Dota 2 Pro Circuit Major Preview: The Chongqing Major

Champion of Chongqing? 16 teams make their way to China for a chance to claim the first Major title of 2019.

The Bucharest Minor got the 2019 section of the Pro Circuit season started, but the action is far from over as the Pro Circuit now shifts its focus to the first Major of the calendar year. The eyes of fans across the world now turn to China, as the city of Chongqing will welcome fans and players alike to the second Major of the 2018-2019 campaign: The Chongqing Major. Organized jointly by Ukrainian studio and gaming league StarLadder and Chinese studio and Esports production company ImbaTV, the Major is set to bring a field of 16 of the best teams in the Dota 2 world to Congqing, China to compete for the second Major Championship title of the season. The event itself is being hosted in the Bloomage Cultural and Sports Center, part of the larger Bloomage LIVE Banan International Sports and Culture Center in the Banan District of Chongqing. The center is reported to have a capacity of around 16,000 people, putting it around the same area as Key Arena (venue of TI 4 through TI 7 with a capacity of ~17,000) and just shy of Rogers Arena (venue of TI 8 with a capacity of ~19,000) in terms of its potential attendance. 16 teams will be making their way to Chongqing to compete in this Major, and all of them will be going home with a share of both money and Pro Circuit Points. However, the difference of even a single spot in the event standings could have a significant effect on the Pro Circuit Rankings as a whole, and only 1 team will walk away with the coveted title of Major Champion. At stake in Chongqing are the Pro Circuit Major standard prize pools of $1,000,000 USD and 15,000 Pro Circuit Points, which are set to be distributed among the participated teams based on the outline below.

1st: $350,000 & 4,950 DPC Points

2nd: $170,000 & 3,000 DPC Points

3rd: $100,000 & 2,100 DPC Points

4th: $80,000 & 1,350 DPC Points

5th-6th: $60,000 (Per Team) & 900 DPC Points (Per Team)

7th-8th: $40,000 (Per Team) & 450 DPC Points (Per Team)

9th-12th: $15,000 (Per Team) & 150 DPC Points (Per Team)

13th-16th: $10,000 (Per Team) & 75 DPC Points (Per Team)

The Chongqing Major will begin with a Group Stage, set to run over the course of the first 2 days of the event (January 19 & 20). The 16 teams in the field will be divided into 4 groups of 4 teams each, with each group being assigned a letter designation (i.e. A, B, C, D). The Group Stage will feature GSL style groups, with all series being played in a Bo3 format.  The GSL format means that 2 of the 4 teams in a group will be randomly selected to play each other in the 2 Opening Matches. The winning teams from those Opening Matches will then play each other in the Winners’ Match to determine the top seed in the group, while the losing teams will play in the Losers’ Match to determine the bottom seed. From there, the loser of the Winners’ Match and the winner of the Losers’ Match will play each other in the Decider Match to determine the 2nd and 3rd seeds of the group. The Group Stage will be played for seeding purposes only and will not eliminate any teams from contention. Instead, the Top 2 teams from each group will be seeded into the upper half of the Main Event bracket, while the bottom 2 teams will end up in the lower bracket for the Main Event, putting 8 teams in each half. Said Main Event will feature a double elimination bracket, with all matches in Round 1 of the Lower Bracket being played in a Bo1 format. Beyond that first round though, the Main Event series will all be played in a Bo3 format up until the Grand Finals, which will feature a Bo5 series.

With the Pro Circuit season approaching the half-way mark already with this second of 5 Major Championships, it is becoming even more imperative for squads to establish or solidify their positions in the Pro Circuit Rankings. While all 16 of the teams in Chongqing will be receiving some amount of Pro Circuit Points, finishing one section lower or higher than a rival could make the difference between a direct invite to TI9 or a grueling fight through the TI9 regional qualifiers. Coming into the event itself, 13 of the 16 participating squads (Team Secret, Alliance, Virtus.pro, Team Aster, Vici Gaming, PSG.LGD, Fnatic, TNC Predator, J.Storm, Forward Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Chaos, and EHOME) have previously earned Pro Circuit Points and therefore already hold positions in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Of those 13 teams, 11 of them (Team Secret, Alliance, Virtus.pro, Vici Gaming, PSG.LGD, Fnatic, TNC Predator, J.Storm, Forward Gaming, Evil Geniuses, and EHOME) currently hold, or are tied for, a position in the Top 12 and are eligible to receive a direct invite to TI9 should they maintain those positions through the end of the season. As for the other 3 squads (Team Liquid, The Pango, and Thunder Predator), they hold no Pro Circuit Points on the season and are all making their first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in this 2018-2019 campaign. With that being said, the time has now come to take a look at how each of the 16 challengers in the field for this Major stack up heading into the first Pro Circuit Major of 2019.

Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or necessarily objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data. Also note that projected finishes were decided upon and written prior to the release of the specific group information for the Major.

 

Team Secret Secret_logo

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: 2nd (3,000 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Michał “Nisha” Jankowski
2. Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
3. Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg
4. Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
5. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov (Captain)
C.
Lee “SunBhie” Jeong-jae

Projected Finish: Top 4

Team Secret may have come into this 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season with an altered lineup, but the European squad has wasted no time in showing the Dota 2 world that its current iteration of the roster is just as dominant as its previous one. After back to back LAN victories to begin its season, Team Secret cemented its status as one of the elite teams of the Dota 2 world with its 2nd place run at The Kuala Lumpur Major. With that impressive performance on the Pro Circuit stage, the squad now stands near the very top of the Pro Circuit Rankings, and is an early favorite to claim one of the 12 direct invites to Shanghai for TI9. However, that direct invite status is far from secure at this early stage in the season, and Team Secret has the opportunity to earn further prestige and accolades as it prepares for its second Pro Circuit event of the 2018-2019 season. Given the team’s strong performance at the last Major, and on the international level in general this season, Team Secret makes its way to Chongqing as one of the most formidable teams in the field as it looks to claim the third Major Championship title in the organization’s history.

Team Secret’s most recent performance on the Pro Circuit stage was at The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November, where the squad came just 1 game short of claiming the title in a 2-3 series loss against Virtus.pro for a 2nd place finish overall. Since then, the squad has taken a bit of a step down in terms of its level of activity, with Team Secret participating in just 2 events through the end of 2018. The first of those events was a regional qualifier, as the squad earned itself a 1st place finish in The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier to earn its place at the season’s second Major. Most recently though, the team has found itself back on the international level, as it participated in the MegaFon Winter Clash near the beginning of December and finished in 4th place in a 6 team field. In the time since the squad’s appearance at The Kuala Lumpur Major, Team Secret has put together a 14-8 overall record, but in this instance the focus for the team should be on quantity over quality. Of those 22 total matches for Team Secret, 19 of them have come against squads that have either qualified for a Pro Circuit event this season or have already participated in one. Team Secret may not be racking up the official matches at the same rate as some of its opponents in the field for this Major, but when it has played it has done so against some of the best squads in the Dota 2 world. In that regard, the team’s 14-8 record since the previous Major becomes a bit more impressive, and also serves as an indicator that the team is continuing to maintain a strong and consistent level of play against the top squads on the Pro Circuit. Based on its recent performances both within the European region and on the international level, there’s little reason to believe that Team Secret will suffer any sort of unexpected setback as it prepares for its second Major of the season in Chongqing.

Team Secret makes its way to The Chongqing Major as a clear leader on the Pro Circuit and one of the stronger squads in the Dota 2 world. The team came just 1 game short of defeating Virtus.pro in the Grand Finals of The Kuala Lumpur Major, and it will no doubt be looking for a chance at redemption in its return to the Pro Circuit stage in Chongqing. Based on the team’s performance to this point in the season, there appears to be very few opponents that can reasonably stand in the way of the European powerhouse. Team Secret has finished outside of the Top 4 in just 1 of its 7 appearances so far in its 2018-2019 campaign, and has already claimed 2 1st place finishes on LAN in addition to its aforementioned 2nd place run at the previous Major. Between those impressive international performances and its back to back 1st place showings in Pro Circuit qualifiers within the European region, Team Secret has to be considered one of the favorites to find success at The Chongqing Major. If one had to identify a point of concern for the squad heading into this event though, it would almost certainly have to be the play of Nisha, the team’s hybrid Carry/Midlaner. The 18 year old from Poland has flourished in his first season with Team Secret, and has become a focal point of the team’s strategies with an average KDA of 7.05 so far this season and an average GPM and XPM of 625 and 618, respectively. However, the very traits that make Nisha a weapon for Team Secret could also potentially be an issue for the team, as the squad has increasingly found itself in situations where the whole team goes as Nisha goes. Should an opponent figure out how to hinder or shut down the young star, Team Secret’s play style and strategy could potentially need to be adjusted on the fly in a high pressure situation. The good news for Team Secret is that no one has figured out how to consistently slow Nisha down so far this season, and the Polish phenom is poised to spearhead another push for Pro Circuit hardware as Team Secret looks to claim its 3rd Major Championship in Chongqing.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen
2.
Chu “shadow” Zeyu (Substitute)
3.
Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov
4.
Maroun “GH” Merhej
5.
Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Note: Team Liquid’s Midlaner Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi will not be attending the Major due to personal issues and will be replaced by Chu “shadow” Zeyu. This change is not reflected in the team’s projected finish.

The 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season has been a rather interesting time for Team Liquid so far, as the TI7 Champion will be making its first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage at The Chongqing Major. This event wasn’t originally meant to be the squad’s first appearance of the 2018-2019 campaign, but a withdrawal from the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor due to health related issues pushed its debut back to this Major. As a whole, Team Liquid has not been quite as active as some of the other squads in the field in terms of the total number of events attended or official matches played. Even with that in mind though, this is still the same roster that claimed the Aegis of Champions less than 18 months ago, and has proven itself to be one of the most consistent and formidable squads in the entire Dota 2 world. With its talented and experienced roster still fully intact, Team Liquid will be looking to reintroduce itself as an elite power on the Pro Circuit, beginning with a strong performance at The Chongqing Major as the team hopes to lay claim to its first Pro Circuit title of the season and its 2nd Major Championship as an organization.

As previously mentioned, Team Liquid has not been quite as active as some of the other teams in the field for this Major, and has also yet to make an appearance on the Pro Circuit stage so far in this 2018-2019 campaign. As a whole, Team Liquid has participated in just 3 regional qualifiers over the first few months of the season, though the team has put together some solid performances across those events. The team’s season began with something of a stumble within the European region though, as the squad ended up finishing in the 5th-6th place position in the 8 team field for The Kuala Lumpur Major Europe Qualifier. That results came as a bit of a shock for fans of the team, but Team Liquid was able to quickly turn things around with a 2nd place run in the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor Europe Qualifier just 1 week later. That performance had initially earned the squad a position at the Minor itself, but Team Liquid ended up withdrawing from the tournament and was replaced by Vega Squadron. The team’s most recent appearance within its home region came in the qualifier for this very Major, where the squad managed to put together a 9-3 record to claim its place in Chongqing with a 2nd place finish. In addition to its play within the European region, Team Liquid has also recently stepped back onto the international level as well with its appearances at MegaFon Winter Clash. Against a field of 5 other Pro Circuit Ranked squads, Team Liquid managed to emerge victorious with a perfect 8-0 record (and 1 default win) as it claimed its first LAN win of the season in Moscow. Though the team has been limited to just 4 total event appearances this season, Team Liquid’s total record stands at an impressive 26-13, with a 22-11 record against Pro Circuit Ranked opponents. Given the team’s history of success and those strong numbers to start the season, Team Liquid will certainly be considered one of the stronger squads in the field at The Chongqing Major.

Team Liquid finally makes its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage as a squad that has not been seen nearly as much as may have been expected before the start of the 2018-2019 campaign. The squad comes into this event with just 4 previous appearances this season, with 3 of those appearances coming in previous Pro Circuit qualifiers. Of course, the team’s delayed debut on the Pro Circuit stage is a situation of its own doing, as the team withdrew from the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor back in October due to health reasons. Should the team have attended that event, we may very well have been speaking of the team as Minor Champions and Kuala Lumpur Major participants, but such a scenario was not meant to be. Instead, we have a former TI Champion looking to catch up to the elite squads on the Pro Circuit with a strong performance in Chongqing. As of right now, Team Liquid appears to be in a favorable position to find that success on the Pro Circuit stage, as the squad has delivered 3 straight Top 4 finishes leading up to this event. The team’s most recent appearance even displayed its strength on the international level as well, as Team Liquid put together a dominant performance at MegaFon Winter Clash that saw it post a 9-0 record (1 default win) against a field of 5 other Pro Circuit squads. Heading into its 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season debut, Team Liquid is projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position based on its regional and international success. To be honest, the only thing keeping the TI7 Winner from moving up into the Top 4 section is the fact that we’ve seen so little of the team this season. Compared to teams that have proven their strength much more recently on the Pro Circuit stage like VP, Team Secret, and Evil Geniuses, the European squad appears to come up short, at least at the current moment. Team Liquid is certainly capable of finding success against any and all of those mentioned teams, but it’s going to have to show us that it is still playing at that elite level on the Pro Circuit stage. Even with its limited number of appearances this season, look for Team Liquid to be one of the more formidable opponents in the field at The Chongqing Major, and a potential candidate to contend for the title of Major Champion in the team’s season debut on the Pro Circuit stage.

Alliance Alliance

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 3rd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-9th (150 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Max “qojqva” Bröcker
2.
Micke “miCKe” Nguyen
3.
Samuel “Boxi” Svahn
4.
Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi
5.
Tommy “Taiga” Le
C.
Jonathan “Loda” Berg

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

Alliance has been something of a pleasant surprise so far in this 2018-2019 Pro Circuit campaign, as the squad has emerged as an early contender on the international level. The squad began its season with a rather unexpected jump up the regional hierarchy in Europe, as the team leaped over a number of its regional rivals to secure 1 of the 3 European slots at the previous Kuala Lumpur Major. Alliance’s performance at that Major was not overly impressive, but it represented a massive step forward for a team that is just a little over 1 year removed from a complete rebuild of its roster. With the team’s Pro Circuit debut out of the way, Alliance is now faced with another opportunity to put its strength on display with its second Major of the season in Chongqing. Should the squad manage to replicate or even improve upon its results from the previous Major, then Alliance will find itself sitting in a rather favorable position in the Pro Circuit Rankings with 4 of the season’s 10 total events in the books.

The Chongqing Major will not be the first Pro Circuit event for Alliance this season, as the squad previously appeared at The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November and finished in the 9th-12th place position overall. Since then, the squad has continued to establish itself both within its home region and on the international level as well. At the end of November, the squad participated in the Europe Qualifier for this Major, and secured its second Pro Circuit appearance of the season with a 3rd place run against its regional rivals. In December, the team played in a duo of mixed European and CIS events in the form of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Summit! and the MegaFon Champions League Season 2. Both of those events saw Alliance put together impressive performances, as the team finished 4th in the former while claiming a 1st place finish in the latter for its second tournament win of the season. Even more recently than that, the squad participated in another duo of European and CIS tournaments, completing runs at both WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness and the LOOT.BET Winter Masters at the beginning of January. With finishes in the 5th-8th place and 2nd place positions, respectively, Alliance brought its record to 33-20 since the end of The Kuala Lumpur Major. Hopefully, the fact that those events appearances came relatively close to the start of the Major means that the squad will be able to make its way to Chongqing with a sense of momentum as it prepares to take its place on the Pro Circuit stage for the second time this season.

The story for Alliance coming into this second Major of the season is certainly the kind of narrative that most people like to see in the esports world. A squad that came together only 1 year earlier under the tutelage of a legendary veteran player has slowly and steadily worked its way up and built itself into a potential contender on the international level, and now has another chance to prove its worth with the eyes of the Dota 2 world watching it. It’s an incredible storyline for Alliance as its enters The Chongqing Major, but the squad still has a daunting task in front of it if it wants to find success on the Pro Circuit stage. Despite its impressive improvements over the last few months, Alliance is still far from the company of the elite teams in the Dota 2 world, and comes into this Major projected to finish in the lower half of the standings in the 9th-12th place position. At first glance, the team’s numbers are all trending in the right direction, with the team racking up 4 Top 4 finishes in its last 5 event appearances and even winning the MegaFon Champions League Season 2. The squad holds a solid 33-20 record in the time since The Kuala Lumpur Major as well and has performed admirably within its home region. The problem for Alliance in recent times though is the fact that its success is largely confined to that home region, with the team’s numbers dropping off both against international opponents and against other Pro Circuit teams. The team’s record against non-European squads since The Kuala Lumpur Major is 16-12, and its record against other Pro Circuit teams sits at 12-11 within that same time frame. Now, those 2 records are hardly enough on their own to list a team as a disappointment heading into this event, but this final statistic is the one that truly raises concerns for Alliance: 2-10. That is the team’s record against other participants at The Chongqing Major, and it highlights an aspect of Alliance’s season so far that has not been quite as strong as the team would like. Against other Pro Circuit teams, and especially the elite teams of the Pro Circuit, Alliance has not been able to play with the consistency that is has shown against lesser rivals in the European and CIS regions. Given the team’s steady improvement over the last year, that may very well change in the near future, perhaps even at this Major. However, expecting the team to suddenly get over that hump falls just out of the realm of reasonable expectations for this event. If this is meant to be the breakthrough moment for Alliance, then don’t be surprised if the squad pushes its way into the top half of the standings in Chongqing. Otherwise, expect a valiant and encouraging, but ultimately unsuccessful performance for Alliance in this second Major of the season.

 

The Pango (formerly NoPangolier)the pango

Region: CIS

Qualification Method: CIS Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Aybek “Naive-“ Tokaev
2. Aleksandr “Ceyler” Popov
3. Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk
4. Rinat “KingR” Abdullin (Substitute)
5. Semion “CemaTheSlayer” Krivulya

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Note: On January 16, NoPangolier officially renamed itself to The Pango.
Note 2: On January 18, The Pango announced that Zayac would be replaced by KingR for the Major due to visa issues. That change is not reflected in this preview.

In a field comprised almost entirely of returning squads from The Kuala Lumpur Major, CIS squad The Pango represents a new challenger both on the Pro Circuit stage and within its home region. Aside from the nearly unstoppable juggernaut that is Virtus.pro, no other CIS squad has managed to consistently find success on the Pro Circuit and establish itself as a true regional leader. While the rise of The Pango has come as a somewhat surprising and abrupt development this season, the squad is already facing an incredible opportunity to display its strength and establish itself on the international level with its Pro Circuit debut at The Chongqing Major. Going up against a field of some of the strongest squads in the Dota 2 world will be no easy task, especially for a squad with no previous experience playing on the Pro Circuit stage. However, a strong performance in China would set The Pango up as a solid contender on the Pro Circuit and a clear leader within the CIS region.

The Chongqing Major will be The Pango ‘s first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in this 2018-2019 campaign, though the squad has already accrued a fair bit of experience so far this season. The Pango has participated in 6 non-Open Qualifier events since its formation in October, but only 1 of those events has been an exclusively CIS competition. Said event was the CIS qualifier for this Chongqing Major, where The Pango put together a 1st place finish that included series victories over both Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro. All 5 of the team’s other appearances this season have come in events that have featured a mix of European and CIS squads, giving The Pango a small degree of experience outside of its home region. Of those 5 events, the squad has managed to secure Top 4 finishes in 4 of them, coming in 2nd place at the Maincast Autumn Brawl in October, the MegaFon Winter Clash Closed Qualifier in November, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Summit! in December while earning a 3rd-4th place finish at WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness earlier this month. Coming into the Major, The Pango holds a 45-26 overall record on the season, with 56 of its 71 total matches having come against CIS opponents. Narrowing that down to just Pro Circuit teams (teams that have attended or qualified for a Pro Circuit event), The Pango ‘s record sits at a respectable 21-15. Those numbers are not the most impressive that we’ve seen on the Pro Circuit, but it’s enough to at least hint at the potential that this The Pango roster has to succeed on the international level as the squad prepares to make its first ever appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in Chongqing.

The Pango makes its way to the Pro Circuit stage at The Chongqing Major as a potential rising power both within the CIS region and on the international level in general. The team has barreled its way into the spotlight, demanding the attention of the Dota 2 world with a string of Top 4 finishes across both Europe and the CIS region. With its combination of veteran leadership and young talent, the squad has been impressive to this point in the season. However, the team’s debut on the Pro Circuit stage will prove to be the true test of The Pango’s ability, a the team will face off against some of the best teams in the Dota 2 world. Coming into The Chongqing Major, The Pango is expected to hold its own among the 16 team field, with a projected finish in the top half of the event standings in the 7th-8th place position. The team’s 45-26 record for the season already puts the team in an impressive position, but its 21-15 record against other Pro Circuit teams also shows that the squad’s success has not been limited to beating down lesser rivals within its home region. The fact that the team has had multiple opportunities to face teams in both the CIS and European regions also helps instill a certain degree of confidence in the team’s ability to compete on the international level. Of course, Europe and CIS are not representative of the whole international scene, and we have yet to see the squad in action against any squad from China, Southeast Asia, North America, or South America, so there is still a measure of uncertainty for the squad heading into the Major. However, with a stretch of consistent success within its home region, a talented group of younger players, and some veteran presences at the helm, The Pango appears to be in line for a solid first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. While there is always a possibility that the pressure of the Pro Circuit gets to the CIS squad, but barring a significant setback or a series of unfavorable match ups, The Pango should impress in Chongqing.

 

Virtus.pro virtus pro new

Region: CIS

Qualification Method: CIS Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: 1st (4950 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev
2.
Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko
3.
Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov
4.
Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan
5.
Alexei “Solo” Berezin
C.
Arsenij “ArsZeeqq” Usov

Projected Finish: Top 4

Virtus.pro came into the 2018-2019 season as one of the most successful teams in the short history of the Pro Circuit, having won an incredible 4 Major Championship titles last season. It didn’t take the CIS juggernaut long to get back to its winning ways this season, as VP claimed sole possession of the record for most Major Championships with its 1st place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major in November. As the top team in the Pro Circuit Rankings, VP is already sitting in a position as an early favorite to claim 1 of the 12 direct invites to TI9. However, the squad has rarely shown itself to be content with sitting back and taking things easy, and the team will no doubt be pushing for nothing short of back to back Major titles as it makes its way to Chongqing. With that being said, VP’s position at the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings paints a rather large target on its back, with every team in the field hoping to stake their own claims to success on the Pro Circuit by toppling one of the Dota 2 world’s most accomplished squads.

VP’s most recent appearance on the Pro Circuit stage was its aforementioned victory at The Kuala Lumpur Major in November, where the team claimed a record 5th Major Championship in its first Pro Circuit event of the 2018-2019 season. Since then, the squad has taken a small step back in terms of its level of activity, with VP participating in just 2 events between the end of the previous Major and the start of this one. The first of those 2 events was the CIS Qualifier for this upcoming Chongqing Major, with VP putting together a 2nd place finish behind a 9-2 overall record to secure its place in the field. The more recent of the team’s 2 performances came at the MegaFon Winter Clash, an international event that brought together a field of 6 Pro Circuit squads in Moscow. VP stumbled a bit in that event, posting a 2-5 record while finishing in the 5th-6th place position. As a whole, the team has gone 11-7 since the conclusion of The Kuala Lumpur Major, and across the entire season the squad has claimed 5 Top 4 finishes in 6 total appearances. The team’s minor struggles in its most recent appearance may be cause for some small level of concern heading into The Chongqing Major, but the squad’s previous record of success on both the regional and international levels makes it rather easy to give VP the benefit of the doubt and assume that it will come into the event playing at its usual level. If that is the case, then there will be few teams in the field that will stand much of a chance at bringing down the 5 time Major Champion in Chongqing.

Virtus.pro enters the Chongqing Major as the top ranked team on the Pro Circuit, and the reigning Major Champion in the wake of its victorious efforts in Kuala Lumpur. Time and again we’ve seen the CIS juggernaut display its strength against the best competition that the Dota 2 world can offer, and more often than not the squad has managed to find success in those scenarios. The team’s 1st place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major set it up in the most favorable position on the Pro Circuit heading into the season’s third event, but VP has proven itself to be a team that is never content to sit back and allow others to take its glory without a fight. This time around though, there are a few small concerns for VP as it looks to secure back to back Major Championship titles in Chongqing. The team’s 11-7 record since its previous Pro Circuit appearance leaves open the possibility that some of the other leading squads in the Dota 2 world may finally be cracking the metaphorical code in terms of taking down the CIS powerhouse. However, the squad’s consistent success so far this season on both the regional and international levels makes it hard to believe that the team is in danger of losing a step against any potential opponents. With a string of impressive performances and a Major Championship title to its name already in this 2018-2019 campaign, Virtus.pro enters The Chongqing Major with a projected finish in the Top 4 and is likely the favorite to claim this second Major of the season. Given how well the team has played to this point in the season, it would take a meltdown of near catastrophic proportions for VP to fail to advance deep into the Main Event bracket in Chongqing.

 

Team Aster Team Aster

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-18th (75 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Liu “Sylar” Jiajun
2.
Gao “loveyouloveme” Yuan
3.
Lin “Xxs” Jing
4.
Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao
5.
Lu “Fenrir” Chao
C.
Fu “Q” Bin

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

Team Aster entered the 2018-2019 season as one of the more interesting stories within the Chinese region, and the squad quickly built up a fair bit of hype and excitement as it earned its Pro Circuit debut at The Kuala Lumpur Major in November. However, a change to its roster and an underwhelming performance in that first Pro Circuit appearance served to sap away some of that initial excitement. Since that initial Major, Team Aster has continued to face some issues, and the team now appears to be going through a string of inconsistent play with some wildly fluctuating results in recent times. Despite those difficulties, Team Aster has once again earned itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage, and a strong showing on home soil at The Chongqing Major would serve as a huge stabilizing force for the squad as it looks to find that first degree of success on the international level.

Team Aster’s most recent appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came back in November as The Kuala Lumpur Major, where the squad put together a disappointing performance and ended up finishing in the 13th-16th place position overall. Since then, the squad has focused its efforts on its home region, with all 5 of its event appearances coming in Chinese competitions. Of those 5 regional events, Team Aster has managed to earn Top 4 finishes in 2 of them with 1st place runs in The Chongqing Major China Qualifier and H-Cup Season 11. The team’s other 3 event runs resulted in a pair of 5th-6th place finishes, as well as 1 7th-8th place performance. Those results aren’t egregiously disappointing for the squad, but the fluctuation in performance against its regional rivals is a potential cause for concern heading into the Major. In the time since the conclusion of the previous Major, Team Aster has put together an overall record of 39-26, with all of those matches coming within the Chinese region. Within that same time frame, the squad holds a 14-10 record against other Pro Circuit teams (teams that have attended an event or qualified for an upcoming one), which does raise some concerns regarding the team’s ability to find success against other top squads. Without any recent international matches to analyze, there is no hard evidence to indicate that Team Aster is in a position to turn around its struggles outside of its home region this season. Between the squad’s up and down performance at home and its lack of recent experience on the international level, Team Aster comes into The Chongqing Major with a number of questions to be answered.

Team Aster comes into The Chongqing Major in one of the more interesting positions among the field of participants, though perhaps not entirely for the best of reasons. The squad is making its second appearance at a Major this season, but its last showing on the Pro Circuit Stage was about as underwhelming as it could have been with the team finishing in the 13th-16th place position. Of course, the situation was not ideal for Team Aster at the time, as the Chinese squad was adjusting to a roster change that had been made just a week before the event. This time around, the squad appears more comfortable with its lineup as it looks to reverse the early and unflattering narrative for itself on the international level. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening don’t appear to be particularly high for Team Aster, as the squad enters The Chongqing Major with a projected finish in the 13th-16th place range. Since the end of the previous Major, the squad has not played any official matches outside of its home region, with all 65 of its matches in that time frame having come within China. Even at home though, the squad has displayed a certain degree of inconsistency that is unsettling heading into a Pro Circuit Major. The team’s high points in the time since The Kuala Lumpur Major have included 2 1st place finishes in regional competition, but have also included a pair of 5th-6th place performances as well a a 7th-8th place showing as well. These results in and of themselves aren’t exactly damning, but the record behind them brings up a point of concern for Team Aster. Across the team’s 65 total matches since the previous Major, Team Aster holds a solid 39-26 record, with that record breaking down to 14-10 against Pro Circuit teams, 15-10 against Pro Circuit qualifier participants (but did not qualify for an event), and 10-6 against teams to have never participated in a Pro Circuit qualifier. While the team is positive across each of those sections, the problem is that most teams at the elite level on the Pro Circuit see their performance significantly improve across the latter two. The fact that Team Aster’s records do not belies a degree of inconsistency that is incredibly concerning heading into the Major. Given the amount of talent and experience on the team’s roster, a turnaround on the Pro Circuit stage is fully possible for Team Aster. However, until we actually see a more consistent performance from the Chinese squad, it would appear best to keep hopes high and expectations low for the team in its second Major appearance of the season.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-7th (450 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun
2.
Zeng  “Ori” Jiaoyang
3.
Zhou “Yang” Haiyang
4.
Pan “Fade” Yi
5.
Ding “Dy” Cong
C.
Bai “rOtK” Fan

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

After an offseason of big roster changes for Vici Gaming, there were some doubts surrounding the team as to whether it would be able to retain its place at the top of the hierarchy in a Chinese region that has traditionally been extremely crowded. However, those doubts were almost immediately put to rest as Vici Gaming was quick to establish itself with a string of successful performances both at home and on the international level, including an appearance at The Kuala Lumpur Major. With its second straight Major appearance on the horizon and on home soil in Chongqing, Vici Gaming has an opportunity to further solidify its status as a leading squad on the Pro Circuit. The field for this event is brimming with talented and experienced lineups, but Vici Gaming’s roster is no stranger to the rigors and challenges of the international scene, and a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage would definitively put the team in the company of the elite squads of the Dota 2 world.

Vici Gaming was last scene on the Pro Circuit stage in November at The Kuala Lumpur Major, where the Chinese squad put together a 7-7 record to finish in the 7th-8th place position in a field of 16 teams. In the time since that event, Vici Gaming’s focus has remained solely within its home region, as all 4 of the team’s appearances since its Kuala Lumpur Major run have come in regional competitions. The squad’s first event appearance came just days after the end of the Major, as Vici Gaming put together a somewhat underwhelming 9th-11th place run in H-Cup Season 10. Any potential concerns about a setback for the team though were quickly quashed, as the squad rattled off three straight Top 4 finishes in The Chongqing Major China Qualifier, the 2018 Sanya DOTA2 New-Stars Play, and the Dota2 Professional Legaue Season 6. The latter 2 of those events saw Vici Gaming claim back to back 1st place finishes as well, further cementing the team’s position as one of the leading teams within the Chinese region. Since the conclusion of The Kuala Lumpur Major, Vici Gaming has put together an impressive 33-11 overall record, with all of those matches coming against regional opposition. Within the time frame, the team also holds a 14-7 record against Pro Circuit teams, which bodes well for the squad as it prepares for a return trip to the Pro Circuit stage. Of course, the lack of international matches over the last 2 months is a small concern for Vici Gaming, but between its prior success outside of its home region and its near dominant showing within it, Vici Gaming appears to be playing at or near the top of its game heading into this event.

Vici Gaming comes into The Chongqing Major with an opportunity to put its strength on display on the Pro Circuit stage and in front of a home town crowd of Chinese fans. The squad has been one of the strongest and most consistent teams within the Chinese region, and stands alongside PSG.LGD and Team Aster as 1 of the 3 teams from the region to have attended both Majors this season. The team has exposed very few weaknesses so far this season, and its consistency in this 2018-2019 campaign has it coming into The Chongqing Major with a projected finish in the 5th-6th place range. Considering just how well the team has played so far this season, some may be wondering why the squad hasn’t been bumped up into the Top 4 range in terms of its predicted outcome. The reason for that stems largely from the team’s previous Pro Circuit appearance at The Kuala Lumpur Major, where the squad ended up finishing in the 7th-8th place position overall. That performance was the first time this season that we had seen anything even resembling a setback for Vici Gaming, and to be fair it wasn’t much of one considering the squad still finished in the top half of the event standings. However, that event was the team’s most recent showing on the international level, and it is not fully clear whether the squad will experience a similar scenario in its return to the Pro Circuit stage. While the squad will be considered a favorite against the vast majority of the field at The Chongqing Major, its status and ability to take down other elite squads on the international level is still in question. Should the squad prove early on in this Major that it’s relatively minor issues are now fully behind, then expect Vici Gaming to find success on the Pro Circuit stage and compete for a spot in the Top 4 in front of its home town crowd. Otherwise, the squad still appears to be in line for an impressive showing in Chongqing and another finish in the top half of the event standings to help maintain its favorable position in the Pro Circuit Rankings.

 

PSG.LGD PSG LGD

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier 3rd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: 5th (900 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Wang “Ame” Chunyu
2.
Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao
3.
Yang “Chalice” Shenyi
4.
Xu “fy” Linsen
5.
Jian Wei “xNova” Yap
C.
Yao “QQQ” Yi

Projected Finish: Top 4

With the entirety of its TI8 runner-up lineup having remained intact through the offseason period, PSG.LGD entered the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season with some rather heavy expectations. The team was still considered to be the top squad within the Chinese region, as well as one of the strongest teams on the international level as well. So far this season, the squad has not allowed the pressure of its status get to it, as PSG.LGD has held its own against any and all challengers and now prepares for its second straight Major appearance in Chongqing. The opposition will be fierce for PSG.LGD, but with its wealth of talent and experience and a home town crowd behind it, the Chinese powerhouse will look to put together a triumphant performance on the Pro Circuit stage as the team begins its quest to earn the organization’s third ever Major Championship title.

The last appearance for PSG.LGD on the Pro Circuit stage came just a few months ago in November at The Kuala Lumpur Major, where the Chinese squad put together a 6-4 record to finish in the 5th-6th place position overall. Since then, the squad has remained active on both the international level and within its home region, with PSG.LGD making 4 total event appearances since the conclusion of the previous Major. On the home front, the team has continued to maintain a position as one of the Chinese region’s top squads, claiming 2 Top 4 finishes in 3 event appearances with a 3rd place run in the regional qualifier for this Major and a 4th place finish in the Dota2 Professional League Season 6. Since the last Major, PSG.LGD holds a 24-9 record against its regional rivals and has displayed few weaknesses when playing against other Chinese squads. On the international level, the squad has maintained a solid profile as well, though it has only participated in a single event since the last Major. That event was the MegaFon Winter Clash in December, in which the team posted a 6-5 overall record while earning itself a 3rd place finish among a field of 6 teams. Of particular note in that event is the fact that every team in the field was one which had either attended or qualified for a Pro Circuit event, which adds a certain degree of extra significance to the team’s performance. Against Pro Circuit teams in general, PSG.LGD has gone 19-12 in the time since The Kuala Lumpur Major. That solid record combined with the team’s impressive success on the home front appears to have PSG.LGD sitting in a favorable position as it prepares for its second Major appearance of the 2018-2019 season in Chongqing.

PSG.LGD comes into The Chongqing Major as one of the leading squads on the Pro Circuit, and the top ranked team from the Chinese region. Despite the squad’s success over the past year though, that position is still not quite as secure as it would probably like. Squads like Virtus.pro and Team Secret continue to dominate headlines on the international level, and regional rivals such as Vici Gaming and Team Aster continue to pressure the team at home. In this scenario, another strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage would be a welcome development for PSG.LGD, and the Chinese leader appears to be in a favorable position to find that success at this Major on home soil in Chongqing. The team has been strong and consistent both within the Chinese region and on the international level so far this season, putting together Top 4 finishes in 5 of its 7 total appearances in its 2018-2019 campaign. The squad’s 19-12 record against other Pro Circuit teams in the time since the previous Major looks like an encouraging sign heading into The Chongqing Major, but that record does not come without some small concerns. Against Pro Circuit teams outside of the Chinese region, PSG.LGD’s record since the previous Major drops to a slightly less impressive 6-5 overall, opening to door to concerns that the team may be slipping in terms of its play on the international level. Of course, that 6-5 record did come from just a single event that was played over a month ago, which means that PSG.LGD could very well have already put any potential issues behind it coming into this event. Given the team’s record of success on the international level over the last year or so, a small setback at a single event doesn’t seem like enough to significantly lower confidence levels in what has been the strongest team in the Chinese region this season. With that in mind, PSG.LGD is projected to finish in the Top 4 at The Chongqing Major, and represents that best chance for the Chinese region to claim its first Major Championship title of the 2018-2019 season.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification Method: Southeast Asia Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-7th (450 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Pyo “MP” No-a
2.
Abed “Abed” Azel L. Yusop
3.
Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang
4.
Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti
5.
Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong
C.
Kim “DuBu” Doo-young

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

The new Pro Circuit season brought a wildly new look for the Fnatic organization, as the team brought in a trio of new players as well as a new coach for its 2018-2019 campaign. The new roster quickly established its presence as a leading squad in the Dota 2 world, as the team strung together some impressive performances both within the Southeast Asian region and on the international level. With those early successes under its belt, Fnatic enters its second Major appearances of the season in a position of strength as an early leader in the Pro Circuit Rankings. The Southeast Asian squad has gotten off to a strong start this season, but another solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage would serve as an important spring board to further success and a safer position in the Rankings as the 2018-2019 campaign progresses. With that in mind, Fnatic makes its way to Chongqing with a sense of purpose and confidence as the Southeast Asian squad looks to become just the second team from its region to ever win a Major Championship title.

Fnatic’s most recent appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came just a few months ago in November with its 7th-8th place performance at The Kuala Lumpur Major. Since that showing on home soil though, we haven’t seen a whole lot of Fnatic, as the squad has not been particularly active within its home region or on the international level. In fact, the team has participated in just a single event since the conclusion of the Major, with that event being The Chongqing Major Southeast Asia Qualifier at the end of November. To its credit, the team put together an impressive performance in that regional qualifier, posting a 8-2 record that included series wins over every other Pro Circuit team from the region (TNC Predator, Tigers, and BOOM ID) en route to a 1st place finish. Unfortunately, Fnatic haven’t had any other official matches aside from that singular qualifier, which presents a somewhat vague picture as to its current strength against both regional opposition and international teams heading into this second Major of the season. Based off of the team’s prior success on both fronts, Fnatic appears to be in at least a somewhat favorable position as it makes its way to Chongqing, but we will have to wait and see if the squad can maintain its previous strength in the face of some of the best teams in the Dota 2 world.

Fnatic comes into its second Major of the season as one of the top teams in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and the second highest ranked team in the entire Southeast Asian region. However, those favorable positions are far from secure at this early stage in the 2018-2019 campaign, and Fnatic is beginning to feel pressure from its rivals both on the regional and international stages. On the international level, the squad still trails behind elite teams like VP, Team Secret, EG, and NiP, and at home it must contend both with established rivals like TNC Predator and up and coming challengers like Tigers and BOOM ID. In the face of that cadre of challenges, Fnatic finds itself in need of a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to both improve its own position on the international level and fend off its encroaching regional rivals. Coming into this Major though, we haven’t seen as much from Fnatic as many have been hoping for, with the team having participated in just a single event since the end of the previous Major. While Fnatic’s performance in that event aligned with its usual strong presence within the Southeast Asian region, it does little to show us whether or not the team can find sustained success on the Pro Circuit stage. The lack of matches outside of its home region in the wake of The Kuala Lumpur Major makes it somewhat harder to raise confidence levels in terms of the team’s potential performance against the elite squads of the Pro Circuit. The list of recent matches may be relatively short for Fnatic heading into The Chongqing Major, but the team does still have a couple of factors working in its favor as it makes its way to China. The first factor is its impressive consistency so far this season, as the team has finished either 1st or 2nd across 4 of its 5 appearances so far this season. The second factor is the talent and experience of its roster, as the Fnatic players are certainly no strangers to playing at the highest level in the Dota 2 world. Between the experience of its lineup and its impressive track record so far this season, Fnatic is a solid candidate to finish within the top half of the standings in Chongqing. However, without more recent experience on the international level, it seems unreasonable to expect the squad to advance much further than that, with Fnatic holding a projected finish in the 7th-8th place position. The potential is obviously there for the Southeast Asian squad to move up in the standings, but the squad will have to prove that it is ready to take that next step into the elite company of the Dota 2 world and earn the results to back that claim up in Chongqing.

 

TNC Predator Tncproteam

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification Method: Southeast Asia Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: 6th (720 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte
2.
Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios
3.
Ryo “ryOyr” Hasegawa (Stand-in)
4.
Timothy “Tims” Randrup
5.
Michael  “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.
C.
Murielle “Kipspul” Huisman

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

TNC Predator managed to make headlines in the Dota 2 world far before The Chongqing Major was even set to begin, as the team was involved in one of the highest profile sagas of drama that we’ve seen so far this season. After a lengthy affair between the organization, the event organizers, and eventually Valve itself, Kuku ended up being banned from participating at the Major. In his place, the team has been playing with ryOyr as a stand-in, and will make its second Pro Circuit appearance of the 2018-2019 campaign with him in the lineup. While the situation may not be ideal for the team, we have already seen an example of a squad finding success on the Pro Circuit stage with a substitute player this season, as Ninjas in Pyjamas managed to earn a 4th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major without its usual Offlaner. Very importantly for TNC Predator, the nature of Kuku’s ban means that the team will not suffer any penalty to its Pro Circuit Point earnings at The Chongqing Major. If the team can manage to put together another strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage even with its stand-in, then its position as both a leader in the Southeast Asian region and in the Pro Circuit Rankings would be further solidified for Kuku’s eventual return to the active lineup.

As previously mentioned, TNC Predator’s most recent appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came in November with its 5th-6th place run at The Kuala Lumpur Major. Since then, the squad has kept its focus on its home region, participating in 3 regional events and qualifiers. Across those 3 regional events, the team has managed to earn itself 3 straight Top 4 finishes, including back to back 1st place runs in the ESL One Katowice 2019 Southeast Asia Qualifier and the WESG 2018 Southeast Asia Finals. Something worth noting for the team in terms of those recent performances is the fact that ryOyr has been serving as a stand-in for the team since December 8, rather than being a substitute exclusively for the Major alone. The team’s aforementioned back to back 1st place finishes both came with ryOyr in the lineup instead of Kuku, which serves as a highly encouraging sign that the team is still able to play at its usual strength even with the temporary changes to its lineup. Since the end of The Kuala Lumpur Major, TNC Predator holds a 24-8 record, with all of those matches coming against regional opposition. With ryOyr in the lineup, the team’s record in that time frame sits at 15-4, although that record includes just 1 series against another Pro Circuit team (a 2-0 win over BOOM ID). Of course, the fact that the team’s current lineup has not played any official matches on the international level does come as a small concern for the team heading into the Major. Even so, the team appears to be making the most out of a rough situation, and will enter The Chongqing Major as a formidable opponent even with the temporary change to its roster.

The drama surrounding Kuku and TNC Predator certainly attracted quite a bit of attention in the Dota 2 world, but now that it has been resolved the Southeast Asian squad is still faced with the task of trying to find success on the Pro Circuit stage in Chongqing. The team’s last Pro Circuit appearance at The Kuala Lumpur Major went fairly well for the squad, but the situation coming into this event has some significant differences. First and foremost is the fact that ryOyr is playing with the team instead of Kuku, bringing a slightly different style of play and perhaps an altered hero pool to TNC Predator’s strategies. However, ryOyr is a player that has previous experience playing for TNC Predator, and has been serving as a stand-in for the squad for over a month now, which significantly mitigates some of those concerns. That being said, TNC Predator is still expected to have some problems at The Chongqing Major, with the Southeast Asian squad projected to finish in the 9th-12th place position at the event. The concerns regarding ryOyr as a stand-in might be minimal at this stage, but it is not the only issue for TNC Predator. Since the end of The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November, TNC Predator has not played any matches outside of its home region, having played in 3 straight regional qualifiers in that time frame. To its credit, the squad’s 24-8 record against its regional rivals is fairly impressive, but the lack of any official matches on the international level in the past 3 months serves to lower confidence levels in the team. The thing about TNC Predator coming into this event is that it is clear that the team has the talent and experience to find success in Chongqing even with a stand-in on the roster. However, the combination of playing with a stand-in and having international experience since the previous Major introduces a degree of uncertainty that cannot easily be brushed aside as the squad enters its second Major of the 2018-2019 season.

 

 J.Storm J Storm Small

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-12th (120 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. David “Moo” Hull
2.
Jonathan “Bryle” De Guia
3.
Lee “Forev” Sang-don
4.
Clinton “Fear” Loomis
5.
Park “March” Tae-won
C.
Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

J.Storm made bit of news before the end of 2018, as the North American squad announced a change to its lineup in December that brought veteran player and TI5 Champion Fear to its lineup. Unfortunately, that move ended up shifting the team’s former Support player MiLAN out of the lineup, but the organization now has another proven and experience presence on the roster as it prepares to make its second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season. As of right now, the team sits in a tie for 11th place in the Pro Circuit Rankings, putting it in a decent position to claim 1 of the direct invites to TI9 this summer. However, with 4 sets of Minors and Majors still to be played, that position is far from secure, and J.Storm finds itself in need of further success on the Pro Circuit if it wants to hold its favorable ranking through the rest of the season. With Fear in the lineup, the team is hoping that it cane do just that this time around, as the team makes its way to Chongqing looking to become the first North American team to ever win a Major Championship.

J.Storm’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came in November at The Kuala Lumpur Major, although the event did not go overly well for the North American squad. The team ended up finishing in the 9th-12th place position overall and accrued a 3-6 record at the event for a somewhat disappointing run. Since then, the team has focused on its standing within its home region, as both of its event appearances in the aftermath of the previous Major have come in North American competitions. The first of those appearances was a 1st place run in the regional qualifier for this Chongqing Major, while the other was a 2nd place performance in the ESL One Katowice 2019 North America Qualifier. Something worth noting for J.Storm is the fact that the addition of Fear to the lineup came after both of those qualifier runs, with the ESL One Katowice 2019 North America Qualifier ending just 5 days before the organization’s official announcement of its roster change. That means that the team has technically not played in any official matches with its current lineup prior to the start of the Major, which does introduce a small level of concern for the squad. However, given Fear’s extensive experience at the international level, it shouldn’t be overly difficult for him to integrate himself into the lineup. The real cause for concern for J.Storm though is the lack of recent matches on the international level heading into this Major. The squad’s record outside of the North American region so far this season is 14-13, which is a decent but not overly impressive record in light of the caliber of team that J.Storm will be facing on the Pro Circuit stage. The North American squad will certainly have its work cut out for it at The Chongqing Major, but hopefully its recent roster change helps give the squad the edge it needs to find success at this event.

J.Storm comes into The Chongqing Major as a squad with a new look, as the addition of a veteran player and TI Winner in Fear appears to be a significant boon to the team. J.Storm has been strong within the North American region so far this season, but the team comes into this event hoping to reverse a downward trend in terms of its play on the international level. Though adding Fear to the lineup certainly gives the team another veteran presence and a proven winner, the odds don’t appear to be favoring J.Storm at The Chongqing Major, with the North American projected to finish in the lower half of the standings in the 9th-12th place position. The first concern for the squad coming into this event is the fact that J.Storm has not played in any official matches with Fear in the lineup. Between boot camps and scrimmages, it’s unlikely that the team will come into this event without a clear understanding of how best to play with its new lineup, so this concern is a relatively minor one at best. The bigger issue for J.Storm coming into the Major though is the fact that is has not played any international matches since the end of The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November. Across that time frame, the team has played all 22 of its official matches in regional qualifiers in North America, though its 14-8 record in those matches at least shows a solid level of play against its regional rivals. With a new player on the roster who has not played any official matches with the squad, and a lack of recent results on the international level, J.Storm enters this Major with a lot of potential but is lacking in terms of more tangible proof of its strength. With the level of talent and experience on its roster, the squad could easily put together a strong run and push into the top half of the event standings. However, with no examples in recent months of the team putting together that kind of stretch on the international level, the expectations will be set significantly below the potential for J.Storm heading into this first Major of 2019.

Forward Gaming Forward Gaming

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-9th (150 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
2.
Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok
3.
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
4.
Arif “MSS” Anwar
5.
Avery “SVG” Silverman
C.
Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

Following an impressive stretch on the back end of the previous Pro Circuit season and a strong showing at TI8 under the VGJ.Storm banner, the roster of Forward Gaming came into the 2018-2019 campaign as an early favorite to claim a leading position within the North American hierarchy. While the squad has been able to put together a fairly consistent presence within its home region, success on the international level has been significantly more elusive for the squad as it heads into its 2nd Pro Circuit appearance of the season. Considering the strength of the teams in the field for this upcoming Major, Forward Gaming is certainly facing a daunting task in Chongqing. However, the team’s talented and experienced lineup is no stranger to playing under pressure on the international level, and a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage would go a long way towards reversing its early season struggles outside of the North American region.

Forward Gaming’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage came just a few months ago at The Kuala Lumpur Major, although the squad did not end up finishing on the side of the standings that it likely would have preferred. With a 6-6 overall record, the North American squad ended up in the 9th-12th place position in the standings, and were ultimately knocked out of the event by regional rival Evil Geniuses in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket. Since then, the squad has participated in 4 events, with one coming against its regional rivals in North America while the other 3 were played on the international level. The team’s regional appearance was a 2nd place finish in the qualifier for this very Major, where the squad put together a 9-2 record to secure its second trip to the Pro Circuit stage this season. The team’s appearances on the international level have come a bit more recently, with the team playing in the MegaFon Winter Clash in December as well as the WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness and LOOT.BET Winter Masters in January. None of those appearances went particularly well for Forward Gaming, as the team put up 5th-6th place, 5th-8th place, and 7th-8th place finishes, respectively, across the 3 events. The team’s record across those 3 tournaments came out to an abysmal 3-11 overall, bringing its total record since the end of the previous Major to just 12-13. That kind of disappointing performance outside of its home region does very little to alleviate the team’s concerns regarding its play on the international level, and Forward Gaming will need to bring its absolute best to The Chongqing Major if it wants to have any chance at finding that much sought after success on the Pro Circuit stage.

Forward Gaming began the season as one of the leading squads in the North American region, and a team that many anticipated playing an increased role in the Pro Circuit Rankings. While the team has been strong on the home front so far in this 2018-2019 campaign, the Pro Circuit stage has not been quite as kind to the North American squad. The Chongqing Major represents a chance for the team to turn things around and get itself back into contention on the Pro Circuit, but the squad will be facing quite a daunting task as it prepares to take on a field of some of the best teams in the Dota 2 world. Coming into the event, the odds don’t appear to be in favor of Forward Gaming, as the North American team will make its way to Chongqing projected to finish near the bottom of the standings in the 13th-16th place position overall. Even a few months ago, the though of predicting that the team will end up at the bottom of the standings at a Pro Circuit event appeared almost laughable, but Forward Gaming has not impressed on the international this season. Since the end of the previous Major in Kuala Lumpur, the team is just 3-11 against teams outside of the North American region. Within that same time frame, the team has also posted a 7-10 record against other Pro Circuit teams and a 6-8 record against teams participating in this Major. None of this bodes particularly well for Forward Gaming, and at this point in the season it appears that the North American squad is caught in a dangerous downward spiral in terms of its ability to perform at the international level. That is not the scenario that any team wants to be dealing with heading into a Pro Circuit Major, and unless Forward Gaming is able to pull off a spectacular reversal of its recent poor performances on the international level, then it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect much from the squad in Chongqing.

 

Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier 3rd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd (2,100 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
2.
Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan
3.
Gustav “s4” Magnusson
4.
Andreas Franck “Cr1t-“ Nielsen
5.
Tal “Fly” Aizik
C.
Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale

Projected Finish: Top 4

Evil Geniuses came into the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season looking to keep a hold on its positions as both a leader within the North American region and a consistent contender on the international level. So far this season, the squad has been successful on both of those fronts, remaining at the top of the regional hierarchy alongside squads like Forward Gaming and J.Storm while claiming one of the top spots in the Pro Circuit Rankings with its successful performance at the season’s first Major. As the 3rd ranked squad on the Pro Circuit, Evil Geniuses is sitting in a very favorable position at this stage in the season. However, another solid performance on the Pro Circuit stage would further solidify that position as Evil Geniuses looks to become the first North American team to ever claim a Major Championship title.

The last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage for Evil Geniuses came back in November at The Kuala Lumpur Major, where the team ended up claiming a 3rd place finish overall behind a 13-7 record. Since the end of that Major though, Evil Geniuses has been relatively inactive, as the squad has participated in just a single event. That event was The Chongqing Major North America Qualifier, where EG put together a 6-4 record against its regional rivals to claim 1 of the 3 North American slots at the Major. Those 10 games against its regional rivals are the only official matches that we’ve seen from EG in over a month now, which does introduce a small degree of concern for the squad heading into the Major. Also of note is the fact that the team does not have any experience on the international level in the time since the previous Major either, which adds another potential issue for the team in the run up to The Chongqing Major. Even with that being said though, Evil Geniuses’ previous success both within its home region and on the Pro Circuit stage makes it relatively easy to give the team the benefit of the doubt and assume that it will come into The Chongqing Major at a high enough level to be a contender for the title of Major Champion.

EG will enter The Chongqing Major in one of the more interesting situations among the 16 teams in the field, as the team will be making its second Major appearance of the 2018-2019 season. On the one hand, the team is sitting near the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings after its 4th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major and represents one of the leading teams on the Pro Circuit. On the other hand, the squad has not played in any events since that previous Major aside from the qualifier run that earned it a place in Chongqing. Under normal circumstances, a team having so few official matches between Pro Circuit appearances would be a rather significant cause for concern. However, Evil Geniuses is still expected to find success at The Chongqing Major with a projected finish in the Top 4 range for the North American team. There are 2 predominant reasons for EG’s favorable projection despite its relative inactivity over the last few months, those reasons being the experience of its roster as well as the squad’s prior success on the international level. The team’s 5 players have combined for a mind-blowing 24 TI appearances, 65 Major appearances, and 28 Minor appearances, from which they have claimed 2 TI titles, 8 Major Championships, and 5 Minor Championships. This squad is no stranger to playing at the highest level in the Dota 2 world, and combining that experience with its 3rd place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major makes its relatively easy to believe that EG will come into this event at or near the top of its game. We will have to wait and see if the North American titan warrants that level of faith or not as the squad looks to put together another impressive run on the Pro Circuit stage in Chongqing.

 

Chaos Esports Club chaos

Region: South America

Qualification Method: South America Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-18th (75 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. William “hFn” Medeiros
2.
Aliwi “w33” Omar
3.
Otávio “Tavo” Gabriel
4.
Danylo “Kingrd” Nascimento
5.
Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

Note: On January 15, the roster of paiN Gaming was signed by Chaos Esports Club.

South American squad Chaos Esports Club (a.k.a Chaos) has had a rather interesting start to its season so far, with the roster having left its organization in August only to resign just a month later. Just days before the start of this Major, the team ended up undergoing another shift in organization, as the team’s roster was officially signed by Chaos Esports Club. The situation was somewhat strange, but fortunately for Chaos its level of play and status as one of the leading teams in the South American region remained unaffected. The squad stands as the highest ranked South American team in the Pro Circuit Rankings, but with just 75 points to its name at this stage in the season, the squad is going to need to find further success on the international level in order to compete for 1 of the 12 direct invite slots at TI9. So far this season, Chaos’ performance on the international level has been a bit inconsistent, but this appearance at The Chongqing Major will provide the squad with a valuable opportunity to display its strength on the Pro Circuit stage and improve its position in the Rankings. In order to do that though, the South American squad is going to have to fight its way through a field of some of the Dota 2 world’s strongest and most formidable teams in China.

The last time we saw Chaos on the Pro Circuit stage was in November at The Kuala Lumpur Major, and that appearance was incredibly underwhelming for the team. The South American squad ended up putting together a 2-6 overall record at the event to finish at the bottom of the standings in the 13th-16th place position. Since the end of that previous Major, Chaos has taken a bit of a step back in the Dota 2 world, as its level of activity has dramatically decreased compared to the first few months of the season. In the time since the conclusion of The Kuala Lumpur Major, Chaos has only participated in 1 event, with that event being the regional qualifier for this upcoming Major. The good news for the team is that its performance in that qualifier was consistent with what we’ve seen from it so far this season in terms of regional play, as Chaos posted a 9-2 record to secure its place at The Chongqing Major. The bad news though is that those matches are the only ones on record for the team within the last month, which makes it somewhat harder to gauge where the team stands heading into this event. The fact that the squad has not played any matches outside of its home region in that time frame is also a rather important point of concern heading into an event in which the team will be facing off against some of the strongest teams on the Pro Circuit. Considering the squad’s relatively inconsistent performance so far on the international level, Chaos will make its way to Chongqing with quite a few questions in need of answers.

Without a doubt, Chaos will enter The Chongqing Major as the strongest team in the South American region so far this season, but to be honest that doesn’t mean a whole lot at the moment. With test123 moving to the North American region and Infamous having made some significant changes to its roster at the end of November, there are no other proven teams within the regional hierarchy to threaten Chaos right now. Though the team’s position within its home region appears to be secure, its standing on the international level most certainly is not, and Chaos would stand to benefit massively from a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage. Coming into this event, that scenario seems somewhat unlikely for the squad, as Chaos is projected to finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position. At first glance, that predicted outcome may seem overly harsh for the South American squad. The team still has one of the most talented rosters in the South American region, with a fair bit of international experience under its belt as well. On top of that, the team has managed to find success on the international level this season, with Chaos finishing 4th at ESL One Hamburg 2018 back in October. The problem with Chaos heading into this event though is that all of its experience and success have come in a relatively small sample size of matches and appearances. The team has participated in just 4 events in total this season (not counting Red Bull Guardians which featured a non-standard rule set), with 2 of them being Pro Circuit qualifiers in which the team only faced off against regional rivals. Considering the state of the South American region right now, those performances carry a bit less weight than they might in a different situation. Aside from those 2 regional performances, the team’s other appearances where a pair of massively mismatched showings on the international stage. The squad did finish 4th at ESL One Hamburg 2018, but it followed up that showing with an awful 13th-16th place run at The Kuala Lumpur Major that saw it post a 2-6 overall record. With no other international matches on record since then, it is hard to have confidence that the squad has turned around its previous issues in the run up to this Major. That being said, the squad is a talented and experienced group, and if its problems have truly been put behind it then Chaos could easily push its way into the top half of the event standings. However, until we see proof that the squad has recovered from that disappointing performance at the previous Major, then the expectations will have to remain low for the South American squad as it makes it way to Chongqing.

 

Thunder Predator Thunder Predator

Region: South America

Qualification Method: South America Qualifier 3rd Place (Replacement Team)

Pro Circuit Rank: None (0 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Juan “Atun” Ochoa
2.
Leonardo “LeoStyle-“ Sifuentes
3.
Frank “Frank” Arias
4.
Farith “Matthew” Puente
5.
Sergio “Prada” Toribio

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

Thunder Predator’s Pro Circuit debut comes to the team through a stroke of good fortune, at least from the perspective of the Peruvian squad. Originally, Thunder Predator fell short of the mark to reach this Major, having finished in 3rd place in The Chongqing Major South America Qualifier. However, the disqualification of Test123 (formerly paiN X) freed up a slot at the Major that was subsequently awarded to Thunder Predator. On top of that bit of news, Thunder Predator has also made headlines recently with a change to its roster, as Jeimari left the team for personal reasons on December 16. After playing with stand-ins for the remainder of 2018, the organization announced in January that LeoStyle- would be shifting from a stand-in position to an official spot on the roster as Thunder Predator’s new Midlaner. With its lineup now solidified, the team has shifted its focus to its debut on the Pro Circuit stage, as the Peruvian squad looks to take advantage of its good fortune and capitalize on this unexpected appearance at The Chongqing Major.

With The Chongqing Major serving as Thunder Predator’s first Pro Circuit event, the squad does not have any previous experience to look at in terms of its ability to play on the Pro Circuit stage. In fact, the squad has not been able to accrue any experience outside of its home region at all this season, with every single one of its 5 total event appearances (not including Open Qualifiers) having come within the South American region. The silver lining for the team is that its performance within its home region has been relatively solid, with Thunder Predator earning 4 Top 4 finishes across those 5 event appearances. At first glance, those numbers appear fairly impressive, but things are a bit more complicated for Thunder Predator when one takes a closer look at its performance so far this season. Across non-Open Qualifier events, Thunder Predator holds an overall record of just 32-26, including a somewhat underwhelming 15-20 record against Pro Circuit teams (teams that have attended or qualified for a Pro Circuit event this season). Considering all of these matches have come against its regional rivals, things don’t look particularly encouraging for Thunder Predator in terms of its ability to compete on the international level, especially at a Major against some of the Pro Circuit’s most formidable and accomplished teams. With no experience on the international level and a somewhat shaky record at home, Thunder Predator will assuredly enter The Chongqing Major as a significant underdog in its Pro Circuit debut.

Thunder Predator’s path to The Chongqing Major was an interesting one, to say the least. The team needed a bit of help to reach the Pro Circuit stage for the first time in its history, but now that it is here, the focus will be entirely on finding success against some of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world. Unfortunately for Thunder Predator, that success seems almost certain to prove elusive in Chongqing, as the team is projected to finish in the 13th-16th place position at the Major. The good news for the team is that it likely won’t have to to worry much about its recent roster change affecting the squad’s overall level of play. LeoStyle- had already been serving as a stand-in for some time before he was officially added to the roster, and is probably already familiar with the team and its play style. The bigger concern for Thunder Predator is the fact that the team has not played a single match outside of the South American region so far this season. All 58 of the team’s official, non-open qualifier matches have come against regional competition, and even on the home front the squad has had its struggles. Thunder Predator’s overall record across those 58 matches is 32-26, and that record drops down to just 15-20 when facing off against other Pro Circuit teams. The silver lining for the team is that its 32-26 record at home has resulted in 4 Top 4 finishes across 5 non-open qualifier event appearances, but that experience is not likely to count for much against the elite squads of the Pro Circuit. Perhaps Thunder Predator has an incredible, odds-defying run in it at The Chongqing Major, and the squad will pull off an unexpected push into a higher position in the event standings. However, that kind of performance would be borderline miraculous for the squad based upon its play so far this season, and the reality of the squad’s current situation has expectations about as low as possible for it in its debut on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

EHOME 800px-EHOME

Region: China

Qualification: The Bucharest Minor Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-12th (120 Pro Circuit Points)

Roster:
1. Luo “eGo” Bin
2. Li “ASD” Zhiwen
3. Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida
4. Jiang “天命” An
5. Zhang “y`” Yiping
C. Zhang “xiao8” Ning

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

EHOME comes to The Chongqing Major as the 16th and final addition to the field of participants for the event, with the Chinese squad having played its way into the Major by winning The Bucharest Minor and claiming its first ever Pro Circuit title as an organization. The team came into the 2018-2019 campaign with a large level of potential and some early attention though, as the squad sported a combination of experienced leadership and young talent under the tutelage of one the game’s legendary figures in TI Winner xiao8. The squad has wasted little time turning that potential in tangible results within the Chinese region, and with its most recent success on the Pro Circuit stage, EHOME now stands in a position to establish itself as a power on the international level. With a string of strong performances under its belt and the legacy of one of China’s oldest and most successful organization behind it, EHOME will hope to continue its ascent up the ranks within the international scene with a strong performance on home soil at the Major.

The team’s victory at The Bucharest Minor may have been the most prominent performance for the team so far this season, but it is hardly the team’s only example of success in its 2018-2019 campaign. The team has worked its way up the regional hierarchy in China, with EHOME having participated in 4 open qualifiers (3 Pro Circuit, 1 third part) and claiming 1st place finish in 2 of them. In closed qualifiers and other regional events, the team has consistently been able to fins success against its regional rivals, with 12 total appearances netting the squad 10 Top 4 finishes. Included in those 10 Top 4 performances are 1st place runs at the WESG 2018 China Finals, the STARLUCK DOTA2 Challenge, and the ESL One Katowice 2019 China Qualifier. Across the entirety of the season so far, EHOME has posted an incredible 96-55 record within the Chinese region, establishing itself as a consistent force in what has been a relatively crowded regional hierarchy. With its victorious run on the Pro Circuit stage at The Bucharest Minor, EHOME has also improved what was already a fairly strong record on the international level. The squad has made appearances in just 2 international events so far this season, with those events being the Asia Pro League back in October and The Bucharest Minor in January. In both events, EHOME ended up emerging victorious, claiming 1st place finishes while posting a total record of 18-1 against teams outside of China. Between the team’s consistent success at home and its strong performances on the international level, EHOME will come into The Chongqing Major as a formidable force that cannot be overlooked or underestimated on the Pro Circuit stage.

EHOME comes into The Chongqing Major as a squad riding a high from its successful run at The Bucharest Minor. The squad has built up an impressive resume of performances and success within the Chinese region, and its profile on the international level has now skyrocketed with its recent achievement on the Pro Circuit stage. Now, the team’s next challenge will be taking on some of the Dota 2 world’s strongest teams on one of the largest stages in the scene in Chongqing. Heading into the event, the expectations for EHOME will likely appear to be modest to most, with the Chinese squad projected to finish in the 9th-12th place range overall. For a team that just got through a dominant performance on the Pro Circuit stage at the Minor, that prediction seems to be almost underselling the potential and skill of EHOME. However, the team’s projection in the bottom half of the event standings has less to do with a lack of confidence in EHOME and more in a higher level of confidence in the elite squads of the Dota 2 world. EHOME’s run has certainly been an impressive one, but against the likes of Virtus.pro, Team Secret, PSG.LGD, and Team Liquid, the Chinese squad has yet to fully prove itself. To be fair, the squad has found success against Pro Circuit squads before, posting a 5-1 record against Kuala Lumpur Major attendee Gambit Esports as The Bucharest Minor while also defeating defending TI Champion OG 2-0 at the same event. However, OG is still adjusting to its very recent roster changes, and Gambit Esports is still not what most would consider to be an elite squad on the Pro Circuit despite making 2 appearances on the Pro Circuit stage this season. The fact of the matter is that the team has not seen what we would classify as elite opposition on the international level yet, which makes it hard to judge just how well the squad will hold up at the Major. Because of that uncertainty, the expected results for EHOME have been placed relatively low, but that does not mean that the squad cannot find success on Chongqing. If the team’s young stars keep their composure on the big stage, and the squad continues to play with the solidarity and consistency that we’ve seen so far this season, then there appears to be little standing in the way of the squad pushing into the upper half of the event standings and potentially challenging the elite teams in the field. We shall have to wait and see if EHOME has what it takes to carry its impressive rise to prominence forward as it prepares for its first ever appearance at a Pro Circuit Major.

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