A duo of familiar names and a new addition in the Chinese scene round out the region’s 3 representatives for the Kuala Lumpur Major as PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Team Aster secure their spots.
The first teams in the field for The Kuala Lumpur Major have been decided, as 3 Chinese squads have managed to fight their way past their regional rivals to claim spots at the first event of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season. 8 teams began this qualifier looking for a chance to represent their home region at the first Major of the season, but only 3 of them have managed to make the cut. PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Team Aster will be the 3 Chinese squads to play in Kuala Lumpur this November, but we should take a closer look at how those 3 squads reached this position, and how well the other squads in this regional final performed too. Similarly to the preview post for this qualifier, we will be breaking the teams up into groups, although this time around the groups will be based upon the final standings of the qualifier.
Top 3 (Qualified for The Kuala Lumpur Major)
Record: 12-8 (5-3 Group Stage,7-4 Playoffs)
PSG.LGD entered this qualifier as the only team on the list of “favorites” in my preview post that were expected to earn themselves a spot at the Major, and the Chinese powerhouse showed just why in an impressive follow up to its 2nd place run at TI8. The team looked solid in the Group Stage, trouncing EHOME in its first series before suffering a few minor stumbles in its next 2 series that included a 1-2 loss to Newbee and a 2-1 win in a rematch with EHOME. There were some concerns following the team’s 2 losses to Newbee, as PSG.LGD had lost control of significant late-game leads in both matches. However, the squad was able to put those concerns to rest in the Playoffs with a hard fought 2-0 win over Team Aster to secure its place at the Major. The team’s Upper Bracket Finals series against Vici Gaming resulted in a 1-2 loss for the team, but PSG.LGD was able to bounce back with a 2-1 victory over Team Aster before claiming revenge in the Grand Finals by defeating Vici Gaming 2-1 to finish in 1st place in the qualifier. PSG.LGD was far from flawless in this qualifier, but it was able to get the job done and appears to be shaking off any lingering rust from the offseason. There doesn’t seem to be any significant areas of concern for the team heading into what will be its first Major appearance of the season in November.
Record: 10-7 (5-4 Group Stage, 5-3 Playoffs)
Vici Gaming introduced its new roster with an impressive display in the first qualifier of the Pro Circuit season, securing itself a place in Kuala Lumpur this November. The team’s Group Stage performance displayed an impressive level of fortitude and grit from the new roster, as the squad bounced back from a 1-2 loss to Team Aster in its opening series to win back to back 2-1 series against Royal Never Give Up and Team Serenity to secure an Upper Bracket spot in the Playoffs. From there, a 2-0 demolishing of Newbee propelled the squad into a guaranteed place at the Major, and silenced some of the initial doubts regarding this new lineup. With its place at the Major secured, the team turned its attention to furthering its position in the Chinese region, claiming an impressive 2-1 win over PSG.LGD in the Upper Bracket Finals before falling 1-2 in a rematch in the Grand Finals. In my preview post, I mentioned that Vici Gaming would likely need leading performacnes from Ori and Paparazi灬, bounce back showing from Fade and Yang, and a solid debut from Dy to finish in the top 3, and the team ended up getting all 3 in this qualifier. Ori and Paparazi灬 combined for an average stat line of 16.88 kills and 22.24 assists with just 7.70 deaths per game across the team’s matches, Yang and Fade were able to provide relatively consistent contributions in terms of the squad’s team fight powers, and Dy was able to hold his own with a pool of control and team fight oriented heroes, most notably Silencer (4 matches). The requirements for success were numerous for Vici Gaming, but the squad proved that its new lineup can come through when it counts, and the team’s strong play will be rewarded with a place among the Dota 2 world’s elite squads at The Kuala Lumpur Major.
Record: 9-7 (4-2 Group Stage, 5-5 Playoffs)
The hype surrounding Team Aster heading into this qualifier was certainly high, and because of that the expectations for the squad proved high as well, but the recently formed squad managed to live up to those expectations and delivered an impressive performance to start its Pro Circuit season. The team began its qualifier run with a 2-1 series victory against Vici Gaming, dropping Game 1 but coming back with wins in Games 2 and 3 thanks to huge performances from Sylar, Dstones, and BoBoKa. The team followed up that opener with another 2-1 victory over Team Serenity, with Dstones once again putting together solid showings with 32 kills across the 3 games. A 0-2 loss to PSG.LGD in the Upper Bracket was the first setback for the squad in the Playoffs, but Team Aster was able to quickly bounce back with a dominant 2-0 win over Royal Never Give Up and another 2-1 victory in a rematch against Team Serenity. A 1-2 loss to PSG.LGD in the Lower Bracket Finals finally ended Team Aster’s run in the qualifier, but by that point the team had already secured its place at the Major. Overall, Team Aster exceeded any reasonable expectations that had been set prior to the start of this qualifier, convincingly defeating the weaker teams in the field while going toe-to-toe with some of the region’s more established powers. The team’s trial player, Dstones, proved to be one of its most consistent and significant contributors in this qualifier, averaging 7.13 kills, 4.75 deaths, and 11.5 kills per game. We shall have to see how well Dstone’s performance carries over in a LAN environment at the Major, but for now Team Aster looks to be one of the leading to teams in China to begin the Pro Circuit season.
Record: 8-9 (3-5 Group Stage, 5-4 Playoffs)
There was more than a little bit of anticipation to see Team Serenity in its first official action of the new Pro Circuit season. After keeping its roster consistent through the offseason, many fans were wondering just how well the squad would perform in this qualifier, and whether the team’s run to qualify for TI8 was a one-off performance or if it could be a consistent contender within the Chinese region. Early on, it appeared that the team was off to a strong start, as it claimed a 2-1 win over Royal Never Give Up that was marred slightly by the squad giving up a late-game comeback to their opponent in Game 2 of the series. Back to back 1-2 losses to Team Aster and Vici Gaming put Team Serenity in the Lower Bracket to start the Playoffs, but the squad was able to bounce back quickly after those tough losses. The squad took down DeathBringer Gaming 2-1, and followed up that performance with another 2-1 victory over Newbee before finally falling to Team Aster 1-2 in Round 3. The team’s Mid/Carry duo of zhizhizhi and Zyd put together strong showings across those 3 Playoff series, averaging a combined 13 kills per game. However, it was Support player XinQ who stole the show for the squad, putting together an average of 5 kills, 4.22 deaths, and 10.22 assists in the Playoffs while playing 8 different heroes across 9 matches. Despite finishing in 4th in a qualifier with 3 qualifying spots, Team Serenity appears to have proven that its run to reach TI8 was not no fluke, as it came just a single win away from earning a spot at the first Major of the 2018-2019 season. Expect Team Serenity to continue being one of the more significant forces within the Chinese region as this new Pro Circuit season develops.
Record: 5-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
Newbee entered The Kuala Lumpur China Qualifier in a relatively solid position in terms of expectations, but the squad’s recent roster changes had many anxious to see how well the team would play in its first action of the Pro Circuit season. Newbee managed to get off to an incredibly strong start in the Group Stage, taking a 2-1 win over DeathBringer Gaming before claiming a hard fought 2-1 win over PSG.LGD as well to finish at the top of the standings in Group B. Sccc and Moogy were their typically selves with dominant performances across the team’s matches, but the impressive showings from Newbee were the relatively consistent contributions from new additions Inflame and Catyou. The team’s newest Support player averaged just under 15 assists with less than 7 deaths per game in this qualifier, and Inflame was able to put together a solid line of 4.91 kills, 5.73 deaths, and 12.45 assists per game. Unfortunately, the transition from the Group Stage to the Playoffs seemed to kill any momentum that Newbee had built up, as the squad was simply decimated by Vici Gaming in a 0-2 loss in which Newbee were out killed by a total score of 18-51. The team’s subsequent Lower Bracket series against Team Serenity went slightly better, but not by much as the squad lost 1-2 to end its qualifier run. Newbee seemed to struggle in that series as well, with its sole win across the 3 games requiring a significant comeback effort in the late-game stage. While the squad’s collapse in the Playoffs is a big cause for concern moving forward, it is encouraging to see that the squad’s lineup seems to be coming together early in the season. Should Newbee manage to improve upon its solid showing in this qualifier, then it shouldn’t have too many issues keeping itself in the competitive mix in the Chinese regional hierarchy.
Royal Never Give Up
Record: 4-6 (2-4 Group Stage, 2-2 Playoffs)
Coming into this qualifier, expectations weren’t exactly sky high for Royal Never Give Up, although the recently formed squad was able to put together a relatively solid performance in its first Pro Circuit closed qualifier. The team did not get off to an overly impressive start in the Group Stage, as it lost both of its series against Team Serenity and Vici Gaming and finished at the bottom of the Group A standings. The encouraging news for the team was that it was at least able to claim 1 win in each of those initial series and force full 3 game series before going down. In the first round of the Playoffs, we got a glimpse of this team’s level of resiliency and focus, as it pulled off back to back comeback victories against EHOME to claim a 2-0 win in the series. Monet led the charge for the team in that series, putting together exactly the kind of performance that Royal Never Give Up needed with a combined stat line of 30-8-23 in the series. Unfortunately, any sense of momentum for the team was shattered in the next round, as Royal Never Give Up was crushed by Team Aster for a rough 0-2 series that ended its qualifier run. While the team finished in the lower half of the standings, we did see some strong signs of what this roster can do moving forward through the rest of the Pro Circuit season. The core trio of Monet, Setsu, and Srf showed that they are capable of putting together the kind of flashy, high impact performances that the squad will need in order to find success, though the team will need to work on finding those performances with a bit more consistency. Overall, the team put together a solid debut on the Pro Circuit, but there’s still a whole lot of work that needs to be done before this squad is a true contender in the Chinese region.
Record: 2-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
It wasn’t the most auspicious start to the season for the newly formed DeathBringer Gaming, as the squad finished at the bottom of the standings and came away with the fewest total wins across the entire qualifier. The team started out alright with a win over Newbee to start its first series, but was quickly trounced in back to back brutal losses to lose the series 1-2 overall. After that, things only got worse, as the team was demolished 0-2 by EHOME before losing in the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs 1-2 against Team Serenity. In my preview post for this qualifier, I stated that DeathBringer Gaming’s potential success would ride on 2 factors: whether Freeze and LaNm could lead from the front with strong performances, and whether those performances could enable consistent contributions from the rest of the roster. While the team was able to put together a couple of solid showings, consistency was the most significant issue for EHOME, as it essentially didn’t have any in this qualifier. The good news for the team is that we got to see a couple of strong performances from its individual players, but DeathBringer Gaming’s roster doesn’t appear to be entirely on the same page just yet in terms of its team cohesion. Of course, the fact that this team only officially formed around a week ago meant that this lack of consistency and cohesion was not entirely unexpected. However, it makes for a somewhat disappointing start to the season for the squad, and DeathBringer Gaming will need to regroup and bounce back quickly if it wants to hold on to its hopes of being a contender in China this season.
Record: 3-5 (3-4 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
EHOME’s Pro Circuit season debut was not exactly a triumph, with the squad finishing at the bottom of the standings in The Kuala Lumpur Major China Qualifier. The good news for the team and its new roster was that we saw a few flashes of just how dangerous this team had the potential to be this season. Unfortunately, that little nugget of positivity is buried under the mountain of concern regarding the squad’s wildly inconsistent level of play. The team began its run at the Qualifier by getting absolutely run out of the server in a massively one sided 0-2 loss to PSG.LGD, but immediately turned things around with a 2-0 win over DeathBringer Gaming in just 52 minutes of total game-time. With a 1-2 loss to PSG.LGD in its final Group Stage series, EHOME looked to at least be building up momentum and trending in the right direction heading into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs. However, that apparent momentum quickly abandoned the squad as it was taken down 0-2 by a less than impressive Royal Never Give Up squad in the first round. A team that struggles to hold its own in the mid and late-game stages is bound to have significant difficulties on the Pro Circuit, and EHOME most certainly appeared to have issues keeping its composure beyond the early stages of its matches. The team’s somewhat poor showing in this qualifier may not have been the start that it was hoping for, but EHOME showed some small indicators of its potential this season, and it now has a bit of a firmer grasp on what areas it will need to shore up and improve upon moving forward on the Pro Circuit.