Pro Circuit makes first trip to Thailand as eight teams battle for season’s final Minor Championship.
After the excitement and hype of the EPICENTER XL Major, the Dota 2 world is in for another display of skill and talent on the Pro Circuit stage as the final Minor of the season is set to begin. The GESC: Thailand Minor will be the second event in the GESC series of Minors on the Pro Circuit schedule, and marks the first and only time that the Pro Circuit will make its way to Thailand this season. Organized by GESC, the Minor is set to bring eight squads to the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre in the capital of Thailand for the chance to claim the last Minor Championship of the season. Running from May 9 through the 12th, the Minor will see the eight participating squads fighting for a share of prize pools of $300,000 USD and 300 Qualifying Points which will be distributed according to the outline 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)
With the prize pool information outlined, we can now take a look at the format for the final Minor of the season. The GESC: Thailand Minor will begin with a Group Stage that will see all eight of the competing teams placed into a single group. Within that group, the team will play a Bo1 round robin, with the bottom two teams being eliminated from the event while the top six teams will advance to the Playoff Stage and a single elimination bracket. The teams that place 1st and 2nd in the Group Stage will advance directly to the Semifinals of the Playoff Stage, while the other four advancing teams will begin in the Quarterfinals. The Quarterfinals and Semifinals will be played in a Bo3 format, while the Finals of the Minor will be played Bo5.
With the GESC: Thailand Minor serving as the last Minor of the season, many squads are looking for one last chance to improve their position in the Pro Circuit standings or make a strong impression on the international stage. The eight participants in Bangkok all have different backgrounds and expectations at the Minor, but every single one of them will be hoping to put together a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage. Of the eight teams that will be playing at the Minor, one of them (Team Secret) is currently ranked in the Top 8. Three squads (Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, VGJ.Storm) have Qualifying Points to their name but stand outside of the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings, while another four teams (Alpha Red, Keen Gaming, SG e-sports, The Final Tribe) are searching for their first Qualifying Points of the season. Unfortunately, not all of the teams that will be playing in Bangkok will be able to make use of their potential Qualifying Point earnings, as four of the participants (Alpha Red, Keen Gaming, VGJ.Storm, SG e-sports) are ineligible for direct invites to TI8 or the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. Those squads are already consigned to runs through the TI8 Open Qualifiers, but a strong showing at this final Minor of the season could serve as a significant boost of confidence and momentum as the season comes to a close. With that in mind, we can take a look at each of the nine participants that will be competing to become the final Minor Champion of the season in Thailand.
- Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or necessarily objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data.
Qualification: Direct Invite
Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd (4710 Qualifying Points)
1. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
2. Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
3. Adrian “Fata” Trinks
4. Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
5. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov (Captain)
Projected Finish: Top 4
Team Secret makes its way to Bongkok as one of the leading teams in the Pro Circuit standings, as the European squad currently sits at 3rd overall. The two teams above it, Virtus.pro and Team Liquid, have already secured themselves direct invites to TI8, and now Team Secret is hoping to do the same in Thailand. If the team wants to have a chance to earn that guaranteed direct invite at this final Minor of the season, then it is going to need a 1st place finish at the event. Team Secret has shown itself more than capable of performing and finding success at Pro Circuit Minors, as the European squad has earned itself two Minor Championships so far this season as the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor in March and the Captains Draft 4.0 Minor in January. With the team standing as the highest ranked squad in the field at in Bangkok, it should be one of the favorites to claim the final Minor Championship of the season. That being said, Team Secret has also seen some struggles with inconsistency on the Pro Circuit stage over its last few appearances, and the field of competitors at this Minor will be full of squads looking to deny Team Secret that coveted direct invite status .
Team Secret’s last Pro Circuit appearance came just days ago, as the European squad was one of the participants at the EPICENTER XL Major in Moscow. The team put together a decent run at the event, posting a 2-3 series record (6-7 overall) in the Group Stage before falling to Southeast Asian squad Mineski in a Bo1 elimination match to finish in the shared 7th-8th place position at the Major. That performance in Moscow mirrored the team’s previous performance on the Pro Circuit stage at the DAC 2018 Major, where the team also finished in the middle of the standings in its group before being knocked out in the first round of the Playoff Stage by Vici Gaming for a 9th-12th place finish. The team’s performance on the international stage seems to have taken a concerning decline over the past few months, which raises a few questions for the team as it heads into the final Minor of the season. The team’s last success on the Pro Circuit stage came at the DreamLeague Season 9 Minor, where the team was able to claim its second Minor Championship of the season. Interestingly enough, that strong performance at the Minor came after back to back misses at the Bucharest Major and the ESL One Katowice Major. The hope for Team Secret is that history repeats itself at the GESC: Thailand Minor, and that the team will be able to overcome back to back disappointing finishes at Majors to claim a 1st place finish at a Minor. It’s not exactly the most sound or statistical analysis, but at this stage in the season, Team Secret is going to start caring less about how it gets done and more about simply reaching that Qualifying Point total and locking in its place at TI8.
Team Secret comes into the GESC: Thailand Minor looking for one more strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to potentially secure itself a direct invite to TI8. The team’s performance on the Pro Circuit stage has been somewhat up and down over the course of 2018, but the European squad has to hoping that the smaller field and less established opponents will give it an edge in Bangkok. The team enters the event as one of the favorites to win, and as such are projected to finish inside of the Top 4 at the event. With the Group Stage of the event featuring a round robin format, Team Secret stands as one of the most likely candidates to claim one of the top two positions in the standings. Unless the European squad suffers an absolutely catastrophic meltdown a the Minor, Team Secret really shouldn’t encounter any difficulties advancing out of the Group Stage. However, the fact that the matches will also be played in a Bo1 format opens the door for a somewhat risky situation for the European squad. All it would take is a few mistakes here or there for Team Secret to end up dropping multiple matches in the Group Stage, and those games could be the difference between a top two spot or a place in the middle of the standings. Should the team manage to exert its expected influence and finish at the top of the group standings, then the team will advance directly to the Semifinals and be guaranteed a Top 4 finish. However, should the team stumble in the Group Stage and find itself somewhere between 3rd and 6th in the standings, then it will have to go through an extra step on its path to the Top 4. The team would advance to the Quarterfinals in that scenario, and would have to win a Bo3 series to advance to the Semifinals and lock in a Top 4 position. No matter what scenario or situation Team Secret finds itself in at the GESC: Major, the team will likely be highly favored to succeed. With that in mind, the team’s high expectations at the event seem perfectly appropriate, as the European squad looks to claim its third Minor Championship of the season and join VP and Team Liquid as direct invitees to TI8 this summer.
Region: North America
Qualification: Direct Invite
Pro Circuit Rank: 9th (1335 Qualifying Points)
1. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
2. Clinton “Fear” Loomis
3. Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan
4. Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen
5. Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen (Captain)
Projected Finish: Top 4
Life on the Pro Circuit has been somewhat anxious for North American squad Evil Geniuses as the season begins to wind down and reach its end. Heading into the Minor, the team stands outside of the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings and would miss out on a direct invite to TI8. Unfortunately for EG, the team won’t be able to move into the Top 8 no matter how well it performs in Bangkok, as the gap between the team and the current 8th ranked team is larger than its maximum possible gains at the Minor. While a Top 4 finish at the GESC: Thailand Minor won’t get EG into the Top 8 on its own, it would go a long way towards reducing that deficit and putting the North American squad in a position to threaten for a direct invite across the final events of the schedule. With that goal in mind, the team made its way to Bangkok with the goal of finding success on the Pro Circuit stage and making one last surge in the standings before the end of the season.
EG’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came at the Dota 2 Asia Championships Major back at the beginning of April. The North American squad put together a 5-2 record in the Group Stage, and knocked out Newbee in the Breakout Round before losing to both LGD Gaming (now PSG.LGD) and Virtus.pro to finish in the 7th-8th place position at the Major. That performance in Shanghai has epitomized EG’s presence on the Pro Circuit in 2018, as the squad has managed to put together solid showing at events but has struggled to make the final push needed to earn Top 4 finishes. Out of six Pro Circuit events that the team has attended in 2018, the team has earned two Top 4 finishes, including the squad’s first Minor Championship at the GESC: Indonesia Minor in March. The problem for EG is that those two Top 4 finishes have both come at Minors, which has left the team with a Qualifying Point total that still trails the Top 8 ranked squads in the Pro Circuit standings. Against the smaller fields and often less accomplished competition present at Minors, the team has been able to secure success, but on the bigger and more prestigious stage of the Majors EG has fallen short. While the team has been somewhat inconsistent on the international level, within its home region Evil Geniuses has put together a solid series of performance in 2018. The team has participated in three regional qualifiers since the beginning of the year and has earned Top 4 finishes at all of them. At this point in the season, there are no Pro Circuit qualifiers left to be played, and the regional records of the leading squads are becoming less relevant as they seek to secure direct invites to TI8. For a team like EG though that currently sits outside of the Top 8, holding and maintaining a position at the top of the regional hierarchy is an invaluable asset heading into the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. EG’s position as a leading team within the North American region will serve it well if it ends up in the regional qualifiers, but the team is still hoping that a strong showing in Bangkok will spark a late-season run into the Top 8 in the standings.
Evil Geniuses comes into the Minor chasing its last few opportunities to climb up the Pro Circuit standings and make an attempt to earn a Top 8 position and a direct invite to TI8. The team has had difficulties making its mark at Majors in 2018, but Pro Circuit Minors have given the squad a chance to remain within striking distance of the Top 8 teams. Despite its inconsistent play on the Pro Circuit stage, EG still comes into the GESC: Thailand Minor as one of the favorites to win with a projected finish in the Top 4 range. The team should not have too much difficulty advancing out of the Group Stage so long as it manages to avoid any significant drops in its level of play. However, the question for the North American squad is where it will fall among the six teams that will advance to the Playoff Stage. The Bo1 format of the Group Stage matches present both an opportunity and a risk for the team, as the margin for error will be smaller for EG without the fallback of a full series. However, EG has been a team that has frequently employed the kind of aggressive and overwhelming strategies that can flourish in Bo1 matches. If the team performs well in the Group Stage and ends up in the top two of the standings, then its journey to a Top 4 finish at the Minor will already be complete. EG would advance directly to the Semifinals and would be guaranteed at least a 3rd-4th place finish. If the North American squad suffers a few setbacks in the Group Stage and ends up outside of the top two, then it will have to fight through an additional Bo3 series in the Quarterfinals in order to secure a Top 4 position. Even with the team’s recent difficulties on the Pro Circuit stage, the field for the GESC: Thailand Minor doesn’t contain more than one or two squads that are definitively in a stronger position right now compared to the North American squad. With that in mind, the team’s expectations are high as it makes its way to Bankok looking to keep its hopes of a TI8 invite alive.
Region: Soiutheast Asia
Qualification: Thailand Qualifier Winner
Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)
1. Thanathorn “tnt” Sriiamkoon
2. Poomipat “Fearless” Trisiripanit
3. Kittikorn “Mypro” Inngoen
4. Supanut “LionaX” Chow
5. Thithat “BungsellRotee” a.k.a “BBCD” Tachawattanakul
Projected Finish: 8th
Alpha Red is more than likely not a squad that many Dota 2 fans will be familiar with as the team makes its Pro Circuit debut on home soil in Bangkok. The team reached the Minor through the Thailand Qualifier as a part of GESC’s initiative to foster interest and growth in the smaller sections of the Southeast Asian region. The team’s roster has very limited experience outside of its home region, but the team will still be looking to make a strong first impression on the Pro Circuit stage. The team has essentially nothing to gain in terms of its Pro Circuit standing at the Minor, as the team is not eligible for direct invites to the TI8 Qualifiers. However, a solid showing on the international level could serve as a valuable spark plug for the squad heading into the TI8 Southeast Asia Open Qualifier.
Since the team is set to make its Pro Circuit debut at the GESC: Thailand Minor, Alpha Red doesn’t have anything to look at in terms of previous experience on the Pro Circuit stage. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the team has no experience on the international level. Alpha Red participated in the third party World Electronic Sports Games 2017 in Haikou, China, though the team finished in the bottom half of the standings in the combined 17th-30th position. The team has significantly more experience within its home region, although most of it has come away from the Pro Circuit. The Thai team has seen action in three Pro Circuit qualifier, placing first in the qualifier for this very Minor while finishing near the bottom of the standings in the other two. Aside from that, the team’s experience within the Southeast Asian region has come from third party leagues and tournaments. The team placed 1st at the Thailand Esport Pro League 2018 just a few weeks ago, and finished in the 7th-8th place position at the joinDOTA League Season 12 Asia in April. Those aren’t exactly the most impressive series of performances for a team heading into its Pro Circuit debut, but Alpha Red is going to have to hope that its previous experience is enough to help it make a run as an underdog at the Minor.
Alpha Red comes into the GESC: Thailand Minor as a team that has not been able to accomplish much on the international level so far this season. The team was the beneficiary of the extra regional qualifier, and as such the Thai squad isn’t considered much of a threat among the participants in Bangkok. The expectations for the team are pretty low, with the Thai squad projected to finish last at the event with an 8th place finish. No matter what team Alpha Red faces at the Minor, it will almost certainly have to be considered the weaker team and the underdog. However, the format of the round robin Group Stage does keep some hope alive for the squad to put together a solid run with the matches set to be played Bo1. A pocket strategy or specialty pick could come as enough of a surprise to allow the team to take a game or two in the Group Stage, and depending on how things shake out those couple of wins could be the difference between an early exit from the event and a potential spot in the Playoff Stage. Alpha Red advancing out of the Group Stage seems like a bit of a long shot coming into the event, but if the Southeast Asian squad can pull it off, it would be just one Bo3 series away from a Top 4 finish at the Minor. So the path to success in Bangkok is there for Alpha Red, but managing to reach that goal is going to be an incredible challenge for the team. The possibility for success gives some hope that Alpha Red could produce what would be one of the biggest surprises of the season, but realistically speaking the expectations have to set about as low as possible for the Thai squad on home soil.
Region: Southeast Asia
Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier Winner
Pro Circuit Rank: 11th (950 Qualifying Points)
1. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao (Captain)
2. Abed “Abed” Yusop
3. Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
4. Djardel “DJ” Mampusti
5. Johan “pieliedie” Åström
Projected Finish: Top 4
Fnatic enters the GESC: Thailand Minor as a team beginning to run out of time on the Pro Circuit stage. The team currently stands as the 11th ranked team in the Pro Circuit standings, and is nearly 1000 Qualifying Points behind the current 8th ranked team. With just one Minor and three Majors remaining on the season schedule, the Southeast Asian squad is in need of a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage if it wants to keep hope alive for a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to TI8 this summer. A Top 4 finish in Bangkok won’t be enough to lift the team into a Top 8 position on its own, but the Qualifying Points available in Thailand would be a significant boon for the team that would reduce the gap to a more manageable level heading into the final events of the season. With the smaller field of the Minor and a list of less accomplished and established Pro Circuit squads, Fnatic will be looking to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to display its strength on the international level.
Fnatic’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came nearly a month ago in Kiev at the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 Minor. The team put together a 2-1 series record (4-4 overall) that advanced it to the Playoff Stage where it lost 1-2 to OpTic Gaming to finish in the 3rd-4th place position at the event. That Top 4 finish in Kiev was the most recent in a string of quality performances on the Pro Circuit stage for the Southeast Asian squad as it has slowly climbed its way up the Pro Circuit standings. The team has participated in five Pro Circuit events so far in 2018 and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in three of them. Fnatic has taken steps to improve its performance on the international level, but in the time since its last Pro Circuit appearance the Southeast Asian squad has been putting together strong performances within its home region as well. The team has participated in four Pro Circuit qualifiers within the last month, and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in all of them. Those Top 4 finishes include a 1st place run that qualified the team for this Minor, as well as another victory in the qualifier for the ESL One Birmingham Major that is keeping the team’s hopes of a Top 8 rank alive. The team’s success at home has not been a recent development for the team, as Fantic has been exerting its influence within the Southeast Asian all throughout 2018. Since the beginning of the year, the team has seen action in an incredible 12 Pro Circuit qualifiers and has not finished any lower than 3rd-4th at any of them. That kind of consistent success within the Southeast Asian region becomes even more important considering the fact that the team may not be able to secure a direct invite and may have to compete in the TI8 Regional Qualifier to have a chance at earning a place in Vancouver. With the team sitting so close to the edge of earning a Top 8 position, the team will make its way to Bangkok with a sense of focus and purpose as it tries to set itself up for one final push up the standings.
Fnatic enters the GESC: Thailand Minor in fairly desperate need of a Top 4 finish, as the team is currently on the outside looking in in terms of a Top 8 rank. The team has just two appearances on the Pro Circuit remaining this season, which leaves little room for error for the Southeast Asian squad if it wants to avoid the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. The team will come into the event as one the more accomplished teams in the field of participants, with Fnatic projected to finish in the Top 4 range. Considering the team’s recent success on the Pro Circuit stage combined with the fact that six of the eight participants will advance to the Playoff Stage, Fnatic should have little difficulty surviving the Group Stage of the Minor. The Bo1 format of the Group Stage matches does present an element of risk for the team, as Fnatic is still susceptible to losing matches to an underdog squad. However, unless the team truly falls apart in Bangkok, it shouldn’t be in a position where it would lose enough games to risk being eliminated in the Group Stage. The question for the SEA squad will be where it ends up in the standings, as the team could realistically end up anywhere between 1st and 6th at the end of the Group Stage. Should Fnatic put together an impressive Group Stage run and claim a place at the top of the standings, then it advance directly to the Semifinals and will have secured itself a Top 4 finish at the Minor. However, a finish in the middle of the standings will put an additional obstacle in the team’s path as Fnatic will have to fight through the Quarterfinals to reach a Top 4 finish. The good news for Fnatic in that latter scenario is that it will most likely be favored in that Bo3 series in the Quarterfinals, unless a team like Evil Geniuses or Team Secret ends up losing out on a top two position. With that in mind, Fnatic comes into the Minor with high expectations, but the Southeast Asian squad is going to have to be at its best if it wants to find success in Bangkok and move closer to its goal of a TI8 invite.
Qualification: China Qualifier Winner
Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)
1. Guo “Mevius” Yuhang
2. Zhai “荧” a.k.a. “Ying” Jingkai
3. Song “dark” Runxi (Captain)
4. Liu “yoona” Xiangkun
5. Jiang “天命” a.k.a “Tiān mìng” An
Projected Finish: 7th
It seems that every time Keen Gaming makes an appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, it does so with a different lineup, as the team has undergone a slew of roster changes throughout the course of the season. The teams most recent changes saw it change out both its mid laner and carry player, as Zhai “荧” a.k.a. “Ying” Jingkai returned to the team from EHOME and Guo “Mevius” Yuhang was brought in to replace Yang “MS” Yongjie. The team’s numerous roster changes this season have seen the squad forfeit its eligibility for invites to TI8 and the TI8 Regional Qualifiers, meaning the team has no use for the Qualifying Points that are available in Bangkok. However, a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage and a solid showing from the team’s new roster would go a long way towards helping the team build both confidence and momentum heading into what will be a difficult run through the TI8 China Open Qualifier.
Keen Gaming’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came over a month ago, as the Chinese squad was one of the 16 participants at the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 Major in Shanghai. The team did not perform particularly well on its home soil, as Keen Gaming posted a 2-5 record in the Group Stage of the even and failed to advance to the Playoff Stage with a finish in the shared 15th-16th position. Since then, the team hasn’t gotten the chance to play on the international level with its new roster, but the team has certainly been busy within its home region. Keen Gaming has participated in four Pro Circuit qualifiers for qualifying events since its appearance at the DAC 2018 Major, and the Chinese squad has managed to earn Top 4 finishes at two of them. The team placed 5th-6th in the ESL One Birmingham qualifier, and finished in the 6th place position in the Dota 2 Professional league Season 5, which served as a qualifying event for the MDL Changsha Major. While those two performances may not have produced the most impressive results, the team’s more recent appearances have yielded more success. Keen Gaming managed to defeat LGD.Forever Young and Invictus Gaming in China Qualifier for the China Dota 2 Supermajor before losing to PSG.LGD to finish 2nd, and the squad most recently defeated EHOME, VGJ.Thunder, and LGD.Forever Young to win the qualifier for this Minor. It is important to note that the team’s qualifier run for this Minor was the first and only time that its current roster has been able to play together in official matches. The fact that the team’s performance within its home region improved over the last qualifiers of the season comes as a sign of encouragement for Keen Gaming, as the team will have to face down its regional rivals in the TI8 Open Qualifiers if it wants a shot at the main Regional Qualifiers. While the team’s focus this summer will be on defeating teams within its own region, as strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage and a solid run at the GESC: Thailand Minor could be what Keen Gaming needs to enter the Open Qualifiers with confidence and momentum.
Keen Gaming makes its way to the GESC: Thailand Minor as a different squad from the one that Dota 2 fans last saw in Shanghai. The team’s recent roster changes raises quite a few questions for the Chinese squad as it looks to put together a strong performance in its final appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. With the uncertainty of an altered roster and limited success on the international level, Keen Gaming is not expected to accomplish much in Bangkok with a projected finish in the 7th place position. A prediction like that paints a bleak picture for the Chinese squad, but there is still a small chance of success and a reason for hope for Keen Gaming. Heading into the event itself, Keen Gaming is not expected to advance out of the Group Stage, but the Bo1 format provides an opportunity for the team to potentially steal one or more matches in which it will most likely be considered the underdog. Considering the fact that the team’s new lineup has not played any official matches outside of its home region, it will be somewhat more difficult for opponents to be familiar with the team’s play style or preferred strategies. All it would likely take is one or two such wins for Keen Gaming to potentially edge out one of the weaker teams in the field and claim a place in the Playoff Stage. Barring an absolutely miraculous run, Keen Gaming would most likely begin a run in the Playoff Stage in the Quarterfinals against one of the other four teams to finish in the middle of the Group Stage standings. The shift from a Bo1 format to Bo3 in that Quarterfinal match ups would present an additional obstacle for the team to overcome, but if Keen Gaming could win that series then it would earn its first Top 4 finish of the season. All of that is dependent on the team managing to put together a solid enough performance to survive the Group Stage of the Minor in the first place. While the team appears capable of making that kind of run, expecting it from a team that we have not seen in its current form on the international level at all is somewhat unreasonable. For that reason, the expectations for the squad have to be set considerably low as the Chinese squads makes its final appearance on the Pro Circuit stage.
Region: North America
Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner
Pro Circuit Rank: 16th (210 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)
1. Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
2. Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok
3. Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu
4. Arif “MSS” Anwar
5. Avery “SVG” Silverman (Captain)
Projected Finish: 5th-6th
VGJ.Storm made quite a splash in the North American scene last month when the team announced that Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok would be replacing Enzo “Timado” Gianoli on the team’s roster. The change to its lineup put VGJ.Storm in a position as a potential leading squad within the North American region, but came at the cost of its eligibility for direct invites to TI8 and the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. With that in mind, the team has no use for the Qualifying Points that are available at the Minor, but the team will have a vested interest in taking advantage of an opportunity to test itself against other Pro Circuit teams on the international level. While the field of teams in Bangkok is not exactly full of the Pro Circuit’s best, it should still present a challenge for a VGJ.Storm squad making its first Pro Circuit appearance with its current roster.
VGJ.Storm’s only other appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season came all the way back in December of last year at the MDL Macau Minor. The team put together an abysmal performance to finish in last place in the field, but the good news for VGJ.Storm is that its forgettable performance at that event came with an entirely different lineup from the one set to compete in Bangkok. Since the team’s roster has only recently been changed, VGJ.Storm in its current form has not had the chance to play on the international level since that appearance in Macau last year. While the North American squad has not been able to play any official matches on the international level, it has seen a decent amount of action within its home region through regional qualifiers. Since the team’s return to the Pro Circuit scene in February, VGJ.Storm has participated in five Pro Circuit qualifiers and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in four of them. Among those four Top 4 runs, the team has earned two 1st place finishes, one of which earned it its place at this Minor while the other qualified the team for the MDL Changsha Major next week. Neither of those two qualifying runs came with Resolut1on in the lineup up, as the only qualifier that the team’s new member has been a part of was its most recent 2nd place performance in the North American Qualifier for the ESL One Birmingham Major. The team’s success and relative consistency within regional qualifiers over the past few months is a good sign for a team that already knows that it will have to play through Open Qualifiers to reach the main Regional Qualifier stage. If VGJ.Storm wants a chance at a spot in Vancouver this summer, then it is going to have to prove itself capable of taking on the top squads in the North American region. Only one of those squads (Evil Geniuses) will be present at the GESC: Thailand Major, but the chance to test itself and acclimate to its new lineup on the Pro Circuit stage will be a valuable opportunity for the team.
VGJ.Storm come into the GESC: Thailand Minor as a team that is looking more for the experience of playing on the Pro Circuit stage than for any Qualifying Points or accolades. The team’s lack of eligibility for invites to the TI8 Regional Qualifiers means that the team’s primary focus in Bangkok will simply be testing its capabilities and looking to challenge the teams in the field with as deep a run as possible. While the team doesn’t enter the Minor as a favorite to win, VGJ.Storm is still expected to at least be a potential threat for a Top 4 spot, with a projected finish just short of that mark in the 5th-6th place range. VGJ.Storm is not a very likely candidate to claim a spot a the top of the standings in the Group Stage of the event, but the North American squad should be able to avoid an early elimination and secure itself a spot in the Playoff Stage. However, the Bo1 format of the Group Stage matches present a small risk for VGJ.Storm at the Minor. The team is still largely unproven on the international level, and with a Bo1 round robin format, the North American squad will only have one chance to get the better of its opponents. The team will already be considered an underdog against established Pro Circuit squads like Team Secret, Evil Geniuses, and Fnatic, but losses to teams like SG e-sports, Keen Gaming, and The Final Tribe are still entirely possible and could potentially derail the team’s chances of making it out of the Group Stage if the squad isn’t playing at its best. Should the North American squad avoid those potential setbacks and manage to earn a place within the middle four teams in the standings, then it would find itself in the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Stage. That scenario would leave the team just one Bo3 series win away from a spot in the Semifinals and a guaranteed Top 4 position at the Minor. Despite the lack of recent experience outside of the North American region, VGJ.Storm and its players have shown themselves capable of playing at a high level in the past. The team’s projected finish may have it sitting outside of the Top 4 at the Minor, but don’t be surprised if the North American squad manages to push past that predicted outcome as the team’s current roster makes its first Pro Circuit appearance together in Bangkok.
Region: South America
Qualification: South America Qualifier Winner
Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points) (Not Eligible for TI8 Invites)
1. Guilherme “Costabile” Costábile
2. Adriano “4dr” Machado
3. Rodrigo “Liposa” Santos
4. Thiago “Thiolicor” Cordeiro
5. Emilano “c4t” Ito (Coach) (Stand-in)
Projected Finish: 5th-6th
South American squad SG e-sports enters the GESC: Thailand Minor in the wake of an unfortunate development in terms of its roster situation. Near the end of April, the team announced that support player and team captain Lucas “Bardo“ Barbosa would be leaving the team to take a break from professional Dota 2. In his place, the team announced that former SG e-sports player and now coach Emilano “c4t” Ito would serve as a long-term stand-in for the team. The roster change was particularly unfortunate considering the fact that SG e-sports had been the final team in its region that was still eligible for a direct invite to the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. With the team’s direct invite eligibility now forfeit, SG e-sports prepares for a run through the Open Qualifier that now includes every single active South American team with Pro Circuit LAN experience. With that daunting challenge on the horizon for the team, SG e-sports enters this Minor looking for a chance to boost its confidence and fully integrate c4t into its lineup as that Open Qualifier run draws closer and closer.
The last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage for SG e-sports came just a little under a month ago at the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 Minor in Kiev. The team had a forgettable performance at the Minor, as the South American squad lost both of its Group Stage series with a 1-4 overall record that saw it fail to reach the Playoff Stage and finish in the 7th-8th place position. The Pro Circuit stage has not been particularly kind to SG e-sports this season, as the squad has participated in six Pro Circuit events and has finished in the bottom half of the standings at each and every one of them. In the time since the team’s aforementioned rough run in Kiev, SG e-sports has not had the opportunity to play any other official matches on the international level. However, the team has found a couple of chances to perform within its home region, as the squad has participated in two regional qualifiers within the last month. Those two qualifiers resulted in back to back Top 4 finishes for SG e-sports, but the South American squad was unfortunately unable to secure a 1st place position in either of them, meaning the GESC: Thailand Minor will be the team’s final appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season. Also of note is the fact that both of those qualifier runs came before the announcement of Bardo’s departure, meaning the team’s games at the GESC: Thailand Minor will be the only official matches with c4t in the lineup that SG e-sports will play before the end of the season. With that in mind, the Minor takes on an even more important role for the South American squad, as it may very well be the team’s last chance to test its new lineup on the international level before the TI8 Qualifiers begin.
SG e-sports come into the GESC: Thailand Minor with a slightly different look brought on by the South American squad’s somewhat unexpected roster change. The team is no longer eligible for a direct invite to the TI8 South America Qualifier, but the Brazilian squad will still be looking for a chance to familiarize itself with having c4t in the lineup as well as a chance to test its capabilities one last time on the Pro Circuit stage before the chaos of the TI8 Qualifiers sets in. Heading into the event, the team is not necessarily expected to earn itself a Top 4 finish, but the South American squad at least has the potential to be in the mix for a successful run with a projected finish in the 5th-6th place range. The team stands a solid chance of avoiding an early elimination and advancing to the Playoff Stage, but that outcome isn’t necessarily set in stone. The Bo1 format will give SG e-sports opportunities to potentially steal a game or two from some of the more prestigious teams in the field, but it will also significantly lower the margin for error for the South American squad. Even as little as one or two mistakes in match could cost the team a game that could make the difference between a spot in the Playoff Stage and a disappointing exit from the Minor. That being said, the team should be able to survive so long as it avoids any significant pitfalls and continues to play at the level that it has recently shown within its home region. If SG e-sports manages to do that and earns itself a spot in the Playoff Stage, then it will be just one Bo3 series away from claiming its first Top 4 finish of the season, even though the Qualifying Points that come with it would be useless for the Brazilian squad. Despite the team’s lack of success on the Pro Circuit this season and its recent roster changes, SG e-sports has shown us flashes of its skill and potential at times. While that potential and talent could be enough to earn a Top 4 spot if it were consistently present in SG e-sports’s play, the fact of the matter is that the team has not been able to sustain a performance of that magnitude for long enough to find success. Until the team shows that it is ready to take that next step forward, the expectations for the team will continue to keep it short of the mark for success on the Pro Circuit stage.
The Final Tribe
Qualification: Europe Qualifier Winner
Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)
1. Pontus “Frost” Frost
2. Adrian “Era” Kryeziu (Captain)
3. Jonas “jonassomfan” Lindholm
4. Axel “Pablo” Källman
5. Simon “Handsken” Haag
Projected Finish: Top 4
The Final Tribe enters the GESC: Thailand Minor as a team looking for a chance to make its mark on the Pro Circuit stage in the dwindling days of the season. The European squad will be making just its second appearance at a Pro Circuit event, but the team has ambitions reaching beyond the scope of the season’s final Minor Championship. The Final Tribe has been able to retain its direct invite eligibility throughout the months since the last roster lock deadline, and with two appearances left on the Pro Circuit stage, the European squad is still technically alive for a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to Vancouver this summer. However, that scenario is highly unlikely for the team, and the more plausible scenario is that the team receives an invite to the TI8 Europe Qualifier. There is still one concern with that scenario though in the fact that The Final Tribe may not have accomplished enough yet to feel secure in its chances at getting that invite to the Regional Qualifier. In the team’s current position, a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage and any sum of Qualifying Points to go along with it would go a long way towards helping the team get that leg up on its regional rivals and help ensure that The Final Tribe won’t have to go through the ordeal that is the Open Qualifiers.
The team’s most recent appearance on the Pro Circuit stage was also its first, as The Final Tribe made its Pro Circuit debut back in March at the GESC: Indonesia Minor. The European squad put together a decent run in Jakarta, posting a 1-2 series record (2-3 overall) in the Group Stage of the event and defeating Rex Regum Qeon 1-0 in the Playoff Stage before losing 1-2 to Infamous to finish in the 5th-6th place position. Since then, the team has not been able to play any official matches on the international stage, as the team’s experience over the past few months has been exclusive to the European region. The squad may only have played within its home region since its trip to Indonesia, but The Final Tribe’s performance over that span has been impressive. The Swedish squad got off to a rough start with a 5th-8th place finish in the qualifier for the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 Minor, but proceeded to place within the Top 4 in its next three qualifier appearances. Two of those three Top 4 finishes were 1st place runs that earned The Final Tribe its place both at this Minor and at the China Dota 2 Supermajor to close out the season in June. The team’s experience within the European region was not limited to Pro Circuit qualifiers either, as The Final Tribe also participated in a third party event in the form of the joinDOTA League Season 12 Europe. The Swedish squad put together an impressive performance in that event as well, posting a 13-4 record that saw it claim a 1st place finish over many of the same regional rivals that it could find itself competing against in the TI8 Europe Qualifier. That kind of consistent success within a team’s home region is a valuable asset, and it is one that The Final Tribe will hope to supplement with success on the international level as well as the team makes its way to Bangkok.
The Final Tribe enters the GESC: Thailand Major looking to finally add its name to the list of squads in the Pro Circuit standings with its first Top 4 finish of the season. The team has not seen much action on the Pro Circuit stage so far this season, but the European squad is hoping that the talent and experience of its roster will help it find that coveted success at the Minor. Coming into the event, The Final Tribe appears to be in a favorable position to earn that success it seeks, with the Swedish squad projected to finish within the Top 4 range at the Minor. The team looked solid in its lone prior appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, and its recent run of success within the European region puts the team in a position as one of the more formidable squads in the field. While The Final Tribe may not be a favorite to claim one of the top two positions in the Group Stage standings, the European squad should encounter little difficulty putting together a strong enough run to advance to the Playoff Stage. Even with the risks imposed by the Bo1 format of the Group Stage, The Final Tribe should be able to claim wins over the weaker teams in the field and potentially even challenge some of the more established Pro Circuit squads like Team Secret, EG, and Fnatic. However, such an outcome is far from a given for the team, and even a few small mistakes could cost the team matches in the Group Stage and make the difference between advancing and being eliminated. Should the team manage to avoid any mishaps and remain consistent in its level of play, then the team will most likely advance to the Playoff Stage as one of the middle four squads in the standings. That would put the Swedish squad into the Quarterfinals, where it would be one Bo3 series away from claiming its first Top 4 finish of the season. The Final Tribe will come into the GESC: Thailand Minor with limited Pro Circuit experience, but the team’s veteran leadership and consistent success at home have it sitting in a slightly better spot than some of its fellow participants. As such, the expectations are set somewhat high for the European squad as it looks to take advantage of t his opportunity and make its breakthrough on the Pro Circuit stage late in the season.