Dota 2 Pro Circuit Major Recap: The Chongqing Major

Secret to Success: Team Secret take down Virtus.pro 3-1 in rematch of KL Major Final, claim organization’s 3rd Major Championship title in Chongqing

The first Pro Circuit Major of the 2019 section of the season has officially come to a close, as we now approach the half-way mark of the 2018-2019 campaign with the conclusion of The Chongqing Major. For 9 days, the eyes of the Dota 2 world have been fixated on Chongqing, China as 16 challengers battled it out for the opportunity to lay claim to the title of Major Champion and carve out a favorable position for themselves in the Pro Circuit Rankings. In the end though, only 1 team was able to reach that pinnacle of success, as 15 of the 16 teams in the field faded away to leave us with a singular survivor to stand as Champion of the Chongqing Major.

When the dust had settled and the action had finally come to a close, it was Team Secret that stood victorious, as the European squad claimed its first Major Championship of the season and the third Major title in the organization’s history. The squad took down Virtus.pro 3-1 in a rematch of the Grand Finals of The Kuala Lumpur Major, though this time around the European titan dominated the match up with a series of incredible performances. The squad’s entire run in Chongqing was just as impressive as its Grand Finals performance, as the team posted a 14-6 overall record (4-3 Group Stage, 10-3 Main Event) that saw it claim series victories against Thunder Predator, Forward Gaming, Team Liquid, EHOME, Evil Geniuses, and Virtus.pro on its way to claiming the title of Major Champion.

With the season’s second set of Majors and Minors now at an end, we can see how the Pro Circuit Rankings have been affected by the action in Chongqing. With its 1st place finish at the event, Team Secret added 4,950 points to its total, and has moved itself into a tie for 1st in the Rankings with 7,950 points overall. That total has earned Team Secret enough points to be mathematically guaranteed a direct invite to TI9, so long as the team avoids losing any points through roster changes or penalties. After finishing in 2nd place in Chongqing, VP stands as the other squad to be tied for 1st place, as it added 3,000 points to its tally to also hold a total of 7,950 and guarantee itself a direct invite to TI9 as well. With its second straight 3rd place finish on the Pro Circuit stage, Evil Geniuses maintains its hold on the 3rd place position in the Rankings, moving up from 2,100 points to 4,200. Meanwhile, PSG.LGD’s 4th place finish in Chongqing earns the squad 1,350 points, increasing the team’s total to 2,250 points and shifting it from 5th in the Rankings to 4th.

The 2 squads that finished in the combined 5th-6th place position, Fnatic and EHOME, also find themselves moving up in the Rankings as they both add 900 points to their totals. Fnatic increases its total from 450 to 1,350 points and moves from a tie for 7th into 6th place in the Rankings, while EHOME’s 900 points replaces its previous Minor earnings of 120 points and puts it into a tie for 7th place. The team that EHOME is now tied with, Vici Gaming, finished in the 7th-8th place position in Chongqing, earning 450 points to bring its total up to 900 as it retained its previous position in the Rankings. As for the other squad to finish in the 7th-8th place position, Team Liquid, it does not gain the same amount of points. Due to the team’s use of a stand-in for the event, Team Liquid only earned 270 points from its performance in Chongqing, with those points being the team’s first of the season as it moved into a tie for 10th place in the Rankings.

Moving into the lower half of the event standings, the quartet of Chaos Esports Club, Thunder Predator, J.Storm, and TNC Predator all finished in the 9th-12th place position, adding 150 points to their totals. TNC Predator went from 720 points to 870, but actually fell down the Rankings as it moved from 6th to 9th overall. J.Storm saw its its total increase from 120 points to 270, moving the squad up from a tie for 12th place into a tie for 10th in the Rankings. Chaos Esports found itself moving up the Rankings as well, with the team increasing its total from 75 points to 225 points and moving from a tie for 18th in to a tie for 12th. As for Thunder Predator, the squad earned its first Pro Circuit points of the season in Chongqing, and now sits in a tie for 15th place with its 150 points.

Rounding out the bottom half of the event standings, we have Alliance, The Pango, Forward Gaming, and Team Aster, who all finished in the 13th-16th place position in Chongqing. 3 of the those 4 squads were awarded 75 Pro Circuit Points each for their efforts, while The Pango earned just 45 points due to the use of a stand-in at the event. Alliance found itself moving down in the Rankings despite increasing its total from 150 points to 225, as the squad fell from a tie for 9th place into a tie for 12th overall. Forward Gaming found itself in the exact same position, as it also increased its total from 150 points to 225 and also fell from being tied for 9th into being tied for 12th in the Rankings. Team Aster actually found itself moving up in the Rankings in the aftermath of the Major, with the squad increasing its total from 75 points to 150 while moving from a tie for 18th into a tied for 15th place. As for The Pango, The Chongqing Major earned the team its first Pro Circuit Points of the season, with the CIS squad earning 45 points and the 22nd place position in the Rankings.

With all of the matches and action concluded at The Chongqing Major, the Pro Circuit Rankings fully up to date, and Team Secret officially recognized as the first Major Champion of 2019, we can look at how each of the teams performed at the Major and whether they managed to live up to their pre-event expectations.

 

Team Secret Team Secret

Place: 1st

Winnings: $350,000 & 4,950 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 14-6 (4-3 Group Stage, 10-3 Main Event)

Team Secret came into this event as one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world, but the the European juggernaut came into this Major looking for a shot at redemption on the Pro Circuit stage. After coming just 1 win away from a Major Championship title in Kuala Lumpur, the squad was determined that this time it would finish the job and lay claim to the organization’s third Major Championship. The path to success in Chongqing would not be an easy one, but Team Secret had displayed a level of skill and ability that few other teams on the Pro Circuit seemed capable of matching as the team prepared for its second straight Major appearance of the season.

Team Secret began its run at the Major with a match up against a squad that it had never faced before, as the European titan played South American squad Thunder Predator in its first Group Stage series. Game 1 ended up being a fairly one-sided affair, as Team Secret came out quickly and aggressively in the hopes of catching its opponent by surprise. The plan worked, with Team Secret out killing its opponent 13-6 and claiming a victory in less than 19  minutes of total game time to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 would not be quite so easy for Team Secret, as the squad faced significantly more resistance from its opponent this time around. Despite Thunder Predator doing more to fight back against its opponent though, Team Secret was only biding its time as its core out farmed and out paced their counterparts. Behind an incredible showing from Nisha’s Anti-Mage (18-1-7), Team Secret finally sprung its trap on Thunder Predator, claiming a series of mid and late-game team fight wins that shifted momentum inexorably in its favor as the squad closed out a 2-0 win in the series.

With its relatively one-sided victory over Thunder Predator, Team Secret found itself 1 more series victory away from a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event as it faced off against PSG.LGD in the Winners’ Match of Group B. The series did not get off to a fantastic start for the European squad though, as Team Secret’s core trio of Troll Warlord, Timbersaw, and Underlord fell flat in the fact of PSG.LGD’s draft. The team was playing from behind from the very start of the match, and it could not seem to string together any sort of momentum for itself as it was out killed 11-31 in the match. After falling behind by nearly 21k net worth at the 34 minute mark, Team Secret finally conceded defeat as it dropped to 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw Team Secret employ a different strategy, as the squad prioritized heroes with heavy lane pushing and clearing abilities to make space for a Carry/Mid duo of Slark and Outworld Devourer. While the strategy helped the squad remain relatively close to its opponent throughout most of the match, the team’s cores could not simultaneously keep pace in terms of net worth and consistently contend with its opponent in team fights. Because of that, PSG.LGD eventually took control of the match in the late-game stage, and broke through Team Secret’s defenses to hand the European squad a 0-2 defeat in the series.

Despite its rough loss at the hands of PSG.LGD, Team Secret still had another chance at earning a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event as it faced off against Forward Gaming in the Decider Match of its group. Through the first half of Game 1 though, it appeared that Team Secret was going to have a hard time getting past its North American opponent, as the squad trailed in terms of net worth through the first 20 minutes of play and had difficulties punching through the tanky lineup of Forward Gaming. However, the late-game stage proved to be the team’s salvation, as Team Secret turned the tides of the match with a huge team fight victory that allowed it to seize the momentum and finally push past Forward Gaming’s defenses to claim a comeback win to open the series. Game 2 would play out in a similar manner, although this time around the roles would be reversed between the 2 squads. After remaining essentially neck-and-neck through the laning stage, Team Secret was able to build up a small net worth advantage for itself, but that lead quickly evaporated in the face of a strong surge from Forward Gaming. Team Secret did not secure a single kill over the final 13 minutes of play, and were nearly helpless to stop its opponent as Forward Gaming claimed fight after fight to close out a win that tied up the series at 1-1. With the series on the line, Team Secret opted for a core trio of Medusa, Kunkka, and Axe going into Game 3. Throughout the first 25 minutes of play, that core trio helped keep the squad even with its opponent, as neither team led by more than 3k net worth over that time frame. Eventually though, Team Secret managed to get the upper hand, with its core trio combining for a 22-16-45 stat line that spearheaded a late-game surge that Forward Gaming could not contend with. Out killing its opponent 11-4 over the final 10 minutes of the match, Team Secret was able to secure itself a win to take the series 2-1.

Team Secret’s 4-3 Group Stage record had it advancing to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event in Chongqing, where it faced off against a regional rival in the form of Team Liquid. Very early on, it became apparent that Team Secret was the squad in control of the match up, as the team put together an aggressive strategy that had it jumping out to a sizable net worth lead. Behind strong showings from Nisha on Morphling (9-0-6) and zai on Tiny (7-2-5), Team Secret led in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match to lock down a massively one-sided victory to open the series. Game 2 was more of the same for Team Secret, as the squad once again pushed ahead early and never looked back. Behind a combined 20-8-31 stat line from its core trio of Faceless Void, Outworld Devourer, and Tidehunter, Team Secret dominated team fights throughout the match to out kill its opponent 29-11 to complete a convincing 2-0 sweep that guaranteed the squad at least a Top 6 spot at the Major.

A guaranteed Top 6 position was good start for Team Secret in the Upper Bracket, but the European juggernaut was looking for more as it took on EHOME in Round 2, with the winner of this series advancing to the Upper Bracket Finals for a date with Virtus.pro. Game 1 ended up being an absolute stomp of a match, as Team Secret put together an aggressive style of play that allowed it to get out to an early lead over its opponent. Behind a combined stat line of 9-2-20 from its core trio of Medusa, Puck, and Doom, the squad built up a sizable net worth lead and never allowed its opponent to mount any sort of comeback effort as it out killed EHOME 18-8 en route to a relatively quick victory in just under 28 minutes of game time. Game 2 appeared to be almost the exact opposite scenario for Team Secret, as the European squad fell behind early in the match and by a rather sizable margin as well. Trailing by as much as 10k net worth, Team Secret had not choice but to delay the game for as long as possible, drawing out the match in the hopes of sparking a comeback effort. Eventually, those efforts proved fruitful, as Nisha’s Phantom Assassin (12-2-8) helped lead the team to back to back team fight victories that wiped out EHOME’s advantage and allowed Team Secret to pull off a dramatic late-game turnaround to secure itself a 2-0 sweep of the series.

With that win, Team Secret marched into the Upper Bracket Finals with a streak of 5 straight victories, and it hoped to extend that streak as it faced off against Virtus.pro in a rematch of both the Upper Bracket Finals and Grand Finals of The Kuala Lumpur Major. Game 1 saw the European squad pick up a core trio of Phantom Assassin, Slark, and Dark Seer, though that trio was playing from behind for a decent portion of the match as the squad trailed in terms of net worth through most of the mid-game stage. However a combined 20-11-36 stat line from the team’s core trio helped spark an unexpected surge from the team, as Team Secret out killed its opponent 13-4 over the final 10 minutes of play to claim a comeback win to open the series. Unfortunately for Team Secret, its momentum would not carry on beyond that point, as the squad was overrun by VP in Games 2 and 3. Across the final 2 games of the series, Team Secret was out killed 24-57, with none of its players earning more than 5 kills in either match. While the team was able to hold small net worth leads in the first 15 minutes of both games, the mid and late-game stages were simply dominated by VP, and Team Secret could find little room to operate as the squad fell 1-2 in the series and dropped down into the Lower Bracket for the first time in Chongqing.

With a spot in the Grand Finals of the Major on the line, Team Secret found itself taking on North American squad EG in the Lower Bracket Finals. As it turned out, the series was not particularly close, as Team Secret managed to complete dominate the match up with a pair of one-sided matches. Across the 2 game series, the team out killed its opponent 56-18 while holding a net worth advantage for all but a handful of minutes in a series that lasted just over an hour of total game time. No member of Team Secret’s lineup accrued more than 4 deaths in either match, as the European squad established complete control over both games and never looked back to complete a 2-0 sweep that put the squad into its second straight Grand Finals appearance this season.

With its victory against Evil Geniuses, Team Secret found itself in the Grand Finals of a Major for the second time in a row this season, as it faced off against Virtus.pro in a rematch of The Kuala Lumpur Major Grand Finals. The series began with an absolute massacre on the part of Team Secret, as the European squad came flying out of the gates with an incredible pair of performance in Games 1 and 2. The team out killed its opponent 42-20, coming at its opponents with a level of early aggression that VP was simply not prepared to handle. The 2 matches lasted a total of just over 38 minutes of game time, with Team Secret holding a net worth lead for all but 4 of those minutes as it jumped out to a shockingly fast 2-0 lead in the series. Game 3 looked as though it was going to be another blowout victory for Team Secret, as the squad built up a modest net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a solid performance from Nisha’ Visage (9-7-10) the squad appeared to be on the verge of claiming a 3-0 sweep of the series, but its opponent still had 1 last card to play. VP managed to turn a series of team fights in its favor, out killing Team Secret 4-12 over the final 10 minutes of the match to complete an unbelievable comeback victory that cut Team Secret’s lead in the series to 2-1. Team Secret may have been denied a clean sweep of the series, but the squad would not allow its opponent to carry over any momentum into Game 4 of the Grand Finals. Behind a core trio of Phantom Assassin, Outworld Devourer, and Puck, the squad once again employed an aggressive strategy that had VP reeling from the earliest stages of hte match. With the team’s core trio combining for a stat line of 27-2-39, Team Secret controlled the match from start to finish, out killing its opponent 30-11 to claim a 3-1 victory in the series and the title Major Champion.

Team Secret came into this Major as 1 of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world by far, but the squad held a certain determination in Chongqing as it looked to march its way back to the Grand Finals of a Major and finish the task that it had been unable to complete in Kuala Lumpur. Prior to the start of play, the European titan was easily projected to finish in the Top 4 range, and the squad absolutely blew that prediction away as it claimed a 1st place finish and claimed the organization’s third Major Championship title. The squad was absolutely dominant in Chongqing, putting together a 14-6 overall record while only losing a single series to both PSG.LGD in the Group Stage, and Virtus.pro in the Upper Bracket Finals. The team exposed few mistakes or weaknesses throughout its run at The Chongqing Major, with Puppey’s excellent drafting always seeming to put his squad in the best possible position to win games. Of particular note at this event was Nisha, who was identified as a focal point for both Team Secret and its opponents in the preview post for this Major. In that preview, we surmised that Team Secret’s success would largely be dependent on whether the squad could consistently put Nisha in strong and comfortable positions. As it turned out, the 18 year old Polish star felt extremely comfortable in Chongqing, as he averaged 6.95 kills and 7.7 assists with just 2.55 deaths per game across the squads 20 total matches. Across the entirety of the Major, only ASD of EHOME and Ame of PSG.LGD managed to average fewer deaths per game than Nisha, though both players also played significantly fewer matches than Team Secret did (15 and 13, respectively). Between the impressive drafting and leadership of Puppey and the incredible play from Nisha, there appears to be little that can stand in Team Secret’s way right now, as the team now comfortably sits in a position as 1 of the Dota 2 world’s 2 strongest squads alongside VP. As if to further solidify that position, Team Secret’s victory at The Chongqing Major has earned the squad enough Pro Circuit Points to be mathematically guaranteed 1 of the 12 direct invites to TI9 (barring any roster changes or penalties). Team Secret is on top of the Dota 2 world at the moment, and the squad will have some opportunities to continue asserting its status as one of the game’s elite teams in the near future. The team will being its defense of its Major Championship title as it participates in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major Europe Qualifier beginning February 4, and will return to the international level later that month with an appearance at ESL One Katowice 2019 on February 19.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $40,000 & 450 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 6-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 2-4 Main Event)

It seemed rather strange that TI7 Champion Team Liquid was only just making its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage at this event, as the squad had still been one of the leading teams on the international level coming into the season. Funnily enough, The Chongqing Major wasn’t the first Pro Circuit event that the team had qualified for in the 2018-2019 season, but the squad’s withdrawal from the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor had pushed its first appearance back to this event. Even then, the team’s issues didn’t fully abate, as the squad came into The Chongqing Major needing Shadow to serve as a stand-in for the missing Miracle-. Despite the team’s somewhat unorthodox situation, Team Liquid still entered this Major as a team with talent, experience, and a track record of success on the international level that the squad was hoping to remind its opponents of as it took the Pro Circuit stage for the first time this season.

Team Liquid’s first series of the Major saw it face off against the up and coming CIS squad The Pango in the Opening Matches of Group C. Game 1 of the series ended up being an absolute massacre from Team Liquid, as the squad out killed its opponent 30-2 in a complete route that saw the European squad claim a dominant victory in just over 20 minutes of game time behind a combined 24-2-38 from its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Monkey King, and Dark Seer. Game 2 saw Team Liquid get off to a solid start again, with the team holding a modest net worth lead over the first 20 minutes of play. This time though, its opponent would find the strength to fight back, and Team Liquid quickly found its lead disappearing as The Pango dominated mid and late-game team fights to turn the tides of the match and even up the series at 1-1. That led to Game 3 of the series, which would prove to be one of the most entertaining matches of the Group Stage, and perhaps of the Major in general. While the 2 teams remained relatively even through the first 30 minutes of play, a massive surge from The Pango in the late-game had Team Liquid’s back against the wall as it faced a net worth deficit of over 18k. However, the squad refused to give in, and behind the duo of Shadow’s Medusa (6-8-10, 38.7k net worth) and MATUMBAMAN’s Bristleback (5-6-14, 30.9k net worth), Team Liquid was able to hold off against Mega Creeps and mount an improbable comeback victory to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat and take the series 2-1.

With that victory, Team Liquid advanced to the Winners’ Match of Group C to face Vici Gaming for the top spot in the group standings and 1 of the group’s 2 spots in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. Game 1 of the series proved to be quite the challenge for Team Liquid though, as the squad found itself playing from behind for nearly the entirety of the match. Though the squad never trailed by more than 8k in the game, Team Liquid still needed a fair bit of time to gather its strength as it trailed for over 30 minutes in a match that lasted just under 37 minutes in total. Behind a pair of strong showings from MATUMBAMAN’s Monkey King (11-4-8) and Shadow’s Phantom Assassin (8-2-5) though, the team was able to pull off a dramatic team fight win late in the match that wiped out Vici Gaming and caught the Chinese squad without its buybacks as the European squad earned itself an unexpected victory to open the series. Game 2 saw the roles reversed between the 2 teams, as Team Liquid was the squad to jump out in front with a sizable early lead. Behind another impressive performance from Shadow, this time on Terrorblade (14-2-8), Team Liquid took a strong lead into the mid and late-game stages. Unlike its opponent in Game 1 though, Team Liquid did not allow Vici Gaming any opportunity to mount a comeback effort, as the team closed out the match with a decisive team fight win that broke through the Chinese squad’s final defenses to secure Team Liquid a 2-0 win in the series and the top spot in the Group C standings.

Team Liquid’s impressive Group Stage run had it sitting in the Upper Bracket to start the Main Event of the Major, though the team was in for quite a challenge as it faced off against regional rival Team Secret in Round 1. Unfortunately for Team Liquid, the series proved to be an entirely one-sided affair, and not in the way that the team may have been hoping for. Across the 2 game series, Team Liquid found itself out killed 20-53, as Team Secret’s early aggression in both matches put Team Liquid into a deficit that it could never fully recover from. The squad did not hold the net worth lead at any point in either match, and simply could not find any answers to the strong play from its opponent. In just under 65 minutes of total game time, Team Liquid suffered a brutal 0-2 defeat that brought its time in the Upper Bracket to an abrupt end.

With the squad knocked out of the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, Team Liquid found itself facing its first elimination series as it took on TNC Predator in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket. Game 1 saw the European squad playing from behind for the first half of the match, as Team Liquid got off to a somewhat slow start and gave up a number of early pick offs. However, the team was able to turn things around in the second half with a near complete shift in momentum. Led by an incredible performance from MATUMBAMAN on Razor (18-1-4), Team Liquid out killed its opponent 18-3 over the final 17 minutes of the game to seal a strong victory to open the series. In Game 2, Team Liquid appeared to be the squad in control throughout the vast majority of the match, as the squad jumped out to an early lead in an attempt to slow down a Tinker pick from TNC Predator. While that Tinker pick helped TNC Predator put together a number of surges that threatened Team Liquid’s control, the European squad was able to respond and recover every time to maintain its hold over the match. With Shadow’s Gyrocopter (21-4-14) and MATUMBAMAN’s Tidehunter (12-4-21) turning in a pair of spectacular showings in this match, Team Liquid was able to break through TNC Predator’s lineup to secure itself a 2-0 sweep on the series and a guaranteed Top 8 finish in Chongqing.

Team Liquid may have locked down a Top 8 finish with its win over TNC Predator, but the European squad wanted to push for an even higher position as it took on another Southeast Asian opponent in Fnatic. For most of Game 1, Team Liquid appeared to be the squad with the advantage, as the team held a small but consistent net worth lead over its opponent. However, a late-game surge from Fnatic forced a dramatic shift in momentum, as Team Liquid lost back to back fights that put it on the defensive. When Fnatic pressed its advantage, Team Liquid found itself lacking the strength to hold it back, as the team conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Unfortunately for Team Liquid, Game 2 ended up playing out in almost exactly the same manner, as the squad once again built up a modest lead in the first half of the match that it subsequently lost in the second half. Despite a solid effort from MATUMBAMAN’s Monkey King (6-5-8), Team Liquid was out killed 2-11 over the final 5 of the match as it suffered a 0-2 loss in the series that brought it run in Chongqing to an end. Team Liquid finished with a 6-5 overall record, and a 7th-8th place position in its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage.

Team Liquid came into The Chongqing Major in a position of strength relative to most of the other teams in the field, despite the fact that the squad was making its first appearance of the season on the Pro Circuit stage. Initially, the squad had been projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position overall, but the announcement that Shadow would be standing in for Miracle- muddied the waters a bit in terms of the team’s expectations. As it turns out, the team came fairly close to matching that initial prediction, as Team Liquid ultimately finished in the 7th-8th place position in Chongqing with a 6-5 overall record. All things considered, that record reflected one of the better possible scenarios for the team at this event, as the squad was not just playing with a stand-in, but with one that did not fluently speak the same language as the rest of the squad. Even with those added communication issues, the team put together a solid showing, taking series victories against The Pango, Vici Gaming, and TNC Predator. The series against TNC Predator and The Pango were not particularly shocking, as Team Liquid had been favored in those match ups even with its stand-in. The victory over Vici Gaming was probably the match up where it was considered to be the most evenly matched with its opponent, making the team’s 2-0 sweep of that series slightly more impressive than it would have been otherwise. As for the team’s 2 series losses, those aren’t very damaging at all. The first came against a Team Secret squad that has firmly entrenched itself as one of the top squads in the entire Dota 2 world, and the second came against a Fnatic squad that put together perhaps its best performance of the season in Chongqing. Overall, it’s hard to really point out any glaring weaknesses or negatives for Team Liquid from this event, considering the fact that the team did not have its full roster available. The question for the squad now will be whether it will be able to continue the solid play that we saw from the squad at this event once Miracle- returns to the active lineup. With the team already set to participate in both the DreamLeague Season 11 Major Europe Qualifier and MDL Macau 2019 in the month of February, we won’t have to wait long to see if Team Liquid can maintain this momentum from its first Pro Circuit appearance of the season.

 

Alliance Alliance

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-5 (3-4 Group Stage, 0-1 Main Event)

Alliance came into The Chongqing Major as a team on the rise both within the European region and on the international level. With its second straight Major appearance, the squad was beginning to establish itself as a consistent and legitimate leader within the European hierarchy, but success on the Pro Circuit stage had still proven to be somewhat elusive for the squad. With another chance to perform with the eyes of the Dota 2 world fixated on Chongqing, Alliance was looking to take another critical step forward in its development into an international power, as it once again began its quest to prove that it belonged among the elite squads of the Dota 2 world.

Alliance’s first series of the Group Stage saw it face off against Southeast Asian squad Fnatic in the Opening Matches of Group D. Early on in the match, the European squad appeared to be keeping pace with its opponent, as neither team could pull away from the other through the first 20 minutes of play. Unfortunately for Alliance, that stalemate was broken in the mid and late-game stages, as Fnatic took near complete control of the match with a series of team fight wins an pick offs. Out killed 3-19 over the last 14 minutes of play, Alliance had no opportunities to mount a comeback effort as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 appeared to be going significantly better for the squad through most of the match, as the European squad built up a small net worth lead for itself heading into the late-game stage. Behind a strong performance from miCKe on Medusa (10-3-7), Alliance looked to be in a position to potentially close out the match, but an unexpected surge from Fnatic wiped out the team’s momentum as it lost a series of crucial team fights to lose both the match and the series.

Alliances loss against Fnatic put the team in the Losers’ Match of Group D, where it faced off against Team Aster to see which team would advance to the Decider Match for a second chance at earning a place in the top half of the group standings. As it turned out, Alliance had Team Aster’s number right from the start of the series, as the European squad turned in a pair of dominant showings against its opponent. Across the series, Alliance out killed its opponent 39-9, with none of its players dying more than 3 times in either match as Alliance held a net worth lead for all but a handful of minutes in back to back stomps against Team Aster. The team’s core trio of miCKe, qojqva, and boxi combined for a stat line of 31-3-38 across the team’s 2 matches, as Alliance claimed a massively one-sided 2-0 victory in a series that lasted just under 43 minutes of total game time.

After its dominant performance against Team Aster, Alliance found itself in the Decider Match of Group D for a series against Evil Geniuses to determine which squad would claim the group’s final Upper Bracket slot. Game 1 saw the European squad carry over the momentum from its previous series victory, as Alliance got out to an early advantage and managed to hold it throughout the entirety of the match. Behind a combined 27-8-47 performance from the squad’s core trio of Morphling, Timbersaw, and Nature’s Prophet, Alliance was able to hold off a multitude of potential surge from EG in the mid and late-game stages to close out the win and take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately for Alliance, things went poorly from that point on, as the squad struggling significantly over the final 2 matches of the series. Across Games 2 and 3, the team earned just 9 total kills, with its opponent racking up 56 kills of its own in a pair of brutal beat downs in which Alliance did not hold a net worth lead at any point. In just under 44 minutes of total game time, Alliance found its 1-0 series lead gone, as the squad suffered a dramatic and decisive turn around to lose the series 1-2.

Despite an admirable performance in the Group Stage, Alliance found itself beginning the Main Event of the Major in the Lower Bracket in a Bo1 elimination match against South American squad Chaos Esports Club. The squad opted for a core trio of Anti-Mage, Nature’s Prophet, and Brewmaster in the match, but that lineup quickly fell flat in the face of its opponent’s draft. The team was playing from behind throughout the entirety of the match, but never seemed able to establish a strong enough level of momentum to truly turn the tides of the game. Though the squad never trailed by more than 9k net worth in the match, the continuous assaults on its towers and base wore down its defenses until Alliance could no longer hold back its opponent and lost the match. The loss brought the team’s run at the Major to an end, with the squad posting a 3-5 overall record while finishing in the 13th-16th place position.

Alliance came into The Chongqing Major as a squad that had been making a name for itself so far this season, but the European team was still missing that breakthrough performance on the Pro Circuit stage to complete its ascent into a legitimate power on the international level. The team’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in Kuala Lumpur had ended with a 9th-12th place finish for the squad, and coming into this Major the team was expected to place in that same range. Unfortunately though, the team ended up falling short of those somewhat modest expectations, with Alliance finishing in the combined last place position of 13th-16th with a 3-5 overall record. As a whole, the squad’s performance in Chongqing was far from what it had hoped for, as Alliance put together a rather disappointing show on the Pro Circuit stage. Of the team’s 3 total wins at the Major, 2 of them came against a Team Aster squad that itself went without a single win at the event. With that series against Team Aster set aside, Alliance is left with a 1-5 record against Fnatic, Evil Geniuses, and Chaos Esports Club. The loss against Chaos Esports Club was certainly a disappointing one, but given the nature of Bo1 series at these events, the loss likely isn’t as damaging as many would assume. The real disappointment for Alliance comes in its 1-4 record against Evil Geniuses and Fnatic. The 2 squads are considered to be leaders within their respective regions, and formidable opponents on the international level; the kind of opponents that Alliance had yet to be able to bring down with any sense of consistency. The biggest concern for Alliance coming into this event was whether or not it could hang with the top squads on the Pro Circuit, and its series losses against those 2 squads would seem to indicate that the European team isn’t quite ready to claim a position at the forefront of the international scene just yet. The good news for Alliance though is that the team will have more opportunities to continue building itself up in the near future. The squad has already been directly invited to the DreamLeague Season 11 Major European Qualifier set to begin on February 4, and will be attending ESL One Katowice 2019 at the end of the month as well.

 

The Pango (formerly NoPangolier)the pango

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-5 (3-4 Group Stage, 0-1 Main Event)

A rebranding brought The Pango to The Chongqing Major with a new name, but that was not the biggest development for the squad as it prepared for its debut on the Pro Circuit stage. Visa issues had forced the team to play with a stand-in, as KingR stepped in to replace Zayac the day before the start of the event. Even with that unexpected change to its lineup, The Pango was determined to show the Dota 2 world that it was ready to claim a place as a leader within a CIS region that had long seen VP sit alone at the top of the regional hierarchy.

The Pango would begin its run at The Chongqing Major with a series against TI7 Champion Team Liquid in the Opening Matches of Group C. Unfortunately for the CIS squad, the series began about as poorly as it possibly could have, as The Pango was absolutely crushed in Game 1. The team was out killed by a score of 2-30, and trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of a mercifully short 20 minute defeat to go down 0-1 in the series. Game 2 also saw The Pango fall behind early, but this time the CIS squad managed to retain its composure and fight back against Team Liquid. Behind a combined 18-7-44 stat line from its core trio of Terrorblade, Dazzle, and Axe, The Pango was able to turn the tides with a series of team fight wins and pick offs in the mid and late-game stages. With the momentum decisively shifted into its favor, The Pango was able to break through the final defenses of Team Liquid to close out a hard fought victory that evened the series at 1-1. The third and final match of the series played out in a somewhat similar manner as its predecessor, although on a significantly larger scale. After playing from behind for a large portion of the first 30 minutes of play, The Pango exploded for a massive net worth advantage in the late-game stage behind a combined 25-9-52 performance from its core trio of Dazzle, Visage, and Tidehunter. Unfortunately though, that strong play from the CIS squad was not enough to deliver the knockout blow to Team Liquid, as the European squad clawed its way back into the match to wipe out a lead of over 18k net worth and hand The Pango a shocking 1-2 defeat in the series.

After its close loss to Team Liquid, The Pango found itself in danger of falling to the bottom of the Group C standings as it prepared to take on J.Storm in the Losers’ Match of the group. Game 1 was a struggle for The Pango throughout the first half of play, as the CIS squad faced significant issues breaking through the tanky lineup of its opponent and were playing from behind consistently. However, behind an incredible performance from Naive- on Faceless Void (17-1-9, 40.3k net worth), The Pango was able to extend the match and work its way back into control with a series of spectacular team fight wins to close out a hard fought comeback victory to open the series. After working its way back from a deficit in Game 1, The Pango came into Game 2 determined to not need a similar effort to win. The squad came out aggressively from the very start of the match, racking up early pick offs as it out killed J.Storm 23-5 to take near absolute control of the match. After building up a net worth lead of over 21k at the 24 minute mark, The Pango forced a “gg” call from its opponent to complete an impressive 2-0 victory in the series that kept The Pango’s hopes at an Upper Bracket slot alive.

The CIS squad’s 2-0 sweep over J.Storm advanced it to the Decider Match of Group C, where it took on Chinese challenger Vici Gaming to determine which team would claim a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. Unfortunately for The Pango, the series did not go well at all, as the CIS squad struggled right from the very start. Across the 2 game series, The Pango found itself out killed by a score of 20-56, and held a net worth lead for just 8 minutes in a series that lasted just under 70 minutes of total game time. While the team was able to get a admirable effort out of Naive- with a stat line of 10-5-4 across 2 matches as Juggernaut, it was not nearly enough to out weigh the strength of Vici Gaming’s lineup as the Chinese squad handed The Pango a rough 0-2 defeat to bring its Group Stage run to an end.

The Pango’s 3-4 Group Stage record had it beginning the Main Event of the Major in the Lower Bracket, as the team faced off against South American squad Thunder Predator in Round 1. Early on in the match it appeared that the squad was playing relatively even with its opponent, as neither squad led by more than 1k net worth over the first 15 minutes of play. However, the mid and late-game stages proved to be the downfall of the squad, as The Pango was out killed 2-18 over the final 13 minutes of the match and simply lost any semblance of control as Thunder Predator pushed past its defenses to claim victory and knock The Pango out of the Major with a 13th-16th place finish and a 3-5 overall record.

The Pango came into The Chongqing Major as an interesting story within the CIS region, as the squad had made a name for itself in a relatively short amount of time. The squad beat out regional leaders Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports to claim the spot seed in the regional qualifiers for this event, and because of that there were some higher than average expectations for the squad despite the fact that it was making its debut appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. Prior to the start of the event, The Pango was projected to finish in the top half of the standings in the 7th-8th place range, but the CIS squad ended up falling well below that predicted outcome with a 13th-16th place finish in Chongqing. While the team’s final position in the event standings is certainly a disappointing result, the play of The Pango in Chongqing was not as bad as its 13th-16th place finish would suggest. The team posted a 3-4 record in the Group Stage of the Major, taking a game off of Team Liquid in a hard fought 1-2 series and claiming a 2-0 sweep over a struggling J.Storm lineup before ultimately being swept itself by Vici Gaming in the Decider Match. J.Storm has had its fair share of issues so far this season, but the duo of Vici Gaming and Team Liquid are still considered to be 2 of the stronger teams in the Dota 2 world. The fact that The Pango went 1-4 against those squads is slightly disappointing, but it was hardly unexpected given the circumstances. As for the team’s final loss against Thunder Predator in its only Main Event match, that one is probably the performance hurts the team most across its run at the Major. Bo1 series are always tricky to predict, and a single pocket strategy or unorthodox draft can change the entire dynamic of a match up. Even with that being said, The Pango appeared to be a significant favorite heading into this match up, but simply could not put itself into the right position to win in the end. Given the team’s rather accelerated rise up the hierarchy in the CIS region, it would make sense that the team would eventually slow down to some degree, and the elevated projection for the squad heading into this event was likely an overreaction to its strong start to the season. However, The Pango will have an near immediate opportunity to return to the CIS region and continue its strong play against its regional rivals, as the squad has been directly invited to the DreamLeague Season 11 Major CIS Qualifier which is set to begin on February 1. With its full roster set to be active for that qualifier run, we will see if The Pango can recover from its struggles on the Pro Circuit stage and earn itself a spot at another Major and a shot at redemption.

 

Virtus.pro virtus pro new

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $170,000 & 3,000 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 11-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 7-4 Main Event)

As defending Major Champions, Virtus.pro entered The Chongqing Major as the kings of the Pro Circuit, as the CIS squad held the number 1 position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. In fact, the squad only needed to secure itself a finish in the top half of the event standings in order to have enough Pro Circuit Points to mathematically guarantee itself a Top 12 spot in the Rankings and a direct invite to TI9 (barring any roster changes or penalties). Considering the string of dominance that VP had put together over the past 2 seasons on the Pro Circuit, that feat did not appear to be particularly difficult for the CIS titan as it began its quest to claim back to back Major Championship titles for the second time in the organization’s history.

The defending Major Champion began its run in Chongqing with a match up against home town squad EHOME, and the series got off to a rather unexpected start. Game 1 proved to be a disaster for the CIS squad, as VP was caught off guard by some aggressive play from its opponent. VP was out killed 7-25 in the match, and could find precious little farm for its cores as it ended up falling behind 0-1 to begin the series. Game 2 saw VP reverse the roles from its previous match, as this time it was the CIS squad who came out aggressively early. Behind a strong showing from RAMZES666 on Juggernaut (9-0-3), VP out killed its opponent 19-9 to claim a win in just over 23 minutes of game time to tie up the series. With that, the series went to a third and final match, with said Game 3 proving to be a tightly contested affair. The 2 teams remained relatively close throughout the match, but EHOME appeared to be the squad in control late in the game with a net worth lead of over 12k at the 48 minute mark. However a last-second surge spearheaded by RAMZES666’s Juggernaut (20-2-11) and Nopo[ne’s Medusa (7-4-13) was able to save the game for VP, as the squad pulled off an incredible comeback win to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory in its first series of the Major.

VP’s win over EHOME put it on a collision course with Southeast Asian squad TNC Predator, as the 2 squads faced off in the Winner’s Match of Group A to determine the first of the 2 Upper Bracket slots for the group. VP appeared to be in a position of strength mid-way through Game 1 of the series, as its Carry/Mid duo of Medusa and Timbersaw had the team sitting on a modest net worth lead heading into the mid and late-game stages. Unfortunately, the squad ended up failing to hold that advantage, as VP suffered a series of team fight losses that handed the momentum to TNC Predator and allowed the Southeast Asian squad to surge its way to a victory that put VP behind 0-1 in the series. The good news for VP though is that the squad immediately recovered from that initial defeat, putting on a pair of dominant showings in Games 2 and 3 of the series. The final 2 matches of the series lasted a combined 49 minutes of game time, with VP out killing its opponent 42-20 in the process. The Carry/Mid duo of RAMZES666 and No[o]ne combined for a stat line of 27-6-27 in those matches, helping to spearhead a massively one sided pair of games that secured VP a 2-1 win in the series and the top spot in the Group A standings.

With its top spot in the Group A standings, VP advanced to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, where it faced off against North American squad Evil Geniuses. Game 1 proved to be a fairly one-sided match, as the CIS squad was able to seize control of the game beyond the 15 minute mark. Behind an incredible performance from No[o]ne on Outworld Devourer (15-0-7), VP out killed its opponent 20-3 in the second half of the match (~17 minutes) to claim a victory and a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 saw the roles reversed between the 2 squads, as VP was the squad playing from behind for the majority of the match. The CIS squad trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes in the game, but it always managed to keep itself within striking distance of its opponent, as its deficit never eclipsed the 9k mark. Behind a pair of impressive performances from RAMZES666 on Terrorblade (10-3-8) and No[o]ne’s Pugna (8-5-11), VP was somehow able to pull off an unbelievable comeback late in the match, claiming back to back team fight wins to wipe out EG and claim a surprising victory. In fact, the team’s turnaround was so abrupt that VP was still trailing in terms of net worth when the match ended as the team claimed a 2-0 victory to advance to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket.

Round 2 would see VP face off against another leading team in the Pro Circuit standings, as the CIS squad played PSG.LGD with the winner guaranteed to finish at least 3rd at the Major. The team came into this series with a bit of an emergency change to its roster though, as Support and Captain Solo had fallen ill the day before and was replaced by the team’s coach, ArsZeeqq. The squad opted for a core trio of Juggernaut, Dragon Knight, and Dark Seer in Game 1 of the series, but that trio found itself playing from behind for the majority of the match. PSG.LGD’s Io-Gyrocopter combo had the Chinese squad out in front for most of the mid and late-game stages, but VP was not willing to give in. Behind an incredible performance from RAMZES666 on Juggernaut (14-2-11, 38.8k net worth), the CIS squad was able to launch a comeback effort around the 45 minute mark that turned the tides in the team’s favor and allowed it to claim a win in the opening match of the series. After having to come back to earn its victory in Game 1, VP entered Game 2 determined to establish itself as the team in control as quickly as possible. That goal proved fairly difficult to accomplish, as the 2 squads remained separated by no more than 3k net worth across the first 30 minutes of play. However, the late-game stage was where the squad managed to finally break out and blow the game wide open, as RAMZES666 led the team to an incredible surge with a ridiculous 20-3-11 performance on Phantom Assassin. With their carry spearheading the charge, VP took complete control of the match, claiming a series of team fight wins that shattered PSG.LGD’s strength and secured the CIS squad an impressive 2-0 sweep of the series.

With that win, VP found itself just 1 more series win away from a place in the Grand Finals of the Major, but the CIS squad would have to push its way past European juggernaut Team Secret in order to reach that position. Game 1 was looking like a favorable scenario for VP for a large portion of the match, as the squad remained relatively even with its opponent through the laning stage before pushing out to a small net worth lead in the mid-game stage. Unfortunately for the team, VP could not hold that lead in the late-game stage, as the CIS squad was out killed 4-13 over the final 10 minutes of the match to lose its advantage and the match to fall behind 0-1 in the series. After its initial defeat in the series though, VP was able to bounce back with a pair of dominant performances in Games 2 and 3. Across the final 2 matches of the series, VP out killed its opponent 57-24, with the team’s core players, RAMZES666, No[o]ne, and 9pasha, combining for a stat line of 39-15-80 in those 2 games. While the CIS squad started both matches playing from behind through the first 15 minutes or so, VP was able to dominate the mid and late-game stages and absolutely out play its opponents in team fights to lock down a 2-1 series victory and its second straight trip to the Grand Finals of a Major.

The Grand Finals would see VP face off against a rather familiar foe, as the team took on Team Secret once again in a rematch of both the Upper Bracket Finals of this Major, and the Grand Finals of The Kuala Lumpur Major. Unfortunately for VP, this match up would begin disastrously for the CIS squad, as the team was trampled over the first 2 matches of the series. VP was not ready to handle the aggressive strategies from its opponent, and was out killed by a score of 20-42 in Games 1 and 2. No member of the team managed to earn more than 5 kills in either of those first 2 matches, and VP held a net worth lead for just 4 minutes in a pair of losses that lasted just over 38 minutes of total game time to quickly put VP into a dangerous 0-2 hole in the series. Game 3 appeared to be going in a similar manner for most of the match, as VP fell behind in the mid and late-game stages an were on the verge of being swept in the Grand Finals. However, a heroic effort and a combined 31-11-43 stat line from the team’s core trio of Phantom Lancer, Pugna, and Brewmaster led to a massive turnaround for the squad. Over the final 10 minutes of the game, VP out killed its opponent 12-4 to pull off a comeback victory to avoid the sweep and force another match in the series. Unfortunately, that next match would have more in common with the first 2 games of the series than its immediate predecessor, as VP could not maintain its momentum. Team Secret once again came out strong and heavily pressured VP’s lineup, putting the CIS squad behind early and denying the team any chance to work itself back into the match. Down by nearly 24k net worth at the 31 minute mark, VP attempted one final fight to turn the tides of the match. When that effort ended up falling short though, the team bowed out to lost the series 1-3 and end its run at the Major with a 2nd place finish and a 11-6 overall record.

As the defending Major Champion, VP came into The Chongqing Major as a clear favorite to compete for its second straight Major title of the season. By this point in the season and in the team’s history as a whole, we have come to expect nothing but continuous excellence from the CIS juggernaut. Prior to the start of play in Chongqing, VP was projected to finish inside of the Top 4, and the team was more than able to live up to that prediction with a 2nd place finish and a 11-6 overall record. VP’s play in Chongqing was about as strong as we could have expected from the team, as it took series victories over EHOME, TNC Predator, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, and Team Secret. The only series that the team lost in Chongqing was the Grand Final against Team Secret, and in fact 4 of the team’s 6 total losses at the event came at the hands of the eventual Major Champion. What makes the team’s performance at this event even more remarkable though is the fact that it managed to play so well even with concerns regarding the health of some of its players. RodjER was feeling unwell across some of the team’s matches, and Solo even had to sit out a series against PSG.LGD due to illness, with the team claiming a 2-0 victory in that series with its coach as a stand-in. No matter what gets thrown its way, VP seems seemed to have an answer for ti, with the only exception to that being Team Secret’s incredible performance in the Grand Finals. While VP missed out on its chance at earning back to back Major Championship titles, the squad did come away from Chongqing with another valuable prize. With this 2nd place finish, the team has earned itself enough Pro Circuit Points to be guaranteed 1 of the 12 direct invites to TI9, so long as the team does not lose any points through roster changes or penalties. With the team’s place in Shanghai appearing to be locked in now, a lot of weight and pressure has been lifted off of the team’s shoulders. However, locking down an invite to TI9 is not likely to slow the squad down, as the CIS squad will no look to prepares itself for its shot at doing what it has never done before: win TI. That preparation will begin fairly soon, as the team will be competing in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major CIS Qualifier next week, and will be playing in MDL Macau 2019 later in February as well.

 

Team Aster Team Aster

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 0-5 (0-4 Group Stage, 0-1)

Team Aster had begun the season as one of the biggest stories within the Chinese region, as the squad put together an impressive start to its 2018-2019 campaign to take its place alongside the titans of the Dota 2 world on the Pro Circuit stage. However, the squad’s performance on the international level has not been ideal to this point in the season, and the team came into this Major with some questions regarding the consistency of its play. While those concerns did put a decent bit of pressure on the team, the chance to play on the Pro Circuit stage in its second consecutive Major appearance granted Team Aster an important opportunity to redeem itself with the eyes of the Dota 2 world watching.

Team Aster found itself facing off against North American squad Evil Geniuses in its first series of the Major, and very early on it was apparent that the Chinese squad was at a significant disadvantage. After a solid laning stage in Game 1 of the series, Team Aster found itself blown out of the water by EG’s aggressive play as the North American squad establish near complete control over the pace of the match. Despite the team’s best efforts, Team Aster could never maintain a strong enough surge to get itself back into the match, and eventually had its defenses worn down and broken as the team conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. After the rough loss in Game 1, Game 2 proved to be an even worse experience for Team Aster. The team immediately fell behind in the face of another aggressive strategy from EG, and the Chinese squad found itself out killed 8-25 in a brutal performance that was over in less than 22 minutes of total game time as Team Aster took a 0-2 loss in its opening series of the Major.

Following the squad’s rather one-sided defeat at the hands of EG, Team Aster found itself facing off against Alliance in the Losers’ Match of Group D. Unfortunately, this series did not go any better for the Chinese squad than its previous one, as Team Aster was out played by its opponent from the very start. In total, Team Aster earned just 9 kills in the series, as the squad could not seem to generate any semblance of momentum for itself in back to back stomps at the hands of its European opponent. Across the entirety of the series, only 3 of the team’s 5 players even registered kills at all, as the Chinese squad was simply overrun by its opponent and trailed in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the series. In just under 43 minutes of total game time, Team Aster conceded defeat in back to back matches to lose the series 0-2 and end its Group Stage run with an unfortunate 0-4 record as it finished at the bottom of the Group D standings.

Team Aster’s disastrous Group Stage run had it sitting in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, where it needed a victory over Southeast Asian squad TNC Predator in a Bo1 series to keep its run in Chongqing alive and avoid elimination. Unfortunately for the team, it did not get much of a chance to succeed in the match, as TNC Predator jumped ahead early and got Team Aster off guard. The squad’s core trio of Terrorblade, Puck, and Dark Seer could do little to keep pace with their counterparts, as the squad fell behind by as much as 27k net worth in the late-game stage. With its lineup trailing so far behind its opponent, Team Aster attempted one final fight to turn the tides of the match, but when those efforts came up short, the team was forced to concede defeat to end its run at the Major with a 13th-16th place finish and a disappointing 0-5 overall record.

Team Aster came into the Chongqing Major with quite a few questions in need of answering. After beginning the season with a series of breakout performances within its home region, the squad’s momentum has begun to fade away with a lack of success on the international level and an increasing level of inconsistency in China. Coming into the Major, the team was projected to finish in the 13th-16th place position, and Team Aster could do little to avoid meeting with that exact fate as the team ended its run in Chongqing with a 0-5 record and a spot at the bottom of the event standings. There was very little to look at for Team Aster in the way of silver linings, as its performance at the Major was absolutely abysmal. Across the team’s 5 total matches in Chongqing, Team Aster was out killed by a brutal 46-115 margin, as the squad found itself playing from behind in every single one of its games. The even more shocking part of the team’s play at the Major was just how quickly it ended up falling behind in its matches, as the squad held a net worth lead for just 12 total minutes and had an average game time of just 27 minutes. To put a long story short, Team Aster’s appearance at this Major was an unmitigated disaster, and perhaps the best part of its run in Chongqing was that it was mercifully short for the Chinese squad. Everything that could go wrong for the squad did, and all that the team can do now is look to the future and try to find an opportunity to redeem itself and put this poor showing behind it. Those opportunities will be coming up fairly soon for Team Aster, as the squad is set to participate in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major China Qualifier just a few days from now, as well as ESL One Katowice near the end of February. Time will tell if the squad can get itself back on track and earn itself another attempt to finally make its breakthrough on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $40,000 & 450 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 7-7 (4-2 Group Stage, 3-5 Main Event)

Vici Gaming came into this Major as one of the leading teams within the Chinese region, and a squad in a favorable position within the Pro Circuit Rankings. However, the Chinese team had aspirations of rising even higher on the international level, and this second straight appearance at a Pro Circuit Major had the potential to push it into the company of the elite teams in the Dota 2 world. The team’s performance outside of its home region had been fairly consistent to this point in the season, setting the team up for another solid showing on the international level so long as Vici Gaming could avoid and significant setbacks on the Pro Circuit stage.

Vici Gaming began its Group Stage run in Chongqing with a match up against North American squad J.Storm, and from the very outset of the series, it was apparent that the Chinese team was in charge. Game 1 was a significantly one-sided affair, with Vici Gaming finding itself in control throughout the entirety of the match thanks in large part to a pair of spectacular showings from Paparazi灬’sTerrorblade (12-4-8) and Ori’s Dazzle (10-1-12). Those performances helped fuel a strong opening victory for Vici Gaming, but the team’s momentum would only build heading into Game 2 of the series. After weathering an early push from the J.Storm lineup, Vici Gaming exploded in the mid and late-game stages to once again seize complete control of the match. Behind another stand out performance from Ori on Kunkka (14-1-7), Vici Gaming out killed its opponent 12-0 over the final 10 minutes of play to lock down a 2-0 sweep of the series.

Vici Gaming’s relatively convincing victory over J.Storm had it sitting in the Winners’ Match of Group C, where it would take on Team Liquid for the top spot in the group standings. For most of Game 1, it appeared that Vici Gaming would have relatively few issues dispatching its European opponent, as the Chinese squad got out to an early lead and held it throughout the first 30 minutes of play. Behind an impressive performance from Ori on Outworld Devourer (13-2-7), Vici Gaming seemed poised to close out a victory to open the series, but Team Liquid would not go down without a fight. A late-game surge from the European squad caught Vici Gaming off guard, and the Chinese squad found itself losing a pivotal team fight around the 35 minute mark that left it with no buybacks and no living heroes left to hold back the advance of its opponent as the squad suffered a stunning comeback loss. After that dramatic defeat in Game 1, Vici Gaming found itself to be the squad playing from behind in Game 2, as its opponent built up a sizable net worth lead past the laning stage. Unlike its opponent though, Vici Gaming could not put together a strong enough surge to spark a legitimate comeback of its own, despite a valiant effort from Paparazi灬’s Luna (13-7-11). Trailing by over 30k net worth past the 50 minute mark, Vici Gaming attempted one final defense of its base, but when those efforts failed, the Chinese squad conceded defeat to suffer a 0-2 loss to the TI7 Champions.

Vici Gaming had one last chance to bounce back and secure itself a spot in the Upper Bracket though, as the squad took on The Pango in the Decider Match of Group C. Almost immediately, the Chinese squad was able to secure an alarming level of control over its opponent, as Vici Gaming dominated the series from the very start of play. Across the 2 game series, Vici Gaming out killed its opponent 56-20, as its lineup put together back to back stomps that The Pango simply had no answers for. The team’s core trio of Paparazi灬, Ori, and Yang combined for a stat line of 46-10-71, with Ori posting 0 deaths in the series. Behind those incredible performances from the team’s core players, Vici Gaming held a net worth lead for all but a handful of minutes in the 2 game series, claiming a 2-0 sweep in just under 70 minutes of total game time to secure itself a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

Vici Gaming’s first series in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event would be an all-Chinese affair, as the team faced off against regional rival PSG.LGD. Unfortunately for Vici Gaming, the series opened with the squad getting absolutely run over by its opponent, as PSG.LGD came out with an aggressive strategy that Vici Gaming was not prepared for. The squad was out killed 3-18 in the first 20 minutes of play, and was forced back inside of its own base by the continuous aggression from its opponent. Trailing by nearly 18k net worth at the 20 minute mark, Vici Gaming opted to throw in the towel to suffer a quick defeat as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 began in a similar manner to its predecessor, as Vici Gaming once again fell behind early thanks to early team fight wins and pick offs from PSG.LGD. This time though, the squad was able to put together a solid recovery effort, as the team pulled its way back into the lead in the late-game thanks to a combined 16-12-35 stat line from its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Outworld Devourer, and Dark Seer. While the team’s efforts earned it a small net worth lead late in the match, Vici Gaming did not have the strength to maintain that lead, as PSG.LGD came back with a team fight victory of its own to wipe out Vici Gaming’s hard earned momentum. With that final team fight loss, Vici Gaming’s defenses were finally shattered, as the squad could no longer hold back its opponent and fell 0-2 in the series to drop out of the Upper Bracket.

Vici Gaming’s first match up in the Lower Bracket had the squad facing off against South American squad Chaos Esports Club in the team’s first elimination series of the Major. Game 1 of the series ended up being a blowout win for the Chinese squad, as VIci Gaming was able to build up a sizable net worth lead that it held throughout the rest of the match. Behind a combined 20-2-28 stat line from its core trio of Terrorblade, Lina, and Tidehunter, Vici Gaming out killed its opponent 24-7 to lock down a relatively easy victory to open the series. Game 2 saw Vici Gaming attempt to employ a similar strategy with a core trio of Terrorblade, Shadow Fiend, and Tidehunter, but this time around the Chinese squad was not nearly as successful. The team wasn’t able to punch through the tankier lineup of its opponent, and trailed in terms of net worth throughout the majority of the match despite a solid effort from Paparazi灬’s Terrorblade (7-5-4). While Vici Gaming was able to threaten its opponent a couple of times, it could never put together a sustained push to take control of the match as it conceded defeat just shy of the 26 minute mark to even the series at 1-1. After its tough loss in Game 2, Vici Gaming came into Game 3 determined to be the squad in command of the match. With a core trio of Phantom Assassin, Puck, and Centaur Warrunner, the team did just that, dominating its opponent with early team fight wins and pick offs. Behind an impressive performance from Paparazi灬 on Phantom Assassin (14-1-11), Vici Gaming built up a sizable net worth lead and never looked back, out killing its opponent 30-9 to claim a 2-1 victory in the series and keep its run at the Major alive.

With Vici Gaming’s victory over Chaos Esports Club, the squad was guaranteed a spot in the top half of the event standings, but the Chinese squad was looking to push itself even further as it took on Evil Geniuses in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket. Game 1 of the series ended up being something of a blowout victory for Vici Gaming, as the Chinese squad took the lead early and never looked back. Behind a strong showing from Paparazi灬’s Juggernaut (16-1-9), the team was able to close out the match with very few issues to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 started out looking like a positive scenario for Vici Gaming, as the Chinese squad once again managed to hold on to a small net worth lead for most of the first 35 minutes of the match. Behind another incredible performance from Paparazi灬 on Terrorblade (18-7-11), Vici Gaming looked to be in a solid position in the late-game stage, but that favorable position would soon be eroded by a massive surge from its opponent. Vici Gaming ended up losing a series of crucial team fights that handed the momentum of the match to Evil Geniuses as the North American squad came back to claim a win that tied up the series at 1-1. Game 3 of the series would play out in a similar manner, with Vici Gaming holding a small lead through the first half of play before falling behind significantly in the mid and late-game stages. Despite one final heroic effort from Paparazi灬 on Juggernaut (11-3-10), Vici Gaming could not reclaim control as it was out killed 5-16 over the final 13 minutes of play to fall 1-2 in the series. That series loss brought Vici Gaming’s run in Chongqing to an end, with the squad finishing in the 7th-8th place position with a 7-7 overall record.

Vici Gaming came into The Chongqing Major as one of the premier teams in the Chinese region, as well as one of the more consistent squads on the Pro Circuit stage and the international level as a whole. That kind of reputation had the Chinese team seemingly lined up for success in front of a home town crowd in Chongqing, with Vici Gaming projected to finish in the 5th-6th place range prior to the start of play at the Major. As it turns out, the squad ended up falling just short of that predicted result with a 7th-8th place finish and a 7-7 overall record. That 7-7 overall record pretty much sums up the team’s play as a whole on the Pro Circuit stage, as Vici Gaming didn’t look particularly weak, but also failed to show the same level of strength as some of the elite teams in the field. Speaking of those elite teams, Vici Gaming appeared to struggle in their match ups against those squads. Of the team’s 7 total losses in Chongqing, 4 of them came against teams inside the Top 4 of the Pro Circuit Rankings (PSG.LGD & Evil Geniuses). In the wider scheme of things, those losses aren’t all that bad, especially considering the fact that Vici Gaming was something of an underdog in both match ups. However, if the team wants to be able to claim a position among the elite teams on the Pro Circuit, those are the crucial match ups that it is going to have to come out ahead in with some degree of consistency. The good news for Vici Gaming though was that the team appeared to have very few issues in taking down its opponents in scenarios that featured the Chinese squad as a favorite to win, claiming series victories over J.Storm, The Pango, and Chaos Esports Club. Also impressive for Vici Gaming in Chongqing was the play of the Carry/Mid duo of Paparazi灬 and Ori, who continue to show us just why the organization felt so comfortable building the team around the pair. The 2 players combined to average nearly 17 kills and 20 assists with just under 6 deaths per game across the teams 14 total matches at the Major. With this performance in Chongqing, we didn’t really learn much about Vici Gaming that we didn’t already know. The squad is one of the most consistent teams both within the Chinese region and on the international level as a whole, but doesn’t yet have that breakthrough victory that it needs to elevate itself to the status of the VPs, Team Secrets, and PSG.LGDs of the Dota 2 world. That may be the case for the time being, but Vici Gaming will have more opportunities to show its strength on the international level in the coming days. The squad is set to compete in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major China Qualifier at the beginning of February, as the team’s looks to earn its third straight Major appearance of the season. Later that month, the squad will test its mettle against top international opposition at MDL Macau 2019, which is set to begin on February 20.

 

PSG.LGD PSG LGD

Place: 4th

Winnings: $80,000 & 1350 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 8-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 4-4 Main Event)

The TI8 Runner Up came into The Chongqing Major as the clear-cut leader within the Chinese region, and one of the strongest teams on the Pro Circuit. However, with 4 Majors and 3 Minors left to play coming into this event, PSG.LGD was looking to continue establishing its strength on the international level as it pursued 1 of the 12 direct invites to TI9 in Shanghai. The odds of the team missing out on that Top 12 status in the Pro Circuit Rankings and not receiving a direct invite were fairly low considering its strong play to this point in the season, but another strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Chongqing would go a long way towards eliminating the possibility of some of those more negative scenarios playing out in the future.

PSG.LGD began its Major run with a match up against North American squad Forward Gaming, a squad that the Chinese squad had defeated 2-0 just a month prior at MegaFon Winter Clash. This time around though, there would be no sweep for PSG.LGD, as the team came out with a flat performance in Game 1. The team’s core trio of Luna, Rubick, and Beastmaster proved alarming ineffective, as Forward Gaming’s tanky fighting lineup tore through it to hand PSG.LGD a defeat in its first match of the Major. Fortunately for the squad, PSG.LGD was able to recover from that initial defeat, as the team put together a pair of strong performances to turn the tides against Forward Gaming. The team out killed its opponent 68-37 over the final 2 matches of the series, and held a net worth lead for all but a handful of minutes as it dominated Forward Gaming in back to back victories. With the team’s Carry/Mid duo of Ame and Somnus丶M combining for an incredible stat line of 53-6-50 across the 2 matches, PSG.LGD crushed its opponent en route to a 2-1 series victory.

PSG.LGD’s victory over Forward Gaming moved it into the Winners’ Match of Group B, where it had a chance to face off against Team Secret with the top spot in the group standings on the line. Game 1 ended up being a blowout win for the Chinese squad, as PSG.LGD’s core trio of Terrorblade, Pugna, and Tidehunter gave it the perfect combination of damage, pushing power, and team fight strength that it needed to push its way past Team Secret’s lineup. Said core trio combined for a stat line of 25-6-34 in the match, as PSG.LGD held a net worth lead for almost the entirety of the game en route to a massively one-sided victory to open the series. Game 2 would prove to be a somewhat more tightly contested match, though not by much in the end. Team Secret was able to hold of PSG.LGD’s advances for some time with its heavy pushing power and lane clearing abilities, but it simply could not contend with the team fight power of the Chinese squad. Behind impressive performances from Ame’s Juggernaut (12-2-7) and Somnus丶M’s Medusa (3-1-13), PSG.LGD finally broke through the defenses of its opponent to secure itself a 2-0 victory in the series and a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

After finishing the Group Stage at the top of the Group B standings, PSG.LGD found itself facing off against a regional rival as the team played Vici Gaming in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket. The all-Chinese series began about as well as it possibly could have for PSG.LGD, as the team came out with an aggressive strategy that its opponent was ill-prepared to handle. The team out killed its opponent 18-3 in just 20 minutes of game time, putting together an absolutely dominant performance that Vici Gaming had absolutely no way to counter. With a net worth lead approaching the 17k mark just 20 minutes into the match, PSG.LGD had little issues forcing a “gg” call from its opponent to claim a lopsided victory to open the series. Game 2 of the series would prove to be a significantly more difficult match for PSG.LGD, despite the fact that the match began in largely the same fashion as its predecessor. The squad was able to jump out to a solid net worth lead in the early and mid-game stages of the game, but that lead did not last for long. A series of team fight losses wiped out the squad’s advantage in the late-game stage, as Vici Gaming surged forward to claim the lead. However, Vici Gaming did not have the strength to fully capitalize on those victories, as PSG.LGD held its base and managed to turn the tides of the match with a late-game team fight win of its own to reclaim control and bring the match to an end for a 2-0 sweep of the series.

With that win, PSG.LGD advanced to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket, where a win against defending Major Champion Virtus.pro would secure the squad at least a 3rd place finish in Chongqing. For most of Game 1, PSG.LGD appeared to be the squad in control, as its Io-Gyrocopter combo had VP on the back foot throughout the mid-game stage and most of the late-game stage as well. With Ame putting together an impressive performance on his Gyrocopter (15-5-15), PSG.LGD was poised to claim a victory to open the series, but a mismanaged team fight and a lost Divine Rapier swung momentum dramatically into VP’s favor. Unfortunately for PSG.LGD, the squad could not recover from those missteps, as the squad’s final attempts to reclaim control of the match fell short and the team conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw the 2 teams remain neck-and-neck for the majority of the match, as neither squad led by more than 3k net worth for the first 30 minutes of the game. With its core trio of Anti-Mage, Outworld Devourer, and Centaur Warrunner, the Chinese squad was holding even with its opponent, but that stalemate would be broken as the match progressed into the late-game stage. VP put together a massive surge over the final 12 minutes of the match, forcing PSG.LGD into multiple team fight losses that had it trailing by over 15k net worth by the end of the match. Despite its best efforts, PSG.LGD simply could not hold back its opponent, as its final defenses fell and the team suffered its first series defeat of the Major to drop into the Lower Bracket.

While PSG.LGD had dropped into the Lower Bracket for the first time at the Major, the Chinese squad still had a chance to secure itself another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage as it took on Southeast Asian squad Fnatic. Game 1 ended up being a back and forth affair through the first half of play, as the 2 squads traded the net worth lead back and forth several times in the first 30 minutes of the match. Eventually though, the stalemate was broken by PSG.LGD, as Somnus丶M’s Razor (12-3-10) spearheaded an incredible late-game surge for the squad that allowed it to seize control of the match. Out killing its opponent 15-6 over the final 15 minutes of play, PSG.LGD was able to secure itself a win to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. While the team’s late-game heroics had won it Game 1 of the series, PSG.LGD came into Game 2 looking to avoid the need for a late-game surge. The squad opted to play aggressively from the start of the match, and that aggression paid off significantly for the squad throughout the rest of the game. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Somnus丶M’s Queen of Pain (17-4-7) and Ame’s Juggernaut (8-1-9), PSG.LGD was able to dominate fights and out kill its opponent 32-13 en route to a blowout victory to seal a 2-0 series win and a guaranteed Top 4 spot at the Major.

With the team’s Top 4 status locked down, PSG.LGD advanced to Round 5 of the Lower Bracket, where it faced off against an Evil Geniuses team that had just eliminated 2 of PSG.LGD’s regional rivals in EHOME and Vici Gaming. Early on in Game 1, it appeared that PSG.LGD’s quest for regional vengeance was off to a strong start, as the team held a net worth lead throughout most of the first 25 minutes of play. However, the team could not hold on to that advantage once the late-game stage rolled around, as PSG.LGD lost a series of fights while being out killed 3-12 over the final 10 minutes of the game to suffer a rough comeback loss. Game 2 would see the roles between the 2 teams reversed though, as PSG.LGD was the squad playing from behind through the early stages of the match. Behind a combined 29-16-51 stat line from its core trio of Terrorblade, Kunkka, and Dazzle, as well as an incredible showing from fy’s Tusk (10-5-26), PSG.LGD was able to swing the momentum of the match into its favor in the mid and late-game stages, building up a net worth lead over around 5k. Unfortunately, the squad could not maintain its control long enough to close out the match, as EG mounted another comeback effort and took a series of team fight wins that shattered PSG.LGD’s momentum. Despite the squad’s best efforts, it could not hold back its opponent any longer, and EG was able to claim a win to hand PSG.LGD a 0-2 defeat in the series and knock the team out of the Major with a 4th place finish and a 8-5 overall record.

PSG.LGD came into The Chongqing Major with very little left to prove, as the squad had fully established itself as a leader in China and one of the most formidable squads on the international level. However, the best teams in the Dota 2 world, and across competition in general, are rarely satisfied with just doing “well enough”, and PSG.LGD was no exception. With a chance to improve its position in the Pro Circuit Rankings, claim its third Major Championship title, and do so in front of a home town crowd of Chinese fans, the squad had more than enough motivation to fuel another successful run on the Pro Circuit stage. Prior to the start of the event, PSG.LGD had been projected to finish in the Top 4 range, and the Chinese titan certainly did disappoint with its 8-5 record and 4th place finish in Chongqing. The team’s performance at the Major was about as impressive as anyone could have expected, as the squad performed well against regional rivals and international opposition alike with series wins over Forward Gaming, Team Secret, Vici Gaming, and Fnatic. With the team’s only series losses of this event coming against Virtus.pro and Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD put together a 2-4 record against the Top 3 teams in the Pro Circuit Rankings. The squad’s inability to take down those elite teams is really the closest thing to a “weakness” that we can identify for PSG.LGD at of right now, as the squad’s overall record against the trio of VP, Team Secret, and EG is 6-11 on the season. Considering the fact that about 90% of the teams on the Pro Circuit are also struggled to find success against that trio of teams, the fact that PSG.LGD is winning some of those match ups with any level of consistency at all still clearly puts the Chinese squad in the same realm as those elite teams. At this stage in the season, there is little legitimate reason to doubt PSG.LGD’s status as one of the Dota 2 world’s strongest teams and the premier team in the Chinese region. However, for those stubborn holdouts, PSG.LGD will be back in action in both the Chinese region and on the international level in the near future. The squad is set to participate in both the DreamLeague Season 11 Major China Qualifier and MDL Macau 2019 in the month of February, giving the squad a pair of opportunities to put its incredibly strength on display once again in the wake of its Top 4 performance in Chongqing.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $60,000 & 900 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 9-4 (4-0 Group Stage, 5-4 Main Event)

Fnatic came into this event as 1 of the Southeast Asian region’s clear leaders alongside TNC Predator. However, strength at home did not appear to be enough for the squad, as it looked to continue building up its strength on the international level as well and make a run up the Pro Circuit Rankings. With this appearance at The Chongqing Major, the team had the opportunity  to do just that, as Fnatic hoped to show that it was capable of contending with the elite squads of the Dota 2 world on a consistent basis. The task set before it was certainly a daunting one, but with its talent, experience, and prior success on the international level, Fnatic was confident that this event would be the one in which it showed the Dota 2 world just how well the squad could perform under the lights and pressure of the Pro Circuit stage.

Fnatic’s first series of the Group Stage saw it face off against Alliance in the Opening Matches of Group D. Game 1 appeared to be a close match through the first half of play, as the 2 squads remained even in terms of net worth. However, the mid and late-game stages belonged to Fnatic, as Abed’s Medusa (13-0-7) led the team on a surge that saw it out kill Alliance by a score of 19-3 over the final 14 minutes of play to secure a decisive win and a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar manner, as the 2 teams stayed relatively close through most of the match. Throughout the first 48 minutes of a match that lasted just over 49 minutes in total, neither team lead by more than 6k net worth. Once again, Abed made the difference for Fnatic, as his 9-1-7 performance on Anti-Mage helped the team take the final fight to break through Alliance’s defenses and secure a 2-0 sweep in the series.

Fnatic’s victory over Alliance put the team in the Winners’ Match of its group, where it faced off against Evil Geniuses to see which team would claim the top spot in the Group D standings. Early on in Game 1, Fnatic appeared to be the squad playing from behind, as the team’s core trio of Faceless Void, Tinker, and Centaur Warrunner needed some time to come online and build up to their full strength. Past the 20 minute mark though, the team showed that it was more than capable of taking control of the match, as the team was able to both out fight and out farm its North American opponent thanks to stunning performances from MP’s Faceless Void (10-0-11) and Abed’s Tinker (8-1-13). With its core out pacing those of EG, Fnatic was able to maintain its momentum as it closed the match on a 16-5 run in terms of kills an claimed a 1-0 lead in the series. Fnatic would not need a similar comeback effort in Game 2 of the series, as the Southeast Asian squad pulled ahead early and never looked back. With its core trio of Gyrocopter, Tiny, and Brewmaster combining for a stat line of 23-4-54, the squad out played EG at every turn and held a net worth lead through the entirety of the match en route to a relatively easy victory and a 2-0 sweep of the series.

With its back to back series wins in the Group Stage, Fnatic earned itself a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, where it faced off against Chinese challenger and Bucharest Minor Champion EHOME. Game 1 proved to be an uphill battle for the Southeast Asian squad, as Fnatic fell behind early in the match and struggled to catch up with its opponent. Despite a solid effort from MP’s Sven (11-6-6), Fnatic’s team fight power never quite matched up to that of its opponent, and Fnatic’s repeated attempt to turn fights in its favor were all met with failure. All the while, EHOME wore down Fnatic’s defenses, eventually breaking through to hand the Southeast Asian squad a defeat in its first game of the series. Game 2 saw Fnatic bounce back with a near perfectly executed strategy, as the team put together a lineup designed to fight early and push lanes aggressively. The team out killed its opponent 16-5 behind an impressive showing from MP on Timbersaw (8-1-1), and by the 18 minute mark the squad had already broken through the base defenses of EHOME to force an impressively quick “gg” call from the Chinese squad. With that victory, the series was sent to a third and final match, but that last game would not go very well for Fnatic. The squad’s momentum from its Game 2 win had been completely lost, and this time the Southeast Asians quad fell victim to early pressure from its opponent. The team found itself playing from behind throughout the entirety of the match, and simply could not find the right execution to claim the team fight wins that it desperately need to turn the tide of the game. Though squad fought to the bitter end, but eventually the squad suffered its final defeat, losing back to back fights to leave it without buybacks as EHOME handed the squad a 1-2 defeat to knock it out of the Upper Bracket.

The team’s loss dropped it into the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, where Fnatic faced off against North American squad J.Storm in an elimination series. Game 1 of the series was a significantly one-sided match for Fnatic though, as the squad jumped out to an early lead and held it throughout the rest of the game. With its core trio of Faceless Void, Outworld Devourer, and Timbersaw combining for a stat line of 22-15-38, the squad was able to hold off repeated attempts from J.Storm to turn the tide of the match. While those efforts succeeded in drawing the match out to a significant degree, they weren’t enough to fully stop Fnatic, as the Southeast Asian squad was able to close out the match to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 1 ended up playing out in a similar manner, as Fnatic built up a lead early and held it for most of the match. Behind impressive showings from MP’s Weaver (13-1-15) and Abed’s Outworld Devourer (11-2-14), Fnatic was able to out kill its opponent 36-12 to force a “gg” call from its opponent and claim a 2-0 sweep of the series that guaranteed the squad a finish in the upper half of the event standings.

Fnatic entered Round 3 of the Lower Bracket having secured itself a finish in the top half of the standings, but the Southeast Asian squad still had greater aspirations as it faced off against Team Liquid. For most of Game 1, the team was playing from behind, as Team Liquid was able to get off to a solid start and held a small net worth lead for most of the early and mid-game stages. However, Fnatic was able to shift momentum into its favor beyond that point, as the team’s core trio of Necrophos, Medusa, and Brewmaster combined for a 20-9-38 stat line that allowed Fnatic to out kill its opponent 11-2 over the final 9 minutes of the match to secure a victory to open the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in pretty much the same manner, as Fnatic found itself trailing early once again in the early and mid-game stages. Behind an impressive showing from MP’s Juggernaut (13-0-6( though, Fnatic was able to turn the tides in the late-game, claiming a series of team fight victories that helped the team close out a 2-0 sweep of the series as it knocked out the TI7 Champion.

With that victory, Fnatic moved on from facing the TI7 Champion to taking on the TI8 Runner Up, as the Southeast Asian squad met PSG.LGD in Round 4 of the Lower Bracket. Game 1 of the series appeared to be going fairly well for Fnatic through the first half of play, as the team traded the net worth lead back and forth a number of times through the intiial 30 minutes of the match. With its core trio of Lone Druid, Outworld Devourer, and Sven putting together a combined 20-13-32 stat line, the Southeast Asian squad looked to be in a solid position to contend with its opponent as the late-game stage approached. Unfortunately, PSG.LGD would establish near complete control of said late-game stage, as Fnatic’s core trio could not contend with the tankiness and magic immunity of its opponent’s cores. Unable to punch through PSG.LGD’s lineup, Fnatic could do little to hold back the Chinese squad’s advance, with its defenses eventually crumbling to put it down 0-1 in the series. After losing control late in Game 1, Fnatic found itself in an even worse position in the second match of the series. The squad’s core trio of Razor, Outworld Devourer, and Brewmaster fell flat almost immediately in the face of PSG.LGD’s aggressive play, and could never seem to find the right team fight execution to mount any sort of effective comeback effort. Trailing in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the match and out killed by a score of 13-32, Fnatic had not choice but to concede defeat to suffer a 0-2 loss in the series. That loss ended the team’s run in Chongqing, with Fnatic earning a 5th-6th place position at the Major with a 9-5 overall record.

Fnatic entered this Major as 1 of the top teams in the Southeast Asian region, and a potential contender on the international level as well. The squad had finished in the top half of the event standings at The Kuala Lumpur Major last November, and were looking for a similar performance in Chongqing to further solidify its status in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Coming into the event, Fnatic were expected to replicate its previous Pro Circuit performance with a projected finish in the 7th-8th place position. However, the Southeast Asian squad managed to exceed those expectations with an impressive 9-5 performance at The Chongqing Major that netted the squad a 5th-6th place finish instead. The team’s play at the Major was stronger than some may have been expecting, as the team claimed series victories over Evil Geniuses, Alliance, J.Storm, and Team Liquid. The only series that the team ended up losing came against Chinese opponents, as the squad put together a combined 1-4 record against EHOME and PSG.LGD. Considering the fact that both of those teams finished well inside of the top half of the event standings, those losses can hardly be looked at as particularly damaging to Fnatic’s overall performance at the Major. Given the level of skill and experience that this version of the Fnatic lineup holds, this kind of strong showing on the international level is not very surprising. In fact, it is the kind of performance that many have been waiting to see from this squad all season long, and the big concern for the team and its fans moving forward will be whether Fnatic can continue to play at this level. If it can, then there will be few squads capable of slowing it down, both within its home region and on the international level too. That question will likely be answered in the near future, as Fnatic is set to participate in both the DreamLeague Season 11 Major Southeast Asia Qualifier, and ESL One Katowice within the next month.

 

TNC Predator Tncproteam

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 4-6 (3-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Main Event)

Even before TNC Predator made its way to Chongqing for the Major, the squad had attracted a fair bit of attention with the suspension of Kuku from the event. With ryOyr serving as a long-term stand-in for the squad though, the Southeast Asian team was fairly confident that it still had the capability to find success on the Pro Circuit stage. However, the team would be in for a formidable challenge as it faced off against the best squads in the Dota 2 world once again in Chongqing.

TNC Predator found itself up against a somewhat familiar foe in its first Group Stage series, as the team played against a Chaos Esports Club lineup that the squad had previously knocked out of The Kuala Lumpur Major back when it was playing under the paiN Gaming banner. While the name of its opponent had changed, the results of their match up did not, as TNC Predator quickly established near complete control of the series. Game 1 saw the squad out killed its opponent 33-17, with the Southeast Asian squad leading in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes behind an impressive performance from Armel on Templar Assassin (15-3-12). Game 2 ended up being an even more one-sided affair, with TNC Predator jumping on its opponent immediately with early aggression that Chaos Esports Club simply was not able to handle. Behind a strong showing from Gabbi’s Phantom Assassin (13-0-9), TNC Predator out killed its opponent 28-7 and held the net worth lead throughout the entirety of the match en route to a quick 2-0 sweep of the series.

With that victory, TNC Predator advanced to the Winners’ Match of Group A for a series against defending Major Champion Virtus.pro, with the top spot in the group standings on the line. The Southeast Asian squad proved more than capable of striking first against the 5 time Major Winner, with the team’s core trio of Slark, Kunkka, and Tiny combining for a stat line of 27-14-43 that helped lead the team to a late-game surge that definitively shifted control of the match into its favor. With all of the momentum on its side, TNC Predator was able to close out a final team fight win to shut down VP and claim a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately for TNC Predator, that’s where its momentum died, as the squad proceeded to get absolutely overrun in the final 2 matches of the series. Across Games 2 and 3, TNC Predator was out killed by a score of 20-42, and found itself playing from behind for the majority of both matches. In just over 49 minutes of total game time, TNC Predator saw all of its momentum from its Game 1 victory wiped away as the squad suffered back to back one-sided defeats to fall 1-2 in the series.

Even after its loss against VP, TNC Predator still had another shot at earning a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, as the Southeast Asian squad faced off against EHOME in the Decider Match of Group A. For the first half of Game 1, the squad appeared to be holding its own against its Chinese opponent, as the team held a small net worth lead heading into the late-game stage thanks in large part to a strong showing from Gabbit’s Anti-Mage (12-4-7). Unfortunately, TNC Predator proved unable to hold that lead over the second half of the match, as EHOME was able to dominate team fights to wipe out any semblance of momentum for the team. Despite the team’s best efforts, TNC Predator was unable to hold back the advance of its opponent, as the Southeast Asian squad fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw TNC Predator try its hand at another draft centered around a hard farming carry, as the squad picked up a Terrorblade in the hopes of evening up the series. While Gabbi was able to put together an admirable effort on said Terrorblade (10-3-6), the rest of the team’s lineup was not nearly as successful. TNC Predator found itself playing from behind as soon as the laning stage had ended, with the Southeast Asian squad trailing in terms of net worth from the 13 minute mark through the rest of the match. Out killed by a score of 5-15 over the last 15 minutes of the match, TNC Predator could not slow down its opponent’s advance as the team suffered a 0-2 defeat to finish in the lower half of the group standings.

TNC Predator began its Main Event run in Chongqing in the Lower Bracket, where it faced a match up against Team Aster in the dreaded Bo1 series of Round 1. As it turned out, the Southeast Asian squad didn’t have a whole lot to be afraid of, as the team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Behind a massive performance from Gabbi on Morphling (12-0-3) TNC Predator was able to keep continuous pressure on its opponent with team fight wins and pick offs throughout the match. With momentum on its side every step of the way, TNC Predator built up its lead, holding a net worth advantage of nearly 27k by the 34 minute mark as the team broke through the final defenses of Team Aster to force a “gg” call from the Chinese squad and claim its first victory of the Main Event.

With its win in that Bo1 series, TNC Predator moved on to a Bo3 format in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket and a match up with Team Liquid to determine which squad would claim a guaranteed spot in the Top 8 of the Major standings. Game 1 began with TNC Predator looking relatively strong, as the Southeast Asian squad held a small net worth lead through the mid-game stage behind its core trio of Juggernaut, Kunkka, and Timbersaw. Unfortunately for the team, that lead would not survive, as Team Liquid exploded in the mid and late-game stages to take complete control of the match. TNC Predator found itself out killed 3-18 beyond the 25 minute mark of this match, as the team simply had no way to effectively counter its opponent’s team fight power. Trailing by nearly 23k net worth at the 42 minute mark, TNC Predator could not hold back Team Liquid’s final push as the squad suffered a defeat to open the series. Game 2 saw TNC Predator pin its hopes on a Tinker pick, hoping that the hero would allow the squad to dominate late-game fights and outlast its opponent to tie up the series. While Armel certainly put together a strong performance on said Tinker (11-4-8), it wasn’t quite enough to allow TNC Predator to control the match, as the Southeast Asian squad trailed in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the contest. The squad had plenty of set up and control to initiate team fights, but appeared to be lacking the damage it needed to follow up on those initiations, which allowed Team Liquid to consistently get the upper hand in fights. While TNC Predator fought on until the end, it simply didn’t have the strength to spark a comeback effort, as the squad fell 0-2 to bring its run in Chongqing to an end. With that final loss to Team Liquid, TNC Predator ended its time at the Major with a 4-6 overall record, and a finish in the 9th-12th place position in the standings.

TNC Predator’s entered this Major as one of several teams to be making use of a stand-in on the Pro Circuit stage, as Kuku’s ban from participating in the event forced the squad to alter its lineup. However, the team’s situation was somewhat different form those of the other squads utilizing substitute players, as ryOyr had been playing with the team for over a month by the time the squad reached Chongqing. Even with that in mind, the expectations were somewhat modest for TNC Predator, as the squad held a projection in the 9th-12th place range prior to the start of the Major. As it turns out, that prediction was spot on, as TNC Predator put together a 4-6 run in Chongqing to finish just short of a spot in the top half of the event standings with a 9th-12th place position overall. While the team pretty much ended up where we expected it to be when all was said and done at the Major, TNC Predator’s play as a whole in Chongqing was not quite as strong as it could have been. Of the team’s 4 total wins at the Major, 3 of them came against Chaos Esports Club and Team Aster, 2 squads that have significantly under performed on the Pro Circuit stage so far this season, and appear to be struggling on the international level in general right now. The team’s most impressive achievement at the Major was probably the last of its 4 wins, as the squad was able to claim a match off of Virtus.pro in the team’s 1-2 loss to the CIS juggernaut in the Group Stage. While the team’s overall performance was a bit disappointing, the production from its Carry/Mid duo of Gabbi and Armel continues to be one of the most impressive assets for TNC Predator. The duo combined to average nearly 14 kill and over 16 assists with just under 7 deaths per game across the teams 10 total matches in Chongqing. While those numbers aren’t the highest among the teams in the field, they are solid enough to show that the squad has a strong and relatively consistent foundation to continue building upon. With Kuku most likely set to return to the team’s active roster in the coming days as well, TNC Predator have a chance to return to its home region and reassert its dominance over its regional rivals. With the team set to participate in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major Southeast Asia Qualifier just a few days from now, we will see if TNC Predator can use this appearance on the Pro Circuit stage to improve and maintain its status as a regional leader.

 

J.Storm J Storm Small

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 1-6 (0-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Main Event)

For the majority of the season so far, the North American region has been held in the hands of a triumvirate of squads that J.Storm had been fortunate enough to be a part of. However, success on the international level has been significantly more difficult to come by for the squad. With the team’s recent addition of regional veteran Fear to its lineup, J.Storm came into this event hoping to finally find its breakthrough performance on the Pro Circuit stage and stake its claim to a position as a leading team on the international level.

J.Storm found itself facing a tough challenge to begin its Group Stage run, as the North American squad’s opponent in the Opening Matches of Group C was a formidable Vici Gaming squad. Unfortunately for J.Storm, it soon became apparent that the team was not fully ready to take on the Chinese squad, as the team fell behind almost immediately in Game 1 of the series. The team’s core trio of Drow Ranger, Timbersaw, and Axe proved largely ineffective in the match, and J.Storm ended up trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the game en route to a rough loss and a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 got off to a much better start for the North American squad, as J.Storm was able to build up a small net worth lead for itself through the first 25 minutes of play. However, the team’s solid start did not help it survive the mid and late-game stages, as Vici Gaming absolutely dominated every team fight and skirmish over the final 15 minutes of the match. With 0 kills over that final 15 minute span, J.Storm had no hope for a comeback effort as the squad went down wit ha rough 0-2 loss in its opening series.

J.Storm’s loss to Vici Gaming moved it into the Losers’ Match of its group, where the North American squad had a shot at bouncing back from its previous 0-2 loss with a series against CIS challenger The Pango. Early in Game 1, it appeared that the team was well on its way to recovering from its previous series defeat, as the team built up a solid net worth lead for itself over the first 30 minutes of play. Behind strong performances from Moo on Terrorblade (9-3-5) and Bryle’s Dragon Knight (13-5-16), J.Storm looked to be on the verge of closing out its first victory of the Major. However, a late-game surge from its opponent derailed those plans, and even J.Storm’s best efforts proved insufficient for the squad to reclaim control as The Pango snatched a victory away from the North American squad with its successful comeback efforts. After losing its lead and its momentum in that Game 1 loss, J.Storm simply looked out of sorts heading into Game 2. The North American squad was quickly overrun by its opponent, as the North American squad had no answers to the aggressive play of The Pango. Out killed 5-23 across the match, J.Storm could do little more than concede defeat as it fell in just under 25 minutes of game time to suffer a harsh 0-2 defeat to end its Group Stage run without a single win to its name.

After going winless in the Group Stage, J.Storm found itself up against a familiar foe in Round 1 of the Lower Bracket, as the team faced off against regional rival Forward Gaming in a Bo1 elimination match. For the first half of the match, J.Storm appeared to be holding even with its opponent, as neither squad could definitively pull away over teh first 35 minutes of play. However, the team’s strength increased dramatically over the course of the late-game stage, and J.Storm was able to build up a sizable net worth lead for itself behind huge performances from Moo’ Juggernaut (14-2-16, 54.6k net worth) and Bryle’s Outworld Devourer (12-4-21, 39.7k net worth). After more than 70 minutes, J.Storm was finally able to break through its opponents defenses, claiming a grueling victory in one of the longest matches of the Major.

With its first victory of the Major under its belt, J.Storm advanced to Round 2 of the Lower Bracket, where it shifted from the Bo1 format into a Bo3 series against Southeast squad Fnatic. Unfortunately for the North American squad, it didn’t put together the greatest of performances in this series. Game 1 saw the team put together a core trio of Phantom Assassin, Puck, and Venomancer, but that lineup quickly fell behind after surrendering a high number of early pick offs. Despite a solid effort from Bryle on Puck (9-4-14), J.Storm could never put together a sustained run to get itself back into the match, though the team did manage to significantly draw out the match, with the total game time going over the 53 minute mark. J.Storm certainly made its opponent work for a win, but in the end of the North American squad fell to go down 0-1 in the series. After its hard fought loss in Game 1, J.Storm put together a much weaker fight in Game 2 of the series. While the squad was holding on to a small lead in the laning stage of the match, things quickly went South for it in the mid and late-game stages. Over the final 15 minutes of the match, J.Storm was out killed 7-24, as Fnatic took complete control of the match to hand the squad a 0-2 defeat in the series and end the team’s in Chongqing with a 1-6 overall record and a 9th-12th place finish.

J.Storm entered The Chongqing Major as a team that had been fairly successful within its home region to this point in the season, but was looking to expand its reach onto the international level and the Pro Circuit stage. With the addition of a veteran player in Fear, the squad was hoping that it would be able to put together a strong performance in its second straight Major appearance of the season. Prior to the start of play in Chongqing, the squad had been projected to finish in the 9th-12th place range, and that is exactly where the squad ended up when all was said and done at the Major. While the team managed to live up to its expectations in terms of its final position in Chongqing, the level of play that we saw from the squad certainly left a lot to be desired. The North American squad came away from the Major with just a single victory, with that lone win coming against regional rival Forward Gaming in a Bo1 series in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. The silver lining for the team is that the was able to at least put up a solid fight and make its opponents work for their wins despite taking 6 losses in 7 total matches. Across those 7 matches, the squad had an average match length of just over 44 minutes, with only 1 of its games ending before the 30 minute mark. Of course, a loss is a loss no matter how long the match takes, but the fact that the team wasn’t simply blown out in all of its losses at least implies that the squad could be capable of turning some of those scenarios in its favor in the future. For the time being, J.Storm will have to deal with disappointment, as its performance in Chongqing was not even close to what we had hoped to see from the North American squad. However, the team will be returning to a rather favorable position back in its home region, as the squad has been directly invited to the DreamLeague Season 11 Major North America Qualifier which is set to begin on February 4. We will see if the squad can move on from its struggles on the international level and recover in time to retain its position near the top of the hierarchy within its home region.

 

Forward Gaming Forward Gaming

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 4-6 (4-5 Group Stage, 0-1 Main Event)

As 1 of the top 3 teams in the North American region, Forward Gaming came into The Chongqing Major with a fairly steady and favorable position at home. However, replicating that success on the international level had been something of a struggle for the team, as its play outside of the North American region had not been nearly as consistent. With its second straight Major appearance though, Forward Gaming was looking at a crucial opportunity to finally display its strength on the Pro Circuit stage against some of the strongest opposition in the Dota 2 world.

Forward Gaming found itself immediately tested in Chongqing, as the North American squad faced off against TI8 Runner Up PSG.LGD in its first Group Stage series. Game 1 saw the team look for a heavily team fight oriented lineup, headlined by a core trio of Juggernaut, Dragon Knight, and Nature’s Prophet. That lineup combined with some aggressive play throughout the match, helped Forward Gaming take its opponent by surprise, as the team out killed its opponent 26-12 to claim a 1-0 lead to open the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum died out at that point, as PSG.LGD came back with a vengeance in Games 2 and 3 of the series. Forward Gaming was out killed 37-68 over those final 2 matches, and simply could not generate anything positive for itself as the team trailed in terms of net worth for all but 10 minutes across over 76 minutes of game time as it suffered a 1-2 defeat in its first series of the Major.

Following its loss to PSG.LGD, Forward Gaming was presented with an opportunity to bounce back in its Group Stage run as it faced off against Thunder Predator in the Losers’ Match of Group B. Game 1 saw the North American squad put together a strong showing, as the team pushed head early and held its advantage throughout most of the match. Behind an impressive performance from Resolut1on’s Morphling (11-2-5), the team was able to survive a late-game surge from Thunder Predator and out kill its opponent 11-4 over the final 9 minutes of play to close out a win to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 would see those roles reversed though, much to Forward Gaming’s dismay. The North American squad was absolutely hammered by its opponent from the very start of the match, as Thunder Predator came out with an aggressive strategy that worked remarkably well against the Forward Gaming’s draft. Out killed 12-39, Forward Gaming was trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the mid and late-game stages, falling behind by as much as 28k net worth before finally conceding defeat to tie up the series 1-1. After that lopsided defeat in Game 2, Forward Gaming came into Game 3 looking for revenge, and that is exactly what the North American squad managed to earn for itself. The team kept even with its opponent through the laning stage of the match, but quickly pulled away in the mid and late-game stages behind stunning performances from Resolut1on’s Juggernaut (13-0-10) and YawaR’s Outworld Devourer (8-0-15). Those individual performances capped off a complete stomp of a match for Forward Gaming, as the team out killed its opponent 30-11 and led in terms of net worth for the entire match on its way to a 2-1 series victory.

The team’s victory had it just 1 more series win away from a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, but Forward Gaming had quite the challenge in front of it as it faced Team Secret in the Decider Match of Group B. Game 1 appeared to be going well for the North America squad through the first half of play, as the team built up a modest net worth lead for itself behind an impressive showing from MSS on Tiny (10-2-9). Unfortunately for the team, that performance was not enough to hold off a surge from Team Secret in the mid and late-game stages, as the European squad managed to turn the tides of the game to snatch a victory away from Forward Gaming and put the team down 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would see the squad bounce back though, as the team picked up a lineup heavily focused on taking early fights with core of Terrorblade, Venomancer, and Slardar. The strategy paid off almost immediately, as the team’s core trio combined for a stat line of 11-3-29 and applied a stifling level of pressure to the Team Secret heroes. With every single member of the team putting together a kill participation of at least 66%, Forward Gaming was able to dictate the pace of the match and claim a decisive win over its opponent in just over 28 minutes of game time to tie up the series. The third and final game proved to be perhaps the most tightly contested match of the series. Behind a core trio of Juggernaut, Monkey King, and Nature’s Prophet, Forward Gaming kept even with its opponent through the first 25 minutes of the match, with neither squad managing to hold a lead of more than 3k net worth during that span. However, the late-game stage ended up being Forward Gaming’s downfall, as the North American squad could not contend with Team Secret’s team fight power. Despite a solid effort from Resolut1on’s Juggernaut (6-3-5) and MSS’s Tiny (8-5-12), Forward Gaming found itself out killed by a score of 4-11 over the final 10 minutes of play as the squad fell 1-2 in the series.

That final loss meant that Forward Gaming would begin its Main Event run in the Lower Bracket, where it came face to face with regional rival J.Storm in a Bo1 elimination match. The team opted for a core trio of Terrorblade, Pugna, and Tidehunter for in the all-North American match, and for the first half of the game that trio appeared to be working out well for the squad. Neither side was able to put together a net worth lead of more than 2k over the first 35 minute of the match, but Forward Gaming was still in a position to potentially take control of the match in the late-game. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan for Forward Gaming behind that point, as its opponent was the squad to jump out in the late-game stage and seize the momentum for itself. Despite a solid effort from Resolut1on’s Terrorblade (19-6-11, 56.5k net worth), Forward Gaming could only delay the inevitable as it fell further and further behind. Facing a net worth deficit of over 35k near the 70 minute mark of the match, Forward Gaming’s endurance finally ran dry, as the squad fell in one of the longest matches of the Major to bring its run to an end a 4-6 overall record and a finish in the 13th-16th place position.

Forward Gaming came into The Chongqing Major as one of the stronger teams in the North American region, but strength on the home front was not the primary concern for the squad entering this event. The team’s struggles so far this season centered around a relatively inconsistent level of play on the international level, and that lack of stability made it hard to have faith in the squad’s ability to find success on the Pro Circuit stage. Prior to the start of the action in Chongqing, Forward Gaming was projected to finish at the bottom of the event standings with a 13th-16th place finish. Despite the team’s best efforts at the Major, the North American squad was unable to beat that prediction as it did in fact finish in the 13th-16th place position with a 4-6 overall record. While the team’s place at the bottom of the event standings is certainly a disappointing development, it is important to note just how hard of a path that Forward Gaming had in Chongqing. The team ended up facing both Team Secret and PSG.LGD in the Group Stage of the event in a pair of match ups in Forward Gaming was considered to be a rather significant underdog. To the team’s credit, it managed to take matches in both of those series with a 2-4 record, but against those 2 titans of the Dota 2 world, it would have been nearly impossible for Forward Gaming to advance to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event without pulling off an incredible upset. The real issue for Forward Gaming at this event though was its 2-2 combined record against Thunder Predator and J.Storm. Both squads are formidable in their own right, having played their way to the Major in the first place, but Forward Gaming was almost certainly the favorite in both of those match ups and were expected to put together much stronger performances than what we saw. It’s one thing to fall short against the elite squads of the Pro Circuit like Team Secret and PSG.LGD, but for a team like Forward Gaming to establish itself as a leader on the international level, it has to be able to take wins over regional rivals and squads from regions considered to be weaker than its own. This showing in Chongqing was not nearly as bad as it could have been for Forward Gaming, but it certainly wasn’t the breakthrough that the squad had been hoping for, and the team’s issues on the international level continue to be a huge plaguing issue for the squad’s 2018-2019 campaign. The good news for the team is that is has a couple of opportunities on the horizon to potentially bounce back from this disappointing showing on the Pro Circuit stage. The team will be participating in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major North America Qualifier at the beginning of February, and will also have a chance to finally find success on the international level with an appearance at ESL One Katowice at the end of the month.

 

Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses

Place: 3rd

Winnings: $100,000 & 2,100 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 12-8 (4-3 Group Stage, 8-5 Main Event)

With regional rivals like Forward Gaming and J.Storm stumbling out of the gates on the international level, Evil Geniuses entered The Chongqing Major as the clear choice as the top squad in the North American region. However, the team had aspirations of claiming a position at the top on the international level as well, and hoped to keep a hold of its Top 3 status in the Pro Circuit Rankings with another strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage in Chongqing. For all of the hype surrounding this team in the wake of its roster change late last season, Evil Geniuses had still found the title of Major Champion to be an elusive one. With this opportunity to take to the Pro Circuit stage again, the squad hoped to finally end the North American drought and claim the region’s first ever Major Championship title in Chongqing.

Evil Geniuses started off its run in Chongqing with a match up against a home town team in the form of Team Aster, but the North American squad wasted little time in establishing itself as the team in control of this series. EG came out aggressively in Game 1, applying heavy amounts of pressure to its opponent and building up a sizable net worth lead for itself behind strong showings from both Arteezy on Juggernaut (11-2-10) and Suma1L on Huskar (9-7-9). While Team Aster was able to make a small surge in the late-game stage, EG managed to maintain its hold over the match, eventually pushing its way past Team Aster’s defenses for force a “gg” call and claim a win in the opening match of the series. After a somewhat one-sided Game 1, Game 2 proved to be an absolute stomp, as EG simply ran over its opponent. The team’s core trio of Terrorblade, Puck, and Nature’s Prophet combined for a stat line of 20-5-19, and out killed its opponent 25-8 in a match that lasted just under 22 minutes of total game time and secured EG a 2-0 sweep of the series.

After taking down Team Aster, Evil Geniuses found itself with a chance to claim the top spot in the Group D standings as it faced off against Fnatic in the Winners’ Match of the group. Unfortunately, the series did not go particularly well for the North American squad, as Fnatic proved to be a far more formidable opponent than EG had been expecting. The squad appeared to be on the right in Game 1 of the series, as the team built up a solid net worth lead for itself over the first 20 minutes of play thanks to a respectable effort from Suma1L’s Outword Devourer (8-5-3). However, the team’s momentum came to a grinding halt in the mid and late-game stages, as Fnatic turned the tides of the match and dominated team fights to wipe out EG’s lead and hand it a loss to open the series. Game 2 only saw things get worse for EG, as the squad fell behind immediately and were attempting to play catch up with its opponent throughout the rest of the match. Despite a solid effort from s4’s Centaur Warrunner (9-7-4), EG never came close to mounting any sort of legitimate comeback threat, as Fnatic held control of the match from start to finish and the North American squad conceded defeat to suffer a 0-2 loss in the series.

After its rather harrowing loss to Fnatic in the Winners’ match, Evil Geniuses found itself staring down its last shot at an Upper Bracket position as it faced off against Alliance in the Decider Match of Group D. Game 1 of the series proved to be quite the challenge for the North American squad, as EG fell behind early in the match and struggled to keep pace with its opponent as the game went on. While the team was able to extend the match to a certain degree, EG was never able to string together enough momentum to fully break its opponent’s control of the match. The North American squad made one final attempt to defend its base and hold back Alliance’s advance, but when those efforts failed the team had nothing left to fight with as it dropped the first match of the series to fall behind 0-1. That initial defeat proved to be exactly the wake up call that the team needed though, as EG proceeded to flip the switch and put together a pair of dominant performances in Games 2 and 3 of the series. Across those final 2 matches, the North American team out killed its opponent 56-9 behind an insanely aggressive and successful strategy that Alliance simply could not stop. The team’s core trio of Arteezy, Suma1L, and s4 combined for an impressive 40-3-58 stat line in Games 2 and 3, and led the way for EG as the team simply bulldozed its way to a pair of victories in less than 44 minutes of total game time to claim a 2-1 series win.

With that performance in the Group Stage, Evil Geniuses advanced to the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, but it would find a formidable challenge awaiting it in the form of defending Major Champion Virtus.pro. The series did not get off to a fantastic start for the North American squad, as EG quickly found itself playing from behind past the laning stage of the match. The team’s core trio of Juggernaut, Nature’s Prophet, and Dark Seer struggled to find any traction against VP, and the team could not put together the team fight wins that it needed to really shift any momentum into its favor. Out killed 3-17 over the final 12 minutes of play, EG’s defenses were eventually overwhelmed as the squad fell behind 0-1 to start the series. In Game 2, the roles were largely reversed between the 2 squads, as EG managed to jump out to a modest net worth lead early and held it throughout the majority of the match. With its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Nature’s Prophet, and Doom combining for a stat line of 16-13-38 and Cr1t-‘s Tiny (10-5-14) putting in an impressive performance as well, the North American squad appeared to be on the verge of claiming a win and tying up the series. However, VP still had one final card to play, as the CIS squad rallied to take back to back team fight victories. The consecutive team fight losses left EG with no buybacks left and only a single hero alive to fend off the impending push from its opponent. Even with the net worth lead still technically in its hands, EG saw the writing on the wall and conceded defeat to fall 0-2 in the series and drop out of the Upper Bracket.

After its defeat in the Upper Bracket at the hands of VP, Evil Geniuses found itself in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event where it faced off against South American squad Thunder Predator in its first elimination series of the event. The series as a whole ended up being a largely one-sided affair, as EG was able to assert its control early in both matches and keep its opponent on the back foot. Across the 2 game series, EG out killed its opponents 56-34 and held a net worth lead for all but 7 minutes out of a total of over 65 minutes of total game time. Arteezy in particular was able to turn in a pair of strong showings for the team in this series, posting a combined 23-1-11 stat line with Terrorblade and Anti-Mage as EG rolled its way to a 2-0 victory in the series.

That victory over Thunder Predator secured the squad a place in the top half of the event standings, but EG was still keen on pushing for more as it took on Vici Gaming in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket. Game 1 went horribly for the North American squad though, as EG’s core trio of Anti-Mage, Outworld Devourer, and Beastmaster were unable to find much room to operate in the face of Vici Gaming’s consistent aggression. The team was out killed 11-32, with none of its players accruing more than 3 kills as Vici Gaming dominated the mid and late-game stages to hand EG a 0-1 deficit in the series. For the first half of Game 2, it appeared that EG was in for another one-sided match, as the team found itself playing from behind through the first 35 minutes of play. However, a pair of incredible performances from Arteezy on Arc Warden (11-7-22) and Suma1L’s Outworld Devourer (16-9-19) helped spark a massive comeback effort from the squad in the late-game. With a series of clutch plays and hard fought team fight wins, the North American squad manged to turn the tide to pull off an impressive comeback victory to even up the series 1-1. The third and final game ended up playing out in a similar manner, as EG fell behind early and trailed in terms of net worth throughout most of the early game. However, the squad’s core trio of Phantom Lancer, Outworld Devourer, and Doom managed to turn things around once again, combining for a 25-14-32 stat line to help out kill Vici Gaming 16-5 over the final 13 minutes of play to lock down a 2-1 series victory.

As EG advanced to Round 4 of the Lower Bracket, it found itself taking on another Chinese squad as the team faced off against EHOME to determine which squad would lock down a place in the Top 4 at the Major. Game 1 of the series proved to be a tightly contested match, as the 2 squads were separated by no more than 4k net worth throughout the first 35 minutes of play. Behind in impressive showing from Suma1L’s Outworld Devourer (17-2-8) though, EG was able to take control in the late-game, out killing its opponent 10-2 over the final 9 minutes to secure a victory to begin the series. For most of Game 2, EG found itself playing from behind, as the squad trailed by a small but relatively consistent margin throughout the early and mid-game stages. Behind a combined 15-10-20 stat line from its core trio of Terrorblade, Death Prophet, and Doom though, EG once again broke the match open late and seized control to lock down a 2-0 sweep of the series and a guaranteed Top 4 spot in Chongqing.

By this point in the tournament, EG had built up a reputation as the China slayer, having eliminated 2 of the region’s 3 participating teams in Chongqing. As the squad moved into Round 5 of the Lower Bracket, it had a chance to complete the trifecta as it took on PSG.LGD in its third straight series against a Chinese opponent. Game 1 did not get off to a good start for EG though, as the North American squad fell behind early in the match after surrendering 17 kills in the first 15 minutes of play. Those early deaths had the team playing from behind through most of the early and mid-game stages, but EG still had a few tricks of its sleeve as the match drifted into the late-game stage. With the team’s core trio of Phantom Assassin, Monkey King, and Centaur Warrunner combining for a stat line of 26-11-35, EG was able to turn a series of team fights its way to completely alter the momentum of the match. Out killing its opponent 12-3 over the final 12 minutes of the match, EG completed the comeback to secure itself a win and a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 ended up being a near reversal of its predecessor in terms of the roles for the 2 squads. Evil Geniuses was the squad to come out strong early and built up a small net worth lead for itself heading into the mid-game stage. Unfortunately, the team did not maintain that lead for very long, as PSG.LGD surged its way back into control of the match in the late-game stage with a series of pick offs and solid team fights. EG appeared to be on its way to a 1-1 series, but the North American sqaud was able to pull out an incredible turnaround near the 40 minute mark , with Suma1L’s Timberaw (13-4-15), Arteezy’s Juggernaut (7-5-14) and Cr1t- on the Earth SPirit (10-8-17) helping the squad to claim a series of team fight wins that halted PSG.LGD’s momentum stone cold. Those team fight wins created an opening for EG, and the team was able to press its advantage to complete its second straight comeback win to claim a 2-0 sweep of the series and knock out the last Chinese team in the field.

With that victory over PSG.LGD, EG found itself 1 series away from a spot in the Grand Finals of the Major as it took on Team Secret in the Lower Bracket Finals. Unfortunately for the North American squad, the series did not go even remotely well. The squad was out killed 18-56 across a 2 game series, with the team simply unable to generate any sense of momentum for itself  in a pair of lopsided losses. No player on EG managed to earn more than 4 kills in either match, as the team trailed in terms of net worth throughout nearly the entirety of a series that lasted just over 1 hour of total game time. That massively one-sided loss finally brought EG’s run at the Major to an end, as the squad finished in the 3rd place position overall with a 12-8.

Evil Geniuses came into The Chongqing Major as pretty much the only consistent performer within the North American region, and one of the top squads in the Pro Circuit Rankings. However, the team entered the event with a particular goal in mind, as the team was still pursuing the first Major Championship for any North American team. Prior to the start of play in Chongqing, the team was expected to be a legitimate contender for that Major Championship title, with a projection in the Top 4 range. When all was said and done at the Major, the squad had more than lived up to that prediction, as the team posted a 12-8 overall record en route to claiming its second straight 3rd place finish at a Major. The team’s play at the Major was incredibly impressive, with the team taking series victories over Team Aster, Alliance, Thunder Predator, Vici Gaming, EHOME, and PSG.LGD over the course of the event. The team’s only series losses came against the trio of Fnatic, Virtus.pro, and Team Secret, and with the latter 2 squads finishing at the top of the event standings, those losses can’t be considered to be overly damaging to EG’s overall performance. One of the more interesting aspects of EG’s play at the Major though was its reliance on late-game strength, with the squad having 5 of its 20 total matches go over the 40 minute mark and holding an average game time of just over 35 minutes. With the team’s Carry/Mid duo of Arteezy and Suma1L combining to average 13.4 kills and 16.3 assists with 7.25 deaths per game at the event, the team managed to come out on top more often than not when the game shifted into that late-game stage. However, the repeated need for late-game heroics added a certain degree of tension that the team, and certainly its fans, may be hoping to see less often in the future. As risky as the team’s strategies may have been, they worked out for the North American squad with another 3rd place finish on the Pro Circuit stage, and the team has further solidified its position as one of the Dota 2 world’s strongest teams. Up next for the North American leader will be a pair of appearances both at home and on the international level, as EG will participate in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major North America Qualifier at the beginning of February before playing at MDL Macau 2019 late in the month.

 

Chaos Esports Club chaos

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 2-2 Main Event)

Though the team came into The Chongqing Major with a new name and a new organization, the plan for Chaos Esports Club’s roster was the same as it had always been: to carry the standard for South American Dota onto the international stage, and displayed the strength of the region in the face of the Dota 2 world’s biggest names and faces. The squad’s last foray on the Pro Circuit stage had been a near disaster for it, but the team’s second straight Major appearance granted Chaos Esports Club a shot at redemption in Chongqing. Capitalizing on that opportunity would be no easy task for the South American squad, but Chaos Esports Club was determined to prove its strength to the Dota 2 world on the Pro Circuit stage.

The first test for Chaos Esports Club under its new name came against an old foe, as the team faced off against a TNC Predator squad that had eliminated the South American team from The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November. Unfortunately for the team, there would be no redemption in this series, as Chaos Esports Club was absolutely hammered by its opponent. Across the series, the team was out killed by a score of 24-61, and held a net worth lead for only around 10 minutes in a series that lasted just over 1 hour of total game time. The team’s strongest performance in the relatively short series was a 6-5-7 stat line from hFn’s Shadow Fiend in Game 1 of the series, which came nowhere near close enough to spark any sort of comeback effort from the team as it took a one-sided 0-2 loss to begin its Group Stage run.

With its loss to TNC Predator, Chaos Esports Club found itself in the Losers’ Match of Group A, where it faced EHOME to see which team would keep its hopes of a potential Upper Bracket berth alive. The South American squad came out with a relatively strong showing in Game 1 of the series, keeping pace with its opponent through the early stages of the match before exploding in the mid and late-game stages with a series of pick offs and team fight wins. Behind a combined 17-6-24 stat line from its cores of Naga Siren, Windranger, and Tidehunter, the team out killed its opponent 12-1 in the final 15 minutes of play to secure a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, that’s where the series took a turn for the worse for Chaos Esports Club, as the squad was absolutely destroyed in Games 2 and 3 of the series. Across the 2 games, the team managed to earn just 9 kills compared to the 54 that it surrendered to its opponent. The squad was simply overwhelmed throughout the entirety of both matches, with none of the team’s players managing to earn more than 2 kills as the squad took back to back losses in just over 41 minutes of game time to lose the series 1-2 and finish at the bottom of the Group A standings.

The less than ideal performance from Chaos Esports Club in the Group Stage had it beginning its Main Event run in Chongqing in the Lower Bracket, where it faced off against Alliance in a Bo1 elimination match. The squad pulled out a core trio of Medusa, Timbersaw, and Beastmaster in the do-or-die match, and that trio helped facilitate a strong start against its opponent. With the team’s early damage and tankier cores, Chaos Esports Club was able to bully Alliance throughout the match, building up a solid net worth lead and establishing control of the match to limit the potential for its opponent to farm. With the team’s core trio combining for a 14-5-25 stat line, Chaos Esports was able to push its way through Alliance’s final defenses to claim a victory in the match and advance to Round 2 of the Lower Bracket.

Round 2 saw Chaos Esports Club move away from the Bo1 match ups of the previous round into full Bo3 series, as the team took on Vici Gaming in another elimination scenario. Game 1 of the series did not go well for the team, as the South American squad fell behind early and never managed to work its way back into the match. Despite a solid effort from hFn on Phantom Assassin (5-2-1), the team was out killed 7-24 as it took a rough loss to open the series. Game 2 would see the squad bounce back though, as Chaos Esports Club was the team to take control early in the match. Behind an impressive showing from w33’s Timbersaw (10-1-7), the squad was able to find multiple team fight wins and pick offs beyond the laning stage to put its opponent on the defensive. While Vici Gaming would make a couple of surges that cut into the team’s net worth lead, Chaos Esports Club managed to quickly reassert control in those situations and closed out a solid win to even up the series at 1-1. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum dried up after that Game 2 win, as Chaos Esports Club was absolutely overrun in Game 3 of the series. The team was out killed 9-30, and trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match as it suffered a massively one-sided defeat to lose the series 1-2 and bring its run at the Major to an end. With that final loss, the team finished with a 3-6 overall record and a 9th-12th place position in the event standings.

Chaos Esports Club came into The Chongqing Major as the consensus strongest squad within the South American region, but that status did not count for much on the international level. The team’s performance outside of its home region had been inconsistent so far this season, and that instability made it somewhat hard to trust the squad coming into an event as big as this one. Prior to the start of play in Chongqing, the South American squad was projected to finish in the 13th-16th place range, but Chaos Esports Club was able to outperform those low expectations with a 9th-12th place finish at the Major. At first glance, the team’s 3-6 appears to be fairly unimpressive, and in an overall sense it still is. However, the team’s 3 victories provided us another glimpse at the strength of this team’s lineup when it is playing at its best. The team claimed match victories against Alliance, EHOME, and Vici Gaming over the course of its run at the event. While Alliance wasn’t exactly considered a favorite to find success in Chongqing, both Vici Gaming and EHOME finished in the top half of the event standings, and are considered to be 2 of the stronger teams in the Chinese region. Of course, the team’s 6 losses at The Chongqing Major significantly cut into the positive aspects of the team’s performance, as we once again saw the inconsistencies in the team’s performance on the international level. That is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the team’s lack of success on the Pro Circuit stage this season. The team has the talent, the experience, and the leadership to find success on the international level, but never seems to be able to put those factors together at the right time. The good news though for Chaos Esports Club is that it will have more opportunities coming up in the near future. The team will be participating in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major South America Qualifier at the beginning of February, and has also been directly invited to ESL One Katowice 2019 which will begin at the end of the month.

 

Thunder Predator Thunder Predator

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 2-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Main Event)

Thunder Predator entered The Chongqing Major through some rather unconventional methods, as the squad received its place at the event as a result of test123’s disqualification from the regional qualifiers. Between that incident and the team’s recent replacement of Jeimari with LeoStyle- in its lineup, there were a number of questions in need of answering as the team arrived in Chongqing. The team certainly came into the event as something of an underdog, but the Pro Circuit stage has often been able to bring out the best from teams, and Thunder Predator was looking to become the latest squad to pull out an unexpected run on the international level.

Thunder Predator certainly didn’t get the chance to ease into its first Pro Circuit appearance, as the squad immediately faced off against one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world in Team Secret. Game 1 of the series ended up being a complete disaster for the South American squad, as Thunder Predator was caught off guard by an aggressive draft from its opponent. After giving up 13 kills in less than 19 minutes, Thunder Predator realized that its lineup was not going to be able to recover and conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw the South American squad put up a significantly better fight, as the team was able to remain relatively close to its opponent in terms of net worth through the early and mid-game stages. Despite solid performances from LeoStyle-‘s Tiny (12-6-7) and Atun’s Phantom Assassin (11-4-7), Thunder Predator could not out pace Team Secret’s cores as the European squad managed to dominate a series of late-game fights to shatter the South American squad’s momentum and hand the team a 0-2 defeat in the series.

With that loss, Thunder Predator moved into the Losers’ Match of Group B, where it faced North American squad Forward Gaming for a chance to keep its dreams of an Upper Bracket slot alive. Game 1 did not go well for the South American squad though, as its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Puck, and Magnus proved relatively ineffective against Forward Gaming’s lineup. Depsite solid efforts from Atun’s Phantom Assassin (9-5-8) and LeoStyle-‘s Puck (7-4-8), Thunder Predator could not pull off a comeback effort as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would see the team’s fortunes turn though, as Thunder Predator put together an aggressive lineup headlined by a core trio of Troll Warlord, Batrider, and Tiny. With that trio leading the way, Thunder Predator was able to apply a heavy level of pressure on its opponent, securing pick offs and team fight wins at a consistent rate throughout the match. That nearly never ending parade of kills and pick offs kept Thunder Predator ahead in terms of net worth throughout all of the mid and late-game stages. With the team’s core trio combining for a stat line of 32-5-56, Thunder Predator was able to close out a dominant showing to tie up the series at 1-1. Unfortunately for Thunder Predator, Game 3 would see the roles from its predecessor reversed, as the South American squad was the one to fall victim to early and continuous pressure. The team’s lineup was hit early and often in this match, and that heavy pressure left the squad with no real way to keep pace with the cores of its opponent as Thunder Predator fell further and further behind as the match progressed. Out killed 12-31 and trailing by over 25k net worth at the 34 minute mark, the team opted to throw in the towel to bring the match and the series to an end with a 1-2 defeat that put Thunder Predator in the bottom position in the Group B standings.

With the team’s rather underwhelming performance in the Group Stage, Thunder Predator found itself starting the Main Event of the Major in the Lower Bracket for a Bo1 elimination match against CIS squad The Pango. Throughout the first half of the match, the 2 squads appeared to be playing to a stalemate, as neither squad could establish any significant lead or sense of momentum. That all changed in the mid and late-game stages though, as Thunder Predator put together an impressive surge to seize control of the match. The team out killed its opponent 18-2 over the final 13 minutes of play behind a pair of strong performances from LeoStyle- on Timbersaw (11-1-16) and Atun on Timbersaw (10-1-13) to lock down a victory to keep itself alive in the Lower Bracket of the Major.

After taking down The Pango in Round 1 of the Lower Bracket, Thunder Predator moved away from the dreaded Bo1’s and into a full Bo3 series against Evil Geniuses in Round 2. Unfortunately, the change in format did little help the squad once play began though, as Thunder Predator found itself playing from behind for nearly the entirety of the series. Across over 65 minutes of total game time, Thunder Predator held a net worth lead for just 7 minutes while being out killed 34-56. While the team did get a solid effort from one of its star players, with LeoStyle- posting a combined 13-10-11 stat line on Tiny and Puck, those performances weren’t nearly enough for the team to really fight back against its opponent as Thunder Predator had its Major run brought to an with a 2-6 overall record and a finish in the 9th-12th place position in Chongqing.

Thunder Predator came into The Chongqing Major as a team with a relatively low level of expectations. The team’s position at the event came its way due to the disqualification of another team in the regional qualifiers, and its lack of experience on the international level meant that there was little confidence regarding its ability to contend with some of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world. Coming into the event, the squad was projected to finish at the bottom of the standings in Chongqing with a 13th-16th place finish, though the squad was able to outperform that prediction wit ha 9th-12th place position overall. While the team’s final position may have beaten its pre-event projection, the squad’s overall play and 2-6 record in Chongqing was not nearly as impressive. Of the team’s 2 wins at the Major, 1 of them came against a Forward Gaming squad that has seen significant struggles performing on the international level, while the other came against The Pango which was playing in its Pro Circuit debut and had a stand-in for the event. To be completely fair to Thunder Predator though, 4 of its losses came against Team Secret and Evil Geniuses, both of whom are sitting inside of the Top 3 in the Pro Circuit Rankings and were obvious favorites to bring down the Peruvian squad. In conclusion, Thunder Predator did not do fantastically in Chongqing, but it wasn’t necessarily expected to find much success. Given the incredibly low expectations for this squad coming into the event, the fact that it ended up finishing in the 9th-12th place position should be a positive result for the squad moving forward. In the immediate future, the squad will be returning to its home region, where it will take on its regional rivals once again in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major South America Qualifier set to begin on February 1.

 

EHOME 800px-EHOME

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $60,000 & 900 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 7-8 (5-3 Group Stage, 2-5 Main Event)

As the Champion of The Bucharest Minor, EHOME came into the Chongqing Major as a team that many were excited to see take on the elite squads of the Dota 2 world. For most of the season, the team had been limited to playing largely within the Chinese region, but its recent breakthrough on the international level afforded it an opportunity to further establish its presence on the Pro Circuit stage. While the team’s mix of young talent and veteran leadership had served it well to this point, the question of whether or not this EHOME roster was ready to compete with the top squads on the Pro Circuit was an intriguing story line as the team prepared for its first eve appearance at a Pro Circuit Major.

The Minor Champion began its run at the Major with a formidable challenge, as EHOME faced off against defending Major Champion Virtus.pro in its first Group Stage series. The Chinese squad actually managed to catch its opponent off guard in Game 1 of the series, as EHOME put together an aggressive lineup led by ASD’s Outworld Devourer (11-0-6) that out killed VP 25-7 to claim a surprisingly one sided victory to open the series. Unfortunately for EHOME, Game 2 ended up playing out in the exact opposite manner, as the Chinese squad took its turn being the victim of an early aggressive lineup. Despite a solid effort from ASD on Drow Ranger (5-2-2), EHOME trailed for the entirety of the match and conceded defeat in just over 23 minutes of game time to see the series tied up at 1-1. Game 3 ended up being a much more balanced contest than either of its predecessors, as EHOME was able to overcome a sizable net worth deficit in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a pair of strong showings from Faith_bian’s TIny (16-7-5) and ASD’s Anti-Mage (9-3-8), EHOME built up a net worth lead of over 12k and appeared to be closing in on a victory late in the match. However, a disastrous team fight ended up shattering the team’s control and its momentum, as VP turned a team fight victory into a shocking comeback victory that handed EHOME a 1-2 defeat in its first series of the Major.

EHOME’s loss put in the Losers’ Match of Group A, where it faced off against Chaos Esports to see which team would finish at the bottom of the group standings. Game 1 ended up being a relatively close match, with both squads remaining essentially neck-and-neck in terms of net worth through the early and mid-game stages. However, EHOME found itself struggling to keep pace with the team fight power of its opponent as the match went on, with the team being out killed 1-12 over the final 15 minutes of play to lose the opening match of the series. Following that loss, the Chinese squad bounced back in the most dominant possible fashion, putting together back to back stomps in Games 2 and 3. Across those final 2 matches, EHOME out killed its opponent 54-9, with its core trio of eGo, ASD, and Faith_bian combining for a stunning 42-1-50 stat line that helped the squad smash its way to an impressive 2-1 victory in the series.

After dispatching Chaos Esports Club, EHOME had a chance to lay claim to a coveted Upper Bracket slot in the Main Event as it took on TNC Predator in the Decider Match of Group A. Game 1 saw the Chinese squad pick up a heavily farm oriented lineup, led by a core trio of Luna, Shadow Fiend, and Beastmaster. Despite the high farming capacity of its cores, EHOME found itself unable to pull away from its opponent, as neither team led by more than 5k net worth through the first 30 minutes of play. However, EHOME was eventually able to find its rhythm in the late-game stage, with ASD’s Shadow Fiend (16-2-10) leading the team on a surge that allowed the squad to take near complete control of the match to close out a hard fought victory to open the series. Game 2 of the series proved to be decidedly less even, as EHOME jumped out to a relatively early advantage for itself. Behind strong performances from Faith_bian on Tiny (10-3-16) and ASD’s Medusa (5-1-15), EHOME built up a sizable net worth lead in the late-game stage and managed to hold off every attempt from its opponent at sparking a comeback effort. Out killing its opponent 9-0 over the final 6 minutes of play, EHOME was able to finish strong with another strong performance to close out a 2-0 win in the series and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

EHOME’s first series in that Upper Bracket would come against Southeast Asian squad Fnatic, as the 2 teams faced off in their first series of the Main Event. EHOME came out strong in Game 1 of the series, as the squad looked to set the pace early with aggressive plays and heavy amounts of map control as it managed to win fights and push lanes quickly. Behind an impressive showing from ASD’s Shadow Fiend (14-2-10), EHOME continuously pushed its net worth advantage higher and higher as the match progressed, methodically wearing down its opponent’s defenses to take a convincing win to open the series with a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the team, it would switch roles with its opponent in Game 2, as the Chinese squad was wholly unprepared for an all out blitz from Fnatic. Fnatic managed to force engagements early and push lanes even before the laning stage had fully come to a close, denying EHOME any chance to find farm for its cores as the squad was pushed back into its base at a blistering pace. Trailing by nearly 15k net worth at the 18 minute mark, and with its base already under threat from Fnatic’s continuous assaults, EHOME had to choice but to concede defeat just past the 18 minute mark to even up the series at 1-1. The team’s shocking and quick defeat in Game 2 seemed to galvanize the Chinese squad though, as EHOME bounced back with an absolutely dominant showing in the third and final match of the series. Behind a spectacular 17-3-5 performance from ASD on Drow Ranger, EHOME smashed its way past its opponent to claim an early lead that it did not relinquish for the entirety of the match. While Fnatic was able to extend the match somewhat with its team fight power, said power never became enough to truly stop the advance of EHOME, as the Chinese squad push its way to a victory to lock up a 2-1 series win and advance to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket.

Round 2 of the Upper Bracket saw EHOME face off against one of the Pro Circuit’s leading squads in the form of Team Secret, with the winner set to advance to the Upper Bracket Finals and a guaranteed Top 3 finish in Chongqing. Unfortunately for EHOME, the series began with a massively one-sided match in its opponent’s favor, as the Chinese squad struggled significantly in Game 1. The squad’s core trio of Faceless Void, Drow Ranger, and Dark Seer were ineffective against the lineup of Team Secret, as the European squad used an aggressive play style to build up an early lead that EHOME was powerless to fight back against. The squad was out killed 8-18 over the course of the match, with EHOME earning just 2 kills over the final 12 minutes of play as it suffered a rough loss to open the series with a 0-1 deficit. In Game 2, EHOME was the squad to get off to a strong start, as the Chinese squad’s core trio of Medusa, Kunkka, and Beastmaster quickly built up a sizable net worth lead over its opponent. Thanks in large part to an impressive showing from ASD on Kunkka (10-3-6), EHOME led by as much at 10k net worth as it carried its lead into the late-game and looked to tie up the series. However, Team Secret had drawn out the match long enough to mount an incredible comeback effort, as the team snatched back to back team fight victories away from EHOME to wipe out its net worth advantage. The consecutive team fight losses also left EHOME’s lineup without buybacks, forcing the team to concede defeat as Team Secret handed it a dramatic and somewhat unexpected loss that ended the team’s time in the Upper Bracket of the Major.

After falling into the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, EHOME found itself taking on another of the top ranked teams on the Pro Circuit in the form of North American squad Evil Geniuses. Game 1 of the series saw the 2 squads remain relatively even with its opponent through the first 35 minutes of play, as ASD’s Leshrac (10-4-10) helped keep EHOME in the game. However, the late-game stage saw EG take control, as EHOME lost a series of team fights to fall behind by nearly 33k net worth as it fell behind 0-1 to start the series. Game 2 saw the Chinese squad pick up a core trio of Juggernaut, Outworld Devourer, and Underlord, with said trio helping the team build up a small net worth lead in the mid-game stage. Behind a strong showing from ASD on Outworld Devourer (10-3-1), the squad looked poised to potentially even up the series, but once again EG was able to put together a surge in the late-game stage to shift the momentum of the match into tis favor. Despite the team’s best efforts, EHOME could not fully regain its control over the match, and the Chinese squad eventaully conceded defeat to fall 0-2 in the series and end its run at Chongqing with a 5th-6th place finish and a 7-8 overall record.

EHOME came into The Chongqing Major as the winner of The Bucharest Minor, and a rising team within the Chinese region. However, the squad was looking to prove that it was capable of being a legitimate contender, not just within its home region, but on the international level as well. Prior to the start of the Major, the expectations for EHOME were set cautiously low, with the team projected to finish in the lower half of the standings in the 9th-12th place range. When all was said and done in Chongqing though, the Chinese squad had blown that prediction out of the water with an impressive 5th-6th place finish at the Major and a 7-8 overall record. Considering the fact that the expectations were relatively low for the squad heading into this event, it is hard to identify too many areas for the team that were disappointing or negative. The team’s only series losses came against Virtus.pro, Team Secret, and Evil Geniuses, the 3 squads that stood at the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings prior to the start of the event and teams that all finished within the Top 4 at this Major. Of particular note for EHOME was the play of ASD, as the team’s Midlaner averaged 9.13 kills and 6 assists with just 2.27 deaths per game across the team’s 15 total matches at the event. Between the team’s dominant performance at The Bucharest Minor, and its solid showing in Chongqing on the Major stage, EHOME appears to have earned itself a place as a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. Of course, the question for the team at this stage will be whether EHOME can carry this momentum over into the rest of the season. The squad will have opportunities to continue displaying its strength in the coming days though, as EHOME is set to participate in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major China Qualifier at the beginning of February, as well as MDL Macau 2019 later in the month.

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