European Rematch: All 5 unsuccessful squads from the Major qualifier will be looking for redemption, while a new challenger hopes to make its mark in The Bucharest Minor Europe Qualifier.
With the regional qualifiers for The Chongqing Major now officially concluded, the eyes of the Dota 2 world turn to the accompanying Minor, as the qualifiers for The Bucharest Minor are set to begin. The winner of the Minor will earn itself the 16th and final spot in the field for The Chongqing Major, but before we can crown a Minor Champion in the Romanian capital, we need to know which teams are going to be competing at the event in the first place. With that in mind, we’ll begin our preview of The Bucharest Minor Qualifiers with a look at the European region. Similarly to the preview posts for the Major, we will be dividing the participants in this qualifier into sections based on their expectations. The field of teams for this particular qualifier have been expanded by the event organizer, with 6 total teams competing (4 direct invites, 2 Open Qualifier slots) in total. Even with the increased team count, we’ll be dividing said teams into the same 2 categories that are being used for the other Minor qualifiers: Favored and Unfavored teams.
The team(s) in this section represent the more formidable or accomplished teams in the field for the qualifier that appear to have the best chance at claiming a spot at the Minor. Given how small the field is for these qualifiers (Usually 4 teams per region, 6 in this instance), the margin between the squads in this section compared to the other may not be particularly high, but these teams have at least some small advantage based upon their roster or results in the previous Pro Circuit qualifiers.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
Adrian “Fata” Trinks
Neta “33” Shapira
Martin “Saksa” Sazdov
Peter “ppd” Dager
Ninjas in Pyjamas had a rather interesting path to this Minor qualifier, as its inclusion in this field created a small bit of drama within the Dota 2 community. Despite finishing in the 7th-8th place position in Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier with a 2-4 overall record, the team was still directly invited to this subsequent Minor qualifier. Ostensibly, the team’s success on the Pro Circuit stage combined with the popularity of its players and of the organization itself led to its direct invite status, but the resulting outrage led to the expansion of the field from 4 teams to 6. Even though the team’s last qualifier appearance did not go particularly well for it, NiP has enough talent, experience, and prior success to remain one of the more formidable squads in this qualifier as it looks to secure itself 1 of the 2 European spots at The Bucharest Minor.
Per Anders Olsson “Pajkatt” Lille
Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen
Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs
Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein
Note: OG announced just before the start of its first qualifier matches that Igor “iLTW” Filatov would be standing in for Pajkatt due to illness.
The TI8 Champion’s first appearance in a Pro Circuit qualifier in this 2018-2019 season was certainly an interesting one, as the team played its first official matches with Pajkatt in the lineup. Unfortunately, the team’s first showing was not a fully successful one, as OG ended up falling 1 game short of advancing out of the Group Stage and did not earn a place in the Playoffs. The good news for OG is the fact that the team that it suffered all 4 of its losses to (Alliance) has already earned a spot at The Chongqing Major and will not be participating in this Minor qualifier. OG has not had a lot of time to adjust to its current lineup, and the squad as a whole had not played any official matches prior to the Major qualifier just a few days ago. However, with 4/5ths of a TI winning roster still intact and a veteran talent added to mix with Pajkatt, OG still has to be considered one of the stronger teams in this Minor qualifier.
Omar “Madara” Dabachach
Anas “MagE-“ Hirzallah
Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann
Verros “Maybe Next Time” Apostolos
Petu “Peksu” Vaatainen
Vega Squadrons’ fight to reach The Bucharest Minor Europe qualifier took a somewhat different form than that of the other squads in this field, as the team was initially not invited to the event despite a 5th-6th place finish in the prior Chongqing Major Europe qualifier. After protests from the team and the community, the squad was eventually directly invited to this qualifier, leading to the expansion of the field from 4 teams to 6. Drama aside, Vega Squadron represents a legitimate threat to claim 1 of the 2 European slots in Bucharest, especially considering the group the the team has been placed in. Vega Squadron has been placed in Group A, where it will face a NiP squad that it beat 2-1 in the Major qualifier and a Hippomaniacs team that went 1-4 in said qualifier. If the team can replicate its previous performance, then it should be in a solid position to advance to the Playoffs where it would need to win 1 of 2 series to earn a place at the Minor.
The Final Tribe
Pontus “Frost” Frost
Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin
Jonas “jonassomfan” Lindholm
Simon “Handsken” Haag
Adrian “Era” Kryeziu
The Final Tribe’s ongoing saga of attempting to reach the top level within the European region continued in The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier, as the Swedish squad ended finishing 4th overall and came just 1 series away from an appearance at the Major. It seems to be something of a pattern at this stage for The Final Tribe to end up finishing just short of the mark to compete with the elite squads within its home region, but the team will have another chance to earn itself a second trip to the Pro Circuit stage this season. The team’s 4-8 record in the previous qualifier may be a cause for concern for some, but one has to take into account the fact that 6 of those losses came against teams that qualified for the Major and therefore will not be participating in The Bucharest Minor Europe Qualifier. Against the squads in this field, The Final Tribe’s record from the Major qualifier is a much more impressive 4-2, which bodes fairly well for the team and its chances of reaching back to back Minors by claiming 1 of the 2 European slots up for grabs in this qualifier.
I know that “favored” and “unfavored” may not be the most dramatic of terms to divide the field for these qualifiers, but with just 4 teams per regional qualifier, it seems the most appropriate. The teams in this section aren’t necessarily underdogs or long shots, they’re just the teams that come in a little bit below the other squads in the field. Whether its a roster change or a poor performance in the previous Pro Circuit qualifier, the teams in this section don’t appear to be quite as strong as the others, though there is still a solid chance that one of them manages to make their way to the Minor.
Thomas “Rab8” Kotk
Tomas “Syuuu” Sainio
Oleg “LastHero” Demidovich
Jan “Womber” Kylmanen
Kim “Vipu” Roos
Helsinki REDS is a team that most Dota 2 fans probably haven’t heard of unless they are significantly well versed in the European regional scene. The Finnish organization restructured its roster in October, but have yet to find much success with its new roster. The team’s experience in the time since its roster change has been limited to minor regional competitions, and even those have not gone particularly well for it. Helsinki REDS finished in the 13th-16th place position in the X-BET.Co Rampage Series #3, and 5th-6th in the joinDOTA League Season 14 Europe. This Minor qualifier represents the team’s first test against what would be considered the Tier 1 and 2 teams within Europe, but nothing in the team’s record so far this season suggests that Helsinki REDS is ready to compete with those squads right now. Of course, an underdog story is always an interesting one, and there is a small possibility that Helsinki REDS surprises us all with a strong showing in this qualifier. However, expecting that kind of performance from the Finnish squad doesn’t appear to be fully reasonable at this stage.
Hippomaniacs managed to draw some attention to itself by successfully reaching The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier, but the event itself did not go well for the Czech squad. The team posted a 1-4 record overall, although it did manage to claim that singular win against Team Secret in its initial series of the Group Stage. These back to back Pro Circuit qualifier appearances should be considered significant stepping stones for Hippomaniacs in terms of its development and growth within the European region, as prior to this point the majority of its experience was limited to smaller regional events and tournaments. However, this squad is still lacking the kind of experience playing at the top level in its region that it would need to represent a serious threat in this Minor qualifier. Considering as well the fact that the team has been put into a group with both Vega Squadron and Ninjas in Pyjamas, and the odds of seeing Hippomaniacs in the Playoffs, let alone The Bucharest Minor itself, appear to be incredibly low at the moment.