Dota 2 Major Recap: ESL One Katowice

Conquest in Katowice: Virtus.pro defeat Vici Gaming 3-1 to claim second Major Title. Team Liquid, Fnatic finish 3rd, 4th.

The first Major of 2018 is complete as the action in Katowice has come to an end with another Major Champion crowned. Poland’s first Dota 2 Major saw 16 participants fight for a chance at money, glory, and Qualifying Points, but in the end the Major Championship was won by a familiar face as Virtus.pro claimed yet another title. The CIS squad posted a 10-4 record en route to its second Major Championship win of the season as it took a significant step towards securing an invite to The International 2018. The team’s 1st place finish jumped it up the standings, with VP moving from 3rd into 1st place and usurping Team Secret’s position as Pro Circuit leader. Vici Gaming’s 2nd place performance fueled a march up the rankings for the Chinese squad as well, as it moved from 8th to 4th in the standings and knocked off Newbee to claim its position as the highest ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit. Team Liquid placed 3rd overall at the event, but its efforts actually saw the European squad fall rather than climb in the Pro Circuit standings, as the team dropped from 2nd to 3rd following VP’s rise. Fnatic rounded out the Top 4 in Katowice, with the Southeast Asian squad’s performance resulting in a smaller shift for the team as it moved from 11th to 10th overall in the standings. With the action in Katowice over, the Qualifying Points distributed, and the Pro Circuit standings adjusted, we can shift our focus to look at how each team performed at the Major and assess where each of the participants can go moving forward in the season.

 

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Place: 1st

Winnings: $400,000 (Total) & 750 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Virtus.pro made headlines earlier this month when the CIS squad announced a big trade with regional rival Na’Vi. Despite the team’s significant and continued success on the Pro Circuit, the squad made the change with the intention of securing its lineup for the final push towards TI8. With the team displaying its strength time and time again both within its home region and on the international stage, the CIS squad entered the ESL One Katowice Major as one of the favorites to claim another Major Title.

The CIS squad began its run at the Major with a Bo1 series agaisnt North American squad OpTic Gaming in the opening round of the Group Stage. VP controlled the match up against OpTic Gaming thanks in part to a quality performance from 9pasha on Enchantress (11-1-14) as the team advanced to the next round to face Mineski. Virtus.pro came out aggressively in Game 1 of the series against the Southeast Asian squad, with RAMZES666’s Broodmother helping the team stifle and contain the lineup of Mineski for a relatively easy victory to open up the series. Game 2 proved to be a much more tightly contested match, as the two teams remained within 5k net worth of each other up until the very end of the game. VP’s core trio of Lifestealer, Dragon Knight, and Puck gave it enough of an edge to win the last few team fights to seize control of the game and complete the 2-0 sweep of Mineski. That win gave the CIS squad a chance to secure a Top 4 spot if it could defeat Vici Gaming in its final Group Stage series. VP would take a sizable lead in the late-game stage behind a fantastic performance from No[o]ne’s Gyrocopter (16-5-7). However, the pushing and fighting power of Vici Gaming’s lineup proved too much for VP to hold back as the Chinese squad claimed a victory in the first match of the series. The CIS squad drafted a core trio of Lifestealer, Tiny, and Dark Seer in Game 2, but that lineup didn’t prove to be overly effective against Vici Gaming. While the teams remained close into the late-game stage, Vici Gaming’s team fight power allowed it to overcome VP hand the CIS squad an 0-2 loss. The loss put the team in the Quarterfinal of the Playoff Stage to face North American squad Evil Geniuses. VP dominated Game 1 of the series, out killing EG 30-8 as it claimed an easy victory to open the series. VP came close to closing out the series with its performance in Game 2, but EG’s lineup managed to put together a solid comeback effort to pull out a win and even up the series. VP opted to draft a core trio of Doom, Death Prophet, and Tinker in the final match of the series, and that lineup managed to control the pace of the game as the CIS squad defeated EG 2-1 to move on to the Semifinal. The CIS squad would carry over its previous momentum in the first match against Fnatic, as VP out killed its opponent 26-6 in a quick and one sided match. Game 2 proved to be a more competitive match than the previous game, but not by much as VP still held the advantage for most the game. Behind RAMZES666’s Gyrocopter (14=3=12) and No[o]ne’s Timbersaw (13-4-14), the CIS squad closed out the series with a 2-0 win that earned it a spot in the Final against Vici Gaming for a chance to claim the Major Championship. VP absolutely dominated the opening two matches of the Final, demolishing its Chinese opponent and out killing Vici Gaming by a combined score of 52-17. VP finally stumbled a bit in Game 3 of the series, as the team’s aggressive draft was unable to establish the pace that it needed to keep Vici Gaming’s heroes in check. That loss would be the only one that VP suffered in the series, with the CIS squad retaking control in Game 4 behind an incredible performance from RAMZES666 on Gyrocopter (18-3-12). That final impressive performance from VP finished off a 3-1 series victory for the team and earned it a 1st place finish as the CIS squad claimed the Title of Major Champion in Katowice.

Virtus.pro’s victory at the ESL One Katowice is yet another juggernaut of an achievement to add to the CIS squad’s already formidable resume so far this season. The performance in Katowice marks the team’s second Major Title of the season, as the team has been one of the more dominant forces both within the CIS region and on the Pro Circuit. Coming into the Major, Virtus.pro was projected to finish within the Top 4, and the team more than lived up to that prediction with a stunning display of strength at the event. The team’s 1st place finish jumped it all the way up into the top spot in the Pro Circuit standings, usurping the position previously held by Team Secret. The team now stands a little over 1000 Qualifying Points away from securing a guaranteed invite to TI8, and the CIS squad will have plenty of opportunities to overcome that final hurdle. The team is set to participate in the Bucharest Major, the Dota 2 Asia Championship Major, and the EPICENTER XL Major within the next two months. Considering how well the team has performed so far this season, and how consistently it has found success, it seems like Virtus.pro’s trip to TI8 is all but guaranteed.

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $50,000

Team Secret has been king of the Pro Circuit for quite some time now, and heading into the ESL One Katowice Major it didn’t appear that its position at the top of the standings was going to change any time soon. The team entered the event with a supreme level of confidence stemming from its slew of Top 4 finishes at previous Minors and Majors. However, this particular event had some added weight to it for the European squad, as a 1st place finish in Katowice would secure the team a spot at TI8. With its eyes fixed firmly on that ultimate goal, the team entered the Major with an increased sense of determination.

The team would begin its run at the ESL One Katowice Major with a bit of an easy opener, as the European squad faced South American team Infamous in the first round of the Group Stage. The match was about as one sided as one would imagine, with Team Secret employing a Wraith King pick for Puppey that helped it dominate the match and shut down the lineup of Infamous. The relatively easy win moved Team Secret on to the next round to face LGD Gaming. Team Secret came out strong against the Chinese squad, drafting a team fight oriented lineup in Game 1 that bullied LGD Gaming early and often for a quick opening win. Game 2 saw LGD Gaming fight back, as the Chinese squad took an early advantage into the early and mid-game stages. That lead didn’t last long though, as Team Secret’s lineup managed to out farm and out scale LGD Gaming’s cores to wipe out the lead and take control of the game for a 2-0 series win. That win guaranteed Team Secret a spot in the Playoff Stage, but it would need to get past Fnatic to go directly to the Semifinals. The Southeast Asian squad put up stout resistance against Team Secret, as it took Game 1 of the series despite a solid performance from MidOne on Tinker (11-8-6). Team Secret would came firing back into the series though, as MidOne and Ace combined for a stat line of 34-4-30 in Game 2 to dominate the match and tie up the series 1-1. Game 3 saw Fnatic take a modest lead into the late-game stage, but Team Secret’s farming cores managed to continue scaling as the team took control of the match and started chipping away at Fnatic’s base. With the enemy at the gates, Universe pulled off an incredible play using Underlord to transport his teammates into Team Secret’s base to finish off the match before the European squad could secure the win. The last second loss meant that Team Secret would have to play in the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Stage against defending TI7 Champion Team Liquid. Team Secret opted for a surprise strategy in Game 1, drafting a Meepo for Ace that was meant to throw Team Liquid off balance. Unfortunately for Team Secret, that plan failed and Team Liquid dominated the first match of the series to claim a victory in the opening round. Game 2 saw Team Liquid get out to another sizable lead, but this time Team Secret was prepared. Behind Ace’s Terrorblade (7-3-14, 23.2l net worth) and MidOne’s Lina (12-4-11, 24.1k net worth), the team was able to halt Team Liquid’s momentum and seize control of the match to even up the series 1-1. Game 3 proved to be somewhat less competitive than the previous matches, as Team Secret’s cores of Visage and Vengeful Spirit were largely limited in and held in check by Team Liquid’s lineup. Team Secret lost that final match, losing the series 1-2 and finishing in the 5th-6th place position at the event.

For Team Secret, falling out of the Top 4 at the ESL One Katowice Major comes as a rather significant surprise. The team had been dominant within the European region and on the Pro Circuit for most of the season, and it appeared that there were only a couple of teams that had enough strength to challenge it. Coming into the Major, Team Secret was projected to finish within the Top 4, a mark that the European squad just barely missed in Katowice. The team’s victories over Infamous and LGD Gaming aren’t particularly impressive, as the squad was expected to overcome those obstacles with limited difficulties. The loss to Team Liquid is disappointing, but not necessarily surprising, as the two squads are relatively even in terms of their strength so far this season. What is somewhat concerning is the team’s loss to Fnatic, a match up that appeared to heavily favor Team Secret on paper. However, taking into account the way in which that series ended, the loss may not be as bad as it looks, and more than likely is a reflection of Fnatic’s growth as a team rather than a weakness on Team Secret’s part. Either way, the team comes away from Katowice no closer to its goal of securing its TI8 invite, but the team will have quite a few more chances to hit that mark in the near future. The team is scheduled to compete in the upcoming Bucharest Major, the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, the Dota 2 Asia Championship Major, and the EPICENTER XL Major all within the next few months. With so many more opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit, it appears that it’s only a matter of time before Team Secret secures that all important TI8 invite.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Place: 3rd

Winnings: $120,000 (Total) & 225 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Team Liquid has been one of the most consistent and dominant squad on the Pro Circuit so far this season, as the team came into the ESL One Katowice Major having never fallen short of a Top 4 spot at a Pro Circuit event. That level of unsurpassed and consistent excellence had the defending TI7 Champion looking confident as it entered the event as a favorite to claim the Major Championship. Though the team wasn’t as close to a TI8 invite as fellow European squad Team Secret, Team Liquid saw the ESL One Katowice Major as an opportunity to push itself ever closer towards its goal of back to back TI Championships.

Team Liquid got a favorable draw in the opening round the the Group Stage in Katowice, as the European squad faced an Effect squad making its first appearance at a Pro Circuit event. The game was predictably one sided, with MinD_ContRoL’s Viper (10-4-8) helping the squad quickly dismantle its CIS opponent and advance to the next round with a relatively easy win. Team Liquid faced Chinese squad Vici Gaming in the next round, and the European squad was in for a significant challenge in Game 1 of that series. Team Liquid built up a lead in the early game, but the pushing and team fighting lineup of Vici Gaming managed to swing momentum in its favor with an impressive stretch in the mid and late-game stages. However, Team Liquid managed to weather this storm of aggression, surviving the push from Vici Gaming and countering with a series of team fight wins that regained it the lead and allowed the team to close out a win in the opening match. Team Liquid attempted a Tinker draft in Game 2 of the series, but Vici Gaming was quick to punish that selection with its own lineup. The Tinker was heavily pressured and punished by the Chinese squad, as Vici Gaming held a wire to wire lead as it won Game 2 and evened up the series. Game 3 proved to be another struggle for Team Liquid, as the European squad was unable to contain Paparazzi’s Outworld Devourer (17-1-9) as Vici Gaming handed the team a 1-2 loss. That loss dropped Team Liquid down into the lower bracket, where it would face North American squad OpTic Gaming in an elimination series. Team Liquid blew past its opponent in Game 1, with Miracle- and MATUMBAMAN combining for a stat line of 25-3-14 as Team Liquid demolished OpTic Gaming with a kill score of 35-8. Game 2 saw OpTic Gaming put up more of a fight, as the team drafted a combination of Broodmother and Shadow Fiend that helped it build up a lead of over 10k net worth in the late-game stage. However, Team Liquid would not be denied, taking back to back huge engagements that wiped out OpTic Gaming’s lead and secured the European squad a 2-0 victory. that win moved the team within one series of a spot in the Playoff Stage as Team Liquid faced another European squad in OG. Game 1 of that series was all about Miracle-, as his Queen of Pain dominated the match with a stat line of 17-1-12 and 25.8k net worth as Team Liquid opened the series with a win. Game 2 proved to be decidedly less competitive, as Team Liquid simply out played and overwhelmed OG’s lineup and out killed their opponents by a score of 24-6. The 2-0 win for Team Liquid advanced it to the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Stage where it faced Team Secret. Game 1 saw Team Liquid draft cores of Razor, Enchantress, and Phantom Lancer, as the squad punished Team Secret’s Meepo strategy early to take the opening match of the series. Team Secret came back strong with a solid performance in Game 2 to even the series despite a strong effort from Miracle-‘s Shadow Fiend (12-6-9). Team Liquid came back with a vengeance in the final match of the series though, with Miracle-‘s Terrorblade (13-1-7) and MATUMBAMAN’s Broodmother (10-1-6) helping the team close out the series with a 2-1 victory. That win earned the European squad a rematch with Vici Gaming in the Semifinals, though the Chinese squad would come out stronger in Game 1 of the series. Team Liquid’s Chen pick helped the team establish a certain pace of play, but the team couldn’t maintain that pace throughout the match, as Vici Gaming came back to seize control and claim a victory in Game 1. Team Liquid went with a more straight forward lineup in Game 2, picking up solid fighting and farming heroes that outmaneuvered and overcame Vici Gaming’s lineup. It seemed as though Team Liquid could pull off another victory in Game 3, as the European squad built up a modest lead in the late-game stage. However, Paparazzi’s Alchemist pick helped keep the team in the game, as the Chinese squad slowly turned the tide of Team Liquid’s momentum to complete its comeback effort and hand Team Liquid a 1-2 loss that killed its hopes at a Major title. However, Team Liquid wasn’t done in Katowice just yet, as the team had to face Fnatic in the 3rd place decider series. The team would claim a win in Game 1 of the series, combined several burst damage heroes with an Io pick that left Fnatic constantly on the defensive. The European squad would struggle in Game 2 of the series though, as Abed’s Broodmother and DJ’s Tusk combined for 30 kills as Fnatic put together a dominant performance to tie the series 1-1. With the series coming down to a single match, Team Liquid opted for something different, drafting cores of Terrorblade, Pugna, and Nature’s Prophet. The trio of picks paid off for the team, as Team Liquid held off multiple advances from Fnatic to close out the match and the series against the Southeast Asian squad to claim 3rd place at the Major.

At this point, it doesn’t surprise many that Team Liquid has earned itself yet another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit, as the team has been making a habit of it all season long. Coming into the event, Team Liquid was projected to finish within the Top 4 in the standings, and the defending TI7 Champion didn’t disappoint on that front. However, while the result for the team may be expected, it is no less impressive to see the squad pull in another bounty of Qualifying Points. The team’s multiple series losses to Vici Gaming may be slightly concerning for the squad moving forward, but at this moment it appears to be more of a statement about Vici Gaming’s positive performance as opposed to a drop off from Team Liquid. Either way, the Top 4 finish moves the European squad closer to a guaranteed invite to TI8, and the team has quite a few more chances to continue that progress in the near future. The team is scheduled to participate in the Bucharest Major, the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, and the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major all in the month of March, and will be at the EPICENTER XL Major in April as well. With so many chances to perform on the Pro Circuit stage, Team Liquid’s position at the top of the standings looks secure as the team marches on towards The International 2018.

 

Newbee Newbee_logo

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $20,000

Chinese squad Newbee had been absolutely fantastic in the 2018 section of the season, posting back to back Top 4 finishes at Pro Circuit events that including a Minor Championship title at ESL One Genting in January. Coming into the Major, Newbee still held the position as the top ranked squad from the Chinese region, and was considered one of the titans of the Pro Circuit with a 4th place ranking overall. With its previous Pro Circuit performances giving it a considerable amount of confidence and momentum, Newbee came into the ESL One Katowice Major looking to take another step forward and close the gap between itself and the “Big 3” of the Pro Circuit (Team Secret, Team Liquid, & Virtus.pro).

That goal would hit a bit of an obstacle almost immediately into Newbee’s run at the Major, as the Chinese squad faced off against Team Kinguin in a Bo1 series in the opening round of the Group Stage. Newbee looked for a fighting and hard farming lineup in its draft, but Team Kinguing appeared to have other plans. The Polish squad drafted a heavy pushing lineup that prevented Newbee’s heroes from hitting their ideal timings, throwing the Chinese squad’s strategy off balance. Without the strength to stop Team Kinguin’s push, Newbee was forced to concede defeat and take a surprising loss in the opening round. The loss put Newbee in the lower bracket and a Bo3 elimination series against CIS squad Na’Vi, fresh off of its recent roster changes. Newbee showed no sympathy for the new look Na’Vi, taking Game 1 of the series in relatively quick fashion behind a strong performance from Moogy on Razor (10-2-5). Game 2 proved to be another one sided match, as Newbee controlled the pace of the game from the start. With Sccc’s Dragon Knight and Moogy’s Gyrocopter combined for a stat line of 19-1-18 with over 40k net worth, there was little Na’Vi could do to hold them back as Newbee swept the series 2-0. That win advanced Newbee to the next round for a regional showdown against fellow Chinese squad LGD Gaming. Game 1 would be a marathon of a match, as two teams fought for over an hour of game time in the opening match of the series. LGD Gaming’s team fight power appeared to give it an advantage as it built up a lead in the late-game stage. However, the cores of Newbee were farming and staying relatively out of danger through this period, allowing the squad to out scale its opponents and turn the tides of the match with a series of team fight victories that earned it a come from behind win. In Game 2, it was Newbee’s turn to fall victim to a comeback effort, as the team lost a late-game lead of over 8k net worth despite an impressive performance from Sccc on Sniper (13-3-4). LGD Gaming dominated the final fights of the match to wipe of Newbee’s lead both in that match and in the series, tying up the score 1-1 and forcing a decisive Game 3. Much like its predecessors, Game 3 of the series would wind up being a comeback win for one of the two teams. This time, the beneficiary was Newbee, as Sccc and Moogy combined for a 17-5-19 state line to lead their team back from a late game deficit and bring down LGD Gaming. With that win, Newbee was just one series away from a spot in the Playoff Stage, but the team would have to get past North American squad Evil Geniuses in order to earn that spot. That would prove harder than Newbee may have anticipated, as EG came out with a dominant performance in Game 1. Newbee earned itself just 5 kills as EG’s insanely aggressive style smothered its heroes and forced the Chinese squad to concede defeat in just 20 minutes. Game 2 was somehow an even worse scenario for Newbee, as EG again played at a pace and tempo that the Chinese squad didn’t seemed prepared to counter. After being out killed 6-24 and having severely limited growth on its cores, Newbee bowed out in just 17 minutes to take an 0-2 loss and end its run at the Major with a finish in the 7th-8th place position.

Newbee’s failure to make it into the Playoff Stage of the Major comes as quite a shock, as the team had been looking like one of the strongest squads in the field heading into this event. In fact, prior to the stat of play in Katowice, Newbee had been projected to earn itself another Top 4 finish, a prediction that it has now fallen significantly short of. While the squad did look strong in its series against both Na’Vi and LGD Gaming, the losses that it took to Evil Geniuses and Team Kinguin appear to have exposed a significant weakness in the team’s play style. Analysts and experts had been suggesting for some time that Newbee could be susceptible to an early and aggressive strategy, but pulling that off against the Chinese powerhouse had been tricky for teams in the past. However, with this showing at the ESL One Katowice Major, it appears that more squads are beginning to put the pieces together on how best to disrupt Newbee’s preferred pacing and style. Whether this is an isolated incident or the an issue that needs addressing can’t be fully determined yet, but it is somewhat concerning to see a team ranked so highly on the Pro Circuit being dismantled in the way that Newbee was in those losses. The good news for Newbee is that it still holds one of the strongest position on the Pro Circuit, and its will have plenty of opportunities to right the ship in the near future. The team is set to participate in the China Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor in just a few days, and is already locked in to spots at the Bucharest Major, the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major, and the EPICENTER XL Major. The somewhat lower finish for Newbee may be a cause for concern moving forward, but don’t push the panic button just yet for Newbee, as the team should be more than capable of bouncing back from its setback in Katowice.

 

Evil Geniuses 600px-EG

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $50,000

Evil Geniuses have enjoyed a position as the top team in the North American region for essentially the entirety of the season, and the first few months had seen the squad continue to perform at a high level even following some significant changes to its roster. With two Pro Circuit appearances and one Top 4 finish under its belt in 2018, EG’s place at the top of the regional hierarchy looked about as secure as possible coming into this event. The international stage was where the North American squad was most concerned, and the ESL One Katowice Major provided the team a perfect opportunity to continue building on its solid start and move further up the Pro Circuit standings.

EG’s run at the Major would begin with a match up with LGD Gaming in the opening round of the Group Stage. The Chinese squad had been on a hot streak coming into the Major, and it quickly showed why in its Bo1 series against EG. LGD Gaming’s draft featured a high level of pushing power and team fight strength that simply stifled EG’s greedier lineup as the Chinese squad forced EG down into the lower bracket with a loss. The North American squad had a chance to bounce back from that loss with a Bo3 series against a struggling Infamous squad. Game 1 saw EG’s core trio of Visage, Omniknight, and Lifestealer managed to out duel their opponents as the North American squad claimed a win in under 22 minutes of game time. Game 2 ended up being even more one sided than its predecessor had been, as Fear’s Tiny dominated the match (17-4-11) en route to another relatively easy win for EG. The 2-0 over Infamous moved EG on to the next round to face Polish squad Team Kinguin. Game 1 saw EG’s momentum carry over from the previous series, as Suma1L’s offlane Beastmaster (9-4-5) stole the show with an impressive performance that secured an opening victory for the team. Game 2 was all about Arteezy, as EG’s carry put together an absolutely spectacular performance on Lifestealer (16-0-9) that left Team Kinguin scrambling for a way to fight back. Unfortunately for the Polish squad, EG’s lineup was simply too far ahead to stop, and EG claimed another 2-0 victory to move on to the next round where it faced Newbee for a spot in the Playoff Stage. The Chinese powerhouse didn’t prove to be much of a challenge for EG, as the North American squad came out in both matches with an aggressive play style that simply shattered Newbee’s gameplan and left the team without an effective means to retake control. EG claimed yet another 2-0 victory in less than 40 minutes of total game time, demolishing Newbee and punching its ticket to the Playoff Quarterfinals against Virtus.pro. In Game 1, VP was finally able to bring EG’s considerable momentum to a halt, as the CIS squad played an aggressive style of its own that hit the North American squad before it was fully prepared. Out killed 8-30, EG was quickly forced to concede defeat in the opening match of the series. Game 2 initially looked as though it would be another one sided match, as EG fell behind by nearly 10k net worth in the late-game stage. However, EG’s team fight power eventually reached its maximum potential, and the North American squad was able to win a series of fights to turn the tables and snatch a victory away from Virtus.pro to tie up the series 1-1. EG had staved off defeat in Game 2, but its couldn’t hold back VP’s assault in the final match of the series. The team’s cores suffered significantly against the team fight power of VP, and the frequent pressure from the CIS squad put EG in a hole that it couldn’t climb up out of. The North American squad lost the match as well as series, bringing its run at the Major to an end with a finish in the 5th-6th place position.

Evil Geniuses put on quite a show at the ESL One Katowice Major, making an impressive run at the event despite falling just short of the mark to reach a Top 4 spot. The team had been looking solid within its home region and on the international stage, but the level of competition at this event still prompted a certain level of caution when predicting where the North American team would end up. Coming into the Major, EG was projected to fall within the 7th-8th place range, but the squad managed to beat that prediction in impressive fashion with its run through the lower bracket. The team’s wins over both Infamous and Team Kinguin may not be looked at with much enthusiasm, as EG was favored to win both of those match ups. However, the team’s performances against Newbee and VP showcased the team’s ability to contend with and bring down some of the Pro Circuit leaders. The team will have plenty of chances to continue its strong play in the future, as the team is set to participate in the Bucharest Major, the GESC: Indonesia Minor, the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major, and the EPICENTER XL Major all within the next few months. Should EG maintain the level of play that we saw in Katowice, then the North American squad should have little trouble holding onto its Top 8 ranking on the Pro Circuit.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $10,000

Southeast Asian squad Mineski came into the ESL One Katowice Major with a few questions in need of answering. The team came into the event a one of the Top 8 ranked squads on the Pro Circuit, as well as the highest ranked team from its home region. However, the 2018 section of the season had drawn out a small period of inconsistency for Mineski, with the team turning in both fantastic and dreadful performances on the Pro Circuit within the last two months. As the team made its way to Katowice, it wasn’t fully apparent which version of the squad would show up to play. Even with those concerns nipping at its heels, Mineski had the perfect opportunity to show that its poor performance earlier in the year was an aberration that it was ready to move on from.

Mineski got off to a good start on that front, as the team began its run at the Major with a Bo1 series against North American squad compLexity Gaming in the opening round of the Group Stage. Behind a massive performance from iceiceice on Timbersaw (10-1-17, 26.7k net worth), the team was able blow past compLexity Gaming in a distinctly one sided affair. That initial victory advanced Mineski to the next round, where it faced off against CIS squad Virtus.pro with a guaranteed spot in the Playoff Stage on the line. Mineski took a chance on a Tinker pick in Game 1, but the risk didn’t pay off for the team. A last pick Broodmother from VP helped the CIS squad run right over Mineski, handing the SEA team a relatively quick loss in the opening match of the series. Game 2 saw Mineski put up a much tougher fight, as the squad drafted a team fight oriented lineup that kept it even with VP for much of the match. However, as the match entered the late-game stage, Mineski’s lineup began to fall behind, giving VP the edge it needed to take the final fights of the match and secure its victory. The 0-2 loss sent Mineski into the lower bracket to face European squad OG in an elimination series. Mineski attempted to play with a faster pace in Game 1 against OG, drafting a core trio of Monkey King, Puck, and Vengeful Spirit. The strategy appeared to be working early on, as the team built up a sizable advantage heading into the mid-game stage. However, the damage and team fighting power of OG’s lineup eventually came online, and Mineski found its lead overturned as OG came back to claim victory in the opening match. Mineski would flip the script in Game 2, drafting a farming and team fighting oriented lineup that played from behind for most of the match. Much like it did in Game 1 though, the fighting lineup eventually came out on top, as Mineski took a series of fights that allowed it to push OG all the way back into its own base. Behind strong performances from Nana and Mushi (combined 22-13-16), Mineski completed its come from behind effort to even up the series 1-1. Mineski decided to take a risk in Game 3 with a last pick Enigma to go along with cores of Phantom Lancer and Mirana. The gamble didn’t pay off, as OG’s lineup was largely able to avoid falling into the large scale team fight setups that Mineski was relying on. Without those set piece fights to control the momentum of the game, Mineski was eventually worn down and defeated to lose the series 1-2 and end its run at the Major in the 9th-12th place position.

The finish in the bottom half of the standings for Mineski comes as a bit of a shock, as the expectations for the Southeast Asian squad had been significantly higher. The team had put together two Top 4 finishes on the Pro Circuit so far in 2018, and was looking strong in its recent matches in the Southeast Asian region. Coming into the ESL One Katowice Major, the team had been projected as a Playoff team with a finish in the 5th-6th place range. Instead, the squad fell well short of that mark in the 9th-12th place position, which is coincidentally where the team finished at the ESL One Genting Minor at the end of January. Maybe it’s something about ESL events that brings out the worst in Mineski’s game, but the team did not manage to dispel the concerns regarding its inconsistent play with this performance in Katowice. The previous two Top 4 finishes will help keep the team in a solid position in the Pro Circuit standings, but its inconsistencies across its Pro Circuit events so far this year raise some significant questions for the team moving forward. The squad will have more chances to shore up its inconsistent international play in the coming months, as Mineski is set to attend both the Bucharest Major and the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major in March. The Southeast Asian squad is more than capable of putting these weaker showings behind it and performing at the highest level on the Pro Circuit stage, but until it shows us that consistent output again the confidence in Mineski will not be as high as it once was.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $200,000 (Total) & 450 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

After a surge of impressive play on the Pro Circuit, Chinese squad Vici Gaming emerged as a contender in the Dota 2 world. With the team carrying some of that momentum over into the 2018 section of the season, Vici Gaming was poised to continue its march up the Pro Circuit standings and potentially supplant Newbee as the top ranked squad in China. With the team’s appearance at the ESL One Katowice Major, the squad had a chance to achieve both of those goals at one event.

Vici Gaming opened its run at the major with a Bo1 series against European squad OG in the first round of the Group Stage. The Chinese squad drafted a core trio of Razor, Dragon Knight, and Sand King that helped the team overcome a late-game net worth deficit with a series of team fight wins. That win advanced Vici Gaming to the next round where the team faced defending TI7 Champion Team Liquid in a Bo3 series. Game 1 saw the team overcome an early deficit behind a strong team fight lineup and a Nature’s Prophet pick. However, the Chinese squad couldn’t maintain its lead, opening the door for Team Liquid to reclaim its advantage en route to a win in the opening match of the series. Game 2 saw Vici Gaming dominate its opponent, as Paparazzi and Ori combined for a stat line of 26-7-18 to help the team even up the series at 1-1. Paparazzi would lead the way once again in Game 3 of the series, putting together a masterful performance on Outworld Devourer (17-1-9) that fueled the team to a victory in the match and a 2-1 series win. That series gave the Chinese squad a chance to secure itself a Top 4 spot at the Major, so long as it could defeat CIS squad Virtus.pro. Game 1 started out okay for the Chinese squad, but VP quickly turned the tide of the match and built up a sizable lead in the late-game stage. However, Vici Gaming fought its way back into the match, with Paparazzi’s Razor (10-2-20) and Ori’s Dragon Knight (12-4-20) leading the team in its comeback effort as Vici Gaming claimed a win in Game 1. Game 2 was a closely contested match all the way into the late-game stage, where Vici Gaming’s duo of Paparazzi and Ori once again took over the game. The two combined for a stat line of 32-6-44 as the Chinese squad swept VP 2-0 and secured a guaranteed Top 4 spot at the Major. That win advanced the team straight to the Semifinals where it faced Team Liquid in a rematch of the two teams’ Group Stage series. Vici Gaming faced some initial struggles in Game 1, as Team Liquid’s aggressive lineup allowed it to build up momentum in the early and mid-game stages. However, Vici Gaming’s cores managed to out farm and out scale their opponents to claim a solid win in the opening game of the series. The Chinese squad attempted a similar draft in Game 2, but Team Liquid was prepared with a strong team fighting lineup of its own that proved too much for Vici Gaming to get past. With the series on the line, Vici Gaming opted to take a risk in Game 3 with a core Alchemist pick for Paparazzi. The pick paid off for the team, as Paparazzi posted a 10-4-13 stat line with 39.5k net worth as he lead his team on a run that closed out the match and earned Vici Gaming a spot in the Finals against Virtus.pro in yet another Group Stage rematch. Vici Gaming came out with a pair of abysmal performances in the first two games of the series, as the Chinese squad managed to put together just 17 kills across those two games in back to back losses. The team finally managed to stop the bleeding in Game 3 with an aggressive lineup that put heavy pressure on the VP lineup. Vici Gaming out killed the CIS squad 24-10 as it put together a win for the first time in the series. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t maintain its momentum in Game 4, as the team’s cores of Terrorblade, Dragon Knight, and Batrider were rendered largely ineffective by the high levels of damage from the VP draft. That loss brought the series to an end, as Vici Gaming lost 1-3 to finish in 2nd place overall at the Major.

Vici Gaming’s Top 4 finish in Katowice comes as a pleasant surprise for the Chinese squad, as the team adds another impressive performance to what is shaping up to be one of the stronger resumes on the Pro Circuit this season. The team had come into the event looking strong within the Chinese region, but its last two performances on the Pro Circuit had resulted in some inconsistent results that cast some doubts over the team’s chances at the Major. Prior to the start of the matches in Katowice, Vici Gaming was projected to miss the Playoff Stage entirely with a finish in the 7th-8th place range. The team outperformed that prediction in absolutely incredible fashion, earning itself enough Qualifying Points to snag the title of top ranked Chinese squad away from Newbee. The team will have a few opportunities to expand its hold on its new found position in the near future. Vici Gaming is set to participate in the upcoming Bucharest Major, as well as the Dota 2 Asia Championship Major later this month. In terms of qualifier runs, the team is also a participants in the China Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor. With so many opportunities in front of it and a slew of Pro Circuit successes behind it, there’s little denying that Vici Gaming has earned its place among the elite teams in the Dota 2 world.

 

Natus Vincere 668px-Natus_Vincere

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $5,000

Na’vi’s recent roster changes had eager eyes locked onto the CIS squad as it entered the ESL One Katowice Major. The addition of two new players had not only set Na’Vi up as an intriguing team for Dota 2 fans to watch, but had also catapulted the team up the Pro Circuit standings. That new found position of power was going to be rigorously tested in the new roster’s first Pro Circuit appearance, and the team came into the event looking to display the strength of its updated roster.

The CIS squad began its run at the Major with an opening round match up with Southeast Asian squad Fnatic in a Bo1 series. The CIS squad looked for both damage and sustainability in its draft, picking up a core trio of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Death Prophet. That trio kept Na’Vi in the game for quite some time, but eventually the team fighting power of Fnatic’s lineup and its core duo of Tinker and Viper proved too much for Na’Vi to handle as it lost the game and fell into the lower bracket. There, the team came face to face with Chinese squad and fellow Top 8 ranked team Newbee in a Bo3 elimination series. Na’Vi looked to play with an aggressive fighting lineup headlined by Queen of Pain, Faceless Void and Beastmaster. Support pickups of Bounty Hunter and Skywrath Mage were meant to facilitate this aggression, but the strategy proved largely ineffective. Newbee avoided early deaths on its core heroes and managed to out pace Na’Vi’s lineup for a relatively quick and easy victory in Game 1. Game 2 saw a similar scenario play out, as Na’Vi’s core trio of Death Prophet, Weaver, and Brewmaster once again attempted to control the temp of the match. Once again Newbee refused to let its opponent control the game, establishing an early lead that only grew more intimidating as the game went on. With the net worth deficit ballooning over the 20k mark, Na’Vi conceded defeat to lose the series 0-2 and finish its time at the ESL One Katowice Major in the 12th-16th place position.

Considering the recent and significant changes that Na’Vi had made to its roster, the expectations for the CIS squad at this Major were relatively low. Even taking that into consideration, the team’s quick and brutal exit from the event comes as a bit of a surprise. The team came into the ESL One Katowice Major with a projected finish in the 9th-12th place range, but the squad fell short of event that somewhat modest prediction. The team’s loss to Fnatic is somewhat disappointing, though the team but together a respectable performance that fell just short of what it needed to win. The series against Newbee is also a bit concerning, though not necessarily for the reason that most would think. The CIS squad was certainly a underdog against the top ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit, but the way that Na’Vi lost its two matches appears more significant. The team adopted relatively active and aggressive strategies in that series, and both times failed to make the impact that it needed for the lineup to succeed. Whether this is a flaw in Na’Vi’s execution or strength and patience on the part of Newbee isn’t completely clear, but it’s something that could affect the team moving forward with its new roster. The CIS squad will have a few opportunities to put this poor performance behind it, as Na’Vi has been invited to The Bucharest Major in just over a week, and will serve as the CIS representative at the GESC: Indonesia Minor later in March. The first showing for the new Na’Vi may not have been as impressive as some may have hoped, but the squad still has time to show its strength on the international stage.

 

Team Kinguin 627px-Team_Kinguin

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $10,000

The emergence of Polish squad Team Kinguin on the Pro Circuit was an exciting and somewhat surprising development this season. However, following its initial successes on the international level, the team appeared to be coming back down to Earth in recent months. The squad’s runs through regional qualifiers in 2018 have proven less fruitful than in earlier times as many of its European rivals have begun offering more stout opposition. With the squad coming into the ESL One Katowice Major, Team Kinguin was presented with an opportunity to strengthen its position within its home region and perhaps even spark another impressive run like the one it displayed earlier in the season.

Team Kinguin faced a tough test in the opening round of the Group Stage, as the team went up against Chinese powerhouse Newbee in a Bo1 series. Team Kinguin came out with a core trio of Gyrocopter, Nature’s Prophet, and Abaddon with the intention of pushing the lanes and controlling the tempo of the match. The strategy paid off, as Newbee’s lineup couldn’t hit its power spike in time to hold back Team Kinguin’s pressure as the Polish squad took a surprising victory over the Chinese team. The win set up the team for a series against Fnatic in the next round, though Team Kinguin would not manage to carry its momentum over into the first match of the series. The team couldn’t contain Abed’s Ember Spirit (13-0-11) as Team Kinguin was utterly destroyed in Game 1. Game 2 looked to be going in a somewhat similar fashion in the early and mid-game stages, as Team Kinguin fell behind. However, some solid team fight execution and an impressive performance from Nisha on Dragon Knight (12-3-7) helped the team take control of the match and even up the series 1-1. After its victory in Game 2, Team Kinguin looked as though it was ready to close out the series in Game 3, with its core trio of Tiny, Vengeful Spirit, and Beastmaster helping to build up a significant lead in the late-game stage. Fnatic had one last ace up its sleeve though, as the team pulled off a series of incredible team fights that left Team Kinguin unable to defend its base as Fnatic completed a spectacular come from behind effort to hand the Polish squad a 1-2 loss. The loss sent Team Kinguin into the lower bracket for an elimination series against North American squad Evil Geniuses. Team Kinguin looked to employ its Nature’s Prophet strategy again in Game 1, but the plan failed to find success despite a solid performance from Exotic_Deer (7-4-2). Game 2 proved to be an entirely one sided affair, as Arteezy’s Lifestealer (16-0-9) helped the North American squad dominate the match to knock Team Kinguin out of the Major with a finish in the 9th-12th place position.

Team Kinguin may have finished in the bottom half of the standings at the ESL One Katowice Major, but the team’s performance at the event was a pleasant surprise. Coming into the Major, Team Kinguin was projected to finish within the 13th-16th place range, but the Polish squad managed to outperform that prediction in fairly impressive fashion. The team’s recent results within the European region had been a cause for some concern in 2018, but the team didn’t appear to be bothered by some of those recent struggles. The victory over Newbee as well as the team’s 1-2 loss to Fnatic have both served to remind the Dota 2 world of Team Kinguin’s potential to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. The question for the team moving forward will be whether it can remain consistent or even improve its performance on the international level. The last time Team Kinguin met with success on the Pro Circuit, it was unable to maintain that momentum and slipped into its recently observed slump. The team may have to wait a bit for its next Pro Circuit opportunity, as the team isn’t set to participate in any of the upcoming Pro Circuit events yet. Team Kinguin continues to have talent and potential, but it needs another strong performance to prove that its past success was more than just a flash in a pan.

 

OG 425px-OG_RB_Logo

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $20,000

After what had been a slow start to the season, European squad OG has worked its way back into the mix on the Pro Circuit with a string of impressive performances over the last few months. Coming into the ESL One Katowice Major, the team had been dominating regional qualifiers, and had also earned itself three straight Top 4 finishes at Pro Circuit events. That kind of performance had the team feeling confident as it made its way to the Major, but the team remained just outside of the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit rankings. With an impressive bounty of Qualifying Points on the line at the Major, OG was presented with an ideal opportunity to reclaim its position among the Dota 2 world’s elite squads.

OG began its run at the Major with a Bo1 series against Chinese squad Vici Gaming in the opening round of the Group Stage. Despite solid games from both Resolution on Storm Spirit (9-5-8, 23.7k net worth) and N0tail’s Lone Druid (4-3-9, 36.1k net worth), OG couldn’t hold on to defeat Vici Gaming as the Chinese squad wiped out its lead in the late game to secure a victory. That loss dropped OG into the lower bracket where it faced CIS squad Effect in a Bo3 elimination series. OG dominated Game 1 of the series, out killing its opponent by a score of 38-7 in a ridiculously one sided affair. Game 2 played out in a similar fashion, with OG drafting a lineup that simply pushed too hard and too fast for Effect’s to contain with its draft. With that relatively easy 2-0 win, OG moved on to the next round to face Southeast Asian powerhouse Mineski. In Game 1, it appeared that OG’s momentum from its previous series had abandoned it, as Mineski got out to a modest lead in the mid-game. However, OG presented a stout defense of its base that Mineski couldn’t break through, and the European squad eventually wore down its opponents and pushed headlong down the middle lane to pull off the come from behind win in the opening match of the series. Game 2 saw this same scenario played out in reverse, as OG built up an intimidating lead through the mid and late-game stages. However, Mineski’s tankiness and team fighting power stalled the OG advance, and a series of strong fights in the SEA squad’s favor allowed it to go all in one a mid lane push to win the game and tie up the series 1-1. With the series hanging in the balance, OG went into the Game 3 draft looking for a combination of sustainability and farming power. The answer from the European squad was a core trio of Terrorblade, Dragon Knight, and Visage. While the two teams remained close through the early stages of the match, it soon became clear that OG’s strategy was paying off as it steadily pulled away from Mineski. With impressive team fight execution and constant pushing and pressure across all lanes, Mineski was backed further and further onto its own side of the map. With no way to find the perfect initiation that its lineup was dependent on, Mineski couldn’t stop OG’s push, allowing the European steam to secure a 2-1 victory. That win gave OG a chance to play for a spot in the Playoff Stage of the Major, but it would face its toughest test yet with a series against Team Liquid. OG looked for a more aggressive play style in Game 1, drafting cores of Lifestealer, Batrider, and Storm Spirit alongside Rubick and Chen to facilitate potential initiations and ganks. The strategy worked in the early stages of the match, but OG couldn’t contain Team Liquid’s cores, particularly Miracle-‘s Queen of Pain (17-1-12). With its core heroes relatively untouched and able to farm, Team Liquid began to significantly out scale OG’s lineup, building up a net worth lead that OG’s ganking lineup was simply unable to overcome as it lost the series opener. Game 2 would prove to be significantly less competitive than its predecessor, as OG took a risk with a Tinker pick in the draft. That pick, and the rest of OG’s lineup along with it, was heavily pressured and punished by Team Liquid. That harassment and aggressive play severely limited the OG lineup, as the team was out killed by a score of 6-24 in a match that Team Liquid controlled from the start. The 0-2 loss left OG just short of the mark for a spot in the Playoff Stage, as the team finished its run at the Major with a 7th-8th place finish.

OG’s impressive regional play and string of Top 4 finishes on the Pro Circuit had it looking relatively strong heading into this event, but the team’s performance at the Major was even better than what had been initially predicted. Coming into the ESL One Katowice Major, OG had been projected to finish within the 9th-12th place range, a modest prediction that the team was able to surpass with its play in Katowice. The team’s streak of Top 4 finishes may have come to an end, but the European squad can still feel good about another strong and solid performance on the international stage. The team’s initial loss to Vici Gaming in the Bo1 opening series could have gone better, but that match up wasn’t necessarily one that OG was a heavy favorite to win. Beyond that, there isn’t much to take exception to with OG’s run through the lower bracket, as it easily handled Effect and managed to overcome a Top 8 ranked squad in Mineski. The only thing that prevented OG from advancing to the Playoff Stage was Team Liquid, and at this point in the season there are few teams that should be expecting to defeat the TI7 Champion. Overall, this performance in Katowice served to remind the Dota 2 world that OG is still capable of competing on the international stage, and the team will have a few opportunities to prove that again in the coming months. The team will be competing in The Bucharest Major, DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, and Dota 2 Asia Championships Major all in the next month, and will also be attending the EPICENTER XL Major in April. With so many Pro Circuit events on the schedule, OG could be poised for a significant jump up the standings.

 

Effect Effect

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $5,000

Effect had spent most of the Pro Circuit season so far wrangling with roster instability whilst attempting to climb through the ranks of the hierarchy in the CIS region. The new year has brought a new sense of hope and optimism to the organization, as the team has seen an improvement to its play of late. Effect also used the recent roster lock period to finalize its lineup, bringing an end to the instability that marred some of its earlier runs. Even with its new roster and recent uptick in results, Effect did not come into its Pro Circuit debut with any delusions of claiming titles. However, the squad was presented with a key opportunity to test itself on the Pro Circuit stage and gauge its recent growth against top international competition.

Effect found itself thrown straight into the fire in Katowice, as the CIS squad began its run at the Major with a Bo1 match against defending TI7 Champion Team Liquid. Effect put together a respectable effort, but fell behind early to Team Liquid’s pressuring lineup and active play. Effect’s core duo of Death Prophet and Anti Mage proved unable to fully close that gap as Effect dropped down to the lower bracket with its opening loss. The CIS squad faced off against European team OG next in a Bo3 elimination series. Game 1 was an absolute stomp for OG, as Effect’s lineup was heavily and constantly pressured throughout the early and mid-game stages. Effect was playing from behind for the entirety of the match, earning just seven kills in a bit under 35 minutes of game time. Effect put up a much stronger fight in Game 2 of the series, drafting around a duo Death Prophet and Terrorblade in an attempt to out push and out fight OG. The two squad remained relatively even in terms of kills and net worth into the late game stage, where OG began to pull away. With its control of the map lost and all of its lanes pushed in, Effect rolled the dice with one final fight, but was ultimately unable to turn the tide and conceded defeat to lose the series 0-2. The loss eliminated Effect from the ESL One Katowice Major with a position in the combined last place of 13th-16th.

The early exit from the Major for Effect may be an unfortunate outcome for the team, but it wasn’t exactly and unexpected one. The team’s recent finalization of its roster along with its improved play in the CIS region were both certainly encouraging signs, but a team making its Pro Circuit debut in such a stacked field of participants was almost certain to end up in the lower half of the standings. Coming into the event, the team was projected to fall within that 13th-16th place range, and despite a respectable effort Effect was unable to outperform those expectations. The team’s first round match up with Team Liquid didn’t help matters much either, as drawing the TI7 Winner as its first opponent all but doomed Effect to the lower bracket. The 0-2 loss to OG is another relatively unsurprising outcome, although there was still some hope that the team could have possibly snagged one win against the European squad. As its stands, that didn’t happen, and Effect falls out of the Major without a win to its name. However, that performance shouldn’t discourage the team or its fans, as Effect was getting its first taste of playing at the highest level of the Pro Circuit. With its debut performance out of the way, the team can begin preparing for its next opportunity to perform on the Pro Circuit stage. The team is just a few days away from the CIS Qualifier for the EPICENTER Major in April, and has already earned itself a spot at the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major at the end of March. Effect may not have made a big impact in Katowice, but Dota 2 fans most certainly have not seen the last of the CIS squad.

 

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $5,000

2018 has been an up and down sort of year so far for North American squad compLexity Gaming. At the end of the 2017 section of the season, the team looked poised to hold a position at the top of the hierarchy in its home region and perhaps even challenge Evil Geniuses as North America’s strongest team. Those lofty goals haven’t come to fruition just yet, as the team continues its efforts to bolster its position as a regional leader and shore up what has been a somewhat lackluster series of performances on the Pro Circuit stage. With the team looking to further distance itself from its regional rivals, compLexity Gaming came into the ESL One Katowice Major determined to put together a solid performance and reestablish itself as a threat on the international level.

CompLexity Gaming would get its chance to go up against international opposition right off the bat in Katowice, as the North American squad matched up against Southeast Asian team Mineski in the opening round in a Bo1 series. The North American squad opted for a bit of a greedy lineup in this match, drafting a core trio of Templar Assassin, Lycan, and Dragon Knight. Against the heavily active and team fight oriented lineup of Mineski though, the draft failed to achieve its desired potential. Mineski pressured and out paced the compLexity Gaming lineup, leading throughout the match and handing the North American team a loss that sent it into the lower bracket. There, the team found itself facing a very familiar opponent, as the team faced fellow North American squad OpTic Gaming in a Bo3 regional grudge match. CompLexity Gaming struck first in the series, winning Game 1 behind a fantastic performance from Chessie on Juggernaut (11-1-17, 23.3k Net Worth). OpTic Gaming recovered from this opening loss, claiming a win in Game 2 with a dominant performance that simply overpowered the compLexity Gaming lineup. With the series on the line, compLexity made a risky call, drafting a core trio of Sniper, Razor, and Brewmaster, but also throwing in a Nature’s Prophet pick for Zfreek. Despite the team’s best efforts, the OpTic Gaming draft began to pull away after the laning stage, and compLexity Gaming’s heroes simply didn’t have enough to contain it. Despite stout resistance throughout the rest of the match, compLexity Gaming eventually fell, losing the series 1-2 and ending its run at the Major with a 13th-16th place position.

The end of compLexity Gaming’s run at the Major in the collective last place position is not a massively shocking outcome, but it is somewhat of a surprise for the North American squad. Coming into the event, the team was still projected to finish in the lower half of the standings, but in the 9th-12th place position rather than its 13th-16th finish. Heading into the Major, the North American squad certainly was having its troubles against international opponents, and those issues don’t appear to have been resolved based upon its match against Mineski. However, one must take into account the fact that Mineski does still stand as one of the Top 8 squads on the Pro Circuit, so compLexity’s loss in that context doesn’t look nearly as damaging. What is more concerning is its 1-2 loss to fellow North American squad OpTic Gaming. The rival North American team had been looking solid coming into the event, but it at least appeared that compLexity Gaming still held the edge over its regional competitor. To lose out to another team from the home region on such a significant stage is not the most encouraging sign for compLexity Gaming moving forward. The loss presents a potential weakness that could threaten the team’s position near the top of the regional hierarchy unless it can right the ship with a solid performance soon. The North American squad will have just that kind of opportunity coming up soon, as compLexity Gaming is one of the participants set to compete at the Bucharest Major in March as well as the EPICENTER Major at the end of April. The North American squad may not have gotten its confidence bolstering performance in Katowice, but it still has a few chances left to prove itself as a true threat on the Pro Circuit.

 

InfamousLOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $5,000

The season so far has been rather interesting for South American squad Infamous, as the team has been fighting for a position of strength within the region. In that front, the team appears to have been successful so far, as Infamous stands as one of the leading teams in South America. That position has led to a multitude of opportunities for Infamous to perform on the Pro Circuit stage, but the team has yet to convert any of those chances into Qualifying Points. As a region, South America has not looked particularly well this season, but as Infamous approached the ESL One Katowice Major, it had a chance to take another significant step forward for itself and for the region it represented.

Infamous didn’t get much of a favorable draw in the Group Stage, as the South American squad faced off against Pro Circuit leader Team Secret in the opening round in a Bo1 series. The match was about as one sided as one could expect, with the lineup of  Infamous being seemingly outmaneuvered at every turn. Despite managing to draw out the match with some admirable defensive play, Infamous was out killed 24-9 as it lost its first match and dropped down into the lower bracket. Infamous would next face off against North American squad Evil Geniuses in a Bo3 series to see which team would remain in the running at the Major. Game 1 proved to be a relatively short affair, as Infamous and EG kept pace with each other through the laning stage. However, as the game progressed towards the mid-game stage, Infamous found itself unable to contain Arteezy’s Lifestealer, leading to a deficit that the South American squad felt it couldn’t overcome as it conceded defeat in under 22 minutes of game time. Game 2 would see Infamous trialing in a similar fashion for almost the entirety of the match, as its support duo was heavily pressured and punished by EG’s draft. Despite a solid performance from Kotarō Hayama (playing under the name mnz) on Templar Assassin (12-3-2), Infamous couldn’t hold back EG’s push, losing the series 0-2 and ending its run at the Major with a finish in the 13th-16th place position.

The poor performance and early exit for Infamous at the Major was an unfortunate outcome for the South American squad, but the expectations for the team weren’t very high coming into the event. The team may have been looking solid within its home region, but the continued and consistent lack of results on the international level made it incredibly difficult to have confidence in its ability to contend with its opponents at this event. Prior to the start of the Major, Infamous was projected to finish in the 13th-16th place position, and the South American squad wound up right in that very position at the end of its time in Katowice. The team’s loss to Team Secret is hardly a surprise considering the strength of the European squad so far this season. However, the team had an opportunity in its series against Evil Geniuses that it failed to take advantage of. Granted, EG is a Top 8 ranked squad and no pushover on the international scene, but of all the opponents in the field at Katowice, the North American squad was the one that Infamous may have had the most experience playing against and the best chance of winning a match against. As it stands, Infamous failed to win any matches at the Major with a disappointing but unsurprising 0-3 record overall. The team has been going through a harsh and brutal learning process so far this season, getting repeatedly trounced on the international level at multiple Pro Circuit events. This process is essential for a team and a region that has only recently been introduced to the wider international scene, but that reasoning is beginning to wear thin as the season approaches its end. Infamous is slowly running out of time to show the Dota 2 world what it has learned from all this Pro Circuit experience. The team isn’t quite out of opportunities just yet though, as Infamous will participate in the GESC: Indonesia Minor in March. The South American squad isn’t without hope yet, but the window of opportunity is slowly closing for Infamous.

 

LGD Gaming 800px-LGD

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $10,000

After the uncertainty and risk involved in the team’s significant roster changes, LGD Gaming has come out on the other side looking like a team ready to compete on the Pro Circuit again. 2018 has seen the Chinese squad drastically improve its play within its home region, earning the team a chance to return to the Pro Circuit stage. The team came into the ESL One Katowice Major looking for a chance to prove to itself and the Dota 2 world that it’s previous struggles were a thing of the past and that the team was ready to compete at the highest level.

LGD Gaming began its run at the Major with an opening round match against North American squad Evil Geniuses. Led by an impressive performance from Maybe on Dragon Knight (11-0-6), LGD Gaming was able to keep the EG lineup in check to secure the win and advance on to the next round. The Chinese squad faced a formidable opponent in the form of Pro Circuit leader Team Secret, as LGD Gaming faced off against the European squad in a Bo3 series. Game 1 was alarmingly one sided, as LGD Gaming ‘s lineup was outpaced and outmaneuvered at every turn as it lost the opening match of the series. LGD Gaming out up a tougher fight in Game 2, building up a moderate lead in the early and mid-game stages. Despite a fantastic game from Maybe’s Queen of Pain (12-4-7), LGD Gaming wasn’t able to hold that lead over Team Secret’s lineup. The European squad stole the lead away from LGD Gaming and didn’t look back, handing the Chinese squad an 0-2 loss that dropped it into the lower bracket. The team’s lower bracket elimination series featured a regional match up, as LGD Gaming played against Newbee. Game 1 of the series proved to be an endurance test, as LGD Gaming held a lead throughout most of a match that went on for over an hour of in-game time. However, LGD Gaming wasn’t quite able to close out the game, stalling out as it pushed into Newbee’s base and allowing its opponent to turn the tide and earn a come from behind victory. LGD Gaming was quick to recover from its tough loss in the series opener, as the team came out with a faster pace in Game 2. With the help of a big performance from Ame on Terrorblade (9-2-8, 18.4k net worth), LGD Gaming established control of the map and forced Newbee to concede defeat to tie the series. With the series on the line in Game 3, LGD Gaming drafted heavily team fight oriented lineup, with cores of Death Prophet, Juggernaut, and Tidehunter. That core trio helped LGD Gaming biuld up a significant lead in the mid and late-game stages of the match, but it wasn’t enough to finish off Newbee. The team fight lineup of LGD Gaming couldn’t break the high ground defense of Newbee, opening the door for the team to eventually overpower LGD Gaming and hand the Chinese squad a 1-2 loss. That loss dropped LGD Gaming out of the the event with a finish in the 9th-12th place position.

The finish in the bottom half of the standings for LGD Gaming at this Major comes as a significant surprise, and not necessarily in a positive way. The team’s drastically improved performance within the Chinese region had the team looking more confident and consistent heading into the Major. On top of that, the Chinese squad was coming off of a Top 4 performance on the Pro Circuit at the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 Minor. All of that had LGD Gaming looking like a team ready to get back into a consistent level of play on the international stage. In that context, the team came into the Major projected to fall within the 5th-6th place range, a prediction that the team fell woefully short of. The team’s poor performance at this event is certainly a disappointing outcome, but the Chinese squad should have opportunities to put that showing behind it in the near future. LGD Gaming will have a chance to earn itself redemption on home soil, as the squad is set to participate in the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major at the end of March. We will see if LGD Gaming can get back to its winning ways, or if another slump is on its way for the Chinese squad.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 4th

Winnings: $80,000 (Total) & 75 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Following some significant struggles to begin the season, Southeast Asian squad Fnatic has finally put itself in to a position to compete on the Pro Circuit. After surviving multiple roster changes, the new lineup has put together a solid stretch of matches so far in 2018. The team was still trailing the Top 8 squads on the Pro Circuit coming into this event, but the ESL One Katowice Major provided the team with a perfect opportunity to display its strength and potentially close that gap and climb up the ranks in the Pro Circuit standings.

The Southeast Asian squad began its run at the Major with a Bo1 series against CIS team Na’Vi in the opening round of the Group Stage. Fnatic’s cores of Tinker and Viper quickly established the team’s control over the pace of the match, building up a lead that Na’Vi’s team fight lineup wasn’t quite able to overcome as the SEA squad advanced to the next round to face Team Kinguin. Fnatic dominated Game 1 of the series against the Polish squad, with Abed and EternaLEnVy combining for a stat line of 18-0-20 as Fnatic jumped out to a 1-0 series lead. It looked as though Fnatic was going to make it a clean sweep in Game 2, as the team once again built up a sizable lead in the mid-game. However, Team Kinguin’s lineup was able to survive this initial onslaught and continue scaling to a point where the team managed to steal away Fnatic’s momentum to claim a victory and tie up the series 1-1. Fnatic would come back with a vengeance in Game 3 though, with Abed’s Outworld Devourer (10-4-9) putting together a fantastic performance to slam the door shut on Team Kinguin for a 2-1 series win. That win meant that Fnatic would face Team Secret for a guaranteed Top 4 spot in the event, and the SEA squad came out firing in Game 1 of that series. Abed and EternaLEnVy put up massive performances in the opening match, combining for a stat line of 26-7-29 as the team punished the farming draft of Team Secret. Game 2 saw Fnatic stumble a bit, as its lineup was heavily pressured by Team Secret and gave up kill after kill as Team Secret dominated the match and tied up the series. That loss forced a decisive Game 3, and it appeared that Fnatic was in a solid position to claim victory in that final match as the team built up a lead in the mid and late-game stages. However, Team Secret’s core trio of Invoker, Dragon Knight, and Lone Druid managed to out farm Fnatic in the late game, shifting the advantage towards the European squad and allowing it to apply heavy pressure to Fnatic’s base. With Team Secret pressing in from all sides, Universe made a bold play, using Underlord to transport his teammates directly into Team Secret’s base to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat and pull of a last second upset win. With that 2-1 victory over Team Secret, the team advanced directly to the Semifinals of the Playoff Stage to face Virtus.pro for a chance to play in the Final. Unfortunately, the SEA squad’s momentum would give out at this stage, as VP would exert total control on Game 1 with a draft that stifled the lineup of Fnatic. Game 2 proved to be a bit more competitive, but Fnatic still struggled and ended up losing the match despite a solid performance from Abed on Viper (9-4-6). The loss ended Fnatic’s shot at a Major Title, but the team still had a chance to claim 3rd place in the decider series against Team Liquid. Fnatic came out with a team fight oriented draft in Game 1, picking up cores of Gyrocpoter, Timbersaw, and Sand King with an Enchantress thrown in for even more damage. Unfortunately, that lineup wasn’t enough to counter the power of Team Liquid’s draft, as it’s farming and high burst damage cores teamed up with an Io pick to constantly outmaneuver Fnatic’s heroes to win Game 1. Fnatic came back with an absolutely dominant performance in Game 2 of the series, as Abed’s Broodmother and DJ’s Tusk combined for a stat line of 30-3-24 that earned the team a 1-1 tie in the series. Game 3 came down to the wire for both teams, and despite EternaLEnVy’s Razor (10-6-15) and Abed’s Ember Spirit (15-5-9) turning in masterful performances, the SEA squad couldn’t quite break through the defense of Team Liquid. The European squad controlled the final few fights of the match, breaking Fnatic’s momentum and leaving it powerless to defend its own base and Fnatic lost the series 1-2 to finish in 4th place at the Major.

Fnatic’s run at the ESL One Katowice Major comes as a significant surprise, as the team didn’t necessarily appear to be in a position where this kind of performance could be expected. The team’s new lineup certainly had the experience and the talent to compete on the international level, but its previous Pro Circuit appearances in 2018 had seen some solid if somewhat inconsistent results. Coming into the event, Fnatic was projected to fall within the 9th-12th place range, but the Southeast Asian squad blew past that meager prediction with an awe inspiring performance to net itself another Top 4 finish on the season. This positive finish serves as a massive boon to the team as it works to climb into the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings. The squad showed itself capable of competing with some of the Dota 2 world’s best teams at this event, with its performances against Team Secret and Team Liquid particularly showing off the team’s strength. Fnatic now have positioned themselves in a perfect spot to continue its impressive start to 2018, and the team will have some opportunities to keep its momentum going in the coming months. The team will be attending both the GESC: Indonesia and DreamLeague Season 9 Minors later in March, giving the team much needed chances to earn more Qualifying Points. Should the team maintain the level of play that we witnessed in Katowice, then it shouldn’t have too many issues continuing its climb up the rankings, and could potentially challenge Mineski for the position of top Southeast Asian squad on the Pro Circuit.

 

OpTic Gaming OpTic_Gaming

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $10,000

OpTic Gaming had presented something of an enigma so far this season. The team had been, and continues to be, one of the leading teams within the North American region. However, that relative stability within its home region had not translated into an abundance of opportunities to perform on the Pro Circuit stage for OpTic Gaming. Coming into the ESL One Katowice Major, it wasn’t easy to pin down exactly where OpTic Gaming belonged among the list of participants. Despite that, the North American squad had a huge chance to put its strength on display and perhaps finally establish itself as a serious competitor on the Pro Circuit.

Unfortunately for OpTic Gaming, the team began its run at the Major against one of the more formidable opponents in the field, as the North American squad faced off against Virtus.pro in the opening round of the Group Stage. The team drafted a core trio of Templar Assassin, Dragon Knight, and Beastmaster, alongside a roaming Chen pick. The combination got the North American squad out to an early lead, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold back VP. The CIS squad dominated the mid and late-game stages to snatch the momentum away from OpTic Gaming and hand the North American squad a loss that dropped it into the lower bracket. There, the team would find a familiar face as it played fellow North American squad compLexity Gaming in a Bo3 elimination series. OpTic Gaming fell short in Game 1, losing the opening match of the series despite a strong performance from CCnC on Queen of Pain (10-6-4). Game 2 saw OpTic Gaming regain control of the series though, as Pajkatt’s Gyrocopter (15-1-9) led the way in a one sided victory that evened up the series 1-1. OpTic Gaming would maintain its new found momentum into the final match of the series, as CCnC’s Queen of Pain (14-2-7, 27.2k net worth) and Pajkatt’s Juggernaut (12-0-7, 28.1k net worth) gave the squad the strength it needed to close the door on compLexity Gaming and advance to the next round with a 2-1 win. The team’s march through the lower bracket would come to a grinding halt though in the next round, as OpTic Gaming faced off against Team Liquid. OpTic Gaming was simply wiped out in Game 1 of the series, putting together just eight kills as Team Liquid simply pushed past it for an easy win. The North American squad came out more prepared in Game 2, drafting cores of Shadow Fiend, Omniknight, and Broodmother with an Enchantress pick for even more damage. The strategy appeared to be working, as OpTic Gaming held a lead of over 12,000 net worth in the late-game stage. However, Team Liquid took a crucial teamfight that wiped out OpTic Gaming’s advantage and swung momentum decisively in favor of the European squad. With its lead shattered and its team fighting power insufficient, OpTic Gaming conceded defeat to lose the series 0-2 and end its time at the Major with a 9th-12th place finish.

OpTic Gaming may have finished within the lower half of the standings at the ESL One Katowice Major, but that finish is still better than what had been expected of the team coming into the event. The team had been looking solid and stable within the North American region, but its track record on the Pro Circuit still called for a certain degree of skepticism in the run up to the Major. Prior to the start of the action in Katowice, the team had been projected to finish within the 13th-16th place range, a prediction that the North American squad was able to beat. The team held its own in the Group Stage, defeating its North American rival in compLexity Gaming and putting together admirable losses to top squads Virtus.pro and Team Liquid. Overall, it was about a solid a performance as one could expect considering the teams that OpTic Gaming found itself competing against, and it serves as a significant step forward as the team looks to establish itself on the Pro Circuit. OpTic Gaming will have more opportunities to build on this performance in the near future, as the team is set to participate in the Bucharest Major and the Dota 2 Asia Championships in March. If the team can improve upon the performance that it put on in Katowice, then fans should be seeing significantly more of OpTic Gaming on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

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