A new challenger emerges in the CIS region as NoPangolier will join Virtus.pro at The Chongqing Major.
The first set of regional qualifiers for The Chongqing Major are coming to a close, and the field of teams for the second Major of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season is beginning to take shape. The CIS region has become the latest to conclude its qualifier, and we now know the 2 squads that will represent the region in Chongqing. This CIS qualifier began with 8 teams in the field, each hoping for an opportunity to find success against their regional rivals and secure a place on the Pro Circuit stage. However, only 2 of those teams were able to survive the rigors of the regional qualifiers, with NoPangolier and Virtus.pro claiming the 2 CIS slots at the Major in January. For those teams that didn’t make the cut this time around, a shot at the Minor qualifiers awaits, as the 6 unsuccessful squads from this qualifier still have another shot at reaching the Pro Circuit stage. For now though, the time has come to take a look at how each of the squads performed in this qualifier, with the participants divided based upon their final positions in the event standings.
Top 2 (Qualified for The Chongqing Major)
Record: 6-3 (2-2, [Default Win] Group Stage, 4-1 Playoffs)
NoPangolier was a squad that didn’t exist during the previous round of Pro Circuit qualifiers, but the team certainly didn’t appear to let the pressure of its first Pro Circuit qualifier showing get to it. The squad’s run through the qualifier began with a brutal 0-2 loss to Team Spirit in which the squad lost in less than 1 hour of in-game time, but NoPangolier was quick to bounce back from that initial defeat. The team received a default win in what was meant to be its next series against Se7en eSports, then proceeded to earn its revenge against Team Spirit with a one sided 2-0 victory that secured the team a place in the Playoffs. From that point on was where we saw the true strength of this team though, as NoPangolier took down both Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro with a combined 4-1 run that earned the squad 1 of the 2 CIS slots at the Major. Not only did the squad manage to defeat 2 Major attendees, it took down the reigning Major Champion in VP in a full Bo3 series. Only 2 other teams (Team Secret and Vici Gaming) have managed to do that so far this season, and both of those teams have already found their way to the Pro Circuit stage. It seems almost poetic that the third squad to claim a series off of the 5 time Major Champion would earn itself a Pro Circuit debut in the process.
Record: 9-2 (4-0 Group Stage, 5-2 Playoffs)
When a team wins a Major, it’s pretty much a given that the squad will enter the subsequent round of qualifiers as a heavy favorite to find success. VP found itself in that exact situation heading into this qualifier, and the 5 time Major Champion certainly managed to live up to its billling as the top squad in the CIS region. The squad easily swept past both Se7en eSports and Team Spirit, posting a 4-0 Group Stage record while encountering very little resistance from those opponents. The squad then advanced to the Playoffs of the qualifier, where it put together yet another dominant 2-0 victory over Team Empire Hope to reach the Winners’ Finals. At that point, we finally saw that VP’s players were actually human, as the squad fell 1-2 to NoPangolier in its first and only losses of the qualifier. That loss dropped the squad into the Losers’ Finals, where it was able to fight past Gambit Esports for a 2-0 victory that secured its place at the Major. Aside from its losses to NoPangolier, VP appeared to be in complete control of all of its matches, exuding the same level of confidence and poise that we’ve come to expect from the squad. With its place in the field now confirmed, the squad’s attention will now shift towards laying claim to its 2nd Major Championship of the 2018-2019 season, and the organization’s 6th Major title overall.
Record: 6-6 (4-1 Group Stage, 2-5 Playoffs)
As 1 of just 3 teams in the CIS region to have attended a Pro Circuit event this season, Gambit Esports entered this qualifier as one of the leading squads among its regional rivals. However, the team’s rather poor performance at The Kuala Lumpur Major had some wondering just how well the squad would manage to respond in this qualifier. As it turned out, the team managed to bounce back with a solid showing against its regional rivals. The squad pushed past both Team Empire Hope and Na’Vi to claim the top spot in Group B with a 4-1 record, but lost its opening Playoff series against NoPangolier 0-2 to fall in to the lower half of the bracket. From there, the team ended up taking down Team Empire Hope 2-1 in a rematch of their Group Stage series before finally falling 0-2 to VP to end up just short of the mark to qualify for the Major. While the team’s performance didn’t earn it a spot in Chongqing, its 6-6 record in the qualifier makes it much easier to have confidence that the squad can continue to be a leader within the CIS region this season. Up next for the squad will more than likely be The Bucharest Minor CIS Qualifier, where the squad will have another chance at making its second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season.
Team Empire Hope
Record: 5-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
Team Empire Hope did not come into this Major qualifier with the highest of expectations, as the squad had been put together just over 2 weeks ago and was meant to be a secondary squad to the main Team Empire Faith roster. As it turns out though, the secondary squad is off to the stronger start, as Team Empire Hope put together an impressive performance in its first Pro Circuit qualifier appearance. Though the team lost its initial series of the event in somewhat one sided fashion, going down 0-2 to Gambit Esports, the squad was quickly able to bounce back. The squad put up back to back 2-0 series victories over Winstrike Team and Na’Vi in order to advance out of the Group Stage and into the Playoffs. Unfortunately, the team had the misfortune of facing off against Virtus.pro in the Semi-finals and were quickly dropped down in to the Lower Bracket where it’s run was ended with a 1-2 loss in a rematch against Gambit Esports. Despite falling short of the mark to qualify for the Major, Team Empire Hope’s performance in this qualifier is certainly an encouraging sign for the team moving forward. The core trio of dream’, Kodos, and MYSmoon proved to be a formidable front for the squad in this qualifier, and one that the team can hopefully rely upon and continue to build around over the course of the season. If the team can continue to play at this kind of level in the future, then it has the potential to rise through the ranks in a CIS hierarchy that is still not fully stable aside from VP at the top.
Record: 3-4 (3-4 Group Stage)
Following its 2nd place run at the DreamLeagues Season 10 Minor, it appeared that things were beginning to look up for Na’Vi, and that the squad had a shot at becoming one of the leading teams within the CIS region. Unfortunately, the team was unable to build upon that momentum in this qualifier, as the squad struggled a bit more than many may have been expecting. The squad easily took out Winstrike Team with a 2-0 series victory, but proceeded to go 1-4 across its subsequent series against Gambit Esports and Team Empire Hope. Of course, the team’s third loss to Gambit Esports was due to a reported DDoS attack that prevented the squad from connecting to the lobby, but the 0-2 loss to Team Empire Hope appeared to free of similar issues. While its finish in the bottom half of the standings in this event is certainly something of a disappointment, Na’Vi will still have a chance to reach the Pro Circuit stage for a second time this season. The squad will likely have to fight through the open qualifiers, but should it manage to do so, then a spot at the upcoming Bucharest Minor could be a possibility for the squad.
Record: 2-4 (2-4 Group Stage)
After a host of event wins and solid performances within the CIS and Europe region so far this season, there was hope that Team Spirit was finally on the cusp of emerging as a leader among its regional rivals. Unfortunately, those hopes took a bit of a hit here, as the squad struggled in this major qualifier with a 2-4 overall record. A 2-0 victory against NoPangolier to start its Group Stage run had things looking good for the squad, but a subsequent 0-2 drubbing from Virtus.pro put a halt to the team’s momentum, and a rough 0-2 loss in the team’s rematch with NoPangolier sunk its chances at qualifying for the Major. The talent and experience all appear to be there for this Team Spirit roster, but the squad just seems to be lacking something that prevents it from consistently competing against the top squads in its region. However, hope still remains for Team Spirit to make its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage, as the squad could still has a shot at earning a place at The Bucharest Minor, though it will likely have to play through open qualifiers first in order to reach the CIS Qualifier for that event.
Record: 0-4 (0-4 Group Stage)
Between the team’s struggles in the previous round of Pro Circuit qualifiers and its relatively recent change to its roster, the 2018-2019 campaign has not gotten off to a fantastic start so far for Winstrike Team. The hopes were that the squad could regroup and turn things around with a strong performance in this Major qualifier, but that appears to no longer be the case. The team ended up losing both of its series 0-2 against Na’Vi and Team Empire Hope, and in eerily similar scenarios as well. Both series featured Winstrike Team hold an advantage in the early and mid-game stages of Game 1, before losing said lead in the late-game stage and failing to effectively maintain control long enough to secure a victory. The silver lining for Winstrike Team was that its Carry/Mid duo of Silent and Iceberg still managed to put together admirable numbers despite the team’s struggles, with the former putting together a total stat line of 25-20-37 while the latter’s overall line was 33-25-22. Unfortunately for the team, those performances were not nearly enough to lead it to success, and Winstrike Team will now need to rely upon third party events and regional tournaments to maintain its place within the CIS hierarchy, or look to turn things around in time for a run at the qualifiers for the upcoming Bucharest Minor.
Record: 0-2 (0-2, [Forfeit Loss] Group Stage)
Se7en eSports came into this Major Qualifier as something of an underdog, but the squad ended up under performing even by its admittedly low expectations. After being handily defeated by Virtus.pro 0-2 in a series that lasted less than an hour of total game time, the squad opted to quiet the qualifier, forfeiting its Losers’ Match against NoPangolier. With that, Se7en eSports brings its qualifier run to an end having been out killed 19-74 across just 2 total matches played, and hasn’t given us much of a glimpse of its potential moving forward.