Dota 2 Major Recap: MDL Changsha

Back to back Champs: PSG.LGD defeat VGJ.Storm 3-0 for second Major Championship of season. Vici Gaming, Newbee, round out Top 4 in Changsha.

With only a handful of events left in the Pro Circuit schedule, Dota 2 fans have been enjoying some high stakes action as teams make their final attempts to spark runs at Pro Circuit success before the onset of the TI8 Qualifiers. The MDL Changsha Major had provided a wealth of drama and high quality Dota as the Major has reached its conclusion in China. After a week of action between the Group Stage and the Playoff Stage of the Major, the matches in Changsha have all been played out and a Major Champion has emerged from the field of participants. 12 teams came to Changsha looking for Qualifying Points, Pro Circuit experience, or simply a chance to test themselves against the world’s best teams. Regardless of the teams’ situation for standing on the Pro Circuit, every participant at the MDL Changsha Major was hoping for a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage and a shot at claiming the title of Major Champion. While most of the teams in the field ended up falling short of their hopes or expectations at the event, there were some that managed to make their mark in Changsha.

When the dust had settled and all was said and done at the Major, PSG.LGD once again stood victorious on the Pro Circuit stage, as the Chinese squad earned its second Major of the season and its second victory in a row. The win made PSG.LGD only the second team this season to win back to back Major Championships, joining CIS squad Virtus.pro in that elite club. The team ended up with a 17-6 record at the Major overall, with just 1 of those losses coming in the Playoff Stage of the event. The Chinese squad defeated a litany of top level teams on its path to its second Major Championship, as the team defeated Newbee twice and also secured series victories over Team Secret and Vici Gaming on its path to success.

With the number of Pro Circuit events remaining on the schedule continues to decline, every event left takes on greater meaning and has the potential to shake up the Pro Circuit standings. Coming into the MDL Changsha Major, 3 of the Top 8 spots in the standings had been locked in, but the Major itself had a significant impact on the pecking order on the international level. PSG.LGD’s 1st place finish moved it even further up the standings, as the Chines squad moved up from 4th to 2nd and secured itself a direct invite to TI8 in the process. The team that PSG.LGD defeated in the Grand Finals, VGJ.Storm, earned enough Qualifying Points to move it from 16th in the standings all the way up to 9th. Unfortunately, that move doesn’t help the team much, as VGJ.Storm no longer holds its invite eligibility and will be playing in the TI8 Open Qualifiers regardless of its position in the standings. With its 3rd place finish at the Major, Chinese squad Vici Gaming earned enough Qualifying Points to move it up a bit in the standings as it shifted from 7th to 6th overall. And finally, Newbee rounded out the Top 4 in Changsha with a 4th place finish that earned it a small increase in its Qualifying Point total. Unfortunately for the Chinese squad, it actually drops further down the Pro Circuit standings in the aftermath of the Major, as Vici Gaming stole its place to move Newbee from 6th into the 7th place position overall.

With the matches all concluded in Changsha, PSG.LGD affirmed as back to back Major Champions, and the Pro Circuit standings fully adjusted, we can look at how each of the team performed at the MDL Changsha Major. In addition to examining how the participants stacked up at the event, we can also look to the future to see if and when those teams will be seen on the Pro Circuit stage again before the end of the season.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $40,000

Mineski entered the MDL Changsha Major as the highest ranked Southeast Asian team on the Pro Circuit, but the squad had greater aspirations as it made its way to Changsha. The squad stood on the precipice of earning itself a direct invite to TI8, but in order to reach that coveted mark and secure its place in Vancouver this summer, the Southeast Asian team needed to put together a 1st or 2nd place run at the MDL Changsha Major. As the only Southeast Asian squad to have ever won a Major Championship, Mineski was confident that it was capable of finding success on the Pro Circuit stage in China once again, but the field of teams in Changsha was full of squads looking to secure late-season success of their own. Mineski was in for a significant challenge as the SEA squad looked to push past its final obstacle on the road to TI8.

The team got things started on Day 1 of the Group Stage with a series against Chinese squad Invictus Gaming Vitality. Game 1 of the series saw Mineski put together an impressive showing, as the Southeast Asian power house made quick work of its opponent. Behind strong showing from Mushi’s Luna (8-1-8) and Moon’s Death Prophet (5-0-8), Mineski was able to dominate the match and hold its opponent to just 10 kills as the team secured in first victory of the Major in just over 24 minutes of play. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar fashion, with iG.V’s lineup failing to put up enough of a fight to hold back Mineski’s considerable team fight power. Behind another impressive performance from Mushi on Gyrocopter (15-1-17), the Southeast Asian squad managed to sweep past iG.V’s attempts to defend its base to complete a 2-0 series victory to open its run at the Major.

After its walkover series against iG.V, Mineski found itself facing a more formidable foe in the form of European squad Team Secret. Mineski opted for a core trio of Gyrocopter, Death Prophet, and Clockwerk in Game 1 of the series, and early in the match that lineup proved incredibly effective. Team Secret was playing from behind for the majority of the match, as Mineski held a net worth lead through the first 35 minutes of the match. However, the team fight execution finally clicked for Team Secret in the late-game, and the European squad was able to turn the tide of the match with a series of stunning team fight wins. Those fights shattered Mineski’s momentum, leaving the Southeast Asian squad with no way to hold back the subsequent push from Team Secret as Mineski suffered its first loss of the Group Stage. Game 2 of the series saw the roles reversed for the two teams, as Mineski faced a significant early deficit and was the team that needed to play from behind. Luckily, the Southeast Asian squad had help in the form of an incredibly unorthodox Meepo pick, as the team had taken a massive risk in picking up the hero alongside fellow cores of Gyrocopter and Tidehunter. Behind Jabz’s Meepo (15-8-14) and Moon’s Gyrocopter (17-8-15), Mineski was able to win a crucial late-game fight that left Team Secret short on buybacks and defenders in its base. Mineski made a headlong push down the middle lane, taking advantage of Team Secret’s crippled defenses and securing a win to split the series 1-1.

After facing one of the Pro Circuit’s highest ranked teams in Team Secret, Mineski found itself facing a less established squad as it matched up against South American squad Infamous in its final series of Day 1. The team put together a team fight lineup in Game 1 headlined by a trio of Troll Warlord, Death Prophet, and Magnus. That core trio proved more than capable of handling the South American squad, as Mineski led in terms of net worth for the entire match and limited its opponent to just 9 kills. The team’s core trio combined for a stat line of 23-3-29 en route to a lopsided and quick victory as Mineski claimed a win in just under 24 minutes of game time. Game 2 saw Infamous put up a bit more of a fight, but Mineski’s core trio of Lycan, Ember Spirit, and Axe allowed the Southeast Asian squad to once again control the match. Behind an impressive showing from iceiceice’s Axe (11-4-14), Mineski was able to dominate team fights and keep Infamous’s lineup contained throughout the mid and late-game stages. Aside from a small surge late in the match, Infamous was never able to put a significant dent in Mineski’s net worth lead as the Southeast Asian squad cruised to another series win and a 2-1-0 record at the end of the first day of the Group Stage.

Day 2 of the Group Stage began with Mineski facing off against one of the stronger squads in Group B in OG. Unfortunately for Mineski, the Southeast Asian squad did not get off to a fantastic start to the series as it was completely crushed in Game 1. The team’s cores fell prey to an early aggressive strategy from OG, and Mineski found itself trailing in terms of net worth from the end of the laning stage all the way through to the end of the match. With just 8 kills as a team and a deficit of over 36k net worth at the 39 minute mark, Mineski finally threw in the towel to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw the Southeast Asian squad come back with a vengeance, as the team picked up a core trio of Luna, Omniknight, and Timbersaw that was active and in control early. Mineski was able to out fight and out farm its opponent over the first half of the match, with Mushi’s Luna (15-10-11) and iceiceice’s Timbersaw (12-9-10) leading the team to a significant net worth lead. However, the team wasn’t able to hold that lead in the late-game, as OG’s lineup eventually came online and found the team fight execution it needed to drastically alter the course of the match. Mineski found itself out killed by a score of 2-12 over the final 10 minutes of play as OG handed the Southeast Asian squad its first series loss of the Major.

At 2-1-1, Mineski was guaranteed a spot in the Playoff Stage of the Major. The question as the team entered its final Group Stage series against Invictus Gaming was whether it would end up in the Upper or Lower Bracket. The Southeast Asian squad picked up a core trio of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Abaddon in Game 1 of the series, but early on that lineup faced some struggles. Invictus Gaming was able to build up a small lead in the early and mid-game stages, but Mineski was not kept down for long. The team managed to turn things around in the late-game with Mushi’s Gyrocopter (8-2-15) and Moon’s Dragon Knight (5-3-8) helping the Southeast Asian squad out fight and out farm its opponents to shift the momentum of the match in its favor. Despite a valiant final defense attempt from iG, Mineski was able to cripple the Chinese squad’s base and force a “gg” call to secure at least a tie in the series with a Game 1 victory. After having to play from behind in Game 1, Mineski entered Game 2 looking to be the more aggressive team with the help of a lineup led by cores of Gyrocopter, Puck, and Lone Druid. Those cores helped the team quickly establish control over the pace of the match, as iG was heavily pressured and its core heroes were limited in terms of their progression. Behind impressive performances from Mushi’s Gyrocopter (12-1-12) and Moon’s Puck (11-3-10), Mineski was able to secure itself a series victory to improve its record to 3-1-1 and secure a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage.

Mineski found itself in an all-SEA match up in its Upper Bracket series, as the squad faced off against TNC Pro Team in its first series of the Playoff Stage. Game 1 of the series proved to be an absolute stomp for Mineski, as its core trio of Gyrocopter, Imbersaw, and Doom ran circles around TNC Pro Team’s lineup. That core trio combined for a stat line of 20-2-29 in the match and held TNC Pro Team to just 4 kills as Mineski led from start to finish in a 25 minute walkover victory. Game 2 saw Mineski take a bit of a risk with a Tinker pick, combining the hero with fellow cores of Lifestealer and Underlord. Early in the match, it appeared that Mineski would have some issues, as TNC Pro Team’s aggressive play applied some unwanted pressure to the team’s lineup. Despite that early setback, Mineski managed to persevere and keep itself afloat into the late-game stage where its lineup finally found its footing. Behind an incredible performance from Moon on Tinker (18-4-10), Mineski was able to claim multiple team fight wins that sapped away TNC Pro Team’s strength and allowed Mineski to take control of the match. From that point on, there was little that TNC Pro Team could do to slow Mineski down as the team tore through its opponents base to claim a 2-0 series lead and advance to the next round of the Playoff Stage.

Mineski’s victory over its Southeast Asian rival led it to a match up with Chinese squad Vici Gaming, with a guaranteed place in the Top 4 on the line. Game 1 saw Mineski in control over the first half of the match, as Mushi’s Gyrocopter (5-3-10) once again led the team to a solid start. Unfortunately, the team’s early momentum died out quickly, as Vici Gaming’s damage output proved too much for Mineski to handle in the mid and late-game stages. Vici Gaming closed out the match with a 16-1 run in terms of kills, as the Chinese squad forced a “gg” call out of Mineski to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. After that opening loss, Mineski opted to change things up, picking up an Io alongside cores of Slark, Dragon Knight, and Doom. That lineup faced some struggles early, as Vici Gaming’s more aggressive play style had Mineski playing a bit defensively over the first half of the match. However, one the Southeast Asian squad had the items and levels it needed, the team was able to turn things around in the late-game stage. A series of team fight wins shifted momentum into Mineski’s favor, and an impressive performance from Moon’s Dragon Knight (12-4-11) helped the Southeast Asian squad claim a win to even up the series at 1-1. The team opted for a greedier draft in the final match of the series, picking up a quad core lineup of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, Pangolier, and Doom in an attempt to overwhelm Vici Gaming with its damage output. While the team managed to find a few pick offs in the early stages of the match, its greedy lineup proved ineffective over the course of the game as a whole. Vici Gaming’s mobility and team fight strength ended up allowing the Chinese squad to dominate team fights and shatter the momentum that Mineski was attempting to build for itself. Despite a valiant final team fight inside of its own base, Mineski was ultimately unable to hold back Vici Gaming’s push as the Chinese squad handed it a 1-2 series loss and dropped it down into the Lower Bracket.

That Lower Bracket match up saw Mineski facing another Chinese squad as the team played Newbee in a Bo3 elimination series. Game 1 of the series saw Mineski attempt to make its Meepo strategy work a second time, as the Southeast Asian squad shifted Mushi into a support role and picked up cores of Lycan and Gyrocopter to go with the Meepo pick. The strategy was met with limited success, as Newbee’s more aggressive style and draft was able to put significant pressure on Mineski’s lineup. Despite a strong showing from Jabz on the Meepo pick (8-5-2), Mineski found itself trailing for nearly the entirety of the match with few ways to turn things around. While the team fought to the bitter end, it was ultimately unable to overcome the strength of Newbee’s lineup as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. With the series on the line, Mineski shifted back to a more traditional strategy with cores of Gyrocopter, Lone Druid, and Dragon Knight. While the team’s tanky lineup managed to get out to a small lead in the first half of the match, it could not maintain that favorable position throughout the entire match. Newbee’s superior team fight power eventually won out, with Mineski’s lineup finding itself unable to match the considerable damage output of its opponent. After falling behind by over 15k net worth and losing all three lanes of barracks in its base, Mineski finally conceded defeat to lose the series 0-2 and end its run at the Major just short of a Top 4 position with a 5th-6th place finish.

Mineski came into the MDL Changsha Major looking for an opportunity to lock in its direct invite status for TI8 this summer. The team had been able to find success on the Pro Circuit stage before, but the task before it in Changsha was still particularly daunting for the Southeast Asian squad. Prior to the start of the matches at the Major, Mineski was expected to find some degree of success on the Pro Circuit stage, with the SEA squad projected to finish in the Top 4 range at the event. Unfortunately, Mineski ended up falling just short of that mark, with the Southeast Asian team ending up in the 5th-6th place position at the end of its run at the Major. The team looked strong and confident in its Group Stage matches, as the team took ties or wins in all of its series except for one against European squad OG. While that performance from the team was solid, it wasn’t necessarily unexpected, as the team was a heavy favorite in its series victories against Infamous, Invictus Gaming, and Invictus Gaming Vitality. Once the team reached the Playoff Stage of the event, the cracks in the team’s armor began to show. While the squad opened its Playoff Stage run with a solid 2-0 victory over fellow Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team, its next opponents presented a more difficult challenge. Mineski ended up losing its series to both Vici Gaming and Newbee, posting a 1-4 record across those series that exposed a few weaknesses for the Southeast Asian power house. Overall, Mineski managed to put together an impressive showing at the MDL Changsha Major. However, at this point in the season the Southeast Asian squad is focused on securing its direct invite status, and the lack of a Top 4 finish for the team at this event will likely be a disappointment for the team. While the team didn’t lock in a direct invite at this event, Mineski has not yet run out of opportunities to reach that goal this season. The Southeast Asian squad is still scheduled to participate in the final two Pro Circuit events of the seaon: the ESL One Birmingham Major and the China Dota 2 Supermajor. With two more chances to earn Top 4 finishes on the Pro Circuit stage, and the threshold to secure direct invites to TI8 getting lower and lower, it would take a near miraculous series of events to keep Mineski from hitting its goal now. With that being said, the Southeast Asian squad would probably prefer to take matters into its own hands and secure that coveted direct invite status with a successful run at one of the last two Majors of the season.

 

NewbeeNewbee_logo

Place: 4th

Winnings: $85,000 (Total) & 75 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Newbee entered the MDL Changsha Major as one of the leading teams both within its home region of China and in the Pro Circuit standings. However, the team’s favorable position at home and on the international level have been on the decline over the second half of the season. Coming into the final events of the season, Newbee finds itself in a position where it may not be entirely safe in terms of securing a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to TI8 this summer. Even if the team ended up falling out of the Top 8, its invite eligibility and impressive record on the Pro Circuit this season would easily have it sitting as a favorite in the TI8 China Qualifier. As comforting as that thought might have been for the squad, Newbee came into the MDL Changsha Major looking to put together a strong showing on home soil and earn itself a Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage to bolster its record and climb back up the Pro Circuit standings to retain its hold over a Top 8 position. With the field of teams at the Major full of squads looking to make late-season statements of their own, Newbee was in for quite the challenge in its quest to remain at the top of the hierarchy in the Dota 2 world.

The Chinese squad ended up playing two series on Day 1 of the Group Stage, the first of which found it facing off against Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team. Game 1 saw Newbee get off to a strong start behind a core trio of Razor, Lina, and Doom, but that lead quickly faded away as the match progressed. TNC Pro Team managed to out farm and out fight Newbee in the mid and late-game stages to seize control of the match and put Newbee on the defensive. Despite a strong showing from Moogy’s Razor (11-1-10), the Chinese squad was unable to turn the tide and couldn’t hold back TNC Pro Team’s assault as it lost its first match of the event. Game 2 proved to be a more favorable match for Newbee, as the team combined an Io pick with cores of Gyrocopter, Kunkka, and Sand King. The team’s lineup was able to exert significant pressure on TNC Pro Team from the start of the match, and Newbee quickly found itself enjoying a small net worth lead. As the game progressed, that net worth lead steadily grew, as TNC Pro Team’s lineup couldn’t find the right team fight execution to overturn Newbee’s momentum. Behind impressive performances from Moogy’s Gyrocopter (16-3-10) and Sccc’s Kunkka (11-1-14), Newbee was able to claim its first victory of the Group Stage and secure itself a 1-1 tie in the series.

The team’s second series of the day saw it face off against a fellow Chinese squad in the form of PSG.LGD. Newbee looked for team fight power in its Game 1 draft, combining cores of Faceless Void, Outworld Devourer, and Night Stalker with Sand King and Ancient Apparition supports. It quickly became apparent that the team’s lineup was not going to find much success, as PSG.LGD dominated the match and led in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the game. Despite a solid performance from Sccc’s Outworld Devourer (11-6-5), Newbee was never able to chip away at PSG.LGD’s sizable net worth lead and was eventually forced to concede defeat to lose the opening match of the series. Game 2 proved to be and even worse match for Newbee, as the Chinese squad was completely run over by its opponent. Newbee managed to earn just 9 kills in the match, as PSG.LGD took control of the match early and never looked back. Down by over 19k net worth at the 21 minute mark, Newbee knew its chances of making a comeback were nearly nonexistent as the team called “gg” to take its first series loss of the Group Stage.

Newbee entered Day 2 of the Group Stage with a 0-1-1 record that had it sitting near the bottom of the Group B standings. The team looked to turn things around though with a win in its first series of the day against CIS squad Vega Squadron. Game 1 of the series proved to be a fairly one sided affair for Newbee, as the Chinese squad dominated team fights in the mid-game stage to shut down Vega Squadron’s lineup. The team surrendered just 10 kills to its opponent, as Newbee claimed a win in just over 27 minutes of game time. Game 2 ended up going for a bit longer than its predecessor, but Newbee was once again in control of the match for nearly the entirety of the game. Behind strong performances from Moogy on Slark (18-3-13) and Sccc’s Death Prophet (12-5-18), Newbee was able to simply overwhelm Vega Squadron in team fights and push the CIS squad further and further back inside of its own base. Though Vega Squadron made a final attempt to defend its base, Newbee’s lineup was too far ahead and too strong for the CIS squad to hold back as the Chinese team claimed the win to secure its first series win in the Group Stage.

Newbee’s second opponent on Day 2 of the Group Stage was VGJ.Storm, as Newbee looked to secure itself a spot in the Playoff Stage with a win or tie over the North American squad. Game 1 of the series saw Newbee put together a core trio of Lifestealer, Ember Spirit, and Puck, but that lineup struggled significantly against VGJ.Storm. The North Americans quad played an aggressive style, attempting to put pressure on Newbee’s cores and limit their progression in the early stages of the match. The plan worked incredibly well, and Newbee found itself lacking the damage and tankiness it needed to take fights beyond the laning stage. With the team trailing by nearly 16k net worth at the 24 minute mark, Newbee realized that its chances for victory were slim to none as the Chinese squad threw in the towel to take a loss in the opening match of the series. Game 2 saw the team make a change in strategy, as Newbee picked up tankier and higher damage capacity cores in Lycan, Death Prophet, and Doom alongside control heavy supports in Lion and Jakiro. The change didn’t appear to result in much success through the first half of the match, as Newbee struggled to gain traction and faced a small, but consistent net worth deficit. However, as the game progressed into its later stages, the team fight power of Newbee began to take form. Behind Moogy’s Lycan (11-3-9), Newbee’s lineup was able to seize control of the match through a series of team fight wins that shifted momentum into its favor. With that advantage, Newbee was able to push into VGJ.Storm’s base and destroy the last of the team’s defenses to claim a 1-1 tie in the series.

With that tie against VGJ.Storm, Newbee had secured itself a spot in the Playoff Stage, but whether that spot would be in the Upper or Lower Bracket would be determined by the result of its final Group Stage series against fellow Chinese squad Vici Gaming. Game 1 of the series saw Newbee look for team fight power with a core trio of Gyrocopter, Leshrac, and Brewmaster, but the team’s lineup faced significant difficulties against Vici Gaming’s draft. Newbee was held to just 11 kills in the match, as Vici Gaming took control early and never looked back as it lead for the entirety of the game. With its cores significantly out paced by Vici Gaming’s lineup and its base already beginning to break around it, Newbee conceded defeat to lose the first match of the series. Game 2 brought a different strategy for Newbee, as the team picked up an Io to go with a core trio of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Clockwerk. The team’s mobility and tankiness allowed it to play aggressively early in the match, and that aggressive paid off as Vici Gaming’s lineup was unprepared to take fights that early. Behind impressive showings from Moogy on Gyrocopter (16-2-16) and Kaka’s Io (6-5-24), Newbee was able to built up momentum and maintain its lead throughout the match. Vici Gaming’s team fight power was significant, but it was not enough to overcome Newbee’s net worth advantage as the team marched into its opponents base and swept past the last of its defenses to claim a victory and a 1-1 tie in its final Group Stage series.

Newbee’s tie with Vici Gaming put the team’s Group Stage record at 1-3-1 (5-5 overall), which placed the team in the Lower Bracket of the Playoff Stage. There, the team found itself in an all-Chinese affair as it faced off against Invictus Gaming in a Bo1 elimination match. That match ended up being an endurance test for the two squads, as the game went on for over 66 minutes. Newbee was in control for most of that time, but a surge in the late-game stage fueled by a series of team fight wins allowed iG to seize control of the match and bring down all of Newbee’s barracks to earn Mega Creeps. Behind impressive performances from Sccc’s Kunkka (14-5-13, 33.6k net worth) and Moogy’s Lycan (11-6-15, 33.5k net worth), Newbee was able to fend off waves of Mega Creeps and turn the tides of the match, opening up a window the team to charge down the middle lane and secure itself a close victory to advance to the next round.

After its harrowing victory over Invictus Gaming, Newbee was ready for the shift into Bo3 series as it faced off against European squad OG in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket. The Chinese squad was able to get the better of its opponent in Game 1, as the team’s team fight lineup was able to establish control over the match incredibly early. Behind an impressive performance from Moogy’s Slark (11-1-13), Newbee kept OG contained throughout the match as the Chinese squad established both map control and team fight control. With a lead over over 33k net worth and Mega Creeps on its side, Newbee was finally able to force OG to concede defeat to take a 1-0 advantage in the series. In Game 2, Newbee found itself trailing early in the match ,as OG’s aggressive strategy had the Chinese squad playing from behind for the first half of the match. With Moogy’s Phantom Lancer (7-4-6) and kpii’s Venomancer (5-4-17) leading the way, Newbee was able to shift the momentum of the match in its favor in the late-game stage. A series of team fight wins and pick offs prevented OG from mustering its full strength to fight back, and Newbee was able to push past the European squad’s final base defense to earn itself a 2-0 sweep of the series.

Newbee’s victory over OG had it sitting just one series away from a Top 4 finish, but the Chinese squad was going to have to go through Southeast Asian leader Mineski in order to reach that position. Game 1 saw Newbee look to play a fast paced style, combining an Io support with cores of Phantom Lancer, Ember Spirit, and Night Stalker. That aggressive lineup was able to utilize its damage and mobility to quickly establish a lead and take control of the match. Behind strong performances from Moogy on Phantom Lancer (14-1-2) and Sccc on Ember Spirit (8-1-11), Newbee was able to keep Mineski’s lineup contained en route to a relatively one sided victory to begin the series. In Game 2, Newbee looked for team fight power with its draft, picking up up a core trio of Death Prophet, Outworld Devourer, and Omniknight alongside supports of Disruptor and Night Stalker.  Over the first half of the match, that lineup struggled to find traction, as Mineski’s durable cores and high damage output allowed it to build up a small net worth lead early. However, Newbee was able to recover from its slow start with the help of another impressive showing from Moogy’s Death Prophet (13-13) and Sccc’s Outworld Devourer (11-0-12). With that duo leading the way, Newbee dominated fights in the late-game, out killing its opponent by a score of 17-2 over the final 16 minutes of play to secure a 2-0 sweep over Mineski and locking in a Top 4 finish.

Newbee’s victory over Mineski had earned it at least a 4th place finish at the Major, but the squad was looking for further success as it faced off against fellow Chinese squad PSG.LGD in Round 4 of the Lower Bracket. Game 1 of the series ended up being a bit of a disaster for Newbee, as its opponent was able to exert significant pressure on its lineup. That pressure kept the Newbee lineup limited and contained, as PSG.LGD was able to able to establish a net worth lead early and hold it throughout the entirety of the match. Despite a valiant effort from Sccc’s Phantom Lancer (5-3-2), Newbee had little options left to it other than conceded defeat and moving on to the next match. Game 2 saw Newbee pick up a team fight lineup, with cores of Luna, Zeus, and Brewmaster alongside Sand King and Disruptor supports. That heavy team fight control and damage output allowed Newbee to take a commanding lead in the match in the mid and late-game stages. With Moogy’s Luna (15-5-14) and Sccc’s Zeus (11-3-22) once again putting together masterful performances, Newbee looked like it had a stranglehold on the game as it looked to push up onto the high ground and break through PSG.LGD’s defenses. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned on that step, as Newbee’s assault failed spectacularly and allowed its opponent an opportunity to turn the tide of the match. PSG.LGD launched a counter offensive that brought down Newbee’s remaining defenders as the team pulled off an incredible comeback win to hand Newbee a 0-2 defeat in the series. That loss ended Newbee’s run at the Major with a finish in the 4th place position overall.

Newbee entered the MDL Changsha Major looking for success on the Pro Circuit stage in order to solidify its position in the Pro Circuit standings heading into the final events of the season. The team’s current place inside of the Top 8 was not entirely secure, and the Chinese squad was in need of a successful run in Changsha if it wanted to avoid potentially losing its shot at a direct invite to TI8. Coming into the event, Newbee was expected to compete for a Top 4 finish but ultimately fall short of that goal with a 5th-6th place finish at the event. The Chinese squad was able to push past that predicted outcome though, securing itself a 4th place finish at the event and providing itself with a small boost to its Qualifying Point total. While Newbee managed to survive the Group Stage and advance to the Playoff Stage, it did not look quite as strong in its series as it may have preferred. Of its 5 Group Stage series, the team did manage to earn wins for ties in 4 of them, but its only series win came against a struggling Vega Squadron lineup that failed to win a single match at the Major. Once the team reached the Playoff Stage though, Newbee showed its strength and experience in an impressive Lower Bracket run that saw it defeat fellow Chinese squad Invictus Gaming, along with OG and Mineski. It took a match up against PSG.LGD to finally bring Newbee’s run to an end, but by that point the Chinese squad had already secured itself a place in the Top 4 at the Major. Newbee put together one of the more impressive runs at the MDL Changsha Major, but unfortunately the team’s 4th place finish was not enough to make the Chinese squad secure in its position in the Pro Circuit standings. In fact, the team leaves the event ranked lower in the standings than it was before the start of the Major, having fallen from 6th to 7th overall. The good news for Newbee is that it still has opportunities to secure success on the Pro Circuit stage and climb back up the standings before the end of the season. The team will be competing in both of the final Majors of the season, giving Newbee 2 more chances to reach the coveted goal of a direct invite to TI8. If the team can play at the level that it showed in Changsha, then it has a decent chance at finding further success at those final two events. However, time is beginning to run out for Newbee, and the Chinese squad would much rather take matters into its own hands and win its way to Vancouver as opposed to hoping that it has enough Qualifying Points to survive any late-season runs from rival squads.

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $40,000

Team Secret entered the MDL Changsha Major in a position of strength in the Pro Circuit standings. The European squad had already secured itself a direct invite to TI8 following the conclusion of the GESC: Thailand Minor, and the team’s only goal in Changsha was to prepare itself for its run in Vancouver this summer. As the highest ranked team in the field at the Major, Team Secret was one of the favorites to find success in Changsha. However, the team had experienced its fair share of inconsistent play over its last few Pro Circuit appearances, and many teams in the field of participants were eager for a chance to advance their own causes at the expense of the European power house.

Team Secret began Day 1 of the Group Stage with a match up against South American squad Infamous in its first series of the Major. Game 1 of the series ended being a significantly one sided match, with Ace’s Lycan (13-0-13) and MidOne’s Gyrocopter (12-4-12) leading the way as the team claimed control of the match early and never looked back. The European squad dominated team fights and managed to out pace Infamous at every turn to claim a wire-to-wire victory to open up the series. Game 1 of the series may have been one sided, but Game 2 was an absolute stomp as Team Secret simply ran over its opponent. The team’s core trio of Lycan, Weaver, and Doom combined for a stat line of 13-2-19 and held Infamous to just 3 kills in a match that Team Secret controlled from the very start. The team forced a “gg” call from its opponent in just under 20 minutes in order to complete a 2-0 sweep of the series.

After trouncing Infamous in its first series of the Major, Team Secret found itself facing a stronger opponent in the form of Southeast Asian squad Mineski. Game 1 of the series saw Team Secret fall behind over the course of the first half of the match, as Mineski’s lineup kept the European squad on the defensive for the most part. However, the squad’s team fight power finally materialized in the late-game, as Ace’s Luna (8-2-9, 35.8k net worth) and Fata’s Doom (8-5-10, 17.9k net worth) helped lead Team Secret in an impressive comeback effort. The European squad managed to claim multiple team fight wins in a row to turn the tide of the match and open an opportunity to push down the middle lane and claim a surprising victory over Mineski. Game 2 of the series saw the roles reversed for the two teams, as Team Secret was the one in control for nearly the entirety of the match. With its core trio of Lifestealer, Axe, and Viper combining for a stat line of 35-26-62 and YapzOr’s Night Stalker (13-3-24) putting in a significant contribution as well, Team Secret had what appeared to be a commanding lead in the late-game. However, Mineski proved too resilient to keep down as the Southeast Asian squad mounted a comeback effort of its own and claimed an unexpected team fight win around the 55 minute mark. That team fight resulted in Team Secret using most of its buybacks in a futile effort to turn the tides back in its favor. With those buybacks expended and most of its lineup still dead, the European squad was unable to stop Mineski as it pushed down the middle lane to snatch a victory away and end the series in a 1-1 tie.

With a 1-1-0 record and 3 points to its name in the Group A standings, Team Secret entered its final series of the day against fellow European squad OG in a position of relative strength. Game 1 of the series saw Team Secret display that strength, as the team picked up a core trio of Lone Druid, Timbersaw, and Brewmaster in an attempt to have a durable fighting lineup to overpower OG’s draft. That strategy paid off, with MidOne’s Timbersaw (15-5-13) in particular leading the team as it dominated the match up and kept OG’s lineup contained throughout the match. Though OG refused to surrender and continued to resist, Team Secret’s massive net worth lead helped give it the strength it needed to overcome the final defense attempts of its opponent to secure a win to open the series. Game 2 saw Team Secret change things up a bit with a core trio of Spectre, Kunkka, and Abaddon, but that lineup ran into a few issues early in the match. OG’s team fight abilities and early damage gave it a small advantage over Team Secret across the first 15 minutes of the match, but beyond that point things shifted decisively in Team Secret’s favor. The team’s core trio combined for a stat line of 26-9-58 as the squad dominated the mid and late-game stages. An 18-2 run in terms of kills over the final 14 minutes of the match helped Team Secret put the match out of reach for its opponent, as OG conceded defeat to hand Team Secret its second series victory of the event.

With a 2-1-0 record entering Day 2 of the Group Stage, Team Secret was already guaranteed a spot in the Playoff Stage of the Major. However, the team came into its series against Invictus Gaming looking to claim the top spot in Group A with solid performances across its final two series. The team got off to a strong start against its Chinese opponent, as Team Secret’s core trio of Lycan, Outworld Devourer, and Magnus led the squad to an early lead in the match. Behind a solid showing from Ace’s Lycan (6-3-9) and MidOne’s Outworld Devourer (7-1-10), Team Secret was able to quickly establish control over team fights and keep iG on the defensive. While the Chinese squad did attempt to mount one final defense of its base, the team eventually threw in the towel when it became clear that that last attempt was going to fail. After its victory to start the series, Team Secret looked to pick up a high damage lineup in Game 2 led by a core trio of Medusa, Ember Spirit, and Doom. While those heroes got off to something of a slow start in the match, Team Secret was able to pick up steam in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a strong showing from Ace on Medusa (8-6-13) and MidOne’s Ember Spirit (10-8-15), Team Secret was able to build up a lead of over 8k net worth near the end of the match. Unfortunately for the European squad, that lead was not as secure as it believed, as IG was able to turn the tides with a series of team fight wins. Despite incurring significant losses of its own in those fights, Invictus Gaming was able to seize the net worth lead for itself and march down the middle lane to claim a surprising comeback win that left both sides with a 1-1 tie in the series.

Team Secret ended up going from one Invictus Gaming squad to another, as the European team closed out its Group Stage schedule with a series against Invictus Gaming Vitality with its hopes of the top seed in Group A on the line. The European squad came out with a high damage lineup in Game 1 centered around a core trio of Sven, Razor, and Doom alongside supports of Disruptor and Tusk. The lineup very quickly found itself establishing control over the pace of the match, as iG.V’s aggressive strategy was rendered largely useless for the Chinese squad. Behind an impressive performance from Midone on Razor (16-4-17), Team Secret was able to continuously push iG.V further and further back until the European squad eventually broke through its opponent defenses to claim a win in the opening match of the series. Game 2 of the series proved to be even more one sided than its predecessor, as Team Secret’s core trio of Templar Assassin, Doom, and Lycan helped the team establish control early and hold it throughout the rest of the match. That core trio combined for a stat line of 38-17-58 as Team Secret claimed a wire-to-wire win to secure itself another series win and the top spot in the Group A standings heading into the Playoff Stage.

The team’s strong Group Stage performance advanced Team Secret directly to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage, where the European squad faced off against North American seam VGJ.Storm. Game 1 saw Team Secret put together a durable or otherwise elusive core trio of Medusa, Ember Spirit, and Doom. That lineup proved incredibly effective against its opponent, as the mobility and durability of the team was enough to outlast and overpower the damage output of VGJ.Storm’s heroes. Team Secret managed to hold its opponent to just 11 kills in the match, and its core trio combined for a stat line of 19-7-37 as it claimed a relatively quick victory in just over 25 minutes of game time. Team Secret’s Game 1 win had built up some momentum for the squad, but hat momentum did not carry over into Game 2 of the series. The team’s fighting lineup was unable to match the mobility and damage output of VGJ.Storm’s draft, as the North American team held the net worth lead for the entirety of the match. Trailing by over 31k net worth and with its base under siege at the 35 minute mark, Team Secret conceded defeat to even up the series at 1-1. In Game 3 of the series, Team Secret attempted to set up a fast paced style with its draft, combing cores of Lycan, Kunkka, and Puck with supports of Spirit Breaker and Leshrac. The strategy appeared to be working for the majority of the match, as Team Secret was able to build up a modest net worth elad heading into the late-game stage. However, the team fight power and durability of VGJ.Storm’s lineup eventually became too much for Team Secret to force its way through as the European squad began to lose its control over the match. Despite a solid effort from Ace’s Lycan (11-3-9), Team Secret was unable to prevent momentum from shifting into VGJ.Storm’s favor as the North American squad overcame the team’s final defense attempts to secure a 2-1 series win and knock Team Secret down into the Lower Bracket.

A place in the Lower Bracket meant that Team Secret had little room for error as it faced Chinese leader PSG.LGD in a Bo3 elimination series with a Top 4 position on the line. Game 1 of the series saw Team Secret attempt to combine team fight strength with pushing power as it picked up cores of Luna, Jakiro, and Puck alongside supports of Shadow Demon and Kunkka.  Unfortunately for Team Secret, that strategy did not pan out for the European squad, as PSG.LGD’s lineup proved too durable for it to easily bring down. Despite a valiant effort from Ace on Luna (9-4-5), Team Secret found itself falling further and further behind in terms of net worth as the match progressed. By the 43 minute mark, Team Secret faced a deficit of over 29k net worth as well as Mega Creeps, which prompted the European squad to finally concede defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 ended up being a near repeat of its predecessor, as Team Secret’s lineup was playing from behind for the entirety of the match. The European squad’s team fight power never became the significant factor that it had been hoping for, as PSG.LGD’s lineup continued to build up its net worth lead. With its cores all massively out paced by their counterparts on PSG.LGD and the team falling behidn by over 24k net worth, Team Secret called “gg” to lost the series 0-2 and bring its run at the Major to an end with a finish in the 5th-6th place position.

Team Secret came into the MDL Changsha Major with its primary goal for the season already accomplished, as the team had secured its direct invite status for TI8. With that in mind, the team’s purpose in Changsha was less about finding success on the Pro Circuit stage and more about preparing itself for its run in Vancouver. That being said, the team was still expected do perform well at the Major, with the European squad projected to finish within the Top 4 range. Despite a solid showing at the event, Team Secret ended up falling just short of that mark as it finished in the shared 5th-6th place position when all was said and done in Changsha. The European squad put together a solid run through the Group Stage of the event, as the team earned wins or ties in all 5 of its series and posted an 8-2 record in Group A. While those numbers are impressive, they were far from unexpected for Team Secret as the top ranked squad in the field at the Major. Aside from its series against Mineski, Team Secret was considered a heavy favorite in all of its Group Stage matches, and anything weaker than its 3-2-0 series record in Group A would have likely been disappointing for the team. That being said, that record was enough to earn Team Secret the top spot in the group standings and a favorable position in the Playoff Stage of the event. Unfortunately for the team, the Playoff Stage was where things began to go wrong for it as Team Secret lost back to back series against VGJ.Storm and PSG.LGD. Those losses kept Team Secret from earning a Top 4 finish at the event, but considering PSG.LGD’s position as the 4th ranked team in the Pro Circuit standings and VGJ.Storm’s incredible run of success at this event, the losses that Team Secret suffered don’t look nearly as bad as they could. That being said, those final two series losses do raise some small concerns for Team Secret moving forward. The team’s back to back losses and failure to reach a Top 4 position may be a bit disappointing for Team Secret and its fans, but the team can rest easy knowing it is already guaranteed a spot at TI8 this summer. That being said, the European squad would likely prefer to end its season on a high note, and Team Secret will have the chance to do just that in the coming weeks. The team is scheduled to participate in the final event of the season at the China Dota 2 Supermajor, and that last Pro Circuit appearances will give Team Secret one last chance to remind the Dota 2 world how it earned its direct invite status.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Place: 3rd

Winnings: $130,000 (Total) & 225 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

Vici Gaming came into the MDL Changsha Major as one of the top ranked squads on the Pro Circuit, with a position of 7th in the standings. However, that favorable position wasn’t yet secure, as there were still several teams on the Pro Circuit with the potential to knock the Chinese squad out of the Top 8 before the end of the season. With that in mind, Vici Gaming was in need of a strong performance in Changsha and a Top 4 finish in order to secure more Qualifying Points and solidify its hold on a Top 8 spot and a potential direct invite to TI8. The team had proven itself capable of finding success on the Pro Circuit stage before, as evidenced by its Top 8 ranking, but with time running out on the season and many teams desperate for one final show of strength, the challenge facing Vici Gaming in Changsha was a particularly daunting one.

Vici Gaming opened up play on Day 1 of the Group Stage with a match up against its North American cousin in VGJ.Storm. Vici Gaming dominated Game 1 of the series, with the team’s core trio of Slark, Kunkka, and Brewmaster establishing control from the very start of the match. VGJ.Storm was held to just 14 kills in the match, and Vici Gaming’s core trio combined for a stat line of 28-6-43 as the Chinese squad pushed its opponent further and further back into its base. With a net worth lead of nearly 15k and complete control of the map, Vici Gaming was able to force a “gg” call from its opponent just shy of the 35 minute mark to claim its first win of the event. Game 2 saw Vici Gaming look for a combination of damage and team fight power with a core trio of Death Prophet, Kunkka, and Lycan alongside supports of Bane and Clockwerk. Over the first half of the match, that lineup faced significant difficulties, as VGJ.Storm’s aggressive play kept Vici Gaming on the defensive. Despite playing from behind over the first 35 minutes of the game, Vici Gaming managed to keep itself afloat as it slowly built itself up and looked for an opportunity to turn the tides of he match. The late-game stage provided the Chinese squad the chance that it had been waiting for, as Vici Gaming began turning fights in its favor and pushing back VGJ.Storm’s advance. Behind strong performances from Paparazi’s Death Prophet (16-5-19, 35.6k net worth) and Ori’s Kunkka (12-4-22, 33.5k net worth), Vici Gaming took control of the match and broke through the defenses of VGJ.Storm to complete a 2-0 sweep of the series.

After its victory over VGJ.Storm, Vici Gaming closed out its Day 1 schedule with a match up against Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team. The Chinese squad looked to be the aggressor in Game 1 of the series, combining cores of Phantom Lancer, Leshrac, and Batrider with supports of Dazzle and Night Stalker. Unfortunately, the team’s aggressive strategy didn’t work out, as TNC Pro Team was able to match that aggression and take the better of engagements in the early and mid-game stage. The failure of its strategy left Vici Gaming with little room to adapt, as the Chinese squad fell further and further behind over the course of the match. Although the team did attempt to defend its base, the momentum and strength of TNC Pro Team’s lineup proved too much for Vici Gaming to hold off, and the Chinese squad threw in the towel to suffer its first defeat of the Major. Game 2 saw Vici Gaming determined to avenge its previous loss, as the team picked up a core trio of Phantom Lancer, Puck, and Doom alongside supports of Bane and Elder Titan. That lineup was able to exert an incredible level of pressure on its opponent, as TNC Pro Team was unable to respond to Vici Gaming’s early aggressive play. The Southeast Asian squad was held to just 11 kills in the match, and Vici Gaming’s core trio combined for a stat line of 31-6-45 as the team simply ran over its opponent to secure a 1-1 tie in the series.

Day 2 of the Group Stage began for Vici Gaming with a match up against fellow Chinese squad PSG.LGD. Game 1 of the series saw Vici Gaming pick up a core trio of Bloodseeker, Dragon Knight, and Lycan, but that trio found itself under heavy pressure over the first half of the match. A series of pick offs and early losses had Vici Gaming playing from behind, but surge in the mid-game helped the Chinese squad turn things around and seize control of the match. With its core trio combining for a stat line of 28-14-42, Vici Gaming was able to push past PSG.LGD’s defenses and secure itself a win in the opening match of the series. The Chinese squad opted for a more team fight oriented lineup in Game 2 of the series, with cores of Death Prophet, Kunkka, and Doom alongside supports of Disruptor and Tidehunter. That lineup ended up serving the team well in the match, as the two Chinese squads went back and forth over the course of the game and were fighting nearly constantly. Four of the team’s players ended up with double digit kills, and Vici Gaming closed out the match with a kill score of 16-4 over the final 12 minutes of the game to secure a 2-0 victory in the series.

The team’s next opponent on Day 2 ended up being CIS squad Vega Squadron, a team that had so far failed to win a single match at the event. Vici Gaming made quick work of its opponent in Game 1 of the series, as the Chinese squad led for the entirety of the match. Behind strong showings from Paparazi’s Morphling (11-1-11) and Ori’s Ember Spirit (13-2-16), Vici Gaming was able to hold its opponent to just 9 kills in the match as it claimed a win in just over 24 minutes of game time. Game 2 of the series was a much longer match than its predecessor, but Vici Gaming was able to establish control early and held it throughout the game. The team’s core trio of Venomancer, Death Prophet, and Legion Commander combined for a stat line of 33-24-62, as Vici Gaming slowly but surely managed to wear down the defenses of its opponent to earn itself another series victory.

Vici Gaming’s final series of the Group Stage saw it face off against another Chinese squad in the form of Newbee in the last set of matches on Day 2. Game 1 of the series proved to be a fairly one sided match, as Vici Gaming got off to a strong start behind a core trio of Slark, Dragon Knight, and Naga Siren. That strong start transitioned into a dominant performance across the rest of the match, as Newbee’s lineup was constantly kept on the defensive. Behind Paparazi’s Slark (8-1-7) and eLeVeN’s Naga Sirent (7-3-15), Vici Gaming doubled its opponents kill count and claimed a win in less than 28 minutes. Game 2 of the series saw the roles reversed for the two squads, as Vici Gaming was the team playing from behind for the entirety of the match. Newbee’s durable lineup was able to outlast Vici Gaming in team fights and establish control over the pace of the game. Despite a solid showing from Paparazi’s Death Prophet (9-4-8), Vici Gaming never built up enough momentum to turn the tide of the match, and its defenses were eventually overpowered as Newbee secured itself a 1-1 tie in the series. That tie left Vici Gaming with a 3-2-0 record, which put it at the very top of the standings in Group B and allowed the team to advance to the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage.

Vici Gaming advanced directly to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket, where it faced Southeast Asian squad Mineski in a Bo3 series with a guaranteed Top 4 finish on the line. Game 1 of the series saw Vici Gaming attempt an Io strategy, combining the support pick with cores of Razor, Ember spirit, and Doom. That lineup got off to a slow start, but once the mid and late-game stages hit the Chinese squad was able to take control of the match. Behind an incredible performance from Paparazi on Razor (17-2-11), Vici Gaming dominated the second half of the match to earn itself a 1-0 lead in the series. In Game 2, the Chinese squad picked up cores of Gyrocopter, Death Prophet, and Batrider alongside supports of Visage and Oracle. That lineup found success over the first half of the match, as Vici Gaming was able to pick off Mineski’s cores repeatedly and build up a small net worth lead for itself. However, the team wasn’t able to maintain that lead, as Mineski came back with a series of team fight wins in the late-game to seize control of the match and cripple Vici Gaming’s defenses. With its momentum lost and its base crumbling, the Chinese squad conceded defeat as the series was evened up at 1-1. Game 3 ended up playing out in an eerily similar fashion to Game 2, though with the places switched between the two squads. Mineski was the team that came out aggressively in the early game, and the Southeast Asian squad was able to establish a small net worth lead for itself over the first 15 minutes of the game. However, Vici Gaming’s lineup was eventually able to hit its stride to seize control of the game in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a huge showing from Paparazi on Luna (12-0-7, 35.2k net worth), the Chinese squad shut down Mineski’s lineup with a series of team fight wins and pick offs. Down by over 25k net wort hand missing two lanes of barracks at the 34 minute mark, Mineski finally conceded defeat to give Vici Gaming a 2-1 series win and secure the team a guaranteed Top 4 finish.

The team’s victory over Mineski left it just one more victory away from a place in the Grand Finals of the Major, but Vici Gaming had to overcome North American squad VGJ.Storm to reach that stage. Game 1 did not go well for Vici Gaming, as its core trio of Juggernaut, Ember Spirit, and Doom was unable to establish a favorable pace for the team. VGJ.Storm’s superior team fight power and damage kept Vici Gaming on the defensive for most of the match as the Chinese squad was slowly worn down by its opponent. Even a Divine Rapier pick up from Paparazi’s Juggernaut (3-7-1) wasn’t enough to help the team win a fight, as Vici Gaming threw in the towel to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Things didn’t get much better for the squad in Game 2 of the series, as the team once again found itself struggling throughout the match. VGJ.Storm’s lineup was able to keep Vici Gaming’s lineup contained for the most part, as the Chinese squad wasn’t able to put together the team fight execution that it needed to take control away from its opponent. Despite a valiant effort from Ori’s Storm Spirit (7-3-5), Vici Gaming couldn’t hold back VGJ.Storm’s assaults as the team conceded defeat to suffer a 0-2 defeat and drop into the Lower Bracket.

Even after its drop into the Lower Bracket, Vici Gaming remained one series away from the Grand Finals, but this time around it would have to overcome a fellow Chinese squad in PSG.LGD. Game 1 of the series saw Vici Gaming pick up a core trio of Luna, Puck, and Legion Commander in an attempt to snowball early and overwhelm its opponent with its momentum. Unfortunately, that plan never materialized, as PSG.LGD was the squad that managed to pull of the early aggressive plays and establish control of the match. Vici Gaming found itself playing from behind for the entirety of the match, and despite making a few surges in the mid and late-game stages, the Chinese squad was never able to fully break PSG.LGD’s momentum. The team put together one final defense attempt, but PSG.LGD’s lineup was able to easily overcome those efforts to claim the first match of the series. Game 2 of the series saw things go from bad to worse for Vici Gaming, as the squad was simply blown out by its opponent. Vici Gaming was only able to secure 12 kills in the match, as PSG.LGD’s lineup proved too elusive and too powerful to be keep in check. The team fought until the very end, but its efforts proved futile as PSG.LGD pushed into its base and secured another victory to bring Vici Gaming’s run at the Major to an end with a 0-2 loss and a 3rd place finish overall.

Vici Gaming came into the MDL Changsha Major in need of a successful run on the Pro Circuit stage to help it keep its hold over a Top 8 position in the Pro Circuit standings. Coming into the Major, the Chinese squad was expected to compete for a place in teh TOp 4, as the team was projected to finish in the Top 4 range in Changsha. Vici Gaming was more than able to live up to that prediction, as the squad put together an impressive run in the Group Stage and fought its way to a 3rd place finish at the event. The team’s Group Stage performance was particularly impressive, as the Chinese squad managed to earn wins or ties in all 5 of its series for a 8-2 overall record. Two of the teams wins in its Group Stage series came against PSG.LGD and VGJ.Storm, the two teams that ended up reaching the Grand Finals of the Major. The team showed a level of confidence and consistency that had been missing from its last couple of Pro Circuit appearances, and that confident play earned the team the top spot in the Group B standings. Unfortunately, Vici Gaming hit a bit of a snag once it reached the Playoff Stage of the Major. The team began the Playoff Stage with an impressive win over Mineski in its first Upper Bracket match, but followed that performance up with back to back 0-2 losses to VGJ.Storm and PSG.LGD. Considering where those final two opponents ended up in the standings at the event, the losses that Vici Gaming suffered are not particularly damaging for the team, though it may be a bit disappointed that it wasn’t able to put up a stronger fight. Overall, the team’s performance in Changsha did accomplish its goal to a certain degree, as Vici Gaming’s Top 4 finish added to its Qualifying Point total. The team was able to jump past Newbee to take the 6th place ranking in the standings, but the team is still not guaranteed a place at TI8 just yet. The good news for Vici Gaming is that it will have two more chances to reach that milestone, as the team is set to participate in both of the final Majors of the season. The team’s Top 4 finish at the MDL Changsha Major was a significant step forward for the Chinese squad, but Vici Gaming is going to have to put together at least one more performance like this one if it wants to lock in a place in Vancouver this summer.

 

Invictus Gaming Vitality600px-Igvitality_logo

Place: 9th-10th

Winnings: $17,500

Invictus Gaming Vitality entered the MDL Changsha Major as one of the least accomplished teams in the field, as the Chinese squad was making its first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. The team’s roster change had forfeited its invite eligibility, but iG.V still had an opportunity to prove itself on the international level with this appearance at the Major. Regardless of the team’s performance in Changsha, iG.Vitality was destined for a run through the TI8 Open Qualifiers this summer. However, a strong showing in the team’s first and final appearance on the Pro Circuit stage would go a long way towards bolstering what has been a particularly unimpressive record for the team this season.

IG.V opened up its run at the Major with a tough challenge, as the Chinese squad faced off against Southeast Asian leader Mineski in its first series of the Group Stage. Game 1 of the series did not go well for iG.V, as the squads core trio of Juggernaut, Outworld Devourer, and Omniknight proved largely ineffective against Mineski’s lineup. The Chinese squad fell behind early in the match, and was unable to put together a team fight win or keep pace with the cores of Mineski. With just 10 kills as a team and facing a net worth deficit of nearly 13k at the 24 minute mark, iG.V conceded defeat to lose its first match of the event. Unfortunately, Game 2 of the series did not see the Chinese squad fare much better, as iG.V fell behind early once again and never managed to put together a strong enough run to turn momentum in its favor. The team was out killed by a score of 21-4 over the final 15 minutes of the match to suffer another defeat and its first series loss of the Major.

After a loss to begin the Group Stage, Invictus Gaming Vitality looked to turn things around as it faced OG in its second series of Day 1. Game 1 saw the team pick up a core trio of Monkey King, Storm Spirit, and Beastmaster, and that trio managed to get off to a strong start in the match. The Chinese squad’s advantage didn’t last long though, as OG’s team fight power allowed it to seize control of the game in the mid and late-game stages. Though iG.V had significant amounts of control and damage, it wasn’t able to overcome OG’s lineup as the European squad pushed past its defenses to hand the Chinese squad its third straight loss. In Game 2, iG.V attempted to address its lack of team fight power from its previous game with a core trio of Luna, Lina, and Tidehunter alongside supports of Tusk and Ancient Apparition. Unfortunately, that team fight lineup proved ineffective against OG’s draft, as iG.V fell behind by a significant margin in the mid-game stage. Despite a strong showing from HAlf’s Lina (8-7-3), the Chinese squad was unable to stop or even slow down OG’s momentum as the European squad dominated the second half of the match to secure itself a win and drop iG.V to an 0-2 series record.

With no wins to its name entering its third and final series of the day at the event, iG.V was in somewhat desperate need of at least one win as it faced its sister squad, Invictus Gaming. Game 1 of the series proved to be a disastrous affair for for the Chinese squad, as its lineup was heavily pressured and fell behind by a massive margin in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a solid effort from Meracle’s Juggernaut (5-5-9), iG.V was able to make a surge towards the end of the game, but even that valiant effort proved insufficient to stave off defeat as the team lost its fifth straight match. Game 2 saw iG.V pick up an unexpected Invoker pick alongside fellow cores of Razor and Beastmaster. The Invoker pick worked out fantastically for the team, as iG.V built up a sizable net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages. Behind strong performances from Meracle’s Razor (6-1-13) and HAlf’s Invoker (14-1-10), the team was able to control team fights and keep Invictus Gaming’s lineup on the defensive. Invictus Gaming Vitality managed to close out the match with a 19-6 run in terms of kills as the Chinese squad secured itself its first win of the Major to salvage a 1-1 tie in the series.

With a record of 0-1-2 in the Group Stage, Invictus Gaming Vitality entered Day 2 of the Group Stage in a bit of a rough position. As the team prepared to face off against Infamous in its first series of the day, iG.V was looking for at least a tie in order to keep itself ahead of the South American squad in the Group A standings. Game 1 ended up being a walkover for iG.V, as the Chinese squad dominated the match and held its opponent to just 6 kills in the match. HAlf’s Dragon Knight (7-1-11) led the way for the team, but the support duo of super’s Witch Doctor (7-0-13) and dogf1ghts’s Leshrac (7-2-10) put things over the top for iG.V as it was in control for the entirety of the game to claim a much needed win to open the series. Game 2 saw iG.V pick up a core trio of Faceless Void, Invoker, and Underlord in the hopes of overpowering Infamous with team fight damage and control. In the early stages of the match, that strategy appeared to be working, as the Chinese squad got itself out to a small net worth lead. However, Infamous was able to recover from that early deficit and take control of the match in the mid and late-game stages. Despite the fact that Infamous wasn’t finding a high number of kills, its cores were significantly out pacing those of iG.V in terms of their farm and item progression. Behind impressive showings from HAlf’s Invoker (13-4-15, 36k net worth) and Meracle’s Faceless Void (9-3-9, 21.7k net worth), the Chinese squad was able to put together a comeback effort with a series of team fight wins that wiped out Infamous’s lead and allowed iG.V to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to complete a 2-0 sweep of the series.

With that victory over Infamous, iG.V had secured itself a spot in the Playoff Stage with one final series to play against Team Secret. The Chinese squad opted for a core trio of Phantom Lancer, Dragon Knight, and Night Stalker in Game 1 of the series, but that lineup wasn’t able to gain much traction in the match. Team Secret’s high damage heroes were able to force fights early, putting iG.V on the defensive and limiting opportunities for it to take favorable fights of its own. Team Secret lead in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the game, and the iG.V lineup found itself falling further and further behind as its lineup failed to scale at a fast enough pace to keep up with its opponent. The Chinese squad attempted to mount one final defense of its base, but Team Secret managed to easily push through it to hand iG.V another Group Stage loss. Game 2 of the series played out in a similar fashion, with iG.V falling behind early and trailing throughout the match. Despite playing from behind for the entirety of the game, the Chinese squad managed to make Team Secret work for a win, as the team continued to hold out for as long as possible and drew the match out to over 51 minutes of game time. Eventually though, iG.V was no longer able to hold off Team Secret’s assault, as the European squad finished of the game to give iG.V a 1-1-3 series record (3-7 overall)  in Group A.

That record was enough for iG.V to advance to the Playoff Stage of the Major, but it ended up in the Lower Bracket where it faced fellow Chinese squad PSG.LGD in a Bo1 elimination match. The team opted to pick up a core trio of Naga Siren, Lina, and Tidehunter, alongside supports of Ancient Apparition and Clockwerk. Unfortunately, that lineup didn’t find much success early, as PSG.LGD high damage heroes were able to establish a faster and more aggressive pace that had it sitting in control of the match. Despite being behind in terms of net worth for almost the entire match, iG.V continued to fight due in large part to Meracle’s Naga Siren (4-6-16, 52.4k net worth) extending the match significantly. With the split pushing power of the team’s core Naga Siren and even a Divine Rapier pick up, iG.V made one final attempt to steal a away a victory with a team fight win. However, that fight never came in the way iG.V had been hoping, as PSG.LGD marched into its base and finished off the ancient before any sort of full engagement could take place. The loss ended iG.V’s run at the Major, with the Chinese squad finishing in the 9th-10th place position overall.

Invictus Gaming Vitality entered the MDL Changsha Major in a position where it may very well have simply been happy to be at the event. The squad was making its Pro Circuit debut, but that didn’t mean that the Chinese squad didn’t have ambitions of finding success on home soil and putting together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage. Coming into the event itself, the Chinese squad wasn’t expected to earn that success, with iG.V projected to finish at the bottom of the Group A standings and finish in the 11th-12th place position. The team managed to put together a solid showing in the Group Stage through, and surpassed those expectations by a narrow margin with a 9th-10th place finish. The team didn’t look particularly impressive in its Group Stage matches, as the team ended up with just three wins across its 5 series. Two of those wins came against Infamous, a squad that struggled to the point of not winning a single match at the Major. With that in mind, it does appear more appropriate to say that iG.V survived the Group Stage rather than it winning itself a spot in the Playoff Stage. Despite that, the Chinese squad put up an impressive fight in its Bo1 match against the top ranked Chinese team in the world in PGS.LGD. Though the team was trailing for nearly the entirety of the match, iG.V still managed to draw out the match for nearly 70 minutes and showed an impressive level of resiliency in an ultimately losing effort. While the team wasn’t exactly a power house at the Major, it is important to note that it was playing with a stand-in at the event. The good news for iG.V is that this performance at the MDL Changsha Major didn’t really have any adverse effects on the team moving forward. The squad will still be playing in the TI8 Open Qualifiers this summer, but the hope is that the team’s experience on the Pro Circuit stage gives it a small advantage over its regional rivals as it looks to earn itself a place in the main Regional Qualifier.

 

Invictus Gaming 600px-Ig_logo

Place: 9th-10th

Winnings: $17,500

Things had not necessarily been going all that well for Invictus gaming to this point in the season, as the Chinese squad prepared to make just its second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. Even with its struggles, the team entered the MDL Changsha Major with a degree of optimism. The Chinese squad still held its invite eligibility, and a solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage late in the season had the potential to help secure it an invite to the TI8 China Qualifier. If the team somehow managed to put together a 1st place finish at the event, then Invictus Gaming technically still stood a chance at earning a Top 8 spot in the Pro Circuit standings and a direct invite to TI8. The odds of that happening were incredibly small though, and the Chinese squad was focused on trying to put together a solid showing on home soil in an effort to bolster its record before the end of the season.

The Chinese squad began its run at the Major with a series against European squad OG in its first match up of Day 1 of the Group Stage. Invictus Gaming looked to build momentum quickly in Game 1 of the series behind a core trio of Gyrocopter, Kunkka, and Legion Commander alongside supports of Bane and Io. The team’s strategy proved effective, as iG established an aggressive pace and style that had OG on the defensive early. Behind an impressive showing from Agressif on Gyrocopter (18-4-16, 39.3k net worth), Invictus Gaming was able to able to press its advantage in the late-game and out kill its opponent by a score of 12-2 over the final 16 minutes of the match to claim a win in its first game of the event. Game 2 saw the team opt for a lineup stressing team fight power and damage, with cores of Gyrocopter, Ember Spirit, and Beastmaster along with supports of Warlock and Skywrath Mage. The lineup got off to a bit of a slow start as the Chinese squad gave up several early kills. However, the mid and late-game stages saw the team’s team fight power come online as iG began to establish control over the pace of the match. Behind impressive showings from Xxs’s Gyrocopter 912-4-22) and Boboka’s Skywrath Mage (11-7-18), Invictus Gaming was able shut down OG’s final late-game surge and push past the European squad’s defenses to complete a 2-0 sweep of the series.

After its initial win over OG, Invictus Gaming looked to notch two series wins in a row as it faced off against South American squad Infamous in its next series on Day 1 of the Group Stage. Game 1 of the series proved to be an entirely one sided affair, as Invictus Gaming dominated its opponent. Xxs put together an impressive performance on Dragon Knight (16-0-8) that netted him more kills alone than the entirety of the Infamous lineup put together. The Chinese squad was able to build up a net worth lead of over 23k and secure Mega Creeps before Infamous finally conceded defeat to give iG its third straight victory. Game 2 saw Invictus Gaming once against control the pace of the match early, as Infamous’s lineup was frequently pressured and picked off. With the team’s core trio of Dragon Knight, Lina, and Night Stalker combining for a stat line of 27-6-41, iG was able to claim another lopsided win as it brought its series record in Group A up to 2-0.

Invictus Gaming found itself going up against its own sister squad next, as the team faced Invictus Gaming Vitality in its final series of Day 1. Game 1 of the series went decisively in iG’s favor, as the team put together a dominant performance against iG.V. Agressif’s Faceless Void (11-5-21) and Srf’s Windranger (10-1-20) both put together impressive efforts for iG, but it was Q’s Skywrath Mage (18-2-21) that stole the show as the team built up a sizable net worth lead early and rode it to a win over its secondary squad. Game 2 of the series finally saw Invictus Gaming’s momentum come to an end, as the Chinese squad struggled for the first time at the event. Its core trio of Leshrac, Kunkka, and Tidehutner were unable to establish much in the way of an advantage for the team early. That lack of early momentum was only compounded in the mid and late-game stages as iG.V’s team fight power became more and more prominent. Without the ability to turn fights definitively in its favor, iG fell further and further behind as the game went on. Down by over 22k net worth and with its base under siege, Invictus Gaming opted to concede defeat, taking its first loss of the event and bringing the series to a close with a 1-1 tie.

With a 2-1-0 series heading into Day 2 of the Group Stage, Invictus Gaming was in a position of relative strength within the Group A standings. The team began its day with quite a challenge though, as the Chinese squad faced off against Team Secret in its fourth series of the Group Stage. iG fell flat in Game 1 of the series, as the Chinese squad struggled against the heavy team fight power of Team Secret’s draft. Despite a solid effort from Agressif on Ember Spirit (5-3-7), Invictus Gaming simply didn’t have the right combination of damage and control of overcome Team Secret’s team fight execution. The team mounted one final attempt to defend its base, but when it was clear that that effort had failed, the Chinese squad conceded defeat to suffer just its second loss of the event. Game 2 saw iG take a page out of its opponents book, as the team drafted a lineup with a heavy emphasis on team fight power and control. The squad picked up cores of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Dark Seer alongside supports of Sand King and Bane, and that lineup got off to a strong start in the match. Team Secret’s slightly greedier lineup was significantly punished by iG early, but the team couldn’t fully contain its opponent for long. As the mid and late-game stages played out, Team Secret’s quad core lineup managed to gain the upper hand and seize a sizable net worth lead. Agressif’s Gyrocopter (19-7-21), Xxs’s Dragon Knight (12-3-20), and Boboka’s Sand King (11-6-28) led the way for Invictus Gaming though as the team put together one final series of team fight wins and marched down the middle lane to snatch a victory away from Team Secret and secure a 1-1 tie in the series.

By this point in the day, Invictus Gaming was guaranteed to advance to the Playoff Stage, the only question would be whether the team ended up in the Upper or Lower Bracket. That position came down to its final series against Mineski, although the series was delayed for several hours due to a medical emergency for one of iG’s players. Once iG’s lineup was ready to play, the Chinese squad put together an Io strategy in Game 1, combining the support with cores of Slark, Razor, and Beastmaster. That lineup was successful early, with iG building up an impressive early lead in terms of net worth. As the match went on though, the team’s advantage began to fade away in the face of Mineski’s stronger farming, pushing, and fighting power. Despite a solid effort from Srf’s Beastmaster 97-4-7), iG was unable to reclaim control of the match as the team conceded defeat in the opening game of the series. The Chinese squad refused to give up on its Io strategy in Game 2 of the event, picking up different cores but keeping the same overall style. Once again though, the plan fell flat against Mineski’s lineup as the Southeast Asian squad dominated the game. Aside from a brief surge in the mid-game, Mineski led throughout the entirety of the match in terms of net worth as Invictus Gaming was never able to establish a presence in team fights. Down by over 17k net worth at the 32 minute mark and facing Mega Creeps, the Chinese squad opted to concede defeat to suffer its only 0-2 series loss and bring its Group Stage record to 2-2-1.

That record left Invictus Gaming as the 4th seed in the Group A standings, and put the team in the Lower Bracket of the Playoff Stage for a Bo1 elimination match against fellow Chinese squad Newbee. The team looked to present a durable front line with cores of Lifestealer, Dragon Knight, and Dark Seer, as well as team fight potential with supports of Ancient Apparition and Sand King. Early in the match, that strategy wasn’t panning out well for the team, as Newbee’s lineup was able to take the better of engagements and build up a sizable net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages. Behind an impressive showing from Aggressif on Lifestealer (15-2-15, 34.9k net worth) though, Invictus Gaming was able to make a late-game surge that saw it take the lead and secure Mega Creeps. However, that push from iG was not enough to fully knock out its opponent, and Newbee came back with a vengeance to retake control of the match and finish off iG to knock the Chinese squad out of the event with a 9th-10th place finish.

Invictus Gaming came into the MDL Changsha Major with an optimistic outlook in its final Pro Circuit appearance of the season. The team was still eligible for an invite to the TI8 China Qualifier, and the Chinese squad was looking for a solid showing on the international level to help it secure that invite. Prior to the start of the event, Invictus Gaming wasn’t expected to be a significant contender, with the team projected to finish in the bottom half of the standings with a 9th-10th place position. The team ended up finishing exactly where it had been predicted to, as Invictus Gaming advanced out of the Group Stage but lost its Lower Bracket match up to finish in 9th-10th place at the Major. While the team’s final position may not be overly impressive at first glance, the Chinese squad put together a relatively strong performance in Changsha. The team managed to earn wins or ties in 4 of its 5 Group Stage series, with its only series loss coming against Southeast Asian squad Mineski. The team looked fairly confident in its level of play in the Group Stage, and that confidence very nearly earned the team a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage as the squad fell behind OG due to the tiebreaker rules. Even in the Lower Bracket, the team put together an impressive performance as it faced off against Newbee. Though the team ultimately lost that Bo1 elimination match, it managed to push Newbee to its limit in a match that went on for over an hour. Overall, the team ended up with a record of 6-5 at the Major and managed to at least hold its own on the Pro Circuit stage. Since the MDL Changsha Major was the team’s final Pro Circuit appearance of the season, iG will end up without any Qualifying Points to its name going into the TI8 Qualifiers. The good news for Invictus Gaming though is that this performance will likely be enough to earn the team an invite to the main Regional Qualifier this summer. If iG can perform at the level it did at this Major once it reaches that qualifier stage, then the Chinese squad stands a solid chance of coming out on top against its regional rivals and potentially earning itself a spot in Vancouver for TI8.

 

PSG.LGD PSG LGD

Place: 1st

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

PSG.LGD entered the MDL Changsha Major as the highest ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit, with the squad holding onto the 4th place position in the standings. That status in and of itself was already impressive, but the Chinese squad had its eyes set on an even more prestigious prize as it prepared to perform on the Pro Circuit stage on home soil in Changsha. The team was just one more Top 4 finish away from potentially locking in its direct invite to TI8 as the first guaranteed representative in Vancouver from the Chinese region. With that goal in mind, PSG.LGD came into the Major with a sense of purpose and confidence as it looked to complete a season long journey and claim its place among the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. Standing in its way though was a bevy of squads all hoping to deny the Chinese squad its victory with late-season surges of their own.

PSG.LGD began its run at the Major with a match against CIS squad Vega Squadron in its first series of the Group Stage. Game 1 was a pretty straightforward stomp for the Chinese squad, as PSG.LGD picked up a core trio of Gyrocopter, Storm Spirit, and Doom that was able to quickly establish control over Vega Squadron’s heroes. Behind an impressive showing from Ame’s Gyrocopter (11-0-10) PSG.LGD was able to take advantage of its opponent’s slower lineup to secure its first win of the Major in just under 26 minutes of game time. Game 2 of the series ended up being more of the same for PSG.LGD, as the Chinese squad once again dominated its opponent from the very start of the match. With Maybe’s Pugna (12-1-10) and Ame’s Slark (9-1-8) leading the way, PSG.LGD held the net worth leaf throughout the entirety of the match and completely ran over Vega Squadron’s heroes to secure a quick 2-0 victory.

After its strong start against Vega Squadron, PSG.LGD closed out Day 1 of the Group Stage with a match up against fellow Chinese squad Newbee. Game 1 saw PSG.LGD maintain its momentum from its previous series, as the team jumped out to a sizable lead early in the match. With its core trio of Gyrocopter, Death Prophet, and Kunkka combining for a stat line of 25-8-46, PSG.LGD ran right over Newbee’s lineup and held the net worth lead from start to finish to lock in its third straight win of the Group Stage. If Game 1 was a stomp, then Game 2 of the series was an absolute massacre as PSG.LGD made short work of its opponent. Ame’s Phantom Lancer (8-2-6) put together a solid performance, and Maybe’s Queen of Pain (15-0-6) managed to earn more kills than the entirety of Newbee’s lineup combined as PSG.LGD held its opponent to just 9 kills in the game. Facing a deficit of over 19k net worth a the 21 minute mark, Newbee had no alternatives other than conceded defeat to give PSG.LGD its second straight 2-0 win and a perfect record through the first day of action at the Major.

Day 2 of the Group Stage began for PSG.LGD with an all-China match up as it faced Vici Gaming in its third Group Stage series. PSG.LGD picked up a core trio of Chaos Knight, Death Prophet, and Doom in Game 1 of the series, and early on those cores helped lead the team to a significant advantage. The team was able to secure multiple pick offs and build up a modest net worth lead heading into the mid-game. From that point on though, Vici Gaming was the team in control of the match, as the Chinese squad hit its stride in terms of team fight strength and began shifting the momentum of the game in its favor. Despite a solid effort from Maybe on Death Prophet (7-4-7), PSG.LGD was unable to secure the team fight wins that it needed to retake control of the match and slow down Vici Gaming’s advance. The team mounted one last attempt to defend its base, but Vici Gaming was too far ahead by that point as the team handed PSG.LGD its first loss of the Major. Game 2 saw PSG.LGD look for a combination of damage and mobility as it combined cores of Troll Warlord, Razor, and Night Stalker with supports of Io and Shadow Shaman. The team’s mobility and solid damage output allowed it to set the pace it wanted and control fights over the first half of the match as the team built up a sizable net worth lead. Behind a strong performance from Maybe’s Razor (16-13-12), PSG.LGD looked as though it had control of things heading into the late-game stage. However, Vici Gaming once again showed itself capable of turning the tides of a match, as the Chinese squad came online late and managed to overpower PSG.LGD’s lineup in fights. The multiple team fight losses wiped out PSG.LGD’s lead and crippled its base, forcing the squad to call “gg” to suffer its first series loss of the Major.

The loss to Vici Gaming may have slowed down PSG.LGD’s momentum somewhat, but the Chinese squad was hoping to bounce back as it faced TNC Pro Team in its fourth Group Stage series. The Chinese squad looked to play aggressively in Game 1 of the series as it picked up cores of Slark, Leshrac, and Axe alongside supports of Spirit Breaker and Skywrath Mage. Unfortunately, that aggressive style backfired for the team, as TNC Pro Team was able to counter PSG.LGD’s attempts to establish control over the pace of the game. The failed aggression crippled PSG.LGD’s lineup though, as its Southeast Asian opponent built up a significant net worth lead in the mid-game. PSG.LGD found itself out killed by a score of 3-24 over the final 12 minutes of the match as TNC Pro Team claimed a one sided victory in just 28 minutes. Game 2 saw PSG.LGD once again trailing in the mid-game stage of the match, but this time the Chinese squad was prepared to fight back. Behind impressive performances from Maybe’s Ember Spirit (12-5-14) and fy’s Clockwerk (16-6-14), PSG.LGD managed to reclaim control of the match and claim a series of team fight wins and pick offs to sap away TNC Pro Team’s momentum. With its opponent’s advance halted, PSG.LGD was able to turn the tides and push into TNC Pro Team’s base to secure itself a win and a 1-1 tie in the series.

The team’s final opponent of the Group Stage was VGJ.Storm, as PSG.LGD looked for a win to push itself into the top half of the Group B standings and a position in the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage. Game 1 did not go well for the Chinese squad, as PSG.LGD’s lineup struggled from the very beginning of the match. The team was held to just 9 kills in the game, and its cores were significantly out paced by VGJ.Storm’s lineup as the North American squad dominated the match from start to finish to hand PSG.LGD a loss to open the series. Unfortunately for PSG.LGD, it was unable to turn things around in Game 2 as VGJ.Storm once again dominated the match. While Ame’s Juggernaut (8-7-7) was able to put together a solid effort, PSG.LGD trailed throughout the match and was never able to make a large enough dent in VGJ.Storm’s net worth lead to mount an effective comeback as the team lost its final Group Stage series to finish with a 2-1-2 record.

The team’s Group Stage performance left it in the Lower Bracket of the Playoff Stage, where it faced off against fellow Chinese squad Invictus Gaming Vitality in a Bo1 elimination match. The match proved to be an endurance test for the two squads, as the game went on for nearly 70 minutes. Despite the large amount of game time, PSG.LGD was in control for nearly the entirety of the match in terms of net worth as the team attempted to contain and shut down iG.V’s carry Naga Siren. Behind Ame’s Razor (20-7-8, 44k net worth), PSG.LGD was finally able to overcome iG.V’s split pushing power to claim a victory and advance to the next round.

PSG.LGD found itself in a rematch of one of its Group Stage series as it faced TNC Pro Team for the second time at the Major. The Chinese squad was able to make quick work of its opponent in Game 1 of the series, as PSG.LGD dominated the match up and completely stomped TNC Pro Team. Behind strong performances from Ame’s Lifestealer (13-1-9) and Maybe’s Death Prophet (12-0-12), PSG.LGD led in terms of net worth for the entirety of the match and held TNC Pro Team to just 6 kills as it claimed a one sided victory to open the series. In Game 2 of the series, it looked as though PSG.LGD was headed for a quick 2-0 sweep as the team dominated the first half of the match. The teams core trio of Razor, Tinker, and Lycan put together a combined stat line of 41-26-61 as PSG.LGD led by as much as 16k net worth over the first 50 minutes of the match. Unfortunately for the Chinese team, it was unable to deliver a knock out blow as TNC Pro Team made a surge in the late-game stage. PSG.LGD was unable to hold its advantage as it lost multiple team fights that allowed TNC Pro Team to claim a comeback win to even up the series. After the marathon that was Game 2, PSG.LGD entered the final match of the series looking to fight early and often with a core trio of Gyrocopter, Viper, and Brewmaster. With that trio leading the way, PSG.LGD was able to quickly establish a strong team fight presence that had TNC Pro Team on the defensive for the majority of the match. With the team’s cores combining for a stat line of 23-9-50, PSG.LGD was able to keep the pressure up as it pushed past TNC Pro Team’s defenses to force a “gg” call from the SEA squad and close out the series 2-1.

That win brought PSG.LGD just one series away from a Top 4 finish, but the Chinese squad needed to defeat Team Secret in order to reach that mark. Game 1 saw PSG.LGD look for team fight power as it picked up cores of Phantom Lancer, Death Prophet, and Brewmaster. That trio put together a combined stat line of 21-7-33 as PSG.LGD dominated the mid and late-game stages to shut down Team Secret’s lineup. With the team ahead by over 29k net worth and having Mega Creeps on its side at the 43 minute mark, PSG.LGD was able to force a “gg” call from its opponent to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 proved to be even more one sided than its predecessor, as PSG.LGD put together another impressive performance and dominated the game. Ame’s Gyrocopter (9-2-10) and Maybe’s Outworld Devourer (8-2-6) led the way for the Chinese squad as it played aggressively from the outset of the match and managed to keep Team Secret on the defensive. While Team Secret wasn’t able to mount strong enough comeback effort to overcome PSG.LGD’s net worth lead, the Europeans quad was at least able to draw out the match as it held its base for some time. Eventually though, PSG.LGD broke through Team Secret’s line with one final team fight win that secured the Chinese squad a 2-0 sweep of the series and a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Major.

With a Top 4 finish secured, PSG.LGD pushed for more as it faced off against another Chinese squad in Newbee for a spot in the Lower Bracket Finals. Game 1 ended up being yet another blowout win for PSG.LGD, as the squad was able to heavily pressure Newbee’s lineup with early and consistent aggression. PSG.LGD’s core trio of Dragon Knight, Gyrocopter, and Razor combined for a stat line of 23-3-27 as the Chinese squad held the net worth lead throughout the entire match and kept Newbee’s heroes in a constant defensive position. With just 10 kills to its name and facing a net worth deficit of nearly 23k, Newbee opted to concede defeat to give PSG.LGD a victory in just over 26 minutes of game time. Game 2 saw PSG.LGD look to build momentum for itself early with a core trio of Terrorblade, Kunkka, and Legion Commander. Unfortunately, that lineup wasn’t able to get much accomplished for most of the match, as Newbee’s superior team fight power severely limited opportunities for PSG.LGD to establish its own pace. However, the Chinese squad continued to buy time and space for its cores heroes, and with the help of both a purchased Divine Rapier and a stolen one, Maybe’s Kunkka (9-5-13) helped PSG.LGD take a series of crucial fights in the late game that wiped out Newbe’s lead and allowed PSG.LGD to steal away a victory and close out the series with a 2-0 sweep.

That win allowed PSG.LGD to advance to the Lower Bracket Final, where it faced off against fellow Chinese squad Vici Gaming for a chance to play VGJ.Storm in the Grand Finals of the Major. Game 1 of the series saw PSG.LGD pick up cores of Monkey King, Death Prophet, and Batrider alongside supports of Jakiro and Naga Siren. That lineup managed to establish a favorable pace early, finding pick offs and team fight wins that put the Chinese squad in a commanding position in the mid-game. Vici Gaming put together a surge in the late-game stage that brought it dangerously close to wiping out PSG.LGD’s net worth lead. However, thanks to impressive performances from both Ame on Monkey King (13-3-11, 35k net worth) and Maybe’s Death Prophet (14-3-15, 24.7k net worth), PSG.LGD was able to reestablish control of the match and finish Vici Gaming off to claim a win in the first game of the series. Game 2 ended up being a bit less contentious than anticipated, as PSG.LGD dominated the match from the start. The team’s core trio of Phantom Lancer, Queen of Pain, and Omniknight combined for a stat line of 27-6-37 en route to a near wire-to-wire victory over Vici Gaming. PSG.LGD’s opponent was held to just 12 kills in the match, and the team built up a net worth lead of over 22k before it finally broke through the last of Vici Gaming’s defenses to secure a 2-0 sweep an a place in the Grand Finals.

The Chinese squad had earned itself a spot in the Grand Finals of the event, but if the team wanted to lay claim to its second Major Championship of the season, it needed to defeat a red hot VGJ.Storm squad in a Bo5 series. Game 1 of the series saw PSG.LGD pick up cores of Spectre, Death Prophet, and Nyx Assassin as it hoped to present a durable, high damage front to face VGJ.Storm’s lineup. The strategy proved incredibly effective, as the Chinese squad’s cores were able to both farm and exert heavy pressure on its opponent. Behind impressive showing from Ame’s Spectre (12-0-12) and Maybe’s Death Prophet (14-4-8), PSG.LGD was able to take the fight to VGJ.Storm before the North America squad’s team fight power was fully ready. The result was a significant net worth lead for the Chinese squad as VGJ.Storm scrambled and failed to turn fights in its favor. Down by nearly 22k net worth at the 33 minute mark, the North American squad conceded defeat to give PSG.LGD a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 saw PSG.LGD employ a somewhat similar strategy, as it picked up cores of Gyrocopter, Ember Spirit, and Brewmaster in an effort to overwhelm VGJ.Storm with team fight damage. Once again, the plan worked spectacularly for PSG.LGD, as VGJ.Storm’s Io strategy was ruined by the heavy levels of pressure and early causalities that the North American squad was subjected to. The team’s core heroes combined for a stat line of 49-7-66 as PSG.LGD led in terms of net worth for the entirety of the match. With a net worth lead over nearly 30k and two lanes of barracks brought down, PSG.LGD was able to force a “gg” call from VGJ.Storm to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series and pull within just one win of earning back to back Major Championships. Game 3 of the series saw the Chinese squad look for a high damage output with cores of Razor, Queen of Pain, and Lycan, but that trio found itself playing from behind over the first half of the match. The control and team fight power of VGJ.Storm’s lineup proved somewhat difficult for PSG.LGD to handle, but as the match progressed in to the late-game stage things began to shift in the Chinese squad’s favor. Behind impressive performances from Ame’s Razor (9-5-14) and Maybe’s Queen of Pain (17-5-14), PSG.LGD took control late and managed to win a series of team fights to wipe away VGJ.Storm’s lead and allow the Chinese squad to march down the middle lane to secure itself a 3-0 win and its second Major Championship of the season.

PSG.LGD came into the MDL Changsha Major looking to put together one last successful run on the Pro Circuit stage in order to secure itself a direct invite to TI8. The team was coming off of its first Major Championship of the season, and had aspirations of notching back to back Major victories with a win in Changsha. Coming into the event, the team was projected to finish in the Top 4 range, and the Chinese squad was more than capable of living up to that predicted outcome as it claimed a 1st place finish at the event. The team’s start at the Major was not quite as impressive as it may have been expecting, as the team claimed wins over Vega Squadron and Newbee along with a tie with TNC Pro team in the Group Stage. However, the team ended up losing to both Vici Gaming and VGJ.Storm, and the Chinese squad was considered a favorite in all of its Group Stage matches. The fact that the team struggled against some of the other teams in its group was somewhat concerning, and those concerns were amplified when the squad ended up in the Lower Bracket of the Playoff Stage. As it turns out, there wasn’t as much reason for concern as had been anticipated, as PSG.LGD put together one of the most impressive Lower Bracket runs of the season. The team survived a harrowing Bo1 match against iG.V before winning series against TNC Pro Team, Team Secret, Newbee, Vici Gaming, and VGJ.Storm to claim the Major Championship. Overall, the team’s record in the Playoff Stage of the Major was an incredible 12-1, as the team simply could not be stopped once it built up momentum. The team’s 1st place finish in Changsha earned it another Major Championship, but the real prize for PSG.LGD at this event was the fact that the team secured itself a direct invite to TI8, joining fellow direct invitees Virtus.pro, Team Liquid, and Team Secret as the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. The team may have reached its goal for the season, but it isn’t done playing on the Pro Circuit stage just yet, as PSG.LGD is still set to compete in the China Dota 2 Supermajor at the end of the season. With the team’s direct invite already secured, it will enter that final event with quite a lot of weight lifted from its shoulders as it looks to prepare itself for its run in Vancouver with one last performance on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

TNC Pro Team Tncproteam

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $25,000

TNC Pro Team may not have entered the MDL Changsha Major as one of the more highly talked about squads in the field, but the Southeast Asian squad came into the event with a sense of optimism. With appearances at 2 of the season’s final 3 Majors, TNC Pro Team still had a chance at earning itself a Top 8 position and a potential direct invite to TI8 if it could find success in Changsha. If the team couldn’t manage to do that, then its invite eligibility and moderate levels of success on the Pro Circuit made it a favorite to receive an invite to the TI8 Southeast Asia Qualifier. In either scenario, the SEA squad was looking to put together a solid showing at the Major and show that it was capable of competing with the Pro Circuit’s strongest teams with the season coming to a close.

The Southeast Asian squad began its time at the Major with a match up against Newbee in its first series of Day 1 of the Group Stage. TNC Pro Team picked up a core trio of Lifestealer, Queen of Pain, and Venomancer in Game 1, though that lineup ran into some difficulties early. An aggressive style from Newbee resulted in TNC Pro Team giving up numerous kills in the laning and early stage of the match. However, the SEA squad managed to recover from that rough start and build up momentum in the mid and late-game stages. Behind impressive showing from Raven on Lifestealer (12-0-12) and Armel’s Queen of Pain (14-4-12), the Southeast Asian squad dominated the second half of the match and shut down Newbee to force the Chinese squad into conceded defeat. Game 2 saw TNC Pro Team attempt to replicate its previous success, but this time Newbee was prepared. The Chinese squad was the team to take control of the match early, utilizing an Io strategy that kept TNC Pro Team on the defensive for most of the game. Despite a solid performance from Armel’s Queen of Pain (8-4-5), the Southeast Asian squad was unable to make a sustained run to get back into the match. With its base under siege and trailing by over 20k net worth, the team conceded defeat to split its first series of the Major with a 1-1 against Newbee.

TNC Pro Team wasn’t done facing Chinese squads just yet, as its second and final series of Day 1 saw it face Vici Gaming. The team put together a core trio of Lycan, Dragon Knight, and Axe in Game 1 of the series, looking to present a durable and high damage front in fights. The two squads traded blows in the first half of the match, with neither team being able to build up a significant net worth lead or establish full control of the game. However, the second half of the game saw TNC Pro Team’s power massively increase as the team began to control fights and push Vici Gaming back into a defensive posture. Behind strong performances from Armel’s Dragon Knight (8-3-15) and Kuku’s Skywrath Mage (10-3-20), TNC Pro Team out killed its opponent by a score of 13-1 over the final 14 minutes of the match to secure itself a win to begin the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum didn’t carry over into Game 2 of the series, as Vici Gaming put together a dominant performance at the expense of TNC Pro Team. The Southeast Asian squad trailed in terms of net worth for the entirety of the game and was held to just 11 kills as its team fight power was never enough to overcome the strength of Vici Gaming’s lineup. Down by over 38k net worth at the 37 minute mark, TNC Pro Team conceded defeat to take another tie to close out its Day 1 schedule.

With a 0-2-0 record entering Day 2 of the Group Stage, TNC Pro Team stood in a solid position in the Group B standings, but it would need a strong series of performances in its final 3 series to keep things that way. The Southeast Asian squad got things started with a series against North American team VGJ.Storm. Game 1 of the series saw TNC Pro Team attempt an Io strategy, combining the support pick with a core trio of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Axe. That lineup proved ineffective against VGJ.Storm, as the North AMerican sqaud dominated team fights from the very outset of the match and built up a massive net worth lead in the late-game stage. Despite its repeated team fight losses, the core duo of TNC Pro Team managed to avoid dying for the most part, and helped keep the SEA squad in the match. Behind Raven’s Gyrocopter (14-2-22, 34.7k net worth) and Armel’s Dragon Knight (17-6-16, 27.5k net worth), TNC Pro Team managed to make an incredible surge late that caught VGJ.Storm off guard and wiped out the North American squad. TNC Pro Team was able to push into its opponents base and cripple VGJ.Storm’s defenses to earn a nearly unbelievable comeback win. That improbable victory had TNC Pro Team entering Game 2 of the series with confidence, but this time it was VGJ.Storm’s turn to mount a comeback effort. Behind solid performance from Armel on Kunkka (7-5-9) and Kuku’s Windranger (9-6-9), TNC Pro Team built up a small net worth lead in the late-game. However, a series of pick offs and team fight loses sapped away the team’s momentum as VGJ.Storm seized control and overcome the SEA squad’s final defenses to force yet another tie for TNC Pro Team.

After three straight ties in the Group Stage, TNC Pro Team was looking for its first series win, but it was in for a significant challenge as it faced Chinese squad PSG.LGD. Game 1 saw the SEA squad look to play aggressively with a core trio of Lycan, Dragon Knight, and Night Stalker. That lineup struggled a bit in the laning stage, but quickly hit its stride in the mid and late-game stages. With its core trio combining for a stat line of 23-2-60, TNC Pro Team dominated team fights and kept PSG.LGD on the defensive. Held to just 10 kills in the match and trailing by nearly 19k net worth at the 28 minute mark, PSG.LGD conceded defeat to give TNC Pro Team a 1-0 advantage in the series. Game 2 was not so easy for the Southeast Asian squad, as its core trio of Lone Druid, Razor, and Beastmaster was playing from behind early.  Behind impressive performances from Armel’s Razor (12-9-11) and Ravens’ Lone Druid (7-4-14) though, the squad was able to make a run in the late-game stage that shifted the net worth lead into its favor. Unfortunately, the team was unable to hold on to that lead, as PSG.LGD retook control and secured Mega Creeps to force a “gg” call from TNC Pro Team for yet another 1-1 series tie.

As the team entered its final series of the Group Stage, TNC Pro Team was guaranteed a spot in the Playoff Stage. However, where exactly that place would be was going to be determined by the results of the squad’s final series against Vega Squadron. Game 1 of the series proved to be a one sided match, as TNC Pro Team was in near absolute control of the game from the very beginning. Behind an incredible performance from Armel’s Storm Spirit (23-3-9), TNC Pro Team was able to shut down Vega Squadron’s lineup en route to a relatively straightforward victory to open the series. If the previous game was considered one-sided, then Game 2 of the series was a complete stomp for TNC Pro Team. The team’s core trio combined for a stat line of 17-4-26 and held Vega Squadron to just 6 kills as the Southeast Asian squad dominated the match to secure its first series victory of the Major. That win improved TNC Pro Team’s Group Stage record to 1-4-0 and earned the squad a place in the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage.

The team’s Upper Bracket match up found it going toe to toe with a regional rival, as the faced off against Mineski in a Bo3 series. Game 1 of the series was an absolute disaster for TNC Pro Team, as the squad was completely stomped by its opponent. The Southeast Asian squad put together just 4 kills in the match, and trailed by over 28k net worth at the 25 minute mark before conceding defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw TNC Pro Team put up more of a fight, as the squad’s core trio of Gyrocopter, Razor, and Abaddon managed to help build up a small advantage over the first half of the match. Unfortunately, the team’s lineup did not maintain that advantage in the late-game stage, as its team fight power dropped off significantly compared to Mineski. Despite a valiant effort from Raven’s Razor (8-4-6), TNC Pro Team was unable to mount a comeback effort as the team lost the series 0-2 and fell into the Lower Bracket.

The team’s Lower Bracket series saw it match up with Chinese squad PSG.LGD for the second time at the Major, with elimination on the line. TNC Pro Team found itself blown out in Game 1 of the series, as PSG.LGD jumped out to a sizable lead and never looked back. The Southeast Asian squad put together just six kills as it trailed for the entirety of the match, falling behind by nearly 37k net worth before its ancient finally fell to close out a rough loss for the team. In Game 2 of the series, it looked as though TNC Pro Team was in line for another one sided loss as it fell behind by a significant margin over the first half of the match. However, the Southeast Asian squad showed a remarkable resiliency, with the team extending the match past the hour mark behind strong performances from Armel’s Queen of Pain (22-9-20, 38.2k net worth) and Raven’s Omniknight (18-3-26, 34.1k net worth). The extra time in the match gave TNC Pro Team the opportunity to close the gap between itself and its opponent, and the Southeast Asian squad was able to take a series of team fight wins that shifted the momentum of the game into its favor and forced PSG.LGD to concede defeat to even up the series at 1-1. With the series on the line, TNC Pro Team opted for a core trio of Lone Druid, Shadow Fiend, and Batrider in Game 3. Despite holding even with its opponent through the laning stage, things quickly spiraled out of control for the Southeast Asian squad. The team only managed to earn 3 kills over the final half of the match, as PSG.LGD dominated the map and team fights to push TNC Pro Team further and further into a defensive position. The SEA squad made one final attempt to hold off PSG.LGD, but the Chinese squad would not be denied as it secured a 2-1 victory in the series that ended TNC Pro Team’s run at the Major wit ha 7th-8th place finish overall.

TNC Pro Team came into the MDL Changsha Major looking to move out of the shadow that had been cast over the SEA region by teams like Mineski and Fnatic. The team itself had found only limited success on the Pro Circuit stage, but a Top 4 finish in Changsha had the potential to push the squad into contention for a Top 8 spot in the Pro Circuit standings. Coming into the event itself, the Southeast Asian squad was expected to perform well but ultimately fall short of its desired success, with TNC Pro Team projected to finish in the 7th-8th place position. Despite a strong run through the Group Stage of the event, TNC Pro Team found itself unable to push past that predicted outcome, as the team ended up finishing in that 7th-8th place position when its run at the Major came to an end. The team put together an impressive run in the Group Stage, with the Southeast Asian squad managing to find a win or tie in all 5 of its series. While the team’s only series victory came against a struggling Vega Squadron, it is important to note which teams TNC Pro Team managed to earn its 4 ties against. The team ended up with 1-1 records against PSG.LGD, VGJ.Storm, Newbee, and Vici Gaming in its Group Stage matches, with all 4 of those squads ending up in the Top 4 of the standings at the Major. Once the team reached the Playoff Stage its record dropped off a bit, with TNC Pro Team posting a 1-4 record in losses against Mineski and PSG.LGD. While the team ultimately ended up falling short of a Top 4 position itself, the fact that it was able to compete with some of the top ranked team on the Pro Circuit was exactly the point that TNC Pro Team was hoping to make at the Major. The good news for the Southeast Asian squad is that its hopes for a direct invite to TI8 haven’t died just yet in spite of its failure to finish in the Top 4 in Changsha. The team is still set to compete in the China Dota 2 Supermajor at the end of the season, and as of right now a 1st or 2nd place finish at that final Major would be enough for TNC Pro Team to slip into the Top 8 in the standings. Should the team fall short of that mark, then it had still secured itself a place in the TI8 Southeast Asia Qualifier, but the squad will enter that last Pro Circuit event of the season with greater aspirations as it looks to punch its ticket to Vancouver this summer.

 

VGJ.Storm VGJ Storm

Place: 2nd

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

VGJ.Storm entered the MDL Changsha Major as one of 4 squads in the field that were ineligible for invites to TI8 and the TI8 Qualifiers. That being said, the team was still looking for an opportunity to continue testing itself and its new roster on the Pro Circuit stage against top international competition. With Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok officially added to its lineup, the North American squad had managed to win its first Pro Circuit appearance at the GESC: Thailand Minor. However, the prestige and level of competition of a Pro Circuit Minor was not quite as prominent as that of a Major, and VGJ.Storm was eager to see how it stacked up against some of the Pro Circuit’s best teams. Though the team had not use for the Qualifying Points that were available in Changsha, VGJ.Storm was still hoping that strong showing at the Major would help it enter the TI8 North America Open Qualifier with a bit of momentum and confidence on its side.

The team opened its time at the Major with a series against Vici Gaming in its first match up of the Group Stage. Game 1 of the series was not a particularly successful one for the North American squad, as its core trio of Death Prophet, Storm Spirit, and Beastmaster was heavily pressured throughout the match. Vici Gaming was able to dominate fights and engagements from the very start of the game, and VGJ.Storm was playing from behind the whole way through. Despite a solid showing from Resolut1on’s Storm Spirit (8-6-3), the North America squad was unable to mount an effective comeback effort and conceded defeat at the 35 minute mark to lose its first match of the Major. In Game 2, it looked as though the team had managed to overcome its previous issues, as the North American squad built up a sizable net worth lead in the first half of the match. Behind impressive performances from Resolut1on on Troll Warlord (11-7-11) and Yawar’s Razor (15-6-12), VGJ.Storm was in control heading into the late-game stage. Unfortunately, that control quickly faded as Vici Gaming was able to recover from its first half struggles. A series of team fight losses and pick offs wiped out VGJ.Storm’s lead and allowed Vici Gaming to rampage through its base to hand the North American squad a 0-2 defeat.

After that rough loss, VGJ.Storm was looking for a chance to bounce back as it faced off against CIS squad Vega Squadron in its second and final series of Day 1. The team looked to push the tempo of Game 1 with a core trio of Morphling, Viper, and Nature’s Prophet that was able to exert a significant amount of pressure on its opponent. Vega Squadron’s lineup was forced into a defensive posture for most of the match, which allowed VGJ.Storm to establish control over the game and a massive net worth lead. With that net worth lead ballooning to nearly 27k at the 42 minute mark, the North American squad finally managed to break through Vega Squadron’s defenses to force a “gg” call from the CIS squad. Game 2 ended up being more of the same for VGJ.Storm, as the team once again dominated the match up against Vega Squadron. With its core trio of Terrorblade, Axe, and Viper combining for a stat line of 31-10-45, the North American squad simply ran over its opponent as it claimed fight after fight and steadily pushed Vega Squadron back into its own base. Facing Mega Creeps and a deficit of nearly 23k net worth, the CIS squad threw in the towel to give VGJ.Storm its first series victory of the event.

Day 2 of the Group Stage began for VGJ.Storm with a series against Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team. The team picked up a core trio of Templar Assassin, Lifestealer, and Doom in Game 1, with that lineup proving incredibly effective. The North American team fought its opponent on a near constant basis, but VGJ.Storm ended up taking the better of those fights more often than not to establish a massive net worth lead. With Resolut1on’s Templar Assassin (16-5-16, 31k net worth) and Yawar’s Lifestealer (15-4-14, 26.2k net worth) leading the way, VGJ.Storm looked like it had a commanding lead in the late-game. However, TNC Pro Team wasn’t willing to give in, and the SEA squad put together an unbelievable comeback effort to snatch a victory away from VGJ.Storm. The shift had been so sudden and so quick that TNC Pro Team was still trailing in terms of net worth when VGJ.Storm called “gg” to fall behind 0-1 in the series. After that disappointing loss, VGJ.Storm looked to even up the series with an Io strategy alongside a core trio of Luna, Outworld Devourer, and Night Stalker. That lineup had some issues getting itself off the ground over the first half of the match, ad TNC Pro Team’s lineup had a stronger team fight presence in the mid-game stage. However, VGJ.Storm’s damage output and mobility eventually came together at the right time, as the North American squad turned things around in the late-game. The team out killed its opponent by a score of 13-3 over the final 14 minutes of the game to secure itself a win and a 1-1 tie in the series.

The team’s second series of the day had it go up against Newbee, and VGJ.Storm was able to get off to a strong start against its Chinese opponent. The team picked up a core trio of Dragon Knight, Gyrocopter, and Omniknight in Game 1, and that trio helped lead the team in an aggressive strategy that kept Newbee’s lineup largely limited in terms of its items and damage. Behind strong showing from Resolut1on on Gyrocopter (8-1-7) and MSS’s Clockwerk (6-2-15), VGJ.Storm established a lead early and never surrendered it as the North American team claimed a win in less than 25 minutes of game time. Game 2 saw VGJ.Storm change up its strategy a bit as it picked up cores of Morphling, Broodmother, and Kunkka. That lineup was able to set up a small net worth lead in the early and mid-game stages, but Newbee managed to keep itself within striking distance despite taking some significant losses. Despite an incredible performance from Resolut1on’s Broodmother (13-1-4), VGJ.Storm was unable to keep Newbee’s lineup down indefinitely, as the Chinese squad took control in the late-game and turned the momentum of the match in its favor. VGJ.Storm’s lineup lacked the strength its needed to hold off Newbee’s repeated assaults, as the North American squad was ultimately defeated to earn the team another 1-1 tie.

VGJ.Storm entered its final series of the Group Stage against PSG.LGD knowing that it would be in the Playoff Stage of the Major, but unsure of its exact place in the bracket. Game 1 of the series ended up being an absolute stomp for VGJ.Storm, as the North American squad was able to simply run over its Chinese opponent. PSG.LGD was limited to just 9 kills in the match as VGJ.Storm led in terms of net worth for the entirety of the game. Behind strong showings from Resolut1on’s Luna (13-0-11) and Yawar’s Death Prophet (8-1-6), the North American squad broke through PSG.LGD’s defenses to claim a win and a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 turned out to pretty much be a repeat of the previous match in the series, as VGJ.Storm again put together a dominant performance against its opponent. The team’s core trio of Gyrocopter, Death Prophet, and Legion Commander put together a combined stat line of 37-9-46 that put down any attempted surges from PSG.LGD en route to a one sided victory and a 2-0 sweep of the series. That win improved VGJ.Storm’s Group Stage record to 2-2-1 and allowed the team to advance in to the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage.

The team’s first Upper Bracket series saw it face off against European squad and Resolut1on’s former team OG. Game 1 of the series was not particularly competitive, as VGJ.Storm jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The team’s core trio of Morphling, Ember Spirit, and Underlord put together a combined stat line of 22-3-37 as OG was held to just 8 kills in the match and trailed in terms of net worth for the vast majority of the game. With a net worth lead of nearly 16k at the 25 minute mark, VGJ.Storm was able to overwhelm OG’s final base defense and force a “gg” call from the European squad to claim the first match in the series. Game 2 played out in a similar fashion, as VGJ.Storm picked up a durable and high damage core trio of Medusa, Gyrocopter, and Doom. That lineup dominated team fights from the very start of the match and heavily punished OG’s heroes to limit the European squad’s opportunities to work itself back into the game. VGJ.Storm surrendered just 1 kill over the final 20 minutes of the match as the North American squad secured itself a quick 2-0 sweep to advance to the next round and knock OG in to the Lower Bracket.

VGJ.Storm found itself just one Bo3 series win away from a guaranteed Top 4 finish, but the team would have to get past another European squad in the form of Team Secret if it wanted to reach that mark. Game 1 of the series saw VGJ.Storm face significant difficulties against Team Secret’s high damage output. The team’s lineup wasn’t able to establish much control over fights, and its cores found themselves quickly lagging behind in terms of net worth and item progression. VGJ.Storm found itself limited to just 11 kills in the match and down by over 15k net worth at the 25 minute mark, which prompted the North American squad to concede defeat in the opening game of the series. After its disappointing loss in Game 1 of the series, VGJ.Storm came back with a vengeance in Game 2 as it combined a core trio of Slark, Death Prophet, and Doom with supports of Io and Winter Wyvern. That lineup proved perfect for VGJ.Storm, as the North American team was able to punish Team Secret’s heroes early and exert a heavy level of pressure on its opponent. The European squad was severely limited in terms of its item progression and net worth, as the team was held to just 12 kills in the match. With VGJ.Storm’s core trio combining for a state line of 29-8-37, the North American squad pinned Team Secret down inside of its own base and forced the team to conceded defeat to tie up the series 1-1. With the series on the line, VGJ.Storm picked up a core trio of Dragon Knight, Death Prophet, and Axe in an attempt to present a durable front in team fights. Unfortunately, that lineup wasn’t quite tanky enough to fully counter Team Secret’s damage output in the early and mid-game stages. VGJ.Storm found itself playing from behind over the first half of the match, but the team continued to hold its base and buy more time for its cores to come online. With impressive performances from Yawar’s Death Prophet (7-6-15) and Sneyking’s Axe (10-9-10), VGJ.Storm was able to make a surge in the late-game that saw it claim multiple team fight victories to wipe out Team Secret’s lead and lock down a 2-1 series victory.

That win earned VGJ.Storm a guaranteed place in the Top 4, but the North American squad wanted to push for more as it played Vici Gaming for a chance to advance to the Grand Finals of the Major. The team looked to put together a strong team fight lineup in Game 1, combining a core trio of Medusa, Gyrocopter, and Enigma with supports of Night Stalker and Disruptor. That lineup was quickly able to establish a comfortable and favorable pace, as the North American team built up a net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages. Vici Gaming’s lineup wasn’t able to turn any fights in its favor despite a considerable amount of team fight setup. Facing a deficit of over 38k net worth, Vici Gaming made one last attempt to turn the game around with the help of a Divine Rapier pick up on its Juggernaut, but those efforts proved futile as VGJ.Storm won the fight and secured itself a victory to open the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in the same fashion as its predecessor, as VGJ.Storm’s lineup allowed it to take early fights and build up a sizable net worth lead. Yawar’s Gyrocopter (11-5-8) and Resolut1on’s Luna (12-2-16) put together impressive performances as the North American squad took command of the match early and never surrendered its lead over the course of the game. Facing a deficit of over 26k at the 37 minute mark, Vici Gaming threw in the towel to give VGJ.Storm a 2-0 win in the series and secure the team a place in the Grand Finals.

VGJ.Storm had earned itself a place in the Grand Final of the event, but if the North American team wanted to lay claim to its first Major Championship and the first Major victory for the NA region this season it would have to defeat Chinese squad PSG.LGD in a Bo5 series. Game 1 did not go in VGJ.Storm’s favor, as the squad’s core trio of Gyrocopter, Visage, and Enigma were heavily pressured early. Yawar did manage to put together a solid effort on Gyrocopter (6-5-6), but it wasn’t enough to stand up against PSG.LGD’s considerable strength. Facing a deficit over nearly 13k net worth at the 32 minute mark and with its cores significantly behind their counterparts, VGJ.Storm opted to concede defeat to fall to 0-1 in the series. Game 2 did not see the team’s fortunes improve much, as it Io strategy fell flat almost immediately in the face of PSG.LGD’s significant early pressure and aggression. Despite a solid effort from Resolut1on on Slark (7-5-9), the North American team had extremely limited options as it was pushed further and further back into its own base. Trailing by nearly 30k net worth and down 2 lanes of barracks at the 44 minute mark, VGJ.Storm chose to call “gg” to drop into an ominous 0-2 hole in the series. The North American squad pinned its hopes on a core trio of Storm Spirit, Gyrocopter, and Omniknight in Game 3 of the series, and that lineup was able to establish a small lead in the mid-game stage. Despite a strong showing from Resolut1on on Storm Spirit (13-8-9), VGJ.Storm was unable to hold its advantage in the late-game as PSG.LGD turned the tides and won a series of team fights to seize the momentum in the match and finish off VGJ.Storm to hand the North American squad a 0-3 loss and a 2nd place finish at the Major.

VGJ.Storm came into the MDL Changsha Major knowing that it would have to take the longer path if it wanted to earn a place in Vancouver this summer. The team was not eligible for invites and wouldn’t be able to make any use of the Qualifying Points available at the Major, but the squad was still looking to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to build up confidence and momentum for itself. Prior to the start of the event, the North American squad was expected to finish in the top half of the standings, but ultimately fall short of a Top 4 finish with a projection in the 7th-8th place range. Fresh off of its first Pro Circuit success at the GESC: Thailand Minor, VGJ.Storm was able to out perform that prediction with a 2nd place finish at the Major. The team put together an impressive run in the Group Stage of teh event, claiming wins against Vega Squadron and PSG.LGD while taking ties against TNC Pro Team and Newbee. Vega Squadron’s struggles at the event make VGJ.Storm’s victory over it a mostly hollow accomplishment. However, the team’s win against PSG.LGD and tie with Newbee are significant achievements for a team that was only concerned with testing itself against the Pro Circuit’s best at this Major. The team’s performance only improved once it reached the Playoff Stage, as the team breezed past both OG and Vici Gaming and won a 2-1 series against Team Secret on its path to the Grand Finals. The team’s performance in the Grand Finals series was not quite as strong as the team may have liked, but considering the fact that PSG.LGD is making a solid case for being one of the best teams in the world, it’s hard to fault VGJ.Storm for not finding success against the Chinese squad. Of course, the North American squad’s 2nd place finish at the Major doesn’t do it any good in terms of its Pro Circuit standing, as the team is still destined for a run through the Open Qualifiers this summer. However, this successful performance on the Pro Circuit stage has VGJ.Storm looking like one of the strongest teams in North American right now even if it won’t be able to advance directly to the main Regional Qualifier. VGJ.Storm will have one more chance to further display its strength on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team is set to participate in the China Dota 2 Supermajor to close out the season. If the team can put together a performance at that event that it anything like this one in Changsha, then VGJ.Storm will have a solid shot at another successful run on the Pro Circuit stage, and should enter the TI8 North American Open Qualifier with more than enough momentum and confidence to sweep through the competition.

 

Infamous LOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Place: 11th-12th

Winnings: $10,000

Infamous entered the MDL Changsha Major as one of the leading squads within South American, and the only team in the region to have earned Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit to this point in the season. Unfortunately for the team, those Qualifying Points won’t end up mattering much, as the team’s invite eligibility was lost via roster changes and Infamous will be playing in the TI8 Open Qualifiers this summer. The team came into the Major knowing that it wouldn’t stand to benefit from any potential Qualifying Point earnings, but the South American squad was still looking to put together a solid performance in Changsha. With all of its significant regional rivals also participating in the Open Qualifier, a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage would go a long way towards giving the team a potential advantage over its rivals as it prepared to make a run for a TI8 spot the long way around.

Infamous began Day 1 of the Group Stage with a tremendous challenge as the South American squad faced off against Team Secret in its first series of the Major. Game 1 of the series saw Infamous pick up a core trio of Slark, Viper, and Sand King, but that lineup quickly proved ineffective against Team Secret. The European squad was able to establish a stronger pace early in terms of its progression, despite surrendering more kills to Infamous. Kotarō Hayama managed to put together an impressive performance on Slark (11-5-3), but his effort proved futile as Team Secret dominated the mid and late-game stages and barreled its way through Infamous’s defenses to claim the first match of the series. Game 2 saw the South American squad struggle even further, as the team was able to earn just 3 kills in a match that was almost absurdly one sided. Team Secret took the lead early and never looked back, handing Infamous a somewhat embarrassing defeat in under 20 minutes to drop the squad to 0-1 to begin the Group Stage.

The team’s second series of the day saw it match up with Invictus Gaming, but the series against the Chinese squad didn’t do much to help Infamous overcome its struggles. Infamous attempted to establish a fast pace in Game 1 of the series with a team fight lineup consisting of Faceless Void, Puck, and Night Stalker cores alongside Jakiro and Ancient Apparition supports. The strategy fell flat early, as Invictus Gaming applied early and consistent pressure that largely shut down Infamous’s lineup. Invictus Gamign dominated the mid and late-game stages, picking up the final 19 kills of the match as Infamous lost its third straight match. Game 2 proved to essentially be a rerun of the first match of the series, as Infamous was once again pressured early and contained by IG’s lineup. Infamous had no answer for its opponents team fight power, and the South American team found itself outmatched in terms of kills by a score of 5-17 over the final 10 minutes of the match before it conceded defeat in the game and the series.

With a 0-2 series record to start the Group Stage, things were not looking good for Infamous as the team entered its final series of Day 1 with a match up against Mineski. Game 1 of the series ended up playing out just as all of the team’s previous matches had, with the South American team being blown out by its opponent. Despite a solid effort from Papita on Shadow Fiend (6-4-1), Infamous trailed throughout the match and was never really in a position to contend with its Southeast Asian opponent as it dropped the first game of the series. Game 2 saw the team put together a different strategy, with cores of Anti-Mage, Viper, and Clockwerk alongside Warlock and Leshrac supports. That lineup kept Infamous close through the early stages of the match, but in the mid-game Mineski was able to open up a significant net worth lead behind team fight wins and multiple pick offs. Behind Kotarō Hayama’s Anti-Mage (9-6-2, 27.4k net worth), Infamous was able to put together a surge in the late game with a team fight win. However, the South American squad couldn’t maintain its momentum from that fight, and Mineski was able to quickly recover and push back to overcome Infamous’s defenses and hand the team another defeat.

At 0-3, Infamous entered Day 2 of the Group Stage at the bottom of the Group A standings, but the South American squad wasn’t quite out of the running for a spot in the Playoff Stage just yet. The team needed to win or tie in its series against Invictus Gaming Vitality though if it wanted to have any chance of surviving the Group Stage. Game 1 of the series did not go well for Infamous, as the South American squad’s core trio of Lifestealer, Timbersaw, and Sand King was completely shut down by iG.V. Out killed by a score of 6-25, Infamous trailed for nearly the entirety of the match in terms of net worth and was forced to concede defeat just past the 25 minute mark for yet another loss. Game 2 of the series finally saw Infamous put up a fight, as the team picked up a core trio of Slark, Lycan, and Brewmaster. The South American squad struggled a bit in the early stages of the game, as iG.V built up a small net worth lead heading into the mid-game. Thanks in large part to a solid effort from Papita’s Lycan (9-7-3), Infamous was able to seize control of the match in the late-game stage and build up a net worth lead of over 23k. However, the South American squad found itself losing its momentum over a series of poor team fights and pick offs. The team was out killed by a score of 3-13 over the final 14 minutes of the match, as iG.V managed to pull off a comeback effort that wiped out Infamous’s net worth lead and handed the squad a surprising loss to fall to 0-4.

With one series left in its Group Stage schedule, Infamous was already out of the running for a spot in the Playoff Stage as it prepared to take on OG to close out Day 2 of the event. The South American squad picked up a core trio of Phantom Lancer, Storm Spirit, and Doom, but that lineup wasn’t able to establish much traction in the match. OG was able to put together an aggressive strategy that kept Infamous on the defensive early in the game. With its lineup pressured and somewhat limited heading into the mid and late-game, Infamous didn’t have the team fight power that it needed to creak through OG’s heroes. Despite Papita putting together a solid performance on Storm Spirit (10-7-3), Infamous was unable to turn the tides or chip away at OG’s sizable lead. The European squad expanded on its team fight power in the late-game stage, dominating fights and out killing Infamous 20-3 over the final 12 minutes to claim an incredibly one sided victory. Game 2 saw Infamous attempt to be the more aggressive team, as the South American squad combined a core trio of Gyrocopter, Ember Spirit, and Axe with supports of Earth Spirit and Witch Doctor. The team’s lineup got off to a decent start in the laning stage, but things quickly began to fluctuate as the two teams traded blows and team fight wins throughout the mid-game. Behind an impressive performance from StingeR’s Axe (17-8-7), Infamous took a small net worth lead into the late-game. However, that lead didn’t last for very long, as OG managed to retake control with a team fight win that put Infamous in a defensive position. With momentum on its side, OG was able to push past the final defenses of Infamous to claim victory in both the match and the series. The loss for Infamous left it with an 0-5 series record (0-10 overall) in the Group Stage, and an early exit from the Major in the 11th-12th place position.

Infamous came into the MDL Changsha Major looking for a performance to instill confidence and momentum in the team heading into a run through the TI8 Open Qualifiers. The team entered the event as the only South American squad to earn Qualifying Points, but recent roster changes called into question how effective the team could be on the international level. Coming into the event, Infamous was not expected to find much success, with the team projected to survive the Group Stage but finish near the bottom of the standings in the 9th-10th place position. However, the South American squad ended up falling short of even those admittedly meager expectations, as the team finished at the bottom of the Group A standings and finished in the shared last place position of 11th-12th. The team’s performance at the Major was pretty lackluster to say the least, as the team failed to win a single match in the Group Stage with 10 straight losses. While the team put together 1 or 2 matches in which it managed to be competitive, for the most part the South American squad was out played and out classed in Changsha. Honestly, there isn’t much to say in the way of positives for Infamous after a performance like the one it suffered through at the Major. The team’s strategies fell flat, its ability to build momentum was nearly nonexistent and even the best performances from its members fell short of the mark it needed to win even a single game. However, there is still some good news or silver lining for Infamous in the wake of this forgettable performance, as Infamous will have one last chance to play on the Pro Circuit stage before the end of the season. The squad will be on of the participants at the China Dota 2 Supermajor, the final Pro Circuit event of the season. That last Major gives the South American squad one last chance to earn redemption for itself and potentially enter the TI8 South America Open Qualifier with some confidence and momentum. Those Open Qualifiers will provide Infamous with an incredible challenge regardless of how it finishes off its Pro Circuit run. However, if the team can’t manage to put together a more impressive showing at that event than the one that it just showed in Changsha, then Infamous might be in for an even rougher ride than originally anticipated this summer as it fights for a spot in Vancouver.

 

OG 425px-OG_RB_Logo

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $25,000

OG came into the MDL Changsha Major having known for some time that it would have to play through the TI8 Open Qualifiers if it wanted to earn itself a spot in Vancouver this summer. The team’s roster change had forfeited its invite eligibility, though the team continued to have opportunities to play on the Pro Circuit stage. With  coach Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs appearing to be serving as the team’s final member through the TI8 qualifiers, the focus of the European squad turned towards building up momentum for itself in preparation for its Open Qualifier run. The team wasn’t going to be able to benefit from any of the Qualifying Points available at the MDL Changsha Major, but a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage would serve as an important boon for a squad looking to build momentum before the end of the season.

The European squad began its run at the Major with a series against Chinese squad Invictus Gaming in its first action on Day 1 of the Group Stage. OG looked for team fight power in its Game 1 draft as it picked up a core trio of Faceless Void, Leshrac, and Beastmaster alongside supports of Ancient Apparition and Earth Spirit. Unfortunately, that team fight power never came online in the way the European squad had been hoping for, as OG trailed throughout the match. Despite a a solid effort from 7ckingMad’s Beastmaster (8-7-11), OG was never able to turn the tide of the match as its opponent overcome the team’s final defenses to hand it its first loss of the event. Game 2 of the series saw the team change its strategy, combining an Io pick with cores of Slark, Leshrac, and Abaddon. However, the change in tactics didn’t result in success for OG, as Invictus Gaming once again dominated fights in the mid and late-game stages to overwhelm the team’s defenses and hand it an 0-2 loss in its first Group Stage series.

After its loss to Invictus Gaming, OG found itself facing the Chinese squad’s sister team as it faced off against Invictus Gaming Vitality in its second series of the Group Stage. OG opted to try its Io strategy a second time with cores of Gyrocopter, Dragon Knight, and Underlord. The combination of mobility, durability, and damage allowed OG to control the pace of the match, and the European squad dominated the second half of the game with a series of team fight victories. Behind an incredible performance from 7ckingMad’s Gyrocopter (19-1-9), OG was able to secure its first win of the Major. The team’s newfound momentum carried over into Game 2 of the series, as OG’s core trio of Lone Druide, Ember Spirit, and Brewmaster was able to out fight and out farm its opponent. With a 17k net worth lead at the 27 minute mark, Invictus Gaming Vitality conceded defeat as OG earned its first series win and brought its Group Stage record to an even 1-1.

After facing back to back series against Chinese opponents, OG was set to close out Day 1 of the Group Stage with an all-European affair as the team played Team Secret in its final series of the day. OG looked for a durable core trio in Game 1 of the series as it picked up Phantom Lancer, Death Prophet, and Centaur Warrunner. Unfortunately, that tanky front line proved insufficient to combat Team Secret’s lineup, as OG quickly lost control of engagements and found itself trailing significantly in the late-game stage. OG refused to surrender without a fight, but the European squad did not have the strength it needed to hold back Team Secret’s advance as it suffered another loss to open up the series. In Game 2, OG opted for a combination of damage and team fight power with cores of Lone Druid, Troll Warlord, and Enigma alongside supports of Clockwerk and Warlock. The team’s significant firepower had it sitting on a small lead in the early stages of the game, but that comfortable position would not hold for long. Team Secret slowly began to work its way back into the match, with the mid and late-game stages seeing the squad out pace and out fight OG’s lineup. OG managed to find just 2 kills over the final 14 minutes of the match, as Team Secret built up a lead that was simply too large for its opponent to overcome. With that loss, OG’s series record dropped to 1-2 at the end of the first day of play at the major.

Entering Day 2 of the Group Stage, OG found itself in need of wins or ties in its final 2 series in order to have a chance at a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage. The team faced a significant challenge in its first series of the day, as the European squad faced off against Southeast Asian power house Mineski. Game 1 proved to be somewhat less contentious than many may have expected, as OG came flying out of the gate with a dominant performance. The team’s core trio of Slark, Kunkka, and Underlord combined for a stat line of 22-3-28 as the European squad quickly established control over the match and never relinquished it. With Mineski held to just 8 kills in the match and facing a net worth deficit over over 36k, the Southeast Asian squad threw in the towel to secure at least a tie for OG in the series. Game 2 saw OG go back to its Io strategy as the team combined the pick with cores of Kunkka, Razor, and Brewmaster. The lineup proved slow to get on its feet in the match, as Mineski was able to build up momentum and a net worth lead for itself over the first half of the match. However, the OG lineup was eventually able to get its bearing in the late-game thanks in large part to strong performances from 7ckingMad’s Razor (14-6-18) and N0tail’s Kunkka (11-7-21). The team was able to put together a strong late-game surge, out killing its opponent by a score of 12-2 over the final 8 minutes of the game to complete an impressive comeback effort and claim a 2-0 sweep of the series.

OG received a bit of good fortune in its final series of the Group Stage, as the European squad faced off against the Infamous, a team that had yet to win a single match at the Major. OG attempted to hit its opponent fast and hard in Game 1 of the series with a core trio of Kunkka, Dragon Knight, and Ember Spirit. That core trio combined for a stat line of 19-9-45, and JerAx’s Clockwerk (12-3-15) put in an impressive contribution as well as OG rolled over Infamous to claim a relatively one sided victory to begin the series. Game 2 proved to be a more closely contested match though, as the two teams traded the net worth lead and momentum back and forth throughout the course of the game. Neither side was able to gain a definitive advantage through the first half of the match, but as things progressed into the late-game stage, OG began to pull away. Behind a strong showing from 7ckingMad’s Juggernaut (16-4-9), OG was able to take control late with a series of team fight wins that allowed the team to push down the middle lane to claim a win an another series victory. That win brought OG’s Group Stage record up to 3-0-2, and earned the European squad a place in the Upper Bracket of the Playoff Stage.

OG ended up facing North American squad VGJ.Storm in its Upper Bracket series, but the European squad ran into some significant struggles in that match up. Game 1 was a disaster for the European squad, as VGJ.Storm put together an aggressive play style that had OG on the defensive right from the very start of the match. OG managed to put together just 8 kills in the match, as VGJ.Storm dominated team fights and forced the European squad to concede defeat in just over 25 minutes of game time. Game 2 saw OG opt for a core trio of Tinker, Razor, and Underlord, but that lineup ended up struggling as well in the face of VGJ.Storm’s draft. Despite a solid effort from 7ckingMad’s Razor (6-4-3), OG once again found itself lacking in terms of power beyond the early stages of the match. The team’s cores were simply outpaced by VGJ.Storm’s heroes, and  without that advantage the European squad was unable to turn fights in its favor. OG managed to find just a single kill over the second half of the match, as VGJ.Storm pushed past its defenses and forced OG to tap out again to fall 0-2 in the series and drop into the Lower Bracket.

With the team dropping down into the Lower Bracket, there was little room remaining for error as the team faced off against Newbee in a Bo3 elimination series. Game 1 saw the European squad pick up a core trio of Spectre, Dragon Knight, and Brewmaster, but those heroes faced some struggles against Newbee’s lineup. The European squad trailed for nearly the entirety of the match, but it wasn’t until the late-game stage that Newbee finally established full control over the game. A 23-5 run in terms of kills over the final 10 minutes of the match tipped things decisively in Newbee’s favor as OG conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. In Game 2 of the series, OG looked to be the more aggressive squad as it combined cores of Sven, Ember Spirit, and Batrider with supports if Night Stalker and Winter Wyvern. The lineup managed to get off to a strong start, with OG establishing a pace over the first half of the match that put Newbee’s lineup in a more defensive position.  Despite holding a modest net worth lead through the mid-game, OG began to lost its momentum in the late-game stage. Newbee’s lineup proved stronger and more versatile in team fights, and despite a strong showing from s4’s Batrider (8-4-7), OG was not able to keep its opponent locked down for long enough to win engagements. The momentum of the match quickly shifted into Newbee’s favor, with the Chinese squad building up a net worth lead of nearly 17k. Although OG put together one final defense of its base, those efforts proved futile as the team was defeated and knocked out of the Major with a finish in the 7th-8th place position overall.

OG came into the MDL Changsha Major knowing that its performance on the Pro Circuit stage would not have any bearing on its destination once the season came to an end. The European squad was destined for a harrowing run through the TI8 Open Qualifiers, but OG was hoping that strong performances in its final Pro Circuit appearances would have the team looking stronger and more confident heading into that qualifier run. Coming into the event, the team was expected to put together a strong run and compete for a place in the top half of the standings with a 5th-6th place position. Despite the team putting together an impressive Group Stage performance, OG ended up falling short of that predicted outcome as it finish in the 7th-8th place position at the Major. The team’s Group Stage run was fairly impressive, with the European squad claiming wins in 3 of its 5 series, including a victory over Top 8 ranked squad Mineski. However, the team’s other wins came against Infamous and Invictus Gaming Vitality, two squads that didn’t exactly present themselves as significant challenges on the international stage. Though those wins did help OG reach the Playoff Stage, they didn’t do much to instill confidence that the European squad would be able to continue winning against some of the more formidable teams in the field. Those concerns proved to be valid, as OG struggled to keep up in the Playoff Stage of the Major and lost both its its Bo3 series to fall out of the bracket entirely. The back to back 0-2 losses that the team suffered at the hands of VGJ.Storm and Newbee raise some concerns for the squad moving forward, but there is good news for OG as its time on the Pro Circuit has not come to an end just yet. The European squad is still set to represent its home region in both of the remaining Pro Circuit Majors on the schedule, which means that the team will have two more chances to make that breakthrough and put together a successful run on the Pro Circuit stage. While OG doesn’t need success on the Pro Circuit at this stage in the season, a strong showing and a Top 4 finish at one of these final 2 Majors would make OG an even more formidable and favored team as it prepares for its Open Qualifier run.

 

Vega Squadron 579px-Vega_Squadron_2016

Place: 11th-12th

Winnings: $10,000

CIS squad Vega Squadron entered the MDL Changsha Major with both a goal and a dream, with the two sitting on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of expectations for this event. The dream was a spot in the Top 8 of the Pro Circuit standings and a potential direct invite to TI8, achievable only with a 1st place finish in Changsha. With that outcome being slightly unrealistic, focus shifted more towards the teams goal of a solid performance on the Pro Circuit stage to bolster the team’s record in preparation for the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. With Vega Squadron standing as one of the few teams in the CIS region with its invite eligibility still intact, the squad was all but guaranteed the opportunity to skip over the Open Qualifiers and be invited directly to the main Regional Qualifier. Even with that potential head start though, the challenge facing Vega Squadron will be daunting as it endeavors to make a place for itself in Vancouver. An impressive showing on the international level at the MDL Changsha Major would serve as an important achievement for the CIS squad in its final Pro Circuit appearances of the season.

Vega Squadron began its run at the Major with a match up against one of the Dota 2 world’s leading teams in PSG.LGD. The CIS squad opted for a core trio of Luna, Viper, and Dark Seer in its attempt to upset the Chinese power house in Game 1 of the series. That strategy failed quickly, as Vega Squadron fell behind early and never managed to mount any effective comeback effort to lose its opening match of the series. Game 2 of the series did not go much better for Vega Squadron, as the team trailed throughout the match despite a valiant effort from UnderShock’s Leshrac (5-2-6). Down by over 23k net worth at the 25 minute mark, Vega Squadron conceded defeat to lose its initial Group Stage series.

The team’s final series of Day 1 of the Group Stage saw it face North American squad VGJ.Storm with a chance to end the first day of the event with an even series record. Game 1 of the series saw the CIS squad pick up a high damage core trio of Troll Warlord, Puck, and Doom in an effort to overwhelm its opponent with its firepower. Despite remaining even with its opponent through the early and mid-game stage, Vega Squadron began to lag further and further behind in the late-game. VGJ.Storm’s lineup was able to establish control over team fights and build up a sizable net worth lead that Vega Squadron was unable to overcome as the CIS squad threw in the towel to take another loss. Game 2 of the series played out in almost exactly the same manner, with the two team remaining close through the mid-game but with VGJ.Storm pulling away late. Vega Squadron couldn’t establish any sort of momentum in team fights, and with  CemaTheSlayer’s Witch Doctor (11-12-3) holding the highest kill count on the team, the CIS squad had little chance of pulling off a comeback as it called “gg” to suffer back to back 0-2 series losses.

With an 0-2 series record (0-4 overall), Vega Squadron did not enter Day 2 of the Group Stage in the greatest of positions. The team stood at the bottom of the Group B standings, and had to face off against Chinese squad Newbee in its first series of the day. Game 1 actually began well for Vega Squadron, as the CIS squad was able to exert some early pressure on its opponent with a support duo of Chen and Night Stalker. That aggression put Vega Squadron ahead early, but as soon as the laning stage ended things shifted dramatically in Newbee’s favor. The Chinese squad dominated every single fight from that point on, and out killed its opponent by a score of 23-3 over the final 11 minutes of the match to shut Vega Squadron down and hand it its fifth straight loss of the Major. Things went from bad to worse in Game 2 of the series, as Vega Squadron was the team to suffer from early pressure and aggression from its opponent. Newbee’s aggressive style kept Vega Squadron in a defensive position for the entirety of the game, and the CIS squad never was able to put together a strong enough team fight execution to turn things around. The team fought on to the bitter end, but eventually Newbee was able to crack its defenses and wipe out Vega Squadron’s lineup to secure a win and give the CIS squad another series loss.

Vega Squadron wasn’t done dealing with Chinese squads after its loss to Newbee, as it came face to face with Vici Gaming in its penultimate series of the event. Though the team’s opponent had changed, Vega Squadron’s significant struggles did not. Game 1 of the series proved disastrous for the CIS squad, as its lineup trailed from the very start of the match and was out killed by a score of 9-40 in just 24 minutes of play. While Game 2 of the series proved to be a much longer match than its predecessor, it was no less one sided. Vega Squadron picked up a combination of Razor, Pugna, and Night Stalker cores and Ancient Apparition and Earth Spirit supports in its attempt to claim its first victory of the event. That lineup proved capable of inflicting casualties on its opponent in team fights, but was never able to definitively win one for the team. Every fight seemed to result in Vici Gaming coming out ahead, and the Chinese squad was able to build up a significant net worth lead in the late-game stage. Once again, Vega Squadron refused to give in, but Vici Gaming’s advantage had grown too large by that point as the Chinese squad pushed past its opponent’s defenses to complete another sweep and keep Vega Squadron without a win at the Major.

By the time Vega Squadron got around to its final series of the Group Stage against TNC Pro Team, its fate had already been decided. The CIS squad wasn’t going to make it out of the Group Stage, but the team still wanted to claim at least one win at the event. That win did not come in Game 1 of its final Group Stage series, as TNC Pro Team dominated the match up from the very start. Despite a solid effort from Palantimos on Slark (5-3-11), Vega Squadron once again faced significant difficulties establishing control and momentum in team fights. Its Southeast Asian opponent faced no such difficulties, as TNC Pro Team pushed Vega Squadron further and further back over the mid and late-game stages. Down by nearly 23k net worth at the 40 minute mark and with its base falling to pieces around it, Vega Squadron called “gg” to lose its 9th straight match in Changsha. That loss made Game 2 of the series Vega Squadron’s final hope for a win at the Major, but that hope was quickly dashed by TNC Pro Team. The Southeast Asian squad absolutely dominated the match, giving Vega Squadron no real chance to compete as its lineup was quickly and repeatedly overwhelmed and out matched. Vega Squadron earned just 6 kills in the match, as the team trialed by over 20k net worth at the 22 minute mark and quickly conceded defeat for an 0-5 series record. That ignoble performance left Vega Squadron at the bottom of the Group B standings and earned the team an early exit from the Major with a finish in the 11th-12th place position.

Vega Squadron entered the MDL Changsha Major looking for a chance to prove itself on the Pro Circuit stage and build up momentum heading into the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. While the team was still technically in the running for a Top 8 spot in the Pro Circuit standings, the team’s realistic expectations had it hoping for a solid showing on the international level to bolster its record with the season coming to a close. Coming into the event itself, the team was not expected to accomplish much, with the CIS squad holding a projected finish within the 11th-12th place range. The team unfortunately failed to surpass those meager expectations, as the squad put together a 0-5 series record (0-10 overall) in the Group Stage to finish dead last in Group B and fall into that dreaded position of 11th-12th in the event standings. To put it as diplomatically as possible, Vega Squadron’s performance at the Major was absolutely abysmal. Not only did the team fail to win even a single match in the Group Stage, it often failed to look competitive during most of its games. Coming off what had been an impressive showing at its previous Pro Circuit appearance at the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 Minor, Vega Squadron was expected to at least take a game or two off of some of the weaker members of Group B. Unfortunately for the CIS squad, this poor performance in Changsha will be the last impression the Dota 2 world has of the team prior to its TI8 Qualifier run. Vega Squadron has no more scheduled appearances on the Pro Circuit stage, which means that the only way we will get to see the team before the qualifiers begin this summer is if the team finds its way into a third party events in the coming weeks. The good news for Vega Squadron is that it is still essentially guaranteed a direct invite to the TI8 CIS Qualifier even after this rough showing on the international level. The question now is whether the team will be able to put this setback behind it and recover in time to compete with its regional rivals for a place in Vancouver on the Dota 2 world’s biggest and most prestigious stage.

 

 

 

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