A quartet of returning squads from the Major qualifier look to hold off a pair of new challengers as 2 slots in Kiev are up for grabs in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor CIS Qualifier
With the regional qualifiers now officially closed for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major, the time has now come to turn our eyes to the event’s accompanying Minor. The qualifiers for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor are set to begin shortly, with squads from the 6 regions of the Dota 2 world hoping to earn an opportunity to lay claim to valuable Pro Circuit Points and take their shot at winning the 16th and final spot in the field for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Before we get into talking about which team will claim that final slot and the title of Minor Champion, we need to get through the regional qualifiers first. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor CIS Qualifier, which will feature an altered format compared to the rest of the regions. Whereas the China, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America qualifiers will each have 4 participating teams, the CIS qualifier will include 6 total squads. The qualifier itself will be split into 2 phases, with the First Phase featuring 4 of the 6 teams playing for 2 spots in the Second Phase. The 2 teams to advance out of the First Phase will join the 2 squads that were directly invited to the Second Phase to play for the region’s 2 slots at the Minor itself. Even with the extra teams in the field, the Minor qualifier will still involve fewer squads than its Major counterpart, and as such we will be dividing the team’s into the 2 sections that have been used for the previous 2 Minor qualifiers: Favored and Unfavored Teams.
The team(s) in this section represent the more formidable or accomplished teams in the field for the qualifier that appear to have the best chance at claiming a spot at the Minor. Given how small the field is for these qualifiers (Usually 4 teams per region, 6 for CIS for this event), the margin between the squads in this section compared to the other may not be particularly high, but these teams have at least some small advantage based upon their roster or results in the previous Pro Circuit qualifiers.
Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin
Andrey “Afoninje” Afonin
Vasily “AfterLife” Shishkin
Alexander “Immersion” Hmelevskoy
Artsiom “fng” Barshack
Gambit Esports comes into this Minor qualifier having fallen just short of the mark to claim a place in Stockholm, with the team earning a 3rd place finish at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major CIS Qualifier. However, that performance did at least earn the team a small advantage in this time around, as Gambit Esports is set to advance directly to the Second Phase of the qualifier, and will only have to contend with 3 of the squads in this expanded 6 team field. The extra help will almost certainly be appreciated by Gambit Esports, as the squad holds a solid, though not overly impressive, 8-8 record within the CIS region since the start of 2019. The team has not been dominant against its regional rivals of late, but since the addition of Immersion and fng to the lineup, Gambit Esports has looked like a far more confident squad, and the hope for the team is that said confidence will help propel the team to its second straight Minor appearance in Kiev.
Old But Gold
Ilya “Illidan” Pivcaev
Sergey Alexandrovich “G” Bragin
Stanislav “633” Glushan
Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod
Fedor “velheor“ Rusikhin
The group of veterans on the Old But Gold roster proved that they still had more than enough gas in the tank to put on a solid showing within the CIS region, as the squad managed to earn a 4th place finish in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major CIS Qualifier. While that performance was not enough for the squad to earn itself a place in Stockholm, the team still has a chance to find its way to the Pro Circuit stage with this appearance in the Minor qualifier. Adding to the squad’s chances of qualifying for the Minor is the fact that Old But Gold will be advancing directly to the Second Phase of the qualifier, which means that the field of 6 teams will already be reduced to just 4 before the squad has to play a single match against its regional rivals. With the team’s only experience as a roster coming in its runs in the Major qualifier and its preceding open qualifier, there is not guarantee that the squad will be able to put together another strong showing against its regional rivals. With that being said, the extensive experience of the team’s players will hopefully help keep Old But Gold consistent as the team looks to earn its debut on the Pro Circuit stage as the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor.
Aybek “Naive-” Tokaev
Aleksandr “Ceyler” Popov
Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk
Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov
Semion “CemaTheSlayer” Krivulya
The Pango absolutely burst onto the scene in the closing months of 2018, quickly working to establish itself as a potential contender within a CIS region where no clear second fiddle to Virtus.pro has emerged as of yet. Unfortunately, the team’s debut performance on the Pro Circuit stage at The Chongqing Major proved to be a somewhat disappointing affair, as the squad ended up at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position overall. With its failure to earn a place in Stockholm for this upcoming Major, there may be some small concerns creeping in that The Pango is starting to come back down to earth after its meteoric rise over the last few months. The squad will be presented with the perfect opportunity to quash those concerns though, as the team will take on its regional rivals once again with a spot at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor on the line. With the team holding on to a 9-8 record in the CIS region since the start of 2019, The Pango is going to need a stronger showing in this Minor qualifier if it wants to make a return to the Pro Circuit stage. However, we’ve seen what this seam is capable of when playing at its highest level, and that potential keeps The Pango in a position as one of the leading teams heading into this latest Pro Circuit qualifier.
I know that “favored” and “unfavored” may not be the most dramatic of terms to divide the field for these qualifiers, but with just 4 teams per regional qualifier (6 in this particular instance), it seems the most appropriate. The teams in this section aren’t necessarily underdogs or long shots, they’re just the teams that come in a little bit below the other squads in the field. Whether its a roster change or a poor performance in the previous Pro Circuit qualifier, the teams in this section don’t appear to be quite as strong as the others, though there is still a solid chance that one of them manages to make their way to the Minor.
Nikita “Palantimos“ Grinkevich
Yevgeny “chshrct“ Kostroma
Alexei “j4“ Lipai
For a team that has only existed in its current form for a couple of months now, Pavaga Gaming has made an admirable push up the ranks within the CIS regional scene. The team’s efforts within its home region led to its first Pro Circuit qualifier appearance recently, with the team putting together a 5-8 overall record against its regional rivals in that event. Considering the fact that the team’s up and down results within the region prior to that qualifier, Pavaga Gaming’s performance was actually a fairly impressive one, and it was one that has earned the squad a second chance to earn its debut on the Pro Circuit stage. With the expanded field of 6 teams for this Minor qualifier though, Pavaga Gaming is going to have to put in a bit of extra work in order to make its Pro Circuit ambitions a reality. The team will have to fight through the First Phase of the qualifier and finish ahead of at least 2 of its regional rivals in order to advance to the Second Phase, where it would be required to replicate that feat to claim 1 of the 2 slots at the Minor. Such a run is a possibility for Pavaga Gaming, considering the skill and experience that it has on its roster. However, given the team’s rather modest results in the Major qualifier, it appears that it would take a dramatic and rather abrupt increase in the team’s level of play for it to have a real shot at claiming a place at the Minor.
Kiyalbek “dream`” Tayirov
Konstantin “Kodos” Kogai
Igor Andreevich “Maden” Modenov
Oleg “sayuw” Kalenbet
Vladislav “BLACKARXANGEL” Ivaschenko
Less than one month removed from the dissolution of its secondary squad and the consolidation of its 2 rosters, the Team Empire organization is back to a single lineup as it makes its second appearance of the season in a Pro Circuit closed qualifier. With this current iteration of the team’s roster ostensibly being a combination of the best players from the former Team Empire Faith and Team Empire Hope lineups, one would think that the squad would be in a relatively strong position heading into this regional qualifier. However, the team’s roster reconstruction does not come without some concerns, as this open qualifier served as the first official matches for the new Team Empire. While the squad was able to fight its way to a place in this closed qualifier, we have yet to see it in action against the top squads in its region, at least not with its current roster. It could be that the new-look Team Empire lineup has put together the right combination of players to find success against its regional rivals, but without more experience together as a roster, the expectations for the team will be set on the lower side as it looks to claim 1 of the 2 CIS spots in Kiev.
Aachen City Esports
Alik “V-Tune” Vorobey
Sergej “Shisui” Koren
Jonas “jonassomfan” Lindholm
Jan “Qupe” Tinnemeier
Khaled “sQreen” El-Khabbash
Don’t worry if Aachen City Esports is not a name that you’re familiar with, as the squad has only recently come together in its current form within the CIS region. Prior to the formation of this squad, the team made appearances in the Top 8 of both DreamLeague Season 11 Major Europe Open Qualifiers, though only 2 members of that squad have been carried over into this iteration of the lineup. The change to the team’s roster precipitated a change in region as well, though Aachen City Esports will likely find its path to success difficult even with the field for this Minor qualifier expanded to include 6 teams. While the team’s run through the open qualifier showed us a bit of its potential strength, the fact of the matter is that said qualifier performance is the only experience that this roster has together. At this stage, it is nearly impossible to know just how well the team will stack up against a field of CIS opponents that it has never faced before, and that uncertainty makes it hard to much confidence in this team prior to the start of play in this qualifier. Adding on to those concerns is the fact that the team will have to advance through the First Phase of this qualifier to even have a chance at claiming a spot at the Minor. Success is certainly a possibility for Aachen City Esports, but until we get to see more of this squad in action, it is best to keep hopes high and expectations low as the team enters its first Pro Circuit closed qualifier.