Penguins invade Kiev: Flying Penguins locks down its Pro Circuit debut as the team earns the lone North American slot at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor
The final qualifier among the first group of 3 regions has officially come to an end, and 4 of the 8 participants for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor have punched their tickets to Kiev for the season’s third Minor. The North American region becomes the third to conclude its qualifier run, joining Southeast Asian and CIS. 4 teams made up the field for this regional qualifier, with 3 of them (compLexity Gaming, Flying Penguins, and TEAM TEAM) being returning squads from the recent Major qualifier while the final team (wut the frog) was a new challenger that came up through the open qualifiers. While each of these teams were hoping for a chance to make their way to the Pro Circuit stage, only 1 of them would ultimately be able to achieve that ambition and lay claim to the lone North American spot at the Minor. That squad ended up being Flying Penguins, as the team took down compLexity Gaming 2-0 in the Grand Finals of the qualifier to lock down its spot in Kiev. Although Flying Penguins will be the only team advancing to the Minor, we will be taking a look at the overall performances of all 4 teams in this qualifier and what may come next for them. 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.
1st (Qualified for StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor)
Flying Penguins came into this Minor qualifier with a slightly altered lineup compared to the one that we saw at the recent Major qualifier, as the team removed Gunnar from its roster in order to make room for Ryoya. The change to its roster did little to slow the team down against its regional rivals, as Flying Penguins posted an impressive 6-3 record en route to claiming the lone North American slot at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor. While the team dropped its first series of the event with a 0-2 loss to TEAM TEAM, the squad was able to bounce back with 3 consecutive series victories over wut the frog, TEAM TEAM, and compLexity Gaming. With the team’s average game time coming in at just under 41 minutes, Flying Penguins certainly didn’t make things easy for itself in this qualifier. However, the squad was still able to find success in the end, thanks in large part to the efforts of the team’s new Midlaner Ryoya, who averaged 8.33 kills and 11.56 assists on 4.11 deaths across 9 total matches. If the team can put together another performance like this one when it takes the Pro Circuit stage next month, then it will have the potential to be a legitimate contender for the title of Minor Champion in Kiev.
Despite all of the debate and arguments regarding the team’s Southeast Asian players, compLexity Gaming came into this Minor qualifier as a squad with a reasonable expectation of competing for the North American region’s lone spot in Kiev. The team was able to live up to those expectations with a solid performance against its regional rivals in this event, but it ended up falling short of the mark to qualify for the Minor with a 4-2 overall record and a 2nd place finish. The team began its qualifier run with 4 straight victories in a pair of 2-0 series wins over wut the frog and TEAM TEAM that pushed the team into the Grand Finals of the qualifier. Unfortunately, the squad ended up suffering a massive setback in that Grand Finals series, losing a significant net worth lead in a nearly 80 minute long opening match before falling 0-2 in the series as a whole. The silver lining for compLexity Gaming is that its recently altered lineup put together some impressive performances in this regional qualifier, particularly the team’s core trio. Meracle, Limmp, and Deth combined to average 23.83 kills and 40.34 assists on just 8.67 deaths per game, spearheading the team’s efforts against its regional rivals. Should that core trio continue to put up those kinds of numbers, then compLexity Gaming figures to play a bigger role in the North American hierarchy as the second half of the season unfolds.
TEAM TEAM ended up undergoing a change to its roster right before the start of this Minor qualifier, with Ryoya going over to Flying Penguins and Gunnar being added to the squad’s lineup. While the team was still able to put together a solid showing against its regional rivals even with its roster shakeup, TEAM TEAM could not earn itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage as it finished with a 3-4 record and a 3rd place position in the standings. The team’s Carry/Mid duo of Sammyboy and Gunnar put together some impressive performances for TEAM TEAM, combining to average 12.43 kills and 13.43 assists on 7.15 deaths per game across the squad’s 7 qualifier matches. As of right now, it is unclear if Gunnar will remain a part of TEAM TEAM moving forward. If he does, then the duo of himself and Sammyboy, who already have experience as teammates previously in their careers, would set the squad up with a strong core over the second half of the 2018-2019 season.
wut the frog
The expectations for wut the frog were not particularly high coming into this regional qualifier, as the squad had not been around in its current form for long. However, there was some hope that the skill and experience of its individual players would give the team a shot at putting together a solid showing in this Minor qualifier. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way, as wut the frog ended up failing to win a single match in this qualifier with a disappointing 0-4 overall record. The squad was out killed by a discouraging 56-124 margin across its 4 matches, and found itself playing from behind for the majority of its time in this qualifier. There was little to take away from this performance in terms of positive aspects, and moving forward, it is unclear whether the team will remain together long enough to try again in the next round of Pro Circuit qualifiers. If it doesn’t, then its players will once again become free agents within the North American region. However, if wut the frog opts to continue playing together for the immediate future, then it is going to have a whole lot of work to do in order to put together a stronger fight against its regional rivals in its next appearance.