Nine teams set to compete in Bangkok as Pro Circuit heads to Thailand for final Minor of season.
The Pro Circuit season is hitting the home stretch now, as teams from all around the world look to make one final push for Qualifying Points before the TI8 invites and Qualifiers are announced. The eyes of the Dota 2 world will soon turn to Thailand for the first time this season, as the GESC: Thailand Minor has completed its regional qualifiers and locked in its field of participants. Organized by GESC as part of its Global Electronic Sports Championship (GESC) series, this event will be the second Minor from the organizer and has the distinction of being the final Minor of the Pro Circuit season. Running from May 9 through the 12th, the GESC: Thailand Minor will bring nine Pro Circuit squads to the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre for the chance to earn a share of prize pools of $300,000 USD and 300 Qualifying Points. The distribution of those prize pools among the competing teams can be seen outlined below.
1st: $110,000 (Total) & 150 Qualifying Points (Per Player)
2nd: $65,000 (Total) & 90 Qualifying Points (Per Player)
3rd-4th: $35,000 (Per Team) & 30 Qualifying Points (Per Player)
5th-6th: $15,500 (Per Team)
7th-9th: $8,000 (Per Team)
With four Majors remaining in the Pro Circuit schedule, the relatively small prize pool and Qualifying Point pool available at the GESC: Thailand Minor may make the event seem less important in the chaos of the late-season shuffle on the Pro Circuit. While the Minor won’t lead to any squads making a massive leap up the Pro Circuit standings, that doesn’t mean that the event won’t have an impact on the landscape of the Pro Circuit. With seven direct invites to TI8 still available and the Regional Qualifier invites not yet announced, the Qualifying Points up for grabs in Bangkok could make a significant difference for all of the squads set to participate in the Minor. One of the teams in the field (Team Secret) is currently ranked in the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings, and four of the teams (Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, VGJ.Storm, Vega Squadron) currently hold Qualifying Points but are outside of the Top 8. Four of the teams in the field (Alpha Red, Keen Gaming, SG e-sports, The Final Tribe) come into Bangkok looking for their first Qualifying Points of the season. At this stage in the season though, many of the teams that will be competing at the GESC: Thailand are looking for momentum and confidence more than Qualifying Points, with four squads (Alpha Red, Keen Gaming, VGJ.Storm, SG e-sports) being ineligible for invites to the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the nine teams that will be fighting to be crowned the final Minor Champion of the season in Bangkok.
- Disclaimer: This post will contain some brief and shallow details for each of the competing teams. A more thorough breakdown of the participating teams will come closer to the start of the event itself.
The Direct Invitees
Team Secret (Europe) – Team Secret comes into this event as one of the leading teams on the Pro Circuit this season, and as of the time of writing this the European squad sits as the highest ranked team in the field of participants. By the time the team arrives in Bangkok, Team Secret may no longer be in need of the Qualifying Points available at the Minor, as the squad could secure itself a direct invite to TI8 depending upon its performance at the preceding EPICENTERL XL Major. Regardless of its result in Moscow, Team Secret will be one of the favorites to claim this final Minor Championship of the season, and the European squad will be looking to finish its Pro Circuit run strong with a solid showing at the GESC: Thailand Minor.
Evil Geniuses (North America) – As of the conclusion of the GESC: Thailand qualifiers, Evil Geniuses stands as the highest ranked team from the North American region. Unfortunately, that status within the team’s home region has not carried over onto the Pro Circuit, as EG has fallen out of the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings. With the season coming to a close and a handful of Pro Circuit events remaining, Evil Geniuses is in need of a strong showing on the international level to keep its hope of a TI8 invite alive. This Minor in Bangkok provides the North American squad with an opportunity to put together just such a performance on the Pro Circuit stage, but time is beginning to run out for EG to make a late-season surge back into the Top 8.
The Qualifier Winners
The Final Tribe (Europe) – European squad The Final Tribe will be making just its second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage at the GESC: Thailand Minor. Coincidentally, the team’s Pro Circuit debut also came at a GESC event, as the team finished in the 5th-6th place position at the GESC: Indonesia Minor. The team has been working to establish itself as a potential contender within the European region, but opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit stage have been elusive for the Swedish squad. The European region still has a significant number of squads eligible for invites to the TI8 Regional Qualifiers, which means The Final Tribe may not be entirely secure heading into the final events of the season. A solid showing at this Minor and the potential first Qualifying Points of the season for The Final Tribe may just be enough to lock in an invite to the TI8 Europe Qualifier, but the team will have to get past a cadre of squads also hungry for a late-season success on the Pro Circuit to bolster their own records.
Vega Squadron (CIS) – CIS squad Vega Squadron enters the GESC: Thailand Minor coming off of its breakthrough performance in Kiev at the most recent Pro Circuit Minor. The team earned its first Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit this season, and Vega Squadron has the chance to build on that momentum with another strong performance in Bangkok. Considering the low number of TI8 invite eligible teams left in the CIS region, Vega Squadron already has a strong chance of receiving an invite to the TI8 CIS Qualifier. However, another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage would help solidify the team’s position and status within its home region. With one Minor and four Majors remaining in the season, there’s also still a possibility that Vega Squadron could compete for a Top 8 spot if it manages to put together a string of wins over those final events. If such a run where to occur, it has to begin with the CIS squad turning in an impressive performance at this Minor.
VGJ.Storm (North America) – The GESC: Thailand Minor will not be the first time that the VGJ.Storm organization has seen action on the Pro Circuit stage, but it will be the first event for the team’s current roster. The organization signed a new roster in February, and just recently underwent further changes with the addition of Ukrainian player Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok to the lineup. With its new-look lineup, VGJ.Storm will look to build up momentum for itself with a strong showing at the Minor, although the team’s ineligibility for TI8 invites means that it cannot make use of any Qualifying Points it may earn in Bangkok. Even with that constraint, VGJ.Storm has an opportunity at the Minor to test its new roster against top international competition and further integrate Resolut1on into the team’s style and strategies. The team is destined for a run through the TI8 Open Qualifiers, but a solid showing at this event could set a strong pace for VGJ.Storm that can see it entering those qualifiers with confidence and momentum of its side.
SG e-sports (South America) – SG e-sports finds itself in one of the more intriguing situations on the Pro Circuit. The Brazilian squad was the only South American team with Pro Circuit experience (LAN or regional qualifier) to still be eligible for TI8 invites. However, the team just recently announced a change to its roster that will leave it unable to claim a direct invite to the TI8 South America Qualifier. With just about every team in South America ineligible for direct invites, SG e-sports is not at a massive disadvantage with this recent change. The team has been one of the more dominant squads within its home region, but on the international level the team has so far found success to be elusive. The team enters this Minor now destined for a date with the TI8 Open Qualifiers, but SG e-sports could significantly raise its own confidence and bolster its standing over other South American squads if it can prove capable of finding success on the international level. With this final Minor of the season, SG e-sports may just have a chance to prove itself outside of its home region and finally earn that first Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit, though it will need quite the impressive showing in Bangkok to achieve that goal.
Keen Gaming (China) – Keen Gaming will come into the GESC: Thailand Minor off the back of yet another roster change, as the Chinese squad recently reversed a trade that it had conducted earlier in the season with fellow Chinese team EHOME. This most recent roster move brought Zhai “荧”‘ Jingkai back to the Keen Gaming roster as the team prepares for a run through the TI8 China Open Qualifier. With that tough test in its future, Keen Gaming will enter the Minor in Bangkok looking for an opportunity to test itself against international competition on the Pro Circuit. A solid showing and a potential, if unlikely, Top 4 finish at the event would be a massive boost in confidence for Keen Gaming as it heads into the final months of the season and its Open Qualifier run.
Fnatic (Southeast Asia) – Mineski’s recent Major Championships may have stolen the spotlight in Southeast Asia, but Fnatic has been making a push of its own heading into the final events of the season. The SEA squad currently sits in 11th place in the Pro Circuit standings, and is still within striking distance of a Top 8 spot if it can continue to find success on the Pro Circuit stage over the final months of the season. The team has the opportunity to keep its momentum going at the GESC: Thailand Minor. The Southeast Asian team will likely be one of the favored squads to earn a Top 4 finish, and a solid showing in Bangkok will go a long way towards shortening the gap between Fnatic and the Top 8 teams in the standings.
Alpha Red (Thailand) – The winner of the Thailand Qualifier for the GESC: Thailand Minor, Alpha Red is set to make its debut on the Pro Circuit stage at this event. In all honesty, the squad isn’t expected to accomplish much at the event, and considering this Minor will be the team’s only Pro Circuit appearance of the season, it is not in a position to challenge any of the leaders in the standings. However, these region specific qualifiers for GESC events have not necessarily been about making these squads competitive on the international stage immediately. The Indonesia and Thailand regional qualifiers at the two GESC events this year have been about fostering growth and professional experience among teams in those regions. With that goal in mind, Alpha Red as a significant opportunity to compete with and learn from some of the better teams from regions it would not normally interact with frequently.