A legendary organization begins what it hopes is a return to prominence as Na’Vi claims the CIS slot at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor
The CIS Qualifier for the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor has been concluded, and at the end of the action we now know which squad will be making the trip to Stockholm to represent the region and fight for both the title of Minor Champion and the final spot at the Kuala Lumpur Major. 4 squads made up the field for this qualifier, with 3 of them being returning teams from the Major Qualifier while the last (Team Empire) represented a new challenger in the region’s Pro Circuit qualifiers. In the end though, only 1 team could emerge victorious from this qualifier, with Na’Vi claiming that coveted spot at the Minor in October. Though only Na’Vi will be advancing to the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, we should take a look at how each of the team’s in this qualifier performed, as these squads will more than likely form the crux of the tier 1 and tier 2 scenes within the CIS region this season. As with the previous recap posts for The Kuala Lumpur Major Qualifiers, we will be dividing the participants up based upon their final standings in the qualifier.
1st (Qualified for DreamLeague Season 10 Minor)
Record: 6-1 (3-0 series record)
It’s been quite a long time since we’ve been able to say this in the Dota 2 world, but Na’Vi looked absolutely fantastic in the CIS region with its performance in this qualifier. The organization took a significant risk in rebuilding its lineup in the offseason, but that new roster appears to be picking up steam as Na’Vi looked like the best squad in the field. The team dropped just a single match in its qualifier run, pushing past Espada, Team Empire, and then Espada once again to claim its place in Stockholm for the first Minor of the Pro Circuit season. The entire roster played well in this qualifier run, but in particular, the team’s core trio of Crystallize, MagicaL, and Blizzy stepped up when they were needed most and helped guide the team to many of its victories. The team certainly looked more comfortable together in their matches, but now the true test for this roster is coming as Na’Vi prepares for its first action outside of its home region at the Minor. We’ll see just how far along this new Na’Vi lineup has come as it goes toe-to-toe with international opposition in Stockholm.
Record: 5-4 (2-1 series record)
After an incredible turnaround in the Playoffs of the Major Qualifier saw Espada finish in 4th place, the squad entered this Minor Qualifier with a big concern regarding its consistency. This time around though, the squad didn’t appear to need quite a big of a warm up period as it did in its last qualifier appearance. Espada started its qualifier run with a 1-2 loss to Na’Vi, starting strong with a Game 1 win but showing a significant decline in its level of play through Games 2 and 3. That loss dropped the team into the Lower Bracket, but Espada once again displayed an impressive resiliency when elimination was on the line. The squad defeated Team Spirit 2-0, led by huge performances from the Carry/Mid duo of ILTW and Nix (combined 34-9-52 in 2 matches) that helped the team control the pace of the series. Espada followed up that performance with another impressive 2-0 showing against Team Empire in the Losers’ Finals, with ILTW once again coming through for his squad with a combined stat line of 38-4-15 in an absolutely incredible performance. That win put the squad in the Grand Finals of the qualifier for a rematch with Na’Vi, but this time around Espada wasn’t able to build up any momentum for itself. Despite the team’s best efforts, Espada was out killed 34-79 in back to back one sided matches to fall 0-2 to Na’Vi and end its qualifier run in 2nd place overall. While Espada will not be making the trip of Stockholm in October, this performance went a long way towards increasing the confidence levels in the squad. The team’s horrible Group Stage performance in the Major Qualifier appears more and more like a simple fluke or misstep to open the season, and Espada is hopefully back on track as it continues looking for opportunities to establish itself as a leader within the CIS region.
Record: 2-5 (1-2 series record)
With an almost entirely new lineup for this Pro Circuit season, the expectations for Team Empire coming into this Minor Qualifier were somewhat lower than what the squad had seen in recent years. The team’s first performance in a Pro Circuit qualifier this season was certainly not the worst that we’ve so far, but there was still quite a lot to be desired from Team Empire’s play in the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor CIS Qualifier. The team began its qualifier run looking relatively strong, dropping Game 1 against Team Spirit before out killing its opponent by a score of 63-29 in Game 2 and 3 to claim a 2-1 victory in the series. Unfortunately for the team, that initial victory would prove to be its only success in the qualifier, as thing took a decidedly downward turn for it in its subsequent series. The squad was dismantled by Na’Vi in the Winners’ Finals, putting together just 19 kills across 2 matches as Team Empire suffered a one sided 0-2 defeat to fall into the Lower Bracket to face Espada. While Team Empire was able to put up a bit more of a fight in this series, the end result did not change, as the squad was handed another 0-2 defeat to bring its run in the Minor Qualifier to an end. With this qualifier representing some of the current roster’s first official matches together outside of the Open Qualifiers, Team Empire wasn’t exactly expected to run the table and brush past its regional rivals. That being said, the team’s poor performance and 0-4 record in its final 2 series is a potential cause for concern moving forward in terms of its ability to play at a consistent level.
Record: 1-4 (0-2 series record)
Following a 3rd place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major CIS Qualifier, there was a degree of optimism surrounding this Team Spirit roster as it prepared for its second Pro Circuit qualifier run of the season. The squad’s largely European roster had shown that it was capable of standing among the heavy hitters in the CIS region, and the team entered this qualifier with confidence that it could claim the sole CIS slot at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor. That confidence seemed to evaporate fairly quickly though, as Team Spirit struggled significantly in this 4 team field en route to a 4th place finish overall. The team managed to win its first match of the qualifier against Team Empire thanks to a late-game surge led by a fantastic showing from Nine (14-2-6). However, the team lost all semblance of momentum in the matches that followed, as Team Spirit was out killed by its opponent 29-63 in Games 2 and 3 and trailed in terms of net worth for the entirety of both matches to suffer a 1-2 series loss. Things didn’t get much better for Team Spirit in its next series, as Espada simply ran the squad over in back to back blowout losses that ended Team Spirit’s run in the qualifier with a dismal 1-4 overall record. The team simply didn’t look like the same squad that came 1 series away from qualifying for The Kuala Lumpur Major, and now we have some serious questions for Team Spirit in regards to its consistency. Moving forward in the Pro Circuit season, we will likely be asking ourselves which version of Team Spirit will show up at a given event: the one that looked so promising and nearly found success in the Major Qualifier, or the one that looked completely out of sorts and bombed out of this Minor Qualifier?