Familiarity settles in within the Chinese region as Team Aster, Vici Gaming, PSG.LGD once again secure spots at the Major.
The final group 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 nearly complete. China was the first region in this second group of 3 to finish its qualifier run, and we now know the 3 squads that will represent the region in Chongqing. The China qualifier began with an expanded field of 10 teams, each hoping for an opportunity to find success against their regional rivals and secure a place on the Pro Circuit stage. However, only 3 of those teams were able to survive the rigors of the regional qualifiers, with Team Aster, Vici Gaming, and PSG.LGD claiming the region’s 3 slots at the Major in January. For those teams that didn’t make the cut this time around, a potential spot in the Minor qualifiers awaits, as the 7 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 3 (Qualified for The Chongqing Major)
Record: 10-2 (7-1 Group Stage, 3-1 Playoffs)
Coming into this qualifier, there were a few doubts surrounding Team Aster regarding its relatively recent roster change. The addition of loveyouloveme to the roster had led to a disappointing performance from the squad at The Kuala Lumpur Major, and it was unclear whether the team would be able to turn things around within its home region. Those doubts were very quickly laid to rest though, as Team Aster absolutely tore its way through its regional rivals in this qualifier. The team put together an incredible 7-1 record in the Group Stage, defeating Royal Never Give Up, Invictus Gaming, and For The Dream while splitting its series against Vici Gaming. to claim the top spot in Group B. After a relatively easy path through the Group Stage, Team Aster faced some resistance in the Playoffs, but eventually got past EHOME in a hard fought 2-1 victory to secure itself a second straight Major appearance. A final Bo1 seeding match saw Team Aster bring down Vici Gaming, as the squad locked down its tenth victory of the qualifier and the top seed among the 3 qualified teams. From this regional performance, it would appear that Team Aster is clicking as a roster, particular the Carry/Mid duo of Sylar and loveyouloveme, who combined to average 11.91 kills and 17.84 Assists with just 4 Deaths per game across the team’s 12 qualifier matches. The only question now is whether or not the team can carry this regional success over onto the international level, and avenge its abysmal 13th-16th place run at the previous Major.
Record: 8-3 (6-2 Group Stage, 2-1 Playoffs)
After emerging as one of the leading squads within the Chinese region in the last round of Pro Circuit qualifiers, Vici Gaming entered this Major qualifier with some fairly high expectations for itself. Fortunately for the team, it was ready to meet those expectations, as Vici Gaming put together an impressive performance against its regional rivals. The squad posted a 6-2 record in the Group Stage, before taking down PSG.LGD 2-0 in the Playoffs to secure itself a spot at the Major. A Bo1 seeding match against Team Aster saw the squad suffer its only defeat of the Playoffs, but by that point the squad’s place in Chongqing had already been secured and the pressure was relatively low for Vici Gaming. There was very little in the way of mistakes or weaknesses for Vici Gaming in its qualifier run, and at this stage, the team has proven itself to be a consistent threat within the Chinese region. Now, the team will look to continue its run of success on the international level as well, as it prepares for its second Major appearance of the 2018-2019 season.
Record: 9-4 (7-1 Group Stage, 2-3 Playoffs)
PSG.LGD came into this qualifier as one of the clear leaders within the Chinese region, having dominated its regional rivals for the most part while posting a 5th-6th place finish on the Pro Circuit stage at The Kuala Lumpur Major. Things didn’t appear to be deviating much for the team through the beginning of this qualifier, as PSG.LGD put together a strong 7-1 Group Stage record to claim the top spot in Group A and a place in the Playoffs. Once there though, the team encountered its first bit of trouble, as the team was absolutely stomped by Vici Gaming in a one sided 0-2 loss that dropped the squad into the 3rd place match against EHOME. While EHOME was able to put up a respectable fight, PSG.LGD was able to bounce back from its previous loss in the end, securing itself a 2-1 victory and locking down the final spot at the Major. The team’s path to the Pro Circuit stage in this qualifier may not have been quite as smooth as it was the last time around, but the talent and experience of this roster came through for it in the end, as PSG.LGD prepares for its second Major appearance of the 2018-2019 season.
Record: 7-7 (5-3 Group Stage, 2-4 Playoffs)
EHOME came into this Major qualifier as one of the recipients of an extra invite due to the expansion of the field from 8 teams to 10, and the team was able to take advantage of its newfound opportunity. The team put together a solid 5-3 Group Stage record that just barely allowed it to advance to the Playoffs after beating Team Root by just a single point in the Group A standings. In the Playoffs, the team was able to hold its own for the most part, losing its series against both Team Aster and PSG.LGD but at least putting up a respectable fight in back to back 1-2 series. While the squad was unable to secure itself a spot at the Major, EHOME has certainly made a strong impression in this Major qualifier. With its 7-7 overall record and 4th place finish against its regional rivals, the team is now in a position where it is essentially assured an invite to the upcoming qualifiers for The Bucharest Minor.
Royal Never Give Up
Record: 4-4 (4-4 Group Stage)
Following its 3rd place finish at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, there was a fair bit of hope that Royal Never Give Up was in a position to emerge as one of the leading squads within the Chinese region. The team wasn’t exactly a favorite coming into this qualifier, but the team had shown enough skill and experience so far this season to at least be a solid candidate to claim 1 of the 3 Chinese slots at the Major. Unfortunately, the squad would end up falling just short of that goal, as Royal Never Give Up posted a 4-4 Group Stage record that left it 2 points behind Vici Gaming for the final Playoff spot of Group B. As a whole, the squad seemed to struggle against the stronger squads in the field, as Royal Never Give Up claimed its 2 series victories against weaker squads like Invictus Gaming and For The Dream, while losing its series against teams like Vici Gaming and Team Aster. From that performance, it would appear that Royal Never Give Up may not be quite ready to take on the heavy hitters in the Chinese region just yet, but it certainly stands a step or two above the majority of its regional rivals. While the team did not earn itself a place at the Major in this qualifier, its solid performance should have it looking like a strong candidate for a place in the upcoming Bucharest Minor qualifiers, where it will have its chance to make another appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season.
Record: 4-4 (4-4 Group Stage)
Team Root came into this qualifier as an interesting squad within the Chinese region. The team’s roster had a wealth of talent and experience under its belt, but its performance within its home region to this point in the season had been decidedly underwhelming. With its victory at H-Cup Season 10 earning it a spot in this qualifier though, there was hope that the team was in a position to turn around its poor start to the season and turn some heads with a solid performance. To a certain extent, the team did manage to do that, although it did not end up surviving the Group Stage of the qualifier with a 4-4 overall record. Things were looking good for the squad after Day 1, as Team Root had claiming a 2-0 win over Newbee Young in its first series before splitting its next series against EHOME. Unfortunately, Day 2 ended up being the downfall of the squad, as Team Root fell 0-2 against PSG.LGD before splitting its final series against Keen Gaming to finish just 1 point behind EHOME for the final slot in the Playoffs. As a whole though, Team Root played fairly well, especially its Carry/Mid duo of END and Super, who averaged a combined 14.75 kills and 16.75 Assists with just 5.5 Deaths per game across the team’s 8 matches in the qualifier. That kind of production is exactly what Team Root will need moving forward, and it could be enough to fuel a potential run in The Bucharest Minor qualifiers if the team can receive a direct invite or fight its way through the open qualifiers.
Record: 3-5 (3-5 Group Stage)
As one of the final squads to earn its place in this Major qualifier, Keen Gaming entered the event with relatively low expectations, though the experience of some of its players left a small glimmer of hope that the team could find success against its regional rivals. As it turns out, that hope may have been somewhat overstated, as Keen Gaming did not manage to put together a very impressive performance in the end. The squad began its Group Stage run with a solid 2-2 record on Day 1 that included series splits against both PSG.LGD and Newbee Young, but things quickly fell apart beyond that point. Another 1-1 split against Team Root followed by a 0-2 loss to EHOME tanked the squad’s chances at advancing out of the Group Stage. While the team’s 3-5 overall record will not look particularly impressive at first glance, within the context of the team’s group it takes on a slightly more positive role. The team was still in the running for a Playoff spot right up until its final series, as anything other than the 0-2 loss that it took against EHOME would have put it either directly into the Playoffs or in a tiebreaker scenario for the final spot. In the end though, the team couldn’t avoid that 0-2 sweep, but the fact that the team was just 1 win away from potentially advancing to the Playoffs should be a point of encouragement for the squad as it must now prepare for a potential run in The Bucharest Minor China Qualifier.
For The Dream
Record: 2-6 (2-6 Group Stage)
For The Dream seems to be a squad that is forever stuck on the periphery of the Chinese Dota scene, never quite building up the strength to truly compete with its regional rivals on a consistent basis. With this appearance at The Chongqing Major China Qualifier though, there was hope that the team could take advantage of this opportunity and finally push itself into contention with the heavy hitters of the region. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed rather quickly, as For The Dream struggled in this qualifier. Day 1 of the Group Stage saw the squad put together a solid 2-2 record with splits against Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming, but everything seemed to fall apart on Day 2. The team ended up losing both of its series against Royal Never Give Up and Team Aster 0-2, completely snuffing out any chance at advancing out of the Group Stage in the process. The 2 days of the Group Stage saw 2 near completely different sides of For The Dream, and not in a good way. On Day 1, the squad looked strong and confident, appearing to be in control across its 2 wins and remaining at least somewhat competitive in its 2 losses. On Day 2, all sense of confidence and momentum was lost, and For The Dream was simply out played at every turn en route to 4 straight losses. Inconsistency has been the Achilles Heel of many squads in the Dota 2 world, and it now appears that For The Dream is the latest to suffer its effects. If the team can right the ship and stabilize its level of play soon, then a run in the upcoming Minor qualifiers could be a possibility for it, but it will need to perform significantly better than it did in this event if it wants that shot at redemption.
Record: 1-7 (1-7 Group Stage)
It was not a fantastic run in this Major qualifier for Newbee Young, as the squad put together a somewhat unimpressive performance in its first Pro Circuit qualifier appearance of the season. Coming into this event, the expectations for this relatively inexperienced squad were low, and the team showed us just why that was as it posted a 1-7 record in Group A. The team fell 0-2 in its series against PSG.LGD, Team Root, and EHOME, while claiming its lone win of the qualifier in a 1-1 split with Keen Gaming. Aside from that single win, the majority of Newbee Young’s matches saw it significantly out played, as its 7 losses proved to be incredibly one sided affairs in which the team found itself playing from behind almost constantly. The potential may be there for this Newbee Young roster, but the squad just doesn’t appear to be ready to face the heavy hitters in its region just yet.
Record: 1-7 (1-7 Group Stage)
Invictus Gaming is a team that has shifted its focus to a younger and less experienced roster of players this season, and in this qualifier we saw some of the risks of that strategy play out. The team did not perform particularly well against its regional rivals in this qualifier, posting a 1-7 overall record that saw it lose to Royal Never Give Up, Team Aster, and Vici Gaming while splitting a series with For The Dream. While the team was able to secure that lone victory to keep itself from going completely win-less in this qualifier, its performance across its other matches was, in a word, weak. Across the team’s 7 losses, its average game time was just under 31 minutes, and the squad was out killed by a combined score of 57-182. Hopefully, the team and its developing roster will be able to take something away from this absolute drubbing at the hands of its regional rivals, but for now, Invictus Gaming does not appear to be ready to play any sort of significant role in the regional hierarchy in China.