Last season’s leaders joined by new blood in North American as Evil Geniuses, Forward Gaming, Marchoutofarmy secure spots in Kuala Lumpur
The North America Qualifier for the Kuala Lumpur Major has now drawn to a close, and we now officially know which 3 teams from the region will be fighting for the first Major Championship of the Pro Circuit season. 8 teams began this qualifier hoping to earn a place in Kuala Lumpur, but just 3 of them have managed to fight their way through the qualifier to claim those coveted regional slots. Evil Geniuses, Forward Gaming, and Marchoutofarmy will be the teams that will be taking the stage as representatives of North America at the Major this November, and have emerged as early leaders in the region to start this new Pro Circuit season. With the 3 Major attendees decided, we should take a closer look at how those teams reached this position, and how well the other squads in this regional qualifier 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: 10-2 (4-0 Group Stage, 6-2 Playoffs)
Coming off of a near resurrection on the Pro Circuit stage late last season and an unbelievable 3rd place run at TI8, Evil Geniuses entered this qualifier as a clear favorite to claim 1 of the 3 North American spots at the Major. The team lived up to those expectations, though the team wasn’t always able to take the most efficient of paths on its way to its goal. While Evil Geniuses did put together a perfect 4-0 run in the Group Stage of the qualifier, it needed Game 2 comeback efforts against both Black Sheep and Marchoutofarmy in order to earn those 2-0 series victories. The team’s 4-0 record had it sitting at the top of the Group A standings, and put it in the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs to face off against compLexity Gaming. Despite dropping the first match of the series, EG was able to bounce back with dominant performances in Games 2 and 3 that saw EG out kill its opponents by a combined score of 52-14 as its closed out a 2-1 win in the series and guaranteed itself a place at the Major. From that point on, the team’s remaining qualifier matches were only for seeding purposes, as EG beat Forward Gaming in back to back series to claim the top seed. With the team’s roster staying intact through the offseason period, all we were looking for in this qualifier was a sign that the squad hadn’t made any significant regressions in its level of play. The team’s impressive showing to begin the season has is sitting right where it left off at the end of TI8 as a leading squad in the North American region. Based upon the play of some of other teams in the field for this qualifier, it doesn’t appear that EG will be in much danger of losing that position anytime soon.
Record: 9-5 (4-0 Group Stage, 5-5 Playoffs)
Forward Gaming entered this qualifier as a near surefire bet to earn 1 of the 3 qualifying spots in the North American region, and the former VGJ.Storm roster certainly didn’t disappoint in its first action of the season. The team simply decimated its Group Stage opponents, claiming 2-0 wins against both Skr Skr and compLexity Gaming and out killing its opponents by a total score of 170-73 across those 4 matches. The team was absolutely on fire heading into the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs, and is momentum could not be overcome as it took down Marchoutofarmy 2-1 to guarantee itself a place at The Kuala Lumpur Major. The Carry/Mid duo of Resolut1on and YawaR led the way for the team in that series, with Resolut1on averaging 10.67 Kills and 18 Assists on 3.67 Deaths per game, while YawaR put in averages of 11 Kills and 15.67 Assists with 4.67 Deaths per game. With its place at the Major secure, the team’s remaining matches in the qualifier were only for the purposes of seeding among the 3 qualified teams, as Forward Gaming lost 1-2 to EG in the Upper Bracket Finals. A 2-0 victory over Marchoutofarmy but the team in the Grand Finals of the qualifier, where it lost 0-2 to EG to finish in 2nd place. Overall, the team managed to live up to the high expectations that had been laid out for it, and it has proven that its new organization and the addition of UNiVeRsE to the roster has only served to make it an even more dangerous team than what we saw last season and at TI8. Forward Gaming begins this season as one of the leading squads in the North American region, and based upon the performance of the other teams in this qualifier, it doesn’t look as though anyone is ready to knock this squad down just yet.
Record: 9-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 5-4 Playoffs)
With the squad containing 3 former members and the coach of the Wind and Rain squad that nearly qualified for TI8 over OG, Marchoutofarmy entered this qualifier with higher expectations than most of the recently formed teams in the field. The team looked strong early on, beginning its Group Stage run with a dominant 2-0 win over TEAM TEAM before dropping its subsequent Winners’ Match series against Evil Geniuses 0-2. The team was able to bounce back from that loss with a decisive 2-0 victory over Black Sheep in the Decider Match, fueled in large part by 2 incredible performances from Moo (combined 45-10-39 across 2 matches). That win put Marchoutofarmy in the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs, where it was able to take 1 game off of Forward Gaming before losing the series 1-2 and falling into the Lower Bracket. The drop to the Lower Bracket did little to diminish the team’s momentum though, as Marchoutofarmy stormed past Team Xolotl 2-0 led by strong showings from Bryle (combined 25-10-21 in 2 matches). The team then toppled compLexity Gaming in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket 2-0, out killing its opponent 81-32 and guaranteeing itself a place at the Major. From that point on, the matches counted only for seeding in Kualu Lumpur, as Marchoutofarmy lost its final series against Forward Gaming 0-2 to finish 3rd overall. The squad looked absolutely fantastic in its first Pro Circuit qualifier of the season, and the Carry/Midlaner duo of Moo and Bryle looks to be on par with just about any other duo within the North American region at the start of this new campaign. We’ll see how well this squad performs on the Major stage in Kuala Lumpur, but for now Marchoutofarmy is looking like a legitimate leading squad in North America.
Record: 7-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 3-4 Playoffs)
The use of Fear as a stand-in for this qualifier meant that we didn’t get an exact feel for how compLexity Gaming’s new lineup will be looking this season, but this first qualifier at least gave us a chance to see most of the team’s updated roster in action. What we saw was certainly encouraging, as the squad blew past Team Xolotl with an easy 2-0 win to open its Group Stage run. A rough 0-2 loss to Forward Gaming in the Winners’ Match pumped the brakes on the team’s momentum to a certain degree, but compLexity Gaming came back with a resounding 2-0 stomp over Skr Skr to secure itself a place in the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs. Though the team managed to take its first match against Evil Geniuses in that Upper Bracket series, it was out kill by a score of 14-52 across Games 2 and 3 to lose the series and fall into the Lower Bracket to face TEAM TEAM. That series proved to be far more successful for compLexity Gaming, as the team won 2-0 thanks to a combined 38-10-45 stat line from Fear and Limmp. Unfortunately for compLexity Gaming, its qualifier run ended just short of earning a spot in Kuala Lumpur, as it was defeated 0-2 by Marchoutofarmy in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket to finish in 4th place overall. The team’s performance in this qualifier was solid, but there is still a significant concern hanging over it with Skemberlu set to eventually join the roster. The team relied heavily on Fear in this qualifier, who will not be able to continue helping the lineup through the rest of the season. There is a chance that Skemberlu joins the squad and immediately puts together those same types of consistent performances, but those odds are not exactly in compLexity Gaming’s favor. This performance was strong for the squad, but don’t be surprised if compLexity Gaming has to take a step or two back before it begins moving forward this season.
Record: 3-7 (1-4 Group Stage, 2-3 Playoffs)
The field of teams in this North America Qualifier did not look particularly strong prior to the start of play, and Team Xolotl was a squad that both contributed to that relative weakness and stood a solid chance at benefiting from it. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t take advantage of its opportunity as it put together an underwhelming performance against its regional rivals. A 0-2 loss to compLexity Gaming to open the Group Stage and a subsequent 1-2 loss to Skr Skr put Team Xolotl at the bottom of the Group B standings, and put in the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs against Black Sheep. That Lower Bracket series is where we finally saw some strength from Team Xolotl, with Ifrit and Esk helping to carry the squad to a 2-1 victory. However, that duo was unable to replicate their success in the next round, as Team Xolotl fell 0-2 to Marchoutofarmy to end its qualifier run. Overall, we didn’t see much from Team Xolotl aside from 1 or 2 standout performances from individual members of the roster. The team as a whole was not particularly impressive, though if the North American scene continues to go without a solidified second tier of teams this season, then Team Xolotl may very well have more opportunities to build upon this performance in the future.
Record: 2-7 (0-4 Group Stage, 2-3 Playoffs)
With a lineup of experienced regional players and a field of opponents that was relatively weak aside from teams like Evil Geniuses and Forward Gaming, there was a lot of opportunity for TEAM TEAM coming into this qualifier. Unfortunately, the squad wan’t able to take advantage of those opportunities, as the team struggled to get its footing against its regional rivals. The team began its Group Stage run with a brutal 0-2 loss to MarchoutofArmy, then followed that up with yet another 0-2 loss to Black Sheep to finish at the bottom of the Group A standings without a single win to its name. Starting in the Lower Bracket against Skr Skr, there wasn’t much hope that TEAM TEAM would turn things around, but the squad finally managed to show us something with a 2-1 series victory. The team’s core trio of Costabile, Ryoya, and Brax seemed to get on the same page for the first time in the qualifier, combining for an average stat line of 26.3 Kills, 13.67 Deaths, and 30.67 Assists across the 3 game series. Unfortunately for TEAM TEAM, it couldn’t quite keep things going in the next round, as it lost 0-2 to compLexity Gaming despite a hard fought 63 minute match to start the series. Although the team managed to avoid finishing at the bottom of the standings, it did not look good as a whole in this qualifier. The experience of the squad’s lineup means that it stands a solid chance of recovering from this bad start, but TEAM TEAM will be starting from a rather weak position as it starts its Pro Circuit campaign.
Record: 3-7 (2-5 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
Skr Ske entered this qualifier as a near completely unknown squad within the North American region, and the team didn’t really do anything impressive enough to change that assessment. The team suffered back to back blowouts for a 0-2 loss to Forward Gaming in its initial Group Stage series, but managed to salvage a 2-1 win over Team Xolotl in the Losers’ Match thanks to 2 huge performances from picslaeder in Games 2 and 3. (25-5-21 across 2 matches) A 0-2 loss to compLexity Gaming in its final Group Stage series put Skr Skr in the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs, where the team once again ran into significant issues going up against TEAM TEAM. The team was blown out in Game 1 of the series, but managed to take a hard fought win in Game 2 in a 55 minute game before dropping Game 3 for a 1-2 series loss and an early exit from the qualifier. The good news for the team is that it seems to have some solid players on the roster, as Offlaner picslaeder averaged 8.5 Kills and 8.9 Assists with 5.7 deaths per game, while Midlaner hqxzr averaged 7.4 Kills and 10.8 Assists with 5.7 deaths per game as well. It’s a decent foundation to build upon, but Skr Skr will need a massive level of improvement this season if it wants to have any chance at being considered a contender in the North American region.
Record: 3-6 (2-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
Expectations were not even remotely high for Black Sheep as it entered this qualifier, and those low expectations proved to be somewhat prudent as the squad struggled against its regional rivals. The team lost its opening series against Evil Geniuses 0-2 despite holding a net worth lead of nearly 16k in a Game 2 that lasted over 73 minutes of game time. A 2-0 win over TEAM TEAM earned the team its only wins of the Group Stage, but a subsequent one-sided loss to Marchoutofarmy put Black Sheep in the Lower Bracket against Team Xolotl to begin the Playoffs of the qualifier. After a solid and balanced effort from the team won the squad the opening match of the series, Black Sheep couldn’t maintain its momentum as it dropped the next 2 matches for a 1-2 loss that ended its run in the qualifier with a finish at the bottom of the standings. Seeing as how Black Sheep wasn’t expected to find much success in this qualifier, its 7th-8th place finish is not quite as disappointing as it may have been otherwise. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that this team didn’t seem to play with much cohesion or consistency, and if the squad remains together moving further into the season, then it is going to have to improve significantly to compete in the North American region.