NA Dota on repeat as Forward Gaming, Evil Genisues, J.Storm secure back to back Major appearances.
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. North America was the final region to finish its qualifier run, and we now know the 3 squads that will represent the region in Chongqing. This North America 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 3 of those teams were able to survive the rigors of the regional qualifiers, with J.Storm, Forward Gaming, and Evil Geniuses 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 5 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: 8-4 (4-3 Group Stage, 4-1 Playoffs)
Following its 9th-12th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major, J.Storm entered this Major qualifier as one of the leading teams within the North American region. With the Tier 2 scene in North America somewhat chaotic to begin the season, the team appeared to have a strong shot at earning back to back Major appearances, but the squad had to work for it with a hard fought run through the Group Stage. The team began the qualifier with a 2-1 victory over TEAM TEAM, but lost its subsequent series against Foward Gaming 0-2. That loss forced the team into a rematch with TEAM TEAM, but a one sided 2-0 victory advanced the team into the Playoffs, where it was able to push past Evil Geniuses 2-0 thanks to an impressive late-game comeback in Game 2 of the series. The team’s final series was played out for seeding purposes only, with J.Storm taking down Forward Gaming 2-1 to lock down the top North American seed at the Major. The team appears to be building up some momentum with this qualifier performance, especially Bryle who put together an incredible series of games to help fuel the team in this qualifier. The question now is whether or not J.Storm can translate regional success into results on the international level, as the team prepares for its second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in this 2018-2019 campaign.
Record: 9-2 (4-0 Group Stage, 5-2 Playoffs)
The North American region may have been well represented at The Kuala Lumpur Major with EG’s 3rd place finish, but Forward Gaming’s performance at the Major was not quite as impressive, The team finished in the 9th-12th place position overall, and came into this Major qualifier looking to earn itself a shot at redemption by laying claim to 1 of the 3 North American slots at The Chongqing Major. While the squad’s performance on the international level had been somewhat inconsistent, its play within its home region most certainly was not. Forward Gaming smashed through its regional rivals in this qualifier, winning its first 6 matches to lock down its slot at the Major. The team’s final 2 series of the qualifier against J.Storm and Evil Geniuses was played out for the purpose of seeding among the 3 teams, with Forward Gaming putting together a 3-2 record against its 2 biggest regional rivals. Forward Gaming’s performance in this qualifier was about as strong an consistent as we had been expecting coming into the event, but at this stage in the season finding success on the home front does not appear to be the main challenge for the squad. The true test for the team will be whether it can carry over its regional success onto the Pro Circuit stage, as Forward Gaming will now prepare to make its second straight Major appearance in Chongqing.
Record: 6-4 (4-0 Group Stage, 2-4 Playoffs)
Following its impressive 3rd place performance at The Kuala Lumpur Major, Evil Geniuses had slid right back into its traditional position as the leading team within the North American region. However, a series of roster changes from some of the other teams in the region meant that there was still a small chance that the squad could stumble in this Major qualifier. The team quickly made it clear that such a scenario would not be occurring, as Evil Geniuses demolished both Team Borster and Plus Ultra for back to back 2-0 series wins and a perfect 4-0 record in the Group Stage. An opening 0-2 loss to J.Storm in the Playoffs put the team’s Major hopes in jeopardy to a certain degree, but the squad was able to bounce back and secure another 2-0 sweep of Plus Ultra to lock down 1 of the 3 North American slots at The Chongqing Major. At that point, the team’s place was already secured, but Evil Geniuses played one final series against Forward Gaming for seeding purposes that it ended up losing 0-2 to bring its overall record to 6-4. As a whole, the team had a significantly harder time in this Major qualifier compared to its previous qualifier run. However, the squad still managed to perform well enough to reach the Major stage, and we’ve all seen just what this team is capable of on the international level.
Record: 4-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 0-4 Playoffs)
There was a fair bit of hype surrounding Plus Ultra as it entered this Major qualifier, as the roster of some of the most well known and experienced players in the North American region attracted quite a bit of attention. Unfortunately, the team did not manage to earn itself a place at the Major, as the recently formed squad struggled against the elite teams of the North American region. Plus Ultra claimed all 4 of its wins in this qualifier against a compLexity Gaming squad that was still adjusting to a trio of recent roster additions, but it could not replicate that success against any other opponent in the field. The team lost all 6 of its other matches, with 2 losses coming in a series against Forward Gaming while 4 of its losses came from two 0-2 losses against Evil Geniuses. Overall, the team was solid but not particularly impressive in this qualifier, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering how recently the team had been formed. While Plus Ultra could not earn a place in Chongqing in this qualifier, it will still have a shot at making its Pro Circuit debut with the announcement of its direct invite status for The Bucharest Minor North America Qualifier.
Record: 3-4 (3-4 Group Stage)
The Tier 2 scene within the North American region has been fairly chaotic so far this season, with some squads making frequent changes to their roster while others imply appear and disband seemingly at random. Within that chaos though, TEAM TEAM has managed to emerge as a somewhat stable presence, although it did enter this Major qualifier with a slightly altered roster. The hope was that the team’s relative stability would allow it to put together a stronger performance against its regional qualifier, and to a certain extent that ended up working out for TEAM TEAM as it posted a 3-4 overall record. The team was able to beat Zugzwang 2-0, but struggled against J.Storm as its ended up going 1-4 against the team across 2 series. Overall, the team was once again unable to qualify for a Major, but its performance in this qualifier was noticeably better than its 2-7 record in the previous Major qualifier. The squad appears to be slowly improving its standing within the North American region, and it will potentially have a chance to take another step forward if it can earn a place in the upcoming Bucharest Minor qualifiers.
Record: 2-4 (2-4 Group Stage)
The new compLexity Gaming roster came into this Major qualifier as something of a question mark in terms of its strength within the North American region. The squad’s recent addition of a trio of Southeast Asian players had certainly been an interesting move for the team, but it wasn’t yet clear if the new lineup would be able to find much success against its regional rivals. As it turns out, the team wasn’t able to put together an overly impressive performance in this qualifier, posting a 2-4 overall record that failed to advance it out of the Group Stage. The team struggled against 1 opponent in particular, as compLexity Gaming suffered all 4 of its Group Stage losses at the hand of Plus Ultra, although it at least managed to be fairly competitive in its second series against the team. Aside from that, the team’s 2 Group Stage wins came against a Team Borster squad that went win-less in this qualifier and did not appear to put up much of a fight against anyone. Seeing as the team didn’t end up facing any of the other ranked teams in the North American region (Evil Geniuses, Forward Gaming, and J.Storm), it’s hard to get an accurate feel for the new roster’s place in the regional hierarchy. On the other hand, if the team struggled this much against other teams in the field, then its chances of competing consistently against the heavy hitters in the region don’t appear to be particularly high right now.
Record: 0-4 (0-4 Group Stage)
Things did not go well for Team Borster in this qualifier, as the team struggled in the face of its regional rivals. The team ended its qualifier run at the bottom of the standings in Group A, and failed to win a single match as it fell in back to back 0-2 series against Evil Geniuses and compLexity Gaming. Not only did the team not win a game in this qualifier, the games that it did play were absolute stomps, as the team was out killed by a score of 54-143 across its 4 matches and had an average game length of just over 23 minutes. Coming into this qualifier, the expectations for the squad were admittedly low, but the abysmal performance that Team Borster put up in this Major qualifier pretty much constitutes the worst possible scenario for the team.
Record: 0-4 (0-4 Group Stage)
Zugzwang did not impress in its first appearance in a Pro Circuit qualifier, as the North American team had significant issues keeping pace with its regional rivals. The team ended up finishing at the bottom of the standings in its group, and came away from the qualifier without a single win to its name. The team lost 0-2 against both Forward Gaming and TEAM TEAM, with all 4 losses being completely one sided affairs in which the team held a net worth lead for only a handful of minutes in total. The team wasn’t exactly expected to be a legitimate contender for 1 of the 3 North American spots at the Major, but a win-less performance with 4 straight blow out losses is still somewhat disappointing for the team as it now has to hope for a strong open qualifier run to earn a shot at redemption in the upcoming Bucharest Minor qualifiers.