Dota 2 Minor Recap: GESC: Thailand

The Perfect Storm: VGJ.Storm defeat Keen Gaming 2-0 to claim first Minor Championship of season. Team Secret, Fnatic lock down Top 4 finishes in final Minor of season.

The Pro Circuit now officially only had Major Championships remaining on its schedule now, as the final Minor of the season has come to a close and a winner has emerged at the GESC: Thailand Minor. After four days of Dota in Bangkok between the Group Stage and Playoff Stage of the event, the matches have concluded and the final Minor Champion of the season has been crowned. Eight teams made their way to Thailand looking to lay claim to a Top 4 finish and some much needed Qualifying Points, but in the end only half of the teams in the field would walk away from Bangkok with its position in the Pro Circuit standings improved.

At the end of the action in Bangkok, it was VGJ.Storm that stood victorious over all others at the Minor, as the North American squad earned its first Minor Championship in the Pro Circuit debut of its current lineup. The squad put together an overall record of 10-4 across the entirety of the event, with just one of those losses coming in the Playoff Stage. The team proved itself capable of taking on at least one Pro Circuit level squad, as the team managed to push past Fnatic on its path to a Minor Championship.

Though the prize pool available at the GESC: Thailand Minor was not as large as those of the upcoming trio of Majors, the event itself did still manage to have an impact on the Pro Circuit standings. VGJ.Storm’s 1st place finish at the Minor moves it into 16th in the standings, although the team is still ineligible for invites to the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. The team that VGJ.Storm defeated, Keen Gaming, put itself on the board in the Pro Circuit standings as well with its 2nd place finish. However, the team’s roster changes also incurred a penalty to its Qualifying Point earnings that put the squad in 22nd place with a team total of 66 points. As one of the teams in the shared 3rd-4th place position, Fnatic was also able to help out its own cause with an infusion of Qualifying Points. The team added 90 points to its total, but that addition wasn’t enough to move the Southeast Asian squad out of its 11th place position in the standings. The other 3rd-4th place team, Team Secret, came away from Bangkok much more satisfied with its result. The team’s 90 additional Qualifying Points didn’t’ move the team out of 3rd in the standings, but it did put the European squad over the updated threshold needed to secure a direct invite to TI8, locking in the team’s place in Vancouver this summer.

Now that the matches at the GESC: Thailand Minor have come to an end, the Pro Circuit standings have been altered and updated, and the final Minor Champion of the season had been declared, we can take a closer look at how each of the participants performed in Bangkok. For some of the squads in the field, this Minor represented the last chance to perform on the Pro Circuit stage, but for others, there are still opportunities on the horizon before the onset of the TI8 Qualifiers.

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $35,000 (Total) & 30 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Team Secret entered the GESC: Thailand Minor with its eyes locked on a very specific goal, as the European squad looked to secure itself enough Qualifying Points to join Virtus.pro and Team Liquid as direct invitees to TI8. The team had the chance to earn that position outright with a 1st place finish, otherwise it would need help in the form of 9th place squad EG failing to secure a Top 4 finish at the event. Team Secret had been dealing with some inconsistent play across its last few Pro Circuit appearances, but the smaller field and weaker teams in Bangkok had the European squad feeling good about its chances to find success at the final Minor of the season. With its Pro Circuit goal nearly within its grasp, the European squad entered the event with a level of focus and confidence as it sought to push past a host of squads all hoping to make a late season statement at Team Secret’s expense.

The European squad began its run at the GESC: Thailand Minor with four matches on Day 1 of the Group Stage, with its first opponent of the day being South American squad SG e-sports. Team Secret was able to make quick work of its opponent, as the team’s core trio of Monkey King, Dragon Knight, and Doom was able to shut down SG e-sports and claim a win in just over 19 minutes of play. The team’s next opponent was Keen Gaming, and Team Secret was able to put together another strong performance against the Chinese squad. Led by an impressive showing from MidOne’s Ember Spirit (19-4-11), Team Secret dominated the mid and late-games stages and kept its opponent on the defensive as it claimed its second win of the event. The team faced off against Fnatic in its third match of the day, and throughout most of the match it seemed as though Team Secret was in control. Behind a strong showing from MidOne on Tinker (10-5-6), the team was able to build up a significant net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages. However, the European squad wasn’t able to maintain that momentum through the rest of the match, as Fnatic came back with two crucial team fight wins to steal a win away from Team Secret and hand the team its first loss of the Minor. After that tough loss, Team Secret looked to end Day 1 on a high note as it took on North American squad VGJ.Storm. The European squad quickly proved that it had recovered from its loss to Fnatic, with Ace’s Lone Druid (6-1-15) and MidOne’s Kunkka (12-3-11) leading the team to a lopsided victory to finish the day at 3-1 overall.

Day 2 saw Team Secret continue its quest for a spot in the Playoff Stage as it faced off against fellow European team The Final Tribe in its first match of the day. The two teams remained even through the early stages of the match, but the mid and late-games saw Team Secret seize control. Behind strong performances from Ace’s Phantom Lancer (10-6-8) and MidOne’s Ember Spirit (16-2-12), Team Secret was able to build up a net worth lead of over 20k to secure another Group Stage win. Team Secret’s penultimate Group Stage opponent was North American squad Evil Geniuses, and the European came out aggressively with a core trio of Chaos Knight, Monkey King, and Magnus. That lineup established a fast pace that EG struggled to keep up with through the early and mid-game stages. As the match entered the late-game, EG was able to mount a comeback effort and build up a sizable net worth lead. However, Team Secret was able to respond with a series of team fight wins that shut down EG’s late surge and secured the European squad another Group Stage victory. The team went into its final match of the Group Stage in need of one more win to avoid a tiebreaker scenario, as the European squad took on Alpha Red. That final match went decisively in Team Secret’s favor, as the squad’s core trio of Lone Druide, Slark, and Doom combined for a stat line of 27-9-37 in a stomp against the Thai squad. That win secured the team a 6-1 Group Stage record and a place among the top two in the standings heading into the Playoff Stage.

The team’s Group Stage record earned it a spot in the top two in the standings, which allowed Team Secret to advance directly to the Semifinals of the Playoff Stage. The European squad found itself facing off against Keen Gaming in a Bo3 series for a spot in the Finals of the Minor. Game 1 of the series saw Team Secret look to pick up durable heroes with high damage outputs with cores of Spectre, Visage, and Doom. Early in the match, the European squad was unable to establish much momentum as its cores were heavily pressured and picked off multiple times by Keen Gaming’s lineup. However, a huge team fight around the 20 minute mark swung momentum decisively in Team Secret’s favor. The European squad was able to build up a significant net worth advantage in the late-game and prevented Keen Gaming from taking back control. Down by 15k net worth and two lanes of barracks at the 43 minute mark, Keen Gaming conceded defeat to give Team Secret a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 saw Team Secret look for team fight power with cores of Phantom Lancer, Death Prophet, and Timbersaw, but it quickly became apparent that this lineup was not going to find much success. After holding a small advantage in the laning phase, Team Secret found itself consistently under pressure as Keen Gaming pushed the tempo of the match with its mobile fighting lineup. Team Secret was never able to bring its full team fight power online, and the European squad finally admitted defeat after falling behind by more than 17k net worth to even up the series 1-1. Game 3 of the series proved disastrous for Team Secret, as the European squad struggled early and never found its footing in the match. Keen Gaming was able to play a fast paced and aggressive style that kept Team Secret shut down and on the defensive for the entirety of the game. The European squad fought on to the bitter end, but the team’s stalling action and base defenses only delayed the inevitable as Keeng Gaming handed the team a 1-2 loss that ended Team Secret’s run at the Minor with a 3rd-4th place finish overall.

Team Secret came into the GESC: Thailand Minor with a singular goal of securing itself a place in Vancouver with a direct invite to TI8. The team’s performance on the Pro Circuit stage had been somewhat inconsistent over the past few months, but the European squad needed just one more successful run to reach that coveted goal. Coming into the event, the team was expected to find its much needed success in Bangkok, with Team Secret projected to finish in the Top 4 range. The team was able to match up to those expectations with its performance at the Minor, as Team Secret finished in the shared 3rd-4th place position. The European squad looked impressive in its Group Stage run, as the team posted a 6-1 record to claim a position as one of the top two squads in the standings. The team’s only loss came against a Fnatic squad that went undefeated in the Group Stage of the event as Team Secret displayed few weaknesses over the first two days of the Minor. Once the team reached the Playoff Stage though, Team Secret’s performance declined significantly. The team’s series against Keen Gaming produced a rather surprising loss, as Team Secret fell 1-2 against the Chinese squad. While losing a series in and of itself is not necessarily cause for alarm, the fact that the series was decisively in Keen Gaming’s favor throughout is somewhat concerning for Team Secret. Whether the team’s struggles can be attributed to its own issues or to the impressive play of Keen Gaming, the fact remains that the European squad walked away from Bangkok with its goal achieved. Team Secret will be in Vancouver this summer, as the Qualifying Points it earned now has it over the updated threshold to earn a guaranteed direct invite to TI8. Of course, this will not be the last that Dota 2 fans will see of Team Secret, as the European squad is still set to attend two of the final three Majors of the season. The team will still be looking to put together strong performances at those events to build up momentum heading into TI8, but the squad will surely rest easier knowing that the burden of securing its direct invite has been lifted.

 

Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $17,500

Evil Geniuses entered the GESC: Thailand Minor as a team sitting in a precarious position in the Pro Circuit standings. The North American squad came into the Minor in the 9th place position overall, putting it on the outside of the Top 8 and short of a potential direct invite to TI8. With only a handful of event left on the Pro Circuit schedule, Evil Geniuses was beginning to feel the pressure to find success on the Pro Circuit stage before time ran out on its season. While the points that were available in Bangkok weren’t enough to move EG into the Top 8 immediately, a Top 4 finish at the Minor had the potential to significantly cut into the deficit separating the squad from the 8th place team. Considering the smaller and less established field of teams at the GESC: Thailand Minor, EG entered the event as one of the favorites of find success, but the North American squad was in for a significant challenge as it looked to help its cause on the Pro Circuit.

Evil Geniuses played three matches on the first day of the Group Stage, beginning with a game against Chinese squad Keen Gaming. EG picked up a core trio of Morphling, Death Prophet, and Beastmaster, and that lineup was able to dominate the match up and shut down Keen Gaming’s draft. EG’s cores combined for a stat line of 23-5-25 as the North American squad led in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match to secure a win in its opening match of the event. The team’s second match of Day 1 came against Thai squad Alpha Red, and EG was once again able to establish control of the game early. EG’s core trio of Slark, Lycan, and Axe combined for a stat line of 24-12-24 as the North American squad built up an early net worth lead and never surrendered it to claim its second win of the event in just 26 minutes of game time. With two wins to its name, EG looked to complete a clean sweep of its Day 1 matches with a victory in its final game against fellow North American squad VGJ.Storm. The team combined control with heavy damage output in its draft, picking up a core trio of Morphling, Lycan, and Beastmaster alongside Windranger and Jakiro supports. The lineup proved incredibly effective, as the team was able to play aggressively early and apply significant pressure to the VGJ.Storm heroes. Behind an impressive showing from Arteezy on Morphling (17-3-9), EG was able to keep VGJ.Storm’s lineup contained as the team built up a net worth lead of nearly 36k before finally claiming a win to take the all-North American showdown and secure a 3-0 record in the Group Stage.

EG’s 3-0 record had it sitting near the top of the standings heading into Day 2 of the Group Stage, but the North American squad still had a ways to go if it wanted to remain in that position by the end of it. The team got things started with a dominant performance against The Final Tribe in its first match of the day. The team’s core trio of Lifestealer, Lycan, and Puck dominated the match up as they combined for a stat line of 24-5-30 in a 25 minute stomp of its European opponent. The team’s next match up came against SG e-sports, and EG ran into its first problem at the Minor at the hands of the South American squad. EG’s lineup got off to a slow start in this match, allowing SG e-sports to set an aggressive pace that had EG’s heroes on the defensive early. However, the mid-game stage saw EG’s lineup hit their stride, as the team’s full team fight power and damage came online and the squad began to turn things around. Behind strong showing from Fear’s Lina (9-3-8) and Suma1L’s Dark Seer (6-5-13), EG was able to take control of the game and largely shut down SG e-sports’s heroes for the rest of the match to claim its fifth straight win. At 5-0, EG now stood a strong chance of claiming one of the top two spots in the Group Stage standings, but its plans were about to hit an obstacle in the form of European squad Team Secret. Team Secret had EG’s number for most of the early and mid-game stages of the match, as the European squad exerted a heavy amount of pressure on the lineup of the North American squad. Led by Arteezy’s Slark (10-9-10) EG was able to mount a comeback effort in the late-game that saw the team build up a sizable net worth lead and begin pushing Team Secret back across the map. However, that push couldn’t be sustained, and EG lost a series of team fights that wiped out its fledgling advantage and allowed Team Secret to push past its defenses to hand the North American squad its first loss of the Minor. EG followed up that loss to Team Secret with a match up against undefeated squad Fnatic in its final game of the Group Stage. EG looked to be handling the Southeast Asian squad for most of the match, as the team’s mobile heroes and heavy magic damage allowed it to build up a significant net worth lead heading into the late-game stage. However, Fnatic had been biding its time throughout the match, and by this stage its lineup was ready to unleash its team fight power. The Southeast Asian squad took a decisive team fight that wiped out most of EG’s lineup and buybacks, which enabled Fnatic to push straight down the middle lane to snatch victory away from the North American squad. The loss dropped EG to 5-2 in the Group Stage, and denied it a place in the top two heading into the Playoff Stage.

EG’s 3rd place finish in the Group Stage meant that the North American squad was placed into the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Stage, where the team faced off against Keen Gaming in a Bo3 series. EG looked to combine control with high damage in its draft, picking up cores of Luna, Lycan, and Centaur Warrunner in addition to supports of Jakiro and Bane. Early in the match, the North American squad was looking strong as the team built up a small net worth lead. However, the mid and late-game stages belonged to Keen Gaming as the Chinese squad took decisive control of the pace of the match. Despite a solid effort from Fear’s Lycan (8-5-4), EG didn’t have the strength to win team fights and was forced to concede defeat and accept a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 saw EG return to its strategy from Game 1, albeit with an altered look in terms of heroes. The team combined cores of Luna, Ember Spirit, and Doom with supports of Bane and Leshrac, and the combination was able to dominate the match from the very beginning of play. Keen Gaming’s heroes were given little time to build themselves up, and the Chinese squad’s entire lineup was almost constantly pressured. The early aggression and pressure transitioned into team fight control for EG, as the North American squad held the net worth lead throughout the match to even up the series 1-1. With the series on the line, EG opted for heavy team fight control in its Game 3 draft with cores of Morphling, Kunkka, and Beastmaster alongside supports of Disruptor and Leshrac. The team managed to keep things even through the early stages of the match, but the mid and late-game stages went decisively in Keen Gaming favor. The Chinese squad was absolutely unstoppable in team fights, as EG was never able to stand against the team’s strength as it fell further and further behind in terms of net worth. Despite Arteezy putting together a valiant effort on Morphling (8-7-6), EG couldn’t hold back its opponent as Keen Gaming closed out the series and handed the squad a 1-2 loss. The loss knocked EG out of the Minor just short of a Top 4 finish as the North American squad ended up in the 5th-6th place position overall.

Evil Geniuses entered the GESC: Thailand Minor looking for a chance to narrow the gap between itself and the Top 8 teams in the Pro Circuit standings with only a handful of Pro Circuit events remaining in the schedule. The team had been ending up just short of success on the Pro Circuit stage on a relatively consistent basis over the past few months, but the hope was that the smaller and less formidable field of teams at the Minor would give the squad an opportunity to find success. Heading into the event, the team was heavily favored to find that success, with EG projected to finish within the Top 4 in Bangkok. Despite a strong Group Stage run, the North American squad was unable to live up to that prediction, as the team fell just short of a Top 4 finish in the 5th-6th place position. The team looked incredibly strong in the Group Stage of the event, as the team won its first five matches and dominated its opponents as a significant favorite in all of its early match ups. However, the team stumbled against Team Secret and Fnatic, both squads that were similarly considered to be favorites heading into the event. The losses to both of those squads were disappointing for EG, but the hope was that the North American squad would get the chance to earn revenge against one or both of them in the Playoff Stage where the format shifted from Bo1 to Bo3 and Bo5 series. However, the team never got that chance, as EG lost its Quarterfinal series against Chinese squad Keen Gaming and were eliminated from the event. The team’s loss in that series comes as something of a shock and a significant disappointment for EG, as it was heavily favored to win that series and claim a Top 4 finish at the event. The most concerning thing for EG in its losses to Keen Gaming have to have been the fact that the North American squad disappeared in the late-game in Games 1 and 3. Keen Gaming was able to dominate late-game fights in both of those matches, and EG never seemed to have an answer that it was confident in when it came down to those late-game situations. The Minor leaves EG with a few questions to answer over the course of the rest of the season, but the good news for the North American squad is that it will have a few more opportunities to make adjustments and potentially turn things around. The team is set to compete at two of the final three Majors of the season, and a Top 4 finish at one or both of those gives EG a solid chance of moving into the Top 8 and keeping hope alive for a direct invite to TI8. In order to do that though, the North American squad is going to have to be able to recover from its recent struggles and this disappointing finish in Bangkok and make a return to form before its season comes to an end.

Alpha Red Alpha Red

Place: 8th

Winnings: $10,000

Alpha Red entered the GESC: Thailand Minor as a relative unknown within the Pro Circuit scene, as the Thai squad had popped up in a few regional qualifiers but were not a significant name in the Southeast Asian region. The Thailand Qualifier for this Minor gave the team an incredible opportunity to compete against some of the world’s leading teams on a high profile stage and gain valuable experience beyond its local regional scene. With the Minor in Bangkok serving as the team’s first and last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season, Alpha Red had little regard for the posturing and jockeying for position in terms of Qualifying Points and Pro Circuit rankings. The GESC: Thailand Minor proved the team a chance to test itself against Pro Circuit level competition, but the Thai squad found quite the challenge as the field of teams in Bangkok were not keen on showing restraint against the Pro Circuit newcomer.

Day 1 of the event saw Alpha Red play the first four of its seven total scheduled Group Stage matches as the Thai squad got its first taste of Pro Circuit action. The team began its run with a match against Chinese squad Keen Gaming, but the team did not look fantastic in its first Pro Circuit match. Alpha Red’s risky core Huskar pick did not pay off, as Keen Gaming led for the entirety of the match and handed the Thai squad a massively one sided loss. The team’s second match of the day against The Final Tribe did not go much better for the team. The squad’s aggressive duo of Night Stalker and Spirit Breaker didn’t establish the fast pace that it had been hoping for, as The Final Tribe surrendered just nine kills to its opponent and dominated the match to give Alpha Red back to back losses in the Group Stage. By this point things were not looking good for the team, but its next opponent promised even more difficulties for Alpha Red as it took on an undefeated Fnatic squad. Alpha Red’s core trio of Terrorblade, Death Prophet, and Beastmaster found themselves unable to establish any momentum, as Fnatic applied heavy and early pressure to its opponent and claimed a lopsided victory in just 20 minutes of play. Alpha Red had one last chance to salvage a win in its final match of Day 1 against Evil Geniuses, and the Thai squad put up its best performance of the day against the North American squad. The squad’s core trio of Gyrocopter, Leshrac, and Tidehunter managed to help it find a decent number of kills against EG. However, the North American squad still led throughout the entirety of the match in terms of net worth, and Alpha Red never managed to cut down that lead as it suffered its fourth loss of the Day.

Entering Day 2 of the Group Stage with a 0-4 record, Alpha Red essentially needed a perfect run over its final three matches to have any hope of advancing to the Playoff Stage of the Minor. The squad looked for team fight power in its draft against SG e-sports, picking up cores of Lifestealer, Lina, and Dark Seer along with Sand King and Warlock supports. Unfortunately, that lineup didn’t give the team the power it needed to swing control of the match in its favor, as SG e-sports trailed throughout the entire match once again to suffer its fifth loss of the Group Stage. By this point, Alpha Red had to hope for wins in its final two matches to force tiebreaker matches, but its opponents were not inclined to cooperate with that plan. The team was once again trailing for almost the entirety of its sixth Group Stage match against VGJ.Storm despite being even in terms of kills. The North American squad led by more than 16k net worth by the end of the match, and Alpha Red could do little to hold its base as the team dropped to 0-6. The team picked up a core trio of Lifestealer, Death Prophet, and Enchantress its final match of the Group stage against Team Secret, but that lineup quickly proved ineffective. Despite a solid showing from MyPro’s Enchantress (8-5-3), the Thai squad was never able to take control of the match away from Team Secret as the European squad secured a win and ended Alpha Red’s run at the Minor with a 0-7 record and and 8th place finish.

Alpha Red came to the GESC: Thailand Minor thanks to the Thailand Qualifier for the event, and because of that the expectations for the team were set fairly low. The squad had not been a significant contender within the Southeast Asian region to this point, and it didn’t seem likely that the squad was going to be able to put up much of a fight against Pro Circuit squads. Coming into the event, the team was projected to finish last in the standings with an 8th place position. Despite a few positive flashes of potential in some of its matches, the team was unable to outperform that prediction as it finished at the bottom of the standings in Bangkok. The team failed to secure a single win in the Group Stage of the event, posing a 0-7 record overall and failing to advance to the Playoff Stage. While that kind of performance is somewhat disappointing for a team in its Pro Circuit debut, it was far from unexpected. The team simple appeared to lack the experience needed to keep pace with the other teams in the field, which was driven home by how incredibly one sided most of the team’s losses were at the event. The team didn’t accomplish much in Bangkok, but that wasn’t ever really the goal for the team in this lone appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. The point of GESC’s extra regional qualifiers at both this Minor and the previous GESC: Indonesia Minor has been to encourage and foster more growth across the lesser known subsections of the Southeast Asian region. On that front, Alpha Red’s participation in a Pro Circuit event could serve as a significant step forward both for the team itself and for Thailand as a whole in the Dota 2 world. The team may not have found much success in its lone Pro Circuit appearance, but this chance to play at the Minor could lead to significant improvement for the team down the line. Alpha Red may not even have to wait that long to show off what it may have learned in Bangkok. The team has no more opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit stage, but the TI8 Open Qualifiers will give the team a chance to compete against its regional rivals with a shot at earning a place in the TI8 Southeast Asia Qualifier this summer.

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 3rd-4th

Winnings: $35,000 (Total) & 30 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Fnatic came into the GESC: Thailand in rather desperate need of Qualifying Points if it wanted to keep its hopes of earning a direct invite to TI8 alive. With the number of Pro Circuit events dwindling over the final weeks of the season, the Southeast Asian squad needed to put together a solid performance in Bangkok to help close the gap between itself and the Top 8 ranked teams. The team’s performance on the Pro Circuit stage had been relatively strong over the past few events, and the Southeast Asian squad was looking to keep its momentum going with a Top 4 finish at the final Minor of the season in Thailand.

The team began its Group Stage run with a match against The Final Tribe, and the Swedish squad proved to be a tough challenge for Fnatic to handle. The Southeast Asian squad managed to wrest control way from its opponent in the late game, but The Final Tribe refused to go away as it made multiple surges late in an attempt to spark a comeback effort. Behind impressive showing from Abed’s Invoker (13-7-19) and EternaLEnVy’s Lifestealer (12-5-15), Fnatic was finally able to break through The Final Tribe’s defenses to secure a win in its opening match of the Group Stage. Fnatic moved from one European opponent to another as it faced Team Secret in its second Group Stage match. The team’s lineup suffered throughout the mid and late-game stages of the match, as Team Secret was able to secure fights and pick offs to build up a sizable net worth lead. However, Fnatic was able to mount a comeback effort led by Abed’s Phantom Lancer (8-0-5) that saw it claim back to back team fight wins to snatch a victory away from Team Secret. After the tough match against Team Secret, Fnatic found itself facing a much less formidable opponent in the form of Thai squad Alpha Red. Fnatic was able to make quick work of of its fellow Southeast Asian squad, out killing its opponent by a score of 25-6 and claiming a win in just 20 minutes of play. After that win against Alpha Red, the team had a chance to close out Day 1 with an undefeated record if it could win its last match against SG e-sports. The Southeast Asian squad played aggressively in the early stages, limiting the growth of its opponents’ cores despite not finding a high number of kills. In lieu of kills, Fnatic was able to push lanes and control the map, forcing SG e-sports back into its own base and suffocating the team’s heroes to secure another win in just 25 minutes for a 4-0 record.

Day 2 of the Group Stage began with Fnatic taking on North American squad VGJ.Storm as it attempted to keep its winning streak alive in Bangkok. Fnatic faced limited resistance from its opponent, as the SEA squad’s core trio of Lycan, Death Prophet, and Dark Seer combined for a stat line of 25-3-38. VGJ.Storm’s lineup was never able to establish control of team fights, and the North American squad was forced to concede defeat to give Fnatic its fifth straight win at the Minor. The team’s penultimate match of the Group Stage came against Chinese squad Keen Gaming and presented Fnatic with one of its toughest challenges. The team looked for heavy amounts of damage and control in its draft with cores of Ember Spirit, Leshrac, and Beastmaster, and early on the Southeast Asian squad appeared to be in control of the match. Fnatic took a lead of a few thousand net worth in to the late-game, but Keen Gaming wasn’t willing to admit defeat just yet. The Chinese squad made three surges led by team fight wins that briefly shifted the net worth lead into its favor. However, Fnatic’s core trio managed to shut down those surges with the help of DJ’s Windranger (14-6-18) and wiped out Keen Gaming’s final defense attempt to lock in a 6-0 record. In order to avoid a tiebreaker scenario and lock in a top two spot in the Group Stage standings, Fnatic needed one last win as it faced off against North American squad Evil Geniuses in its final match of Day 2. EG came out aggressively in the match, and Fnatic’s lineup was unprepared to face that level of early pressure. Fnatic fell behind significantly in terms of net worth through the mid and late-game stages. However, Fnatic’s heroes were able to hit a massive spike in power in the late-game stage. and EternaLEnVy’s Spectre (6-1-21) and Abed’s Storm Spirit (10-4-13) led the team to a huge team fight win that knocked EG out and allowed Fnatic to rush down the middle lane to finish off an impressive comeback victory and secure a perfect 7-0 record in the Group Stage.

That 7-0 record earned Fnatic the top spot in the Group Stage standings, and a place in the Semifinals of the Playoff Stage. The Southeast Asian squad found itself facing North American team VGJ.Storm in a Bo3 series with a spot in the Finals of the Minor on the line. Game 1 of the series saw Fnatic look for mobility and high damage with its cores as it picked up a trio of Chaos Knight, Queen of Pain, and Abaddon. That lineup quickly proved ineffective, as VGJ.Storm was able to find early kills and build up a net owrth lead. The mid and late-game stages saw the North American squad take control of the match, closing the game out on a 12-2 run in terms of kills to hand Fnatic a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 ended up being more of the same, as Fnatic kept even in the early stages but fell behind in the mid and late-game. Despite a solid showing from Abed’s Tinker (4-1-5), the Southeast Asian squad couldn’t establish control of team fights as the team’s defenses crumbled in the face of VGJ.Storm’s aggression. Fnatic’s 0-2 loss ended its run at the Minor, with the Southeast Asian squad earning a 3rd-4th place position overall.

Fnatic entered the GESC: Thailand Minor looking for a strong performance on the international level and a Top 4 finish to help it move closer to the Top 8 teams in the Pro Circuit standings. The team had been performing relatively well in its last few Pro Circuit appearances, and the Southeast Asian had confidence in its current level of play. Coming into the event, that confidence had Fnatic projected to finish within the Top 4 range, and the SEA squad was able to match those expectations with its 3rd-4th place finish. The team put together a dominant and nearly flawless run in the Group Stage of the event that saw it win all seven of its matches. On that front, the Southeast Asian team didn’t expose many weaknesses and managed to avoid significant mistakes a sit put together an impressive run. However, once the team reached the Playoff Stage, things dropped off considerably for Fnatic. The Southeast Asian squad simply could not establish any momentum for itself in its 0-2 loss to VGJ.Storm in the Semifinals, as the North American team was able to seemingly outplay Fnatic at every major junction in the game. After the team’s undefeated run through the Group Stage, one would think that the team would have few causes for concern coming out of the event, but the lopsided 0-2 loss to VGJ.Storm does raise a few questions for Fnatic over the final weeks of the season. The good news for Fnatic is that it will have one more chance to answer those questions and potentially earn itself a place in Vancouver, as the Southeast Asian team is still set to attend the ESL One Birmingham Major later this month. That appearance in the U.K. will be Fnatic’s final appearance on the Pro Circuit stage though, so if the squad wants to have any chance of earning a direct invite, it’s going to have to take a step up from its performance in Bangkok and play at its absolute best at that event.

Keen Gaming Keen_Gaming_logo

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $65,000 (Total) & 90 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Keen Gaming came into the GESC: Thailand Minor with a few questions to answer. The Chinese squad made its way to Bangkok in the wake of some changes to its roster that saw it return one former player to its lineup while promoting another from its secondary squad into the main team’s roster. The team had already forfeited its direct invite eligibility earlier in the season, which meant that Keen Gaming was not particularly interested in the Qualifying Points that were available at the Minor. Instead, the team was looking for an opportunity to put together a solid showing on the international level in order to show the strength of its new roster and build up momentum as it prepared for a run through the TI8 Open Qualifiers. Despite not being a favorite to find success in Bangkok, Keen Gaming came into the Minor with confidence that it could prove itself on the Pro Circuit stage and get a leg up over its regional rivals with a strong showing at the event.

Keen Gaming began its fun on Day 1 of the event with fiveGroup Stage matches, the first of which game against Thai squad Alpha Red. The Chinese squad was able to absolutely dominate its opponent, as Ying’s Gyrocopter (22-1-9) led the team in a complete stomp of Alpha Red. Trailing by nearly 27k net worth at the 31 minute mark, Alpha Red conceded defeat to give Keen Gaming its first win of the Group Stage. The Chinese squad looked to continue its winning ways in its next match, but faced a considerable challenge in the form of Team Secret. The Chines squad quickly fell behind Team Secret in terms of net worth and team fight power, as the European squad was able to dictate the pace of the game with its strong fighting lineup. Despite a solid effort from Ying on Death Prophet (5-4-11), Keen Gaming could not put together a comeback as the team lost its first match of the event. After the loss to Team Secret, Keen Gaming had a chance to bounce back as it faced South American squad SG e-sports in its third match of the Group Stage. The Chinese squad simply dismantled its opponent, as SG e-sports was held to just six kills in the match. Keen Gaming’s core trio of Gyrocopter, Faceless Void, and Windranger put together a combined stat line of 28-3-39 as the squad cruised to a blowout victory. Keen Gaming shifted from a South American opponent to a North American one in its next match, as the Chinese squad faced Evil Geniuses next. EG was ready for Keen Gaming though, as the North American team applied a high level of pressure and aggression early that proved incredibly effective. Keen Gaming’s cores were never able to come online as EG held the lead throughout the entirety of the match. Down by over 18k net worth at the 21 minute mark, Keen Gaming threw in the towel to bring its record back even at 2-2. The team’s fifth and final match of Day 5 saw it face off against another European squad in the form of The Final Tribe. The team picked up a core trio of Troll Warlord, Ember Spirit, and Omniknight, but the team’s lineup had trouble creating much separation through the first half of the match. The two teams remained neck and neck in terms of net worth through the first 30 minutes of play, as neither squad was able to gain much of an advantage. However, the late-game stage saw The Final Tribe come alive as the Swedish ssquad began to take control of team fights. Despite a strong showing from Mevius on Troll Warlord (10-5-15), Keen Gaming was unable to pull off a comeback play as the squad suffered another defeat to end Day 1 with a 2-3 record.

With a 2-5 Group Stage record, Keen Gaming was not guaranteed a spot in the Playoff Stage as it entered Day 2 of the Group Stage. The team entered its match up against VGJ.Storm hoping to secure at least one more win to help its chances of reaching the Playoff Stage of the event. The Chinese squad played an aggressive style in its match against its North American opponent, as Keen Gaming picked up cores of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Clockwerk along with supports of Skywrath Mage and Spirit Breaker. The strategy paid off early for the team, with its aggressive pace finding numerous kills and putting VGJ.Storm on the defensive in the mid-game. However, the North American squad was able to recover and make a strong push in the late-game to reclaim control of the match. Despite a strong showing from Mevius on Gyrocopter (17-5-11) and dark’s Clockwerk (10-10-23), Keen Gaming was unable to slow down or diminish this surge as the Chinese squad suffered another loss in the Group Stage. Keen Gaming was in for quite the challenge in its final match of the Group Stage, as the Chinese squad faced off against an undefeated Fnatic squad. The Southeast Asian squad was able to establish control over the game early, with Keen Gaming’s lineup possessing limited team fight power over the first half of the match. However, the late-game stage saw the Chinese squad begin to pick up steam, as Keen Gaming made a series of surges that allowed it to briefly claim the net worth lead in the match.  Despite impressive performances from dark’s Clockwerk (16-7-23) and Ying’s Razor (11-9-22), Keen Gaming couldn’t maintain the momentum from those surges, as the Chinese squad lost yet another match to fall to 2-5 in the Group Stage overall. That record proved to be just barely enough to to avoid a tiebreaker scenario, as the team advanced to the Playoff Stage.

Keen Gaming found itself sorted into the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Bracket, where the Chinese squad found itself facing Evil Geniuses with a Top 4 spot on the line. Keen Gaming picked up a hard farming and durable trio of Phantom Lancer, Death Prophet, and Underlord in its Game 1 draft. That lineup had some small issues early, as EG was able to build up a modest net worth lead over the first 20 minutes of play. However, the mid and late-game stages were completely controlled by Keen Gaming, as the Chinese squad dominated team fights and consistently kept EG on the defensive. After building up a net worth lead over over 21k and claiming two lanes of barracks, Keen Gaming was finally able to force a “gg” call out of EG to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The team tried to replicate its success in Game 2 of the series with a similar lineup, but this time EG was ready to face it. The North American squad overwhelmed Keen Gaming’s heroes with heavy damage and control that had the Chinese squad trailing throughout the entirety of the match. Despite a solid effort from Ying’s Death Prophet (6-3-5), Keen Gaming could do nothing to slow its opponent down as EG claimed a win to even up the series 1-1. Game 3 of the series saw the teams’ roles reversed, as Keen Gaming was the squad that was able to establish control of the match in the mid and late-game stages. Behind absolutely incredible performances from Mevius on Phantom Lancer (23-5-14) and Ying’s Razor (17-5-15), Keen Gaming completed a surprising upset over Evil Geniuses with a 2-1 win that advanced it to the Semifinals of the Minor.

After taking down Evil Geniuses in its previous series, Keen Gaming was in for another significant challenge in the Semifinals as the Chinese squad faced off against Team Secret for a spot in the Finals of the Minor. Game 1 saw Keen Gaming keep things close through the early stages of the match with a strong fighting lineup. However, that lineup’s potency dropped off considerably in the late-game as Team Secret’s heavy damage output caused some issues for Keen Gaming’s heroes. Despite a strong showing from Ying on Viper (11-9-11), Keen Gaming was unable to turn back the tide of Team Secret’s momentum as the Chinese squad fell behind 0-1 in the series. After its opening loss, Keen Gaming went into Game 2 looking for a combination of team fight control and damage. The Chinese squad picked up cores of Lycan, Puck, and Brewmaster alongside supports of Bane and Doom, and that lineup quickly proved to be incredibly effective against Team Secret. The European squad wasn’t able to match up to Keen Gaming’s team fight strength in the mid and late-game as the Chinese team built up an impressive net worth lead. With Team Secret’s base in shambles around it and facing a net worth deficit of over 17k, the European squad conceded defeat to tie up the series at 1-1. Game 3 proved to be the least contested in the entire series, as Keen Gaming dominated the match up and dismantled Team secret. The Chinese squad played an incredibly aggressive style early that exploited the weakness of Team Secret’s lineup and put heavy pressure on the team’s heroes. Keen Gaming was able to constantly pressure Team Secret’s lineup and find multiple kills as the Chinese squad led throughout the entirety of the match to win the series 2-1 and secure a place in the Finals of the Minor.

The Finals of the Minor pit Keen Gaming against North American squad VGJ.Storm, as the teams faced off in a Bo3 series with the last Minor Championship of the season up for grabs. Game 1 saw Keen Gaming pick up cores of Outworld Devourer, Faceless Void, and Omniknight, and early in the match that lineup was able to earn a small lead over its opponent. However, the mid and late-games stages were where VGJ.Storm came alive, as the North American squad was able to out pace Keen Gaming and establish control over team fights to take the net worth lead. Keen Gaming couldn’t find the right team fight execution to turn the tides of the match, and the Chinese squad was eventually forced to concede defeat after losing all of its barracks and fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 proved to be even worse than its predecessor for Keen Gaming, as the Chinese squad stayed close to its opponent through the laning and early stages but fell apart soon after. VGJ.Storm out killed Keen Gaming by a score of 12-4 over the final 11 minutes of play to shut down the Chinese squad and hand it a 0-2 loss that ended its run at the Minor with a 2nd place finish.

Keen Gaming came to the GESC: Thailand Minor looking for a chance to prove itself and its new lineup on the international level. The team’s performance outside of its home region had been steadily improving over the course of the season, but the team’s new roster introduced a small measure of uncertainty. Heading into the event, Keen Gaming was not expected to perform well, with the Chinese squad projected to finish in the 7th place position and miss the Playoff Stage entirely. Keen Gaming was able to massively outperform that prediction, putting together an impressive run in the Playoff Stage and securing itself a 2nd place finish overall. The team’s strong performance at the event was not apparent in the Group Stage, as the Chinese squad struggled significantly in those Bo1 matches. The team won just two of its seven games, and those two wins came against SG e-sports and Alpha Red, the only two teams to finish below Keen Gaming in the standings. From that shaky showing, it didn’t seem likely that the team was going to find success after it just barely made it into the Playoff Stage. However, the shift from Bo1 to Bo3 series gave Keen Gaming a chance to show off its resiliency and ability to adapt to and outplay its opponents. The Chinese squad took down Evil Geniuses and Team Secret with 2-1 losses, knocking out two of the favorites to win the Minor. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum ran dry against VGJ.Storm in the Finals, as the Chinese squad appeared to struggle with team fight execution in its 0-2 loss to the North American team. The good news for Keen Gaming is that it got the chance to end its season on a high note, as this appearance in Bangkok was its final Pro Circuit event of the season. With the team ineligible for invites to TI8 or the TI8 Regional Qualifiers, Keen Gaming must prepares itself for a challenging run through the Open Qualifiers. However, this success at the GESC: Thailand Minor has shown the Dota 2 world what Keen Gaming is capable of, and the Chinese squad will enter those Open Qualifiers with a sense of momentum and confidence that its regional rivals may not be able to lay claim to.

VGJ.Storm VGJ Storm

Place: 1st

Winnings: $110,000 (Total) & 150 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

VGJ.Storm entered the GESC: Thailand Minor with a lot of buzz surrounding it. The team’s recent acquisition of Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok had piqued the interest of many across the Dota 2 world, and those fans wanted to see how the team and its new lineup would perform on the Pro Circuit stage. Though the team had no use for the Qualifying Points available in Bangkok, VGJ.Storm was still hoping to put together a strong showing on the international level to display the strength of its lineup and build up momentum heading into the TI8 Open Qualifiers. Though the field at the Minor had a few Pro Circuit powers that stood as heavy favorites, the North American squad was still determined to make its mark in the final Minor of the season.

VGJ.Storm opened up its run at the Minor with a match against South American squad SG e-sports on Day 1 of the Group Stage. The North American squad quickly established control over the match and held the net worth lead for nearly the entirety of the game. Behind strong showings from Yawar’s Gyrocopter (11-3-14) and Resolut1on’s Faceless Void (13-3-10), VGJ.Storm was able to win fights and keep the cores of SG e-sports contained to earn its first win of the Minor. VGJ.Storm next faced off against The Final Tribe, but the Swedish squad did not pose a much stronger threat than SG e-sports had. The North American squad once again established control of the match early and held it  throughout the game. With its core trio of Gyrocopter, Medusa, and Beastmaster combining for a stat line of 17-10-29, VGJ.Storm was able to push past The Final Tribe’s defenses to claim its second straight Group Stage win. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum would halt there as the squad matched up against Team Secret in its third game of the day. Team Secret ended up turning the tables on VGJ.Storm, as the European squad was the one to play quickly in the early game and establish control of the match. VGJ.Storm’s cores were never given a chance to fully come online, as the North American squad fell behind by nearly 17k net worth at the 29 minute mark before conceded defeat and suffering its first loss of the event. After the tough loss to Team Secret, VGJ.Storm found itself in an all-North America match up as it faced Evil Geniuses in its final game of Day 1. EG ran right through VGJ.Storm from the very start of the match, playing an aggressive style that allowed EG to build up a sizable net worth lead early. With VGJ.Storm’s core heroes heavily pressured, the team could never mount any sort of comeback effort as EG handed it its second loss of the event to end Day 1 with a 2-2 record.

The team’s woes continued in its first match of Day 2 of the Group Stage, as VGJ.Storm faced the undefeated Fantic squad next. Just as EG had done, Fnatic stomped the North American squad from the very beginning of the match. The Southeast Asian squad was able to put consistent pressure on VGj.Storm’s cores, keeping the team’s lineup locked down and unable to effectively fight back. VGJ.Storm earned just 11 kills in the match, as Fnatic dominated the game and handed the North American squad its third straight loss. For the first half of the team’s next match against Keen Gaming, it appeared that the team might be in line for four straight losses, as the Chinese squad got out to a huge lead in the early and mid-game stages of that match. However, an impressive performance from Resolu1on on Luna (13-7-17) helped lead the team to a surge in the late-game that allowed VGJ.Storm to win multiple team fights and turn the momentum of the match in its favor. The North American squad was able to use its new position of strength to push through the final defenses of Keen Gaming win the match and pull even at 3-3 in the Group Stage. VGJ.Storm’s final match of the Group Stage came against an Alpha Red squad without a single win at the event. The North American squad dominated the match up, leading in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the game as the team claimed a lopsided victory in just 27 minutes of play to end the Group Stage with a 4-3 overall record.

That 4-3 record was enough to earn the team a spot in the Playoff Stage of the event, where it faced off against The Final Tribe in a Bo3 Quarterfinals series. Game 1 proved to be a bit of a blowout for VGJ.Storm, as the North American team set a fast pace early that The Final Tribe was  not prepared to play at. With the team’s core trio posting a combined stat line of 26-5-47, VGJ.Storm dominated its opponent en route to an impressive one sided victory to take a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 saw the roles reversed for the two teams, as The Final Tribe was the squad to come out aggressively in the early stages of the match and establish a lead. Despite strong performances from Resolut1on’s Lytcan (9-3-5) and MSS’s Leshrac (8-5-12), the North American squad was not able to put much of a dent in The Final Tribe’s net worth lead. Trailing by over 28k net worth, VGJ.Storm put together one final attempt to defend its base, but that effort proved futile as The Final Tribe closed out a win to tie up the series 1-1. With the series on the line, VGJ.Storm looked to overwhelm its opponent with a combination of damage and control. The team picked up cores of Templar Assassin, Luna, and Beastmaster along with Bane and Leshrac supports. The lineup proved incredibly effective, as The Final Tribe’s heroes were heavily pressured and contained throughout the match. VGJ.Storm surrendered just seven kills to its opponent and built up a net worth lead of nearly 32k before The Final Tribe finally threw in the towel to give the North American squad a 2-1 win and a spot in the Semifinals.

That Semifinal series saw VGJ.Storm go up against a Fnatic squad that had ended the Group Stage with a perfect 7-0 record. One wouldn’t have guessed that Fnatic had gone undefeated in the Group Stage based on how easily VGJ.Storm seemed to handle the SEA squad in Game 1 of the series. The North American team held the net worth lead for nearly the entirety of the short match, as Resolut1on’s Medusa (5-0-9) and Yaway’s Death Prophet (8-1-9) led the team to a dominant performance over Fnatic. After just under 22 minutes of play, the Southeast Asian squad conceded defeat to take its first loss of the event and give VGJ.Storm a 1-0 advantage. Game 2 played out in a similar manner, as VGJ.Storm was able to establish control of the match in the mid and late-game stages once again. Behind an incredible performance from Resolut1on on Morphling (14-0-3), the North American squad ran right over Fnatic to claim another one sided win and take the series 2-0 to punch its ticket to the Finals of the Minor.

The Finals of the event pit VGJ.Storm against Chinese squad Keen Gaming, but by this point the North American squad’s momentum was too much to contain. Game 1 saw VGJ.Storm dominate the mid and late-games stages with a high damage, tanky core trio of Gyrocopter, Death Prophet, and Abaddon. That trio combined for a stat line of 23-13-33, and MSS’s Tusk (8-5-15) provided enough extra damage and control to shut down Keen Gaming’s heroes and secure the squad a victory in the series opener. The team repeated its strategy in Game 2 of the series, this time with a core trio of Morphling, Visage, and Abaddon alongside supports of Tusk and Warlock. Through the laning and early stages of the match, neither team could build up much of an advantage, but VGJ.Storm began to pull away in the second half of the game. Led by Resolut1on’s Visage (10-2-3) and Yaway’s Morphling (6-2-8), The team put together a 12-4 run in terms of kills over the final 11 minutes of the game to complete a 2-0 sweep of the series and claim a 1st place finish at the Minor.

VGJ.Storm came into the GESC: Thailand Minor looking for a chance to display the strength of its new lineup on the Pro Circuit stage. The team in its current form had not been able to play on the international level heading into the event, but the team had confidence and its players had an incredible level of experience between them. Coming into the event, the team was expected to compete for a Top 4 spot but fall just short of that mark, with a projected finish in the 5th-6th place range. However, the North American squad proved itself capable of pushing past that predicted outcome by quite a large margin, as VGJ.Storm claimed its first Minor Championship of the season in the final Minor on the Pro Circuit schedule. The team put together an impressive run in the Group Stage of the event, though its 4-3 record may not blow anyone away at first glance. However, it is important to note that those three losses came against Fnatic, Team Secret, and Evil Geniuses, all of whom are ranked squads in the Pro Circuit standings and only had three losses between them in the Group Stage. The team’s Group Stage performance was enough for it to advance, and it was in the Playoff Stage of the even where the squad truly shined. The team faced few difficulties in its three Playoff Stage series, as the team posted a 6-1 record to claim its first Minor Championship. The squad looked dominant across those three series, with its only stumble being a single loss to The Final Tribe that the team followed up with a blowout victory. Unfortunately for VGJ.Storm, it has no use for the Qualifying Points that it earned in Bangkok, as the squad had lost its invite eligibility. However, the win at the GESC: Thailand Minor goes a long way towards building momentum and confidence for VGJ.Storm heading into the Open Qualifiers, and the team is still not done on the Pro Circuit stage just yet. VGJ.Storm will be appearing at two of the final three Majors of the season, which gives the North American squad even further opportunities to make a strong impression on the Dota 2 world and build on this breakthrough performance in Bangkok.

 

SG e-sports SG e-sports new

Place: 7th

Winnings: $10,000

SG e-sports came to the GESC: Thailand Minor still trying to work its way through a recent change to its roster. The team had lost its captain with the departure of Lucas “Bardo Barbosa, and had pressed coach Emilano “c4t” Ito into an active position in the roster. T he roster change had forfeited the team’s eligibility for direct invites to the TI8 Regional Qualifiers, meaning the South American squad now had to prepare itself fro a run through the Open Qualifiers if it wanted to have a shot at a spot in Vancouver this summer. Without the ability to go directly to the Regional Qualifier, SG e-sports came into the Minor with no use for the Qualifying Points that were available in Bangkok. However, the team still had something to gain at the Minor, as a solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage had the potential to build up much needed momentum for the team in its final Pro Circuit appearance before the TI8 Open Qualifiers.

Day 1 of the event saw SG e-sports play four Bo1 matches, beginning with a show down with European squad Team Secret. The South American squad tried to pick up a durable lineup with cores of Phantom Lancer, Dragon Knight, and Brewmaster, but the strategy proved largely ineffective against Team Secret. The European squad dictated the pace of the match, claiming a win in just over 19 minutes and handing SG e-sports its first loss of the event. Unfortunately, the team’s struggled would continue in its second match of the day against North American squad VGJ.Storm. The team picked up a core trio of Troll Warlord, Kunkka, and Enigma in the hopes of combining high damage with team fight control. The plan didn’t work out, as VGJ.Storm controlled the net worth lead for almost the entirety of the match. Despite a solid showing from Liposa’s Enigma (8-4-6), the South American squad didn’t have the strength to establish control of the match as it lost its second match of the Group Stage. Things only got worse for the team in its next match up, as Chinese squad Keen Gaming absolutely dismantled SG e-sports. The South American squad managed to earn just six kills in a match that was almost entirely one sided. Down by over 19k net worth and being out killed by a score of 6-33, SG e-sports conceded defeat to lose another match on Day 1. Three straight losses gave the team just one chance to salvage a win on Day 1 of the event, but SG e-sports found itself running right into the wall that was an undefeated Fnatic squad in its final match of the day. The Southeast Asian squad picked SG e-sports apart, exerting an early level of pressure that left the South American squad with limited room to fight back. Despite valiant effort from 4dr’s Death Prophet (7-5-2), SG e-sports fell behind early and never got a real opportunity to turn things around as it stood at 0-4 at the end of Day 1.

With its 0-4 record, SG e-sports needed a near flawless performance on Day 2 of the Minor to even have a chance at finding a place in the Playoff Stage. The team faced off against Evil Geniuses in its first match of the day, and early on it looked as though the squad was holding its own against its North American opponent. The teams cores of Juggernaut, Phantom Lancer, and Axe were finding farm early and had even built up a small lead heading into the mid-game stage. From that point on though, everything went in EG’s favor, as the North american squad established control of team fights and quickly turned the tables on SG e-sports. Despite an impressive showing from Liposa on Axe (14-7-6), the South American squad was unable to get back into the match as it lost its fifth straight match in Bangkok. At this point, the team had to win both of its final matches to have a chance at forcing extra tiebreaker matches as the South American squad faced off against Alpha Red in its sixth match of the Group Stage. The team picked up a core trio of Anti-Mage, Death Prophet, and Axe, and that combination of heroes proved incredibly effective for the team. SG e-sports was able to apply significant pressure to Alpha Red’s lineup, leaving the Thai squad unable to fight at full strength as SG e-sports built up a sizable net worth lead. With the team’s core trio combining for a stat line of 24-7-28, SG e-sports was able to secure its first win of the event and keep its hopes of forcing a tiebreaker scenario alive. In order to reach that scenario, the team needed one last win against European squad The Final Tribe, and early on its appeared that the team would have trouble finding that win. The squad’s core trio of Slark, Death Prophet, and Axe fell behind early due to heavy aggression from The Final Tribe, and the South American squad found itself trailing in net worth heading into the mid and late-game stages. However, SG e-sports was able to recover from that early deficit, turning the game around late and building up a commanding lead of its own. Behind incredible performances from Liposa’s Axe (11-13-10) and Costabile’s Slark (13-7-10), SG e-sports saw its lead balloon to over 30k net worth as the game stretched past the hour mark. However, The Final Tribe remained in the match, and a series of crucial team fight wins late gave the European squad the opening it needed to march down the middle lane and snatch victory away from SG e-sports. The loss left the team with a 1-6 overall record that kept it out of a potential tiebreaker scenario and ended its run at the Minor with a finish in the 7th place position.

Coming into the GESC: Thailand Minor, it wasn’t entirely clear what to expect from SG e-sports in its final Pro Circuit appearance. On the one hand, the team had been looking improved on the international level, though perhaps not quite strong enough to truly threaten the more established squads in the standings. On the other hand, the team was coming off of a roster change that left it without its previous team captain, and the use of the team’s coach as a stand-in raised a few questions about its capabilities in Bangkok. Heading into the event itself, the team’s expectations were still tinged with optimism, as SG e-sports was projected to finish within the 5th-6th place range. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to live up to that predicted outcome as SG e-sports put together a somewhat disappointing run to finish in the 7th place position overall. The team’s run through the Group Stage of the event was rough and disappointing, as the South American squad lost all of its matches except for its game against the 0-7 Alpha Red. Perhaps more disappointing than the losses alone is the fact that the team was in a position to compete in a few of its lost matches, particularly its final game against The Final Tribe. The team led by over 30k net worth in that game, but couldn’t close out a win over the European squad. Performances like that introduce multiple weaknesses that the team is going to have to address before the start of the Open Qualifiers this summer. Unfortunately, Dota 2 fans won’t have the chance to see how the team responds to this recent setback before the qualifiers begin, as SG e-sports has no Pro Circuit appearances remaining on its schedule. Also of note in the aftermath of the team’s less than ideal performance in Bangkok is the matter of the team’s lineup. SG e-sports played with its coach as a stand-in for this event, but the team has not yet made any indications as to whether c4t will be remaining in the active roster through the TI8 Open Qualifiers. Whether the team keeps its current lineup intact or looks to bring in another player, SG e-sports will have quite a lot of work to do as it prepares to face down its regional rivals in the upcoming Open Qualifiers.

 

The Final Tribe The Final Tribe

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $17,500

The Final Tribe came into the GESC: Thailand Minor looking for its chance to finally break through on the Pro Circuit stage and put its on the board in the standings with a strong performance in Bangkok. With the team’s eligibility for direct invites to TI8 and the TI8 Regional Qualifiers still intact, the Swedish squad was looking for its first Qualifying Points of the season in an effort to separate itself from some of its European rivals heading into the final weeks of the Pro Circuit schedule. The team’s Pro Circuit experience was limited heading into the event, with this Minor in Bangkok serving as just the team’s second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season. However, the squad was confident that it could take advantage of the smaller and less accomplished field of teams at the Minor and secure its first Pro Circuit success late in the season.

The Swedish squad played four its of Group Stage matches on Day 1 of the event, beginning with a game against Alpha Red, the winner of the Thailand Qualifier. The Final Tribe tore through the Thai squad, with Era’s Phantom Lancer (10-1-3) leading the way in an absolute stomp that saw the team earn its first victory of the event in just under 28 minutes. The team’s second game was pretty much the exact opposite of its first, as the squad took on Fnatic in one of the most back and forth matches of the Minor. The Final Tribe picked up a core trio of Windranger, Phantom Assassin, and Axe, and early on that lineup was able to establish a modest net worth lead. However, the late-game largely went in Fnatic’s favor, with The Final Tribe making a few surges to briefly retake the net worth lead, but never fully regaining control of the match. After over an hour of game time, The Final Tribe’s defense was finally worn down and Fnatic was able to secure its victory to hand the Swedish squad its first loss of the Minor. After that tough defeat, The Final Tribe had to face off against North American squad VGJ.Storm in its third match of the Group Stage. The game did not go well for the European squad, as VGJ.Storm was able to establish a comfortable pace early and keep The Final Tribe’s lineup largely contained. Despite the team’s considerable amount of control and damage, The Final Tribe could never chip away at its net worth deficit and conceded defeat after VGJ.Storm claimed Mega Creeps to suffer back to back losses. The team went into its final match of the day against Keen Gaming looking to salvage an even record and keep itself in a relatively strong position in the Group Stage standings. The team picked up cores of Slark, Queen of Pain, and Enigma, looking to combine mobility, damage, and team fight power. Early on the lineup was holding its own against its Chinese opponent, though neither squad could gain a definitive advantage over the other through the early and mid-game stages. However, the late-game saw The Final Tribe finally hit their stride, as the European team began to get the better of Keen Gaming in team fights and built up a sizable net worth lead. Behind incredible performances from Frost on Slark (13-1-10) and jonassomfan’s Enigma (11-5-13), The Final Tribe was able to claim one last team fight win to break through Keen Gaming’s defenses and secure itself a win to end Day 1.

At 2-2, The Final Tribe was not quite secured a place in the Playoff Stage just yet as it prepared for the second day of the Group Stage, The European squad began its day with a match up against North American squad Evil Geniuses, though the match did not go particularly well for The Final Tribe. The team fell behind at the very start of the match, and its opponent refused to relinquish control throughout the rest of the game. Despite a solid showing from Era’s Sven (7-3-1), The Final Tribe didn’t have the power to break through EG’s lineup as the team suffered a blowout loss to begin Day 2 of the Group Stage. The team’s situation did not improve much moving forward, as The Final Tribe’s next opponent was fellow European squad Team Secret. The Final Tribe picked up a core trio of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Beastmaster in the hopes of presenting a strong fighting front. The strategy proved ineffective, as Team Secret was able to play an aggressive style that allowed the team to dictate the pace of the game and keep The Final Tribe on the defensive. Down by over 20k net worth and facing Megs Creeps, the Swedish squad threw in the towel and conceded defeat to fall to 2-4. With one game remaining in its Group Stage schedule, The Final Tribe needed a victory over SG e-sports in order to avoid falling into a three way tie in the standings. That last match would prove to be an endurance test for both squads, as the game ran for over 76 minutes in total. The Final Tribe got off to a strong start in the match, finding numerous kills in the early and mid-game stage and building up a modest net worth lead heading into the late-game. However, the momentum quickly shifted, as SG e-sports was able to recover and hit its stride to dominate team fights to wipe away The Final Tribe’s lead and take control of the match. The Final Tribe trailed by over 30k net worth, but the Swedish squad refused to surrender and began slowly working its way back into the game. With the team’s core trio putting together a combined stat line of 36-22-70, The Final Tribe managed to win a  series of team fights that helped it wipe out its opponent’s lead. A disastrous team fight loss near the 70 minute mark threatened to put an end to The Final Tribe’s comeback effort, but the Swedish squad managed to weather that storm and come right back with one final fight that wiped out SG e-sports and gave the team the opportunity to rush headlong down the middle lane to secure an incredible comeback win and earn itself a place in the Playoff Stage.

The team’s 3-4 Group Stage record had been enough to place The Final Tribe into the Playoff Stage in the Quarterfinals of the Minor, where its faced North American squad VGJ.Storm in a Bo3 series. The team looked for high damage and ganking potential with its Game 1 draft, picking up cores of Viper, Lina, and Doom alongside Nyx Assassin and Nature’s Prophet supports. The lineup proved ineffective against VGJ.Storm, as the North American squad was able to play aggressively early and control the pace of the match. The Final Tribe was never able to establish itself in team fights, and a 4-21 kill score over the final 10 minutes of play locked in a loss for the team as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 of the series saw the roles reversed for the two teams, as The Final Tribe was the team to come out aggressively in the early game and establish control over the match. Behind strong performancse from Era’s Troll Warlord (11-2-13) and Frost’s Timbersaw (10-2-15), the Swedish squad held the net worth lead throughout nearly the entirety of the match. VGJ.Storm’s lineup didn’t quite have the strength to overcome The Final Tribe in team fights, and its cores couldn’t keep up in terms of net worth. The Final Tribe was able to take complete control of the map, and eventually broke through the defenses of VGJ.Storm to tie up the series 1-1. With the series on the line, The Final Tribe rolled the dice with an aggressive lineup, combining Phantom Lancer and Lina with a heavy ganking trio of Legion Commander, With Doctor, and Night Stalker. Unfortunately, the lineup didn’t build up momentum in the way that the team had been hoping, as VGJ.Storm was quick to shut down its strategy. The North American squad kept The Final Tribe on the defensive, with the Swedish squad putting together just seven kills in an incredibly one sided match. Down by over 30k net worth and facing Mega Creeps at the 29 minute mark, The Final Tribe conceded defeat to lose the series 1-2 and finish in the 5th-6th place position at the Minor.

The Final Tribe came to the GESC: Thailand Minor hoping to secure its first bit of success on the Pro Circuit stage with a strong performance in Bangkok. The team had not necessarily established itself as a leader within the European region, but it was still sufficiently competitive and had a strong chance of earning an invite to the TI8 Regional Qualifier coming into the event. The team was hoping that a Top 4 finish at the final Minor of the season would be enough to remove any uncertainties with regards to earning that invite. Prior to the start of the event, the team was considered a good bet to earn that success, with The Final Tribe projected to finish within the Top 4 range. Unfortunately, the team ended up falling just short of that goal, finishing in the shared 5th-6th place position overall. The team managed to survive the Group Stage of the event with a 3-4 record, but its performance in those matches was not quite as clean or confident as one might have hoped. The team three wins came against Keen Gaming, SG e-sports, and Alpha Red, the only three squads that finished below The Final Tribe in the standings. That trend doesn’t look quite so bad when one realizes that it applies to every one of the teams in the Group Stage, but it would have been a significant positive sign if The Final Tribe had been able to claim a win against one of the more established squads in the field. The team’s Group Stage performance didn’t exactly blow anyone away, but the important part was that its record was enough to advance the team to the Playoff Stage. The team’s 1-2 loss comes as a bit of a disappointment, but the two squads were relatively even in terms of their strength coming into the series. A 5th-6th place finish in Bangkok is not necessarily the kind of strong performance that the team had been hoping for coming into the event, but the good news for The Final Tribe is that it will have one last chance to prove itself again on the Pro Circuit stage. The Swedish squad will be participating in the final Major of the season as the China Dota 2 Supermajor, and that last event will serve as the team’s last opportunity to separate itself from its regional rivals before the TI8 qualifiers begin.

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