Familiar faces and regional powerhouses remain on top as Fnatic, TNC Predator claim SEA’s 2 Major spots.
The action in The Kuala Lumpur Major Southeast Asia Qualifier has reached it end, and we now officially know which 2 squads will be representing the region on the Pro Circuit stage at the first Major of the 2018-2019 season. 8 teams began this qualifier looking for a chance to establish themselves as a leader in Southeast Asia and earn a place at the Major, but just 2 of them have managed to fight their way through the qualifier to claim those coveted regional slots. Fnatic and TNC Predator will be the 2 teams that will be taking the stage as representatives of the Southeast Asian region at the Major this November, but we should take a closer look at how those teams 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 2 (Qualified for The Kuala Lumpur Major)
Record: 10-1 (4-0 Group Stage, 6-1 Playoffs)
Fnatic entered this qualifier as one of the favorites to earn itself a place in Kuala Lumpur, and the team certainly played like it as it put together dominant performances against its regional rivals. The squad swept through the Group Stage with back to back 2-0 victories over both Tigers and Sterling Global Dragons to lock down the top spot in the Group A standings and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs. The team put together some textbook examples of a balanced team performance in its 4 Group Stage matches, never relying too heavily on a single player while consistently getting solid production from every member of the roster. That strong play continued through the team’s first series in the Playoffs, as Fnatic rolled over Team Admiral for a 2-0 win in which it out killed its opponent by a score of 66-31. With that win, the squad was just 1 more series away from a place at the Major as it faced off against TNC Predator. While the team finally suffered its first loss of the qualifier in Game 2 of the series, it wasn’t enough to slow down Fnatic’s considerable momentum as it pulled out a 2-1 win to secure its place in Kualu Lumpur. With its Major status already locked down, the team’s final series against TNC Predator was solely for the purpose of seeding at the event, and neither side took the matches very seriously as Fnatic won 2-0 to earn the #1 seed. Overall, the squad put together exactly the kind of performance that one hopes to see from a projected regional leader. The team’s lineup presented an overwhelming, balanced style of play while getting consistent performances from every position on the roster. If the squad can maintain this level of play throughout the season, then the other squads in Southeast Asia will be hard pressed to knock Fnatic down from the top of the regional hierarchy.
Record: 9-6 (4-1 Group Stage, 5-5 Playoffs)
TNC Predator entered this qualifier as one of the stronger teams in the field, and the squad certainly played like it right from the start of its run. The team blew past Lotac in its opening Group Stage series for a 2-0 win, and took down Team Admiral 2-1 with the help of a series of top level performances from Kuku (combined 38-9-38 in 3 matches). TNC Predator’s dominance carried over into the Playoffs, as the squad made quick work of Sterling Global Dragons in the Upper Bracket in a 2-0 win that saw the team out killed its opponent by a core of 49-17. That win put the squad just 1 series victory away from a guaranteed spot in Kuala Lumpur, but the celebrations were put on hold as the squad’s considerable momentum was finally stopped by Fnatic. Despite a huge performance from Armel’s Tinker (20-5-6) that helped TNC Predator win Game 2, the squad couldn’t quite out play its opponents as it lost 1-2 to Fnatic and fell into the Lower Bracket to face Lotac. That series proved to be quite a challenge as well, as TNC Predator and Lotac each pulled off late-game comebacks to split Games 1 and 2 before TNC Predator managed to pull out a dominant Game 3 victory to secure a 2-1 win and spot at the Major. With the hard work done, the team’s rematch against Fnatic in the Grand Finals only had seeding at stake, and neither side took the matches very seriously in a 0-2 loss for TNC Predator. Overall, the team proved that its offseason roster changes haven’t had any adverse effects on its play so far, and TNC Predator retains its position as one of the leading teams in Southeast Asia as the Pro Circuit season gets underway.
Record: 8-8 (1-4 Group Stage, 7-4 Playoffs)
The announcement of Lotac’s formation in the offseason drew quite a lot of attention within the Southeast Asian region, and the new squad managed to put together a performance that lived up to some of that offseason hype. In the Group Stage of the qualifier, it appeared that the squad did not look particularly impressive, losing 0-2 to TNC Predator and 1-2 against Execration to finish at the bottom of the Group B standings. As the team prepared for its Lower Bracket series in the Playoffs, it appeared as though the team’s first Pro Circuit action was set to be a bust. However, Lotac was finally able to flip the switch once elimination was one the line, putting together a strong run through the Lower Bracket. ChYuan and Raven helped lead the squad to a 2-1 win over Tigers in Round 1, while Lotac’s Round 2 series against Sterling Global Dragons saw the entire core trio carry the team to another 2-1 victory. A dominant performance from the team against Team Admiral resulted in a 2-0 win for Lotac in Round 3, and left the team just 1 more series victory away from claiming a spot at the Major. Unfortunately, the team fell short of that mark with a 1-2 loss to TNC Predator, but the squad’s impressive Lower Bracket run still helped it finish in 3rd place in the qualifier. Despite the team’s initial Group Stage struggles, the veteran experience and abundant talent of the Lotac roster was able to shine through in the end. With teams like Mineski and Tiger putting together less than impressive runs in this qualifier, Lotac finds itself in a position of strength as it begins the Pro Circuit season as a potential contender to be a leading team in the Southeast Asian region.
Record: 7-7 (5-3 Group Stage, 2-4 Playoffs)
Coming into this qualifier, I did not have Team Admiral ranked very highly among the 8 participating squads, and that assessment turned out to be drastically incorrect as myself and even some of the squads in this qualifier appeared to underestimate this Team Admiral roster. The squad came out of the gate with something to prove, taking down Execration 2-0 and taking a game off of TNC Predator in an eventual 1-2 loss in the Winners’ Match. A 2-1 victory in a rematch with Execration in the Decider Match secured Team Admiral a place in the top half of the Group B standings, and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs. The team’s time in the Upper Bracket didn’t last long though, as the squad lost a one sided 0-2 series against Fnatic that dropped it into the Lower Bracket to face Mineski. Team Admiral was able to dominate that Lower Bracket series though, with MightySavior and Ab1ng, combining for 46 kills across 2 games for a 2-0 win in the series. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t get past Lotac in the subsequent round, as it fell 0-2 to end its qualifier run with a 4th place finish overall. Team Admiral may not have earned a place in Kuala Lumpur, but it certainly impressed with its qualifier performance, and will begin the Pro Circuit season with a fair bit of momentum on its side within the Southeast Asian region. It’s not quite time to crown Team Admiral as a regional leader just yet, but a solid start has it sitting in a somewhat favorable position compared to some of its rivals in the region.
Sterling Global Dragons
Record: 5-7 (4-3 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
Coming into this qualifier, there didn’t really seem to be a whole lot going for Sterling Global Dragons, as the team’s roster was largely unproven and the organization’s prior track record was not particularly impressive. However, this Filipino squad absolutely came to play in this qualifier, and was able to take advantage of the fact that its opponents seemed to consistently underestimate it. The squad began its Group Stage run with a huge 2-1 victory over Mineki, sealed by a surprise Meepo pick for Tino- in Game 3 of the series. A subsequent 0-2 loss to Fnatic had some believing that its initial success may have been a fluke or one-off, but the team managed to rally for a strong 2-0 win over Tigers to secure itself a place in the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs. In the Playoffs though, the team’s couldn’t quite put together the same kinds of performances that we had seen previously, losing a one-sided 0-2 series to TNC Predator in which it was out killed by a score of 17-49. The team ended up playing against Lotac in the Lower Bracket, where it lost its final series of the qualifier despite a solid win in Game 1. The loss put the team in the bottom half of the standings in the qualifier, but Serling Global Dragons has a whole lot to feel good about with its performance considering how low the expectations were for this squad. We saw that the team’s core trio of Tino-, Nasjo, and Luciano can be relied upon to put together meaningful contributions and solid performances with at least some degree of consistency. Add on to that the fact that the squad was able to win series against teams like Mineski and Tigers, and there appears to be a fair bit of potential for this Sterling Global Dragons squad to remain competitive within the regional scene if it can continue to play at this level moving forward.
Record: 3-8 (1-4 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
Alright, so this one’s definitely going to be a little awkward at first glance, as 1 of the teams that I had listed among the “favorites” section of the preview post ended up posting the worst record in the entirety of the Southeast Asia Qualifier. To be fair though, I’m not sure that anyone could have reasonably predicted just how bad this new Mineski roster would look in its first action of the season, as the squad played abysmally in this qualifier. A blow out victory in Game 2 of its opening series against Sterling Global Dragons netted the team its only win of the Group Stage, but a loss against a surprise Meepo pick in Game 3 saw Mineski go down 1-2 against a squad that it was significantly favored against. The subsequent 0-2 loss to Tigers did little to alleviate concerns, as the team blew a late-game lead in Game 1 before being completely run over in Game 2. The team’s first series of the Lower Bracket against Execration finally saw it looking a bit more stable, and also saw the Carry/Mid duo of Moon and JT- finally get on the same page. The duo combined for 67 kills across the 3 game series, but that new found momentum did not last as the squad was rolled over by Team Admiral for a 0-2 loss that knocked it out of the qualifier. A handful of strong performance from Mineski in this qualifier were massively overshadowed by inconsistencies and misplays that always seemed to sap away momentum just when Mineski appeared to be getting itself back on track. The fall into the bottom half of the standings at this qualifier certainly comes as a shocking results for the team, and we begin the Pro Circuit season with one of last year’s most dominant Southeast Asian squads looking a bit lost in the region.
Record: 3-6 (2-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
The hype and excitement of this Tigers roster ended up giving way to a fair bit of disappointment in this qualifier, as the squad simply struggled to a degree that had not been anticipated. The squad was absolutely stomped by Fnatic to open the Group Stage in a series that saw Tigers out killed by a score of 27-63 across 2 games. While the squad was able to bounce back with a 2-0 win over Mineski, that series included a Game 1 win in which the squad came back from over 11k net worth behind in the late-game and required heroic performances from Ahjit and inYourDreaM. Any sense of momentum from that victory though was shattered by a shocking 0-2 loss to Sterling Global Dragons, which left Tigers scrambling for answers heading into the Playoffs. Unfortunately for Tigers, answers were not to be found in its Lower Bracket series against Lotac, as the team continued to struggle significantly. The team blew a nearly 9k net worth lead in Game 1, and were out killed by a score of 9-41 in Game 3 of the series to end its qualifier run far earlier than had been expected. Some of the team’s issues in this qualifier could be put down to some unorthodox draft strategies, but for the most part Tigers simply didn’t play with nearly the level of consistency that it needed to win, which only makes the situation more frustrating considering the fact that most of its lineup consists of veteran, experienced players who are usually relied upon for consistent contributions. It may not be time to panic for Tigers just yet, but its biggest opportunity to start the season as a leading squad in Southeast Asia has just passed it by with this disappointing showing against its regional rivals.
Record: 4-7 (3-5 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
Execration came into this qualifier with relatively low expectations and a number of questions about its new lineup, and unfortunately for the Filipino squad, the answers to those questions were not overly encouraging. The team got off to a rough start with a 0-2 loss to Team Admiral, though any initial concerns were somewhat mitigated by a much stronger 2-1 win over Lotac as well as a more competitive rematch with Team Admiral that ended in a 1-2 loss. Nando was the driving force for the team in its Group Stage run, putting together averages of over 12 kills and 8 assists with just under 5 deaths per game across its 8 Group Stage matches. Once the team reached the Playoffs though, we saw Execration repeatedly forced into bad situations in its series against Mineski. The team managed to win Game 1, but only behind a massive comeback effort in the late-game that required its core trio to combine for 40 of the teams 45 kills. Faced with a similar situation in Game 2 though, Execration couldn’t pull through, and that loss of momentum led Mineski to take the series 2-1 and knock Execration out in Round 1 of the Lower Bracket. Overall, the team’s finish at the bottom of the standings will come as a disappointment, but Execration at least knows that it has a somewhat solid foundation to work with moving forward this season. It’s not much of a silver lining, but when you finish last in the regional qualifier as a directly invited team, it’s pretty much the best takeaway you’re going to have.