Dota 2 Major Preview: China Dota 2 Supermajor

Curtain Call: 16 teams vying for the title of Major Champion in Shanghai as the Pro Circuit begins its final event of the season at the China Dota 2 Supermajor.

After 8 months of incredible action and the highest quality Dota in the world, the Pro Circuit season is coming to a close as the last event on the schedule is set to be played. The eyes of the Dota 2 world turn one final time to Shanghai, as the Chinese city prepares to host the China Dota 2 Supermajor to bring to an end the first season under the Pro Circuit system. Organized jointly by PGL and Perfect World, this final event of the season will be the second event that the 2 companies have put together on the Pro Circuit following the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 Major back in April. The Supermajor brings 16 Pro Circuit teams to the Yuanshen Gymnasium in Shanghai, China for the chance to claim the final Major Championship of the season and potentially make one final run up the Pro Circuit standings. Beginning on June 2 and running through the 10th, the Supermajor will feature the largest prize pools ever seen at a Pro Circuit event, with $1,500,000 USD and 2250 Qualifying Points available in Shanghai, to be distributed as follows:

1st: $555,000 (Total) & 1125 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

2nd: $225,000 (Total) & 675 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

3rd: $150,000 (Total) & 337 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

4th: $120,000 (Total) & 112 Qualifying Points (Per Player)

5th-6th: $90,000 (Per Team)

7th-8th: $60,000 (Per Team)

9th-12th: $22,500 (Per Team)

13th-16th: $15,000 (Per Team)

With what we know about the event venue and prize pools laid out, we can take a look now at the format that will be used for the final Pro Circuit event of the season. The China Dota 2 Supermajor will start with a Group Stage that will see the 16 team field split up into 4 groups of 4 teams each. Within those groups, the 4 teams will play a Bo3 double-elimination, GSL style bracket, meaning the teams will be sorted into 2 Opening Matches to begin play in each group. The Winners of the 2 Opening Matches will play each other in the Winners’ Match, while the 2 losers will face each other in the Losers’ Match. Following those series, the winner of the Losers’ Match and the loser of the Winners’ Match will play one final series in the Decider Match, The results of those series will determine the seeding for the Main Event, with the top 2 teams of each group advancing to the Upper Bracket while the bottom 2 teams of each group will advance to the Lower Bracket. Once the teams have their seed for the Main Event, they will play in a 16 team double-elimination bracket, with all series up to the Grand Finals being played in a Bo3 format while the Grand Finals will be played Bo5.

With the China Dota 2 Supermajor serving as the final event in the Pro Circuit season, the majority of the teams on the Pro Circuit have a solid idea of where they will be heading once the TI8 Qualifiers begin in the next few weeks. Most of the teams in the field in Shanghai are counted among this group, but there are still a select few participants at the Supermajor whose destination is not yet set in stone and could be altered depending on how this final Pro Circuit event shakes out. Of the 16 participants at the Supermajor, 4 of them (Virtus.pro, PSG.LGD, Team Liquid, Team Secret) have already secured themselves direct invites to TI8 and are guaranteed a place in Vancouver this summer. A further 4 teams (Mineski, Vici Gaming, Newbee, VGJ.Thunder) are currently ranked inside of the Top 8, but must hold those position through this final event in order to secure themselves direct invites to TI8. 3 of the teams in Shanghai (OpTic Gaming, TNC Pro Team, The Final Tribe) are currently either ranked outside of the Top 8 or are not ranked at all, but could potentially move into the Top 8 and snag a direct invite with a strong enough performance at the event. And finally, 5 of the participants in Shanghai (Evil Geniuses, Na’Vi, VGJ.Storm, Infamous, Team Spirit) have forfeited their invite eligibility, and therefore will be heading to their respective regional Open Qualifiers regardless of their performance at the Supermajor. Overall, the field for the China Dota 2 Supermajor has teams from every level of success on the Pro Circuit, but each of them will be looking to put together a solid showing and earn one last bit of success on the Pro Circuit stage to close out their season. Whether for positioning within the Pro Circuit standings, momentum heading into the TI8 Qualifiers, or even just team pride, the 16 teams in Shanghai are all hoping to lay claim to the final Major Championship of the season. With that in mind, we can take a look at how each of the participants in the field stacks up heading into the last Pro Circuit event of the season.

  • Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or necessarily objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data.

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Region: CIS

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 1st (10347 Qualifying Points) (Guaranteed TI8 Invite)

Roster:
1.
Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev
2. Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko
3. Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov 
4.
VladimirRodjERNikogosyan
5.
Alexei “Solo” Berezin (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

VIrtus.pro enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as the top ranked squad on the Pro Circuit, and a team that has consistently proven itself as one of the elite teams in the world. With 4 Major Championships to its name, the team has secured a place in history as it tied OG for the most Major titles in the history of Dota 2. Considering the fact that VP has long since secured itself a direct invite to TI8, the team doesn’t have to have much concern for the Qualifying Points that are available in Shanghai. However, that doesn’t mean that the team won’t be coming into the event looking to put together a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage. Aside from the obvious benefit of continuing to test itself against top Pro Circuit opposition and prepare itself for a TI run, VP also has a unique opportunity at the final event of the season. If VP can emerge victorious in Shanghai, then the CIS squad will officially have the most Major Championships in professional Dota 2 history.

VP’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came just a few days ago as the team participated in the ESL One Birmingham Major in the UK. The CIS squad put together a perfect 10-0 record across the Group Stage and Playoff Stage of the event as it secured a 1st place finish in Birmingham and its fourth Major Championship of the season. That successful run at the event was just the latest in an impressive string of victories for the CIS squad, as VP has earned Top 4 finishes in all but 1 of its Pro Circuit appearances in 2018. That lone finish outside of the Top 4 came at the ESL One Genting 2018 Minor back in January in the form of a 5th-6th place position. Since then, the team has been about as strong and consistent as it possibly could be with 5 straight Top 4 finishes that includes an incredible 3 Major Championships. At this stage in the season, we know exactly what to expect from VP whenever it steps on stage at an event, as the team has more than earned its reputation as the most formidable and downright scary squad in the Dota 2 world. The team’s impressive record on the international level belies a level of exteme confidence and cohesiveness that few teams on the Pro Circuit seem able to match or overcome. At this point, we usually take a look at a team’s performance within its home region as a means of contrasting with its play on the international level and giving a more rounded view of the team’s standing as a whole. For VP though, there is a problem with that, as the team really hasn’t had much need to play within its home region, especially since it has already secured its direct invite to TI8 and will not need to participate in the TI8 Regional Qualifiers. The team hasn’t played in a regional qualifier since November of 2017, and based upon its continued dominance on the international level, it doesn’t appear that the team needs to play against any of its fellow CIS teams to prove that it is one of the best squads in the Dota 2 world.

VP comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor looking to close out its season with a record 5th Major Championship. Coming into Shanghai, the CIS squad is a favorite to find success at the event, with a projected finish within the Top 4 range. The team has been sorted into Group B for the Group stage of the event, and will open its run at the Major with a Bo3 series against TNC Pro Team in which it will be heavily favored to win. Barring an unlikely upset in the opening series, VP will most likely end up facing either Evil Geniuses or Vici Gaming in the Winners’ Match for the top spot in the group. While it is possible that one of those squads could bring down the CIS power house, it would still come as a significant surprise to see VP go down. Regardless of the match up, VP will be considered the favorite in all of its Group Stage series, and should end up finishing in the upper half of the Group B standings and advancing to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. At that point, determining the team’s opponent is essentially impossible as the exact seeding for the bracket is not fully known. However, the path to success for VP is fairly straightforward from that point, as the team would need to win 2 Bo3 series in a row in the Upper Bracket in order to secure itself a Top 4 finish. A loss in the team’s first Upper Bracket would complicate things a bit, as VP would drop down into the Lower Bracket and would then have to win win 3 straight Bo3 series in order to reach that same Top 4 mark. No matter what team VP ends up playing against, the CIS squad will likely be the favored team to win, and the prospect of the team losing 2 Bo3 series in the bracket of the Main Event is not exactly an expected scenario for the team in Shanghai. VP has only been looking stronger and stronger as the season comes to a close, and there is little reason to believe that the CIS squad will suffer any sort of sudden drop off in its level of play in Shanghai. Unless the team makes a series of mistakes or a team in the field steps up with an inspired performance, there appears to be little standing in the way of VP claiming another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage and competing for its 5th Major Championship of the season.

 

Team Liquid600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd (6084 Qualifying Points) (Guaranteed TI8 Invite)

Roster:
1.
Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen
2.
Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barqawi
3.
Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov
4.
Maroun “GH” Merhej
5.
Kuro Salehi “KuroKy” Takhasomi (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

Team Liquid comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor as one of the many teams that knows exactly where it will be going this summer in regards to TI8. Unlike many of those teams though, Team Liquid knows that it won’t have to participate in any regional qualifiers, as the European squad has secured itself a direct invite to TI8 through its impressive and consistent play throughout the season. The TI7 Champion has already secured its place in Vancouver and a shot at becoming the first team in Dota 2 history to win multiple TI’s, but that doesn’t mean that the team won’t be looking to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Shanghai. Team Liquid will enter the final event of the season looking to test itself against the Pro Circuit’s best squads in preparation for its run at TI8, but it also has another incentive for success in Shanghai. For all of its success on the Pro Circuit stage, Team Liquid has yet to claim a Major Championship this season, and is actually the only team out of the current 4 TI8 direct invitees (VP, PSG.LGD, and Team Secret being the others) to not have a Major Championship to its name this season. While the team’s securing of a direct invite without a Major title is impressive, the China Dota 2 Supermajor provides the team with an opportunity to add that achievement to its long list of accolades.

Team Liquid is just days removed from its last performance on the Pro Circuit stage, as the defending TI Champion participated in the ESL One Birmingham Major. Unfortunately for the European squad, it turned its worst Pro Circuit result of the season in Birmingham, as the team struggled against paiN Gaming and lost 3 of its 4 Group Stage matches to the South American squad to finish in the 7th-9th place position and miss the Playoff Stage of the event entirely. That poor showing in Birmingham comes as a bit of a surprise for Team Liquid, as the European squad has been the most consistently successful squad on the Pro Circuit this season. Across the team’s 12 appearances on the Pro Circuit stage, Team Liquid has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in 10 of them, including 3 Minor Championships. Team Liquid’s performance in this first Pro Circuit season has been exactly what one would hope for from the defending TI Champion, as the team has presented a consistent and formidable presence that has served as a strong example of what success on the international level looks like. As a team that has been sitting near the top of the Pro Circuit standings for the majority of the season, Team Liquid has not encountered many scenarios in which it needed to compete against other European squads in regional qualifiers. The TI7 Champion has been directly invited to 11 of its 12 Pro Circuit appearances, and its consistent success on the international level has completely erased the team’s need to prove anything against its regional rivals. That being said, the team has suffered the closest thing it could reasonably call a set back in its last few performances, as the team has missed out on a Top 4 spot in 2 of its last 3 Pro Circuit appearances. Those performances raise minor concerns at best though, as the European squad has proven that it can be relied upon to play at the highest level on the Pro Circuit stage.

Team Liquid comes into the Supermajor with a place in the field at TI8 already secured, but the team will still be looking to put together one last strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage. Prior to the start of the event, the European squad is expected to find success in Shanghai  with a projected finish inside the Top 4 range. The team will begin its Group Stage run with a Bo3 match up against Team Spirit in the Opening Matches of Group A in a series that will heavily favor the European team. If the team manages to avoid a significant upset in that initial series, then it would face another favorable match up against either Newbee or Na’Vi in the Winners’ Match to determine the top seed of the group. Considering the team’s high standing and impressive record to this point in the season, it stands as one of the strongest teams in the field in Shanghai and a near lock to advance to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. If the team manages to win that first series in the Upper Bracket, then it would need just 1 more series win in either the Upper or Lower Bracket in order to earn itself a Top 4 finish. If the team stumbles and ends up losing its initial Upper Bracket match up, then the path to a Top 4 position becomes somewhat longer for the European squad. The team would drop down to the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, and would then have to win 3 straight Bo3 series in order to secure itself a Top 4 finish. There are only a couple of teams in the field in Shanghai that Team Liquid would not be favored against, and unless it ends up facing 2 of those teams, the chances for the team to drop out of the Main Event before reaching a Top 4 position are somewhat low. That being said, we just saw Team Liquid struggle at the ESL One Birmingham Major against teams that it was heavily favored against, and the potential for an upset is a very real possibility for the team at this final event of the season. All it would take is one strong performance from an underdog team to put Team Liquid in trouble in Shanghai, but unless the team shows some early signs of weakness at the event, expect Team Liquid to put together another strong performance to close out the season.

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 4th (4800 Qualifying Points) (Guaranteed TI8 Invite)

Roster: 
1. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
2.
Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
3.
Adrian “Fata” Trinks
4.
Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
5.
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

Team Secret enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team sitting in one of the strongest and most favorable positions on the Pro Circuit, as the European squad has already secured itself a direct invite to TI8. When the team’s new roster was announced back in September, many weren’t quite sure what to expect from the new Team Secret, but the squad has proven itself to be capable of contending with the best teams in the world this season. With its place in Vancouver secure, Team Secret doesn’t really have a whole lot to gain in Shanghai at this final event of the season. The team no longer has any need for Qualifying Points and therefore won’t be quite as focused on the standings at the Major as some of the other participants still looking to lock in their direct invites. However, don’t expect the European squad to take things easy in Shanghai, as the opportunity to claim its second Major Championship of the season and prepare for its TI8 run by playing some of the best teams in the world at the Major is one the the team will be trying to take advantage of in the final Pro Circuit event of the season.

Team Secret hasn’t been away from the Pro Circuit stage for too long, as the team participated in the MDL Changsha Major about 2 weeks ago in China. The team posted a 8-2 record in the Group Stage of the event, but lost both of its Playoff Stage series against VGJ.Storm and PSG.LGD in order to finish just short of a Top 4 finish with a place in the 5th-6th position. That position outside of the Top 4 has been something of a trend for Team Secret of late, as the team’s performance on the Pro Circuit stage has been somewhat inconsistent over the past few months. Since the beginning of 2018, the team has attended 9 Pro Circuit events and has earned Top 4 finishes in 4 of them. The concern for the European squad though is that those 4 Top 4 finishes  all came at Pro Circuit Minors where the fields teams were both smaller and typically not quite as strong as those at Majors. In the team’s 5 Major appearances in 2018, Team Secret has finished in the 5th-6th place position twice, the 5th-8th position, the 7th-8th position, and the 9th-12th place position. While those performance on the Pro Circuit stage aren’t exactly cause for full panic just yet, it is concerning to see the team suffering through a decline in its results so late in the season. For some teams, a decline on the international level can often be counterbalanced by a strong presence within its home region. For Team Secret that case doesn’t really apply, as the squad hasn’t participated in a regional qualifier since November of 2017. On the one hand, that lack of regional play is a testament to the team’s success, as it has earned multiple direct invites to Pro Circuit events. On the other hand, it means that there isn’t much to judge the team on besides its Pro Circuit performance, which has been on a small decline of late. Even with its recent issues on the international stage, Team Secret has secured itself a place at TI8, and will have one last chance to finish the season on a high note in Shanghai.

Team Secret comes into the Supermajor with a direct invite to TI8 already locked down, but the European squad will be looking for one last strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to close out its season on a high note. Coming into the event, the European squad is expected to put together that kind of solid performance, with Team Secret projected to finish in the Top 4 range. The team has been placed into Group C for the Group Stage of the event, and will begin play in Shanghai with a Bo3 series against fellow European squad The Final Tribe. Team Secret will enter that series as a significant favorite, and it would take a truly shocking set of mistakes on the team’s part to lose that first match up. If the team ends up winning that first series, then it would play either Mineski or VGJ.Storm in the Winners’ Match to determine the top seed of the group. Both of those squads have given Team Secret problems recently, and Team Secret could find itself struggling in that Winners’ Match. Should the team win, then it would be locked into the top seed of the group and advance to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. A loss though, would necessitate another Bo3 series in the Decider Match of Group C that Team Secret would have to win in order to advance to the Upper Bracket. Team Secret will likely be considered a small favorite regardless of its Group Stage match ups, but the potential still exists for the team to end up on either side of bracket in the Main Event. If the team ends up holding its own in the Group Stage and begins in the Upper Bracket, then it would need to win 2 Bo3 series in a row to secure itself another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage. However, a start in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event would make things a bit riskier for the team, as it would have to win 4 straight Bo3 series in order to reach that same mark. The team’s path to success has a lot of room for variance depending upon how it finishes in its Group Stage run, and while Team Secret stands as the highest ranked team in Group C, it is far from guaranteed a high seed in that group. The team will enter its Group Stage matches as the favored squad, but all it would take is 1 or 2 losses to put the team in hot water and relegate it to a tough run through the Lower Bracket. The threat of an upset is always a possibility, especially considering the group that Team Secret finds itself in. However, Team Secret should still be expected to emerge victorious from those match ups, and if the European squad can avoid any significant mistakes, then it should be considered one of the main contenders for one last Top 4 finish in Shanghai.

 

NewbeeNewbee_logo

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 7th (2445 Qualifying Points)

Roster:
1. 
Xu “Moogy” Han
2. 
Song “Sccc” Chun
3.
Damien “kpii” Chok
4.
Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi
5.
Zeng “Faith” Hongda (Captain)

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

It’s do or die time on the Pro Circuit for Newbee, as the Chinese squad enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor with 1 final chance to secure itself a direct invite to TI8. The team has been one of the leading teams in the Pro Circuit standings all season long, but enters this final Pro Circuit event ranked 7th overall and in danger of missing out on a guaranteed spot in Vancouver. The good news for the Chinese squad is that there are only a few scenarios left that leave it outside of the Top 8 at the end of this final Pro Circuit event. Most of those scenarios are already a bit unlikely to happen, but a Top 4 finish for Newbee on home soil in Shanghai would remove a few of them entirely and help the Chinese squad secure itself a place at TI8. With that goal within its reach, Newbee comes into the China Dota 2 Major looking for one last bit of success on the Pro Circuit stage to hopefully close out its season on a high note and avoid having to play through the TI8 China Qualifier.

Newbee comes in this event just days after its most recent appearance on the Pro Circuit stage at the ESL One Birmingham Major. The Chinese squad did not have a fantastic time in Birmingham, as the team lost 3 of its 4 Group Stage matches and ended up finishing a the bottom of its group standings for a 10th-12th place finish overall. That performance in the UK was the latest in what has been a string of wildly inconsistent results for the team, as Newbee’s play on the Pro Circuit stage over the past few months has fluctuated significantly. The team has played in 9 Pro Circuit events in 2018, and earned Top 4 finishes in 5 of them in order to hold its current 7th place rank in the standings. At first glance, 5 Top 4 finishes out of 9 appearances doesn’t look that bad, and compared to many of the squads on the Pro Circuit it is an incredibly impressive series of performances. Unfortunately, those performances have still put Newbee in its current position where it has yet to secure itself a direct invite to TI8. The other concern is that 3 of the teams 4 finishes outside of the Top 4 at Pro Circuit events have come within the past 2 months. A series of inconsistent results is not always a significant issue over the course of an entire season, but to be facing that level of inconsistency on the back end of the season raises some questions for the squad. If Newbee ends up missing out on a direct invite to TI8 and has to play through regional qualifiers, then its performance at home becomes a significant factor to look at. On that front, Newbee has managed to put together a more consistent performance over the last few months, as the team has earned Top 4 finishes in each of its 3 qualifier runs. Those solid showings against its regional rivals make it easier to believe that the squad can turn its recent slid on the international level around, but it will take a significant effort in Shanghai for Newbee to secure itself a place in Vancouver this summer.

Newbee comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor in a position where it may end falling out of the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings. There are quite a few scenarios that keep Newbee in the Top 8 without any Qualifying Point earnings in Shanghai, but Newbee will be looking to secure itself a Top 4 finish at the Supermajor to help it hold that position. Coming into the event, the Chinese squad is not considered a favorite to earn that Top 4 finish, as Newbee is projected to finish in the 9th-12th place position overall. The team will open up its time in Shanghai with a Bo3 series against Na’Vi in the Opening Matches of Group A. Newbee has had some issues on the international level of late, and Na’Vi’s updated roster could pose a more significant threat, but the team will still enter that series as a favorite to win. If the team ends up avoiding an upset and wins its initial series, then it will play either Team Spirit or Team Liquid in the Winners’ Match of the group. Newbee will face considerably different challenges depending on which of those teams it ends up facing, but the Chinese squad is still fully capable of claiming a win in that series. Should Newbee win, it would claim a top spot in the group and advance directly to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. If the team cannot win that series, then it would drop to the Decider Match of Group A with the potential to finish on either half of the group standings and advance to either side of the Main Event bracket. If Newbee ends up starting in the Upper Bracket, then it would need back to back Bo3 series wins to reach a Top 4 finish. Should the Chinese squad begin in the Lower Bracket instead, then it would need 4 Bo3 wins in a row to reach the Top 4 at the event. The fact that the Group Stage won’t feature any eliminations guarantees Newbee a place in the Main Event, but its hard to expect the team to go all that far in the bracket. Newbee still has the skill and experience to find success on the Pro Circuit stage, but its recent struggles at events makes it difficult to have confidence in the Chinese squad to overcome some of the more consistent or surging teams in the field. If the team can build some momentum for itself with solid performances in the Group Stage, then Newbee might be able to make a run through the Main Event. However, if the team can’t come out strong in its first few series, don’t expect Newbee to be advancing very far in the bracket in Shanghai.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 6th (2835 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Zhang Paparazi灬” Chengjun
2.
Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang
3.
Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei
4.
Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng
5.
Lu “Fenrir” Chao (Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Vici Gaming enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as one of 4 Chinese teams currently sitting in the Top 8 in the Pro Circuit standings. The question for the team is whether or not it will still be in that position at the end of the season, as the squad prepares to participate in the final event in the Pro Circuit schedule. Vici Gaming has not yet secured itself a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to TI8, which leaves it with a small sense of uncertainty and anxiety leading up to its performance on home soil in Shanghai. As the 6th place team in the Pro Circuit standings, the scenarios in which Vici Gaming ends up falling out of the Top 8 are fairly limited, but the team has the chance to keep its destiny within its own hands at the event. Should the team end up finishing 3rd or better in Shanghai, then it will be guaranteed a direct invite to TI8 regardless of how the rest of the standings shake out. With that goal so close, Vici Gaming comes in to the Supermajor with a determination to close out the Pro Circuit season in a strong fashion and secure itself a place among the Dota 2 world’s elite teams with a guaranteed spot in Vancouver this summer.

Its only been a few days since Vici Gaming was last seen on the Pro Circuit stage, as the Chinese squad is fresh from a performance at the ESL One Birmingham Major. The trip to the UK did not go particularly well for Vici Gaming though, as the team lost all 3 of its Group Stage matches to finish at the bottom of the event standings with a 10th-12th place position overall. That poor performance in Birmingham has been one of a handful of weaker showings for Vici Gaming over the last few months. For the most part, 2018 has seen the Chinese squad put together enough solid runs on the Pro Circuit stage to hold its current Top 8 ranking. However, the team has found itself falling short of the mark for Top 4 finishes more often than not since the beginning of the year, as Vici Gaming has made 7 appearances on the Pro Circuit stage in 2018 but earned Top 4 finishes in just 3 of them. That record isn’t exactly weak, as it has been enough to put Vici Gaming in its current favorable position in the standings, but the Chinese squad might find itself in need of 1 more Top 4 finish at this event to earn its place in Vancouver. Should the team end up falling out of the Top 8 though, then it would still be in line for an invite to the TI8 China Qualifier. In light of the possibility of that scenario, it would be prudent to look at the team’s performance within its home region in 2018 as well. Within the Chinese region, Vici Gaming’s play in 2018 has experience none of the issues and setbacks that its international performance has, as the team continues to be one of the more consistent and strong teams at home. Of its 5 qualifier or qualifying event runs in 2018, the team has earned Top 4 finishes in all of them, including a 1st place run in the top division of the Dota 2 Professional League Season 5 against a field of 12 leading Chinese teams that featured fellow Top 8 ranked squads Newbee, VGJ.Thunder, and PSG.LGD. Vici Gaming’s performance in Chinese qualifiers has been so consistent this season that one would need to look back all the way to September to find one in which the team didn’t place inside of the Top 4. Vici Gaming’s place near the top of the hierarchy in China is fairly clear at this stage, but the team isn’t ready to give up its shot of avoiding its regional rivals entirely just yet, as the squad looks to retain its Top 8 ranking and lock in a direct invite to TI8.

VIci Gaming comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor trying to secure itself a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to TI8. The team can accomplish that goal without any further Qualifying Point earnings in Shanghai, but the team will still be looking to put together a Top 4 finish at the Supermajor to help it secure that direct invite status. Coming into the event, the team is expected to be a significant contender in the field, but fall just short of the mark for a Top 4 finish with a projection in the 5th-6th place range. The Chinese squad has been placed in Group B for the Group Stage of the event, where it will begin its run with a Bo3 series against Evil Geniuses in the Opening Matches. EG’s recent roster changes make it a bit of a wild card coming into this event, but Vici Gaming’s more consistent performance on the Pro Circuit stage will see it enter that series as the favored squad. Should the team defeat EG, then it would advance to the Winners’ Match of Group B, where it will face either VP or TNC Pro Team for a shot at the top seed of of the group. A win there would put Vici Gaming in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, otherwise it would drop to the Decider Match and could end up on either side of the Main Event bracket. Barring any unfortunate mistakes from Vici Gaming or an inspired run from TNC Pro Team or EG’s new lineup, the Chinese squad should end up in the Upper Bracket. If the team wins that first Upper Bracket series, then it would sit just 1 more Bo3 win away from a Top 4 finish. If the team loses that initial series, then it would drop down to the Lower Bracket and would have to win 3 Bo3 series in a row to reach a Top 4 position. Vici Gaming should be able to hold its own in the Group Stage, and will be the favored team in the majority of its potential match ups in the Main Event bracket. However, the biggest hurdle for the team will be bringing down one of the top ranked Pro Circuit teams, which the team will almost certainly have to do in order to secure a Top 4 position. Vici Gaming has proven itself capable of beating those teams in the past, but the Chinese squad doesn’t appear to be at the point where it can be expected to come out on top in those difficult match ups. With that in mind, the team’s expectations have it sitting just outside of the Top 4 in Shanghai, but Vici Gaming would just need 1 big win over one of the Pro Circuit elite to potentially clear its path to success at the final event of the season.

 

VGJ.Thunder 600px-VGJ_201710_logo_notext

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 8th (1935 Qualifying Points)

Roster:
1. 
Liu “Sylar” Jiajun
2. 
Liu “Freeze” Chang
3. 
Zhou “Yang” Haiyang
4. 
Pan “Fade” Yi (Captain)
5. 
Leong “ddc” Fat-meng

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

VGJ.Thunder enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as the team in perhaps the most uncertain position among the field of participants. The team currently stands at the 8th ranked team in the Pro Circuit standings and is in line for a direct invite to TI8, but its hold on that position is tenuous at best heading into the final event of the season. There are quite a few scenarios at this final event of the season that would result in VGJ.Thunder dropping out of its Top 8 position and missing a chance at a direct invite to TI8. The good news for the Chinese squad though is that a Top 4 finish in Shanghai would go a long way towards helping the team retain its current position and lock in a place in Vancouver this summer, and a 1st or 2nd place finish would guarantee it outright. With that goal within its sights, VGJ.Thunder prepares for one last foray on the Pro Circuit stage in front of a hometown crowd in Shanghai.

VGJ.Thunder has spent a fair bit of time away from the Pro Circuit stage compared to some of the other squads competing for a Top 8 position in the Pro Circuit standings, as the Chinese squad’s last event was the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 Minor nearly 2 months ago in Kiev. The team put together a 4-3 record in the Group Stage of the Minor, and defeated Vega Squadron in the Playoff Stage before falling 1-3 to OpTic Gaming in the Finals for a 2nd place finish at the event. That showing in Kiev came as the the latest in a string of solid performance on the Pro Circuit stage for VGJ.Thunder, as the Chinese squad has claimed Top 4 finishes in 3 of its last 4 Pro Circuit appearances. As a whole, 2018 has been a solid period for VGJ.Thunder on the international level, with the team putting together 3 Top 4 finishes across 5 Pro Circuit events. Those results are fairly impressive for the Chinese team, but they may not be enough to get VGJ.Thunder to TI8 depending on how things go at this final event. If the team ends up falling out of the Top 8 and misses out on a direct invite to TI8, then VGJ.Thunder still sits in a favorable position heading into the TI8 China Qualifier. The squad has been a strong and consistent competitor within its home region, as VGJ.Thunder has put together 8 Top 4 finishes in 9 appearances in Pro Circuit qualifiers or qualifying events. Narrowing things down to the time frame since the team’s last Pro Circuit appearances, VGJ.Thunder’s record sits at 2 Top 4 finishes across 3 events. VGJ.Thunder’s strong performance within the Chinese region gives it a strong position to fall back on should it end up having to play through the TI8 China Qualifier, but the team still has a shot at a Top 8 rank and a direct invite to Vancouver, and that will likely be the team’s focus as it makes its way to Shanghai for the Supermajor.

VGJ.Thunder enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor in a precarious position in the Pro Circuit standings, as the team is clinging to the 8th place position. The team still has a chance to hold that ranking without any further Qualifying Point earnings, but the team will be looking to claim a Top 4 finish in Shanghai to bolster its position and give it a better shot at earning a direct invite to TI8. Coming into the event, the Chinese squad is not considered a favorite to claim a Top 4 spot, as VGJ.Thunder is projected to finish in the 9th-12th range in Shanghai. The team will have a tough time in the Group Stage, as the Chinese squad has been placed in Group D with PSG.LGD, OpTic Gaming, and Infamous, and will open its run at the Supermajor with a Bo3 series against a surging OpTic Gaming squad. The 2 teams will enter that initial series about as evenly matched as possible, and if VGJ.Thunder can claim a win over its North American opponent then it would sit just 1 win away from a high seed in the group and a spot in the Upper Bracket. However, a loss would drop the team down to the Losers’ Match, and put VGJ.Thunder in a position where it would have to win 2 Bo3 series in a row to avoid finishing as a low seed and advancing to the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. If the team manages to finish over either PSG.LGD or OpTic Gaming and starts in the Upper Bracket, then it would need to win either 2 or 3 series in order to reach the Top 4. If VGJ.Thunder can’t claim a top seed in Group D, then it would start in the Lower Bracket and would need 4 straight Bo3 wins to claim a Top 4 finish. VGJ.Thunder’s path to success in Shanghai could vary significantly depending upon its performance in the Group Stage of the event. Considering how well PSG.LGD and OpTic Gaming have been playing of late, it seems just a bit too much to expect VGJ.Thunder to come out ahead of those squads, which means the team will more than likely end up in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. From that point, winning 4 straight Bo3 series appears to be a task that may be too daunting to reasonably expect VGJ.Thunder to pull off. Of course, there is a big difference between expectations and potential, and VGJ.Thunder certainly has the skill and experience to find success in Shanghai. 1 or 2 clutch wins for the Chinese squad could always be enough to spark a deep run in the Main Event bracket, but until the team shows that it is locked into that mindset and level of play, expect VGJ.Thunder to fall in the lower half of the standings in Shanghai.

 

Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses

Region: North America

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 11th (1335 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)

Roster: 
1. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
2.
Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan
3.
Gustavs4Magnusson
4.
Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen
5.
Tal “Fly” Aizik (Captain)

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

Evil Geniuses enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a very different team from the one that was announced as an direct invitee back in April. Just a few days ago, the team announced that mid player Clinton “Fear” Loomis and support player and captain Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen were no longer a part of the team. To replace them, the team brought in former OG players Gustav “s4” Magnusson and Tal “Fly” Aizik to reconstitute a star-studded lineup for the North American organization. While the move potentially makes EG a formidable opponent, it also caused the team to forfeit its invite eligibility, as the new look EG will be heading to the TI8 North America Open Qualifiers this summer. With that change, the focus for EG at this final event of the season shifts away from a push for a direct invite to TI8 towards an agenda of testing its new roster in preparation for its Open Qualifier run.

Though the team has essentially entered a new period in its team’s history with its recent roster changes, EG is only a few days removed from its last Pro Circuit appearance at the ESL One Birmingham Major. That performance in Birmingham was an incredibly weak one for EG, as the team lost all 3 of its Group Stage matches to finish in the 10th-12th place position at the event. The Pro Circuit stage has not been particularly kind to the North American squad, as EG was missed the mark for a Top 4 finish in each of its last 3 event appearances. Across 2018 as a whole, EG has participated in 8 Pro Circuit events, but has claimed Top 4 finishes in just 2 of them. To make matters even more concerning for the team, those 2 Top 4 finishes that it did manage to earn both came at Pro Circuit Minors against somewhat less accomplished Pro Circuit squads. With the team’s forfeiting of its invite eligibility though, the international performance for EG becomes a less immediate concern, as the team will have to face down its regional rivals beginning in the TI8 North America Open Qualifier in a few weeks time. EG’s performance within its home region has been significantly better than what we’ve seen from the squad on the international level in 2018. Since the beginning of the year, the team has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in all 3 of its qualifier runs, and has generally retained a position near the top of the regional hierarchy in North American in spite of the rise of squads like OpTic Gaming and VGJ.Storm. There is a significant caveat to consider though when looking at this team’s record either within the North American region or on the international stage, and that is the fact that the team’s roster is significantly than the one that posted those results. Until we see that new roster in action in Shanghai, it will be incredibly difficult to know exactly what to expect from EG in the future.

EG’s roster changes and the subsequent loss of its invite eligibility means that the team won’t be able to benefit from any of the Qualifying Points available at this final event of the season. However, with the team making its first appearance with its new lineup, the North American squad will be looking to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to display the strength of its new roster. Coming into the event, EG isn’t expected to find that success, as the team is projected to finish in the bottom half of the standings with a place in the 9th-12th range. The squad will face a tough first challenge in the Grou Stage of the event, as it will face off against Chinese squad Vici Gaming in the Opening Matches of Group B. With its new roster as of yet unproven on the Pro Circuit stage, the team will enter that initial series as a significant underdog. If EG manages to pull off an upset and defeat Vici Gaming, then it would be just 1 more series win away from a top seed and a place in the Upper Bracket. If the team loses to Vici Gaming as expected though, then it would fall to the Losers’ Match, with just 1 more loss consigning the team to the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. There is a serious possibility that the team’s new lineup comes together perfectly in Shanghai and manages to put together an impressive series of performances in the Group Stage to claim a top seed. However, without any official matches to judge the new EG lineup, it is incredibly difficult to expect success from the team. Unless the team pulls off a near miraculous run in the Group Stage, it will most likely end up in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, where it would need 4 Bo3 victories to claim a Top 4 finish at the event. Once again though, the uncertainty introduced by the team’s new roster additions make it hard to expect positive results from EG. Should the team’s new roster show signs of strength and cohesion early in its run at the Major, then the possibility exists for a deep run through the Main Event. However, if the team doesn’t manage to get off to that kind of strong start, then expect the North American squad to finish in the bottom half of the standings in Shanghai.

 

Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) 668px-Natus_Vincere

Region: CIS

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 13th (1199 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)

Roster: 
1. Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek
2.
Danil “Dendi” Ishutin (Captain)
3.
Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini
4.
Fedor “velheorRusikhin
5.
 IlyaLil Ilyuk

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

Na’Vi comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor with a bit of a different look compared to what we’ve seen so far this season, as the CIS squad underwent some recent roster changes. The team removed Nikola “LeBronDota” Popović from the lineup just a bit over 2 weeks ago, bringing in Fedor “velheorRusikhin to take his place. That roster move forfeited the team’s invite eligibility, bringing it out of the race for a Top 8 spot and a potential direct invite to TI8. Considering the team’s lack of success on the Pro Circuit with its previous lineup, the squad didn’t stand a fantastic chance of earning that direct invite anyway. However, the team’s current situation also means that it cannot be invited to the TI8 CIS Qualifier either, as the team will have to play through the Open Qualifier in a few weeks time. With its path beyond the Pro Circuit season already set, the focus for Na’Vi in Shanghai will likely be to acclimate itself to its new lineup and test itself in a LAN environment at the final Major of the season.

Na’Vi’s appearance in Shanghai for the China Dota 2 Supermajor will be its first Pro Circuit event with its new lineup, with its most recent appearance having come at the EPICENTER XL Major in Moscow back at the beginning of May. Despite playing in front of a hometown crowd, Na’Vi did not have a strong performance at that Major, as the CIS squad posted a 5-8 Group Stage record and finished in the combined last place position of 11th-12th. That poor showing in Moscow epitomized the previous roster’s performance on the international stage, as Na’Vi had seen significant struggles on the Pro Circuit in 2018. Since the beginning of the year, the team had participated in 6 Pro Circuit events, but had only managed to finish inside the Top 4 in 1 of those appearances. With that consistent lack of success on the Pro Circuit stage, the team’s roster change came as an attempt to bring that slide on the international level to an end. However, the loss of the team’s invite eligibility shifts the focus away from the team’s international performance towards its play within its home region, as the squad will have to fight through both the Open Qualifier and the main Regional Qualifiers in order to earn a place in Vancouver. While its play on the international level hasn’t been very impressive, Na’Vi has managed to do a better job within the CIS region in 2018, with 4 Top 4 finishes in 5 qualifier appearances since the beginning of the year. That record paints a more positive picture for Na’Vi in its home region as it prepares for a run through the TI8 CIS Open Qualifiers. Of course, both the team’s record at home and its struggles on the international level become slightly less significant in the wake of its roster changes, as one can never be fully certain of how a team will respond to new members of its lineup. For now, we will have to wait and see how the new-look Na’Vi performs as it heads into the final Pro Circuit event of the season in Shanghai.

Na’vi enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team looking to display its strength on the Pro Circuit stage following its recent roster change. The team’s roster change forfeited its invite eligibility, so the CIS squad will be more focused on building its own momentum and testing its new roster as opposed to finding success at the event. Coming into the Supermajor, Na’Vi isn’t expected to put together a very impressive performance, with the CIS squad projected to finish at the bottom of the standings in the 13th-16th place range. The team is in for a tough challenge in the Group Stage, as Na’Vi has been placed in Group A alongside Team Liquid, Newbee, and Team Spirit. The team will start its run at the event with a Bo3 series against Newbee, in a match up that will feature Na’Vi as a significant underdog. Of course, there is a chance that the team’s new roster manages to turn around its recent struggles and claim a win against the Chinese squad. In that scenario, the team would advance to the Winners’ Match and would need to win just 1 more series to claim a high seed and a spot in the Upper Bracket. However, it appears more likely at this stage that the team loses its initial match up against Newbee, and would then have to win both the Losers’ Match and the Decider Match of the group in order to avoid a low seed and a place in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. As previously mentioned, the team’s new roster could always find a way to turn the team’s issues around and put together an impressive run, but it is always difficult to expect success from a roster that has not yet played together on the Pro Circuit stage. It would take a herculean effort from the CIS squad to end up in the top half of the standings in Group A, and barring a truly impressive display, Na’Vi will more than likely end up starting its run in the Lower Bracket. From that starting point, the team would need to win 4 straight Bo3 series in order to reach a Top 4 finish in Shanghai, a task that seems far too daunting to expect the CIS squad to pull off. There are only 1 or 2 match ups that Na’Vi would be favored in in the first place based upon its recent performance, and the uncertainty of the team’s new roster makes it hard to reasonably expect the team to advance far in the bracket. There is always the possibility that the team’s new roster addition sparks a sudden turnaround in the team’s overall level of play, but until the team shows us that improvement, don’t expect Na’Vi to go very far in Shanghai.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 5th (3150 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 
1. Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung (Captain)
2.
Kam “NaNa” a.k.a “Moon” Boon Seng
3.
Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang
4.
Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong
5.
Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Southeast Asian squad Mineski enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team that is tantalizingly close to securing itself a Top 8 position in the Pro Circuit standings and a direct invite to TI8. Coming into the event, the team stands a mere 22 Qualifying Points short of the mark it needs to lock in that direct invite. Given that position in the standings, there are very few possible scenarios at the Supermajor that would result in the SEA squad falling out of the Top 8 and losing its chance at a direct invite. That being said, the team still has the ability to shut down all of those scenarios should it earn a Top 4 finish at the event, as any of the Qualifying Point amounts up for grabs in Shanghai would push the Southeast Asian squad over the threshold to secure a spot in Vancouver. With the chance to keep its destiny in its own hands, Mineski will likely come in this final event of the season with a strong sense of confidence and determination as it looks to close out its last Pro Circuit appearance with some success in Shanghai.

Mineski has been away from the Pro Circuit stage for an incredibly short span of time, as the team was one of a handful of participants at this event to have competed at the recent ESL One Birmingham Major just a few days ago. The Southeast Asian team put together a solid run in Birmingham, posting a 4-2 record in the Group Stage before losing 0-2 to paiN Gaming in the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Stage to finish just shy of a Top 4 finish with a spot in the 5th-6th place position. That showing in the UK was the most recent in a trio of frustratingly close call for Mineski on the Pro Circuit stage, as the Southeast Asian team has finished in the 5th-6th place position in its last 3 Pro Circuit appearances following its breakthrough victory at the Dota 2 Asia Championships in April. As a whole, 2018 has been a somewhat difficult time for Mineski on the international level, as the team has just 3 Top 4 finishes across 9 Pro Circuit events since the beginning of the year. 1 of those Top 4 finishes was the team’s previously mentioned Major Championship run at the DAC 2018 Major, but its other two Top 4 performances came in Pro Circuit Minors that didn’t quite earn the team as many Qualifying Points as they might have hoped for. On the surface, the team’s performance on the Pro Circuit stage does raise some concerns regarding its level of play. However, a 1st place run along with 3 straight finishes just one position shy of the Top 4 shows that Mineski is still very much capable of competing with the top squads on the Pro Circuit. However, should the worst case scenario occur and Mineski ends up dropping out of the Top 8, then it becomes worth looking at how the team has performed within the Southeast Asian region. The good news for Mineski is that the team’s issues on the international level have not carried over into its regional play, as it remains one of the strongest teams within its home region. Mineski has appeared in 5 Pro Circuit qualifiers in 2018 and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in all of them. That continued strength within the Southeast Asian region sets Mineski up as a favorite should it end up in the TI8 Southeast Asia Qualifier, but the team would much rather avoid its regional rivals by claiming a Top 4 finish in Shanghai and securing a direct invite to TI8.

Mineski comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor on the verge of securing itself a Top 8 ranking and a direct invite to TI8. The team doesn’t technically need any more Qualifying Points to have a shot at that direct invite, but a Top 4 finish in Shanghai would secure the team a place in Vancouver this summer. With that in mind, the team comes into the event expected to contend for a Top 4 position but fall just short of that mark with a projected finish in the 5th-6th place position. The team has been sorted into Group C alongside Team Secret, The Final Tribe, and VGJ.Storm, and will begin its run at the event with a Bo3 series against VGJ.Storm in the Opening Matches. VGJ.Storm has been surging on the international level lately, and Mineski will find itself in for a tough challenge against the North American squad. That being said, Mineski will likely enter that series as a small favorite to win, and a victory against the North American team would put the team just 1 more Bo3 victory away from a high seed in the group standings and a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. However, should the team end up losing that initial series against VGJ.Storm, then the Southeast Asian squad will be put into a rough position as it will drop to the Losers’ Match of Group C. From that point, the team would have to win both that Bo3 series and another Bo3 in the Decider Match in order to avoid a low seed and a spot in the Lower Bracket. The level of competition in Group C will be significant, and Mineski could reasonably end up being placed on either side of the bracket in the Main Event. If things go well for the Southeast Asian squad in the Group Stage and Mineski ends up beginning its run in the Upper Bracket, then it would need to win either 2 or 3 series in order to reach a Top 4 position and secure itself a direct invite. If the team ends up as a low seed in its group and start s in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, then it would need to win 4 straight Bo3 series in order to reach a Top 4 finish and lock in that direct invite status. Considering the team’s strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage over its last few event appearances, Mineski will likely be favored in the majority of its match ups in Shanghai. However, in order to secure a Top 4 finish, the Southeast Asian squad will almost certainly have to face off against a team ranked above it in the Pro Circuit standings. That task has given the team trouble in the past, and while Mineski has the capacity to take a series against one of those squads, expecting a victory in that scenario for the Southeast Asian squad doesn’t appear to be completely reasonable at this stage. If the team can manage to bring down one of those elite squads, then the way will most likely be clear for Mineski to push for a Top 4 finish. However, if the team can’t overcome those Pro Circuit leaders, then it will most likely end up finishing outside of the Top 4 in Shanghai and will have its fate in terms of a direct invite to TI8 dependent on the standings at the final event of the season.

 

OpTic Gaming OpTic_Gaming

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier 3rd Place (Replacement Invite)

Pro Circuit Rank: 9th (1800 Qualifying Points)

Roster:
1.
Per Anders Olsson “Pajkatt” Lille 
2.
Quinn “CC&C” Callahan
3.
Neta “33” Shapira
4.
Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg
5.
PeterppdDager (Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

North American squad OpTic Gaming enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as the beneficiary of some good fortune on the Pro Circuit, as the team had not been included in the original field of participants for this event. Direct invitee OG had undergone significant roster changes that caused the European squad to withdraw from the event, thus leaving a spot in the field open that OpTic Gaming was able to fill. That opportunity has breathed new life in to the North American squad, as it now has a second chance to potentially earn itself a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to TI8 if it can put together a Top 4 finish in Shanghai. Second chances don’t come around all that often in professional Dota 2 world, and OpTic Gaming will be looking to make the most of its extra opportunity to play on the Pro Circuit stage and potentially punch its ticket to Vancouver.

OpTic Gaming is just a few days removed from its last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team participated in the ESL One Birmingham Major just last week in the UK. The team posted a 4-2 record across the Group Stage and the First Place Decider Round to advance to the Semifinals of the Playoff Stage, where it defeated Fnatic 2-1 before falling to VP 0-3 in the Grand Finals for a 2nd place finish at the event. The team’s strong performance in Birmingham has been part of a surge on the Pro Circuit stage for the North American squad, as OpTic Gaming has secured Top 4 finishes in its last 2 events. Those 2 Top 4 finishes have been the only ones that the squad has been able to secure this season, as the teams 4 other Pro Circuit appearances left it short of that mark. Of course, the team picked probably the best time to be trending in a more positive direction, as its late-season surge has it sitting in a position to potentially claim a Top 8 ranking and a direct invite to TI8. While the team will be looking to secure a direct invite to TI8 at this event, the possibility still exists that OpTic Gaming ends up outside of the Top 8 in the standings and has to play through the TI8 North America Qualifier. In that scenario, the team will likely be considered one of the favored teams in the region, as OpTic Gaming has established itself as one of the leading squads in North America. With 11 Top 4 finishes in 12 qualifier appearances, the team has been a dominant force at home that few of its regional rivals have been able to overcome with any degree of consistency. That kind of strong presence within its home region is certainly an asset for OpTic Gaming, but the North American squad still has higher aspirations as it looks to put together one last successful run on the Pro Circuit stage in Shanghai.

OpTic Gaming comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor looking for an opportunity to move into the Top 8 in the standings and secure itself a direct invite to TI8. Coming into the event, the North American squad is expected to end up in the top half of the standings, but miss out on a Top 4 finish with a final position in the 7th-8th place range. The team will start its Group Stage run with a Bo3 series against Chinese squad VGJ.Thunder in the Opening Matches of Group D. The teams will be fairly even heading into that series, but OpTic Gaming will most likely have a small advantage due to its recent success on the Pro Circuit stage. If the team manages to win that first series, then it will end up in the Winners’ Match and face either PSG.LGD or Infamous for a chance at a high seed and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. A loss in that Winners’ Match would drop the team into the Decider Match of Group D where OpTic Gaming would need to win 1 more Bo3 to avoid finishing as a low seed in the group standings and advancing to the Lower Bracket. Depending on the team’s Group Stage performance, it could easily end up on either side of the Main Event bracket, but at this stage it seems slightly more likely that the team manages to emerge from Group D with a high seed and a start in the Upper Bracket. If the team wins its initial Upper Bracket match up, then it would be just 1 more series victory away from a Top 4 finish and a potential direct invite to TI8. If it losses that opening series of the Main Event, then it would drop down to the Lower Bracket and would have to win 3 straight Bo3 series in order to secure a Top 4 position. As previously mentioned, OpTic Gaming could very well find itself as a low seed in Group D, which would have the North American team begin the Main Event in the Lower Bracket. In that scenario, the team would have to win 4 straight Bo3 series in order to reach a Top 4 finish in Shanghai. Even with the team’s recent surge of success on the Pro Circuit stage, winning 4 straight series against a tough field of opponents at this event seems like a significantly difficult task for OpTic Gaming. The team would most likely be favored in its first series or 2 in the Lower Bracket, but eventually would find itself as the underdog as it got within 1 or 2 series of a Top 4 position. With that in mind, it would seem like the team’s chances for success in Shanghai are heavily dependent on it claiming a high seed in Group D and having the safety net of a start in the Upper Bracket. The team certainly has the talent to finish in the top half of the Group D standings, and if the team manages to do so, it could put together a strong enough run in the Main Event to make a push for a Top 4 spot. However, if the team can’t claim that high seed and ends up beginning in the Lower Bracket, the North American squad will likely find itself taken down before it can make the full run to a Top 4 finish in Shanghai.

 

PSG.LGD PSG LGD

Region: China

Qualification: China Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 2nd (6321 Qualifying Points) (Guaranteed TI8 Invite)

Roster:
1. 
Wang “Ame” Chunyu
2. 
Lu “Somnus丶M” a.k.a “Maybe” Yao
3. 
Yang “Chalice” Shenyi
4. 
Xu “Fy” Linsen (Captain)
5. 
Yap “xNova” Jian Wei

Projected Finish: Top 4

PSG.LGD enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as the leading team in China, as the squad sits in 2nd place in the Pro Circuit standings and holds the highest ranking among all Chinese squads. That position has earned the Chinese squad a place among the elite teams in the Dota 2 world, along with a direct invite to TI8 as the only Chinese team currently guaranteed to be in attendance in Vancouver this summer. The path to success has not been easy for PSG.LGD, as the team had to essentially reinvent itself around the half way mark of the season following a string of poor results. In spite of those obstacles, the team enters this final event of the season guaranteed a place in Vancouver this summer, which leaves the team unaffected by the uncertainty and anxiety that some of the other participants in Shanghai may be experiencing.  With the pressure of the Pro Circuit race lifted from its shoulders, PSG.LGD will simply be looking for one last strong performance on home soil to prepare itself for its TI8 run.

PSG.LGD’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage around 2 weeks ago at the MDL Changsha Major, as the team had another opportunity to play in front of a home town crowd. The team put together an unremarkable 5-5 Group Stage record, but proceeded to defeat iG Vitality, TNC Pro Team, Team Secret, Newbee, Vici Gaming, and VGJ.Storm in the Playoff Stage in an incredible run to claim a Major Championship. The team’s 1st place finish in Changsha was the second of back to back Major Championships, as PSG.LGD became only the second team to win multiple Majors this season. 2018 has been a time of relatively consistent success for the team on the international level, as PSG.LGD has earned 4 Top 4 finishes in 5 Pro Circuit appearances since the beginning of the year. With the team guaranteed a place in the field at TI8, PSG.LGD’s record within its home region loses some of its significance, as the team won’t need to compete in any regional qualifiers. However, PSG.LGD’s performance against its regional rivals is still worth mentioning in relation to the team’s consistency as a whole over the second half of the season. The team has participated in 10 qualifiers or qualifying events in 2018, and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in all of them, including 6 1st place finishes. To have such a dominant run both within its home region and on the Pro Circuit stage goes a long way towards instilling further confidence in the team’s abilities and talent as a unit. With a host of successes in China and on the international level, PSG.LGD enters the Supermajor as one of the lite teams in the Dota 2 world and a favorite to find success in Shanghai.

PSG.LGD enters this event as one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world, as well as the highest ranked Chinese team on the Pro Circuit. The team no longer has any need for Qualifying Points, but the Chinese squad will still be looking to put together one last TOp 4 performance on the Pro Circuit stage to further prepare itself for its run at TI8. Coming into the Supermajor, PSG.LGD is a favorite to find success in Shanghai, as the Chinese team is projected to finish within the Top 4 range. The team has been sorted into Group D for the Group Stage of the event, and will begin its run with a Bo3 series against South American squad Infamous. Barring a miracle from the Peruvian squad, PSG.LGD should have few difficulties claiming a win in that series and advancing to the Winners’ Match where it would play either OpTic Gaming or VGJ.Thunder. Either of those 2 squads could potentially pose a threat to PSG.LGD, but the Chinese squad will still more than likely be considered the favorite to win the Winners’ Match and claim the top spot in the Group D standings. Considering the team’s impressive performance on the international level over the last few months, it would take a truly shocking series of mistakes or upsets for PSG.LGD to miss out on earning a high seed and advancing to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. If the team can win its initial series in the Upper Bracket, then PSG.LGD would be just 1 BO3 victory away from securing itself another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage. If the team ends up losing that first Bo3 series, then it would drop down into the Lower Bracket where it would need to win 3 Bo3 series in a row to claim a Top 4 position in the event standings. No matter which path the team ends up on in the bracket of the Main Event, PSG.LGD will be a significant favorite in nearly all of its match ups at the event. Unless the team ends up facing teams like VP, Team Liquid, or Team Secret multiple times in the bracket, there isn’t much that stands to reasonably keep PSG.LGD from earning itself a Top 4 finish. Barring a catastrophic series of mistakes or upsets from its opponents, PSG.LGD should be expected to close out its season with a successful performance on the Pro Circuit stage at the Supermajor.

 

TNC Pro Team Tncproteam

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 17th (495 Qualifying Points)

Roster:
1.
Marc “Raven” Fausto
2. 
Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios
3.
Sam “Sam_H” Hidalgo
4.
Timothy “Tims” Randrup
5. 
Carlo “Kuku” Palad (Captain)

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

For Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team, time is running out on the Pro Circuit as the team prepares for the final Major of the season. The squad has established itself as a leading team within its home region, but hasn’t been able to secure itself that same kind of success on the international level. With Major serving as the final event of the Pro Circuit season, TNC Pro Team is down to its last opportunity to make a significant push for a Top 8 spot and a direct invite to TI8. If the team wants a shot at a guaranteed place in Vancouver it will face quite the challenge in Shanghai, as the team needs to finish in at least 2nd place to even earn enough Qualifying Points to come close to stealing a Top 8 position. It will be a daunting task for the Southeast Asian squad, but TNC Pro Team comes into this final Major of the season looking to prove that it belongs among the Pro Circuit’s elite teams with a successful run in Shanghai.

The last time that TNC Pro Team was seen on the Pro Circuit stage was around 2 weeks ago, when the Southeast Asian squad competed in the MDL Changsha Major. The team managed to put together a 6-4 run in the Group Stage of the Major, but lost back to back series in the Playoff Stage against Mineski and PSG.LGD to finish in the 6th-7th place position at the event. TNC Pro Team has often seen itself in a competitive position in its Pro Circuit appearances, but more often than not ends up falling a bit short of the mark needed for a fully successful run. Out of its 4 Pro Circuit appearances in 2018, the team has earned just 1 Top 4 finish, but has been 1 or 2 rounds away from success twice. Of course, no one gets points for coming close to a Top 4 finish, but the fact that TNC Pro Team is able to at least threaten for those position is better than if it were getting consistently bounced into the lower half of event standings. The question for the team in Shanghai is whether the team can finish in either 1st or 2nd at the event, a feat that it has never managed to pull off at a Pro Circuit Major. The team’s best Major finish came in a 4th place run at the DAC 2018 Major back in April, and it is unclear if the team has the capability to surpass that performance in this final event of the season. Should TNC Pro Team fall short of that needed position, it would almost certainly end up in the TI8 Southeast Asian Qualifier. In that situation, it is prudent to look at the team’s performance within its  home region, as TNC Pro Team has had a much for fruitful run on that front than it has on the international level. Since finalizing its roster at the end of January, the team has participated in 8 Pro Circuit qualifiers and has finished no worse than 3rd in any of them. The downside of that record is that those 8 Top 4 finishes only resulted in 2 Pro Circuit appearances for the team, but the fact that it has been able to consistently compete against its main regional rivals puts it in a fantastic position should it end up in the Regional Qualifier. That being said, the team still has hopes of avoiding that qualifier entirely, but it is going to need to put together an inspired performance in  Shanghai to have a chance at that goal.

TNC Pro Team enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team still holding on to its hopes of earning itself a Top 8 position and a direct invite to TI8. In order to accomplish that task though, the team needs to finish in at least 2nd place at this final event of the season. Coming into the event, the team is not expected to find that level of success in Shanghai, with TNC Pro Team holding a projection within the 13th-16th place range. The team has been placed and Group B for the Group Stage of the event, and will begin its matches in Shanghai with a Bo3 series against Pro Circuit leader Virtus.pro. TNC Pro Team will come into that series as a massive underdog, and it would take a nearly miraculous effort from the Southeast Asian squad to bring down VP. If the team loses that initial series as it is expected to, then it would need to win the Losers’ Match of Group B against either Evil Geniuses or Vici Gaming in order to avoid a low seed in the group standings and a place in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. The Southeast Asian squad always has the potential to put together an impressive Group Stage performance, but expecting the team to come out ahead of either VP or Vici Gaming seems a bit unreasonable based upon the recent play of those teams. With the team most likely to end up as a low seed in Group B, TNC Pro Team should begin its run in the Main Event in the Lower Bracket. In order for the team to reach a Top 4 position at this event, it will need to win 4 straight Bo3 series in the Lower Bracket. However, TNC Pro Team needs a better finish than that in order to keep its chances at a direct invite to TI8 alive, as the team would need to win an additional 2 series and earn a spot in the Grand Finals of the event to earn enough Qualifying Points to potentially push into the Top 8 of the Pro Circuit standings. Having TNC Pro Team win a total of 6 Bo3 series in a row against the field of teams in Shanghai is a scenario that simply is not reasonable to expect from the Southeast Asian squad. That doesn’t mean that a run of that nature isn’t a possibility for TNC Pro Team at this event, as the team has been able to find success on the Pro Circuit stage before. However, such a performance in Shanghai would come as a significant surprise from the Southeast Asian squad, and barring a Cinderella run, the team shouldn’t be expected to finish outside of the lower half of the standings in this final event of the Pro Circuit season.

 

VGJ.Storm VGJ Storm

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 10th (1347 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)

Roster:
1.
Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
2.
Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok
3.
Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu
4.
Arif “MSS” Anwar
5.
Avery “SVG” Silverman (Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

When VGJ.Storm returned to the Dota 2 scene with a new roster last February, there was cautious optimism surrounding it. When the team picked up Roman “Resolut1on”  Fominok in April, that optimism turned into hope and excitement for the team, and the new VGJ.Storm has not disappointed so far. The team has been on a tear both within the North American region and on the international level, and has quickly established itself as one of the leading teams in its home region. Unfortunately, the team’s roster move caused it to forfeit its invite eligibility, which means that VGJ.Storm is destined for a run through the TI8 North America Open Qualifiers regardless of its performance in Shanghai. That being said, the team will still enter the event looking to put together one last solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage to prove to the Dota 2 world that it can compete with some of the world’s best teams.

VGJ.Storm hasn’t been away from the Pro Circuit stage for all that long, as the team’s last event appearance came around 2 weeks ago at the MDL Changsha Major. The team certainly impressed in Changsha, putting together a 6-4 Group Stage record and defeating OG, Team Secret, and Vici Gaming in the Playoff Stage before finally losing to PSG.LGD in the Grand Finals for a 2nd place finish at the Major. The team’s experience on the international level is somewhat limited this season, as the late formation of the team’s current roster caused it to miss out on many earlier opportunities. However, the team has proven itself more than capable of taking advantage of the chances that it has manged to earn, as VGJ.Storm has participated in 2 Pro Circuit events and has finished 1st and 2nd in them. Those back to back Top 4 performances have hopes high for the team heading into this event, but the team’s destination this summer will be the Open Qualifiers no matter how well it performs in Shanghai. Because of that, it becomes a bit more important to look at the team’s performance within its home region to see how it has stacked up against the regional rivals that it will be facing in that qualifier. Since the announcement of the team’s return in February, VGJ.Storm has been an absolute force in North America, participating in 6 Pro Circuit qualifiers and earning 5 Top 4 finishes. Narrowing down that time frame to include just the qualifier appearances since the team acquired Resolut1on, its record shifts to 2 Top 4 finishes in 2 qualifier runs. The team has proven itself more than capable of taking on its regional rivals in North America, and will likely enter the Open Qualifier as a heavily favored squad to earn a spot in the main Regional Qualifier. For now though, the team is focused on putting together one last strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Shanghai to build momentum for itself heading into the qualifiers.

VGJ.Storm has been putting together an impressive run on the Pro Circuit stage over the last few months, and enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as one of the leading teams in the North American region. The squad unfortunately lost its invite eligibility, and as such will be heading into the TI8 North America Open Qualifiers following the conclusion of this event. However, the team will still be looking to put together a strong showing in Shanghai to build up its confidence and momentum heading into that qualifier. Coming into this event, VGJ.Storm is expected to compete for a spot in the top half of the standings, with a projected finish in the 7th-8th place position. The team will start its run in Group C with a tough challenge, as the North American squad will match up against Mineski in the Opening Matches of the Group Stage. Even with the team’s impressive showings on the Pro Circuit at recent events, VGJ.Storm will likely be considered an underdog against Mineski. If the team fails to win that initial series, then it would need to defeat either Team Secret of The Final Tribe in the Losers’ Match and win an additional Bo3 series in the Decider Match in order to claim a high seed in the group standings. If VGJ.Storm manages to defeat Mineski in that opening series though, its path to a high seed in Group C would involve a victory in either the Winners’ Match or the Decider Match. With teams like Mineski and Team Secret in the group alongside VGJ.Storm, the North American squad could easily end up on either side of the bracket in the Main Event of the Supermajor. If the team ends up claiming a high seed and beginning its Main Event run in the Upper Bracket, then it would need to put together either 2 or 3 series victories in order to push itself into a Top 4 position at the event. Given the competition that the team will face in its group though, it seems a bit more likely that the team ends up having to begin its Main Event run in the Lower Bracket. In that scenario, the team would need to win 4 Bo3 series in order to earn itself a Top 4 finish in Shanghai. The North American squad could end up with favorable match ups across 1 or 2 rounds in the Lower Bracket, but beyond that point the team will likely be playing the role of the underdog. With that in mind, VGJ.Storm stands in a position to make a solid run through the bracket of the Main Event, but the North American squad would likely need to put together an unexpected surge to push past the elite teams of the Pro Circuit and secure itself a Top 4 finish. While that kind of push is something that VGJ.Storm certainly seems capable of at this stage in the season, the team is in a situation in which expectations need to be set at a more modest level compared to the potential in Shanghai.

 

Infamous LOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Region: South America

Qualification: South America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 26th (21 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)

Roster:
1. 
Alonso “Kotarō Hayama” León
2. 
Mariano “Papita” Caneda (Captain)
3. 
Steven “StingeR” Vargas
4.
Farith “Matthew” Puente
5. 
Christian “Accel” Cruz

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

The South American region has been an interesting story so far this season, as a multitude of squads have risen and fallen in efforts to emerge as a leading team in the region. Despite the rise of squads like paiN Gaming and the continued presence of SG e-sports, Infamous has remained one of the strongest teams in South America over the course of the Pro Circuit season. The team is one of just 2 South American squads to hold Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit, and was the first South American team to ever earn a Top 4 finish at a Pro Circuit event. Even with those accomplishments under its belt, Infamous will be making a run through the TI8 South America Open Qualifiers this summer, as the team failed to register a roster and therefore never held any invite eligibility. With that in mind, the team enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor with a bit less concern for the Qualifying Points on display or the handful of teams looking for a last second run at a Top 8 ranking. Infamous’s goal in Shanghai will most likely be preparation, as the squad will look to put together a solid showing on the international level to build up confidence and momentum for itself heading into the Open Qualifiers.

Infamous hasn’t been missing from the Pro Circuit stage for all that long, as the South American squad last performed on the international level around 2 weeks ago a the MDL Changsha Major. That Major did not go particularly well for Infamous, as the team posted a disappointing 0-10 record in the Group Stage of the event and failed to advance to the Playoff Stage entirely for a 11th-12th place finish. Rough performances like that have basically epitomized the team’s performance on the international level in 2018, as Infamous has struggled to find success outside of its home region. The team has seen action in 4 Pro Circuit events since the beginning of the year, but has only managed to earn a single Top 4 finish. That lone Top 4 performance came at the GESC: Indonesia Minor, and marked the first Qualifying Points for the South American region as a whole on the Pro Circuit stage. While that accomplishment is certainly impressive, it doesn’t do a whole lot to instill confidence that the team is going to be able to contend with top Pro Circuit squads in Shanghai. Regardless of the team’s performance at this final Major of the season, Infamous will be heading for the TI8 South America Open Qualifiers in a few weeks’ time. With that in mind, it would be prudent to examine how the team has played within its home region in 2018 rather than dwell on its lackluster performance on the international level. Since the beginning of the year, Infamous has been a leading squad within the South American region, making appearances in 11 Pro Circuit qualifiers and finishing within the Top 4 in 8 of them. If one were to narrow that time frame down to the period following the team’s most recent roster change, then the record for Infamous shifts to 1 Top 4 finish in 2 qualifier runs. Even with the team’s roster change, Infamous continues to be a strong presence within its home region, and should come into the TI8 South America Open Qualifier as one of the favorite to earn a spot in the main Regional Qualifiers. Before that though, the team will have one last chance to show its strength on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team will look to put together a solid last showing at the Major in Shanghai.

Infamous comes into the China Dota 2 Supermajor as one of the leading teams within the South American region, but the loss of its invite eligibility means that the team will be headed for the Open Qualifiers after the conclusion of this last Pro Circuit event. That being said, the team is still looking to put together a solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage in an effort to build some form of momentum for itself heading into that Open Qualifier. Prior to the start of the matches in Shanghai, Infamous isn’t expected to find much success, with the South American squad projected to finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position. The team will begin its run at the Major with an incredible challenge, as the team will face off against PSG.LGD in the Opening Matches of Group D. Barring an absolutely miraculous performance from Infamous, the team should end up losing that series fairly convincingly to drop down into the Losers’ Match of the group. At that stage, the team will end up facing either OpTic Gaming or VGJ.Thunder, but the South American squad will most likely be considered an underdog in that match up regardless of its opponent. Unless the team can pull off a surprising upset in that Losers’ Match and win the subsequent Decider Match as well, Infamous will more than likely end up in the bottom half of the Group D standings and advance to the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. At that point, the team would need to win 4 straight Bo3 series in order to earn itself a Top 4 finish at the event, a scenario that appears very nearly impossible based upon the team’s performance on the international level to this point in the season. In fact, the struggling South American squad will most likely have difficulties advancing out of Round 1 of the Lower Bracket with its limited success outside of its home region. There are only a couple of teams in the field at this event that Infamous would match up evenly against, and the team would need to either face one of those squads or pull of a stunning upset win in order to advance any further. All of this is painting a rather bleak picture for Infamous at this event, but by this point in the season we have what feels like a fairly accurate feel for how the team performs on the Pro Circuit stage. While it is always possible that the team hits its stride or tries something new in Shanghai, the expectations for Infamous have to be set as low as possible until the South American team shows the Dota 2 world that it is ready to take that next step forward in terms of its level of play internationally.

 

The Final Tribe The Final Tribe

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster:
1. Pontus “Frost” Frost
2. Adrian “Era” Kryeziu (Captain)
3. Jonas “jonassomfan” Lindholm
4. Axel “Pablo” Källman
5. Simon “Handsken” Haag

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

The Final Tribe enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team that hasn’t really been talked about much on the Pro Circuit. Part of the reason for that is that the team hasn’t been around much to be talked about, as the team’s experience on the Pro Circuit stage is somewhat limited even as it prepares for the final event of the season in Shanghai. The team may have flown under the radar for most of the season, but it enters this final Major with a shot at putting its name out there in the Dota 2 world in the most dramatic of fashions. The Final Tribe still holds its invite eligibility on the Pro Circuit, and as such still has a chance at earning itself a spot in the Top 8 of the standings and secured a direct invite to TI8. In order to do that though, the team is going to have to finish in 2nd place or better in Shanghai, a daunting task for any Pro Circuit squad, let alone one making its first appearance at a Major. That being said, hope springs eternal, and all The Final Tribe would need is one impressive run to take its shot at that direct invite status and a place in Vancouver this summer.

Its been nearly a month since the last time fans got to see The Final Tribe, as the team’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came near the beginning of May at the GESC: Thailand Minor in Bangkok. The team manged to put together a 3-4 record in its Group Stage run at the event, but lost to VGJ.Storm in the Quarterfinals of the Playoff Stage to finish in the 5th-6th place position overall. That position just outside of the Top 4 mirrored The Final Tribe’s sole other appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team also finished in the 5th-6th place position at the GESC: Indonesia Minor back in March. Those 2 Minor appearances have been the team’s only experience on the Pro Circuit stage, but they have not been the team’s only events on the international level in 2018. The team participated in the mixed Europe and CIS Taurora Dota 2 Invitational #1 just 2 weeks ago, although its run at the event ended up being cut short. The team posted a 4-2 overall record in the Group Stage and earned itself a place in the Playoff Stage, but withdrew from the event and ended up surrendering that spot to finish in the 9th-12th place position in the standings. Near misses and withdrawals on the international level don’t exactly inspire a high level on confidence for The Final Tribe heading into this event, but the team has shown flashes of its capabilities across its few international appearances, and the potential is always there for a strong run in Shanghai. Should the team end up falling short of its goal though, it will most likely end up with an invite to the TI8 Europe Qualifier, which makes its performance within its home region an important point to consider for the squad. Luckily, The Final Tribe has had a significantly better experience on the home front than it has on the international level, as the team has been able to establish itself as a strong contender in Europe, excluding the European squad already guaranteed a direct invite to TI8 (Team Liquid, Team Secret). In 2018, The Final Tribe has appeared in 8 Pro Circuit qualifiers and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in 7 of them, including the one that qualified the team for this final Major of the season. Its a fairly impressive record to be sure, and it is supplement by a strong result in the European region outside of the Pro Circuit as well, as The Final Tribe also earned a 1st place finish in the joinDOTA League Season 12 Europe in April. Those strong showings within its home region have The Final Tribe sitting in a favorable position if it should end up in that qualifier. However, the Swedish squad hasn’t given up on its shot at a direct invite just yet, as it hopes to put together an impressive run in Shanghai to potentially snag a Top 8 ranking.

The Final Tribe enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor with one last opportunity to make a push for a Top 8 spot in the Pro Circuit standings and a potential direct invite to TI8. The team needs to finish in either 1st or 2nd to even have a shot at a direct invite, although the Swedish squad has never finished inside of the Top 4 at a Pro Circuit event. Coming into the Supermajor, the team is not expected to find much success, as The Final Tribe is predicted to finish at the bottom of the event standings with a projection in the 13th-16th place range. The team will be in for quite the challenge to begin its Group Stage run, as the team will face fellow European squad Team Secret in the Opening Matches of Group C. An upset is always possible in this scenario, but The Final Tribe will enter that series as a massive underdog and would need a monumental effort to sneak a victory over its opponent. If the team ends up losing that initial series, then it would face either Mineski or VGJ.Storm in the Losers’ Match in another match up that would heavily favor its opponent. From that point, the team would need to win that Losers’ Match and the subsequent Decider Match in order to avoid earning a low seed in Group C and a spot in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. With every other team in its group seeming to hold an advantage over The Final Tribe, it is incredibly difficult to expect the team to beat out 2 of those 3 teams to claim a high seed in the Group Stage. With that in mind, the team is most likely to advance to the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, where it would need to win 4 Bo3 series in a row to put itself into the Top 4 in the event standings. The problem for The Final Tribe is that it needs to finish even higher than that in order to keep its direct invite hopes alive. The Swedish squad needs to make it all the way to the Grand Finals of the Supermajor in order to earn enough Qualifying Points to potentially crack the Top 8 in the standings, which means that the team would need to win 2 additional Bo3 series in the Lower Bracket. Winning 6 straight series in Shanghai is simply not a scenario that anyone can reasonably expect from The Final Tribe, though the potential for a miracle run from the team is technically a possibility. Given the team’s limited experience and lack of success on the international level, it is hard to see The Final Tribe finding its way out of the bottom section of the standings at this event. There’s always the possibility that the team manages to spark an incredible run at the event, but without any hard evidence of the team’s ability to find success on the Pro Circuit stage, the expectations have to set as low as possible for the Swedish squad in Shanghai.

 

Team Spirit 536px-Team_Spirit_2016

Region: CIS

Qualification: CIS Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points) (Ineligible for TI8 Invites)

Roster:
1. Ilya “Illidan” Pivcaev
2. Sergey Alexandrovich “G” a.k.a “God” Bragin
3. Alexander “DkPhobos” Kucheria
4. Malthe “Biver” Winther
5. Artsiom “fng” Barshack (Captain)

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

Team Spirit enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team that has managed to keep itself in the mix within the CIS scene to this point in the season. The team has presented itself as a solid contender within its home region, but unfortunately does not currently hold its invite eligibility on the Pro Circuit and will be heading for the TI8 CIS Open Qualifier beginning just a few weeks from now. With that in mind, the team will come into this final event of the season with little regard for Qualifying Points or its position within the Pro Circuit standings, as nothing in Shanghai will ultimately change the team’s destination this summer. That doesn’t mean that the team won’t be looking for success at the Supermajor though, as a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to close out its season would give Team Spirit a valuable boost in its confidence and momentum heading into that TI8 CIS Open Qualifier.

Team Spirit’s last performance on the Pro Circuit stage came just a few short days ago at the ESL One Birmingham Major in the UK. The team managed to put together a 3-3 record in the Group Stage of the event, but lost to Fnatic 1-2 in the Decider Match of Group A to miss out on a spot in the Playoff Stage with a 7th-9th place finish overall. That showing in Birmingham was actually the team’s first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, but its wasn’t Team Spirit’s first time playing on the international level this season. The team participated in the Galaxy Battles II event back in January in an event that was meant to have been the team’s Pro Circuit debut prior to Valve removing its status as a Major. The CIS squad put together a strong performance at the event, notching wins over TNC Pro Team, paiN Gaming, and OG but losing twice to VGJ.Thunder to finish in 3rd place overall. Aside from those 2 events, Team Spirit doesn’t have any other experience outside of its home region, which doesn’t instill a high level of confidence in the team coming into the Supermajor. Of course, the fact that the team will be playing through the Open Qualifiers makes its international performance a bit less important for the team’s immediate future. In terms of the team’s play within the CIS region, Team Spirit has been able to find far more success than it has on the international level. Since the beginning of the year, the team has participated in 11 Pro Circuit qualifiers and has managed to earn Top 4 finishes across 9 of them. That record against its regional rivals is already fairly impressive, but Team Spirit’s results get even better when one narrows down the time frame to just the period since the team’s most recent roster change. When taking that into account, the team’s record shifts to 5 Top 4 finishes in 5 qualifier appearances, including the 1st place run that qualified Team Spirit for this final Major of the season. With that strong record within the CIS region, Team Spirit will be a heavily favored team in the TI8 CIS Open Qualifier, but the team still has one last chance to impress on the Pro Circuit stage in Shanghai and show that it can translate its regional success into results on the international level.

Team Spirit enters the China Dota 2 Supermajor as a team that has already lost its invite eligibility, as the CIS squad will be heading for the Open Qualifiers after the conclusion of this event. However, the team will still be looking to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in an effort to build up confidence and momentum for itself in preparation for that qualifier run. Unfortunately, Team Spirit isn’t particularly expected to find success in Shanghai, as the CIS squad comes into the Supermajor with a projected finish in the bottom half of the standings in the 9th-12th place range. The team will begin its Group Stage run with a Bo3 match up against the defending TI Champion in Team Liquid as part of the Opening Matches of Group A. The CIS squad could always technically pull off an upset, but Team Spirit will be a significant underdog in that series and can’t really be expected to bring down the TI7 Champion. Should the team end up losing that match, then it would face either Newbee or Na’Vi in the Losers’ Match of Group A where it would need a win to avoid finishing the Group Stage as a low seed. If the team survives that series, then it would need to win an additional series in the Decider Match in order to earn a position as a high seed in the group. Both Newbee and Na’Vi have had their own issues over the past few months on the Pro Circuit stage, and Team Spirit is more than capable of claiming wins against those teams if they continue to struggle in Shanghai. If the CIS squad ends up finishing as a high seed in Group A, then it would advance to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, where it would have 2 paths to a Top 4 finish. If the team wins its initial Upper Bracket series, then it would be just 1 more series win away from a Top 4 position. However, if Team Spirit loses that first Upper Bracket series, then it would fall into the Lower Bracket and would need to win 3 straight series in order to reach the Top 4. No matter what opponent Team Spirit would face in the Upper Bracket, the CIS squad would almost certainly be considered the underdog and would be expected to lose its series. The only scenario in which the team would likely be favored in its series is if it ends up as a low seed in the Group A standings and actually begins its run at the Main Event in the Lower Bracket. Round 1 of the Lower Bracket would be likely to give Team Spirit a favorable match up, but beyond that point the team would either be considered even with its opponent or would be expected to lose. None of those scenarios present overly encouraging situations for Team Spirit, but it’s hard to predict success for a team with such limited experience on the Pro Circuit stage. The potential for a strong run is there for Team Spirit, especially if it can take advantage of the struggles of some of its group mates and earn a high seed in Group A, but until the team shows us some strong signs early, expect Team Spirit to finish in the bottom half of the standings in Shanghai.

 

 

 

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