A Golden Opportunity: Veteran squad Old But Gold earns its Pro Circuit debut, joining Gambit Esports as the CIS region’s representatives at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor
The second of 6 regional qualifiers for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor is now complete, and 2 more squads have officially been added to the field for the 2018-2019 season’s third Minor. The CIS region has completed its qualifier run, with its expanded field of 6 total teams reduced to just 2 victorious squads. Of the 6 teams that came into this event, 2 of them (Gambit Esports and The Pango) had previously attended a Pro Circuit event, with the other 4 (Old But Gold, Pavaga Gaming, Aachen City Esports, and Team Empire) all hoping to make their first appearances on the Pro Circuit stage. When all was said and done in this regional qualifier, it was the duo of Gambit Esports and Old But Gold that managed to claim the region’s 2 slots at the Minor, with Gambit Esports earning its third Pro Circuit appearance of the season while Old But Gold earned its first. Though those 2 teams will be the only squads representing the CIS region at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor, we will take a look at how each of the teams in the field fared in this qualifier and where they may fall in the overall regional hierarchy. As with the previous recap posts for the last Pro Circuit qualifiers, we will be dividing the participants up based upon their final standings in this event.
Top 2 (Qualified for StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor)
Record: 4-1 (Skipped First Phase, 4-1 Second Phase)
With a string of recent successes within the CIS region that included 5 straight Top 4 finishes in non-open qualifier appearances as well as a 2nd place finish at The Bucharest Minor, Gambit Esports was beginning to solidify its position as a regional leader as it came into this Minor qualifier. The expectations were fairly high for Gambit Esports, but the squad was able to live up to said expectations as it put together back to back series victories to net itself a 4-1 record in this qualifier and a spot on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. The fact that the team found itself able to skip the first half of the qualifier with a direct invite to the Second Phase ended up being a valuable benefit for it, as Gambit Esports only ended up playing against 2 of the other 5 teams in the field at this event. When the team did play though, it was dominant, out killing its opponents 132-85 across its 5 total qualifier matches. Perhaps the most impressive performance for Gambit Esports though was the play of its Carry, as Daxak averaged 7.4 kills and 11 assists with just 1.2 deaths per game for a ridiculous 15.33 KDA across the team’s 2 series victories. Between this impressive showing at home and its 2nd place finish at the previous Minor, Gambit Esports should enter the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor as one of the favorites to claim the title of Minor Champion and advance to the subsequent Major.
Old But Gold
Record: 4-4 (Skipped First Phase, 4-4 Second Phase)
Following the team’s 4th place finish in the Major qualifier, Old But Gold came into this Minor qualifier as a strong candidate to claim 1 of the CIS region’s 2 slots at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor. Because of its strong finish in the Major qualifier, Old But Gold ended up skipping the First Phase of this event, joining Gambit Esports directly in the Second Phase. As it turned out, the team ended up needing that advantage, as Old But Gold put together a solid but not overly impressive 4-4 record to claim its place in Kiev and its first Pro Circuit appearance of the season. The team lost its first series of the event 0-2 to Team Empire, but managed to bounce back with back to back 2-1 victories over Aachen City Esports and Team Empire to save its qualifier run and lock down a spot at the Minor in what was an ugly, but ultimately successful performance. The most impressive part of the team’s run in this event was its victory in Game 2 of its final series against Team Empire, in which the squad came back from a net worth deficit of nearly 25k to claim an incredible come from behind win that saved the series. That kind of determination and tenacity, alongside the high levels of experience on its roster, will make Old But Gold a tough opponent to take down when the team takes to the Pro Circuit stage for the first time in Kiev.
Record: 8-4 (4-0 First Phase, 4-4 Second Phase)
With the organization having put together a new roster in recent times, Team Empire came into this Minor qualifier looking for an opportunity to display its strength against its regional rivals and potentially claim a place as a leading team within the CIS region. While the team won’t be heading for Kiev to participate in the Minor, Team Empire did succeed in putting together an impressive showing in this event, with the squad posting a 8-4 overall record and earning a 3rd place finish in the qualifier. The team tore its way through the First Phase of the qualifier with back to back 2-0 victories over Pavaga Gaming and Aachen City Esports, but came up 1 win short of the mark to qualify for the event as it lost its final 2 series against Gambit Esports and Old But Gold. Despite the fact that Team Empire did not manage to claim a spot at the Minor, the squad’s performance in this qualifier was an incredibly encouraging sign of what’s to come for this roster. Particularly impressive was the play of dream`, as the Carry averaged 9 kills and 6.67 assists with just 2.58 deaths per game across 12 total matches for Team Empire. Moving forward, this squad appears to have quite a bit of potential within the CIS region, and it will be interesting to see if the squad can maintain the level of play that we saw from it in this qualifier over the second half of the season.
Aachen City Esports
Record: 5-6 (4-2 First Phase, 1-4 Second Phase)
Aachen City Esports came into this qualifier as a team that very few people had heard of before, but that didn’t stop the squad from putting together an admirable showing in its first Pro Circuit qualifier run of the season. With a 5-6 record, the team managed to fight its way through the First Phase of the qualifier, before eventually falling with back to back series losses against Gambit Esports and Old But Gold to bring its run to an end. The team’s 5-6 overall record was enough to net it a 4th place finish, which has to be considered fairly impressive for a squad that only recently came together with its current roster. V-Tune in particularly was able to put up some solid numbers in this qualifier, averaging 6.82 kills and an 7.27 assists on 3 deaths per game across the team’s 11 total matches for a team leading 4.70 KDA. Unfortunately for Aachen City Esports, those efforts were not enough to earn it a place on the Pro Circuit stage, but the team has at least manged to put together a relatively impressive performance in what was its first non-open qualifier run within the CIS region.
The Pango started off its season with a string of impressive performance within the CIS and European regions, and when the squad managed to earn its Pro Circuit debut at The Chongqing Major, many suspected that this team was ready to claim a position as one of the leading teams in its home region. However, the team has appeared to cool off from its hot start in recent times, as The Pango’s performance across its last few event appearances has dropped off to a significant degree. Unfortunately for the team, this Minor qualifier did not see that pattern end, as The Pango posted a 2-4 overall record to finish in 5th place among the 6 team field. However, there is one factor in the team’s performance in this qualifier that might help alleviate some concerns around the squad, which is the fact that all 4 of the team’s losses came at the hands of regional newcomer Aachen City Esports. Considering the fact that The Pango had never played against the squad before, its poor performance against it could simply be put down to a bad match up or a lack of information regarding its opponent. Then again, the team’s somewhat declining results within its home region stretch back further than this qualifier alone. Whatever the case may be, The Pango will not be returning to the Pro Circuit stage for this third Major/Minor pair, as the squad will have to look for other opportunities to display its strength both at home and on the international level.
Despite being one of the 4 squads in this qualifier to have participated in the recent Major qualifier, Pavaga Gaming did not enter this event with the highest of expectations. The team had a number of somewhat well known regional players on its roster, but the squad’s recent results had been far to inconsistent for it to be considered as a significant threat to some of the stronger squads in this field. Even with those admittedly meager expectations, Pavaga Gaming still ended up putting together a somewhat underwhelming performance against its regional rivals, as the team posted a 0-4 record to finish at the bottom of the standings in 6th place. With an average game time of around 32 minutes, Pavaga Gaming found itself playing from behind for the majority of its qualifier run, and the fact that the squad was out killed 45-107 across its 4 total matches certainly didn’t help the squad either. As a whole, there wasn’t much to take away from this performance from Pavaga Gaming in terms of positives or silver linings, as the squad was simply out played and over matched in back to back series. It wasn’t the most graceful exit from this Pro Circuit qualifier for Pavaga Gaming, but perhaps this poor performance against its regional rival will serve as the motivation that this team needs to continue to improve within a CIS region that is becoming more and more competitive as this season goes on.