Familiar faces will take the stage in Stockholm as NiP, Team Secret, Team Liquid secure Europe’s 3 slots at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major
The regional qualifiers for The DreamLeague Season 11 Major are beginning to wind down now, as the field of teams for the season’s third Major Championship is nearly complete. The European region is the penultimate qualifier to finish its run now, with the region’s 3 representatives to Stockholm officially decided. The regional qualifier began with a field of 8 teams, with 6 of those teams having made previous Major or Minor appearances this season and looking to make their return to the Pro Circuit stage. In the end though, just 3 of the 8 teams were able to secure themselves places in the field for the Major, with Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Secret, and Team Liquid all punching their tickets to Stockholm. 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)
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Record: 6-2 (4-2 Group Stage, 2-0 Playoffs)
It’s been a rather interesting season so far for Ninjas in Pyjamas, as the squad has faced its ups and downs both within the European region and on the international level in its 2018-2019 campaign. After beginning the season with a string of solid showings in its home region and a 4th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major, the team suffered a bit of a setback with an underwhelming showing in The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier. However, a respectable finish at The Bucharest Minor just 1 month ago helped instill hope that NiP had recovered from that earlier setback and was ready to return a place near the top of the regional hierarchy. With its 6-2 record in this Major qualifier, the squad has shown us that it is still more than capable of finding success against its regional rivals. The focus now for NiP will be showing that it can carry over that regional success into results on the international level once again, as the team will look to keep its streak of Top 4 finishes in Pro Circuit events alive at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major in March.
Record: 7-2 (5-2 Group Stage, 2-0 Playoffs)
As the defending Major Champion and one of the premier teams in the Dota 2 world, Team Secret entered this qualifier as a clear favorite to claim a place in Stockholm for its third consecutive Major appearance. The team did not disappoint, putting together an impressive 7-2 record en route to securing 1 of the 3 European slots in Stockholm. Of course, the fact that 4 of the team’s 7 total wins came against a recently formed Kaban squad meant that Team Secret didn’t exactly have the most difficult path to success in this qualifier. Given the squad’s incredible performances both at home and on the international level so far this season though, it’s pretty easy to give this team the benefit of the doubt as the squad heads to Stockholm to defend its title as Major Champion.
Record: 8-3 (4-1 Group Stage, 4-2 Playoffs)
Though the team ended up playing without Miracle- at the event, Team Liquid’s 7th-8th place performance at the recent Chongqing Major served as a massively encouraging sign that the TI7 Champion was finally beginning to hit its stride again. With a 8-3 overall record in this Major qualifier, the team also showed off a level of strength within its home region that we’ve come to expect from the team over the past few years. The team’s 3rd place performance in this qualifier marks its third straight Top 4 finish within the European region, and its second straight Major appearance. The fact of the matter is that issues with player availability have been the main issue for Team Liquid so far this season, and not any sort of drop off in the team’s overall strength or level of play. With the team hopefully coming into the DreamLeague Season 11 Major at full strength and with its entire lineup intact, Team Liquid will be one of the stronger teams in the field in Stockholm.
Record: 6-7 (2-4 Group Stage, 4-3 Playoffs)
Vega Squadron made some headlines in the lead up to this Major qualifier, as the squad parted ways with MagE- in order to bring in a somewhat lesser known player in DM. In his first bit of action with the squad though, DM managed to put together a solid showing with averages of 5.62 kills and 9.31 assists on 3.54 deaths per game. Those numbers aren’t exactly mind blowing, but they were enough to help Vega Squadron put together a 6-7 overall record and a 4th place finish against its regional rivals. Given more time and experience with DM in the roster, Vega Squadron should be more than capable of improving upon what was already a fairly impressive performance in this Major qualifier. The next opportunity for the squad is only a few days away, as the team’s 4th place finish in this event earned it a direct invite to the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Europe Qualifier. If the squad can play at or around the level that we saw in this qualifier, then it will enter that event as a formidable squad in the field as it will look to earn its second Minor appearance of the 2018-2019 season.
Record: 4-6 (4-2 Group Stage, 0-4 Playoffs)
OG may not have officially found its final roster member yet, but that didn’t stop the squad from continuing its search for its first Major appearance of the 2018-2019 season. With iLTW once again serving as a stand-in for the squad, OG entered this event as a potential contender to claim 1 of the 3 European slots at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. The team’s qualifier run got off to a solid start, with OG claiming series wins over Alliance and The ReaL DeaL while losing to Team Liquid to post a 4-2 Group Stage record that advanced the squad to the Upper Bracker of the Playoffs. Unfortunately, that was where the team’s momentum ran dry, as OG lost back to back 0-2 series against Ninjas in Pyjamas and Vega Squadron to bring its run to an end with a 4-6 overall record and a 5th-6th place finish. The fact that OG’s only wins in this qualifier came against 2 teams that finished below it in the standings is somewhat concerning for it, but the squad will have an opportunity to bounce back in the near future. With its 5th-6th place finish in this qualifier, OG has secured itself a direct invite to the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Europe Qualifier beginning on the 11th.
Record: 4-7 (2-5 Group Stage, 2-2 Playoffs)
As a recently formed squad, Kaban entered this Major qualifier with relatively low expectations, especially going up against one of the more formidable field across the entirety of these DreamLeague Season 11 Major qualifiers. While the squad was unable to fight its way to a place in Stockholm, Kaban was still able to put together a respectable 4-7 record to finish in the 5th-6th place position overall. Considering the path that Kaban ended up having to take in this qualifier though, its 4-7 record is a bit more impressive than one would think it would be at first glance. Of the team’s 7 total losses, 4 of them came in 2 Group Stage series against Team Secret. The number of teams that can be reasonably expected to contend with, let alone defeat, Team Secret can be counted on one hand, and Kaban is certainly not one of those squads. Putting those 2 series against Team Secret aside, Kaban put together a 4-3 record against its other opponents in this qualifier, taking series victories against Vega Squadron and Alliance while losing its final series against Team Liquid. Despite the team’s finish in the bottom half of the event standings, Kaban managed to get an impressive performance from oliver, as the team’s Carry averaged 7.09 kills and 9.73 assists with just 2.64 deaths per game for a team-leading 6.80 KDA. The question for Kaban now is whether or not it can improve upon this showing moving forward, as the team’s 5th-6th place finish has earned it a place in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Europe Qualifier, which is set to begin February 11.
Record: 0-6 (0-4 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
Alliance came into this Major qualifier as a team that had been rising rapidly through the ranks in the European hierarchy, as the squad had already made appearances at the previous 2 Majors this season. Though the squad had not quite been able to break through on the international level, its fairly consistent success at home had it standing as one of the more formidable threats in the field for this qualifier. Unfortunately, the team finally appeared to come back down to earth against its regional rivals, as the team put together what has to be its worst performance in the European region so far in this 2018-2019 campaign. The team struggled to an alarming degree in its qualifier run, and failed to win a single match with a dismal 0-6 record. Perhaps the most concerning part of the team’s poor performance in this qualifier was that it did not face off against many of the teams that were considered to be its biggest obstacles to reaching a third straight Major. The team did not face Team Secret, Team Liquid, or Ninjas in Pyjamas in this qualifier, losing its 3 series against OG, The ReaL DeaL, and Kaban. The good news for Alliance is that it will more than likely have a second chance at reaching the Pro Circuit stage again in the upcoming Minor qualifiers. However, the team may end up needing to go through the open qualifiers to even reach that stage after this disappointing and somewhat shocking performance.
The ReaL DeaL
Record: 4-6 (3-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)
As a squad that had only been recently formed and going up against one of the more formidable fields of opponents in these Major qualifiers, the expectations were not set particularly high for The ReaL DeaL. With its finish in 7th-8th place position, it would appear at first glance that those low expectations were warranted, but the squad managed to put together a somewhat stronger performance than its final position would imply. While the team ended up in the bottom half of the Group B standings, it managed to win a series against Alliance and also take a match off of Team Liquid in a 1-2 series loss. Even its final series against Vega Squadron saw the squad put up a respectable fight, as the team fell 1-2 in a series that saw its final 2 matches each eclipse the 50 minute mark. One of the big reasons for the bits of success that The ReaL DeaL was able to find in this qualifier was the play of Xcalubur, as the team’s Carry averaged 8.7 kills and 9.9 assists with just 2.6 deaths per game to lead the team with a 7.43 KDA. The question for this team now is what its plans are moving forward. With 3 of its players still appearing to be signed under Buraspor Esports, it is unclear whether The ReaL DeaL will continue on with its current roster, or if it will continue to exist at all.