warranted given its continued success. In fact, VP has been so confident in its own abilities that it played the last month of 2017 without its usual captain, as Alexei “Solo” Berezin took a temporary break from official matches. Ivan “Artstyle” Antonov, the team’s coach, stood in for Solo during this period, though the change didn’t do much to slow down or diminish the team’s considerable momentum. With Artstyle as a stand-in the team posted back to back Top 4 finishes at Minors, including a 1st place finish at the Dota Summit 8 Minor. As VP’s regular roster reassembles for the 2018 segment of the season, there’s little reason to believe that the team won’t continue to produce impressive results on the Pro Circuit stage.

It’s been about a month since the last time Dota 2 fans saw Virtus.pro play, as the team’s last matches of 2017 came at the previously mentioned Dota Summit 8 Minor. The CIS squad dominated the competition at that event, posting a record of 11-1 overall that saw it defeat fellow Pro Circuit ranked squads OG, Team Kinguin, and Fnatic. The team’s impressive performance in Los Angeles falls in line with what we’ve seen from VP so far this season, as the CIS squad has been nearly unstoppable both at home and on the international stage. The team has participated in five Pro Circuit qualifiers so far this season, earning Top 4 finishes in all of them and earning a qualification spot at all but one of them. On the international stage, the team has found significant experience and results both on and off the Pro Circuit. VP has played in two international event that weren’t associated with the Pro Circuit, earning a Top 4 spot at The Manila Invitational show-match and a 2nd place finish in the Adrenaline Cyber League. In terms of Pro Circuit events, the team has been even more impressive, with the team’s five LAN appearances resulting in four Top 4 finishes, including two wins at the ESL One Hamburg Major and the Dota Summit 8 Minor. This level of regional and international success have Virtus.pro sitting at the top of the hierarchy on the Pro Circuit, and the team comes into the Minor ready to add to an already incredible resume.

Given the team’s accomplishments and high level of play so far this season, it comes as no surprise that the CIS squad comes into the ESL One Genting Minor as one of the favorites to win. When a team’s “worst” performance of the season is a 5th-6th place finish at a Major (DreamLeague Season 8), it’s nearly impossible to ignore it as a contender. The team’s significant success in the CIS region and on the Pro Circuit has Virtus.pro projected as a Top 4 team at this event. The field of participants for the ESL One Genting is filled with extremely talented teams, and it is possible that one of those teams could bring VP down under the right circumstances. However, given the format of the event, it would take multiple losses in Bo3 series to knock the team out. It seems unlikely that VP runs into more than one team that could take two of three games off of the CIS squad prior to reaching the Playoff Stage. With that in mind, Virtus.pro should be set for a strong showing in its first Pro Circuit event of 2018.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: T-2nd (2700 Qualifying Points)

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

Projected Finish: Top 4

TI7 Champion Team Liquid has gotten off to an impressive start to the season so far as the European squad attempts to become the first team to win multiple iterations of The International. The team currently holds a tie for 2nd place in the Pro Circuit standings resulting from four appearances at Pro Circuit events and Top 4 finishes at each of them. As the squad approaches its fifth event of the season, the European powerhouse will be looking to keep that streak of Top 4 finishes alive with a strong showing at the ESL One Genting Minor. Given the team’s strong performances to this point in the season, the defending TI Winner has a good chance at doing just that.

It’s been a decent amount of time since Team Liquid last made an appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team’s last official matches came at the beginning of December at the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. The team had an overall record of 7-6 at the event, earning itself a 2nd place finish and claiming wins over Fnatic, Virtus.pro, and Evil Geniuses in the process. Excellence from Team Liquid on the Pro Circuit stage is something that Dota 2 fans have grown familiar with, as the squad still holds the aforementioned streak of Top 4 finishes at Minors and Majors. The team’s four Top 4 finishes have displayed a level of efficiency and consistency that is nearly unmatched on the Pro Circuit. Team Liquid’s impressive list of accomplishments on the international level has not been matched in terms of the team’s regional success, though not for the reason that one might think. Team Liquid does not have a long list of regional wins because the squad has only had to compete in a single qualifier, that being the one for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. The team managed to place high enough in that qualifier to reach the Major, and aside from that it has not had a need to enter any others. Team Liquid has not needed many opportunities to earn earn its current position, and the team is not likely to waste a chance to improve that position at this Minor.

Team Liquid has done more than enough to earn its position near the top of the Pro Circuit hierarchy, and the European squad comes into the ESL One Genting Minor as one of the strongest teams in the field of participants. The fact that Team Liquid hasn’t played any official matches in around a month and a half presents a small concern for the squad at this event though. We’ve seen even the best of teams suffer from some rust after extended breaks, and Team Liquid may not necessarily be immune to this. Aside from that small and relatively insignificant issue, there aren’t many negative factors to weigh Team Liquid down at this event. With that in mind, I have Team Liquid projected to finish within the Top 4 at the ESL One Genting Minor, with only a truly surprising upset or series of upsets preventing the European squad from claiming its fifth Top 4 finish of the season. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Team Liquid couldn’t suffer a stroke of bad luck at the event though. The team could lose in the Bo1 opening round of the Group Stage and lose the subsequent Bo3 series, or lose multiple Bo3 after the opening round if it suffers a drop off in play. With those scenarios seeming highly unlikely given the team’s recent performances, Team Liquid is on track for a quality performance at the Minor.

 

Newbee Newbee_logo

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 4th (1035 Qualifying 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: 5th-6th

Chinese squad Newbee currently stands as the top ranked team from its region, as well as one of the Top 4 teams on the Pro Circuit. However, both of those positions are being threatened as the team prepares for its first Pro Circuit event of 2018. Vici Gaming has been marching its way up the hierarchy in the Chinese region, and Newbee’s lead over the other squads in the Top 8 of the Pro Circuit standings is shrinking with every event. With the team making its sixth appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, Newbee enters the ESL One Genting Minor looking for a solid performance to solidify its hold on its favorable position.

Newbee’s most recent appearance at a Pro Circuit event came at the beginning of December at the DreamLeague Seaason 8 Major. The team faced some struggles at that most recent Major, as the Chinese squad ended up finishing in the bottom half of the standings. The squad won its opening series in relatively easy fashion against Infamous, but lost its next two series against Team Secret and Na’Vi to finish in the 5th-6th place position at the event. Since then, the team has only participated in one other event: the non-Pro Circuit H-Cup Season 9 in China. Newbee dominated its opponents within the group stage of that event, winning every series with a 12-0 record. In the Playoff Stage, the team ran into its first obstacle as it lost to Vici Gaming 1-2. After defeating Keen Gaming.Luminous and VGJ.Thunder in the lower bracket, the team earned the chance for a rematch against Vici Gaming in the Grand Finals. Unfortunately for Newbee, the rematch ended with the same results as the previous encounter, as Vici Gaming handed the team another 1-2 loss. That loss put Newbee in the 2nd place position at the event, and marked the final official matches for the team in 2017. With the ESL One Genting Minor constituting the team’s first matches of the new year, it will be interesting to see how it has adjusted after its most recent performances both at home and on the Pro Circuit stage.

Newbee may not have been able to earn a Top 4 spot at the DreamLeague Season 8 Major, but that failure doesn’t make the team any less formidable as it enters its first Pro Circuit event of 2018. The team has still put together consistent performance within the Chinese region, even in the face of increased pressure from rivals like Vici Gaming. On the international level, the team remains one of the Top 8 ranked squads on the Pro Circuit. I have Newbee coming into this event as a projected 5th-6th place team, with the potential to move into the Top 4 fairly easily should it manage a win against another top ranked team in the Group Stage. As it stands right now, Newbee is one of the more dependable teams in the field of participants, but not necessarily the strongest team. Given the way teams like Virtus.pro, Team Liquid, Team Secret, and even Vici gaming had been performing of late, Newbee will need to bring its best to this event if it wants to hold its Top 4 ranking on the Pro Circuit.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: T-5th (810 Qualifying Points)

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

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Mineski has spent the entirety of the season as the highest ranked squad from the Southeast Asian region, as well as one of the Top 8 ranked teams on the Pro Circuit. However, with increased competition coming from its home region in the form of squads like Fnatic and TNC Pro Team, Mineski finds its comortable position somewhat threatened as it enters its fifth Pro Circuit event of the season. The ESL One Genting Minor presents a key opportunity for Mineski to improve its already impressive position both on the Pro Circuit and within the regional hierarchy in Southeast Asia.

The last time Mineski was seen at a Pro Circuit event was just a few weeks ago in Washington, DC where the team participated in the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor. The team’s first Pro Circuit appearance of 2018 was a successful affair, as the team earned itself a Top 4 finish that moved it into its current tie for 5th in the Pro Circuit standings. The SEA squad looked impressive in the Group Stage of the Minor, winning matches against both Vici Gaming and Team Secret to secure a high seed and the top spot in its group. That spot secured Mineski a favorable match up in the first round of the Playoff Stage, as the Southeast Asian team easily defeated South American squad paiN Gaming. Unfortunately for Mineski, its next opponent would be Team Secret, the eventual winner of the Minor that handed the SEA squad an 0-2 loss to end its run with a 3rd-4th place finish. In the days following that most recent Pro Circuit performance, the team has participated in two regional qualifiers and finished within the Top 4 in each of them. The team made a perfect 6-0 run through the SEA Qualifier for the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4, and finished 4th in the qualifier for the GESC: Indonesia Minor. With Mineski’s regional rivals beginning to provide more fierce opposition, the squad’s relative consistency within its home region is becoming more and more valuable as the season goes on.

Mineski may be looking impressive at home, but the question coming into the Minor will be how well the Southeast Asian team can perform against top international opponents. The field of participants at the ESL One Genting Minor is one of the strongest and most formidable that we’ve seen so far this season, and Mineski will have quite a few obstacles to overcome if it wants to put together a quality performance. The good news for Mineski and its fans is that we’ve seen the team perform well against top Pro Circuit teams before, so we know that the team is capable of competing and winning at that level. However, with the caliber of opponents that Mineski will have to defeat at this event, it seems prudent to air on the side of caution with regards to the team’s expectations. I have Mineski projected to finish within the 5th-6th place range at the ESL One Genting Minor, due mostly to the strength of the group that it finds itself in. In order to move higher and break into a Top 4 spot, the team will have to get past Team Liquid and Newbee in the Group Stage, or make it to the Playoff Stage and win its opening series against what will most likely be another top ranked squad. As previously mentioned, Mineski is more than capable of doing this, but I don’t necessarily expect the team to come out on top more often than not in that scenario. The team still has a valuable chance to put together a solid performance at a Minor in its home region, but the SEA squad will need a little extra strength to push into the Top 4 at the event.

 

Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Region: North America

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 7th (765 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
2.
Clinton “Fear” Loomis
3.
Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan
4.
Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen
5.
Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen (Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Evil Geniuses have been standing at the top of the hierarchy within the North American region for years, and that trend hasn’t come to an end so far this season on the Pro Circuit. However, the team’s most recent stint in the spotlight came from a roster change rather than a specific performance, as the team dropped veteran offlaner Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora in order to add Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen to the lineup. The roster shift presented a new challenge for EG, but as the North American squad prepares for its sixth Pro Circuit appearance of the season, the team is looking to show that it has fully adjusted to its new lineup and is still able to compete with the world’s best teams.

The last Pro Circuit appearance for Evil Geniuses came just a few weeks ago at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor in Washington, DC where the team attended its first event of 2018. The North American squad put up a solid performance in the Group Stage of the event, losing its initial match against compLexity Gaming but winning its subsequent game against paiN Gaming and claiming victory in a rematch with compLexity. That 2-1 record set the team up for a series against Pro Circuit leader Team Secret in the first round of the Playoff bracket. The team’s new lineup actually held its own against the European powerhouse, losing the series but managing to win one game for a 1-2 loss. The loss to Team Secret ended EG’s run at the Minor with a finish in the combined 5th-8th place position. The result at the Minor may not have earned the team any more Qualifying Points, but the team’s performance was encouraging considering its recent roster change. As the team makes its way to the ESL One Genting Minor, it should be fully adjusted to its new players and positions and ready to compete with the world’s best teams.

The recent roster changes for Evil Geniuses may have raised some concerns for the team heading into the 2018 section of the season, but the North American squad has shown some encouraging signs so far. We’ve only seen the most recent iteration of the lineup at a single Pro Circuit event so far, but it managed to split its matches against its North American rival and hold its own against Team Secret. That relatively solid showing combined with the team’s talented lineup of players have it sitting in good shape coming into the Minor. I have Evil Geniuses projected to finish in the 7th-8th place range based upon what we saw at the Captains Draft 4.0 and the team’s group placement. To finish higher than this prediction, EG will more than likely have to go through one of Team Liquid, Mineski, and Newbee. The team’s new roster may be capable of that feat, but we just haven’t seen it enough to reliably predict that the North American squad will come out victorious from that scenario.

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 1st (4140 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
2.
Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
3.
Adrian “Fata” Trinks
4.
Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
5.
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

European squad Team Secret enters the ESL One Genting Minor as the number one ranked team on the Pro Circuit, and its a position that it has earned through some of the most impressive play we’ve seen so far this season. The European team will be making its seventh Pro Circuit appearance at the Minor, with the six previous events leading to four Top 4 finishes. Team Secret has displayed a consistency and strength that few teams on the Pro Circuit can match, as the squad has put together dominant performances both in its home region and on the international level. The team will be looking to hold off a strong field of opponents at the ESL One Genting Minor in order to maintain its 1st place ranking.

Team Secret has already seen action in 2018, as the team was a participant in the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor at the beginning of January. The European squad ran into some struggles in the Group Stage of the event, wining its initial match against Team Empire, but losing its subsequent matches against Mineski and Vici Gaming. As the team moved into the Playoff Stage it began to regain its dominant form, defeating Evil Geniuses 2-1 and taking down Mineski 2-0 to advance to the finals of the Minor. After losing two of the first three games, the team managed to win the final two games of the series to defeat Vici Gaming 3-2 and claim the first Minor title of 2018. The team’s success at the Minor in Washington DC is only the latest is a long list of achievement for Team Secret both on the international level and in its home region. The Captains Draft 4.0 Minor was the fourth Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit for the European squad, as well as the team’s second event win of the season. The team has only participated in four Pro Circuit qualifiers this season, but the European squad has managed to win each of them in relatively easy fashion. With the team having found significant success at all levels so far this season, Team Secret comes into the ESL One Genting Minor as one of the most formidable opponents in the field of participants.

Team Secret has made a habit of showing off its strength at Pro Circuit event, and it doesn’t appear like that habit is going to be broken as the team enters the ESL One Genting Minor. The squad has been nearly unstoppable in Europe and on the international stage this season, and its impressive play has been more than enough to back up its current ranking as the number one team on the Pro Circuit. With that in mind, the European squad comes into this latest Minor as a clear-cut favorite to win, and an easy projection as a Top 4 team. The team has the talent, consistency, and experience needed to defeat any opponent it might face, and the odds of the team losing multiple series before reaching the Playoff Stage are incredibly small. Team Secret may not be untouchable, but any series that the European squad loses will be an impressive upset for the team that brings it down. We’ll see if the field of participants at the ESL One Genting Minor contains a David to Team Secret’s Goliath.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: T-5th (810 Qualifying 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 may have come into the season with some questions and concerns, but the Chinese squad has proven itself more than capable of competing with the world’s best. The team currently stands in a tie for the 5th place position in the Pro Circuit standings, and is the 2nd highest ranked squad from the Chinese region behind Newbee. The team began its season with uncertainty, but the Chinese squad has shown a level of consistency and confidence that has helped it become a significant power in the Dota 2 world. As the team approaches its fifth Pro Circuit event of the season, it will be looking to continue its impressive climb up the rankings, and perhaps even supplant Newbee as the leading team in China.

The last time Dota 2 fans saw Vici Gaming on the Pro Circuit stage was earlier this month at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor, where the Chinese squad earned itself a 2nd place finish. The team put together a strong performance in the Group Stage of the Minor, losing its opening match to Mineski but coming back with victories over Team Empire and Team Secret. Once the Playoff Stage came around, the Chinese squad put its skills on display even further, taking back to back 2-0 series wins against North American squad compLexity Gaming and European team OG. Those victories set the team up for a series against Team Secret in the Finals of the event for the title of Minor Champion. Despite winning two of the first three games in the series, Vici Gaming couldn’t close out an overall victory against the Pro Circuit leader. Team Secret won Games 4 and 5 to claim the series and the 1st place position at the Minor. Since that performance, Vici Gaming has returned to its home region, competing in the regional qualifier for the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4. The Chinese squad managed tos core 2-0 wins over both Keen Gaming and VGJ.Thunder, but lost to LGD Gaming in the finals to miss out on a spot at the event. VIci Gaming’s 2nd place finishes both at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor and at the recent regional qualifiers is indicative of the team’s consistent performance so far this season. The team has not been dominant either in China or on the Pro Circuit stage, but the team has been able to keep itself in contention and score wins more frequently than most of its rivals. That level of consistent play is a highly valuable asset for the Chinese squad as it enters its second Minor of 2018.

Vici Gaming has put together an incredibly impressive season so far, and the ESL One Genting Minor presents a prime opportunity for the team to continue its strong performance on the Pro Circuit. The team’s consistent success within the Chinese region is already a significant factor working in Vici Gaming’s favor, with its experience on the international level bolstering the resume for the Chinese squad. Vici Gaming has now earned three straight 2nd place finishes at Pro Circuit events, and the team’s recent close series against Team Secret only increases the confidence in its ability to compete with the top teams in the world. Taking those factors into account, Vici Gaming come into the ESL One Genting Minor as a projected Top 4 team. The team is not without its weaknesses, but the recent results from the Chinese squad makes it seem unlikely that Vici Gaming runs into multiple opponents that can be expected to win in a Bo3 series. We’ll see if the team’s momentum can carry it to another solid Pro Circuit performance, or if its streak of Top 4 finishes will come to an end at the Minor.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 9th (390 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao (Captain)
2.
Abed “Abed” Yusop
3.
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
4.
Djardel “DJ” Mampusti 
5.
Johan “pieliedie” Åström

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Southeast Asian squad Fnatic did not begin the season in the manner that most people were hoping for, as the team faced significant struggles in the early stages of its Pro Circuit campaign. In November the team opted for a roster change, adding Abed “Abed” Yusop to the lineup. That change improved the team’s performance somewhat, but Fnatic wouldn’t be satisfied with its lineup just yet, as it opted for another roster shift just a few days ago. The team replaced Khoo Ohaiyo” Chong Xin with former Evil Geniuses member Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora. With the addition of the veteran offlaner, Fnatic enter the ESL One Genting Minor with a new look and new hopes for success on the Pro Circuit stage.

The last Pro Circuit appearance for Fnatic came back in December at the Dota Summit 8 Minor, where the team earned its first Top 4 finish of the season. The team outplayed both OpTic Gaming and LGD Gaming in the Group Stage to secure a place in the Playoff bracket, and won a huge 2-1 series against OG in the Semifinals. That performance set the team up to play Virtus.pro in the finals of the event, and while the team couldn’t overcome the CIS powerhouse, it did manage to win one game in the 1-3 series. However, that 2nd place finish came with the team’s old lineup before the addition of UNiVeRsE. In the time since the roster change, the team has played in two Pro Circuit qualifiers and have earned Top 4 finishes in both of them. The team played its semifinal series in the qualifier for The Bucharest Major with UNiVeRsE on the team, losing 1-2 to TNC Pro Team to finish in the 3rd-4th place position. Most recently, the new lineup won the Southeast Asian Qualifier for the GESC: Indonesia Minor, defeating Mineski, Execration, and Geek Fam to earn its spot at the event. These regional results are encouraging for the new Fnatic lineup, but we’ve yet to see how well the new look team will play against international opposition.

Fnatic come into the ESL One Genting Minor with confidence despite the recent change to its roster. The addition of a skilled an experienced player such as UNiVeRsE has to raise the profile of the team as it looks to gain ground within the Southeast Asian region. The fact that we haven’t seen this roster play outside of its home region yet is a bit of a concern for the team coming into the event, but considering the experience and talent on Fnatic it shouldn’t be a crippling issue. That being said, I have Fnatic projected to finish within the 7th-8th place range, partially due to the aforementioned issue but also due to the strength of its opposition in the Group Stage. Barring a series of upsets, Fnatic will have to go through Team Secret, Vici Gaming, or Virtus.pro if it wants to advance to the Playoff Stage and finish above its predicted finish. Even with UNiVeRsE in the lineup, Fnatic aren’t exactly the favored team in any of those match ups. Keep expectations modest for Fnatic at this Minor, but don’t be surprised if the new roster challenges some of the Pro Circuit’s leading squads.

 

LGD.Forever Young LGD.Forever_Young

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Co-Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-13th (135 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Du ” Monet” Peng
2. 
Ou “Op” Peng (Substitute – Trial)
3.
He “Inflame” Yongzheng
4.
Tue “Ahfu” Soon Chuan
5.
Leong “ddc” Fat-meng (Captain)

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

The Chinese region has been a particularly crowded one so far this season, with a multitude of squads fighting for a chance to represent the region on the Pro Circuit stage. Newbee and Vici Gaming have been able to establish themselves as leaders on the Pro Circuit, but the rest of the teams from the region have had difficulties separating themselves from the pack. LDG.Forever Young is one such team, as the Chinese squad has found some success on the Pro Circuit, but not enough to compete with the Top 8 ranked teams or the previously mentioned leaders in the Chinese region. In an attempt to change its fortunes on the Pro Circuit stage, the team recently announced a player swap with Invictus Gaming that added Ou “Op” Peng to the team on a trial basis in exchange for Xie “Super” Junhao. With the team making its third appearance at a Pro Circuit event at the ESL One Genting Minor, LGD.Forever Young is hoping to break away from the second tier of Chinese squads and carve out a  more favorable place for itself both in the regional hierarchy and in the Pro Circuit standings.

The last Pro Circuit appearance for LGD.Forever Young came at the beginning of December at the MDL Macau Minor, where the team put together an admirable but not necessarily noteworthy performance. The team posted a 4-4 record in the Group Stage of the event that left it short of the mark to move on to the Playoff Stage and earn a Top 4 spot. Since then, the team has remained within the Chinese region, participating in qualifier for three Pro Circuit events. The team placed within the Top 2 in the qualifier for this Minor, winning series against Rock Gaming and Inictus Gaming two secure itself a spot. The team’s other two qualifier runs also ended with Top 4 finishes, though LGD.Forever Young ended up falling short of qualification both times. Interestingly, the runs in those qualifiers were both ended by LGD.Forever Young’s sister team LGD Gaming. Though it is encouraging that the team is getting into a more consistent form within its home region, the fact that it is still facing struggles defeating rival regional squads raises some questions for the team moving forward. Another questions for LGD.Forever Young is how it will perform on the international stage following a break of nearly two months from the Pro Circuit. The team has no international matches on record since its less than impressive performance and the MDL Macau Minor, and without any other recent results to work with it becomes harder to raise expectations for LGD.Forever Young at this event.

LGD.Forever Young has seen success on the Pro Circuit once so far this season, but heading into the ESL One Genting Minor it doesn’t appear that the Chinese squad is in a favorable position to see it again. The team’s play within the Chinese region of late has been reminiscent of its previous consistency earlier in the season. However, the fact that the team is still having some difficulties defeating its more prominent regional rivals is concerning, as is the team’s lack of international matches since its performance in Macau. With only those factors to work with, it seems too hard to have confidence in LGD.Forever Young’s ability to bounce back and compete with the Pro Circuit leaders, especially in such a stacked field of participants. I have LGD.Forever Young projected to finish within the lowest section of the standings in the 13th-16th place range. If the team manages to return to its early season form, then the Chinese squad has a chance of making a deeper run at the event. If it doesn’t, then the obstacles at the ESL One Genting Minor seem too significant for the team to overcome.

 

VGJ.Thunder 600px-VGJ_201710_logo_notext

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Co-Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Liu “Sylar” Jiajun
2.
Liu “Kamma” Chang
3.
Zhou “Yang” Haiyang
4.
Pan “Fade” Yi
5.
Fan “Ayo” Tianyou

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

Chinese squad VGJ.Thunder has spent most of the season so far working its way up the hierarchy within the Chinese region. The team has done this after going through what was a somewhat unorthodox start to its campaign in terms of its roster situation.. The team made its first three qualifier runs playing with Zheng “ghost” Jie as its midlaner. At the end of September, ghost was replaced by Liu “Kamma” Chang, formerly known as “Freeze”, and the team has been playing with this roster ever since. The team has been slowly improving its standing within the Chinese region, and will be making just its second Pro Circuit appearance at the ESL One Genting Minor. VGJ.Thunder come into the event hoping to carry its regional success over onto the international stage and finally gain its first Qualifying Points of the season.

The last time VGJ.Thunder was seen on the Pro Circuit was back in October at the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, where the team put together a  relatively strong but ultimately unsuccessful run. The team posted a 3-5 record overall in the Group Stage of the Minor, losing 1-2 and 0-2 to Evil Geniuses in two series while winning another against Na’Vi 2-1. That record proved insufficient to advance VGJ.Thunder out of the Group Stage, and the team ended up finishing in the 5th-6th place position in its Pro Circuit debut in Bucharest. The team has been busy since then, participating in six other Pro Circuit qualifiers and finishing within the Top 4 in five of them. VGJ.Thunder has also been participating in multiple non-Pro Circuit events within its home region that has helped bolster its resume against fellow Chinese squads. The team placed 3rd in the Top Division of the Dota 2 Professional League Season 4, along with a 1st place finish in Season 8 of the H-Cup and a 3rd place result in Season 9. These recent results indicate a team becoming more consistent and comfortable taking on its regional rivals, but the question regarding VGJ.Thunder will be how well it stacks up against international opponents. On that front, the squad is significantly less experienced. The team’s only international matches since its last Pro Circuit appearance came at the China Top 2017 event, in which it won series against North American squad Digital Chaos and fellow Chinese team Invictus Gaming, but lost two series against SEA power TNC Pro Team for a 2nd place finish. That single event does not provide a particularly large sample size to look at, and without more recent matches to look at, the team’s prospects heading into the ESL One Genting Minor don’t appear as strong as they could be.

VGJ.Thunder will be looking to earn its first Qualifying Points of the season at the ESL One Genting Minor, but the odds currently look to be stacked against the Chinese squad. Despite the team’s steps toward stronger and more consistent production within the China, it is still finding difficulties getting past the region’s more prominent teams. Combining that barrier with its recent dearth of matches on the international stage and it becomes harder to envision this VGJ.Thunder squad standing up to top Pro Circuit competition. With that in mind, I have VGJ.Thunder projected to fall within the 9th-12th place range at the ESL One Genting Minor. The team has the talent and capability to advance past some of the less experienced and weaker squads, but the Chinese challenger should falter in the face of ranked Pro Circuit teams. Should the team put together a solid run, it could potentially push into the top half of the teams at the Minor, but anything beyond that would be bordering a near miraculous effort from the team.

 

PENTA Sports 600px-PENTA_Sports-logo-notext

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe Qualifier Co-Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Oliver “oliver” Lepko
2. 
Egor “.Ark” Zhabotinskii (Stand-in)
3.
Joni “Buugi” Fält
4.
Dino “dnz” Šavuk
5.
Roman “rmN-” Paley (Captain)

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

PENTA Sports did not begin the season as a team that many considered a threat within the European region, as the squad faced significant struggles early. The team’s first few runs through European qualifiers did not go well for it, and in some instances the squad has needed to go through Open Qualifiers in order to reach the regional stage. However, the squad has persevered, and its efforts are beginning to be rewarded as PENTA Sports is slowly climbing its way up the regional hierarchy. With the team making its Pro Circuit debut at the ESL One Genting Minor, PENTA Sports is hoping to take another step forward and prove that it can compete with the world’s best teams.

Since PENTA Sports hasn’t made its way to a Pro Circuit event prior to the ESL One Genting Minor, there’s not much to look at in terms of the team’s experience against Pro Circuit teams. However, the European squad has racked up quite a list of runs in regional qualifiers, as well as a few stints on the international stage via non-Pro Circuit tournaments. Within the European region, PENTA Sports has participated in nine Pro Circuit qualifiers so far this season. From those nine qualifiers, the team has produced six Top 4 finishes, which has gone a long way towards establishing it as a contender in the region. Outside of the Pro Circuit, PENTA Sports has also found experience against its regional rivals, as the team recently placed 1st in the joinDOTA League Season 11 Europe with a 17-4 overall record. These regional rivals may not be as tough a challenge for the team as its upcoming international opponents, but PENTA Sports has some experience on that front, though not on the Pro Circuit. The squad placed second in the qualifiers for the third party ROG MASTERS and the Adrenaline Cyber League, and managed to defeat Team Kinguin 2-0 to win the WellPlay Invitational #9. Most recently, PENTA Sports participated in the main event of the ROG MASTERS, posting an 0-4 Group Stage record but defeating Execration 2-1 before falling to OpTic Gaming for a 3rd-4th place finish. While the team’s international experience is not particularly notable or extensive, it’s more than most teams bring to the table in their first Pro Circuit appearance, and PENTA Sports will have to hope that it is enough to give it an advantage at the Minor.

PENTA Sports may be hoping for a strong performance at the ESL One Genting Minor, but the expectations for the European squad are quite a bit lower than those aspirations. The team has been steadily improving its results within the European region, but the step up to playing against the best teams in the world on the Pro Circuit is a steep one. The experience that PENTA Sports has been able to acquire this season through third party tournaments outside of its home region is encouraging and may allow the team to enter the Minor more prepared than squads in a similar position. However, the team’s performances in those tournaments haven’t been strong enough to instill a lot of confidence that it will be able to defeat Pro Circuit opponents at this event. With all of that taken into consideration I have PENTA Sports projected to finish within the 13th-16th place range. The team has been looking better and better in Europe, but it still doesn’t appear ready to take that final step into consistent Pro Circuit contention. We’ll see if the squad ends up over matched by its opponents at the Minor, or if it can make a surprising statement in its Pro Circuit debut.

 

Planet Dog Planet_Dog_logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe Qualifier Co-Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Dmitry “Ditya Ra” Minenkov
2.
Duško “BoraNija” Boranijaševic (Stand-in)
3.
Andrey “Mag~” Chipenko (Stand-in)
4.
Milan “MiLAN” Kozomara 
5.
Alexei “j4” Lipai (Captain)

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

The European squad known now as Planet Dogs has had a rough time so far this season, having had to deal with organizational and personnel shifts. The majority of the team’s lineup began the season under the HellRaisers banner, but the organization dropped the lineup in December after it failed to find success in Europe. The team opted to carry on under the name Planet Dog, adding Dmitry “Ditya Ra” Minenkov to the lineup in the process. Unfortunately for the team, this would not be the only roster change it would have to endure, as Neta “33” Shapira left in December to join OpTic Gaming, and Greg “Keyser” Kallianiotis left in January to join the newly formed Team World. Though the team has filled those roster vacancies on a temporary basis with stand-in players, there is still a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the team as it heads towards its Pro Circuit debut.

As Planet Dog will be making its first Pro Circuit appearance at the ESL One Genting Minor, the team doesn’t have any previous experience to draw on. The team’s recent formation under its current name also means that Planet Dog only has a limited pool of matches to look at in terms of regional experience as well. Since the reformation of the squad, Planet Dog has participated in four regional qualifiers and has earned Top 4 finishes in three of them. Considering the team’s relatively short tenure, these regional results are somewhat encouraging. However, the team’s few encounters with top level teams have not gone well for the squad. Within the European region, Planet Dog has had two encounters with Top 8 ranked teams, running into OG in the regional qualifier for both the ESL One Katowice and Bucharest Majors. Both of those encounters ended in 0-2 defeats for Planet Dog, which does little to inspire confidence that the team will be able to find much success at the ESL One Genting Minor against ranked Pro Circuit teams. Be that as it may, the European squad will enter its Pro Circuit debut hoping to surprise its opponents and put together a solid performance on the international stage.

Planet Dog aptly come into this Minor as an underdog team, as the expectations for this European squad cannot be considered to be particularly high. The team’s recent formation, combined with the use of two stand-in players at the event itself brings a level of uncertainty that is almost never good for a team trying to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. The fact that the lineup in its current form has no experience on the international level so far this season is another highly concerning factor for Planet Dog, as the field of participants at the Minor is full of highly talented and experienced squads. With most of the signs not pointing in Planet Dog’s favor, I have to project the European squad to fall within the lowest section of the standings in the 13th-16th position. It’s possible that the team’s limited number of matches and lack of Pro Circuit experience could help it at the event, as there is little information available for opponents to use in preparation of playing Planet Dog. However, such an advantage wouldn’t last very long and would only likely help the team move up a few spots in the final standings rather than push it into the top half of the teams at the Minor.

 

Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) 668px-Natus_Vincere

Region: CIS

Qualification: CIS Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 10th (315 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek
2.
Danil “Dendi” Ishutin
3.
Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini
4.
Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan
5.
Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev (Captain)

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

CIS squad Na’Vi has managed to create a relatively strong position for itself so far this season both within its home region and on the international level. Virtus.pro may still sit at the top of the CIS hierarchy, but Na’Vi has put together strong and consistent enough performances to make a case for being the second best squad in the region. The team’s success has carried over beyond the CIS region as well, as the team has recently come into its own on the international level as well despite some initial struggles on the Pro Circuit stage. As the team enters its fifth Pro Circuit event of the season, it will be looking for a chance to make another jump up the standings and perhaps claim a Top 8 ranking.

The last Pro Circuit appearance for Na’Vi came in December at the MDL Macau Minor, where the team put together a solid performance for its second straight Top 4 finish. The CIS squad earned a 5-3 record in the Group Stage, winning matches against EHOME, Infamous, LGD Gaming, TNC Pro Team, and VGJ.Storm but taking losses from LGF.Forever Young, OG, and Virtus.pro. That record got Na’Vi into the Playoff Stage, but unfortunately the team’s success at the Minor would end there as Na’Vi lost its Semifinal series to OG 0-2. Since then, the CIS squad has been continuing its impressive performance within its home region, winning the regional qualifiers for two Pro Circuit Minors. The team’s run through the qualifier for this upcoming Minor saw it look dominant against its regional rivals, as Na’Vi swept past both Team Spirit and Team Empire with relative ease to secure its spot. A few weeks later, Na’Vi put up a similar performance in the qualifier for the GESC: Indonesia Minor as it defeated Vega Squadron and won back to back series against Team Spirit. Na’Vi’s ability to overcome its regional rivals is nothing new this season, as those two recent victories make eleven Top 4 finishes in qualifiers for the CIS squad this season. With the team looking so strong within its home region and its recent surge on the Pro Circuit stage with back to back Top 4 finishes, Na’Vi come into the ESL One Genting Minor as a formidable opponent in a field stacked with strong teams.

Na’Vi have certainly been showing all the right signs as it heads into the event, but the team may find itself running into significant issues at the ESL One Genting Minor. The team’s strong regional presence and recent positive results on the Pro Circuit have it riding a high of confidence and consistent play that is vital for success at the international level. Under normal circumstances, these factors would set up Na’Vi for a favorable position at an event, but the team’s expectations may be a bit lower than one would think at this particular event. I have Na’Vi projected to finish within the 9th-12th place range at this event, though that lower prediction is not entirely the fault of the team itself. Because of the way the groups have been drawn for the Minor, Na’Vi will likely have to defeat either Team Liquid or Evil Geniuses multiple times in order to move into the top half of the standings. While Na’Vi is very much capable of defeating those teams, expecting a squad to win back to back Bo3 series against opponents within the Top 5 of the Pro Circuit standings is not particularly reasonable. In that regard, the lower projection is a result of the team’s setup in its group rather than a lack of ability on its part. Should Na’Vi be able to channel that same confidence and consistency that it has shown over the last few months, then a run at a higher position is always possible for the CIS squad.

 

TNC Pro Team Tncproteam

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 11th (270 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Marc “Raven” Fausto
2.
Carlo “Kuku” Palad
3.
Sam “Sam_H” Hidalgo
4.
Timothy “Tims” Randrup
5.
Sivatheeban “1437” Sivanathapillai (Captain)

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

Following what had been a bit of a quiet start to the season, Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team has emerged as a leading team within its home region, and a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. Mineski still stands as the preeminent squad within the Southeast Asian region, but TNC Pro Team’s recent performances have established it as a team that has the potential to challenge Mineski’s hold over that top position. The team will be making its second Pro Circuit appearance at the ESL One Genting Minor, but TNC Pro Team’s Pro Circuit debut was an impressively successful affair. The team took home its first Qualifying Points of the season at in that debut, and it comes into the ESL One Genting Minor hoping to add to that total with another quality performance on the Pro Circuit stage.

TNC Pro Team’s last Pro Circuit appearance was also its first, as the SEA squad participated in the MDL Macau Minor back in December. The team posted a 5-3 record in the Group Stage of the event, but notably failed to claim wins over any of the other teams within the Top 4 of the standings. That situation would be remedied in the Playoff Stage, where the team scored a landmark victory by defeating CIS powerhouse Virtus.pro 2-0 to advance to the Finals of the event. The team’s run would end in that final series, as the SEA squad lost to OG 0-2 to finish in 2nd place at the Minor and secure its first Qualifying Points of the season. Since then, the team has been attempting to improve its position within the Southeast Asian region, participating in four Pro Circuit qualifiers in December and January. TNC Pro Team has finished no worse than 2nd in any of those four qualifiers, as the team is beginning to show its strength more and more against its regional rivals. The team’s impressive record within its home region is not necessarily a recent development, as the squad has participated in thirteen Pro Circuit qualifiers this season and has finished inside the Top 4 at eleven of them. The level of consistency that TNC Pro Team has displayed in Southeast Asia is impressive, but its only in recent months that its consistent play has translated into opportunities on the Pro Circuit stage. As the team continues its rise through the region, it will also be focusing more and more on converting those newfound opportunities into solid performances on the international level: beginning with its appearance at the ESL One Genting Minor.

TNC Pro Team comes into this event with a string of impressive results within its home region, but that success within Southeast Asia may not be enough to carry it to victory on home soil. The field of participants at the ESL One Genting Minor is particularly strong, with most of the teams touting impressive resumes of their own this season. The team’s relatively low level of Pro Circuit experience coming into this event is also a small cause for concern for the Southeast Asian squad, but the team performed well at the MDL Macau Minor and its players are no stranger to international competition. Despite that, I have TNC Pro Team projected to fall within the 9th-12th place range at the Minor, mostly because of the strength of the group that the team finds itself in. In order for the team to progress to a higher position than my prediction, it will most likely have to win multiple series against either fellow SEA leader Mineski or Chinese powerhouse Newbee. That scenario is possible for TNC Pro Team, but it seems unreasonable to expect the squad to pull that off. Should the Southeast Asian team manage to get past those significant obstacles, then the way could be open for a much higher result for TNC Pro Team at the ESL One Genting Minor.

 

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-13th (135 Qualifying 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: 9th-12th

CompLexity Gaming has been on a roll so far this season, working to establish itself as one of the strongest teams in the North American and beginning to emerge as a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. The team is still trialing behind North American leader Evil Geniuses in the standings, but it is starting to pull away from its other regional rivals through its impressive play in regional qualifiers. With those strong regional performances giving the team more chances to test itself on the Pro Circuit stage, compLexity Gaming is looking for an opportunity to push itself into a top spot in the Pro Circuit standings and join the elite of the Dota 2 world.

CompLexity Gaming have already seen Pro Circuit action in 2018, as the North American squad got the chance to play on home soil at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor in Washington, DC. The team began its run in the Group Stage of the event well with a victory over regional rival Evil Geniuses. However, a loss to OG followed by another defeat in a rematch against EG left the team as a low seed heading into the Playoff Stage. The North American squad faced Vici Gaming in the opening round, but the Chinese team proved too much for compLexity Gaming to handle as it lost the series 0-2 and finished in the combined 5th-8th place position at the event. Since that unfortunate loss, the team has been playing exceptionally well in the North American region, winning back to back Pro Circuit qualifiers. The squad breezed through the qualifier for the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4, receiving a default win against 5 Turtles before winning back to back 2-0 sweeps against Immortals and the newly formed Animal Planet. In the qualifier for the ESL One Katowice Major, compLexity Gaming had a similarly dominant performance against its regional peers. The team won its series against Blue Pikachu and VGJ.Storm before blowing past Immortals in the finals with a 3-0 sweep to secure a spot at the upcoming Major. These fellow North American squad may not be the same caliber of opponents that compLexity Gaming will be facing at the Minor, but stringing together so many recent wins will have the squad feeling confident as it approaches the event.

CompLexity Gaming may be coming to the ESL One Genting Minor with confidence, but that confidence may not be enough in the face of so many formidable opponents. The team’s performance so far within the North American region has been impressive, but the level of competition in North America outside of Evil Geniuses and compLexity Gaming has not been nearly as high as many had hoped at the beginning of the season. The fact that the team has missed the mark for a Top 4 finish at its last two Pro Circuit appearances is also cause for some concern, although whether those recent results are the start of a trend or a simply a small drop-off in play has yet to be seen. Also at play here for the team is its placement within the groups for the event, as compLexity Gaming’s group is not particularly forgiving. In order to place within the top half of the participants, the team will most likely have to win multiple series against either Fnatic or Team Secret. While compLexity Gaming is capable of doing this, to set the minimum expectations for the squad at that level seems a bit preemptive considering where the team currently stands. With that in mind, I have compLexity Gamign projected to fall within the 9th-12th range, with the potential to push significantly higher should it take one or more series against the aforementioned squads. We will see if the North American team is ready to take the next step in its path to Pro Circuit contention at the Minor.

 

SG e-sports SG_e-sportslogo

Region: South America

Qualification: South America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying 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: 13th-16th

SG e-sports began the season as the leading team within South America, being one of the few teams in the region to have international experience to its name. Unfortunately for the Brazilian squad, that regional control has somewhat faded over the course of the season, with multiple other teams rising to prominence to claim spots at Pro Circuit events. The ESL One Genting Minor will be the fifth Pro Circuit appearance for SG e-sports, though the team’s previous four attempts to gain Qualifying Points have all ended poorly. This time though, the squad has a small advantage in the addition of former player Emilano “c4t” Ito as a coach. With c4t’s influence and guidance, SG e-sports is hoping to finally end its drought and get on the board in the Pro Circuit standings.

The last time Dota 2 fans saw SG e-sports on the Pro Circuit stage was back in November at the Perfect World Masters Minor in Shanghai, China. The team did not perform particularly well at the event, struggling significantly in the Group Stage of the Minor. The team took 1-1 splits against North American squad compLeixty Gaming as well as Chinese team LGD.Forever Young, but lost 0-2 to Vega Squadron and Vici Gaming. That 2-6 overall record put the Brazilian squad in last place in the standings of its group, eliminating SG e-sports from the Minor before the Playoff Stage began. The Perfect World Masters was not a shining moment for SG e-sports, but since that poor performance the team has returned to South America and has been representing itself well in regional qualifiers. The team has participated in six regional qualifiers (though one was for the now non-Pro Circuit Galaxy Battles II event), and has managed to finish within the Top 4 at each of them, including two 1st place finishes. The team’s resurgence within its home region has come at a very opportune time for the Brazilian squad, but the true test for SG e-sports will come from outside of South America. The team has failed to find much success on the international level, but the team will be hoping to change that at the ESL One Genting Minor.

SG e-sports may be coming into the ESL One Genting Minor looking to gain its first Qualifying Points of the season, but its odds to doing so don’t appear to be particularly high. With sixteen teams in the field, the Brazilian squad will be facing a multitude of formidable international opponents. The team has been looking stronger within the South American region, but finding success at home has not been the biggest issue for the squad. Where SG e-sports has struggled is on the international stage, and its low levels of success on that front this season make it incredibly hard to have confidence that it will succeed at the Minor. With that in mind, I have SG e-sports projected to finish within the bottom section of the standings in the 13th-16th position. If the team’s growth within the South American region and the influence of c4t’s coaching prove to be significant advantages, then SG e-sports could move up into the 9th-12th range. However, without any matches outside of South America since its last Pro Circuit appearance, there’s not enough to go on to predict that the team rises any higher than that.

 

 

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