A shake up in the Chinese hierarchy may be underway as EHOME, Keen Gaming join PSG.LGD as China’s representatives at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major
The first group of regional qualifiers for The DreamLeague Season 11 Major are coming to a close, and the field of teams for the third Major of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season is starting to take shape. China was the first region in this initial group of 4 to close out its qualifier run, and we now know the 3 squads that will be representing the region in Stockholm. The China qualifier began with a field of 8 teams, each hoping for an opportunity to find success against their regional rivals and secure a place on the Pro Circuit stage. However, only 3 of those teams were able to survive the rigors of the regional qualifiers, and after seeing the same 3 squads qualify for both of the season’s first 2 Majors, we have finally seen something of a shake up this time around. PSG.LGD, EHOME, and Keen Gaming have claimed the region’s 3 slots at the Major, and will make the journey to Stockholm in March to represent China on the Pro Circuit stage. For those teams that didn’t make the cut this time around, a potential spot in the Minor qualifiers awaits, as the 5 unsuccessful squads from this event still have another shot at reaching the Pro Circuit stage. For now though, the time has come to take a look at how each of the squads performed in this qualifier, with the participants divided based upon their final positions in the event standings.
Top 3 (Qualified for DreamLeague Season 11 Major)
Record: 7-3 (5-3 Group Stage, 2-0 Playoffs)
When is was announced that Maybe would be taking a break from professional play, there were some in the Dota 2 world who wondered how PSG.LGD would respond as it faced off against its regional rivals in this qualifier. As it turned out, there was relatively little reason to be worried, as the squad once against marched its way past its opposition to claim a place on the Pro Circuit stage. With a 7-3 overall record, the squad showed that it was still more than capable of holding its position at the top of the regional hierarchy, and the squad’s stand-in Xm had a chance to display his talents as well. The team’s new Midlaner averaged 5.6 kills and 10.3 assists with just 3.3 deaths per game across PSG.LGD’s qualifier run, and may have turned some heads with his solid play filling in for one of the most talented and well known figures in the Chinese scene. With PSG.LGD’s place at the Major now secure, the squad can focus upon further integrating Xm into its lineup in preparation for its next foray onto the international level. Considering how well Xm managed to play in this qualifier with limited time with the rest of the team, both his play and the play of PSG.LGD as a whole should only improve between now and the start of the Major in March.
Record: 6-2 (4-2 Group Stage, 2-0 Playoffs)
After its impressive runs at both The Bucharest Minor and The Chongqing Major, EHOME was looking like a rising start within the Chinese region and on the international level. There were some lingering doubts though that maybe the squad’s recent success was a fluke, an incredible and impressive string of results that EHOME would be unable to maintain moving forward. Those doubts don’t appear to have much merit anymore, as EHOME tore through its regional rivals and claimed its place in Stockholm with an impressive 6-2 run in this qualifier. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of EHOME’s run in this qualifier though was its combined 4-1 record against the duo of PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming, the 2 squads considered to be at the top of the Chinese hierarchy at this point in the season. Between the squad’s recent success on the international level and its victories here against the very best teams in its own home region, EHOME seems poised to continue its meteoric rise in the Dota 2 world as it prepares to return to the Pro Circuit stage in March for its second straight Major appearance.
Record: 9-5 (3-4 Group Stage, 6-1 Playoffs)
After fighting its way onto the Pro Circuit stage and claiming an impressive 3rd place finish at The Bucharest Minor, there was hope that Keen Gaming was ready to take the next step forward and become a leading squad within the Chinese region. While the team was not a favorite to claim 1 of the 3 Chinese slots in Stockholm, it was certainly looked at as a potential threat and a contender within the field for this Major qualifier. The team got off to a somewhat shaky start to begin its qualifier run though, losing 2 series against Vici Gaming and only salvaging a respectable 3-4 record due to a one sided 2-0 sweep over a struggling Newbee squad. Once the team reached the Playoffs of the qualifier though, we saw that same level of confidence and poise that we had witnessed during the team’s run at The Bucharest Minor. The squad rattled off series victories against Team Root, Team Aster, and Royal Never Give Up, posting a 6-2 record in the Playoffs to fight its way into the third and final Chinese slot at the Major. Considering the squad’s solid second half in this regional qualifier, and its recent success on the Pro Circuit stage against international opposition, Keen Gaming appears to be in a solid position as it now prepares for its first Major appearance of the 2018-2019 campaign.
Royal Never Give Up
Record: 7-7 (3-4 Group Stage, 4-3 Playoffs)
As 1 of the 6 teams in the field for this qualifier with experience on the Pro Circuit stage this season, Royal Never Give Up was considered to be a potential threat to earn a place at the Major, though it still appeared to be a level below the more formidable squads in the region. As it turned out, that estimation proved eerily accurate, as RNG managed to put together a solid run in this qualifier that left it just short of the mark to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major with a 4th place finish and a 7-7 overall record. While the team didn’t end up claiming a spot in Stockholm this time around, the team’s performance was fairly impressive considering the path that it took through this qualifier. Of the team’s 14 total matches, 8 of them came against PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming, the 2 squads that were considered to be at the top of the Chinese hierarchy coming into this event. To its credit, RNG stood its ground against those regional leaders, with a 3-5 record across those 8 matches. Against everyone else in the qualifier, the squad appeared much more confident, posting a combined 4-2 record against Team Root, Newbee, and Keen Gaming. The team got some fantastic performances from its Carry/Mid duo, as Monet and Setsu combined to average 13 kills and 18 assists with just over 5 deaths per game through the squad’s qualifier run. Combining those numbers with the average of over 38 assists per game from the trio of Flyby, ah fu, and Mad, RNG put together some solid and relatively consistent performances in this Major qualifier. Though the team did not earn itself a spot in Stockholm, its 4th place finish all but guarantees that Royal Never Give Up will be receiving a direct invite to the upcoming Minor qualifiers, were it will have a strong shot at making its return to the Pro Circuit stage at the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 6 Minor in March.
Record: 5-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
Heading into this regional qualifier, the expectations for Team Aster were set fairly low, and the biggest reason for that more meager projection stemmed from concerns over the team’s somewhat inconsistent level of play in recent times. As it turned out, this qualifier run epitomized just why those concerns existed in the first place, as Team Aster looked like 2 completely different teams across the first and second half of its performance against its regional rivals. The team began the qualifier looking like its old self, taking series victories against Newbee and Vici Gaming to secure the top spot in the Group A standings. However, the Playoffs of the qualifier showed us an entirely different side to the squad; one that struggled heavily against PSG.LGD and Keen Gaming to post a 1-4 record and finish in the 5th-6th place position overall. To be fair, the team’s decline in the second half of the qualifier is not nearly as bad as it first appears, considering 2 of the team’s 4 losses came against a PSG.LGD squad that still stands as the king of the Chinese region despite the hiatus from Maybe. However, the rather quick shift from the team’s confident play in the Group Stage to a remarkably weaker effort in the Playoffs won’t do a whole lot to mitigate the concerns around the team moving forward. The good news for Team Aster though is that its 5th-6th place finish in this event will make it one of the leading candidates for a direct invite to the upcoming Minor qualifiers, where it will have another chance at turning things around and getting itself back onto the Pro Circuit stage.
Record: 5-7 (4-3 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
Vici Gaming came into this Major qualifier as one of the leading teams in the Chinese region, but this time around the squad struggled a bit against its regional rivals. The team fell into the bottom half of the event standings, and posted a 5-7 overall record as it appeared to be lacking its usual consistency. The big question for Vici Gaming in the wake of this unsuccessful qualifier run is whether the team simply had a bad outing, or if this is the start of a decline for the squad as the rest of the region appears to be catching up. The easy answer to that question is that we can’t really be sure based on just a single event, but when we look at things closer, it appears that this showing may have just been an unfortunate fluke for the team. The team’s Carry/Mid duo of Paparazi and Ori still put together solid numbers even with its struggles as a whole, averaging 10.5 kills and 15 assists with just under 6 deaths per game. Meanwhile, the combination of the team’s Support duo and Offlaner managed to average over 32 assists with around 15 deaths per game. Those numbers don’t appear to indicate a significant decline in the team’s overall play, and it seems as though Vici Gaming just ended up falling victim to a series of stronger performances from its opponents. With its finish in the 5th-6th place position in this event, Vici Gaming will be one of the leading candidates for a direct invite to the upcoming Minor qualifiers, where it will hope to bounce back and secure itself a third Pro Circuit appearance this season.
Record: 1-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
The end of 2018 saw Team Root looking like a team on the rise within the Chinese region, as the team was enjoying its first bits of success following a rough start to its season. Unfortunately, 2019 has brought the squad back down to Earth a bit, as the team’s successes in the month of December have given way to more struggles with inconsistency in January and February. The squad’s run in this qualifier serves as a perfect example of the squad’s recent setbacks, with Team Root posting a 1-6 record against its regional rivals and finishing in the 7th-8th place position overall. It was feast or famine for Team Root across its matches in this qualifier, as all but 1 of the team’s 7 total games were complete blowouts one way or the other. Across those 6 blowout games, the latest lead change in terms of net worth occurred at around the 16 minute mark with an average game length of just over 29 minutes. There was little in the way of silver linings for Team Root in this abysmal performance, as the squad struggled to an alarming degree against its regional rivals. The team’s best bet now is to try and put this poor performance behind it, and regroup for another open qualifier run in the hopes of earning a place at the upcoming Minor qualifiers.
Record: 1-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
When Newbee announced its new lineup just over a week ago, there was hope that the squad was finally on its way to recovering from what has been a shockingly tough start to its 2018-2019 campaign. Unfortunately, that hope quickly died once the matches actually began, as Newbee continued to struggle to a significant degree against its regional rivals. The team won just a single match in its qualifier run, and just didn’t appear to have the strength and confidence that we had come to expect from it based upon its past success. The good news for the squad is that the Carry/Mid duo of Moogy and Sccc is back in action and looking solid despite the team’s struggles. The 2 players combined to average 9.85 kills and 12.57 assists with 6.15 deaths per game across the team’s 7 matches, serving as one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance. As for the squad’s newest addition and third core, JT-, things did not go nearly as well. Averaging 2.14 kills and 7.29 assists with 6 deaths per game, his contributions were inconsistent across Newbee’s qualifier run. Considering the fact that he only recently joined the team’s roster, these struggles aren’t particularly shocking, but it reveals an area in which Newbee will have to significant improve in a relatively short amount of time if it wants to turn things around. The Minor qualifiers are right around the corner, and Newbee’s new roster will have to put together a strong open qualifier run to even have a chance at earning a place in that event and having a shot at redemption after this disappointing showing.