Room for 1 more? Room310 looks to shake up the Chinese hierarchy as it joins the returning trio of Vici Gaming, Team Aster, and Royal Never Give Up in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor China Qualifier
The regional qualifiers for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major may officially have come to an end, but the path to the Pro Circuit stage is still open for those squads that proved unable to earn themselves a place in Stockholm. The qualifiers for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor have already begun, with the first group of regional qualifiers winding down and the second group set to get started soon. China finds itself included within the second group of qualifiers, with 4 of the region’s teams looking to lay claim to 2 slots in Kiev and an opportunity to earn both the title of Minor Champion and a place at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Before any of the squads in this field can begin entertaining thoughts of Minor Championship titles, they will need to first find success against their regional rivals in order to even reach the Pro Circuit stage at all. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor China Qualifier, and the 4 teams that will be fighting for the region’s 2 spots in Kiev. With the qualifier featuring a reduced field compared to the Major qualifier, 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 (4 teams per region), 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.
Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun
Sun “Agressif” Zheng (Stand-in)
Ding “Dy” Cong
Note: Agressif was announced as a stand-in for Vici Gaming in the Minor qualifier, with the team shifting Yang from the Offlane role to a Support position to temporarily take the place of Fade.
For most of the season so far, Vici Gaming has been widely considered to be one of the best teams in the Chinese region, but recent events are beginning to threaten the squad’s favorable position at home. With regional rivals like EHOME on the rise and squads like Keen Gaming, Royal Never Give Up, and Team Aster waiting in the wings looking for an opportunity to strike, there is little room for error for this Vici Gaming roster. After failing to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major, Vici Gaming finds itself at a critical junction in its season as it prepares for this Minor qualifier. In terms of skill and experience, Vici Gaming is still one of the more formidable squads in this field, but its 5-9 record within the Chinese region since the start of 2019 makes the squad a bit less intimidating than it has looked previously this season. Even with that being the case, Vici Gaming enters this qualifier as a clear favorite to claim 1 of the 2 Chinese slots in Kiev, and a strong showing in this qualifier and at the Minor itself would go a long way towards heading off any potential doubts or concerns with this squad as we move into the second half of the 2018-2019 campaign.
Royal Never Give Up
Du “Monet” Peng
Gao “Setsu” Zhenxiong
Su “Flyby” Lei
Tue “ah fu” Soon Chuan
Ever since Royal Never Give Up made its debut on the Pro Circuit stage at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor back in November, the squad’s play within the Chinese region has been frustratingly inconsistent. However, the start of 2019 has seen the team put together something of a resurgence within its home region, as the squad has put together back to back Top 4 finishes across non-open qualifier appearances. Those performances have netted the squad a 11-7 record since the beginning of the year, with that record sitting at 4-1 against the other squads in the field for this qualifier. Between the squad’s 4th place finish in the recent Major qualifier, its solid record at home in the first month of 2019, and the fact that there are 2 Chinese slots available at the Minor, Royal Never Give Up enters this qualifier with a strong shot at finally making its return to the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.
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, 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.
Liu “Sylar” Jiajun
Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung (Stand-in)
Lin “Xxs” Jing
Ye “BoBoKa” Zhibiao
Lu “Fenrir” Chao
Note: Mushi is serving as a stand-in for Team Aster in place of loveyouloveme. The following preview section was written before that announcement and does not take it into account.
The hype and excitement around Team Aster’s rapid ascension to the top of the Chinese hierarchy was one of the more interesting scenarios to witness at the start of this Pro Circuit season. However, the hype has died out a bit in recent times, as Team Aster has fallen into a pattern of alarmingly inconsistent play within the Chinese region. To go along with those issues at home, Team Aster has turned in some less than impressive performances on the international level with finishes at the bottom of the event standings in 2 of its 3 appearances. When this team plays at its best, we’ve seen just how formidable it can be, as the squad has earned itself 2 Major appearances this season. However, anything other than the team’s best has led to wildly inconsistent results, and even now it is extremely difficult to predict where the team stands compared to the other squads in this field. With that uncertainty hanging over it, Team Aster enters this qualifier at a small disadvantage against its regional rivals, which it will need to push through and overcome if it wants a chance to claim 1 of the 2 Chinese slots in Kiev.
Cao “ChaoYue” An
Deng “Dstones”‘ Lei
Wang “闷油瓶”‘ Liang
Room310 is a squad that has not been around for quite as long as its opponents in this qualifier, as the team’s formation came a bit more recently. For most of the squad’s existence with its current roster, Room310’s experience has been limited to open qualifiers and relatively small events within the Chinese region. The most recent of those open qualifier runs has earned the squad this opportunity to fight for a place on the Pro Circuit stage, but the path to success will ostensibly be a difficult one for Room310 to walk. While the squad has seen a fair bit of action within the Chinese region, the vast majority of the team’s experience has come against competition that would most likely be classified in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 range. With every other team in the field for this Minor Qualifier having experience playing on the Pro Circuit stage this season, Room310 will be going up against a caliber of team that it is not likely to be fully prepared for. With just 4 teams in the field for this event though, and 2 slots at the Minor available, there is still a possibility for Room310 to put on an impressive showing and fight its way to a spot in Kiev. Such an outcome would certainly come as a bit of a shock in the Chinese region, but we’ve seen squads beat the odds before in the Dota 2 world, and Room310 could very be the next squad to add its name to the list of underdogs to have found success in unexpected circumstances.