Dota 2 Minor Recap: ESL One Genting

Newbee defeat Team Liquid, claim Minor Championship in TI7 Finals rematch. Team Secret, Evil Geniuses round out Top 4.

The dust has settled at the ESL One Genting Minor, and at the end of nearly a week of Dota 2 action another Minor Champion has been crowned. The field of sixteen teams has been slowly but surely narrowed down until just one team remains standing to lay claim to the trophy at the Arena of Stars. This time, the winner of the most recent Pro Circuit event is a familiar face, as Chinese squad Newbee came away with the lion’s share of the prize money and Qualifying Points after a long and grueling 5-game series in a TI7 Finals rematch. Despite its victory at the ESL One Genting Minor, the Qualifying Point bounty actually doesn’t change the position of Newbee in the Pro Circuit standings, though it certainly makes that position more secure and brings the team closer to the mark needed for a TI8 invite. It’s opponent didn’t move up or down in the rankings either, as Team Liquid remains in the 2nd place position in the standings. Team Secret, one of the two teams to finish in the 3rd-4th place position, also stayed put in the standings, as the European squad retained its place as the number one ranked team on the Pro Circuit. In fact, the only team to actually change its standing at the end of the Minor was Evil Geniuses, the final squad comprising the Top 4 teams. The team’s finish in the 3rd-4th position moved the North American squad up from 7th to 5th in the Pro Circuit standings. So at the end of the Minor, the Pro Circuit standings may not look much different from where they were before, but the action at the Arena of Stars more than makes up for the limited changes to the rankings. We saw incredible performances from the sixteen participants, and with the event now over, we can take a closer look at just how each squad stacked up and performed on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $20,000 (Total)

After spending nearly a month with one of its players on a mid-season vacation, Virtus.pro came into the ESL One Genting Minor with its normal roster intact and ready to continue its dominant run on the Pro Circuit. The team’s consistent performances had established it as the top squad in the CIS region, as well as one of the best teams on the Pro Circuit. With the team holding a near unrivaled level of confidence in its abilities, the CIS squad come into the Minor looking to add another Pro Circuit win to its list of achievements this season.

VP’s quest for another Top 4 finish began with a Bo1 match against South American squad SG e-sports in the opening round of the Group Stage. Behind an impressive game from RAMZES666 on Terrorblade and No[o]ne on Puck (combined 24-2-26), VP dominated the Brazilian squad from start to finish in a relatively easy victory. The team’s next opponent was Chinese squad VGJ.Thunder, and VP came out aggressively early in an effort to throw the team off balance. The aggressive strategy limited the effectiveness of VGJ.Thunder’s cores in Game 1, allowed VP to quickly build up a significant net worth lead and claim an opening win. Game 2 would be just as dominant for VP, as RAMZES666, No[o]ne, and 9pasha all put up double digit kills as the squad closed out a 2-0 win over VGJ.Thunder to earn itself a match up with Team Secret. Game 1 of that series saw VP fall behind in the mid-game stage, though the team was able to even up the scales in the late game behind a core duo of Luna and Death Prophet. Unfortunately, those cores couldn’t close out the win against Team Secret, as MidOne’s Invoker lead the European squad back into control of the match as VP lost Game 1. Game 2 saw an unorthodox draft from VP, as the team opted to run a Nightstalker in the middle lane on No[o]ne combined with gank oriented supports of Bane and Tusk. Unfortunately for VP, neither the Nightstalker nor the support duo was able to accomplish much, as the strategy quickly fell apart and VP ended up losing the game and the series. That loss pushed VP into the Quarterfinals of the Playoff bracket where the team would face North American squad Evil Geniuses for a Top 4 spot at the event. VP ended up falling behind quickly in Game 1 of the series, with the Chaos Knight pick for RAMZES666 struggling to catch up to EG’s cores. Despite a valiant effort from No[o]ne on Queen of Pain (10-4-6), VP couldn’t recover from its deficit and was forced to concede defeat in the opening match. Game 2 didn’t go much better for VP, as its cores were once again controlled and limited by EG’s draft. The CIS squad couldn’t string many kills together and were quickly outfarmed and defeated by EG’s lineup to close out the series and finish its run at the Minor with a 5th-6th place finish.

Virtus.pro came into the ESL One Genting Minor with expectations to be competing for a spot within the Top 4 as it has all season long. However, this time the team will walk away from a Pro Circuit event without a bounty of Qualifying Points, which comes as a bit of a surprise. Considering how well the team has been playing so far this season, and how many previous Pro Circuit events the team has managed to earn Top 4 finishes at, it does come as a bit of a shock that the team fell short of the mark. Coming into the event VP was projected to fall within the Top 4, but the team fell just short of that mark when all was said and done. The team looked relatively strong in its initial matches, bringing down both SG e-sports and VGJ.Thunder with relative ease. Those match ups were ones that VP was significantly favored in though, and those wins come as more of an expectations than anything else. However, the losses to both Team Secret and Evil Geniuses are a bit concerning, as these are the squads that the CIS squad have been competing against for the top spots in the Pro Circuit standings. It remains to be seen if the team’s losses at this event are lingering side effects of its break from the Pro Cirucit or Solo’s vacation, but fans of the CIS squad have no reason to panic. VP will be back in action relatively soon, as the squad is set to participate in the upcoming ESL One Katowice Major at the end of February along with The Bucharest Major at the beginning of March.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Place: 2nd

Winnings:  $80,000 (Total) & 120 Qualifying Points (Per player)

Team Liquid’s defense of its TI7 crown had been going remarkably well for the European squad so far this season. The team had earned a Top 4 finish at every Pro Circuit event it had attended this season, and the squad was looking to continue that trend at the ESL One Genting Minor. Team Liquid’s impressive record afforded it a level of confidence that only a handful of other teams could match is it prepared for another run at a Pro Circuit event.

Team Liquid began the Group Stage of the Minor with a match against fellow European squad PENTA Sports in the opening round. Team Liquid would easily handle the debuting PENTA Sports roster, surrendering just five kills in a 33-5 rout that saw the team advance to the next round with ease. Team Liquid’s next opponent would be Na’Vi, but the CIS squad would prove unable to contain the momentum and strength of the European team. A quality performance from Miracle- on Gyrocpoter in Game 1 (12-0-11) helped the team limit and punish the draft of Na’Vi for an opening match win. Game 2 saw the squad fall behind in the early and mid-game stages, but Team Liquid managed to hold on and win three straight fights to seize control of the game and close out the series with a 2-0 win. That win set Team Liquid up with a series against Chinese squad Newbee, and the European team would finally encounter its first setback of the event. Team Liquid came out flat against Newbee in Game 1, finding just eight kills as Newbee dominated the mid-game stage to secure a win. Game 2 saw the squad rely on Miracle- once again to pull it through, as his Templar Assassin ended up with a scoreline of 8-2-17 with over 32k net worth and led his team to a victory that tied up the series. Miracle-1 would put together back to back highlight performances in this series, as his Invoker became the focal point of Game 3 for Team Liquid. With a 16-1-7 scoreline in the match, Miracle- helped Team Liquid dominate the match from the laning stage all the way through to the end as the team overcame Newbee and guaranteed itself a spot in the Top 4 at the Minor. The Playoff Stage brought Team Liquid up against North American squad Evil Geniuses for a spot in the Finals of the event, and the European team turned things up to a whole other level in this series. Game 1 was an absolute stomp, with Team Liquid out-killing EG 25-5 in a match where the North American team never stood a significant chance of winning. Game 2 produced the same result, with Team Liquid holding EG to just eight kills and riding yet another incredible Miracle- performance (19-1-14) to close out the series and set itself up with a rematch against Newbee in the Finals. Team Liquid would stumble a bit in Game 1 against Newbee, as its core duo of Lycan and Shadow Fiend helped keep the team even early, but quickly fell behind in the mid and late-game stages as Newbee claimed the win in the opening match. Team Liquid would come back in Game 2, overcoming a small deficit in the mid-game to seize control and even up the series behind a 14-2-9 performance from Miracle- on Terrorblade. The team’s momentum would not carry over into Game 3, as Newbee drafted an overwhelming teamfighting lineup that ran over Team Liquid’s heroes. Team Liquid’s response was to draft a fighting lineup of its own in Game 4, with the team hanging its hopes on a core trio of Dragon Knight, Razor, and Lifestealer. The strategy paid off for the team, as that trio combined for a 29-8-34 and dealt over 50k damage to Newbee’s lineup in a one sided match that evened up the series at 2-2 and forced a decisive Game 5. Team Liquid couldn’t get it done in the final game of the series though, as its lineup wasn’t able to decisively control team fights and was outplayed by Newbee to finish in 2nd place at the event.

Team Liquid’s performance at the ESL One Genting Minor was just another example of how consistent and strong this squad is. The team’s track record this season is nearly unmatched on the Pro Circuit, and there are few teams in the world that strike fear into the hearts of opponents quite like Team Liquid does. Coming into the event, Team Liquid was projected to finish within the Top 4, and the European squad was able to live up to those expectations with an impressive level of confidence and composure. The team’s loss to Newbee in the Finals is a bit disappointing, but its nothing that would suggest that the squad is not still playing at the highest possible level. The upcoming schedule for the TI7 Champion will certainly be crowded, as Team Liquid is already set to attend the StarLadder i-league Invitaional Season 4 Minor, as well as the ESL One Katowice, Bucharest, and DAC 2018 Majors all within the next few months.

 

Newbee Newbee_logo

Place: 1st

Winnings:  $160,000 (Total) & 200 Qualifying Points (Per player)

After spending the entirety of the season sitting at the top of the crowded Chinese region, Newbee came into the ESL One Genting Minor with a quiet confidence in its ability to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. Rival Chinese teams may have been creeping closer in recent times, but Newbee knew that a strong run at this event could help it secure its position and keep those would be challengers at bay.

Newbee’s run at the ESL One Genting Minor would begin with an all-Chinese match up as the team faced LGD.Forever Young in the opening round of the Group Stage. Newbee’s lineup was able to snowball early thanks in large part to an aggressive and successful performance from kaka on Bounty Hunter (7-2-15) that earned Newbee a win in less than 20 minutes. Newbee faced TNC Pro Team in the next round, and the Chinese squad would continue to build it momentum against the Southeast Asian squad. Newbee came out strong in Game 1 behind big games from Sccc on Tinker and Moogy on Gyrocopter (combined 23-9-26). The combo led Newbee to take decisive control of the game in the mid and late-game stages to secure a win in the series opener. Game 2 would see Moogy lead the way once again, as his Juggernaut posted an 11-3-4 scoreline that helped Newbee severely limit and control the TNC lineup for a 2-0 series win. That win set the team up for a series against Team Liquid in a TI7 finals rematch with a spot in the Top 4 on the line. Newbee struck first in Game 1, with Moogy and Sccc dominating the game on Razor and Storm Spirit, respectively (combined 22-1-28). Unfortunately for Newbee, its momentum would run dry following that initial win. Liquid came back in Game 2 to take a hard fought win despite a 21-5-12 performance from Sccc on Storm Spirit. Game 3 saw the Chinese squad unable to contain Miracle-‘s Invoker, resulting in the team’s lineup being heavily pressured and killed off early in the game. That early advantage was held by Team Liquid throughout the rest of the game, with Newbee never quite coming close enough to slow the European squad down as it fell 1-2 to the defending TI Champion. The loss put Newbee in the Quarterfinal of the Playoff Stage, where the team faced another Chinese rival in the form of Vici Gaming for a Top 4 spot at the event. Newbee dominated both games in the series, holding Vici Gaming to just 16 kills across the series as it breezed its way into the Semifinals. The win allowed Newbee to move on to face a short handed Team Secret lineup that was playing with a stand-in following an apparent illness for one of its players. Newbee was able to take advantage of this development, coming out in Game 1 with a lineup that massively out farmed its opponents for an opening match win. Game 2 proved to be quite the test of Newbee’s determination, as the Chinese squad trailed for the entirety of the match and were behind by as much as 22k net worth in the late-game stage. However, the team didn’t give up, out-killing Team Secret 13-2 over the final seven minutes to turn the game around and pull off an incredible come from behind win to close out the series and secure it a spot in the Finals. Newbee came out strong in Game 1 of the series, dominating the Team Liquid lineup with fantastic performance from Moogy and Sccc (combined 28-8-22). The Chinese squad couldn’t carry its momentum over into the next match though, as Miracle- led the European squad to a series tying victory as Neebee’s cores couldn’t out farm Team Liquid’s Terrorblade pick. With the series tied, Newbee went back to a strong team fighting lineup led by Gyrocoptor and Phantom Lancer that heavily punished the draft from Team Liquid. Behind a combined 23-3-18 performance from Moogy and Sccc, Newbee retook the lead in the series with its win. Newbee wasn’t able to close out the series in Game 4 though, as its offlance Nyx Assassin and support duo was constantly pressured and picked off as Team Liquid snowballed to an insurmountable lead to tie the series up again and force a Game 5. The final game of the series would be one last tour de force for the Chinese squad, as Moogy and Sccc again lead their squad to victory behind a combined 30-4-20 scoreline that earned Newbee its second Minor Championship of the second, and its first of 2018.

Coming into the ESL One Genting Minor, there were many who were underestimating or doubting Newbee’s ability to remain among the highest tier of teams on the Pro Circuit. I was one of those people, as I had projected the Chinese squad to finish just outside of the Top 4 range in the 5th-6th place position. The team blew past that projection and proved those doubters wrong with a statement win at the Minor. The team showed that it still held the status as top dog in the Chinese region, personally knocking out fellow Chinese squads LGD.Forever Young and Vici Gaming. Perhaps more important than that though was the team’s impressive performance against international opponents. Newbee posted an 8-4 record against non-Chinese teams, with all of those losses coming against TI7 Champion Team Liquid. The crowning feat of this impressive Minor run for Newbee though has to be its victory against Team Liquid in a Bo5 rematch of the TI7 Grand Final. That series has been lingering around the team all season long, but the squad finally had a chance to earn its much sought redemption. With this win reaffirming Newbee’s place among the Pro Cirucit’s strongest teams, the Chinese squad will look to the future with aspirations of earning its place among the TI8 invitees. The team will have plenty of opportunities to earn the Qualifying Points its needs to accomplish that, as Newbee will be attending the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 Minor as well as the ESL One Katowice Major, The Bucharest Major, and the DAC 2018 Major in the next few months. We’ll see if this victory at the ESL One Genting Minor is the start of another impressive run for the Chinese leader.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $4,000 (Total)

Mineski entered the ESL One Genting Minor as a team under a fair bit of pressure, with rivals from the Southeast Asian region beginning to threaten its position as the top SEA squad. With the squad feeling confident both at home and on the international stage, Mineski entered the event in search of another quality performance to help secure its standing on the Pro Circuit and in the Southeast Asian hierarchy.

Mineski would begin its quest at the Minor with a match up from within its home region as the team took on TNC Pro Team in the opening round of the Group Stage. Mineski attempted to work around a core duo of Terrorblade and Puck, but unfortunately the TNC lineup played an aggressive style that heavily punished its supports as well as iceiceice’s offlane Winter Wyvern. The early pressure set Mineski behind from the start, and the SEA squad wasn’t ever able to close that gap as it lost its first match of the Minor and fell to the lower bracket. Mineski found an opportunity to bounce back from its initial loss with a Bo3 elimination series against Chinese squad LGD.Forever Young. Game 1 saw Mineski come out with an aggressive strategy, repeatedly punishing LGD.Forever Young’s support duo as well as its offlane Batrider pick. Behind a massive performance from Mushi on Lifestealer (13-2-15, 25.9k networth), Mineski took control of the match early and never looked back to take the lead in the series. The Southeast Asian squad would carry its considerable momentum over into Game 2, as LGD.Forever Young crumbled in the face of Minkesi’s continued pressure. After allowing its opponent just three kills in the match and building up a lead of over 18k net worth, Mineski closed out the series 2-0 with a win in just over 18 minutes. The dominant showing from Mineski allowed it to advance to the next round to take on CIS squad Na’Vi in another Bo3 series. Mineski opted for a greedy lineup in Game 1 of the series, drafting Shadow Fiend, Enchantress, and Mirana as cores with a support Naga Siren that transitioned into a fourth core hero for the squad. Na’Vi put up an admirable fight, but Mineski’s greedy lineup paid off for it as the team took the lead early and held it throughout the match to claim the opening win of the series. Mineski would go for another quad-core draft in Game 2, but this time Na’Vi was ready for it. The CIS squad put near constant pressure on the Mineski lineup, limiting the team’s income and leaving it unable to stand against its opponent. The loss tied up the series 1-1 and sent the two teams into a decisive Game 3 to determine which squad would move on the final round of the Group Stage. Mineski would take a chance on a teamfight and lane pushing lineup in the final match, but that strategy ended up falling short in the face of Na’Vi’s aggressive fighting lineup. Mushi’s Lifestealer had a terrible time in this match (1-11-2), and the limited effectiveness of the hero left Mineski with a dangerously low damage output in fights. Na’Vi was able to control teamfights and build its lead higher and higher until Mineski couldn’t hold its ground any longer and were forced to concede defeat. The 1-2 series loss ended Mineski’s run at the ESL One Genting Minor with a finish in the 9th-12th place position.

Mineski came into this event with confidence and aspiration for another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit, but unfortunately it fell far short of those ambitions. Coming into the Minor, Mineski was projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position, but the team ended up significantly below that mark when the action came to an end at the Minor. Mineski’s win against LGD.Forever Young is impressive to a certain degree, but the team is not quite as strong as it had been just a month or two ago and is still adjusting to its temporary roster change. The team’s initial loss to TNC Pro Team was somewhat surprising, as even considering TNC’s recent improvement Mineski still appeared to be the favored team in that match up. The team’s loss to Na’Vi is also a small concern for it moving forward, particularly how quickly the team’s momentum and cohesion seemed to fall apart in the final two games of that series. Both TNC Pro Team and Na’Vi are both squads that are more than capable of performing on the international stage, but Mineski had to be considered the favorite in both of those match ups heading into the event. The losses to both regional rivals and international challengers raise a few questions for Mineski moving forward, though fans of the team may want to refrain from panicking just yet. The Southeast Asian squad will have plenty of opportunities to put this performance behind it, as the team is set to participate in the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 Minor, the ESL One Katowice Major, and The Bucharest Major all witin the next two months.

 

Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $40,000 (Total) & 40 Qualifying Points (Per player)

After the team’s recent roster shifts, there was still an air of uncertainty surrounding North American squad Evil Geniuses as it came into its second Pro Circuit event of 2018. The changes presented the team with a significant challenge in addition to those posed by its fellow participants at the Minor. However, the North American squad entered the ESL One Genting Minor with the aim of proving to the Dota 2 world that it was still capable of competing at the highest level of play.

Evil Geniuses would begin its play at the Minor with a match against CIS squad Na’Vi in the opening round of the Group Stage. EG’s attempted teamfight lineup proved ineffective against Na’Vi as the North American squad was fairly easily contained and defeated. The loss dropped EG into the lower bracket to face PENTA Sports, and the team’s rough start would carry over into the beginning of this series as well. EG lost Game 1 of the series after losing its small lead in the mid and late-game stages. The squad would manage to bounce back though, winning Game 2 behind an 11-2-8 performance from SumaiL on Batrider and closing out the series win in Game 3 thanks in large part to a 9-0-4 match on Sven from Arteezy. EG’s momentum would carry over into the team’s next series, as the North American team faced off against Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team. EG played aggressively in Game 1 of the series, relying on double digit kill scores from Suma1L and Arteezy (combined 24-6-26) to put TNC on the back foot. The duo would put together a repeat performance, combining for a score line of 28-5-26 between Omniknight and Storm Spirit to close out the series in dominant fashion. The team’s 2-0 win earned it a rematch of its opening game of the Group Stage, as the North American squad faced Na’Vi once again for a spot in the Playoff bracket. EG would put together perhaps its most dominant performances of the event against Na’Vi, allwoing the CIS squad just 11 kills across two games as it earned a fast 2-0 victory in less than an hour of game time. That win allowed EG to advance to the Playoff Stage to face Virtus.pro for a spot within the Top 4 at the Minor. A core trio of Abaddon, Lycan, and Tinker allowed EG to severely limit VP’s Chaos Knight carry in Game 1 and win the game despite a valiant effort on the part of No[o]ne on Queen of Pain (10–4-6). Game 2 was another instance of the “Suma1L show”, as his puck decimated VP’s lineup without dying a single time as EG took an impressive 2-0 win over the CIS leader. With a spot in the Finals on the line, Evil Geniuses faced off against TI7 Champion Team Liquid, but the North American squad’s momentum would finally give out in this Semifinal series. EG floundered in Game 1, putting together just five kills as Team Liquid absolutely dominated the opening match. Game 2 wouldn’t prove to be much different than the opening match, as EG was outscored 8-40 behind a rediculous 19-1-14 performance from Miracle- on Sniper. That final lopsided defeat ended EG’s run at the Minor with a finish inside the Top 4 with a 3rd-4th place result.

For Evil Geniuses, the push into the Top 4 at the ESL One Genting Minor comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise. The team’s prior Pro Cirucit appearance at the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor had been an encouraging performance, but it still appeared that the team was working out all of the kinks in its play following the roster moves. Based on that performance and the number of top ranked teams in the field at this event, Evil Geniuses was projected to finish in the 7th-8th place range. However, the North American squad was able to prove that it had adapted to its new situation and blew past that modest prediction with a quality performance. When the team lost its initial match to Na’Vi and the opening game of its series with PENTA, it looked as though the squad still wasn’t fully ready to take on Pro Circuit teams again. The team’s subsequent eight game winning streak showed the full capabilities and strength of the squad as EG trampled over anyone who stood in its way. It took the defending TI Champion to finally bring EG’s rampage to an end, and a loss to Team Liquid should never be looked down for a squad regardless of the score of the matches themselves. With this Top 4 finish, Evil Geniuses have made a solid argument that its new roster is capable of maintaining the high rank that its previous one had earned. The North American squad will have several opportunities to drive that point home in the future, as the team will be attending both the ESL One Katowice Major in February, as well as The Bucharest Major and GESC: Indonesia Minor in March

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $40,000 (Total) & 40 Qualifying Points (Per player)

Team Secret came into the ESL One Genting Minor as the highest ranked team in the Pro Circuit standings, with the European squad dominating nearly every event that it had attended so far this season. Those impressive performances earned the team one the most favorable positions in the Dota 2 world as the squad needed just around 2000 more Qualifying Points as a team to guarantee itself a spot at TI8. With its eyes locked on that prize, Team Secret saw the ESL One Genting Minor as another stepping stone on its path to the pinnacle of professional Dota 2.

Team Secret opened its run at the Minor with a match against a fellow European squad in Planet Dog in the first round of the event. The Pro Circuit leader dominated the regional match up behind a stellar performance from MidOne on Dragon Knight (11-2-6). The win set up Team Secret for a series against Southeast Asian squad Fnatic in the next round where the European squad would maintain its prior momentum. A 10-1-12 performance from Ace on Lifestealer helped Team Secret overcome late-game deficit to win Game 1 of the series. Game 2 would see the team in control of the match from the start, as Ace and MidOne led the way as Team Secret closed out a 2-0 series victory (combined 20-3-27). That win put Team Secret just one more series away from securing itself a Top 4 spot as the European squad faced off against CIS powerhouse Virtus.pro in the final series of the Group Stage. Game 1 saw Team Secret take a lead into the late-game stage, but that lead fluctuated between the two squads for the last 20 minutes of the match. Despite almost all of its players having a negative scoreline, Team Secret managed to fight back against Mega Creeps and win the final fight to secure a win. Game 2 proved to be a much less competitive affair, as Team secret gave up just 10 kills to its opponent in a match that the European squad led from the early stages all the way through to its conclusion. After securing itself a spot within the Top 4 at the Minor, Team Secret turned its eyes to its next opponent, as Chinese squad Newbee stood in the team’s path to the Finals. Unfortunately, Team Secret would suffer a small complication heading into this Semifinal match up, as Adrian “Fata” Trinks fell ill and needed to be replaced by Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin. The sudden substitution was a surprising extra challenge for Team Secret, as the team went into Game 1 of the series with a core trio of Lone Druid, Invoker, and Omniknight. None of the team’s core heroes were able to keep pace with those of Newbee, as Team Secret lost fight after fight and steadily fell further and further behind in terms of net worth. Eventually, Newbee proved too strong for Team Secret to stop as the Chinese squad claimed the win in Game 1 and gave the European squad its first loss of the event. In Game 2, it appeared that Team Secret was going to brush off its previous performance, as the European squad built up a net worth lead of over 20k. However, the team would suffer a catastrophic collapse as the final seven minutes of the game saw the team out-killed 2-13 as it tried to force the issue and close out the match. That aggression backfired spectacularly and allowed Newbee to seize control of the game and complete the come from behind victory. The 0-2 loss ended Team Secret’s run at the Minor with a Top 4 finish as the team ended up in the combined 3rd-4th place position.

At this point in the season, seeing Team Secret make its way into the Top 4 teams at a Pro Circuit event doesn’t come as a surprise any more, though the achievement remains an impressive feat for the European squad. The team has been playing on a level both at home and on the international stage that few other squads can hope to match, and we saw just how dominant the team can be at this Minor. Considering its status as the highest ranked Pro Circuit team and its amazing track record so far this season, Team Secret was projected to finish in the Top 4 at the ESL One Genting Minor. The European squad more than lived up to that billing, posting a 5-2 record overall and looking every bit as strong and confident as it has in past events. The team’s victories over fellow ranked squads Fnatic and Virtus.pro are encouraging signs that the team is remaining consistent against international opposition. While its loss to Newbee in the Semifinals was a bit rough for the team, one has to consider that Team Secret was forced to play with a stand-in due to Fata’s illness. In that regard, the loss can perhaps be seen as less impactful than it may have been otherwise. The schedule for Team Secret is set to remain busy over the next few months, as the squad is set to particpate in the ESL One Katowice Major at the end of February, along with The Bucharest Major, DreamLeague Sesaon 9 Minor, and Dota 2 Asia Championship (DAC) 2018 Major in March.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $20,000 (Total)

Vici Gaming had been on quite a tear over the last couple of months, as the team had rattled off three straight 2nd place finishes at Pro Circuit events. Those results had pushed the Chinese squad into the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit standings, and the team saw the ESL One Genting Minor as a perfect chance to continue its impressive run and potentially challenge regional leader Newbee for top billing in China.

Vici Gaming’s run at the Minor would begin with a Bo1 match against its sister team and fellow Chinese squad VGJ.Thunder. Despite solid efforts from Ori on Tinker and Papararzi on Luna, Vici Gaming’s lineup didn’t have the damage to punch through the tanky draft of VGJ.Thunder, as it lost its opening match to fall into the lower bracket for a series against SG e-sports. Vici Gaming was able to easily take the win in Game 1 behind a big performance from Ori on Death Prophet (11-1-4). However, Game 2 would not be so easy for the Chinese squad, as its draft was heavily punished and repeatedly outfought by the stronger SG lineup. The poor performance from Vici Gaming forced it into a Game 3, but the Chinese squad would recover well and control the final game of the series from start to finish to advance to the next round with a 2-1 win. The team’s next challenge was Southeast Asian squad Fnatic, and Vici Gaming would immediately strike a blow against its new opponent. Vici took a quick and dominant win in Game 1, defeating Fnatic in just over 23 minutes to take an early lead in the series. Game 2 was one of the longest and most tightly contested matches of the event, as the two squads fought for over 91 minutes. Despite the Vici Gaming cores combined for 41 kills, Fnatic swung the momentum its way with a series of clutch teamfight victories that helped the SEA squad tie up the series and force a third game. That third game saw Vici Gaming reassert control, as Ori put in another big performance on Death Prophet (12-2-15) to close out the series with a 2-1 win for the Chinese squad. The win set Vici Gaming up for a rematch against VGJ.Thunder for a chance to advance to the Playoff Stage. Vici Gaming struck first in Game 1, riding yet another Ori Death Prophet (13-0-13) to secure a win. Game 2 saw the team deviate from its previous strategies with little success, as VGJ.Thunder dominated this match with a kill score of 7-23 to even the series. Ori would lead the way once again for Vici Gaming in Game 3, putting together a huge game on Shadow Fiend (17-6-18) to punch his team’s ticket to the Playoff Stage. Vici Gaming would move from one Chiense opponent to another, as the squad went up against Newbee in the Quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Vici Gaming, its impressive run and momentum would end here, as Newbee dominated both games of the series to hand the team an 0-2 loss that put Vici Gaming in the 5th-6th place position at the Minor.

Vici Gaming came into the ESL One Genting Minor riding a high of confidence that stemmed from its recent string of successes both at home and on the international stage. The team had shown that it was capable of competing with Pro Circuit leaders, and the Minor seemed like the squad’s opportunity to put its skills on display and potentially supplant Newbee as the highest ranked Chinese squad this season. Coming into the event, Vici Gaming was projected to fall somewhere within the Top 4 teams based upon its recent track record at Pro Circuit events. However, the team ended falling just short of that mark despite an impressive run. The team’s ability to retain its focus and fight through the lower bracket to reach the Playoff stage is an encouraging sign for the team, though the fact that all of its lower bracket series went the full three games is somewhat concerning. Additionally, the team’s quick 0-2 loss to Newbee in the Quarterfinals shows that, while the team has been improving significantly of late, it may not be fully ready to take on top team on the Pro Circuit stage. Despite falling short of securing Qualifying Points at this event, the team’s performance as the ESL One Genting Minor is still another step forward for a team looking to maintain momentum on the international stage. Vici Gaming will have more opportunities to test itself against international opposition in the coming months, as the Chinese squad will be participating in both the ESL One Katowice and Bucharest Majors in February and March.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $4,000 (Total)

Fnatic may not have started the season with a lot of success or confidence, but the team’s recent play has given it both as the team headed into the ESL One Genting Minor. The team’s recent acquisition of Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora gave it hope that this new lineup finally has the strength and experience needed to consistently compete on the Pro Circuit stage.

The new roster began its run at the ESL One Genting Minor with a Bo1 match against North American squad compLexity Gaming. The Southeast Asian squad quickly pounced on its unprepared opponent, dominating the match and limiting compLexity to just three kills while EternLEnVy, Abed, and UNiVeRsE combined for a scoreline of 21-1-30. That initial win set Fnatic up with a Bo3 series against Pro Circuit leader Team Secret in the next round, but the SEA squad wouldn’t be able to replicate its prior success against the European team. Game 1 saw Fnatic take a lead into the late-game stage behind cores of Drow Ranger and Tinker. However, the lineup didn’t have the strength to push into Team Secret’s base, and the European squad was able to win a series of crucial teamfights to snatch control of the game away and claim the an opening win. Fnatic would attempt a more aggressive strategy in Game 2, drafting a core trio of Monkey King, Templar Assassin, and Omniknight. Unfortunately, the aggressive play backfired, as the team’s supports were heavily punished and Team Secret held the lead throughout the game to hand Fnatic an 0-2 loss. The loss dropped Fnatic down to the lower bracket and an elimination series against Chinese squad Vici Gaming. Game 1 was another rough one for Fnatic, as it was out-killed 9-20 in a relatively quick loss. Game 2 would prove to be an endurance test, as the two teams would play for over 91 minutes in a knock-down, drag out slug fest that went back and forth throughout the match. EternaLEnVy and Abed led the way for Fnatic, combining for 34 kills and helping to keep the team in the game long enough for it to turn the tide and even up the series at 1-1. Game 3 would not last nearly so long as the previous match, with Fnatic holding a lead into the late-game but ultimately being unable to close out the win. Vici Gaming won multiple teamfights to swing the match into its favor and hand Fnatic a 1-2 series loss that ended its run at the Minor with a 9th-12th place finish.

Fnatic had been looking like a much improved team in recent weeks, but unfortunately that improvement and confidence wasn’t enough to push the team into a higher position at the Minor. Given the team’s more consistent play in the Southeast Asian region and the strength of its new roster, I had projected the team to finish within the 7th-8th place range at the event. Unfortunately for Fnatic, it fell just a bit short of that prediction, but not by much. The SEA squad has a lot of positives to take away from the event, especially considering UNiVeRsE only officially joined the lineup two weeks ago. Fnatic dominated its match against compLexity Gaming and put up a strong fight against a Top 5 ranked team in Vici Gaming. The team’s 0-2 loss to Team Secret isn’t much to be discouraged by either, as just about every team in the field is considered an underdog when facing the Pro Circuit’s highest ranked team. Overall, Fnatic may have fallen short of my initial projection for it, but the team’s performance at the ESL One Genting Minor is only a small showcasing of how well this team could play in the future once it is has fully adjusted to its new lineup. The team will have an opportunity to play on the Pro Circuit stage again in the near future, as Fnatic is one of the teams set to participate in the ESL One Katowice Major beginning February 20th.

 

LGD.Forever Young LGD.Forever_Young

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $2,000 (Total)

It’s been just a couple of months since LGD.Forever Young claimed its first Top 4 finish of the season at the Perfect World Masters, but already the team found itself losing its influence within the Chinese region and the Pro Circuit. With Newbee continuing to perform at the highest level and Vici Gaming working its way into the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings, LGD.Forever Young came into the event looking for a solid performance to reestablish itself in the regional hierarchy. The squad made some headlines prior to the start of play with a interesting roster move by temporarily swapping midlaners with fellow Chinese squad Invictus Gaming. The roster move was a gambit that the squad hoped would spark a run at the ESL One Genting Minor that would push LGD.Forever Young back into the forefront of Chinese Dota.

The push for LGD.Forever Young didn’t get off to a fantastic start, as the team found itself facing fellow Chinese squad Newbee it its opening match of the Group Stage. The game was predictably one sided, as LGD.Forever Young’s cores were pressured early and struggled to build up any significant momentum. Newbee built up a lead of over 7k net worth at the 16 minute mark, and before the 20 minute mark, LGD.Forever Young conceded defeat to drop down into the lower bracket. The Chinese squad moved from one Top 8 ranked opponenet to another in the form of SEA leader Mineski, and the team would find no more success there than it did against Newbee. Game 1 saw the team draft around a core duo of Death Prophet and Chaos Knight, but the team’s supports and offlance Batrider pick were heavily punished and repeatedly killed early. Those early losses snowballed into a lead that LGD.Forever Young was never able to come back from as it lost the opening match of the series. Game 2 would prove even more difficult for LGD.Forever Young, as the team was dominated from the outset by a stronger and more aggressive draft from Mineski. After being out-killed 18-4 in just 18 minutes, LGD.Forever Young threw in the towel to lose the series 0-2 and end its run at the Minor in the collective 13th-16th place position.

The early exit for LGD.Forever Young is a rather disappointing end to its run at the ESL One Genting Minor, but it isn’t necessarily an unexpected one. The team has been suffering from a small lapse in play in recent months, and the addition of a new midlaner just days before the start of a Pro Circuit event is a significant obstacle for any team to overcome. Coming into the event, LGD.Forever Young was projected to finish within the 13th-16th range, which is precisely where the Chinese squad ended up when all was said and done at the Minor. The team and its fans are likely disappointed that the squad is coming away from the Minor without a single win, but considering that it played all three of its matches against squads in the Top 5 of the Pro Circuit standings, its hard to imagine any other result for it. The fact that the squad lost two of its matches in under 20 minutes may be a concerning development though, as it raises questions as to whether this lineup can still compete with top squads on a consistent basis. Things may not look great for the team right now, but LGD.Forever Young will have another opportunity to prove that it’s still a threat on the Pro Circuit in the near future, as the team has been directly invited to The Bucharest Major set to begin on March 4th.

 

VGJ.Thunder 600px-VGJ_201710_logo_notext

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $8,000 (Total)

VGJ.Thunder had managed to remain under the radar for much of the season so far, as the team has yet to earn itself any Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit. With squads like Newbee and Vici Gaming garnering much of the spotlight in the Chinese region, VGJ.Thunder had been quietly working its way up the hierarchy hoping for another chance to show its strength on the Pro Circuit stage. With so many of the Dota 2 world’s top teams assembled in one place, the ESL One Genting Minor provided the perfect opportunity to VGJ.Thunder to make a statement with a quality performance.

VGJ.Thunder’s quest to shine on the Pro Circuit stage began with a match against its sister squad and fellow Chinese team Vici Gaming. VGJ.Thunder put its trust in core duo Kamma and Sylar, riding impressive performance from the two on Razor and Medusa, respectively to win its opening match and remain in the upper bracket. The Chinese squad’s second opponent would prove a much tougher adversary, as VGJ.Thunder faced Virtus.pro in the second round. VGJ.Thunder fell behind fast in Game 1, facing a deficit of nearly 6k networth at the ten minute mark. The Chinese squad would never retake control of the game, falling further and further behind before losing all of its barracks and conceding defeat. Game 2 would follow a similar storyline, with VGJ.Thunder keeping pace early but quickly falling behind to a powerful teamfighting lineup from VP. The 0-2 loss dropped VGJ.Thunder down into the lower bracket for an elimination series against North American challenger compLexity Gaming. Game 1 saw VGJ.Thunder opt for a draft centered around Lycan and Tinker, with the two cores being instrumental in turning around a mid-game deficit and allowing the Chinese squad to take control of the game. After playing from behind in Game 1, VGJ.Thunder got aggressive in Game 2, drafting Lycan and Medusa as farming cores but supplementing those cores with a heavy ganking trio of Earth Spirit, Bane, and Legion Commander. The aggressive strategy caught compLexity off guard, and allowed VGJ.Thunder to build a comfortable lead and snowball its way to a 2-0 series victory. With that win, VGJ.Thunder was one series away from the Playoff Stage, but would have to get past Vici Gaming in a rematch of its opening match. VGJ.Thunder stumbled a bit in Game 1 falling prey to early pressure from Vici Gaming that set it behind from the start. Despite a solid performance from Yang on an offlane Omniknight, the team lost the opening game of the series. VGJ.Thunder would return to an aggressive strategy for Game 2, rotating heavily with Rubick and Earth Spirit to put constant pressure on Vici Gaming’s lineup. The early kills secured the lead for VGJ.Thunder, and the team out-killed its opponent 23-7 to even up the series with a dominant performance. In Game 3, VGJ.Thunder managed to keep the game close throughout the early stages, but Vici Gaming’s combination of Faceless Void and Shadow Fiend proved too strong for its lineup to handle, resulting in a tough 1-2 loss that ended VGJ.Thunder’s run at the Minor with a 7th-8th place finish.

For an unranked squad making just its second Pro Circuit appearance, VGJ.Thunder certainly didn’t look fazed by the pressure of the situation at the ESL One Genting Minor. Of course, its players are no strangers to the international spotlight, but as a team we hadn’t seen the team put together a solid performance like this outside of China all season long. Coming into the event, VGJ.Thunder was projected to fall within the 9th-12th place range, a prediction that the team was able to surpass in impressive fashion. Though the team still fell short of the mark to earn its first Qualifying Points of the season, it showed significant strength against both regional and international opponents. Its 2-2 record against Vici Gaming at the event is an encouraging sign that the team can compete against its regional rivals on a more consistent basis, and its victory over compLexity Gaming shows the potential to challenge international teams as well. The team’s 0-2 loss to Virtus.pro doesn’t come as much of a shock to anyone who has seen the CIS squad play this season, and its negative impact on VGJ.Thunder should be minimal. The Chiense squad flashed some of its skill and potential at the ESL One Genting Minor, but it will have a small wait before its next chance to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. VGJ.Thunder are next scheduled to appear at a Pro Circuit event at The Bucharest Major beginning March 4th. In the meantime, the team will return to its home region to compete in the regional qualifiers for the GESC: Indonesia Minor and DAC 2018 Major.

 

PENTA Sports 600px-PENTA_Sports-logo-notext

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $2,000 (Total)

It has taken the entirety of the season so far for PENTA Sports to earn itself a debut on the Pro Circuit stage, but the European squad has persevered and earned its opportunity to compete. Given the team’s relative inexperience on the international level as well as the use of a stand-in for the event, the expectations for it were low coming into the ESL One Genting Minor. Despite those concerns, the team was hoping for a solid performance to mark its official entrance onto the Pro Circuit.

That entrance did not get off to the best of starts, as PENTA Sports had to face off against defending TI Champion Team Liquid in its opening match of the Group Stage. The game was as one sided as many were expecting, as PENTA Sports were outclassed and quickly defeated after being out-killed by a score of 4-33. That loss to Team Liquid dropped the squad into the lower bracket to face North American squad Evil Geniuses in a Bo3 elimination series. The European squad would strike first in Game 1, claiming a win over EG behind two massive performances from .Ark on Outworld Devourer and oliver on Lifestealer (Combined 22-2-30). Unfortunately for PENTA Sports, it couldn’t manage to hold on to that momentum in the subsequent games to finish off the series. Game 2 saw the squad put together a core trio of Timbersaw, Sven, and Dark Seer, only for all three heroes to be heavily punished and limited by the EG draft. Game 3 played out in the same fashion, with PENTA Sports’ Faceless Void and Phantom Lancer picks struggling to keep pace with the cores of Evil Geniuses. With those two straight losses, PENTA Sports lost the series 1-2 and finished its run at the ESL One Genting Minor in the collective 13th-16th place position.

PENTA Sports did not have the greatest of performances in its Pro Circuit debut, but in all honesty the expectations for the European squad were fairly low to begin with. The team had been performing well as it worked its way up the European hierarchy, but the team’s limited experience against other Pro Circuit squads already set a relatively hard cap on how far the team could reasonably go at this event. Add in the use of a stand-in instead of its usual midlaner and an opening match against the defending TI Champion and PENTA Sports didn’t exactly have a recipe for success on its hands. That being said, its Game 1 win against Evil Geniuses can be taken as a silver lining to what had otherwise been a rather poor performance for the team. The team was quickly swept aside following that win, but it at least affirms that the squad has the capability to take matches off of some of the Pro Circuit’s more intimidating teams. The next step forward of PENTA Sports will be competing at a higher and more consistent level, as well as maintaining its recent success within the European region. The team will have a short break before its finds itself thrust back into the chaos of more qualifier runs, as the team’s next scheduled event begins March 3rd in the Europe Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor.

 

Planet Dog Planet_Dog_logo

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $2,000 (Total)

Expectations were set fairly low for Planet Dog heading into its first Pro Circuit appearance of the season, as the team was suffering from quite a few issues before play had even started at the event. Between parting ways with its old organization and losing multiple players from its roster, it wasn’t entirely clear what could be expected from the lineup that came into the ESL One Genting Minor.

Planet Dog didn’t draw the most favorable of match ups for its first Group Stage match, having to play a Bo1 against current Pro Circuit leader Team Secret. Planet Dog attempted to shift the balance of the game into its favor with an Enchantress pick, hoping that the pick could give it another damage dealer in the late-game stage. Team Secret didn’t let things go that far, putting continuous pressure on its opponent behind a big game from MidOne on Dragon Knight (11-2-6). With the Enchantress pick inconsequential and its other cores contained, Planet Dog lost and fell into the lower bracket to play North American squad compLexity Gaming. Unfortunately for Planet Dog, it wouldn’t find any more success against compLexity Gaming than it found with Team Secret, as the North American team dominated the series. Planet Dog managed to keep pace in terms of kills in Game 1 of the series, but the team trailed in terms of net worth for the entirety of the game and never really came close to having a chance to take control of the match. Game 2 was an old fashion stomp, as Planet Dog was out-killed 5-18 and lose the game in less than 22 minutes to lose the series and finish in the 13th-16th place position.

Despite the relatively low expectations for Planet Dog coming into this event, the team’s poor performance is still a disappointing development for the European squad. Prior to the start of the Minor, I had Planet Dog projected to fall in the 13th-16th place position, and the team ended up in that exact range when its run concluded. Of course, the fact that the team had to begin the event with a game against Team Secret didn’t exactly set it up with a favorable opening position. The team’s 0-2 loss against compLexity Gaming is a bit more concerning though, as the team really didn’t put up much of a fight in either of the matches in that short series. Overall, the performance of Planet Dog at this Minor didn’t do anything to answer the questions surrounding the squad and its future. We’ll see what the lineup will look like in the coming weeks and whether Planet Dog can keep itself afloat on the Pro Circuit.

 

Natus Vincere 668px-Natus_Vincere

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $8,000 (Total)

Coming into the ESL One Genting Minor, Na’Vi had carved out a spot for itself as the second best team within the CIS region behind Virtus.pro. The team had been hanging around the cusp of a Top 8 rank on the Pro Circuit standings, and the Minor looked like a perfect opportunity for the team to push itself back into that elite club. With teams like Team Empire, Team Spirit, and Effect beginning to make more serious pushes in regional qualifiers, Na’Vi was also feeling a bit of pressure to take steps to secure its place within the CIS regional hierarchy with a solid performance at the Minor.

Na’Vi’s journey at the ESL One Genting Minor began with a match against North American squad and Top 8 ranked team Evil Geniuses. If Na’Vi was intimidated by EG’s ranking, they certainly didn’t show it, as the CIS squad came out and dominated the match up. Behind a core trio of Faceless Void, Tinker, and Tiny, Na’Vi ran over the EG lineup, building up a larger and larger lead until the North American squad finally conceded the game and sent Na’Vi into the next round to face TI7 winner Team Liquid. Game 1 against the defending TI Champion did not go well for Na’Vi, as its Enchantress pick was unable to transition into a fourth core and the team’s lineup was heavily punished and pressured by Team Liquid. After falling behind by over 15k net worth at the 30 minute mark, Na’Vi finally admitted defeat, going down 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would see Na’Vi put up more of a fight, as the team’s core trio of Shadow Fiend, Chaos Knight, and Nature’s Prophet were able to establish a small lead heading into the mid-game stage of the match. Unfortunately, the team was unable to keep Miracle-‘s Terorblade contained, as Team Liquid managed to out-scale the Na’Vi lineup and turn the match around in the late-game to hand Na’Vi an 0-2 loss and drop it down into the lower bracket. Na’Vi faced another Top 8 ranked squad in its next match up, as the team played against SEA squad Mineski. Na’Vi opted for an unorthodox draft in Game 1, picking up a core trio of Broodmother, Doom, and Luna. The lineup didn’t work out for Na’Vi as Mineski controlled the game early and was able to transition its support Naga Siren into a fourth core that gave the SEA squad too much damage for Na’Vi to handle. Na’Vi wouldn’t go down without a fight though, as the team drafted an aggressive lineup in Game 2 led by Crystallize on Phantom Lancer and GeneRaL’s Night Stalker (combined 19-1-22). The early aggression put Mineski off balance and allowed Na’Vi to control the game wire-to-wire to even up the series. The CIS squad’s newfound momentum carried over into Game 3 as well, where the team drafted a heavily teamfight oriented lineup that simply shut down Mineski’s draft. With that 2-1 win over Mineski, Na’Vi was just one series away from making it to the Playoff Stage, but the team would face Evil Geniuses again in a rematch of its opening game. Unfortunately for Na’Vi, the rematch would get off to a bad start. EG’s cores out-farmed Na’Vi’s lineup and limited the effectiveness of its teamfight power to claim a win in Game 1. Game 2 would be a disaster for Na’Vi, as its lineup was completely and totally annihilated by Evil Geniuses. After being out-killed 2-16 in just 20 minutes, Na’Vi conceded defeat and brought its run at the Minor to an end with a finish in the 7th-8th place position.

Na’Vi may not have been able to crack the Top 4 at the ESL One Genting Minor, but the team’s performance at the event was still much stronger than many might have been anticipating. We had seen the CIS squad perform against some of the Pro Circuit’s top teams before, but in such a large and crowded field of teams at this Minor, there were some concerns that it wouldn’t be able to replicate that earlier success on the international stage. Coming into the event, Na’Vi was projected to fall within the 9th-12th place range, which the team was able to fairly easily surpass. Its opening win against Evil Geniuses is an impressive feat, even with the North American squad still not fully adjusted to its recent roster and positional changes. However, the more impressive of Na’Vi’s feats at the Minor had to be its 2-1 victory over Mineski. The SEA team may not have performed at its absolute highest level at the event, but it’s still a Top 5 ranked squad on the Pro Circuit, and Na’Vi’s ability to take that series shows that the team hasn’t lost that potential to overcome international opposition. The loss to Team Liquid is relatively inconsequential considering how strong the European squad has looked so far this season, but the final 0-2 loss to EG is somewhat disappointing. After beating the Norht American squad once, a victory in a full Bo3 and a spot in the Playoff bracket would have fully reaffirmed Na’Vi’s place within that upper echelon of squads. As it stands now, the team’s performance at the Minor was a solid step forward and a reminder of how well it can perform under the right circumstances. The CIS squad will hope for similar circumstance in the near future, as the team is set to participate in the ESL One Katowice and Bucharest Majors, along with the GESC: Indonesia Minor all within the next few months.

 

TNC Pro Team Tncproteam

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $4,000 (Total)

Mineski and Fnatic may have been stealing headlines in the Southeast Asian region so far this season between solid play and roster changes, but TNC Pro Team had been working its way into the spotlight as well. With the team looking stronger within the SEA region and finding success in its Pro Circuit debut, the team came into the ESL One Genting Minor hoping to keep its momentum going on the Pro Circuit and establish itself among the world’s leading teams.

TNC Pro Team faced a familiar face in its initial Bo1 match of the Group Stage, as the team went up against fellow Southeast Asian squad Mineski. TNC came out aggressive early, riding big performances from Kuku on Dragon Knight and Raven on Timbersaw (combined 20-4-19) to control the pace of the game and claim an opening victory. That initial victory allowed TNC to move on to a Bo3 series against Chinese powerhouse Newbee in the next round. Game 1 saw TNC build up a small lead in the mid-game stage, but the team wasn’t able to hold that lead as Newbee battled back to take decisive control of the match. Despite a strong showing from Kuku on Death Prophet (11-5-6), TNC wasn’t able to slow down Newbee’s lineup and lost the opening game of the series. Game 2 proved to be incredibly one sided, as TNC fell behind early and couldn’t keep pace with Newbee’s cores. The 0-2 loss to Newbee dropped TNC down into the lower bracket for an elimination series against North American team Evil Geniuses. EG came out aggressively in Game 1, putting together a lineup that heavily pressured the lineup of TNC. The Southeast Asian squad’s cores of Shadow Fiend and Weaver couldn’t provide enough damage to break through EG’s sustain and tankiness as it lost the opening match of the series. Game 2 would see TNC draft around a core duo of Razor of Tinker, but once again those core heroes would fail to keep up with EG’s lineup. Despite an admirable effort from Kuku on Tinker, TNC fell short again to lose the series 0-2 and earn a 9th-12th place finish at the ESL One Genting Minor.

The finish for TNC Pro Team at this event may not been as high as it had hoped, but the team’s final position was not necessarily an unexpected result. The team’s recent results within the Southeast Asian region had been fairly impressive, and its lone prior appearance at a Pro Circuit event had resulted in Qualifying Points. However, the field of participants at this event was stacked with some of the best teams on the Pro Circuit, most of whom had already found success on the international stage. Coming into the event, TNC Pro Team had been projected to finish in the 9th-12th place range, which is exactly where it ended up despite some solid performances from its players. The team’s performance at the ESL One Genting Minor fell in line with what had been the largest concern for the team this season: that the team could perform well against its regional rivals, but would struggle against top international opposition. The team won its opening match against fellow SEA squad Mineski, but fell short in back to back 0-2 losses to Chinese squad Newbee and North American team Evil Geniuses. If the team wants to be able to find further success on the Pro Circuit stage, it will need to elevate its level of play outside of its home region. The team will have an opportunity for redemption against international opponents in the coming month, with TNC Pro Team set to represent the Southeast Asian region at The Bucharest Major in March.

 

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $4,000 (Total)

North American squad compLexity Gaming had some reasons to feel confident as it headed into the ESL One Genting Minor. The team had spent the season so far working itself into a favorable position within its home region, becoming one of the leading North America teams second only to Evil Geniuses. With its position at home made more secure, the team came into the Minor looking to improve its standing on the Pro Circuit stage. Though the team had missed the mark for a Top 4 finish in back to back Pro Circuit events, the North America squad was hoping that the ESL One Genting Minor would be the perfect opportunity for it to turn that trend around and gain ground on its international rivals.

CompLexity Gaming would open its run at the Minor with a Bo1 match against Southeast Asian squad Fnatic. Unfortunately for the North American team, Fnatic was more than ready for this initial match up, as the SEA team easily dominated the game and never gave compLexity Gaming a chance to come back. After tallying just three kills and falling behind by over 30k net worth, compLexity Gaming conceded defeat and dropped down into the lower bracket. The team would have an opportunity to bounce back from that initial loss with a series against European squad Planet Dog in a Bo3 elimination series. The North American squad struck first in the series, taking Game 1 behind solid performances from Chessie’s Phantom Lancer (10-4-7) and Moo’s Sand King (3-4-18). CompLexity Gaming held the net worth lead throughout the match as Planet Dog’s cores couldn’t fully counter its momentum. Game 2 would prove to be a stomp for compLexity Gaming, as the team completely dominated the match from the start and surrendered just five kills to Planet Dog. Just under 22 minutes into the game, Planet Dog conceded defeat, giving compLexity Gaming a 2-0 victory and allowing it to move on to the next round where it faced VGJ.Thunder. Game 1 against the Chinese squad would prove to be a tough test for both teams, as compLexity Gaming managed to build up a modest lead heading into the late-game stage. Unfortunately, the team’s lineup didn’t have to power to close out the game, as VGJ.Thunder farmed heavily with a trio of Tinker, Lycan, and Tidehunter that gave it too much damage and teamfight presence for compLexity to overcome. The loss may have thrown compLexity Gaming off balance a bit, as the team struggled in Game 2 of the series following its initial loss. The team’s support duo has heavily pressured early, and those early deaths allowed VGJ.Thunder to continuously go after the North American squad’s cores as well. After losing multiple fights in a row and losing all of its barracks, compLexity Gaming finally waved the white flag, losing the series 0-2 and ending its ESL One Genting run with a finish in the 9th-12th place position.

The recent run of success that compLexity Gaming had been experienced within the North American region was definitely an encouraging sign for the team heading into this Minor, but it wasn’t enough to raise expectations for the team very high. The team’s struggles at its last two Pro Circuit events had raised questions regarding how well it could compete with top international opponents. The North American squad was projected to fall within the 9th-12th place range at the ESL One Genting Minor, and despite some solid efforts from the team, that is exactly where it ended up. The team’s rough performance against Fnatic in its first match didn’t do much to alleviate some of those international concerns, and the series against VGJ.Thunder wasn’t very encouraging either. The team’s victory against Planet Dog may look more impressive at first glance, but considering the European squad was playing with multiple stand-ins at its first Pro Circuit event of the season, the 2-0 result losses some of its impact. We’ve seen compLexity Gaming compete against top teams previously this season, but the team appears to be suffering from a small drop off in play that it will need to get past soon. The North American squad will have quite a few opportunities to do just that in the future, as the team is set to attend both the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 Minor and the ESL One Katowice 2018 Major in February along with The Bucharest Major in March.

 

SG e-sports SG_e-sportslogo

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $2,000 (Total)

The South American region doesn’t exactly have the most solid of track records on the Pro Circuit so far this season, with the region’s teams collectively failing to earn a single Top 4 finish. However, among those teams, SG e-sports was one of the squads that appeared to be emerging as a leader on the South American stage. With the team having added a new coach to its roster and its players having amassed more Pro Circuit experience, there was hope that the squad could improve upon the South American region’s poor record with a solid performance at the ESL One Genting Minor.

Unfortunately for SG e-sports, those hopes ran right into one of the most dominant and formidable squads on the Pro Circuit in the form of CIS powerhouse Virtus.pro. SG attempted to out-farm the CIS squad with a core trio of Lycan, Arc Warden, and Dark Seer but the lineup wasn’t enough to keep up with VP. Despite keeping the match close through the early and mid-game stages, SG e-sports eventually fell too far behind as the VP lineup dominated the late-game fights. SG’s loss dropped it into the lower bracket to face another Top 8 ranked squad in Chinese team Vici Gaming. The South American squad would lose Game 1 of the series, trailing behind Vici Gaming the whole way and failing to contain Ori’s Death Prophet (11-1-4). In Game 2 however, SG flipped the script, putting together a dominant performance behind huge showing from 4dr on Tinker and Costabile on Faceless Void (combined 27-2-30). The team’s draft heavily punished Vici Gaming’s picks and kept the Chinese squad off balance long enough for SG to establish a massive net worth lead and force Vici Gaming to concede defeat. Unfortunately for SG, it couldn’t maintain that momentum in the third game of the series, as Vici Gaming came out with an aggressive lineup with ample teamfight power. SG’s lineup wasn’t prepared to face that level of pressure, and despite solid performances from its core heroes, the South American squad lost the game and the series. The 1-2 loss to Vici Gaming ended SG e-sports’ run at the Minor with a 13th-16th place finish.

SG e-sports was not expected to make much of an impact at the ESL One Genting Minor, though there had been some small hope that the team could push out of the combined last place position. The South American squad came into the event projected to finish within the 13th-16th place range, and that’s exactly where it ended up. Despite the poor results, the team has some positives to take away from its performance at the Minor. The team’s losses to both Vici Gaming and Team Secret were not surprising, as both of those squads hold Top 8 rankings in the Pro Circuit standings. However, the South American squad’s performance against Vici Gaming was stronger than we’ve seen at previous events, with the team even managing to take a game off of the Chinese squad in dominant fashion. It’s not much of a silver lining, but it’s a significant step forward for a team and a region that has been struggling on the international stage so far this season. The Pro Circuit schedule is barren for SG e-sports for now, as the ESL One Genting Minor is that last Pro Circuit event that the team was set to attend. We’ll see if the South American squad can take away something from this performance and continue to improve in the coming months at future events.

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