Dota 2 Pro Circuit Minor Preview: DreamLeague Season 10

Taking Stockholm: 2018-2019 campaign begins on familiar ground as 8 squads fight for the first title of the season at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor.

Just 2 months removed from the thrilling conclusion of TI8, the Dota 2 Pro Circuit is officially back in action with its first event of the 2018-2019 season. The first Pro Circuit tournament of the new season will draw the eyes of the Dota 2 world back to Stockholm, Sweden as the city plays host to the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor. As its name would imply, the event will be the 10th iteration of the DreamLeague series of Dota 2 tournaments put together by legendary gaming organization and LAN convention DreamHack. This first Minor of the season will bring 8 squads to the Monster Energy DreamHack Studios in Stockholm for the chance to become the first Minor Champion of the 2018-2019 season and begin their Pro Circuit campaign at the top of the standings. Of course, the new Pro Circuit system puts an extra incentive on the line for the 8 participating teams as well, with the victor of the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor earning the 16th and final slot at the subsequent Kuala Lumpur Major in November. Before any team can look ahead to a spot at the Major though, it’s going to have to get through a tough field of teams in Stockholm first. The DreamLeague Season 10 Minor is set to begin on October 29 and will run for 1 week through the 4th of November. Up for grabs at the event alongside the spot at the Major will be prize pools of $300,000 USD as well as 500 Pro Circuit Points, the distribution of which is laid out below.

1st: $125,000 & 120 DPC Points (Advances to The Kuala Lumpur Major)

2nd: $70,000 & 100 DPC Points

3rd: $35,000 & 90 DPC Points

4th: $25,000 & 70 DPC Points

5th-6th: $15,000 (Per Team) & 40 DPC Points (Per Team)

7th-8th: $7,500 (Per Team) & 20 DPC Points (Per Team)

The Minor will begin with the 8 teams being split into 2 GSL style groups in the Group Stage of the event, with all series being played in a Bo3 format. The GSL format means that 2 of the 4 teams in a group will be selected to play each other in the 2 Opening Matches. The winning teams from those Opening Matches will then play each other in the Winners’ Match to determine the top seed in the group, while the losing teams will play in the Losers’ Match to determine the bottom seed. From there, the loser of the Winners’ Match and the winner of the Losers’ Match will play each other in the Decider Match to determine the 2nd and 3rd seeds of the group. The Group Stage will be played for seeding purposes only and will not eliminate any teams from contention. Instead, the Top 2 teams from each groups will be seeded into the upper half of the bracket, while the bottom 2 teams will end up in the lower bracket for the Playoff Stage. Said Playoff Stage will feature a double elimination bracket, with all series up until the Finals being played in a Bo3 format, while the Finals themselves will feature a Bo5 format.

With the event marking the first LAN of the Pro Circuit season, the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor represents an incredibly valuable opportunity for these teams to build up some momentum for themselves and start the season at the top of the DPC standings. The good news for all of the squads involved is that the new Pro Circuit rules will award Pro Circuit Points to every participant in Stockholm as opposed to just the Top 4 like last season. That means that all 8 squads at the Minor will end this event with Pro Circuit Points and a spot in the standings, but it doesn’t mean that any of the teams will be content to simply show up and take whatever position comes their way. With just 5 Minors and 5 Majors in the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season, every event will have a huge impact on the standings, and the difference of even a single spot at this event in terms of a team’s final position could have significant implications down the road as teams fight for those 12 direct invite slots for TI9. With that being said, the time has now come to take a look at how each of the 8 teams in the field for this Minor stack up heading into the first Pro Circuit event of the 2018-2019 season.

Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or necessarily objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data. Although the new Pro Circuit system will award Pro Circuit Points to all participating teams, the projections here will still include the “Top 4” section for the sake of simplicity and consistency with last season’s posts.

 

compLexity Gaming 727px-Col_big_logo

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Rolen Andrei Gabriel “Skemberlu” Ong
2. Linus “Limmp” Blomdin
3. Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu
4. Zakari “Zfreek” Freedman
5. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao (Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Last season, compLexity Gaming found itself in a position that it has grown somewhat familiar with in recent years, as the team stood in a decent place to establish itself as one of the top squads in North American if it could put together a strong Pro Circuit campaign. Unfortunately, the team’s run in the 2017-2018 was not quite as strong as it could have been, with the team being largely overshadowed by regional rivals like Evil Geniuses, OpTic Gaming, and VGJ.Storm. After falling short in the TI8 North America Qualifier, the organization broke up its roster, making some significant changes to its lineup in the hopes of improving its standing in North America in this new Pro Circuit season. With an infusion of young talent and regional veterans, this new look compLexity Gaming squad has a chance to display its strength if it can put together an impressive showing in this first Minor of the season in Stockholm.

The DreamLeague Season 10 Minor may be the first Pro Circuit LAN that compLexity Gaming will be attending, but it is far from the only action that the team has seen so far this season. Aside from its runs in the regional qualifier for this Minor and The Kuala Lumpur Major, compLexity Gaming has also been competing in a few third party events and qualifiers over these opening months of the season. The team claimed a first place finish in the ESL One Hamburg 2018 North America Qualifier, beating out Kuala Lumpur attendee paiN X 3-2 in the Grand Finals. A few weeks later, the squad was once again competing within its home region in the King’s Cup 2: North America, where it managed to put together 3rd-4th place finish in an 8 team field. Heading into this international event in Stockholm, it is also prudent to note that compLexity Gaming has managed to accrue a bit of experience outside of its home region with its new roster as well. The team recently competed in the World Showdown of Esports #1, where it faced off against both regional rivals and squads from Europe and China. Unfortunately for compLexity Gaming, that event was not quite as successful as it may have hoped for, as the team finished in the 5th-6th place finish out of 8 total teams and did not advance out of the Group Stage after posting a 1-2 overall record. The team also made an appearance at ESL One Hamburg 2018 just a few days ago, surviving the Group Stage but falling 0-2 to regional rival Evil Geniuses for a 7th-8th place finish overall. Those 2 appearances on the international level will hopefully translate into some sense of experience and comfort for this new lineup against international opposition as it prepares for the first Pro Circuit event of the 2018-2019 season.

The new-look compLexity Gaming will make its way to Stockholm hoping to put together a strong performance at this first Minor to push it into a position both as a contender on the Pro Circuit and a leader within the North American region. The team’s new roster may have some well known veteran names and some young talent, but compLexity Gaming will still have a difficult path ahead of it if it wants to find success at the Minor. As it currently stands, compLexity Gaming is far from a favorite to claim the title of Minor Champion in Stockholm, but is not fully out of the picture moving forward into the event itself. The team has a strong record so far this season against its regional rivals, with a 18-8 record against North American teams (not including ESL One Hamburg 2018 matches) heading into the Minor. Unfortunately, that record comes with a bit of a catch, as compLexity Gaming did not play any of those matches with its full registered roster due to the extended absence of Skemberlu from the lineup. The Filipino Carry has only recently joined the team for its run through ESL One Hamburg 2018, and while the team managed to put together a fairly solid run at the event, it still isn’t enough of a sample size to be fully sure of where the squad currently stands. Skemberlu is certainly a talented addition to the professional scene, and it is fully possible that his long awaited addition to the lineup has an immediate and positive effect on the team’s play as a whole. Even if this isn’t the case, the compLexity Gaming roster has a number of experienced players on the roster that should be able to pick up some of the slack should the team’s other issues not resolve themselves prior to the start of the Minor. If the team comes into Stockholm clicking as a unit and firing on all cylinders, then compLexity Gaming could threaten for a place in the upper half of the standings and maybe even compete for the title of Minor Champion. However, if that doesn’t occur, we can still reasonably expect the experience and skill of veterans like Limmp and EternaLEnVy to at least keep the squad out last place. With that in mind, compLexity Gaming is projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position in Stockholm, with some potential to move up should an unexpectedly favorable scenario play out for the team.

 

ROOONS ROOONS

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Brian “BananaSlamJamma” Canavan
2. Danny “iAnnihilate” Cote 
3. Jaron “monkeys-forever” Clinton
4. Bill “Boris” Oliver
5. Andrew “Jubei” Evelynn (Captain)

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

The North American region has a long and storied history of squads in the same vein as ROOONS; teams comprised of free agents and regional veterans that band together in a bid to make a breakthrough in the region. For the most part, those teams end up making relatively short runs with limited levels of success, but ROOONS is hoping to avoid that fate with a strong showing at this first Minor of the season. The team has a fair bit of talent and experience on its roster, but a relatively small amount of that experience has come on the international level, and this chance to play on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm will be the first chance we get to see the squad in action outside of its home region. The North American region is looking a bit top-heavy to begin this Pro Circuit season, and ROOONS has a significant opportunity to cement a place among the region’s leaders if it can perform well in its first international action as a team.

Though ROOONS is a squad that has only come into existence relatively recently, the North American team will enter the first Minor of the season having already accrued a fair bit of experience as a team. In addition to the team’s runs through the Open and Main Regional qualifiers for this event, ROOONS has been participating in a number of third party events both within its home region and on the international level. On the home front, the squad followed up its Pro Circuit qualifier performances by successfully advancing out of the Open Qualifier into into the Regular Season of the North American Dota Challengers League. Said Regular Season is currently ongoing, and is set to continue through at least 4 more weeks, although ROOONS will likely have any of its matches scheduled around its appearance in Stockholm. The team also got the chance to test itself against teams from both North and South America with its participation in the King’s Cup 2: North America, although its performance in that event was not quite as strong as it may have been hoping for. The team posted an overall record of 5-9 in the Group Stage of the event and finished 7th overall in a 9 team field. Outside of its home region, ROOONS has not been able to find much success, although its opportunities to play on the international level have so far been limited to a single event appearance. The World Showdown of Esports #1 was the first chance for ROOONS to display its strength against teams from other region, but unfortunately the team proved unable to take get much done at the event. ROOONS put together a 0-3 record in the Group Stage, losing to compLexity Gaming, J.Storm, and The Final Tribe as it failed to advance to the Playoffs and finished in the combined last place position of 7th-8th. Its been something of a mixed bag for ROOONS so far this season in terms of its performance, but the North American squad will hopefully be able to present a stable and consistent front as it prepares for its first Pro Circuit event in Stockholm.

ROOONS comes into the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor looking for an opportunity to begin its season in a position of strength on the Pro Circuit and establish itself as a true contender within the North American region. While the squad has put together a squad full of regional talent, the odds that ROOONS is able to compete for the title of Minor Champion in Stockholm don’t appear to be particularly high prior to the start of the event. The first and perhaps most immediate concern for ROOONS heading into the Minor is the fact that the squad lacks a significant level of experience playing outside of its home region. Not only is the international experience somewhat low on an individual basis among the team’s players, ROOONS as a squad has only seen action in a single international event in which it finished at the bottom of the final standings. Adding onto these woes for ROOONS is the fact that its performance against the top squads within its home region is not particularly impressive either. Against North American opponents that have qualified for a Pro Circuit event this season (compLexity Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Forward Gaming, and J.Storm), ROOONS holds a 2-6 record. Expanding the criteria to Pro Circuit event attendees regardless of region, that record shifts to an equally unimpressive 3-10 on the season. Those statistics don’t paint a very optimistic picture for the team as it makes its way to Stockholm, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a path to success for ROOONS at the Minor. The team’s roster is a somewhat rare one in the sense that it presents one of the more balanced attacks in this field of teams at the Minor. The squad does not often rely on a single player or duo of players for a strong output, which ostensibly makes the team harder to shut down as any member of the roster could provide the spark needed for a win. However, that trait can also be a double edged sword, as the lack of a singular star player makes the team more reliant upon maintaining an unbroken sense of team coordination and momentum. Based upon the team’s performance so far this season, that momentum appears to be lacking right now as the team prepares for its Pro Circuit debut. With that in mind, ROOONS appears to be in line for a finish no higher than the 7th-8th place position at the Minor, unless it manages to pull off a rather incredible reversal of its recent struggles on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm.

 

Infamous LOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Region: South America

Qualification Method: South America Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Enzo “Timado” Gianoli
2. Mariano “Papita” Caneda (Captain)
3. Adrian“Wisper” Cespedes Dobles
4. Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña (Stand-in)
5. Joel “MoOz” Mori Ozambela

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Infamous entered the previous Pro Circuit season looking like a contender and a leader within the South American region, and for most of its 2017-2018 campaign that initial projection held true. The squad became the first South American squad to earn points on the Pro Circuit with its Top 4 finish at the GESC: Indonesia Dota2 Minor, but as the season went on the squad began to fade within the regional hierarchy. By the time the TI8 Qualifiers rolled around, Infamous has been largely overshadowed by regional rivals like paiN Gaming and SG e-sports, as evidenced by the team’s 4th-5th place finish in said qualifier. However, a new season brings new hope for Infamous, as the team has put together a new roster in a bid to reclaim its former position as the leading squad in the South American region. The return of regional superstar Timado along with the addition of young talents Wisper and MoOz has the squad looking solid as it prepares for its first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season.

While the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor may be the first Pro Circuit event for Infamous this season, the South American squad has already made a few appearances so far both in its home region and in North America. The team began its 2018-2019 campaign with its 5th-6th place run through The Kuala Lumpur Major South America Qualifier, and fought its way through the Open Qualifier and the South America Qualifier for this event all within the first month of the season. Since then, the team has remained fairly active as it looks to impress against its regional rivals. Earlier this month, the team placed 2nd in the Liga Pro Gaming Season 3 after narrowly losing the Grand Finals 2-3 against Luccini-Dilecom. Aside from those qualifiers and events, Infamous’s other appearances this season have come in mixed North and South American tournaments, such as the recent King’s Cup 2: North America. Unfortunately for Infamous, the team put together an uninspired performance in that event, posting an overall record of 4-10 in the Group Stage that say it finish in a disappointing 8th place position in a 9 team field. Infamous is also currently participating in the joinDOTA League Season 14 America against a mixed field of North and South American teams, but there are some issues with that event in terms of its value to Infamous’s record coming into this Minor. The team’s only 2 series in the Group Stage so far have been one default win and one default loss, meaning Infamous has yet to actually play a match in the event. Furthermore, it is not currently known if the team will have another series scheduled prior to it leaving for Stockholm to play in the Minor. So overall, Infamous has had some highs and lows to start this new Pro Circuit season as the South American squad prepares for its first true test on the international level.

Infamous comes into the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor hoping for a strong showing on the international stage to jump start their season and set itself up as a leader within its home region. Unfortunately for the South American squad, a successful performance in Stockholm seems somewhat unlikely given the team’s current situation. Before even taking the team’s recent performance into account, one has to address the fact that Infamous will be playing in this Minor with a stand-in due to the recent departure of Matthew from its lineup. The prospect of bringing in a new player just a few days before a major international event introduces a level of uncertainty that would lower confidence in any squad’s chances of finding success. Add onto that the fact that Infamous’s current roster contains a duo of players in Wisper and MoOz who have very limited experience at the professional level, and no experience at all outside of North and South America, and the odds don’t appear to be in the team’s favor heading into this Minor. Even with all of that being said, there are still a few bright spots for Infamous as it makes its way to Stockholm and this first event of the Pro Circuit season. The team’s Carry/Mid duo of Timado and Papita have shown themselves to be more than capable of putting together impressive outings on the international level, and there’s nothing to say that they couldn’t lead their team to a more favorable outcome with some strong performances at the Minor. Even so, having to rely upon truly inspired performances from the team’s star players for wins isn’t something that is usually conducive to winning consistently. If Infamous gets those star performances from Timado and Papita, or is the inexperienced duo of Wipser and MoOz find themselves acclimating quickly to the intentional game, then look for Infamous to potentially move up a spot or two in the standings. If those scenarios don’t play out in the team’s favor though, it’s hard to expect Infamous to reliably move itself any further than the 7th-8th place position in Stockholm.

 

The Final Tribe The Final Tribe

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Pontus “Frost” Frost
2. Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin
3. Jonas “jonassomfan” Lindholm
4. Simon “Handsken” Haag
5. Adrian “Era” Kryeziu (Captain)

Projected Finish: 1st

The Final Tribe did not begin the previous Pro Circuit season as much of a significant threat within the European region, but as the season went on, the Swedish squad began to build up an impressive level of momentum. That momentum didn’t prove enough to get the squad to Vancouver for TI8, but it does have the squad sitting in a relatively strong position to start this new Pro Circuit campaign. The team didn’t get through the offseason period without any changes to its roster though, as the team picked up Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth veteran Chessie while shifting Era from Carry to Support. While those moves are not quite as drastic as some of the changes we’ve seen from other squads so far this season, The Final Tribe is hoping that those smaller shifts in its lineup will be enough to push it that little bit further into a position as a true contender within the European region and on the international stage as a whole. The team’s performance to this point in the season has been solid, but this first Minor in Stockholm will likely serve as the best test of just how strong The Final Tribe has become with its updated roster.

The Final Tribe has found itself more than a little bit active so far to begin the 2018-2019 season, both and and away from the Pro Circuit. The team began its campaign with runs through both of the Open Qualifiers for The Kuala Lumpur Major, before putting together a 7th-8th place finish in the main Europe Qualifier for the event. Following that came the squad’s successful Open Qualifier run and subsequent 1st place victory in the qualifier for this first Minor of the season. 3 Open Qualifiers and 2 Pro Circuit regional qualifiers is already a fair bit of action for a team to start its season, but The Final Tribe has continued to make appearances in events and qualifiers as often as possible within the last 2 months. At the end of September, the team participated in the mixed Europe and CIS Open Qualifier for ESL One Hamburg 2018, although the squad fell just short of reaching the main qualifier stage with a 3rd-4th place finish. Around that same time, the team also participated in the Reshuffle Madness tournament, another event that featured a field of both European and CIS squads. Unfortunately for The Final Tribe, it ended in the lower half of the standings for that event, posting a 4-5 overall record and finishing in the 5th-6th place position in an 8 team field. More recently, the squad got a chance to make an appearance on the international stage at the World Showdown of Esports #1, where it took on a field of North American, European, and Chinese squads. The team managed to put together a perfect 3-0 record in the Group Stage before falling 0-2 to Team Serenity in the Semifinals of the Playoffs to finish in the combined 3rd-4th place position overall. As a whole, The Final Tribe has not emerged as a team that is expected to blow away its regional rivals like Team Secret or Team Liquid might be. However, the team has shown early in this season that it is more than capable of challenging squads both at home and on the international level, and will look to further prove that point as it fights on home soil in Stockholm in the season’s first Pro Circuit Minor.

The Final Tribe was a squad that never quite seemed to be able to keep itself in the spotlight last season, as the Swedish squad put on a late surge on the Pro Circuit but was not a major player within the European region. This season, the team hopes to change that as quickly as possible with a successful run on home soil at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor and a potential appearance at The Kuala Lumpur Major. The squad will have to overcome a field of determined rivals to make that happen, but The Final Tribe appears to have a number of factors going its way as it prepares for its season debut on the Pro Circuit. The first potential strength for the team is that it managed to keep its roster fairly consistent through the offseason period, with the addition of Chessie and the shift of Era from the Carry role into the Support position being the team’s only changes. That leaves the majority of a roster that attended 2 Pro Circuit Minors and 1 Major over the final half of the 2017-2018 season intact, and makes The Final Tribe potentially more dangerous in a field in which every other team either made larger changes to its roster or are an entirely new team altogether. In addition to the team’s consistency with regards to its roster, the play of The Final Tribe has been relativity stable as well heading into the Minor. After stumbling in The Kuala Lumpur Major Europe Qualifier, the team has enjoyed a bit of a turn around that has seen it put together a string of quality performances against both its regional rivals and international opponents. The squad has already seen action against CIS squads in mixed CIS and EU events like Reshuffle Madness, and got its first international experience of the season with its 3rd-4th place finish in the World Showdown of Esports #1. Overall, the team has a 7-7 record against non-European teams so far this season, and while that 50% win rate isn’t exactly the highest we’ve ever seen from a squad, it is noticeably more experience than most of the other teams in the field in Stockholm. The Final Tribe has yet to show itself as a team that can go on wild runs of success in the European region a la Team Liquid and Team Secret, but it has also been able to avoid the slumps and setbacks that seen to plague many streaky squads in the region. Consistent play, roster stability, and team chemistry have been the calling cards of The Final Tribe in 2018, and those factors appear to be more than any other squad in the field has going for it coming into this event. With that in mind, The Final Tribe is my favorite to win the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, with a projected finish of 1st place overall and the final slot at The Kuala Lumpur Major in November.

 

Vega Squadron (formerly Team Lithium) 579px-Vega_Squadron_2016

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 4th Place (Replacement Team)

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Omar “Madara” Dabachach
2. Danil “Dendi” Ishutin (Stand-in)
3. Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann (Captain)
4. Verros “Maybe Next Time” Apostolos
5. Petu “Peksu” Vaatainen

Projected Finish: 4th

Note: Team Lithium was signed by Vega Squadron on October 28th, and are referred to by their previous name in this section.

It’s going to sound a little bit rude at first, but the fact of the matter is that Team Lithium was not supposed to be at this Minor, as the team finished 4th in the regional qualifier for this event. However, a stroke of good fortune came its way in the end, as Team Liquid withdrew from the event citing health reasons and left their slot in the field open. With the 3rd place team from the Europe Qualifier (Mango Bay) not really existing anymore, the way was clear for Team Lithium to take its place among the field of teams for this Minor. No matter how the team may have gotten to this point, Team Lithium will come to Stockholm with a rather dangerous lineup combining experienced players in Madara, KheZu, and Maybe Next Time with more recent additions to the professional scene in MagE- and Peksu.  Unfortunately, the team will be without one of those players in Stockholm, as MagE- is unable to attend the event and will be temporarily replaced by former Na’Vi midlaner Dendi. As a whole, Team Lithium represents an up and coming team within the European region, and the squad has the chance to begin its Pro Circuit campaign near the top of the regional hierarchy with a strong showing at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor.

Team Lithium may have claimed this spot at the Minor due to Team Liquid’s withdrawal, but the squad has been hard at work so far this season as it attempts to prove itself capable of being a leading team within the European region. The squad began its 2018-2019 campaign with back to back 4th place finishes in the Europe Qualifier for both The Kuala Lumpur Major and this DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, but those qualifiers are far from the team’s only experience so far this season. The team closed out September with a run in the ESL One Hamburg 2018 Europe Open Qualifier, though it fell short of the mark to advance to the main qualifier with a 3rd-4th place finish overall. Around a week later, the team kicked off October with a 3rd-4th place performance in the GG.Bet Invitational Season 1, posing a 5-4 overall record against a mixed field of European and CIS squads. More recently though, the team has encountered some issues within its home region with a couple of weaker showings in European and CIS events. The team finished in the 9th-12th place position in the Maincast Autumn Brawl earlier this month, and is just a few days removed from a 5th-8th place finish in the CryptØmasters as well. While these mixed European and CIS events have given Team Lithium some degree of experience together outside of its home region, the squad has still yet to face a full field of international opposition like it will in Stockholm. With the team going through a bit of a setback in terms of its recent results, the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor will be an incredibly important test of whether Team Lithium can right the ship and get itself back on track in this early portion of the Pro Circuit season.

Team Lithium may not have earned its place at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor in the conventional manner, but the European squad won’t really care about how it got here as it hopes to take advantage of an opportunity to begin its season in a position of strength. A strong showing in its Pro Circuit debut would set Team Lithium up as a threat in the European region and a potential contender in the Pro Circuit standings, and as it stands now the squad looks to be one of the stronger teams in the field for this Minor. The team’s roster includes players who are no strangers to playing on the international level or being in the spotlight, as well as a couple of less experienced players that have displayed an impressive degree of talent and potential. The team has also had the benefit of playing in a couple of events and qualifiers that have featured mixed fields from the Europe and CIS region, which has given Team Lithium a valuable chance to play squads from outside of its home region. The only concern for the squad heading into this Minor is the fact that its recent performance in those mixed EU and CIS events has suffered a slight drop. Considering the team’s performance as a whole so far this season, these relatively minor stumbles aren’t exactly cause for alarm just yet, though they could be if the squad continues to drift towards an inconsistent level of play in Stockholm. While Team Lithium has had some difficulties against elite opponents so far this season (5-11 record against teams qualified for Pro Circuit events), the vast majority of those opponents will not be present in Stockholm. With that in mind, Team Lithium will likely be considered the favored team in all but a couple of potential match ups at the Minor, setting it up for a favorable scenario in its Pro Circuit debut. With that in mind, Team Lithium is projected to finish in 4th place at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, though the squad is perhaps the most susceptible to a significant drop or increase in its position depending on its play.

 

Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) Na'Vi

Region: CIS

Qualification Method: CIS Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek
2. Idan MagicaL” Vardanyan
3. Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree
4. Evgeniy “Chuvash” Makarov
5. Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev (Captain)
C. AndreyMagChipenko (Coach)

Projected Finish: 3rd

After years of trying to reclaim its former glory, the Na’Vi organization made a big decision in the offseason and overhauled its Dota 2 lineup. Long time face of the organization Danil “Dendi” Ishutin was removed from the roster, and Na’Vi opted to move forward with a lineup built around Carry Crystallize and returning Support and Captain SoNNeikO. Around that duo, the organization rounded out its lineup with younger and less experienced regional talents in the hopes of building a roster that can compete both within the CIS region and on the international level. In winning the qualifier for this Minor, the team has held up the first part of that goal, showing that it has the capacity to compete with other squads within its home region. However, this trip to Stockholm will be where the squad is truly put to the test in terms of its strength on the international level, as the team hopes to begin its Pro Circuit campaign on a high note and potentially even earn itself a place at The Kuala Lumpur Major.

Like just about every other squad in the field for this Minor, Na’Vi began its 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season with a slew of appearances in Pro Circuit qualifiers. The team managed to fight its way through the Open Qualifiers for The Kuala Lumpur Major, but ended up putting together a somewhat disappointing 7th-8th place finish in the main CIS Qualifier. At the end of September, the team successfully got through the Open Qualifier and the CIS Qualifier for this DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, claiming wins in a series against Team Empire and 2 series against Espada. In the weeks following that victorious qualifier run though, Na’Vi has been somewhat quiet in terms of performances in third party events and tournaments. The team ended September with an appearance in the mixed Europe and CIS tournament Reshuffle Madness, but finished in the combined last place position of 7th-8th with a 2-4 overall record. More recently, the squad was able to put together something of a bounce back performance in the Maincast Autumn Brawl, another tournament featuring a field of both CIS and European squads. Na’Vi went 2-0 to finish at the top of the standings in its group, and claimed wins against Team Lithium and Team Secret in the Playoffs before losing to CIS squad NoPangolier in the Semifinals for an impressive 3rd-4th place finish overall. Though Na’Vi has not been quite as active as some of the other teams in the field in terms of event appearances, what we’ve seen from Na’Vi’s new lineup to this point in the season has hopes high that the squad is ready to reintroduce itself as a power on the international level, beginning with this first Minor in Stockholm.

For Na’Vi, this recent restructuring of its lineup represents a bold new change in direction for one of the most notable organizations both in the Dota 2 world and across esports in general. With that in mind, there is a certain degree of pressure on this new Na’Vi roster to find success on the Pro Circuit stage as quickly as possible, and this first Minor of the season gives it the perfect opportunity to start strong and establish itself within the CIS region. While the team’s new lineup may not have an extensive level of experience so far, the roster has proven itself to possess a solid foundation of talent, and SoNNeikO has earned himself a reputation in terms of his ability to lead a team from the Captain position. The team has been able to hold its own against its regional rivals, and has also managed to put together some solid performances in events with mixed fields of European and CIS squads. As a whole, the play of this new Na’Vi roster to this point in the season has been fairly impressive, but the squad is not without its concerns heading into this first event of the Pro Circuit season. While the team has seen action across a couple of events with CIS and European squads, it’s current roster does not possess any conventional international experience. Many of the teams in the field at this Minor are also lacking in international experience so far this season, but the issue for this Na’Vi lineup extends beyond just the 2018-2019 season. Aside from SoNNeikO, the members of Na’Vi all have limited experience at the professional level, and even less experience playing outside of the CIS region. That being said, we’ve seen instances in the past where raw talent and skill have won out over experience, and Na’Vi will still be anchored by the more experienced presence of SoNNeikO in Stockholm. Given the team’s relatively consistent success within its home region so far this season, and SoNNeikO’s prowess at the Captain position, Na’Vi is in line for success at this event. The CIS squad is projected to finish in 3rd place at the Minor, but that scenario only plays out if the squad maintains its current level of play and avoids any major mistakes or setbacks on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Royal Never Give Up Royal Never Give Up

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Du “Monet” Peng
2. Gao “Setsu” Zhenxiong
3. Sun “Srf” Runfa
4. Tue “ah fu” Soon Chuan
5. Adam “343” a.k.a. “Adam” Shah
C. Tong “Mikasa” Junjie (Coach)
S. Tang “xy” Weijie (Sub)

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Royal Never Give Up comes into the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season as a product of the post TI8 roster shuffle, as the team was able to put its lineup together through a series of free agent signings and roster transfers. The result of those moves is a potential contender within the Chinese region, although Royal Never Give Up will need a rather impressive start to its season in order to fully rise to the level of regional rivals like Team Aster, PSG.LGD, and Vici Gaming. As it stands now, the team’s roster appears to have a solid mix of experienced veterans and younger talent, but Royal Never Give Up also has an additional trick up its sleeve in the form of its registered substitute player. Midlaner xy is a member of the team’s lineup, filling the role of substitute behind Setsu, and the team has already found some small degree of success shifting the players in the lineup. Having an extra player to potentially call on at an event presents a more difficult scenario in terms of preparation and scouting when playing Royal Never Give Up. The team could potentially draw up different game plans and drafting strategies depending upon which player is in the active lineup, which makes Royal Never Give Up and interesting wild card as it prepares for its first Pro Circuit event.

So far this season, Royal Never Give Up has been exclusively focused on trying to raise its profile within the Chinese region, with this appearance at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor set to be its first taste of international action since the team’s founding. The squad started its 2018-2019 season by winning the China Open Qualifier for The Kuala Lumpur Major, but ended up falling short of the mark in the main China Qualifier with a 5th-6th place finish against its regional rivals. While that initial performance was not quite as strong as the team had been hoping for, Royal Never Give Up was able to bounce back with its successful run through the China Qualifier for this Minor, beating out prominent regional rivals and TI8 attendees Newbee and Team Serenity in the process. Since then though, the team has been somewhat more selective in terms of its appearances in non-Pro Circuit events. The team finished in the 3rd-4th place position in the ESL One Hamburg 2018 China Open Qualifier at the end of September, and just a few days ago competed in the 2018 Sanya DOTA2 New-Stars Play Closed Qualifier, earning a 9th-10th place finish in a 10 team field. With no international experience to speak of with its current roster and a somewhat inconsistent series of performances within the Chinese region, Royal Never Give Up will be looking at this Minor as a chance to stabilize and show that it is capable of competing at a high level both at home and on the international level.

Royal Never Give Up will make its Pro Circuit debut in Stockholm at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, and the Chinese squad will be hoping to make a significant impact both within its home region and on the international level with a strong first showing at the event. While the team’s roster has a number of experienced and talented players on it, Royal Never Give Up will have a rather difficult path into the top half of the standings in Stockholm. One of the most significant concerns for the Chinese squad heading into this event is which of their Mid players the team will opt to utilize in its lineup, either Setsu or xy. Previously, it was mentioned that the presence of a substitute in the team’s lineup could serve to confuse or otherwise distract its opponents, but that aspect of Royal Never Give Up’s lineup can act as a double edged sword as well. For those looking to predict the potential performance of this squad, not knowing which player will be active for the team can introduce a level of uncertainty and unpredictability that muddies the waters a bit. Since Setsu is registered as the main player for the team and xy is the substitute, we would assume that the former will be the first choice of the team in Stockholm. Even with the uncertainty and potential ambiguity of the team’s lineup taken out of the picture, the fact remains that Royal Never Give Up has not particularly impressed with its play so far this season. Aside from its successful qualifier run to reach this Minor, the team hasn’t done much within its home region, being consistently outplayed in regional events and failing to come within the same level of regional leaders like PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Newbee. Adding onto that pile of concerns for Royal Never Give Up is the fact that the squad has not played any official matches outside of its home region since the formation of the current roster, giving us no information about how it stacks up against international competition. Taking all of that into account, Royal Never Give Up does not appear to be in line for much success in Stockholm, but not everything is “doom and gloom” for the squad heading into the Minor. The good news for the team is that the majority of its lineup are all players that have previous experience playing on the international level, with 4 of its members having attended either a TI or a Pro Circuit Major in the past. There is a chance that the previous experience of its players allows Royal Never Give Up to push past its recent issues, and I would put enough faith in that experience to project the squad in the 5th-6th place position at the Minor. At this stage though, anything further than that would require a rather impressive surge in the team’s play that, while possible, is not an occurrence that one should be relying on to play out on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Tigers Tigers

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification Method: Southeast Asia Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 DPC Points)

Roster:
1. Lai “Ahjit” Jay Son
2. Muhammad “inYourdreaM” Rizky
3. David “MoonMeander” Tan
4. Kenny “Xepher” Deo
5. Sivatheeban “1437” Sivanathapillai (Captain)

Projected Finish: 2nd

The movement of the Tigers roster away from the TNC organization came as rather interesting and exciting development within the Southeast Asian region, as the team had come on strong late in last season and emerged as a potential contender. The team’s offseason acquisitions of Ahjit and Moonmeander added even more excitement and hype for the team, as its updated lineup looked formidable compared to some of its most prominent regional rivals. With organizations like Fnatic and TNC Predator still fielding elite rosters within Southeast Asia, the ascent of Tigers into that highest tier within the region is far from guaranteed. However, the team has put together a strong combination of experience, talent, and leadership that makes it a dangerous opponent for any team in the field for this Minor. While any kind of finish would net Tigers Pro Circuit Points at this event, a 1st place finish would secure the team a spot in Kuala Lumpur, where it would joint Fnatic and TNC Predator as representatives of the Southeast Asian region. That kind of chance to solidify its place near the top of the regional hierarchy at this early point in the season is an opportunity that Tigers will be hoping to take advantage of as the team takes the stage in Stockholm.

While Tigers had built up a small degree of momentum for itself near the end of last season under the TNC banner, most of that momentum has diminished over the course of the offseason and the team’s changes to its roster. The new squad has thrown itself into its efforts to reestablish itself within the Southeast Asian region though, making a number of appearances in regional events and tournaments both as part of the Pro Circuit and through third party organizers. The squad began its season with its successful Open Qualifier run, but posted a disappointing 7th-8th place finish in The Kuala Lumpur Major Southeast Asia Qualifier. After fighting its way through a second Open Qualifier though, the team was able to bounce back from its rough start to the season by finishing 1st in the qualifier for this upcoming Minor. Since then, the team has been looking for as many opportunities as possible to put its strength on display against its regional rivals, with a moderate level of success so far. The team made yet another successful Open Qualifier run at the end of September, this time to earn itself a place in the ESL One Hamburg 2018 Southeast Asia Qualifier where it ended up finishing 3rd overall behind TNC Predator and EVOS Esports. More recently though, the team has encountered a slight setback, as Tigers just completed a run in the King’s Cup 2: Southeast Asia that saw it post a 7-7 Group Stage record en route to a finish in the 5th-10th place position in the event. The team’s recent efforts have not been all discouraging though, as the squad is currently set to play in the Finals of the Southeast Asia Cyber Arena 2018, and is sitting at a 2-0 record in the ongoing joinDOTA League Season 14 Asia. While the team doesn’t yet have any experience together on the international level, its performance within its home region has given us a glimpse at the team’s strength and potential as it heads into this first event of the Pro Circuit season.

Tigers enters the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor as a squad looking to upset the balance of power within the Southeast Asian region. Squads like TNC Predator and Fnatic still appear to hold down spots at the top of the regional hierarchy, but Tigers is hoping that a strong performance at the season’s first Minor will be enough to push it into that discussion as a leading SEA squad. Heading into this event, Tigers appears to be one of the stronger teams in the field, and a potential threat to claim the first Minor title of the 2018-2019 season. The team’s roster has some talented and fairly experienced players on it, and the leadership of Captain 1437 has been proven to guide teams to success in the past. Tigers has been performing fairly well within its home region so far this season, with an even 22-22 record against its regional rivals in qualifiers and third party events (not including open qualifiers). A 50% win rate may not necessarily blow anyone away, especially considering the fact that the team has not played any official matches outside of its home region. However, that record and the team’s performance to this point in the season have at least shown a small degree of consistency from Tigers in terms of its level of play. That level of play has not always been high enough for the team to find success, but heading into its Pro Circuit debut, it seems much easier and more likely for Tigers to improve upon relatively consistent and moderately successful results rather than attempt to drastically alter a more inconsistent stretch of performances. With its talent, experience, and leadership, Tigers appears to be in a stronger position than most of its opponents in the field in Stockholm. Because of that, the Southeast Asian squad is projected to finish 2nd at this first Minor of the Pro Circuit season, and is one of teams that seems most likely to be a contender for the title of Minor Champion in Stockholm, barring any significant setbacks or an unexpected surge from a squad in an underdog position.

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