Veni Vidi Vici: Vici Gaming crushes Gambit Esports 3-0 to claim first Minor Championship title, advance to DreamLeague Season 11 Major
As the fifth of ten Pro Circuit events in the 2018-2019 season schedule, the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor served as the unofficial half way marker for this Pro Circuit campaign. 8 squads made their way to the Cybersport Arena in Kiev, with each of them hoping to gain a significant boost to their standing on the Pro Circuit and claim the season’s third Minor Championship title. The team’s weren’t just playing for the money and Pro Circuit points in Kiev though, as the 8 squads were also looking to lay claim to that final slot at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major in Stockholm. Between returning favorites, slumping contenders, and new challengers, every squad in the field for this event was looking for a chance to change their season for the better with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage and a potential run at the title of Minor Champion. In the end though, there would be just a single squad that would still be standing as the winner of the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor.
When the dust had finally settled in Kiev and the final match came to an end, the last team standing was once again 1 of the 2 Chinese challengers, as Vici Gaming was able to claim its first ever Minor Championship title. The team absolutely obliterated Gambit Esports in the Grand Finals, claiming a quick 3-0 victory to claim both the title and the final slot in the upcoming DreamLeague Season 11 Major. The team put together a dominant showing in this event, posting a 9-1 overall record (4-1 Group Stage, 5-0 Playoffs) while bringing down Demolition Boys and Flying Penguins, while claiming 2 series victories over Gambit Esports en route to claiming a 1st place finish at the Minor.
With the Minor now officially at an end, we can take a look at how the events in Kiev affected the Pro Circuit Rankings. With its 1st place finish at the Minor, Vici Gaming claimed 120 Pro Circuit Points for itself and retained its 7th place position in the Rankings with 1020 points in total. Of course, that total could increase in the coming days, the team is set to participate in the upcoming Major and will keep the higher of the Pro Circuit Point earnings between that event and this Minor. The runner up in Kiev, Gambit Esports, adds 60 points to its total, moving from 16th place with 148 points to 15th with 208 points. The team would have earned 100 points for its efforts at this Minor, but the team’s use of a stand-in for the event incurred a 40% penalty to its earnings. In the combined 3rd-4th place position, the duo of Old but Gold and Flying Penguins each takes home 80 Pro Circuit Points. Since neither squad held any Pro Circuit points prior to this event, they both add their names to the list in the Pro Circuit Rankings, sharing the 21st place position. After that comes the 2 squads to finish in the 5th-6th place position, though the 2 teams have slightly different circumstances. South American squad Demolition Boys walks away from Kiev with 40 Pro Circuit Points to add to its total, moving the team from the 31st place position with 12.8 points to 26th with 52.8 points. As for OG, the squad came away from the event with just 24 points, as the team had its earnings reduced due to playing with a stand-in for the event. Those 24 extra points moves OG’s total from 24 to 48, and actually shifts the team further down in the Rankings from 26th to 27th. And at the bottom of the event standings, we have the duo of BOOM ID and Royal Never Give Up, each of whom adds 20 Pro Circuit Points to their totals for their 7th-8th place finishes in Kiev. For RNG, the addition brings its total up to 54.46 points on the season, although the squad’s position in the Rankings remains unchanged at 25th. BOOM ID’s Pro Circuit Point total increases from 20 to 40, although the Southeast Asian squad will also make no moves in the Rankings as it is now tied for the same 28th place position that it held prior to the start of the Minor.
With all of the action and excitement at and end in Kiev, the Pro Circuit Rankings updated, and Vici Gaming on its way to Stockholm for the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as the reigning Minor Champion, the time has come to take a look at how each of the squads performed at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor. We will be looking at how the team’s played across their various series and matches at the event, and whether those squads managed to live up to their pre-event projections and expectations.
Winnings: $15,000 & 24 Pro Circuit Points (Reduced from 40 for playing with a stand-in)
Event Record: 4-4 (4-4 Group Stage)
The defending TI Champion came into this Minor as a team that has been slowly attempting to work its way back into form. After a slow start to the season, OG found itself trailing behind the elite teams in the Dota 2 world by a rather significant margin. Between that slow start and a couple of issues with regards to its final roster spot, the team came into this event looking for a solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage to help get OG back on track as it hoped to reclaim a position among the top teams in the Dota 2 world. Though the road to recovery is undeniable a long one, OG’s efforts had the potential to receive a sizable boon if the squad could put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.
OG’s run in Kiev began with the squad facing off against Old but Gold in the Opening Matches of Group A, and the defending TI Champion had its hands full against the CIS veterans. The squad was absolutely run over in Game 1 of the series, finding itself out killed by a score of 8-27 in an incredibly one sided loss. However, the team was able to turn the tables in Game 2, with OG’s core trio of Pangolier, Spectre, and Lycan dominating the match with a combined 36-6-52 stat line that helped facilitate a wire to wire victory that turned the Bo3 series into a Bo1. That final match saw OG playing from behind through the early stages, as the European squad gave up a number of early pick offs. As the mid-game rolled around though, the strength of the team’s lineup began to reveal itself, as OG took control of the match thanks in large part to the farming speed of Topson’s Alchemist (4-9-9, 837 gold per minute). Unfortunately, that advantage was not enough to secure OG a victory, as Old but Gold stormed back into the match with a series of team fight wins that shattered the European squad’s momentum, and handed the team a 1-2 loss in the series.
That initial loss put the team’s shot at a Minor title in jeopardy a bit earlier than it might have been expecting, as OG faced off against Royal Never Give Up in an elimination series in the Losers’ Match of Group A. OG came into this series ready to play, as the European squad jumped out to an early lead over its opponent and never looked back. Behind an impressive showing from Topson’s Morphling (9-0-7), OG was able to hold a net worth lead throughout the entirety of the match, never giving RNG an opening to mount a comeback effort as OG claimed a one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 looked to be a repeat of its predecessor for much of the match, as OG once again jumped out to a big lead early. The team led by nearly 16k net worth in the late-game stage, but that lead slowly began to fade as RNG mounted a furious comeback to take multiple team fight wins and pick offs to snatch control away from OG. Despite that shocking turn around, OG was able to recover and maintain its composure, with its core trio of Alchemist, Lycan, and Brewmaster combining for a 35-20-65 stat line that helped the team overcome RNG”s late-game surge and secure a 2-0 victory in the series.
With that victory over RNG, OG had one last shot at advancing out of the Group Stage, as the team faced off against Old but Gold once again in the Decider Match of Group A. Game 1 did not prove to be a tightly contested affair, as OG found itself trailing early in the match and never mounted any serious comeback efforts. Despite a commendable performance from iLTW’s Juggernaut (6-5-9), OG trailed in terms of net worth throughout all but a handful of minutes in this match as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would see the roles reversed for the 2 squads, as OG was the team to build up an early lead and hold it throughout the match. Behind a combined 21-13-51 stat line from its core trio of Ember Spirit, Vengeful Spirit, and Tidehunter, OG was able to control team fight scenarios and keep Old but Gold on the defensive from start to finish as the team managed to tie up the series 1-1. After relatively one sided matches in Games 1 and 2, Game 3 proved to be a somewhat more even affair, with the 2 squads remaining separated by less than 4k net worth for most of the match. Thanks in large part to an impressive showing from Topson on Monkey King (13-6-3), OG appeared to be in a solid position in this match, but things quickly spiraled out of control for the European squad. A key team fight loss near the 22 minute mark left OG open for crucial final push from its opponent, and while the squad tried valiantly to hold off Old but Gold, those final efforts proved futile as the team went down 1-2 in the series. The loss brought OG’s run at the Minor to an end, with a 4-4 overall record and a finish in the 5th-6th place position in the event standings.
OG came into this Minor hoping that the event could serve as a critical turning point in its 2018-2019 Pro Circuit campaign. A strong showing in Kiev had the potential to significantly boost the team’s efforts to push itself back into the discussion regarding the top teams on the Pro Circuit. Coming into the event, OG was expected to perform well, with a projected finish in the Top 4 range. Unfortunately, the squad ended up falling short of that mark, finishing with a 4-4 overall record and a 5th-6th place position in the standings. To be fair to OG, its performance at this event wasn’t particularly bad, as the squad ended its run with an even record and managed to at least force full 3 game series in both of its defeats at the hands of Old but Gold. With that in mind, this showing in Kiev should at least serve as a step in the right direction for OG, but it still comes as something of a disappointment considering the squad was expected to compete for the title of Minor Champion at this event. Another silver lining for OG in its Minor run was the play of its core trio, as iLTW, Topson, and 7ckingMad combined to average 20.88 kills and 35.26 assists with 13.88 deaths per game across the team’s 8 total matches in Kiev. As a whole, OG’s play at this event was okay; not particularly bad but also failing to come across as overly impressive either. The problem for OG is that its fans, and likely the team itself, won’t be satisfied with just “okay” at this stage in the season. With this event over, the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit campaign has entered its second half, and OG still finds itself sitting near the bottom of the Pro Circuit Rankings. The team’s next opportunity to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage will come at the end of the month with the start of the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifiers, though OG will need an incredibly strong run in that event to push through what is sure to be an absolutely stacked field in the European region.
Winnings: $70,000 & 60 Pro Circuit Points (Reduced from 100 for playing with a stand-in)
Event Record: 7-5 (5-2 Group Stage, 2-3 Playoffs)
Gambit Esports made its way to Kiev for this event as a team that was under threat. For most of the season so far, the squad had been the closest thing to a second leader that the CIS region had seen. However, recent events had put that position in jeopardy, with squads like Na’Vi, The Pango, Old but Gold, and even the new Team Empire looking to be on the rise within the region. The squad needed a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to keep those other squads at bay and bolster its own position within the Pro Circuit Rankings as well as its regional hierarchy. Though the team came to this event with a stand-in, the hope was that the prior Pro Circuit experience that Gambit Esports possessed would help fuel it to a successful run in Kiev as the team looked to hold on to its favorable position within the CIS region.
Gambit Esports’ first opponent of the Minor would be Southeast Asian squad BOOM ID, as the 2 squads faced off in the Opening Matches of Group B. Game 1 of the series appeared to be a tightly contested match for the first 30 minutes or so, as neither squad led by more than 5k net worth. However, Gambit Esports was eventually able to pull away in the late-game stage, with fn’s Morphling (18-2-10) spearheading a wildly successful series of team fight wins that gave the CIS squad a decisive edge and a victory to open the series. Game 2 would play out in almost the exact same fashion, with the 2 teams remaining relatively even through the first half of play only for Gambit Esports to run away with things in the late-game. Thanks to big performances from fn on Outworld Devourer (11-4-9) and Daxak on Troll Warlord (10-3-14), Gambit Esports out killed its opponent 15-5 over the final 20 minutes of play to secure itself a 2-0 victory in the series.
With that 2-0 win, Gambit Esports found itself facing off against Vici Gaming in the Winners’ Match of Group B. The CIS squad found itself striking first in the series, as the team was able to bide its time through the early and mid-game stages before breaking through in the late-game. Behind impressive showings from fn’s Ember Spirit (14-4-16), Daxak’s Lone Druid (8-0-11) and fng’s Witch Doctor (9-5-19), Gambit Esports dominated the second half of the match with consecutive team fight wins that secured it a 1-0 lead in the series. From that point on though, things did not go well for Gambit Esports. After holding even with its opponent for most of Game 2, the CIS squad found itself falling victim to the same late-game surge that it had pulled off in the previous match. Out killed 3-11 in the final 8 minutes of play, Gambit Esports had no chance at recovering as the series was tied up at 1-1. Following late-game collapse, Gambit Esports was completely and totally run over in Game 3 of the series, as the team fell behind early and never managed to recover. The squad was out killed 9-34 over the course of the match, and trailed in terms of net worth from start to finish as it lost the series 1-2.
Though the team lost its series against Vici Gaming, Gambit Esports still had one more chance to advance to the Playoffs of the Minor as it took on Demolition Boys in he Decider Match of Group B. Game 1 of the series proved to be a back and forth affair, as the 2 teams traded the net worth lead 11 times over the course of the match. Through the first 30 minutes of play, neither squad led by more than 2k net worth, until Demolition Boys managed to pull away slightly in the late-game stage. Behind a combined 19-4-29 stat line from its core trio of Ursa, Shadow Fiend, and Legion Commander though, Gambit Esports was able to turn a critical late-game team fight in its favor that wiped out Demolition Boys and allowed the CIS squad to snatch a last second victory in the opening match of the series. After those late-game heroics, Gambit Esports refused to relinquish control of the series, as the team steam rolled its way past Demolition Boys in Game 2. With its Carry/Mid duo of Daxak on Ursa (12-0-6) and fn on Outworld Devourer (11-1-11) turning in impressive performances, and Immersion putting together a fantastic showing on Earth Spirit (8-2-19) as well, Gambit Esports was able to close out a decisive victory to take the series 2-0 and claim its place in the Playoffs of the Minor.
Gambit Esports would find itself facing off against North American squad Flying Penguins in the Semifinals, with both teams looking to claim a spot in the Grand Finals against Vici Gaming. The series itself ended up being far less competitive than many might have been anticipating, as Gambit Esports quickly established control over its North American opponent and never relinquished it. Game 1 saw the CIS squad absolutely smash its way past Flying Penguins, with the team out killing its opponent 29-11. This time around it was the Supports that led the way for Gambit Esports, as fng’s Witch Doctor (8-3-11) and Velheor’s Earth Spirit (7-3-19) repeatedly facilitated pick offs and team fight wins that gave the squad a quick 1-0 lead in the series. The squad repeated that performance in Game 2, jumping out to an early lead in never looking back. With fng and Velheor once again playing Witch Doctor and Earth Spirit, respectively, the duo put in another pair of solid showings and combined for 23 assists in just 20 minutes of game time. Meanwhile, Daxak’s Meepo (6-0-5) absolutely decimated Flying Penguins, allowing Gambit Esports to take full control and limit its opponent to just 5 kills in the match as the CIS squad locked down a convincing 2-0 victory to punch its ticket to the Grand Finals.
Gambit Esports found itself facing off against Vici Gaming for the second time at this event, this time with the title of Minor Champion at stake in the Grand Finals. Unfortunately, the CIS squad was overwhelmed by its opponent from the very start of the match, as Vici Gaming put together a trio of dominant performances that left Gambit Esports scrambling for answers. The team lost 3 straight matches, and combined to earn just 21 kills across those losses, which paled in comparison to the 66 kills that its opponent was able to rack up. Gambit Esports found itself trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of this series, as the squad simply couldn’t find a way to counteract its opponent’s strategies. In a Bo5 series that lasted just under 95 minutes of total game time, Gambit Esports suffered a rough 0-3 defeat that ended the team’s run in Kiev with a 2nd place finish overall and a 7-5 record.
Gambit Esports came into this event as a team hoping for a shot at both bolstering its position within the Pro Circuit Rankings, and holding off a host of regional rivals looking to claim its place in the CIS hierarchy. The team’s stand-in situation came as a small concern for it heading into the event, but the team’s prior success on the Pro Circuit stage and its skilled and experienced roster had hopes high for the CIS squad. Prior to the start of play in Kiev, Gambit Esports was projected to finish in the Top 4 range, and the team was able to live up to that prediction and then some with its 7-5 overall record and 2nd place finish at the event. The team looked solid throughout the majority of the Minor, with its only real difficulties coming against Vici Gaming, as all 5 of the team’s losses in Kiev came at the hands of the Chinese squad. Also impressive for the squad was the performances from 2 players in particular in Daxak and fn. The team’s Carry put together the kind of performance that we’ve grown used to seeing, as Daxak averaged 5.5 kills and 7.75 assists with just 1.92 deaths per game across the team’s 12 total matches in Kiev. Meanwhile, fn put together a fantastic showing as a stand-in for the team, averaging 7.33 kills and 7.33 assists on 3.25 deaths per game in a performance that will hopefully garner some attention towards the free agent who has spent the past few months drifting between stand-in positions and open qualifier squads. As a whole, Gambit Esports came away from this Minor with what it was looking for coming into the event. The team may not be headed for Stockholm for the upcoming Major, but it managed to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage, improve its position within the Pro Circuit Rankings, and create some degree of separation between itself and the other squads in its home region. With the team set to have regular Midlaner Afoninje back in the lineup after this event, Gambit Esports will hopefully be in a position of strength as it prepares for the next round of Pro Circuit qualifiers that are set to begin at the end of March.
Old But Gold
Winnings: $30,000 & 80 Pro Circuit Points
Event Record: 5-6 (5-4 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
Old but Gold came into this Minor as the latest in a string of CIS squads to rise up from relatively humble origins to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. Much like Winstrike Team last season and the ferzee squad that became Gambit Esports in this 2018-2019 campaign, Old but Gold put together a combination of veteran experience and young talent that quickly made a name for itself within the CIS region. The question coming into this event was whether or not the team’s significant experience would be enough to fuel the squad to success on the international level, as Old but Gold prepared to make it debut on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.
Old but Gold’s first opponent on the Pro Circuit stage would be the defending TI8 Champion, as the CIS squad faced off against OG in the Opening Matches of Group A. Game 1 proved to be nothing short of a stomp for the team though, as Old but Gold absolutely overwhelmed its opponent thanks to an impressive 11-1-6 performances from Illidan on Chaos Knight. With the team out killing OG 27-8, Old but Gold was able to claim victory in just over 26 minutes to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum did not carry over into Game 2, as OG struck back in emphatic fashion with a performance that Old but Gold simply was not prepared to handle. The CIS squad trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match, and no player on the team earned more than 5 kills as OG tied up the series at 1-1. The final match of the series began with a relatively positive stretch for Old but Gold, as the team’s core trio of Razor, Pugna, and Doom were able to get off to a strong start thanks to some early pick offs. Despite holding an initial advantage though, the team found itself falling behind in the mid-game stage, as OG’s Alchemist pick was buoying the European squad and out pacing the cores of Old but Gold. While the team couldn’t out farm the Alchemist, it could out fight it, as Old but Gold was able to claimed 3 straight team fight wins in the late-game to shatter OG’s momentum and seize control of the match en route to a hard fought 2-1 victory in the series.
Old but Gold’s victory over OG put the squad up against Flying Penguins in the Winners’ Match of Group A, and early on it appeared that the CIS squad was picking up right where it had left off in the previous series. The team held a net worth advantage throughout most of match heading into the late-game stage, but things quickly spiraled out of control from that point on. The team was out killed 5-13 over the final 7 minutes of play as its lead was wiped out by Flying Penguins, who completed the comeback to hand Old but Gold a 0-1 deficit in the series. The CIS squad was quick to bounce back from that surprise defeat though, as Old but Gold dominated Game 2 of the series behind a combined 13-5-22 stat line from its core trio of Weaver, Shadow Fiend, and Puck. The team held a net worth lead throughout the entirety of the match, and was able to claim victory in just under 21 minutes to tie up the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum died with the end of that second match. While the 2 squads remained relatively close through the first 30 minutes of Game 3, Old but Gold slowly but steadily began to fall behind in the second half of the match. Despite multiple valiant efforts, the team simply couldn’t secure itself a team fight victory, and Flying Penguins was able to push through Old but Gold’s final defenses to hand the squad a 1-2 defeat.
With its loss to Flying Penguins, Old but Gold found itself in the Decider Match of Group A, where it faced a rematch of its first series against OG with a spot in the Playoffs on the line. Old but Gold managed to strike first against the defending TI Champions though, putting together an impressive performance in Game 1 that saw the team hold a net worth advantage throughout the majority of the match. Behind a combined 19-9-41 stat line from its core trio of Leshrac, Shadow Fiend, and Slardar, the CIS squad was able to keep OG at bay in order to secure a victory to open the series. Game 2 saw the roles reversed for the 2 teams, as Old but Gold found itself falling behind early and never managed to recover. This time around, the team’s core trio of Lycan, Shadow Fiend, and Beastmaster could not get it done for the squad, combining for a 15-18-43 stat line that proved insufficient to spark a comeback effort as the series was tied at 1-1. Game 3 saw the 2 teams remain even throughout the first 20 minutes of play, as neither side led by more than 4k net worth in that time frame. However, behind an impressive performance from Illidan’s Phantom Assassin (14-2-12, 27.6k damage) and some clutch Mass Serpent Wards from Velheor’s Shadow Shaman (4-7-9, 2k building damage), Old but Gold launched a successful, but nearly suicidal, final push into OG’s base to secure itself a 2-1 victory in the series.
The team’s victory over OG put Old but Gold in the Playoffs of the Minor, where it found itself facing Chinese squad Vici Gaming in the Semifinals. The series began in absolutely disastrous fashion for the CIS squad, as Old but Gold was annihilated in Game 1. The team was out killed 7-36, with no member of the squad earning more than 3 kills in the match as Old but Gold suffered a massive defeat in the opening match of the series. Game 2 saw the squad put up a much stronger effort, as the team opted for a tanky core trio of Razor, Dragon Knight, and Doom in an attempt to out fight and out last its opponent. The teams remained separated by less than 4k net worth over the first 30 minutes of play, though Vici Gaming ended up pulling away in the late-game stage. Behind a heroic effort from G’s Dragon Knight (11-5-11) though, Old but Gold mounted and impressive comeback to retake the net worth lead late in the match, but those efforts would prove futile. The team’s net worth lead did not allow it to hold off Vici Gaming’s final push, and Old but Gold ended up losing the match to fall 0-2 in the series and end its Minor run with a 5-6 overall record and a 3rd-4th place finish overall.
Old but Gold came into this Minor as a potential new power within the CIS region, and the team was looking to cement that position with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. The team had skilled and experienced players on its roster, and it was hoping to leverage both of those assets on the international level in its first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage. Coming into the event, the expectations for Old but Gold were incredibly low, as the team was projected to finish in the 7th-8th place position. Most of that prediction was based upon the fact that the team had not played any official matches on the international level, but the squad proved that it was more than ready for that test as it finished well above its meager projection with a 3rd-4th place finish in Kiev. The team’s performance in this event was incredibly impressive, as the team ground out a pair of 2-1 victories over one of the tournament favorites in OG and held its own in a 1-2 loss to Flying Penguins before ultimately falling 0-2 to Vici Gaming in the Playoffs. One of the keys to the success of Old but Gold was the play of its Carry/Mid duo of Illidan and G, as the veteran players combined to average 12 kills and 19.91 assists on 8.82 deaths per game across the team’s 11 matches in Kiev. At the end of the day, most of Old but Gold’s match ups at this Minor did not come against teams that we would consider to be among the elite of the Dota 2 world (aside from Vici Gaming). However, at this stage in the season, it wouldn’t be particularly reasonable to expect the CIS squad to immediately be ready to face that kind of opposition, and this first showing on the international level was a strong first step for Old but Gold.With the CIS region still seeing just 1 consistent leader in the form of VP, Old but Gold has a solid shot at competing against the likes of Gambit Esports, Na’Vi, and The Pango on a regular basis moving forward. Speaking of those regional rivals, Old but Gold will not have to wait long before it faces off against those teams again, as the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifiers are set to begin at the end of March.
Winnings: $30,000 & 80 Pro Circuit Points
Event Record: 4-4 (4-2 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
Flying Penguins came into this Minor as a relatively new addition to the North American scene, but the squad was already looking like a potential contender within the region. Aside from Evil Geniuses, no other squad in North America has managed to find sort of consistent success on the international level, giving Flying Penguins a valuable opportunity to make its mark and push itself into contention with those regional rivals if it could put together a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. While the team in its current form had limited experience playing together outside of its home region, there was hope that the experience and talent on the its roster would help the squad find success in its Pro Circuit debut at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor.
Flying Penguins began its run in Kiev with a match up against Chinese squad Royal Never Give Up, and the North American team found itself getting off to a strong start in its first series of the event. The team blew past its opponent in Game 1, riding a combined 19-6-28 performance from its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Pangolier, and Necrophos to claim a relatively one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 looked to be a similar story for the first half of the match, but Flying Penguins found itself losing focus in the mid-game stage and allowed RNG to completely turn the tides of the match to even up the series at 1-1. With the series down to 1 final match, Flying Penguins opted for a core trio of Spectre, Monkey King, and Venomancer. While that trio found itself playing from behind over the first half of play, the squad was able to wrest control from its opponent thanks to huge performances from EternaLEnVy’s Spectre (20-8-25) and Ryoya’s Monkey King (13-7-22) that helped secure a hard fought 2-1 victory for the team.
With that initial victory over RNG, Flying Penguins found itself just 1 more series win away from a spot in the Playoffs, as the team faced off against Old but Gold in the Winners’ Match of Group A. Game 1 saw the North American squad struggle for the majority of the match, as Flying Penguins couldn’t seem to get a decisive team fight win to shift momentum in its favor. Behind a strong showing from Ryoya’s Monkey King (12-5-12) though, the team finally found its opening in the late-game stage, out killing its opponent 16-5 over the final 10 minutes of play to lock down a comeback victory to open the series. Unfortunately, the team followed up its excising comeback win in Game 1 with a much weaker performance in Game 2, as Flying Penguins fell behind immediately and never caught up. Despite a commendable performance from Liposa on Oracle (4-2-7), the team never held a net worth lead in this match as the team conceded defeat just shy of the 21 minute mark. After a comeback win in Game 1 and a lopsided Game 2, Game 3 proved to be a fairly even affair for the 2 squads. Neither side was able to pull away through the first 30 minutes of play, with the 2 teams being separated by less than 4k net worth across that time frame. However, the late-game stage finally saw Flying Penguins break through, as its core trio of Terrorblade, Pangolier, and Sven combined for a 33-17-62 stat line to lead the squad to a dominant late-game performance that swept away any remaining resistance on the part of Old but Gold to secure the North American team a 2-1 victory and a spot in the Playoffs of the Minor.
Flying Penguins would face off against CIS squad Gambit Esports in the Semifinals of the Minor, though the series ended up being a relatively one sided one once play actually began. Flying Penguins found itself playing from behind throughout the entirety of the series, and was out killed by Gambit Esports 17-45 across 2 matches. The North American squad held a net worth lead for less than 15 minutes in a series that lasted less than 52 minutes of total game time, and no member of Flying Penguins earned more than 3 kills across either match in what was a harrowing 0-2 defeat for the team. The loss brought the team’s run in Kiev to an end, with Flying Penguins finishing with a 4-4 overall record and a 3rd-4th place position in the event standings.
Flying Penguins came into this Minor as a team in one of the more interesting positions among the 8 participating squads. The North American region has been fairly disappointing so far this season, with only EG managing to find any success on the international level so far. Within that environment, Flying Penguins had a huge opportunity to push itself into a position as a contender in its home region, but it needed to put together a solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage to really cement that favorable position. Coming into this event, the team was projected to finish in the 5th-6th place range, due mostly to the fact that its current lineup had limited experience playing together on the international level. However, the squad manged to put its strength on display in Kiev, posting a 4-4 record to out perform that prediction with a 3rd-4th place finish at the Minor. The team’s performance at this event was not without its flaws, as the team still needed full 3 game series to defeat Royal Never Give Up and Old but Gold, and ended up being handled rather easily by Gambit Esports in the Semifinals. However, the fact that the team did manage to win those 2 Group Stage series to even be in the Playoffs at all is a testament to the potential and strength that this squad has. Part of that potential for Flying Penguins seems to stem from the fact that the team is not entirely reliant upon a single player in order to find success in its matches. While EternaLEnVy is undoubtedly the team’s leader, he is not the only part of the team’s attack. The core trio of EternaLEnVy, Ryoya, and Sneyking combined to average 17.75 kills and 34.01 assists on 14.51 deaths per game across the team’s 8 matches in Kiev. In fact, no member of Flying Penguins finished this event with a KDA ratio below 3, as the team put together a relatively balanced attack that proved fairly successful for it on the Pro Circuit stage. The question for Flying Penguins no will how whether or not it can build upon this performance moving forward. While most of its main regional rivals have stumbled on the international level, teams like J.Storm and Forward Gaming have proven to be incredibly strong and consistent at home. With the next round of Pro Circuit qualifiers set to begin at the end of this month, Flying Penguins will be in for quite a challenge as it will look to make a return to the Pro Circuit stage.
Demolition Boys (Formerly Team Odd)
Winnings: $15,000 & 40 Pro Circuit Points
Event Record: 2-5 (2-5 Group Stage)
Demolition Boys came into this Minor having already endured an interesting ordeal with regards to its former organization, as the team parted ways with Team Odd just days before the start of this event. Even with that drama having taken up a fair bit of attention, the squad entered this event knowing that it faced a valuable opportunity to put together an impressive showing on the Pro Circuit stage and potentially gain ground on regional rivals like Chaos Esports Club, Thunder Predator, and Infamous. In order to do that though, the team was going to have to prove that it was capable of translating its relative success within the South American region into tangible results on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.
Demolition Boys started its run at the Minor with a match up against Vici Gaming, and early on it was apparent that the South American squad was in for a rough series. The team struggled in the opening match against its Chinese opponent, holding a net worth lead for only 6 minutes across a 31 minute game to quickly fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw the squad turn things around though, as this time Demolition Boys was the squad to get off to a strong start and build up an early advantage. Behind solid efforts from Scofield on Tiny (8-6-13) and Jeimari’s Pugna (6-5-11), Demolition Boys held a small net worth lead heading into the late-game stage. Unfortunately, the team would not be able to maintain that lead, as Vici Gaming surged back into the match and out killed the South American squad 11-3 in the final 6 minutes of play to complete a comeback victory that handed Demolition Boys a rough 0-2 defeat in the series.
With that initial loss, Demolition Boys found itself playing for its event lives in the Losers’ Match of Group B, where it faced off against BOOM ID to see which team would survive and advance to the Decider Match. Game 1 saw Demolition Boys get off to a strong start, as the South American team was able to establish an early lead for itself thanks in large part to a pair of impressive performances from Jeimari’s Ember Spirit (15-1-20) and Kotarō Hayama’s Juggernaut (11-3-16). While BOOM ID did manage to put together a surge in the late-game stage, Demolition Boys was able to quickly suppress it and reestablish control to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, Demolition Boys followed up its impressive Game 1 performance with a significantly weaker showing in Game 2, as the team fell behind early and never managed to recover. The squad’s core trio of Bristleback, Alchemist, and Doom were pressured early and often, and never managed to build up enough momentum to put the team in a competitive position. Out killed 10-31 and trailing by nearly 14k net worth by the 27 minute mark, Demolition Boys conceded defeat as the series was tied up at 1-1. The squad took its Game 2 loss fairly hard, and heading into Game 3, Demolition Boys was determined to be the team in charge in the decisive final match of the series. That determination quickly payed off, as Demolition Boys got out to a lead in the early stages of the match and never allowed its opponents an opportunity to recover. Behind an incredible performance from Kotarō Hayama on Morphling (12-9-7), Demolition Boys held the net worth lead from start to finish, out killing its opponent 29-13 en route to a 2-1 series victory.
With its victory over BOOM ID, Demolition Boys was just 1 series victory away from advancing to the Playoffs of the Minor, but it faced a tough test in the form of Gambit Esports. Game 1 saw the 2 squads remain close throughout most of the match, as neither squad led by more than 2k net worth over the first 30 minutes of play. Behind an impressive performances from Jeimari’s Lina (11-3-6), Demolition Boys was able to pull away slightly in the late-game, but that lead would not be enough to secure the team a win. A crucial team fight loss in what would be the game’s final minutes wiped out the team’s lineup, as Gambit Esports pulled off the comeback to hand Demolition Boys a 0-1 deficit in the series. After a close match to open the series, Game 2 proved to be a massively one sided affair, and one that Demolition Boys ended up on the wrong side of. The team was out killed 10-37 in this match, and trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes in a rough loss that locked in a 0-2 defeat in the series. With that loss, Demolition Boys found its run in Kiev coming to a close, with the South American squad finishing with a 2-5 overall record and a 5th-6th place position in the event standings.
Demolition Boys came into this event hoping to put together a landmark performance that would improve its standing both among its fellow South American squads, and on the wider international scene as a whole. Despite the issues with the team’s former organization, the roster of Demolition Boys had its fair share of skill and experience, and the team was hoping to bring both of those assets to bear on the Pro Circuit stage. Prior to the start of play in Kiev, the expectations for this squad were fairly low, with Demolition Boys projected to finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 7th-8th place position. As it turned out, the squad was able to out perform that prediction, though not by much. Demolition Boys put together a 2-5 record at the Minor that saw it finish in the 5th-6th place position, 1 spot above its projected result. At first glance, that performance would come as a positive sign for Demolition Boys, but things are not quite as encouraging for the squad upon closer inspection. The team’s 2 victories came against a BOOM ID squad that struggled to an alarming degree in this event, and even then the South American squad still needed a full 3 game series to knock out its opponent. The team seemed to consistently fall apart in the transition between the mid and late-game stages, with the squad repeatedly falling behind its opponent between the 25 and 35 minute marks and having to make attempts to dig itself out of a deficit in the late-game stage. While the team still managed to earn itself a pair of victories in this event, we saw more experienced squads like Vici Gaming and Gambit Esports absolutely exploit that weakness and shut down the South American squad across its 2 series defeats in Kiev. The good news for Demolition Boys is that this event revealed a weakness that the squad can work towards improving in the coming days. The bad news for the squad is that it might have a limited window in which to address those issues. The end of March will bring the next round of Pro Circuit Qualifiers, so Demolition Boys will have to work fast if it wants to make the most of the lessons that it has learned at this Minor.
Royal Never Give Up
Winnings: $7,500 & 20 Pro Circuit Points
Event Record: 1-4 (1-4 Group Stage)
Royal Never Give Up came into the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor as a team that was looking to reestablish itself as a power both within its home region and on the international level. The squad had turned some heads early in the season with its prior appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, but had lacked the staying power to keep itself in the discussion as an international power as the season went on. With an updated roster and another opportunity to display its strength outside of its home region though, RNG was hoping that this appearance in Kiev would help the team return to prominence on the Pro Circuit.
The first test of the Minor for RNG was a match up against North American squad Flying Penguins in the opening match of Group A. RNG quickly found itself behind in the series though, as the team was overwhelmed in Game 1 by an aggressive strategy from its opponent that put the team down 0-1. Game 2 saw RNG struggle through the first half of the match, as the Chinese squad got off to a slow start with its core trio of Medusa, Ursa, and Dark Seer. Around the 20 minute mark though, the team finally found its breakthrough, taking control of the match thanks to a massive effort from Monet’s Ursa (12-1-8) that spearheaded a victory for RNG that tied the series at 1-1. The team appeared to be carrying its momentum over into Game 3 of the series, as RNG built up a sizable net worth lead in the early and mid-game stages. Despite an incredible showing from Setsu on Outworld Devourer (18-7-15) though, the squad could not maintain its hold on that advantage. Flying Penguins dominated fights in the late-game stage, and RNG was never able to recover from those losses as the team ultimate fell 1-2 in its opening series of the event.
With that loss, RNG found itself in an elimination series against defending TI Champion OG. Game 1 of said elimination series proved to be a struggle for the Chinese squad, as RNG fell behind at the very start of the match and never managed to recover. The team trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match, and went down by nearly 20k net worth before conceding defeat just past the 23 minute mark to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 played out in a very similar manner to its predecessor, as RNG once again found itself playing from behind for the vast majority of the match. The team trailed by nearly 16k net worth at one point in this match, but the Chinese squad managed to claw its way back into the game with an impressive comeback effort. Led by Setsu’s Monkey King (14-10-17), RNG managed to swing the momentum of the match in its favor late in the game. Unfortunately though, RNG could not close out that victory, as the team ended up losing the match despite holding a net worth lead when its ancient fell to suffer a 0-2 defeat in the series. That final loss brought the team’s run in Kiev to an end, with the team finishing in the 7th-8th place position with a disappointing 1-4 overall record.
Royal Never Give Up came into this Minor with aspirations of making a return to prominence within the international scene. The squad had spent the last few months experimenting with different lineups and building up its strength within the Chinese region, and there were high hopes that those efforts could translate into success on the Pro Circuit stage. Prior to the start of play in Kiev, the Chinese squad was projected to finish in the Top 4 range, but RNG ended up falling shockingly short of that mark with a finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 7th-8th place position with a dismal 1-4 overall record. There were some flashes of impressive play from the Chinese squad across its matches, particularly from Setsu who averaged 8.8 kills and 10 assists on 5.2 deaths per game. However, those efforts proved insufficient to get RNG over the edge, as the team was simply out played more often than not across its 2 series in Kiev. Of course, the elimination format for the event’s Group Stage did the squad no favors either, as RNG was given no opportunity to recover from those losses and no second chance in the form of a Lower Bracket in the Playoffs. Even so, the format for the event cannot account for the fact that RNG simply played below expectations at this event. The only course of action for the squad now is to return to its home region and try to recover from this poor performance by putting together stronger results against its regional rivals. The team’s next shot at making a return to the Pro Circuit stage will come at the end of the month, with the regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.
Winnings: $125,000 & 120 Pro Circuit Points (Qualifies for DreamLeague Season 11 Major)
Event Record: 9-1 (4-1 Group Stage, 5-0 Playoffs)
Vici Gaming came into this Minor as a squad facing quite a bit of speculation and rumor regarding its future on the Pro Circuit stage. The team’s level of play had undergone a small decline in recent times, and those issues had led to some experimentation for Vici Gaming with regards to its roster. Those changes, though announced as temporary at the time, has fueled speculation that the Vici Gaming organization could be considering more permanent shifts in its lineup in the near future. With those rumors making the rounds in the Dota 2 scene, Vici Gaming made its way to Kiev looking to put together another strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to bolster its position in the Pro Circuit Rankings and put a pause on those rumors for the time being.
Vici Gaming’s first opponent of the Minor was Demolition Boys, and the squad wasted no time establishing an advantage over its South American opponent. Game 1 of the series saw Vici Gaming jump out to an early lead that it held throughout most of the match. Behind strong performances from Ori’s Queen of Pain (9-2-14) and Fade’s Rubick (10-5-11), Vici Gaming out killed its opponent 19-4 over the last 12 minutes of the game to secure itself a relatively one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 saw the Chinese squad playing from behind for most of the match, as Vici Gaming was slow to build up momentum for itself in the face of a tanky team fighting lineup from Demolition Boys. Despite being behind throughout the early and mid-game stages, Vici Gaming was able to keep its net worth deficit below the 5k mark through those periods, and eventually the squad was able to finally strike back in the late-game stage. Behind a pair of solid showings from Paparazi’s Troll Warlord (11-4-13) and Ori’s Necrophos (9-6-15), Vici Gaming mounted a furious comeback effort that Demolition Boys simply could not counter. The Chinese squad was able to pick up back to back team fight wins to secure the comeback and lock down a 2-0 victory in the series.
That initial win put Vici Gaming in the Winners’ Match of Group B for a match up against CIS squad Gambit Esports. Game 1 looked like an even match throughout the first half of play, as the 2 teams were never separated by more than 2k net worth over the first 25 minutes. Unfortunately, Vici Gaming found itself losing control in the late-game stage, as the squad simply could not match the team fight strength of its opponent. The team earned just 6 kills beyond that 25 minute mark, and fell behind by nearly 20k net worth before finally conceding defeat. The good news for the Chinese squad was that it was quickly able to turn things around following that initial defeat. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Paparazi on Phantom Assassin (9-4-14) and Ori’s Necrophos (12-1-14), Vici Gaming turned the tables on its opponent with a late-game surge of its own in Game 2 to even up the series at 1-1. With its newfound momentum, Vici Gaming rolled through the third and final match of the series, absolutely decimating Gambit Esports with a dominant performance. The team out killed its opponent 34-9 in that final game, and held a net worth lead from start to finish as it locked down a 2-1 victory to secure its place in the Playoffs.
The Chinese squad’s first challenge in the Playoffs of the Minor would come in the form of up and coming CIS team Old but Gold, as the 2 squads faced off for a place in the Grand Finals of the event. Game 1 ended up being an absolute stomp for Vici Gaming, as the team completely rolled over its opponent. Behind unbelievable showings from Paparazi on Phantom Assassin (19-0-8) and Ori’s Lina (10-2-11), as well as a combined 42 assists from the team’s support duo of Fade and Dy, Vici Gaming dominated the match. Out killing its opponent 36-7, Vici Gaming was in control from start to finish as it claimed a one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 ended up being a much closer affair, as the 2 teams were separated by less than 4k net worth through the first 30 minutes of play. Behind another strong showing from Paparazi (14-5-19, 30.8k net worth), Vici Gaming managed to pull away in the late-game stage, but Old but Gold wouldn’t go down without a fight. The CIS squad managed to put together one last surge to reclaim the net worth lead, but Vici Gaming was undeterred as the Chinese squad pressed on to secure itself a victory despite trailing in net worth when its opponent’s ancient fell. The victory locked down a 2-0 series win for Vici Gaming, as the team advanced to the Grand Finals of the Minor.
After pushing its way past Old but Gold, Vici Gaming found itself in the Grand Finals of the Minor, where it faced off against Gambit Esports for the second time at this event. As it turned out, Vici Gaming would not face much resistance from the CIS squad this time around, as the Chinese team absolutely dominated this series from the very start. The team out killed its opponent 66-21 over the course of 3 straight victories, completely running over Gambit Esports with some simply stunning performances from the whole squad. 4 of the team’s 5 players had at least 1 match where they did not have a single death, and no player on the team died more than 4 times in any of the matches in this Grand Finals series. Out of around 95 minutes of total game time in this series, there was not a single minute in which Vici Gaming was not either tied or ahead in terms of net worth, as the squad simply smashed past Gambit Esports to claim a decisive 3-0 victory to earn the title of Minor Champion.
Vici Gaming came into this event with a lot of talk and rumors surrounding it that weren’t related to the game itself. Speculation about potential roster changes had been a large part of the narrative around this team for the past month or so, and Vici Gaming was ready to put all of that behind it and put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. Prior to the start of the event, Vici Gaming was projected to finish in the Top 4 range, and the Chinese squad surpassed those expectations with a 9-1 performance in Kiev and its first ever Minor Championship title. With just a single loss across the entire event, there isn’t a whole lot to look at for Vici Gaming in terms of weaknesses or mistakes, as the squad put together a dominant performance on the Pro Circuit stage. Once again, the squad was led from the front in this event, as the team’s star Carry/Mid duo came through for the team with another set of brilliant performances. The duo combined to average 16.6 kills and 22 assists with just 5.3 deaths per game across the team’s 10 total matches in Kiev, spearheading the team’s ultimately successful efforts at this Minor. The play of those 2 members of the team weren’t the only impressive aspects of Vici Gaming’s performance though, as Yang, Fade, and Dy combined to average 48.2 assists per game as well. With this incredible performance at the Minor, the hope will be that the rumors of potential roster changes will come to an end for Vici Gaming, and that the team will be able to return its focus to putting its best effort forward both within the Chinese region and on the international level. Speaking of the international level, Vici Gaming is not quite done on that front. The team’s 1st place performance at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor has earned it a place at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major, which is set to begin just a few days from now in Stockholm. If the team can replicate its successful play in this event against some of the Dota 2 world’s best squads at the Major, then there will be no doubt that Vici Gaming has returned to a position as an elite team on the Pro Circuit.
Winnings: $7,500 & 20 Pro Circuit Points
Event Record: 1-4 (1-4 Group Stage)
BOOM ID came into this Minor as a squad that had been on the rise within the Southeast Asian region. In a region dominated by teams like Fnatic and TNC Predator, the Indonesian squad had been slowly building up its own reputation as a solid competitor, and was looking to take the next step in its development by showing its strength on the international level. The team’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage had not been particularly successful, but the squad was hoping that with further experience under its belt, it would be able to write a different narrative this time around in Kiev.
BOOM ID found itself facing quite the challenge to begin its Minor run, as the Southeast Asian squad faced off against CIS squad Gambit Esports in the Opening Matches of Group B. Game 1 saw BOOM ID put together a valiant effort, as the team was able to remain relatively even with its opponent through the first 30 minutes of the match. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t keep things up in the late-game stage, as Gambit Esports put together a dominant series of team fight wins that shattered any hope for BOOM ID to mount an effective comeback effort. Down by over 50k net worth at the 48 minute mark, the Southeast Asian squad could not hold back its opponent as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar manner for the 2 squads, as BOOM ID was once again able to keep pace with its opponent through the first half of play thanks to solid performances from Dreamocel’s Ember Spirit (6-3-14) and Mikoto’s Shadow Fiend (9-6-8). Unfortunately, the team once again failed to hold its ground in the late-game stage, as the team was out killed 5-15 over the last 20 minutes of the match to suffer its second straight defeat for a 0-2 loss in the series.
That loss to Gambit Esports put BOOM ID in the Losers’ Match of Group B, where it faced an elimination series against South America squad Demolition Boys. Game 1 of said series proved to be a largely one sided affair, as BOOM ID trailed for the vast majority of the match. Aside from a single late-game surge near the 35 minute mark, the Southeast Asian squad was playing from behind throughout the entirety of the match. While the squad did get a strong effort out of Dreamocel’s Troll Warlord (10-7-8), it wasn’t enough to turn the tides as BOOM ID fell behind 0-1 to begin the series. Game 2 saw BOOM ID turn things around in a major way, as the team jumped out to a strong lead as soon as the laning stage ended and never looked back. Thanks to a combined 22-5-34 stat line from its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Timbersaw, and Pangolier, the team was able to out kill its opponent 31-10 to secure a blowout win to tie up the series at 1-1. Unfortunately for BOOM ID, the squad found itself on the other side of a blowout in the final match of the series. The team’s core trio of Phantom Lancer, Dragon Knight, and Pangolier were pressured early in the match, and were never given an opportunity to build up their strength as Demolition Boys dominated every stage of the game. Trailing by over 18k net worth by the 29 minute mark and out killed by a score of 13-29, BOOM ID conceded defeat to suffer a 1-2 defeat in the series. That loss ended the team’s run in Kiev, with BOOM ID finishing in the 7th-8th place position with a 1-4 overall record.
BOOM ID came into this Minor as a team that looked to be rising fast in the Dota 2 world. The squad had gone from a sub-regional power in Indonesia to a potential competitor in Southeast Asia, and were now looking to expand its horizons onto the international level as well. Prior to the start of play in Kiev, BOOM ID was not quite expected to find immediate success on the Pro Circuit stage, as the Indonesian squad held a projected finish in the 5th-6th place range. Unfortunately, the team would end up falling short of that prediction at this event, with BOOM ID putting together a disappointing 1-4 overall record to finish in the 7th-8th place position in the event standings. The team simply looked over matched across its 4 losses in Kiev, with the team struggling to stay competitive with its opponent unless it got off to a near perfect start in the early and mid-game stages. Beyond the 25 minute mark, BOOM ID held a net worth lead for just 11 total minutes across its 5 matches at the Minor, out of 86 possible minutes of game time. Of course, the fact that the team’s average game length was around 44 minutes at this event meant that the team was at least able to draw some of the matches out while playing from behind. However, that fact is not much of a silver lining considering the team never managed to turn any of those efforts into a actual comeback against any of its opponents. With the format for this Minor being altered from what we’ve seen in the season’s first 2 Minors, BOOM ID was left in an even less fortunate position, as the squad was denied a shot at turning around its poor Group Stage performance due to the lack of a double elimination Playoff bracket. Considering its poor results in the Group Stage though, it’s hard to say whether BOOM ID would have actually been able to turn things around if had received a second chance in the Playoffs, but pondering what might have been will do the Indonesian squad no good at this stage. The next course of action for BOOM ID will almost certainly be a return to its home region, where the squad will look to continue bolstering what has been a solid string of results against its regional rivals. The team’s next opportunity to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage will came near the end of March, with the start of the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifiers.