2 legendary organizations will represent the CIS region in Stockholm as Virtus.pro, Na’Vi earn places at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major
The initial group of regional qualifiers for The DreamLeague Season 11 Major are coming to a close, and the field of teams that will be fighting for the title of Major Champion in Stockholm is beginning to take shape. The CIS region is now the third of this initial group of 4 to close out its qualifier run, and we now know which 2 teams will be representing the region at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major in March. The regional 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, just 2 of those teams were able to make their way to the top in this regional qualifiers, as Virtus.pro earned its third straight Major appearance of the season and Na’Vi claimed its first. For those teams that didn’t make the cut this time around, a potential spot in the Minor qualifiers awaits, as the 6 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 2 (Qualified for DreamLeague Season 11 Major)
Record: 8-0 (4-0 Group Stage, 4-0 Playoffs)
In a bit of news that should surprise absolutely no one, Virtus.pro has once again secured itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage, as the squad finished 1st in this regional qualifier and will attend its third straight Major of the 2018-2019 season. At this point, we’ve come to expect nothing but excellence from VP, and that is exactly what the team delivered in this CIS qualifier, putting together a perfect 8-0 record as it cruised its way to a spot in Stockholm. At a certain stage, it seems like we’re running out of superlatives to throw at VP, as the squad simply continues to out play all of its regional rivals and stands multiple levels above every other CIS teams. With yet another successful qualifier run in the books, VP will take to the Pro Circuit stage once again in Stockholm as the team looks to claim its 6th Major Championship title.
Record: 11-6 (3-5 Group Stage, 8-1 Playoffs)
It’s been a fairly strong season so far for Na’Vi and its rebuilt roster, as the squad has begun establishing a solid reputation within its home region and has even put together some impressive showings on the international level as well. Coming into this qualifier, there was hope that the team would be able to take the next step forward in terms of its growth and earn its first Major appearance with this iterations of the roster. The team wasn’t necessarily considered a favorite to claim 1 of the region’s 2 slots in Stockholm, but Na’Vi managed to put together an incredible run to stake its claim to a place at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. The first half of the qualifier was not particularly impressive for the team, as it posted a 3-5 record to finish in the bottom half of the Group A standings. However, the Playoffs saw the squad come alive, with Na’Vi rattling off series victories against Winstrike Team, The Pango, Old But Gold, and Gambit Esports in an impressive 8-1 run that put it into the Top 2 and into the field for the Major. Leading the charge for Na’Vi in this qualifier was Crystallize, as the team’s Carry put together some incredible numbers across the team’s run. He averaged 9.24 kills and 7.82 assists with just 2.41 deaths per game for a KDA of 8.6 that stands as the third highest from any player across the Major qualifiers as of the conclusion of this CIS qualifier. With the team’s first Major appearance of the 2018-2019 season now on the horizon, Na’Vi has to hope that it can get that kind of performance from its Carry on the international level as well as it prepares to take the stage in Stockholm.
Record: 6-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 2-4 Playoffs)
Though the team missed out on participating in the most recent Pro Circuit Major, the rise of Gambit Esports within the CIS region this season has been incredibly impressive. In a region that has almost exclusively been the realm of top squad Virtus.pro for much of the past 2 years, the relative success of Gambit Esports had it looking like a solid contender for 1 of the region’s 2 slots in Stockholm coming into this qualifier. Unfortunately, the team ended up falling just short of that mark with a 3rd place finish and a 6-5 overall record against its regional rivals. Despite not qualifying for the Major, the team still put together a strong showing in this event, taking series victories over Na’Vi, The Pango, and Old But Gold before losing its final 4 matches against VP and Na’Vi. With the team’s 3rd place finish though, it is a clear choice for a direct invite to the upcoming Minor qualifier, where it will look to put together another solid performance against its regional rivals in the hopes of locking down a second straight Minor appearance.
Old But Gold
Record: 7-8 (5-3 Group Stage, 2-5 Playoffs)
With a lineup of regional veterans and experienced talent, Old But Gold entered this Major qualifier as a potential contender for a spot in Stockholm, although the squad’s recent formation somewhat dampened those expectations. While the squad didn’t end up claiming 1 of the region’s 2 spots at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major, it certainly managed to impress with a 7-8 overall record and a 4th place finish in the event. There is a small caveat to the team’s performance in this qualifier though, as a significant portion of its matches came against a single opponent. Of Old But Gold’s 15 qualifier matches, 8 of them came against Pavaga Gaming, accounting for 5 of the team’s 7 total victories. Against all other opponents, Old But Gold’s record in this qualifier stands at a somewhat less impressive 2-5. As it stands, the team’s overall performance and its 4th place finish in this event makes it a solid candidate to receive a direct invite to the upcoming Minor qualifiers, provided the team stays together moving forward. Many teams that pop up for open qualifier runs often end up disbanding soon after, but we will have to wait and see if Old But Gold can postpone this fate or even avoid it altogether.
Record: 6-7 (5-3 Group Stage, 1-4 Playoffs)
After exploding onto the CIS scene and earning its Pro Curcuit debut at The Chongqing Major, it was believed by many that the team was poised to potentially establish itself as a leader with it’s home region. Unfortunately, the squad ended up falling a bit short of the mark to earn a second straight Major appearance, finishing in the 5th-6th place position with a 6-7 overall record against its regional rivals. While the team didn’t earn itself a place in Stockholm in this qualifier, The Pango’s play was still solid as it held its own against some of the stronger teams from the CIS region. Of particular note for The Pango in this qualifier run was the play of Naive-, as the team’s Carry averaged 6.77 kills and 7.54 assists with just 2.23 deaths per game across the squad’s 13 total matches. If the squad can continue to get those kinds of numbers out of one of its core players, then The Pango will be in a strong position to consistently compete against the top squads in its region. The next step for The Pango will be the upcoming Minor qualifiers, though after finishing in the bottom half of the standings in this event, the team may wind up having to play through the open qualifiers in order to earn a second chance at making its return to the Pro Circuit stage.
Record: 5-8 (2-5 Group Stage, 3-3 Playoffs)
As a relatively recent addition to the CIS regional scene, the expectations for Pavaga Gaming were somewhat mixed heading into this qualifier. The team’s lineup held a fair bit of experience in the region, but didn’t quite have the same track record as some of the other teams in the field for this event. When all was said in done in this qualifier, Pavaga Gaming came out with a 5-8 overall record and a 5th-6th place position, both of which represented solid, though not massively impressive, performances from the squad. The team essentially did exactly as well as many had been expecting, holding its own against smaller or more recently formed squads like Old But Gold and Pavaga Junior, while struggling against the more established powers like VP. While the team ended up with a negative overall record in this qualifier, its play as a whole appeared to be solid, if a little inconsistent. What wasn’t inconsistent though was the play of the team’s Carry/Mid duo, as Palantimos and Pikachu combined to average 13.46 kills and 17.46 assists with just 7.92 deaths per game across the team’s 13 matches. Those numbers alone weren’t enough to propel Pavaga Gaming to success this time around, but if it can continue to get those kinds of contributions from 2 of its core players, then the squad will have a solid foundation to build upon moving forward. The question for this squad now will be just when its next opportunity will arrive. The team will almost certainly be looking to find a spot in the upcoming Minor qualifiers, but its finish in the bottom half of the event standings means that Pavaga Gaming will more than likely have to put together a successful run in the open qualifiers in order to have a second chance at taking on its regional rivals for a place on the Pro Circuit stage.
Record: 1-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
Winstrike Team’s season so far has been a rather disappointing venture, as the squad has nearly fallen off of the map within the CIS region amid poor performances and roster issues. However, the squad’s most recent roster changes and a successful open qualifier run had hope slowly building that the team was ready for a return to prominence within its home region. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way for the squad, as Winstrike Team finished at the bottom of the event standings with a disappointing 1-6 overall record against its regional rivals. One of the most disappointing aspects of the team’s play in this qualifier was just how one sided most of its matches ended up being. Across 6 of the team’s 7 total matches, the latest lead change in terms of net worth occurred at the 9 minute mark as the squad lost all 6 of those matches. There was little worth noting for Winstrike Team in this qualifier in terms of positives or silver linings, and the squad continues to struggle within its home region as a season of frustration and disappointment carries on. Up next for the squad will almost certainly be another open qualifier run, as the squad will once again look to turn its season around by earning a place in the upcoming Minor qualifiers.
Record: 2-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
Pavaga Junior was not expected to be much of a significant player in this Major qualifier, and that prediction proved correct as the squad ended up finishing in the 7th-8th place position with a 2-6 overall record. Very rarely does a youth or junior squad rise up to the same level as its sister team, mostly because the point of those teams is to foster and develop players that were selected for the roster precisely because they have less experience than the main lineup. Within that context, Pavaga Junior’s overall performance in this qualifier was not necessarily disappointing. The team claimed match victories against Na’Vi and the main Pavaga Gaming squad, though its 6 losses all ended up being relatively one sided blowouts for the squad. That kind of “all or nothing” style lends itself towards inconsistent play more often than not, but its hardly surprising for a younger and less experienced team like Pavaga Junrior to rely upon that style at this stage in its development. Don’t expect to see this squad breaking through and becoming a contender in the CIS region anytime soon, but with this first experience playing in a Pro Circuit qualifier, Pavaga Junior certainly appears to be on the right track as it looks to continue its growth and slowly work its way up the regional hierarchy.