Returning leaders and new hopefuls alike look to stamp their mark on a new-look South American region with 2 spots in Kuala Lumpur up for grabs.
The offseason is officially coming to an end in the Dota 2 world, and fans the world over once more prepare for the high stakes action of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit. After the conclusion of the Open Qualifiers for all 6 regions, the main regional qualifiers for the Kuala Lumpur Major are now underway. Following the beginning of the China Qualifier, and the upcoming CIS qualifier, the South American region will get things started on the 16th as the final region in the first group of regional qualifiers. With many teams sporting new lineups and a couple of completely new organizations altogether in the field, the time has come to provide a brief breakdown of the teams and where they stand in terms of their relative strength in this first qualifier of the 2018-2019 season.
Just as with all of the other regions, the South America Qualifier has built up its field of 8 teams from a mixture of 4 directly invited squads and 4 Open Qualifier teams. The 8 teams in the South America Qualifier will be competing for 2 spots at the Major in November, and will also be fighting for the chance to establish themselves early in the season as a leader within a South American region that looks drastically different from what we saw last season. Of course, every team that plays in this qualifier has a chance of making it to the Major, no matter how small that chance may be. This post is not going to be about counting any particular team out before play has even begun. However, I will instead be dividing the 8 teams into groups, depending on their projected strength and expectations, as well as their potential ability to claim 1 of the 2 Major spots up for grabs in this qualifier.
These squads are the elite of the group, comprised mostly of squads that were contenders or leaders in the region last season or at TI8 and kept their rosters entirely or largely intact through the offseason shuffle. These are the teams that will likely be considered as favorite regardless of the match up that they face, and if a team in this section does not earn itself a place at the Major, then it will come as a bit more of a shock and a disappointment compared to the other squads in the field.
This one’s a pretty easy decision to make, as the team formerly known as paiN Gaming was the sole representative of the South American region at TI8, and 1 of the only South American teams to earn Qualifying Points on the Pro Circuit last season. The team made only a single change to its roster over the offseason, shifting MISERY from the coaching role into an active position. Aside from that, the team’s only change was leaving the paiN Gaming organization, and that relative consistency keeps S.K.O.L. as one of the heavy hitters in this regional qualifier. The team has everything that it needs to succeed in South America this season: star players, veteran experience, and a track record of success within the region as well as exposure on the international level. With 2 slots for The Kuala Lumpur Major on the line in this qualifier, it would be incredibly shocking to see this squad stumble and miss out on attending the first Major of the new season.
The squads in this section are the ones that fall just a small step below the favorites in terms of their skill, level of success, or perceived strength of their lineup. These are the teams that could fairly easily claim 1 of the 2 spots up for grabs in this tournament, but aren’t necessarily expected to win out over the entire field. These teams will likely be right at the cusp of success in this qualifier, and are the ones that seem most probable to be the squad that ends up 1 match or 1 series short of a spot in Kuala Lumpur.
Ravindu “Ritsu” Kodippili
Quinn “CC&C” Callahan
Adriano de Paula “4dr”Machado
Francis “FrancisLee” Lee
In case you are someone who hasn’t been keeping up with the South American region during the offseason (or hasn’t been reading this blog, shame on you), paiN Gaming is not the same team that made the region’s sole appearance at TI8. The organization’s previous lineup left, and this current iteration of the roster was announced just a few days ago. The paiN Gaming organization has opted to take a bit of a risk this season, fielding a lineup featuring a mix of North and South American players. The results are a fairly talented lineup, although there are some concerns for this squad heading into the qualifier despite the talent on their lineup. 4dr and Liposa will be playing away from their usual positions, as the former is playing as the team’s Offlaner rather than its Midlaner, while the latter has been moved from the Offlane to a Support role. Shifting roles is never a cut-and-dry affair for a professional player, and there will almost assuredly be some adjustments that will need to be made for this team. However, the new paiN Gaming roster is hoping that its significant talent and experience will help it overcome any initial difficulties in this qualifier and put together a strong enough run to secure a spot in Kuala Lumpur.
Enzo “Timado” Gianoli
Mariano “Papita” Caneda
Adrian“Wisper” Cespedes Dobles
Farith “Matthew” Puente
Joel “MoOz” Mori Ozambela
The story for Infamous this offseason was the return of the prodigal son, as Timado made his way back to the South American region and his former team after spending some time in Europe and North America last season. While that was the biggest news for Infamous in the last few months, it wasn’t the only news, as the team also brought in 2 other new players in Wisper and MoOz. Timado’s talent is something that just about everyone in the international community has witnessed over the last year or 2, but the other additions to this Infamous roster do not have the same kind of reputation. Wisper and MoOz are largely unproven in the South American region, and their level of play on the professional level will be a major indicator of just where the potential lies for Infamous this season. For this initial regional qualifier, the more experienced trio of Timado, Papita, and Mathew can likely carry Infamous to a place in The Kuala Lumpur Major, but moving forward, the young additions to the squad will have to develop quickly and show off their improvement in a significant way if Infamous wants to emerge as a leader within the South American region.
The “Maybe, ifs..”
This section is where we start to get into some particularly interesting scenarios, as we take a look at some of the squads like somewhat lower expectations for this qualifier. These squads are more than capable of putting on a good show and taking 1 of the 2 spots for the CIS region at the Major, but they more than likely will need a little bit of help to get there. Whether its a favorable group, a particularly beneficial match up, or the opportunity to avoid playing one of the stronger teams, these squads are the ones that might just need a little outside help to claim a place in Kuala Lumpur.
Alonso “Minoz” a.k.a. “Kotarō Hayama” León
Leonardo “LeoStyle-” Sifuentes
Abraham “Kingteka” Canez
Steven “StingeR” Vargas
Christian “Accel” Cruz
The formation of Braxstone was somewhat overlooked within the Dota 2 scene, largely due to the fact that the team’s official announcement came while TI8 was still ongoing, and so the majority of the attention from fans was rightfully directed elsewhere. However, the roster that Braxstone has been able to put together is nothing to scoff at, as the all-Peruvian lineup features some of the most experienced players in the South American region. All of them have found success in their home region in the past, and nearly all of them also have experience playing on the international level as well. That experience gives Braxstone an immediate advantage against some of the newly changed teams in the field for this qualifier, but the team is not without its own areas of concern coming into this event. The team has had more time than some of its regional rivals to adjust to its new roster, but we have still yet to see this team play in anything outside of regional qualifiers and small-time tournaments. There is a potential scenario in which this team is not fully adjusted to its new lineup or has not established the team chemistry it needs to overcome some of the stronger squads in the field in this qualifier. That scenario seems a bit unlikely, but until we actually see this team in action against top level competition in the region, the doubts and questions will linger around this Braxstone lineup.
Jeremy “Jeimari” Aguinaga
Juan “Atun” Ochoa
Jose “Sword” Nicosia
Elvis “Scofield” De La Cruz
Sergio “Prada” Toribio
Thunder Predator was one of hte few squads in the South American region to make only minor changes to its lineup, as the all-Peruvian squad made just a single alteration in adding Sword to the roster this offseason. Under normal circumstances, a team keeping its roster relatively consistent through the offseason would put it in a stronger position heading into this qualifier, but Thunder Predator are not quite in a normal situation. The last time this squad was seen on a notable stage was at the TI8 South America Qualifier, where is was disqualified from the event. That kind of scenarios sticks with a team for a while, and for Thunder Predator there is a chance that the carry over from that disqualification has an effect on the team’s play in this first Pro Circuit qualifier of the season. The good news for the team is that its roster has a fair bit of talent to work with, and a decent level of experience within the South American region as well. The big “ifs” for this team as it prepares for the closed regional qualifier will be if Sword can fully acclimate himself to his new team, and if Thunder Predator can put its past mistakes behind it and put together a stronger performance to kick start its Pro Circuit campaign.
Gabriel “Rayuur” Pinheiro (Carry)
Pedro “Sooths” Luiz (Mid)
Danilo “Arms” Silva (Offlane)
Kaue “Cys” Camuci (Support)
Emilano “c4t” Ito (Support)
WP Gaming comes into this qualifier with a rather impressive lineup on its side, with a quintet of players with a fair bit of regional experience under their belt. At first glance, that experience would make WP Gaming one of the more formidable squads in the field for this qualifier, but the new team isn’t quite set for a clear path to success just yet. Like many of the teams in this qualifier, WP Gaming doesn’t have a whole lot of experience together outside of scrimmages and Open Qualifier runs, which makes it hard to estimate their level of consistency going up against some of the strongest squads in their home region. Individual talent and experience is often enough to help a team power its way through the Open QUalifiers, but in the closed qualifier stage, WP Gaming is going to have to prove that it is capable of playing and executing as a team to a degree that we simply haven’t seen yet. Given the fact that most of the WP Gaming players have a few years of experience under their belts, and a few of them are already somewhat familiar with each other, this shouldn’t be too big a concern for the squad. However, until we see WP Gaming in action against top level competition in South America, some of these concerns will remain going into the Pro Circuit season.
The Long Shots
In this final section, we find the squads that have very little in terms of expectations for this qualifier. These are the underdogs, the Cinderella stories, and the teams that would frankly send shock waves through the regional scene should they manage to claim a spot at the Major. These are the squads that many have probably already counted out of the fight for a place in Kuala Lumpur, but we’ve seen underdog stories and unbelievable runs before, and these teams will be hoping to add their names to the list of squads that have shocked the Dota 2 world.
Alexis “Greedy” Ventura
Alexis “Sl4d1n” Cepeda
Álex “Masoku” Dávila
Gorillaz-Pride is an organization that has been around in the South American region for some time now, but the team across all of its various iterations has never been able to rise above a status as a minor squad in the lower levels of the regional hierarchy. With a few more notable names on the roster this season, there is some hope that this version of Gorillaz-Pride will finally be able to take the organization to new heights and achieve its long awaited breakthrough in the South American region. However, there are quite a few questions for this team before we can start looking at the team as a true contender in South America. First and foremost is the team’s Carry and Midlaner, as ChuCkyKnow and Renzo have fairly limited experience playing top level Dota in the region, and are essentially unknown on the international level. Greedy, Sl4d1n, and Masoku have the benefit of more experience within the region, and that trio will be relied upon heavily if this squad wants to have any chance at finding success in the qualifier. However, those more experienced players can only take the team so far by themselves, and for Gorillaz-Pride to have a true shot at claiming a spot in Kuala Lumpur, it is going to need standout performances from ChuCkyKnow and Renzo. It is fully possible that the duo steps up and puts on an impressive show in this qualifier, but at the moment neither player has enough of a track record there to feel fully comfortable expecting those clutch kind of performances right away.
Javier “Teckla8” Peña
Henry “murd0c” Almeira
John “Dashka” Kether
Lucas “Hyko” Oliveira
Heitor “Duster” Pereira
I’ll say it here only because I am fairly sure that I will not be the only one to do so, this squad is essentially playing under the nickname “Duster’s Team”. The reason for that is because the Support player is pretty much the only name on the roster of Astini777 that you’ve probably heard of before, unless you are unbelievably deep into the South American scene this season. Following his departure from the now former paiN Gaming roster, Duster opted to put together his own squad, and the results of that move are a team that presents itself as perhaps the biggest “wild card” of the field for this South America Qualifier. Here’s the thing though, a “wild card” is usually referred to as such specifically because it’s performance cannot be perfectly estimated or assumed. In the Dota 2 world, unpredictability is often viewed in a negative light, and for Astini777 that tradition will continue to hold up. The potential of this squad could be high, and it could be that Duster has found himself 4 up-and-coming talents that can become a true contender within the South American region. However, potential and possibility are not factors that one can count on reliably, and without any significant previous experience for these relatively new and unknown players, it’s hard to put much confidence in the squad amidst a field containing some of the strongest teams in the region. For Astini777, this qualifier presents a classic case of keeping one’s hopes high, but expectations low, as the new squad looks to introduce itself to the South American region and the international scene with a strong performance to begin its Pro Circuit campaign.