A group of familiar faces dominates the field, while a trio of new challengers look to make their mark on the Pro Circuit stage as the regional qualifiers conclude for The Chongqing Major.
Even as the 2018 section of the Pro Circuit season begins to wind down, the action on the Pro Circuit is picking up, as the second set of Major qualifiers has officially come to a close. While The Chongqing Major is not set to begin until after the start of the new year, we have already determined 15 of the 16 squads that will be looking to take home the title of Major Champion in China. Europe, North America, and China will be sending 3 teams each to The Chongqing Major, while CIS, South American, and Southeast Asia will each have 2 representatives at the event. Of course, 1 of the regions will have an extra team representing it on the Pro Circuit stage, but which region it will be and what squad will became that 16th participant at the Major will not be determined until the end of The Bucharest Minor. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the 15 squads that fought their way through the regional qualifiers and are locked in to spots at The Chongqing Major. Note that this will only be a brief bit of basic information about each squad, and a slightly more in-depth preview post will be forthcoming closer to the start of the Major.
Region: Europe (1st – Europe Qualifier)
Michał “Nisha” Jankowski
Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg
Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov
Lee “SunBhie” Jeong-jae (Coach)
As the runner-up of The Kuala Lumpur Major and one of the more dominant forces within the European region, Team Secret cam into this Major qualifier as a clear favorite to claim 1 of the 3 slots at The Chongqing Major. The squad was quick to show us just why it is considered one of the region’s best squads, as Team Secret put together a 8-2 record en route to securing its second straight Major appearance. As we’ve come to expect from the European juggernaut, Team Secret played a strong and consistent style of Dota in this qualifier, exposing few weaknesses and limiting any mistakes or opportunities for its opponents to take advantage of. As the team prepares for its second Major of the 2018-2019 season, it has to be considered one of the favorites to find success at The Chongqing Major.
Region: Europe (2nd – Europe Qualifier)
Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen
Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi
Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov
Maroun “GH” Merhej
Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi
After choosing to withdraw from what would have been the team’s 2018-2019 Pro Circuit debut at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor, Team Liquid will actually make its first appearance of the season at The Chongqing Major, as the team has secured 1 of the 3 European slots for the event. The team put together an impressive run in this Major qualifier, winning its first 6 matches of the event to secure its place in Chongqing before closing out with a 3-3 run in seeding matches against fellow Major attendees Team Secret and Alliance. With the team’s roster unchanged from the one that claimed victory at TI7, won its first Major Championship during the previous Pro Circuit season, and claimed a 4th place finish in Vancouver at TI8, Team Liquid will surely be considered one of the more proven and formidable opponents in the field for The Chongqing Major.
Region: Europe (3rd – Europe Qualifier)
Micke “miCKe” Nguyen
Samuel “Boxi” Svahn
Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi
Tommy “Taiga” Le
Jonathan “Loda” Berg (Coach)
In the stacked field for The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier, Alliance was a squad that found itself somewhat overshadowed by its regional rivals. Despite having made an appearance at the previous Major, the team was facing off against 4 other Pro Circuit ranked squads, 3 Major Champions, and 2 other TI winning organizations. While the path to success certainly wasn’t an easy one, it was one that Alliance was able to walk, as the team overcame its regional rivals and secured its second straight appearance at a Major this season. With a 7-7 overall record in the qualifier, Alliance certainly didn’t dominate its opponents by any means. However, the squad did show a level of strength and consistency that gave it that edge over the other teams in the field and helped fuel its successful run in this qualifier. The question now is how well the team will be able to perform in its return to the Pro Circuit stage, as the squad will look to improve upon its earlier 9th-12th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major with a stronger performance in Chongqing.
Region: CIS (1st – CIS Qualifier)
Aybek “Naive-” Tokaev
Aleksandr “Ceyler” Popov
Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk
Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov
Semion “CemaTheSlayer” Krivulya
NoPangolier represents a new face on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team wasn’t even around during the last set of Pro Circuit qualifiers. Though the team has only officially existed for around 2 months now, NoPangolier is already starting to make waves within its home region. The team’s 6-3 performance in this qualifier is proof of the team’s potential within this region, as NoPangolier managed to claim series victories over both Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro in the process of earning its place at The Chongqing Major. Whether the squad will be able to carry over that regional success onto the international level though is a whole other matter. The good news for the team is that the majority of its players are not strangers to playing on the international level, but the question will be just how well the roster as a whole can adjust to playing on the Pro Circuit stage in one of the biggest events of the season.
Region: CIS (2nd – CIS Qualifier)
Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev
Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov
Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan
Alexei “Solo” Berezin
Arsenij “ArsZeeqq” Usov (Coach)
In a development that surprises pretty much no one, Virtus.pro has once again secured itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage, as the CIS juggernaut will pursue its second Major Championship of the 2018-2019 season in Chongqing. By now, we’ve all seemingly grown accustomed to VP simply breezing its way through these regional qualifiers, and as of this moment there doesn’t appear to be a clear contender within the CIS region that can consistently defeat the team. While the regional powerhouse did end up losing a series against fellow Major attendee NoPangolier in this qualifier, it will take more than a single series to see if that squad is capable of joining VP at the top of the CIS hierarchy. For now, the focus of the team will be on preparing itself for The Chongqing Major, where it will be one of the clear favorites in the field as the squad looks to claim the organization’s sixth ever Major Championship title.
Region: China (1st – China Qualifier)
Liu “Sylar” Jiajun
Gao “loveyouloveme” Yuan
Lin “Xxs” Jing
Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao
Lu “Fenrir” Chao
Fu “Q” Bin (Coach)
After a strong start to its season within the Chinese region, Team Aster made a somewhat shocking move in benching Dstone ans bringing in loveyouloveme. In the immediate aftermath of that move, things went poorly for the squad, as Team Aster put together a disappointing 13th-16th place performance at The Kuala Lumpur Major. However, the team appears to have recovered from that stumble, dominating this Major qualifiers with a 10-2 overall record thanks in large part to the duo of Sylar and loveyouloveme. With this strong qualifier performance, Team Aster appears to have righted the ship on the home front, but it is still unclear whether the squad will be able to improve upon its last place finish on the Pro Circuit stage. Based upon this strong showing at home, the team looks to be in a stronger position, but we will have to wait and see if Team Aster is capable of carrying over its regional success onto the international level.
Region: China (2nd – China Qualifier)
Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun
Ding “Dy” Cong
Bai “rOtK” Fan (Coach)
Between a consistent performance within its home region and a pair of impressive showings on the international level, Vici Gaming came into this Major qualifier as one of the more formidable teams within the Chinese region. The squad’s success against its regional rivals continued in this round of Pro Circuit qualifiers as well, with the team posting a 8-3 overall record en route to securing its second straight appearance at a Major. At this stage, there appear to be very few weaknesses in this Vici Gaming roster, as the team has been able to play with a strong and consistent style both on the Pro Circuit stage and on the home front too. With the opportunity to play in front of a home town crowd in Chongqing, expect Vici Gaming to be even more focused and determined to find success as it enters its 2nd Pro Circuit appearance of the season.
Region: China (3rd – China Qualifier)
Wang “Ame” Chunyu
Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao
Yang “Chalice”‘ Shenyi
Xu “fy” Linsen
Jian Wei “xNova” Yap
Yao “QQQ” Yi (Coach)
As one of the leading teams within the Chinese region, PSG.LGD came into the Major qualifiers expecting to earn a return trip to the Pro Circuit stage. While the team’s path to success against its regional rivals was somewhat more difficult than it had been the last time around, the Chinese juggernaut was able to get the job done and secure itself a place at The Chongqing Major. The team has been impressive on the international level so far this season, with a 3rd-4th place finish at the PVP Esports Championship as well as its 5th-6th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major. With the team’s record of success on the Pro Circuit stage and the considerable levels of talent and experience on its roster, PSG.LGD should once again enter a Pro Circuit event as a formidable opponent and a potential favorite to claim a Major Championship.
Region: Southeast Asia (1st – Southeast Asia Qualifier)
Pyo “MP” No-a
Abed “Abed” Azel L. Yusop
Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang
Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti
Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong
Kim “DuBu” Doo-young (Coach)
Another round of Pro Circuit qualifiers has come around, and Fnatic has once again affirmed its position near the top of the hierarchy within the Southeast Asian region. The squad dominated its regional rivals in the Major qualifiers, posting a 8-2 overall record while taking out the only 2 others Southeast Asian squads to appear on the Pro Circuit this season in Tigers and TNC Predator. In addition to the team’s strong performance so far in its home region, Fnatic has been playing well on the international level too, having finished 2nd at the PVP Esports Championship last month and in the 7th-8th place position at The Kuala Lumpur Major just a few weeks ago. Between its early season success both on the home front and on the international level, Fnatic will enter The Chongqing Major as a formidable opponent as it looks to increase its Pro Circuit Point total.
Region: Southeast Asia (2nd – Southeast Asia Qualifier)
Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte
Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios
Carlo “Kuku” Palad
Timothy “Tims” Randrup
Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.
Murielle “Kipspul” Huisman (Coach/Analyst)
With TNC Predator qualifying for The Chongqing Major, the ongoing drama regarding the potential ban for Kuku has had fuel poured on the proverbial fire. Regardless of the status of the team and its roster though, the fact remains that TNC Predator has continued to put together impressive performances against its regional rivals. The team’s 9-4 record in the Major qualifiers was the most recent example of its strength within its home region, as the only series that TNC Predator ended up losing was a 1-2 defeat at the hands of fellow Major attendee Fnatic. If Kuku ends up being unavailable to play at The Chongqing Major, then the squad will be faced with an interesting dilemma in terms of who it would recruit as a stand-in for the event. Even if Kuku has to be replaced for this event though, TNC Predator should stand as a solid threat in the field for the Major, as the team will look to build upon its 5th-6th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major earlier this month.
Region: North America (1st – North America Qualifier)
David “Moo” Hull
Jonathan “Bryle” De Guia
Lee “Forev” Sang-don
Milan “MiLAN” Kozomara
Park “March” Tae-won
Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho (Coach)
J.Storm’s Pro Circuit debut was not the most memorable or notable of performances, as the North American squad finished in the 9th-12th place position in a modest showing on the international level. While the team may not have hit its stride at the Major, it certainly appears to be heating up on the home front, as the squad put together an impressive 8-4 in this Major qualifier en route to claiming the top seed among the 3 North American squads that will be heading to Chongqing in January. The team’s Carry/Mid duo of Moo and Bryle were absolutely on fire in this qualifier, combining to average 18.58 kills and 25.67 assists with 6.92 deaths per game across 12 qualifier matches. That duo will likely be the driving force for J.Storm at The Chongqing Major, and if Moo and Bryle can perform on the international level the way they just played against their regional rivals, then the team may just have a shot at improving upon its previous Pro Circuit result.
Region: North America (2nd – North America Qualifier)
Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
Arif “MSS” Anwar
Avery “SVG” Silverman
Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling (Coach)
Forward Gaming came into this Major qualifier as a clear leader within the North American region, as the squad had consistently managed to beat those squads on the lower end of the regional hierarchy while also holding its own against the other elite squads like J.Storm and Evil Geniuses. With that in mind, the team was expected to put together a strong performance in this qualifier, and the team certainly did not disappoint as it posted a 9-2 overall record. Finding success within the North American region has not been the problem for Forward Gaming though, as it’s the team’s performance on the international level that has been somewhat inconsistent this season. In its 2 appearances at international events, the team has managed to earn a 7th=8th place finish at ESL One Hamburg 2018, and a 9th-12th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major. Neither of those results are particularly bad for the team, but you cant bet that Forward Gaming will be looking to notch a significantly stronger showing on the Pro Circuit stage as it prepares to fight for the Major Championship title in Chongqing.
Region: North America (3rd – North America Qualifier)
Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan
Gustav “s4” Magnusson
Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen
Tal “Fly” Aizik
Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale
After winning the The Kuala Lumpur Major North America qualifier in September and finishing 3rd overall at the Major itself earlier this month, Evil Geniuses was considered to be both a leader within the North American region and a formidable threat on the international level. With that in mind, the team entered this Major qualifier as one of the favorites to secure a spot in Chongqing, and the squad was able to live up to those expectations, though with some added difficulties compared to its previous qualifier run. With a 6-4 overall record, the team did not look quite as dominant as it did the last time around, but the team managed to pull itself together when it mattered most to secure 1 of the 3 North American spots at the Major. The team’s struggles against some of its regional rivals may be a small cause for concern moving forward, but as of right now it doesn’t appear to be a significant enough issue to adversely effect the confidence levels in this squad as it looks to put together another strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage.
Region: South America (2nd – South America Qualifier)
Aliwi “w33” Omar
Otávio “Tavo” Gabriel
Danylo “Kingrd” Nascimento
Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen
Once again, paiN Gaming has emerged as one of the leading squads within the South American region, further cementing its already favorable position against its regional rivals. The team dominated the regional qualifiers, posting a 11-2 overall record that only saw it lose to test 123 as it locked down a spot at the Major. Even at this early stage in the season, paiN Gaming’s position as the clear-cut leader in South America is essentially unquestionable, especially now that test 123’s status as a South American team may be changing. While the team’s last performance on the international level produced a disappointing 13th-16th place finish, the squad will enter The Chongqing Major looking for a shot at redemption on the Pro Circuit stage.
Region: South America (3rd – South America Qualifier, Replacement Team)
Juan “Atun” Ochoa
Jeremy “Jeimari” Aguinaga
Sergio “Prada” Toribio
Farith “Matthew” Puente (Stand-in)
Frank “Frank” Arias (Stand-in)
Thunder Predator makes its way to The Chongqing Major due to a stroke of good fortune, and some misfortune on the part of its regional rival. Initially, test 123 (formerly known as paiN X) had qualified for this Major, but the team has had its status as a Major participant rescinded by Valve due to a violation of its rules regarding regional classification. As a result, test 123 was disqualified and its spot at the Major was given to Thunder Predator, which had finished 3rd in the qualifier. The team’s 6-7 overall record in the regional qualifier was solid but not particularly impressive, and as of right now there is almost no previous international results to look at for Thunder Predator. All of that paints a somewhat pessimistic picture for the team coming into this event, but hopefully the Peruvian squad can surprise the Dota 2 world in Chongqing.
TBD (Winner of The Bucharest Minor)
The final slot among the field of 16 teams is reserved for the team that wins The Bucharest Minor, which is set to begin January 9 and end just 6 days before the beginning of the Major. The Minor will feature 2 teams each from Europe and China, alongside 1 squad from each of the other regions (CIS, NA, SEA, and SA). As a reminder, the team that advances from the Minor to the Major will receive the higher Qualifying Point total between the 2 events. That means that this final squad would need to finish at least 12th in order to earn more qualifying points from its participation at the Major.