Just 1 new face in Stockholm, as 14 of the 15 teams from the regional qualifiers will be making return trips to the Pro Circuit stage at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major
As we approach the midway point of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season, the hierarchy of teams within both the 6 respective Dota 2 regions and the international scene as a whole are beginning to take shape. However, nothing is ever quite set in stone, and this most recent round of Major qualifiers has resulted in some interesting developments in the Dota 2 world, as 15 of the 16 participants for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major have now officially been determined. Europe, North America, and China will be sending 3 teams each to Stockholm for the Major, while CIS, South America, and Southeast Asia will each have 2 representatives at the event. Of course, 1 of the regions will have an extra team playing under its banner on the Pro Circuit stage, but which region it will be and what squad will became that 16th participant at the Major will not be determined until the end of the upcoming StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor at the beginning of March. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the 15 squads that fought their way through the regional qualifiers and are locked in to spots at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Note that this will only be a brief bit of basic information about each squad, and a slightly more in-depth preview post will be forthcoming closer to the start of the Major.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Region: Europe (1st – Europe Qualifier)
Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
Adrian “Fata” Trinks
Neta “33” Shapira
Martin “Saksa” Sazdov
Peter “ppd” Dager
Aaron “Clairvoyance” Kim (Coach)
After missing out on its chance to attend the most recent Pro Circuit Major, Ninjas in Pyjamas has managed to bounce back and fight its way past its regional rivals to claim a place in Stockholm for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. After putting together an impressive 6-2 record in the regional qualifier, the team is ready to return to the Pro Circuit stage to prove to its rivals and its fans that it is capable of standing as one of the elite teams in the Dota 2 world. With the squad coming off of 4th place finishes at both The Kuala Lumpur Major and The Bucharest Minor, NiP is a formidable threat in the field for this Major. With the team’s considerable skill and experience and ppd still at the helm as captain, NiP will be a solid contender to lay claim to yet another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm.
Region: Europe (2nd – Europe Qualifier)
Michał “Nisha” Jankowski
Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg
Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov
Lee “SunBhie” Jeong-jae (Coach)
As the reigning Major Champion, it would have come as the biggest shock of the season so far if Team Secret had not been able to claim a place in Stockholm to defend its title. Given the team’s unbelievable success on the international level and its downright dominant showings at home in the European region, it should come as no surprise that Team Secret faced very few difficulties in fighting its way past its regional rivals in the Major qualifier. The squad put together a 7-2 record, with its only series loss coming against fellow Major attendee Ninjas in Pyjamas as the squad secured itself a third straight Major appearance. With one Major Championship title already under its belt coming into this event, Team Secret will easily be a favorite to claim another one, as the European juggernaut will look to become the fourth team to ever win back to back Major Championships.
Region: Europe (3rd – Europe Qualifier)
Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen
Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi
Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov
Maroun “GH” Merhej
Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi
Roman “rmN-” Paley (Coach)
After contending with a series of issues relating to player availability through the first few months of the season, Team Liquid finally appeared to have its full strength back heading into this Major qualifier. With the entirety of its roster available, the team was considered to be one of the more formidable squads in the field, and the TI7 Champion more than lived up to that estimation as it posted a 8-3 record to claim a place in Stockholm for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Given the team’s continued strength at home, and its extensive list of successes on the Pro Circuit stage last season, Team Liquid will enter this Major as one of the stronger teams in the field and a potential contender for the title of Major Champion, so long as the squad does not end up having to play with a stand-in again on the Pro Circuit stage.
Region: CIS (1st – CIS Qualifier)
Roman “RAMZES666“ Kushnarev
Vladimir “No[o]ne“ Minenko
Pavel “9pasha“ Khvastunov
Vladimir “RodjER“ Nikogosyan
Alexei “Solo“ Berezin
Arsenij “ArsZeeqq” Usov (Coach)
After winning The Kuala Lumpur Major in November and finishing in 2nd place at The Chongqing Major in January, there was little doubt that VP stood as one of the premier teams in the Dota 2 world. Considering the team’s record of dominance within the CIS region, it was all but certain that the squad would find its way to the Pro Circuit stage once again for its third straight Major appearance. At this stage in the season, the CIS juggernaut has already secured itself a direct invite to TI9, so long as it avoids losing any points through roster changes or penalties. However, VP appears unlikely to rest or sit back over the final half of the Pro Circuit schedule, and with the squad’s incredible record of success on the Pro Circuit over the past 2 season, it will make its way to Stockholm as a clear favorite to claim its 2nd Major Championship of the season, and the organization’s 6th Major title overall.
Region: CIS (2nd – CIS Qualifier)
Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek
Idan MagicaL Vardanyan
Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree
Evgeniy “Chuvash” Makarov
Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev
Andrey “Mag” Chipenko (Coach)
When Na’Vi earned its first Pro Circuit appearance of the season at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor back in November, we saw some of the first signs of just how strong the organization’s new lineup could be. Since that Minor appearance, the squad has been putting together some impressive results in both the CIS and European regions, and now it has taken the next step forward in its development on the international level with this spot at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. With a 24-16 record so far this season against teams outside of its home region, Na’Vi stands as an intriguing squad heading into its first Major of the 2018-2019 campaign. The team will not necessarily enter the event as a favorite in what is a fairly stacked field, but the mix of experienced veterans and younger talent has served the squad well so far this season, and Na’Vi will have to hope that said combination is enough for it to find success in Stockholm.
Region: China (1st – China Qualifier)
Wang “Ame“ Chunyu
Guo “Xm” Hongcheng (Loan)
Yang “Chalice” Shenyi
Xu “fy“ Linsen
Jian Wei “xNova” Yap
Yao “QQQ” Yi (Coach)
Maybe’s temporary departure from the roster didn’t end up slowing down PSG.LGD all that much, as the team once again put together a strong showing against its regional rivals and is heading back to the Pro Circuit stage for its third straight Major appearance. At this stage in the season, the team’s status as the top squad in the Chinese region has been essentially solidified, especially with squads like Team Aster and Vici Gaming appearing to drop off to a certain degree in this most recent qualifier. Perhaps even more important for the team now that it has secured another appearance on the Pro Circuit stage was the play of its newest member, as Xm impressed in a situation where he had some incredibly big shoes to fill. Of course, fully replacing a talent on the level of Maybe is no easy task for any player, but if Xm can continue to play as we saw in this regional qualifier, then PSG.LGD should come into the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as a formidable threat as the team looks to claim the organization’s third Major Championship title.
Region: China (2nd – China Qualifier)
Luo “eGo” Bin
Li “ASD” Zhiwen
Zhang “Faith_bian“ Ruida
Jiang “天命” An
Zhang “y`“ Yiping
Zhang “xiao8” Ning (Coach)
EHOME’s meteoric rise on both the regional and international levels continues this season, as the squad has earned itself a place in its second straight Pro Circuit Major. With an impressive 6-2 overall record in this qualifier that included series victories over both PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming, EHOME has laid to rest any and all doubts of its previous success being a fluke or a lucky run. This team appears to be a legitimate contender on the international level, and it certainly has emerged as a leader within the Chinese region. With squads like Team Aster proving to be alarmingly inconsistent this season and Vici Gaming suffering a slight setback in this Major qualifier, the way seems clear for EHOME to ascend to a place near the top of the regional hierarchy. If the team can replicate the run we saw at The Chongqing Major and turn in another strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage, then there wil eb no denying the team’s status as one of the elite squads of the Chinese region and one of the leading teams in the Dota 2 world.
Region: China (3rd – China Qualifier)
Wang “old chicken“ Zhiyong
Zhai “一” Jingkai
Ren “eLeVeN“ Yangwei
Hu “Kaka“ Liangzhi
Song “dark”‘ Runxi
Wu “Fyms” Junying (Coach)
After an impressive showing at The Bucharet Minor, Keen Gaming felt that it was ready to take the next step forward and upgrade itself from Minor attendees to Major participants. With the team’s successful run in this most recent qualifier, it has done just that, with the squad punching its ticket to Stockholm to take on the very best teams in the Dota 2 world on the Pro Circuit stage. To be honest, it wasn’t clear if the team was even going to be in a position to threaten for this position, as Keen Gaming’s qualifier run began with something of a struggle in the Group Stage. However, the team displayed its focus and its ability to bounce back from adversity, putting together a 6-2 record in the Playoffs and winning 3 straight series to claim its place at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. With the team’s place at the Major now secured, the real test will be coming for this Keen Gaming roster. The squad performed well on the international level in its Minor appearance, but the Major will feature a field of teams that consistently play at the highest possible level , and it will be interesting to see how this Keen Gaming roster stacks up against the titans of the Dota 2 world.
Region: Southeast Asia (1st – Southeast Asia Qualifier)
Pyo “MP“ No-a
Abed “Abed” Azel L. Yusop
Daryl Koh “iceiceice“ Pei Xiang
Djardel Jicko B. “DJ“ Mampusti
Anucha “Jabz“ Jirawong
Kim “DuBu” Doo-young (Coach)
To the surprise of very few people in the Dota 2 world, Fnatic has once again earned itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage, with the team locking down its third straight Major appearance after a dominant showing against its regional rivals. Coming into the season, it was expected that the team’s new lineup would continue to be one of the leading forces within the Southeast Asian region, and the team has more than lived up to those expectations. With regional rivals like Mineski and BOOM ID only just beginning to get their feet under them, and teams like TNC Predator and Tigers seeming to drop off a bit in recent times, there appears to be very little to threaten Fnatic at the pinnacle of the region’s hierarchy of teams. The focus for Fnatic now will be continuing to put together solid performances on the Pro Circuit stage, as the team’s play on the international level has improved as the season has gone on. If the squad can put together a strong run in Stockholm, then it will potentially solidify a position among the leading teams on the Pro Circuit, and can push itself ever closer towards its goal of becoming the first Southeast Asian squad to earn a spot at TI9.
Region: Southeast Asia (2nd – Southeast Asia Qualifier)
Lai “Ahjit” Jay Son
Kam “Moon” Boon Seng
Damien “kpii” Chok
Kim “Febby” Yong-min
Johan “pieliedie” Åström
It certainly hasn’t been a smooth ride so far for the team, but Mineski has finally made its way to the Pro Circuit stage for the first time in this 2018-2019 season after struggling significantly through the first half of the campaign. After bringing pieliedie on board in November and adding Ahjit to the lineup at the end of January, it appears that Mineski has finally put together a combination that works for the team with its succcessful qualifier run to earn a place in Stockholm for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Given its struggles on the home front and somewhat limited experience on the international level this season, Mineski is not likely to enter this Major as one of the favorites among the field of participants. However, the extensive experience of the team’s players as a whole has hopes high that Mineski will be able to return to its position as both a regional leader and a contender on the international level with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm.
Region: North America (1st – North America Qualifier)
Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan
Gustav “s4” Magnusson
Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen
Tal “Fly” Aizik
Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale (Coach)
As pretty much the only team from the North American region that does not appear to be slumping on the international level, Evil Geniuses was a clear favorite to claim 1 of the 3 North American slots in Stockholm, and the squad did not disappoint in that regard. With a 7-3 overall record, the team was able to push its way past its regional rivals to secure its third straight Major appearance of the season. Considering the fact that the team’s previous 2 appearances in this 2018-2019 campaign resulted in a pair of 3rd place finishes for the team, Evil Geniuses will come into the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as one of the Pro Circuit’s leading squads and a formidable threat to claim yet another Top 4 finish in Stockholm.
Region: North America (2nd – North America Qualifier)
David “Moo” Hull
Jonathan “Bryle” De Guia
Lee “Forev” Sang-don
Clinton “Fear” Loomis
Park “March” Tae-won
Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho (Coach)
The addition of Fear to the team’s lineup was not quite as big a splash as many had been initially anticipating, but J.Storm has been able to maintain a stable and consistent presence within the North American region with the veteran player on the roster. That strong presence at home has led to another Major appearance for the squad, as J.Storm will be returning to the Pro Circuit stage for the third time this season in Stockholm. However, J.Storm’s primary concern at this stage will not be its play at home, but its record on the international level, as the team has struggled to a significant degree outside of its home region. With its last 2 Pro Circuit appearances resulting in a pair of 9th-12th place finishes, a narrative is beginning to develop for J.Storm that it only has so many opportunities to reverse as we stand near the half-way mark of the season. A strong showing in Stockholm would go a long way towards alleviating the concerns regarding the team’s play on the international level, but J.Storm will need to put together quite a performance to turn around its recent woes on the Pro Circuit stage.
Region: North America (3rd – North America Qualifier)
Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
Arif “MSS” Anwar
Avery “SVG” Silverman
Forward Gaming has not had the greatest of times on the international level so far this season, as the team has finished in the bottom half of the event standings across 5 of its 6 total appearances outside of the North American region. Within its home region though, the squad has been a dominant force, and we got the chance to see just how impressive the team can be against its regional rivals as Forward Gaming put together a 9-2 overall record to claim its place in Stockholm for its third straight Major appearance of the season. Of course, the team’s strong results at home still don’t guarantee that Forward Gaming will be able to find success on the Pro Circuit stage, and its previous Major appearances did not end particularly well for the squad with a 9th-12th place finish in Kuala Lumpur and a 13th-16th place position in Chongqing. However, the team and its fans will be hoping that this most recent success within the North American region will finally serve as that catalyst that the squad needs to break through and put together a strong showing on the international level.
Chaos Esports Club
Region: South America (1st – South America Qualifier)
Aliwi “w33” Omar
Otávio “Tavo” Gabriel
Danylo “Kingrd” Nascimento
Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen
Robson “TeaGuvnor” Merritt (Coach)
If there has been one constant within the South American region so far this season, it has to be the roster that now plays as Chaos Esports Club. Under the banner of both its current organization and its former one in paiN Gaming, this squad has dominated its regional rivals and was all but guaranteed to claim a spot in Stockholm for this upcoming Major. The team certainly didn’t disappoint this time around, putting together a perfect 8-0 record in the qualifier and simply out playing every squad that it came up against. Unfortunately, success on the international level has not been nearly as easy for the team to come by as success on the home front, with the team finishing in the lower half of the event standings in each of the previous 2 Majors this season. However, the team’s continued dominance at home has afforded it another chance to turn around those struggles on the international level with a strong performance in Stockholm.
Region: South America (2nd – South America Qualifier)
Enzo “Timado“ Gianoli
Sebastian Cerralta “Robo-Z” Velarde
Mariano “Papita” Caneda
Romel “Wu” Quinteros
Joel Mori “MoOz” Ozambela
The 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season has been one of near constant changes for Infamous, as the organization has gone through a number of different iterations of its roster just half way through its campaign. Between the start of the season and now, the team has had 5 different players depart its roster, with only Timado and Papita remaining from the original Infamous lineup that was announced back in September. Throughout the upheaval of those changes, Infamous has still managed to put together a string of impressive performances within its home region, and it now adds to those strong results after successfully earning itself a place at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major in Stockholm. The Major won’t be the team’s first experience on the international level this season, as Infamous previously attended the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor back at the end of October. However, with a somewhat altered lineup compared to the one that took the stage at that event, it will be interesting to see just how well the new version of Infamous stacks up as it takes on the Dota 2 world’s strongest teams at the Major.
TBD (Winner of The StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 6 Minor)
The final position in the field of 16 teams for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major will be going to a team that we currently don’t know the identity of. Said team will be whichever squad manages to emerge victorious from the upcoming StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 6 Minor. Set to being on March 7 and run through the 10th, the event will feature a field of 8 teams, with China and CIS sending 2 teams each while each of the other 4 reagions (Europe, North American, South America, and Southeast Asia) will each be sending 1. As a reminder, the team that advances from the Minor to the Major will receive the higher Pro Circuit Point total between the 2 events. That means that this final squad will need to finish at least 12th in order to earn more points from its participation at the Major than it will for winning the Minor.