Dota 2 Pro Circuit Major Recap: DreamLeague Season 11 Major

Back to back: Vici Gaming defeat Virtus.pro 3-2 to claim first Major Championship title, becomes first squad with consecutive Minor and Major wins in Pro Circuit history

Another Pro Circuit Major has come and gone now, as the conclusion of the DreamLeague Season 11 Major in Stockholm marks the end of the third of 5 total Majors to be played in this 2018-2019 season. For 10 days, some of the Dota 2 world’s best teams have put together impressive performances one of the game’s biggest stages as 16 squads fought for the title of Major Champion and a guaranteed direct invite to TI9. When the dust had settled in Stockholm though, only 1 team was standing victorious as the Champion of the DreamLeague Season 11 Major.

When all the matches had come to an end in Stockholm and all was said and done on the Pro Circuit stage, it was Vici Gaming that came away with the ultimate victory. The team took down Virtus.pro 3-2 in the Grand Finals to claim its first Major Championship of the season and first title in the organization’s history. Across the whole of the Major, Vici put together a 13-7 overall record (4-2 Group Stage, 9-5 Main Event) and claimed series victories against Chaos Esports Club, Na’Vi, Team Secret, PSG.LGD, Fnatic, and Virtus.pro on its path to success in Stockholm.

With the third Major/Minor pair of the season now officially at an end, we can take a look at how the Pro Circuit Rankings have been changed by the results in Stockholm. With its victorious run at the Major, Vici Gaming claimed 4,950 Pro Circuit points, bringing the teams total up from 1,020 to 5,850 (the team’s 120 points from the Minor were replaced by its Major earnings) and moving the squad from 7th in the Rankings to 3rd while securing it direct invite status for TI9. As for the team that Vici Gaming defeated in the Grand Finals, VP was able to claim 3,000 Pro Circuit points for its 2nd place performance, bringing its total up from 7,950 to 10,950 and claiming sole position of 1st place in the Pro Circuit Rankings. With its 3rd place finish in Stockholm, Fnatic was able to lay claim to 2,100 Pro Circuit points, bringing its point total up from 1,350 to 3,450 and moving the team from 6th to 5th in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Rounding out the Top 4 in Stockholm was Team Secret, as the European squad’s 4th place finish at this event earned its 1,250 Pro Circuit points, bringing its total up from 7,950 points to 9,300. The team’s results in Stockholm actually saw it move down in the Rankings, as the team shifted from a tie for 1st place into 2nd overall, though the team continues to hold one of the direct invite slots for TI9.

In the 5th-6th place position were a pair of Chinese squads in PSG.LGD and Keen Gaming, although the 2 squads ended up earning different amounts of Pro Circuit points for their efforts in Stockholm. Keen Gaming claimed 900 points, improving its total from 90 to 990 and catapulting itself from 20th in the Rankings to 8th. As for PSG.LGD, the team claimed only 540 Pro Circuit points due to its use of Xm as a stand-in for the event. Those points increased the team’s total from 2,250 to 2,790, though the squad fell from 4th to 6th in the Rankings and lost its position as the top ranked Chinese squad to Vici Gaming. As for the 7th-8th place position, those slots in the event standings ended up going to a pair of North American squads in the form of J.Storm and Evil Geniuses. Both teams were able to claim 450 Pro Circuit Points for their efforts, with J.Storm increasing its total from 270 to 720 to move from 11th to 10th in the Rankings, while EG’s total went from 4,200 to 4,650 to move the team from 3rd to 4th in the Rankings while locking down direct invite status for TI9.

Moving into the lower half of the event standings, we had a quartet of squads finish in the 9th-12th place position. Mineski, Infamous, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Chaos Esports Club each walked away from Stockholm with 150 Pro Circuit Points for their efforts in Stockholm. For Mineski, the points were the team’s first of the season, giving it a total of 150 points, though that total was immediately reduced to just 96 by the team’s announcement roster changes prior to the end of the Major. Those 96 points though were still enough to put the team in the 22nd place position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Infamous’s 150 points improved its total from 35.84 to 185.84, though that total was immediately reduced to 118.95 due to the team also releasing 2 of its players before the end of the Major. Despite the reduction to its total, Infamous was still able to move up from 30th to 21st in the Pro Circuit Rankings thanks to its performance in Stockholm. As for NiP, the squad’s 150 points improved its total from 1,420 to 1,570, but ended up dropping from 5th to 7th in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Chaos Esports Club also ended up falling in the Rankings despite bringing its total up from 225 to 375, as the team fell out of a tie for 12th place and ended up in the 13th place position overall.

Rounding out the standings were the 4 teams to finish in the 13th-16th place positions at the Major, as Na’Vi, EHOME, Forward Gaming, and Team Liquid brought up the rear in Stockholm. Each of the team’s here claimed 75 Pro Circuit Points to add to their totals, though not every team was able to claim that full amount. EHOME’s earnings were reduced from 75 points to just 45 due to using a stand-in, bringing the team’s total from 720 to 765 and shifting it down one slot in the Rankings from 8th to 9th overall. All 3 of the other teams claimed the full 75 points, with Na’Vi improving its total from 100 to 175 and moving from 19th to 17th, Forward Gaming going from 225 points to 300 and falling from a tie for 12th to 14th overall, and Team Liquid going from 450 points to 525 while falling from 10th to 12th in the Rankings.

With all of the matches and action concluded at The DreamLeague Season 11 Major, the Pro Circuit Rankings fully up to date, and Vici Gaming officially crowned as the first consecutive Minor and Major Champion, we can look at how each of the teams performed at the Major and whether they managed to live up to their pre-event expectations.

 

Ninjas in Pyjamas Ninjas In Pyjamas

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 4-7 (3-5 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)

Ninjas in Pyjamas entered this Major in an incredibly favorable position both within its regional hierarchy and on the Pro Circuit as well. The team had gone through some ups and downs over the first half of the season, but coming into this event it stood as one of the top squads in the Pro Circuit Rankings with an opportunity to push itself into an even stronger position with a solid performance in Stockholm. Though the field of teams for this Major featured many formidable opponents, NiP entered with confidence that it would be able to put together an impressive showing on the Pro Circuit stage and reinforce its position in the Pro Circuit Rankings.

Ninjas in Pyjamas began its Group Stage run with a tough challenge in the form of top ranked Southeast Asian squad Fnatic. The opening match of the series proved to be something of an endurance test, as the 2 squads battled it out for over 72 minutes of game time. The teams traded the net worth lead back and forth several times over the course of the match, but for the most part, it was NiP that appeared to be in control in the late-game stages. Behind strong showings from Ace’s Ember Spirit (15-4-18) and Fata’s Necrophos (14-10-20), NiP appeared to be poised to finally claim victory, but it wasn’t meant to be. The European squad lost a series of team fights around the 70 minute mark that allowed its opponent to make an all-out push for its ancient as the team fell in the opening match of the series. After falling in that incredibly long match, NiP came back with a vengeance in Games 2 and 3. The European squad dominated its opponent in back to back stomps, out killing Fnatic 64-18 and holding a net worth lead throughout the entirety of both matches as it came back to win the series 2-1.

With that victory over Fnatic, NiP had a shot at claiming the top spot in the Group B standings, but it needed to defeat PSG.LGD first if it wanted to claim that position and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. Game 1 appeared to be a fairly straight forward match through the early and mid-game stages, as NiP was able to hold a small net worth lead through that period. However, the late-game stage saw things shift dramatically, as PSG.LGD put together an impressive surge that wiped out NiP’s advantage and put the European squad on the defensive. Thanks in large part to a pair of strong showings from Fata on Pangolier (13-4-16) and 33 on Doom (9-3-19), NiP was able to claim back to back team fight wins to turn around the match and reclaim control to close out a victory to begin the series. Unfortunately for NiP, Game 2 proved to be a massively one sided affair, as PSG.LGD came out aggressively in the early stages of the match and built up a net worth lead that it never lost hold of. Despite a solid effort from Fata on Leshrac (8-5-8), NiP could not mount any sort of effective comeback, and conceded defeat just shy of the 32 minute mark as the series was tied up at 1-1. With the game down to just a single match, NiP put together a core trio of Ember Spirit, Lina, and Doom that appeared to have the edge over PSG.LGD. Behind a combined 20-12-25 performance from those 3 heroes, NiP held a modest net worth advantage through most of the mid and late-game stages. As the match moved further into the late-game stage though, NiP’s lead dwindled, as the squad was out killed 4-14 over the final 10 minutes of play to suffer a 1-2 loss in the series.

That lost put NiP in the Decider Match of its group, where it once again went up against Fnatic to determine which squad would claim Group B’s final Upper Bracket slot. Game 1 saw NiP remain even with its opponent for most of the match, as the squad held a small net worth advantage through the first 30 minutes of play. Unfortunately, things turned against the team in the late-game stage, as Fnatic put together a huge surge to seize control of the match. Out killed 3-12 over the final 10 minutes of play, NiP could not put together an effective comeback as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw the European squad struggle throughout the match, as NiP found itself playing from behind throughout much of the game. Thanks to a pair of valiant efforts from Ace’s Alchmeist (10-9-16) and Fata’s Phantom Assassin (9-8-13), NiP was able to extend the match and even put together few pushes to briefly claim a net worth advantage in the late-game stage. Unfortunately, none of those surges proved to be sustainable, and Fnatic was able to eventually reestablish control to hand NiP both a loss in the match and a 0-2 loss in the series as a whole.

Despite a decent run through the Group Stage of the event, NiP still found itself beginning the Main Event of the Major in the Lower Bracket, as it faced off against Forward Gaming in a Bo1 elimination match in Round 1. The European squad opted for a tanky and sustainable lineup, combining cores of Juggernaut, Razor, and Doom with a support duo of Chen and Winter Wyvern. Early on, the effects of that strategy were largely unnoticeable, as NiP and Forward Gaming remained relatively even in terms of net worth over the first 20 minutes of play. Eventually though, NiP began to pull away in the mid and late-game stages as its team fight power became more apparent. The team’s lineup was simply too tough for its opponent to break, and with its core trio combining for a stat line of 17-6-26, NiP was able to claim a win to advance to the next round in the Lower Bracket.

After surviving its Bo1 match against Forward Gaming, NiP found itself facing off against another North American squad in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket in the form of EG. This time around though, it was apparent that NiP was not up to the task of competing with its opponent, as EG established complete control of the series early on and never looked back. NiP was out killed 15-63 over the course of 2 games, as the squad was simply overwhelmed and out played at seemingly every turn. Across the entirety of the series, no member of NiP managed to earn a total of more than 6 kills, and the European squad ended up conceding defeat in a series that lasted just over 64 minutes of total game time and brought the squad’s run in Stockholm to a close. NiP ended up with a 4-7 overall record at the Major, finishing in the 9th-12th place position in the event standings.

Ninjas in Pyjamas came into this Major as one of the top squads in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and one of the more impressive teams on the international level this season. With talented and experienced players on the roster and a track record of relatively consistent strength in its 2018-2019 campaign, NiP made its way to Stockholm hoping to further improve its already favorable position on the Pro Circuit. Prior to the start of play at the Major, NiP was projected to find itself in the top half of the event standings with a 7th-8th place finish. Unfortunately, the European squad ended up falling short of that mark by the time its run in Stockholm came to an end, as NiP put together a 4-7 record to finish in the 9th-12th place position. At first glance, that record and final position look somewhat underwhelming for the squad, but things become a bit better for NiP when we look at just what the European squad was up against in Stockholm. Of the team’s 11 total matches at the Major, 10 of them came against the squads ranked 3rd (EG), 4th (PSG.LGD), and 6th (Fnatic) in the Pro Circuit Rankings coming into the event. As a squad ranked in a similar position, NiP was perhaps hoping to put together a stronger set of results against those squads, but the team can’t be judged too harshly for failing to take down some of the elite teams of the Pro Circuit. The good news for NiP is that its finish in the bottom half of the event standings seemed to be caused more by a series of incredibly tough match ups than any sort of sudden drop off in play from the European squad. The team still managed to get some admirable performances out of its roster despite the negative record, with the Carry/Mid duo of Ace and Fata in particular putting together some solid numbers. The 2 players combined to average 15.09 kills and 19.54 assists on 9.64 deaths across the team’s 11 matches in Stockholm, and while those numbers aren’t likely to blow anyone away, they should be enough to prevent anyone from pushing the panic button for this squad just yet. Even with this less than ideal showing on the Pro Circuit stage, NiP remains one of the top squads in the Pro Circuit Rankings, as well as one of the leading teams within the European region. With that in mind, the squad looks to be in a favorable position to return to the Pro Circuit stage, as NiP prepares to compete in the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Europe Qualifier which will begin just a few days from now.

 

Team Secret Team Secret

Place: 4th

Winnings: $80.000 & 1,350 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 12-4 (4-0 Group Stage, 8-4 Playoffs)

As the defending Major Champion and one of the best squads in the Dota 2 world, Team Secret entered this event with exceedingly high expectations. The team had proven itself to be a terrifying force on both the international level and in the European region with a string of successful performances under its belt. Heading into this event, the team had already secured itself a direct invite to TI9, which relieved quite a bit of pressure from the squad as it didn’t need to care much about the exact results of the Major. Though the squad was no longer in need of points in the Pro Circuit Rankings, Team Secret still made its way to Stockholm looking to display its strength on the Pro Circuit stage, as it hoped to become just the fourth team to ever earn back to back Major Championship titles.

Team Secret’s run at the Major began with a match up against Chinese squad Keen Gaming, and the defending Major Champion quickly got off to a strong start in the series. Behind an impressive performance from Nisha’s Phantom Assassin (9-0-6) and a 21 assist showing from Puppey on Abaddon (4-4-21), Team Secret established control early and never looked back as it claimed a lopsided Game 1 victory in just over 23 minutes. Game 2 was a more tightly contested affair, and Team Secret found itself playing from behind for the first half of the match as it was out killed 4-17 over the first 20 minutes of play. However, the European squad was able to turn things around in the end, dominating team fights in the second half of the match thanks in large part to MidOne’s Viper (11-2-9). The team’s efforts allowed it to turn the tides of the match, as Team Secret built up a net worth lead of over 16k before its opponent conceded defeat to give the European squad a 2-0 victory in the series.

With its opening victory over Keen Gaming, Team Secret found itself in an all-European match up in the Winners’ Match of Group A, as the defending Major Champion took on Team Liquid for a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. Right from the start, it was clear that Team Secret was the squad in control, as the team jumped out to a significant net worth lead in Game 1. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Nisha’s Terrorblade (6-0-4) and YapzOr’s Leshrac (7-2-5), Team Secret rolled its way to a quick win in Game 1 in just over 24 minutes of game time. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar manner, with Team Secret controlling the match from start to finish in another one sided match. This time around, the squad had to work just a bit harder to overcome its opponent, but the team managed to get it done in the end. Team Secret’s core trio of Troll Warlord, Monkey King, and Pangolier combined for a stat line of 17-5-41, while YapzOr put in another impressive showing in Puck (7-3-14) to help the squad lock down a 2-0 sweep of the series and a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

Round 1 of the Upper Bracket saw the defending Major Champion take on the defending Minor Champion, as Team Secret faced off against Vici Gaming in its first series of the Main Event. The European squad quickly set the tone in Game 1 of the series, putting together a dominant performance at the expense of its Chinese opponent. Team Secret out killed Vici Gaming 30-19 in this match, with its core trio of Lifestealer, Outworld Devourer, and Vengeful Spirit combining for 26 kills and 51 assists on just 12 deaths. Though Vici Gaming’s efforts managed to extend the match for a decent amount of time, Team Secret was eventually able to break through its opponent’s defenses to claim a victory and a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 looked a bit like a repeat of its predecessor for most of the match, as Team Secret once again held an advantage over its opponent. Thanks in large part to an impressive showing from Nisha’s Anti-Mage (7-2-4), the squad held a net worth lead through the early and mid-game stages. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to close out the match, as Vici Gaming mounted a furious comeback effort that took Team Secret by surprise and cost the squad a win as its opponent claimed an unexpected victory to even up the series. With its momentum shattered after that Game 2 loss, Team Secret found itself on the wrong side of a stomp in the final match of the series. The team was out killed 18-39 by Vici Gaming, and trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match as its opponent simply ran away with the game. Team Secret was able to put together one last valiant team fight effort that did inflict a fair bit of damage to Vici Gaming, but those efforts proved futile in the end as Vici Gaming closed out the match to hand Team Secret a 1-2 defeat in the series and a surprisingly early trip to the Lower Bracket.

Team Secret’s first Lower Bracket series of the Major saw it go up against South American squad Infamous, and the defending Major Champion was quick to reestablish its momentum at the expense of its opponent. Team Secret out killed Infamous 45-17 over the course of the series, shutting down its opponent with a pair of dominant performances. Across the 2 game series, Team Secret’s core trio combined for 32 kills and 44 assists on 9 deaths as the squad held a net worth advantage over its opponent for a but a couple of minutes in a series that lasted just over 47 minutes of total game time. With those back to back lopsided victories, Team Secret was able to sweep past Infamous for a 2-0 series victory that advanced the squad to Round 3 of the Lower Bracket and a guaranteed finish in the top half of the event standings.

After dispatching Infamous in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket, Team Secret traded out a South American opponent for a North American one in the form of J.Storm. Regardless of the change in its opponent’s region, what did not change was Team Secret’s run of dominance, as the European juggernaut smashed its way past J.Storm. Across the 2 game series, the team out killed its opponent 60-20, with Nisha in particular turning in an incredible pair of performances on Phantom Assassin and Juggernaut for a combined 26-2-17 stat line. Team Secret was in complete control for pretty much the entirety of the series, shutting J.Storm down and simply out playing the North American squad to secure itself a 2-0 series victory as it continued its march through the Lower Bracket.

With a Top 4 finish within its sights, Team Secret found itself facing off against Chinese squad Keen Gaming in Round 4 of the Lower Bracket. For most of Game 1, the defending Major Champion appeared to have its hands full dealing with Keen Gaming, as Team Secret was playing from behind over the first 30 minutes of the match. A slew of early pick offs and team fight losses had put the team in a bad spot, but Team Secret would find a way to turn things around in the late-game stage. Thanks to a pair of strong performances from Nisha’s Phantom Assassin (9-4-7) and MidOne’s Outworld Devourer (9-2-8), Team Secret out killed its opponent 14-4 over the last 10 minutes of play to secure itself a comeback win and a 1-0 lead in the series. After some late-game heroics in Game 1 of the series, Team Secret found itself in pretty much the exact same position in Game 2. The European squad once again gave up a multitude of early kills that put it behind in terms of net worth. However, the squad was able to replicate its performance from the previous match, putting together an incredible run in which it out killed Keen Gaming 16-2 over the last 11 minutes of the match to claim another comeback win to complete a 2-0 sweep of the series.

After dispatching Keen Gaming, Team Secret found itself in a rematch of The Chongqing Major Grand Finals as it took one VP for a place in the Lower Bracket Finals of the Major. Game 1 saw the 2 squads remain extremely close through the first half of play, as neither team led by more than 3k net worth through the first 25 minutes of the match. Beyond that point though, Team Secret began to fall behind, as the squad could not manage to put together a team fight win to turn the tide of the match. Despite a solid showing from Nisha’s Spectre (11-2-14), Team Secret’s defenses were eventually broken as the team suffered a defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar manner, but this time around it was Team Secret that was the squad seizing control in the second half of the match. After trailing by a small margin through the first 20 minutes of play, the European squad exploded in the mid and late-game stage with a series of pick offs and team fight wins. Behind strong showings from MidOne’s Outworld Devourer (10-2-13) and Nisha’s Naga Siren (7-1-13), Team Secret was able to shut down tis opponent to claim a victory in Game 2 that tied up the series 1-1. Unfortunately for Team Secret, its momentum from that Game 2 win would not carry over into the final match of the series. The European squad was taken by surprise by a 5-core lineup from VP, and had no real answers for the incredibe team fight power of its opponent. The team put together one last attempt to turn a team fight in its favor, but when those efforts failed, Team Secret opted to concede defeat as it took a 1-2 loss in the series that ended it Major run with a 12-4 record and a 4th place finish in Stockholm.

Team Secret came into this event as a team that was playing with house money, as it were. The squad’s direct invite status for TI9 has already been secured (so long as team avoided any penalties to its Pro Circuit point total), so it entered the Major without the same level of pressure and anxiety that affected many of the other squads in the field. Even with its place in Shanghai for TI9 secure, Team Secret was expected to bring its best effort to this event, with the team holding a projected finish inside the Top 4 in Stockholm. The defending Major Champion certainly managed to hold up to that prediction with a 4th place finish and a 12-4 overall record, though it did fall short of its goal to earn back to back Major Championship titles. Even so, the squad put together the kind of dominant performance that we’ve come to expect from it, winning 5 of its 7 series in Stockholm. The squad’s only series defeats at the Major came against a pair of teams that also finished inside the Top 4 in VP and Vici Gaming, and both of those defeats came in full 3 game series. The team didn’t show much in the way of weaknesses at this Major, instead displaying a level of strength and consistency on the Pro Circuit stage that has been nearly unmatched this season. Once again, the driving force for the European juggernaut proved to be its Carry/Mid duo, as Nisha and MidOne combined to average 13.94 kills and 17.32 assists on just 5.32 deaths per game in the team’s 16 matches in Stockholm. Even with its place at TI9 secured, Team Secret put on a performance that few teams in the Dota 2 world could match, and that doesn’t appear likely to change moving forward. If the team does opt to take a break to enjoy its success and direct invite status, then it will have certainly earned the reprieve. However, with the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifiers right around the corner, don’t be surprised if Team Secret eschews taking any time off in favor of continuing to push and test itself on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 2-5 (2-4 Group Stage, 0-1 Playoffs)

Team Liquid made its way to Stockholm as a team that many still considered to be among the elite squads in the Dota 2 world. The team’s 2018-2019 campaign had not gotten off to an amazing start, but the issue was more a result of health and visa problems for the team as opposed to any sort of drop off in its level of play. With this appearance at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major, the team had a valuable opportunity to put its strength on display once again on the international level. A strong showing at the Major would go a long way towards helping the TI7 Champion reclaim and solidify its hold over a position among the best squads on the Pro Circuit, but Team Liquid would face a tough challenge on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm.

Team Liquid’s first opponent in Stockholm would be J.Storm, as the 2 squads faced off in the Opening Matches of Group A. Game 1 was not a very close match by any means, as Team Liquid jumped out to a strong start and never looked back. With its core trio of Troll Warlord, Razor, and Chaos Knight combining for a 18-5-27 stat line, the European squad held a net worth lead from start to finish as it secured a 1-0 lead to begin the series. Game 2 ended up being a slightly closer match, as Team Liquid and J.Storm found themselves separated by less than 4k net worth across the first 25 minutes of the match. Beyond that point though, it was all Team Liquid, as the team out killed its opponent 14-0 to seize absolute control of the match and lock down another victory for an emphatic 2-0 sweep of the series.

After taking down J.Storm in its initial series, Team Liquid found itself in for a much tougher challenge as it faced off against defending Major Champion Team Secret in the Winners’ Match of Group A. From the very start of the series, it was clear that Team Liquid would be playing from behind, as the squad faced an almost immediate net worth deficit in Game 1. The squad’s core trio of Necrophos, Phantom Assassin, and Underlord failed to gain any traction against Team Secret’s lineup, and the squad was forced to concede defeat just past the 24 minute mark to go down 0-1 in the series. Game 2 didn’t go much better for the squad, as Team Liquid found itself out killed 13-28 in another one sided match. While a pair of commendable efforts from Miracle-‘s Morphling (6-4-2) and MATUMBAMAN’s Necrophose (5-4-5) helped the team extend the match to a certain degree, it wasn’t enough to mount a full comeback effort. Trailing by over 32k net worth by the 38 minute mark, Team Liquid once again threw in the towel to suffer a rough 0-2 defeat in the series.

The team may have suffered a bad loss in its series against Team Secret, but the team still had one last chance at a spot in the Upper Bracket as if took on Keen Gaming in the Decider Match of Group A. Unfortunately, the European squad was unable to take advantage of that opportunity, as the team was absolutely overwhelmed by its opponents in a pair of lopsided losses. Across the 2 game series, Team Liquid was out killed 30-72, and trailed in terms of net worth for the vast majority of the series. Aside from a brief surge between the 30 and 35 minute marks in Game 2, Team Liquid never held a net worth lead of more than 2k in either match. On top of that, no player on the team managed to earn double digit kills across either of the matches as well, with Miracle-‘s 7-5-6 performance in Game 2 being the closest that Team Liquid came to reaching that mark as the team suffered its second straight 0-2 loss to finish in the bottom half of the group standings.

Team Liquid’s finish in the bottom half of the Group A standings meant that the team began its run in the Main Event of the Major in the Lower Bracket, where it faced a Bo1 elimination match against Chaos Esports Club. The squad entered that match up as a clear favorite, but things certainly did not go according to expectation for Team Liquid once the game actually began. The European squad was on the defensive from the very start of the match, as Chaos Esports Club came out with an aggressive strategy that Team Liquid was not prepared to face. The team was out killed 7-27 over the course of a relatively quick match, and faced a net worth deficit of nearly 20k by the 20 minute mark in a massively lopsided defeat that brought the team’s run in Stockholm to a surprisingly early end with a 2-5 record and a 13th-16th place finish overall.

Team Liquid came into this event as a team with quite a lot of hype surrounding it, as many anticipated that the team was on the verge of making a return to prominence within the wider Dota 2 world in general and the Pro Circuit in particular. Admittedly, I was one of those swept up in the hype around this team, as the preview post for this Major listed a projection in the Top 4 range for Team Liquid. As it turned out, the team finished its run in Stockholm as far away from a Top 4 position as humanly possible, as Team Liquid posted a 2-5 record to finish in the 13th-16th place spot in the event standings. Things appeared to be going well for Team Liquid heading into this event, ast he team had been putting together impressive performances within its home region and had taken down EG (albeit with a stand-in) to win MDL Macau 2019 just 3 weeks prior to the start of the Major. Unfortunately, it appears that any momentum the squad had built up from that performance had quickly abandoned it in Stockholm, as the squad simply looked over matched in its 5 losses at the Major. The team’s only wins came against a J.Storm squad that, prior to this event, had been struggling to an alarming degree on the international level and weren’t seen as much of a threat in this field. With this poor performance on the Pro Circuit stage, Team Liquid now has quite a few questions to answer. Was this disappointing display in Stockholm simply an aberration or a fluke, or was it the team’s victory at MDL Macau 2019 that was the outlier for this squad? Can the team return to the form that saw it dominate the Pro Circuit in the 2017-2018 season, or are the team’s struggles in Stockholm indicative of the new norm for the squad? This roster has more than its fair share of talent, experience, and proven success on the international level, but we’ve all come to learn that prior success by no means guarantees the same in the future. At this stage, Team Liquid still appears to have a way to go before it can truly claim to be back among the elite company of the Dota 2 world. The team’s next opportunity to return to the Pro Circuit stage will be right around the corner though, as the regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major are just a few days away. Perhaps a return to familiar territory within the European region will provide Team Liquid with an opportunity to prove that it can and has put this incredibly disappointing showing at the Major behind it.

 

Virtus.pro virtus pro new

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $170,000 & 3,000 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 16-12 (4-2 Group Stage, 12-10) Playoffs)

VP came into this event as one of the leading teams on the Pro Circuit, and one of the most accomplished squads in the entirety of the Dota 2 world. With a record 5 Major Championships already under its belt, and its direct invite status for TI9 locked down, the squad made its way to Stockholm with very little pressure on its shoulders. Even with that being the case though, the CIS juggernaut was eager to test its mettle against the best possible opposition, and the allure of a sixth Major Championship title meant that the squad made its way to the Pro Circuit stage with no plans on taking things easy with the eyes of the Dota 2 world watching.

VP began its run at the Major with a series against Forward Gaming, and the North American squad actually managed to take the CIS juggernaut by surprise to begin said series. Game 1 saw VP playing from behind throughout the entirety of the match, as the team simply had no answers to Forward Gaming’s Timbersaw pick. Despite a solid effort from 9pasha on Brewmaster (11-9-6), VP could never shift momentum into its favor as the team conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. The roles would be reversed between the 2 squads in Game 2 though, as this time VP was the squad to take control early and establish an iron grip over the match. Behind a combined stat line of 37-12-74 from its core trio of Ember Spirit, Outworld Devourer, and Tidehunter, VP dominated team fights and consistently shattered both Forward Gaming’s lineup and its defenses en route to a one sided victory that tied up the series 1-1. With the series down just 1 final match, both team brought their best into Game 3 in a tightly contested affair. The 2 squads traded the net worth lead 11 times in this match, and neither side led by more than 3k net worth over the first 30 minutes of play. Eventually though, VP was able to pull away in the late-game stage, with Ramzes666’s Lifestealer (9-1-8) and No[o]ne’s Outworld Devourer (8-2-5) leading a charge that gave the CIS squad a definitive advantage as the team claimed back to back team fight wins to close out the series 2-1.

The team’s victory over Forward Gaming put VP in the Winners’ Match of Group C, where it faced off against Mineski for the top spot in the group standings. Game 1 proved to be a struggle for VP though, as the team found itself playing from behind for nearly the entirety of the match after falling behind early. Despite a pair of solid performances from Ramzes666 on Lifestealer (10-3-8) and No[o]ne on Outworld Devourer (10-6-7) that helped extend that match, VP was never able to mount a full comeback effort as it eventually lost the match to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Following that initial defeat though, VP managed to flip the switch and put together a pair of dominant showings in Games 2 and 3. The team out killed its opponent 44-25, and held a net worth lead for all but 3 minutes across a pair of victories that took less than an hour of total game time. With the team’s core trio combining for a stat line of 30-7-50, VP shifted the momentum of the series to claim a 2-1 victory over Mineski and a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

VP’s first opponent in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event would be Fnatic, and the CIS juggernaut found itself in for a much harder challenge than it may have been anticipating with the Southeast Asian squad. Game 1 did not go particularly well for VP, as the squad struggled to keep up with the cores of its opponent as the match went on. Despite a solid efforts from RAMZES666 on Ember Spirit (10-6-6), VP simply could not contain Fnatic’s Ursa in particular, and had no answers for the team’s heavy damage and team fight control in general as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 ended up being a near repeat of its predecessor, as VP managed to remain relatively even with its opponent early but quickly fell behind in the mid and late-game stages. While the team was able to get an admirable performance out of No[o]ne’s Shadow Fiend (9-4-5), that effort was not nearly enough to help the CIS squad mount a comeback effort, as Fnatic closed out the game to hand VP a shocking 0-2 loss that knocked it out of the Upper Bracket entirely.

Following its early exit from the Upper Bracket, VP found itself facing elimination in the Lower Bracket as it took on Chaos Esports Club in Round 2. Game 1 proved to be a disastrous match for the CIS juggernaut, as VP was caught completely off guard by its opponent’s aggressive strategy. The team was out killed 5-15 over the course of the match, and conceded defeat in just over 22 minutes to fall into a surprising 0-1 deficit in the series. After that shocking defeat though, VP managed to flip the switch and turn things around in the series, putting together a pair of dominant performances to close out the series. Across Games 2 and 3, VP out killed its opponent 61-31 and held a net worth lead across the vast majority of both matches en route to back to back victories. The team’s core trio combined for a 51-12-95 stat line in those final 2 matches, leading the way for their team as VP claimed a 2-1 series win to keep itself alive in Stockholm.

Round 3 of the Lower Bracket saw VP face off against EG in a match up between 2 of the top ranked squads in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Game 1 of that match up appeared to heavily favor the CIS squad, as VP was able to build up a modest net worth lead for itself heading into the late-game stage. Behind a solid performance from RAMZES666 on Lone Druid (8-3-9), VP appeared to have EG on the back foot, but that quickly changed as EG’s late-game power became apparent. Beyond the 35 minute mark of the match, VP did not earn a single kill as EG turned the tides of the match to seize control of the game for an impressive comeback win. Game 2 looked like it was going to play out in exactly the same manner for most of the match, as VP once again held a small net worth lead through the first half of play before falling behind significantly due to a late-game surge from its opponent. This time around though, the CIS squad was ready to such an occurrence and knew how best to respond. Behind an incredible showing from RAMZES666 on Ursa (16-4-8), VP was able to beat back EG’s advance to reestablish its hold over the match and secure itself a victory to even the series at 1-1. After its strong finish to Game 2, VP wasted no time taking control again in Game 3. Once again, RAMZES666 led the way for his squad, turning in a 12-0-6 performance on Phantom Lancer that helped VP out kill its opponent 28-10 in the match. Ahead by nearly 24k net worth by the 35 minute mark, the team had little difficulties forcing a “gg” call from its opponent as it locked down a 2-1 victory in the series.

That win had VP just 1 more series victory away from a Top 4 finish in Stockholm, as the squad faced off against PSG.LGD in Round 4 of the Lower Bracket. Game 1 began in strong fashion for VP, as the squad jumped out to a solid net worth lead behind a strong showing from RAMZES666 on Troll Warlord (7-4-3). Unfortunately, the team proved unable to maintain that lead, as PSG.LGD came back in the late-game stage with a 15-1 kill run over the last 10 minutes to claim a win. After losing control late in Game 1, VP came into Game 2 determined to be the team in charge throughout the match. The team’s core trio of Phantom Lancer, Razor, and Puck combined for a stat line of 31-10-47 as the CIS squad dominated the match and led in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the game to tie up the series 1-1. The third and final match of the series would prove to be the most tightly contested of all of them, as VP and PSG.LGD remained neck and naeck for most of the game. Throughout the first 40 minutes of play, neither team led by more than 4k net worth, and the net worth lead was traded 10 times during that span. Eventually though, VP was able to pull away in the late-game stage, with 9pasha’s Brewmaster (11-2-9_ and RAMZES666’s Terrorblade (5-2-8) leading the team to a pair of crucial team fight wins that wiped out PSG.LGD’s final defenses and allowed VP to claim a 2-1 series victory.

With that victory, VP earned itself a rematch of The Chongqing Major Grand Finals as it once again faced off against Team Secret on the Pro Circuit stage. Game 1 of the series began as a tightly contested affair, as the 2 squads slugged it out over the first 25 minutes of play with 38 combined kills. While the first half of play remained incredibly close, VP was eventually able to pull away in the late-game stage thanks in large part to impressive performances from RAMZES666 on Venomancer (11-7-19) and RodjER on Enigma (9-6-20). With that duo leading the way, VP opened up a net worth lead of nearly 30k net worth by the 42 minute mark, and broke through Team Secret’s defenses to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 saw the roles reversed between the 2 squads, as this time Team Secret was the team to seize control in the second half of the match. Despite a solid effort from No[o]ne’s Razor (10-3-4), VP could not match the power of its opponent as it was out killed 7-24 over the last 18 minutes of the match to suffer a rough defeat that tied up the series 1-1. The pendulum of momentum would swing back into VP’s favor though in the third and final game in the series, as the CIS squad was quick to reestablish control after its rough defeat in Game 2. Behind a surprising 5-core lineup from the CIS squad, VP was able to out fight its opponent through the mid and late-game stages. With its dominant team fight power, VP was able to build up a sizable net worth lead that Team Secret simply couldn’t overcome, allowing the CIS squad to claim a 2-1 victory in the series and a spot in the Lower Bracket Finals.

Said Lower Bracket Finals afford the CIS squad with an opportunity to earn revenge, as the team faced off against Fnatic in a rematch of its defeat in its initial Main Event series. The team’s revenge did not appear to be forthcoming in Game 1 of the series, as Fnatic absolutely decimated VP with an aggressive strategy that caught the team off guard. Out killed 8-22 in just over 25 minutes, VP opted to concede defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. From that point on though, everything ended up going VP’s way, as the squad quickly regained control of the series in Games 2 and 3. The CIS squad out killed its opponent 50-27 over those final 2 matches, and led in terms of net worth for the vast majority of both games. With the team’s core trio of RAMZES666, No[o]ne and 9pasha combining for 43 kills and 81 assists on just 14 deaths across Games 2 and 3, VP was able to claim back to back victories that earned the squad a 2-1 series victory and a spot in the Grand Finals of the Major.

The Grand Finals saw VP take on Vici Gaming in a full Bo5 series, with the Chinese squad striking first in Game 1. VP was out killed 14-34 in the match, and despite the fact that the team was able to extend the match thanks in large part to a solid effort from RAMZES666’s Phantom Lancer (8-3-3), VP could not put together a comeback as it fell behind 0-1. The CIS squad would be quick to strike back in Game 2 though, as the team fought its ways through a slow start to seize control of the match in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a pair of strong showings from RAMZES666 on Anti-Mage (11-1-13) and No[o]ne on Razor (9-4-16), the squad had little difficulty closing out the match and tied in the series at 1-1. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to carry much momentum over into Game 3 of the series, as the CIS squad was once again overwhelmed by an aggressive strategy from its opponent. Out killed 8-22 in just over 22 minutes, VP had no choice but to concede defeat as it suffered another one sided loss in the series to fall behind 1-2. With its back against the wall, VP opted for something different in Game 4, as the CIS squad drafted a last pick Storm Spirit that caught Vici Gaming by surprise. Behind impressive performances from No[o]ne on said Storm Spirit (13-3-15) and RAMZES666 on Juggernaut (9-1-18), VP was able to establish control of the match early and never looked back as it claimed a crucial win to tie the up once again at 2-2. Unfortunately, history ended up repeating itself again for VP in Game 5 of the series, as the team once again fell victim to early pressure from Vici Gaming. The team’s early movements left the CIS squad unable to keep pace with the cores of its opponent, as VP fell behind early in terms of net worth and never managed to form any sort of comeback effort. Down by over 15k net worth by the 21 minute mark and out killed 6-16, VP threw in the towel to lose the series 2-3 and end its run in Stockholm with a 2nd place finish and a 16-12 overall record.

VP came into this event as one of the leading teams on the Pro Circuit, and a team that had already secured itself a place in Shanghai for TI9. Even with that being the case, the squad was expected to play at full strength in Stockholm, with VP projected to finish in the Top 4 at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. The team more than lived up to that prediction, posting a 16-12 record at the event to finish in 2nd place after falling just short in the Grand Finals against Vici Gaming. VP’s performance at the Major was not quite as dominant as what we’ve seen from the squad in previous Pro Circuit appearances, as evidenced by the 12 losses that the team racked up in Stockholm. The squad needed the full 3 games across every single series victory, with the team’s only series that didn’t last the full number of possible games being its 0-2 loss to Fnatic in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket. While that may be a somewhat small concern moving forward, there is a certain duality to the situation due to the fact that VP managed to win the vast majority of those series. Out of the 8 series that it played that lasted 3 or more games, VP managed to win 7 of them, displaying a level of determination and resilience that the team has not often had to employ due to simply overwhelming most of its opponents in the past. To put a long story short, the team’s play in Stockholm certainly wasn’t perfect, but at this stage it doesn’t appear to be a cause for any significant concern for VP. The team still managed to dig out a tough, gritty 2nd place run in Stockholm, and it continues to hold on to its spot at the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings with a direct invite to TI9 locked up. The focus now for the CIS leader will be making a return to the Pro Circuit stage to continue testing itself against the top teams in the Dota 2 world. With the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifiers coming up in just a few days, the team will have an opportunity to return to the CIS region and take on some of its regional rivals as it looks to earn its fourth straight Major appearance of the season.

 

Na’Vi Na'Vi

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-6 (3-5 Group Stage, 0-1 Playoffs)

Na’Vi entered this events with ambitions of establishing itself as a potential leader within the CIS region and a competitor on the Pro Circuit level as well. Squads like The Pango and Gambit Esports had been battling it out near the top of the regional hierarchy all season long, but no squad had been able to consistently lay claim to that spot as the region’s second best squad behind Virtus.pro. With this appearance in Stockholm on the Pro Circuit stage, Na’Vi recognized that it had a valuable opportunity to separate itself from its biggest regional rivals if it could put together a strong enough showing on the international level. Though the task would not be easy, Na’Vi came into the Major with hopes that it could put its strength on display with the eyes of the Dota 2 world watching in Stockholm.

Na’Vi found itself in for a tough challenge to begin its Group Stage run, as the team faced off against top ranked North American squad Evil Geniuses. Game 1 saw Na’Vi caught completely off guard, as its opponent came out aggressively early in the match and quickly established control. The CIS squad was out killed 9-32 in an absolute stomp of a match, and did not secure a single kill over the final 11 minutes of the match as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 appeared to be on course for a similar result too, as Na’Vi fell behind by a significant margin early in the match and spent the entire first half of the game playing catch up. Despite trailing in terms of net worth for the first 32 minutes of play, Na’Vi was able to turn things around in the late-game stage behind a pair of impressive performances from Crystallize on Ursa (12-5-11) and MagicaL’s Medusa (12-1-12). With those 2 leading the way, Na’Vi was able to out kill its opponent 16-5 over the final 10 minutes of play to complete a comeback victory to tie up the series 1-1. Unfortunately for Na’Vi, its momentum from that comeback did not carry over, as the team was once again overwhelmed by its opponent in Game 3. The team was out killed 5-24 in a complete stomp as EG established control quickly and forced out a “gg” call from the CIS squad in under 24 minutes to hand Na’Vi a 1-2 series defeat.

Na’Vi may have lost its first series of the Major, but the team was given an opportunity to recover as it faced off against South American squad Chaos Esports Club in the Losers’ Match of Group D. The series did not begin well for the CIS squad though, as Na’Vi was completely run over by its opponent in Game 1. The team was out killed 6-17 in a significantly one sided match, and quickly opted to concede defeat at the 23 minute mark to fall behind 0-1 in the series. The team’s Game 1 loss was certainly not Na’Vi’s finest moment, but the team quickly managed to turn things around in Games 2 and 3. Across those final 2 matches, the squad out killed its opponent 51-18 in a pair of dominant performances. The team’s Carry/Mid duo of Crystallize and MagicaL led the way for Na’Vi, with the former posting a combined 12-1-10 stat line on Phantom Assassin and Ursa while the latter put together a line of 22-1-4 on Lina and Medusa. Those impressive performance fueled Na’Vi to a fairly straightforward pair of victories, as the CIS squad claimed a 2-1 victory in the series overall.

That win over Chaos Esports Club gave Na’Vi a second chance at earning a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, as it faced off against Vici Gaming in the Decider Match of Group D. Things went poorly for the CIS squad right from the very start of the series though, as Na’Vi was simply out played across both matches in the series. The team was out killed 18-59 in the series, and trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the series as it failed to create any momentum for itself in a pair of lopsided losses. No member of Na’Vi managed to earn more than 6 kills across both matches combined, and the team ended up suffering an incredibly harsh 0-2 defeat in a series that lasted just over 51 minutes of total game time.

The squad’s one sided loss to Vici Gaming ended up putting the CIS squad in the Lower Bracket to begin the Main Event, where it faced off against J.Storm in the dreaded Bo1 elimination matches. Unfortunately for Na’Vi, the match did not get off to a great start, as the team fell behind early and struggled to catch up throughout the match. The team trailed in terms of net worth across the entirety of the mid and late-game stages despite a pair of strong performances from Crystallize on Ursa (15-4-5) and MagicaL’s Medusa (6-3-11). Those impressive efforts proved to be insufficient to mount an effective comeback, as J.Storm was able to maintain its advantage and break through Na’Vi’s defenses to hand the team a defeat and knock it out of the Major. With that loss, Na’Vi finished its run in Stockholm with a 13th-16th place finish and an overall record of 3-6.

Na’Vi came into this event with hopes of establishing itself as a leading team both within its own regional hierarchy and on the international level as well. The squad had been relatively strong within the Europe and CIS regions this season, but it had yet to display that same level of strength on the Pro Circuit stage. Coming into the Major itself, the squad was projected to finish in the 9th-12th place range, due in large part to the squad’s middling results outside of it home region. Unfortunately, the CIS squad ended up falling short of those somewhat modest expectations, as Na’Vi posted a 3-6 overall record in Stockholm to finish in the 13th-16th place position. While the team’s run at the Major may have ended earlier than anticipated, the team’s performance was, for the most part, exactly what we had expected to see from the CIS squad. The team’s Group Stage performance reiterated the distance between Na’Vi and the Pro Circuit’s top squads, as the team’s 2 series losses came at the hands of EG (ranked 3rd) and Vici Gaming (ranked 7th). The team’s 2-1 victory over Chaos Esports Club was a nice silver lining for the team, though it wasn’t enough to keep the squad out of the Lower Bracket. Said Lower Bracket match was the truly disappointing part of the team’s run in Stockholm, as the team lost its Bo1 match against J.Storm. The North American squad has consistently disappointed on the international level, and the match up appeared to be one that significantly favored Na’Vi. If Na’Vi wants to have any real chance at being a serious contender on the international level, then it absolutely has to be able to take advantage of match ups against squads like J.Storm that have consistently struggled outside of their home regions. While the CIS squad wasn’t able to get it done this time around, Na’Vi will have an opportunity to return to the Pro Circuit stage in the near future. The regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major are set to begin at the end of March, and Na’Vi will have another shot at earning itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage so long as it can successfully fight its way past its regional rivals again.

 

PSG.LGD PSG LGD

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $60,000 & 540 Pro Circuit Points (Reduced from 900 due to using a stand-in)

Event Record: 8-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 4-4 Playoffs)

PSG.LGD came into this Major as the top ranked team in the Chinese region, but there were a couple of questions in need of answering as the team entered the event without one of its star players in Somnus`M. Of course, Xm had proven himself to be a capable replacement as a stand-in for the squad, having turned in some solid performances for the team within the Chinese region in the run up to this Major. However, the question coming into the event itself was how well he would hold up on one of the biggest stages in the Dota 2 world, and whether the team could overcome the absence of Somus`M to turn in a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage.

PSG.LGD’s first series of the Major saw it face off against Infamous, and very early on it was clear that the Chinese juggernaut was a class above its South American opponent. PSG.LGD dominated both matches of this series, out killing Infamous 57-23 in a pair of lopsided victories. The Chinese squad held the net worth lead for all but a couple of minutes in this series, with stand-in Xm in particular leading the charge for the squad with a combined stat line of 15-4-26 across the 2 matches. In total, the series lasted just under 58 minutes of total game time as PSG.LGD rolled to a relatively easy 2-0 victory in its first series of the Major.

PSG.LGD’s next series would prove to be much more difficult, as the squad took on Ninjas in Pyjamas for a shot at claiming the top spot in the Group B standings. Game 1 saw the Chinese squad playing from behind for much of the match, as the team needed time to get its cores online. The team did eventually hit their stride, as Ame’s Troll Warlord (7-6-12) and Xm’s Gyrocopter (12-3-13) led a surge that put PSG.LGD ahead by nearly 8k net worth late in the game. Despite building up that lead, PSG.LGD was unable to close things out, as the squad lost a critical team fight that allowed NiP to reestablish control and snatch a victory away to put the Chinese squad behind 0-1 in the series. After coming up short in Game 1, PSG.LGD entered Game 2 determined to put its strength on display. The squad came out aggressively with a core trio of Naga Siren, Razor, and Pangolier that quickly established control over the match. Behind a combined 27-9-47 stat line from those core heroes, PSG.LGD led in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match, shutting down NiP to even up the series at 1-1. Game 3 saw the previous roles reversed between the 2 squads, as PSG.LGD was the squad playing from behidn through the early and mid-game stages of the match. However, the squad was able to keep itself relatively close to its opponent in terms of net worth throughout that period, and as the match shifted into the late-game stage, PSG.LGD was able to shift momentum into its favor. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Ame on Morphling (15-4-8) and Xm on Death Prophet (10-1-12), PSG.LGD out killed its opponent 14-4 over the final 10 minutes of play to claim a 2-1 series victory and the top spot in the Group B standings.

Following its strong performance in the Group Stage, PSG.LGD entered the Upper Bracket of the Main Event with a fair bit of confidence as it matched up against Mineski in Round 1. Very early on, it was apparent that the Chinese squad had retained every bit of momentum from its 2 Group Stage series wins, as the team quickly established control over Mineski. The team out killed its opponent 60-26 over the course of the 2 game series, seemingly out playing Mineski at every turn. The team’s Carry/Mid duo turned in some fantastic performances for PSG.LGD, as Ame posted a combined 26-0-16 stat line on Juggernaut and Phantom Assassin while Xm put together a line of 16-5-17 on Death Prophet and Pugna. With those strong showings leading the way, PSG.LGD was able to claim a massively one sided 2-0 victory to advance to the next round of the Upper Bracket.

PSG.LGD’s next series saw it face off against a regional rival, as the team took on Vici Gaming to see which squad would claim a spot in the Upper Bracket Finals and a guaranteed Top 4 finish in Stockholm. Game 1 went decisively in the favor of PSG.LGD from the very start, as the team played a somewhat aggressive style that Vici Gaming could not counter. After out killing its opponent 29-8 over the course of the match, PSG.LGD eventually managed to force a “gg” call from its opponent in a massively one sided victory to begin the series. Game 2 looked like it was also going to be a fairly straight forward win for PSG.LGD, as the team led in terms of net worth for almost the entirety of the mid and late-game stages. Behind a pair of strong performances from Ame on Gyrocopter (10-4-14) and Xm on Death Prophet (10-6-11), the squad was poised to claim another victory. However, the team was ill-prepared for a late-game surge from its opponent, as Vici Gaming managed to turn a crucial, last second team fight that left PSG.LGD defenseless as Vici Gaming pulled off an incredible comeback win to tie up the series. After losing control late in Game 2, PSG.LGD was in for another shock as Game 3, as Vici Gaming pulled out a last pick Broodmother that the squad was not fully prepared to counter. The surprise pick dominated the laning phase, and despite the team’s best efforts, PSG.LGD could not keep pace with its opponent as it fell behind early and could never mount an effective comeback of its own. Down by over 11k net worth by the 28 minute mark, PSG.LGD conceded defeat to fall 1-2 in the series and drop down into the Lower Bracket.

The team’s first match up in the Lower Bracket saw PSG.LGD go up against VP, with the 2 squad playing for a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Major. The Chinese squad found itself playing from behind for most of Game 1, as VP managed to build up a modest net worth lead in the early and mid-game stages. However, PSG.LGD was eventually able to regroup and turn things around in the late-game stage. With its core trio of Spectre, Pugna, and Ursa combining for a stat line of 24-5-31, the team out killed its opponent 15-1 over the final 10 minutes of play to shatter VP’s momentum and claim a comeback win to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately for PSG.LGD though, its late-game heroics in Game 1 did not translate into any momentum in Game 2, as the team found itself trailing throughout the game. Despite solid showings from Ame’s Spectre (6-4-15) and Xm’s Mirana (9-5-12), PSG.LGD could never put together a strong enough push to take control away from VP, as the CIS squad claimed a wire-to-wire victory to even up the series 1-1. After a comeback win in Game 1 and a lopsided defeat in Game 2, Game 3 of the series proved to be an extremely close match. The 2 teams traded the net worth lead 10 separate times over the first 40 minutes of play, and neither squad led by more than 4k net worth over than same time frame. Behind another impressive performance from Xm on Pugna (8-4-11), PSG.LGD looked to be in a solid position to potentially win the match, but things would not go well for the squads in the final minutes of the match. PSG.LGD found itself losing a pair of crucial late-game team fights that wiped out the squad’s defenses and allowed VP to close out the match to hand PSG.LGD a 1-2 defeat in the series. With that final loss, PSG.LGD ended its run in Stockholm, claiming a 5th-6th place finish overall with an 8-5 record.

PSG.LGD came into this event in a fairly interesting situation, as the squad was playing at the Major without one of the largest pieces of its roster due to Somnus丶M‘s hiatus from the team. However, the impressive play of stand-in Xm and the strength of the rest of the team’s lineup still had the Chinese team sitting in a favorable position as it made its way to Stockholm. Prior to the start of the Major, PSG.LGD was projected to finish in the 5th-6th place finish, and that position is exactly where the team ended up as it posted an 8-5 record on the Pro Circuit stage. The team’s play was pretty impressive across the majority of this event, as the team dominated its Group Stage series and swept past Mineski in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket before suffering back to back 1-2 losses to Vici Gaming and VP to end its run. Considering the fact that the team was playing with a stand-in at this event, it’s hard to find anything that was particularly disappointing for PSG.LGD in terms of its overall performance. The loss to Vici Gaming could perhaps be construed as a weak point for the team, but considering the fact that Vici Gaming is still one of the strongest teams in China and taking into account what the squad was able to accomplish at both this Major and the previous Minor, PSG.LGD’s hard fought 1-2 loss is hardly a disappointing or shocking result. Perhaps the most impressive part of PSG.LGD’s run in Stockholm is the fact that it almost made you forget that the squad was playing without one of its regular players. The duo of Ame and Xm turned in absolutely astounding performances throughout the event, averaging a combined 17.38 kills and 22.85 assists on just 5.84 deaths per game across 13 total matches at the Major. As of right now, it is unclear when Somnus丶M will be returning to the active lineup to retake his position from Xm. By this point though, the stand-in Midlaner has attracted quite a bit of attention with his impressive play, and will likely be looked at as a high value player even after his time with PSG.LGD comes to an end. For now though, the focus of Xm and the rest of PSG.LGD will be on making a return to the Pro Circuit stage, as the squad will prepare for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major China Closed Qualifier beginning on March 30.

 

EHOME 800px-EHOME

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 45 Pro Circuit Points (Reduced from 75 due to using a stand-in)

Event Record: 4-5 (4-4 Group Stage, 0-1 Playoffs)

EHOME came into this Major as a squad with a lot of questions hanging around it, most of which related to the team’s recent roster changes. The team’s replacement of eGo with END at the Carry position represented a significant risk for it, and the use of XinQ as a long-term stand-in due to the injury to Faith_bian was also a factor that had the potential to affect the squad’s strength in Stockholm. The good news for EHOME is that its previous success on the Pro Circuit level afforded it a favorable position in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and it was highly unlikely that the squad was going to drop out of the Top 12 in the Rankings no matter how it performed in Stockholm. Even with that advantage to fall back on, the squad was hoping that its new roster would pull through and manage to put together an impressive showing on the Pro Circuit stage.

EHOME began its Major run with a series against Southeast Asian squad Mineski in the Opening Matches of Group C, and right from the start it was clear that the Chinese team was in for a challenge. EHOME found itself absolutely annihilated in Game 1 of the series as it was out killed 7-37 in a complete stomp. No member of the team earned more than 2 kills in the match, and the team trailed by as much as 44k net worth in a massively one sided defeat to open the series. Game 2 looked like it was going to play out in a similar manner, as EHOME found itself playing from behind once again. This time though, the team’s deficit was not nearly as large, and thanks to a tremendous effort from END’s Luna (8-1-13) and ASD’s Timbersaw (5-4-13), the Chinese squad was able to mount a last second comeback effort to even up the series in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, the squad did not manage to carry over any momentum from that comeback win into the final match of the series, as Game 3 proved to be another one sided match from the start. While EHOME did get another pair of solid efforts from END on Terrorblade (4-1-4) and ASD on Shadow Fiend (6-3-5), those efforts were not enough to hold back a Mineski squad that aggressively forced fights and pushed lanes throughout the match to hand EHOME a 1-2 defeat in the series.

That initial defeat put EHOME in the Losers’ Match of its group, where the squad faced off against Forward Gaming to see which team would end up at the bottom of the group standings. Game 1 of the series was an interesting affair, as EHOME remained in control in terms of net worth throughout the match despite being even or even behind in terms of kill count compared to its opponent. One of the bigger reasons for that occurrence was the play of END’s Terrorblade (10-3-4), as the Carry out farmed everyone else in the game with a GPM of 836 that helped EHOME maintain control long enough to secure a win to open the series. Game 2 ended up being a bit more straightforward, as EHOME jumped out to a lead early and managed to keep its opponent at bay throughout the rest of the match. Behind an impressive performance from ASD on Lechrac (13-3-10), EHOME continued to press its advantage across the entirety of the match, going up by nearly 25k net worth by the 33 minute mark before it eventually broke through Forward Gaming’s defenses to secure a 2-0 sweep of the series.

EHOME’s victory over Forward Gaming earned the squad a shot at revenge, as the team faced off against Mineski once again in a rematch of their previous Group Stage series. This time around, it was EHOME that struck first, as the Chinese squad put together a dominant showing in the opening match of the series. Behind a pair of impressive performances from END’s Ember Spirit (13-0-13) and ASD’s Outworld Devourer (12-2-13), EHOME was able to control the pace of play throughout the match, building up an insurmountable lead in the mid and late-game stages to close out a victory and take a 1-0 lead in the series. Beyond that point though, the team’s momentum went absolutely dry, as Mineski bounced back to seize control of the series. EHOME found itself out killed 10-40 over the final 2 matches of the series  as it was simply overwhelmed and out played by its opponent in back to back stomps. EHOME did not hold a net worth lead throughout the entirety of Games 2 and 3, and those final 2 matches lasted a combined 40 minutes as EHOME suffered another 1-2 defeat at the hands of Mineski.

That last Group Stage loss put EHOME into the Lower Bracket of the Main Event, where it faced off against Infamous in a Bo1 elimination match. Unfortunately for EHOME, the match did not go well, as the Chinese squad was overwhelmed by its opponent and found itself playing from behind throughout the entire match. ASD was the only member to earn more than 1 kill in the match, posting a 4-3-0 stat line that accounted for all but 1 of the team’s kills in the entire game as EHOME was absolutely run over to suffer a rough loss that brought its Major run to an end. With that final loss, EHOME’s overall record in Stockholm went to 4-5 as the squad finished in the 13th-16th place position at the Major.

EHOME came into the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as a team that many had somewhat tempered expectations. The squad was enjoying an incredible run of success both within its home region and on the Pro Circuit stage, but the recent changes to the squad’s roster introduced a certain degree of uncertainty as it went up against some of the best teams in the Dota 2 world. Prior to the start of the event, the Chinese squad was projected to finish in the 9th-12th place range in the standings, but the team ended up falling short of that predicted outcome with a 4-5 record and a 13th-16th place finish in Stockholm. Many will likely look at the team’s 4-5 mark at the Major and wonder just how the squad ended up at the bottom of the event standings, and the fact of the matter is that the squad’s performance as a whole was not quite as poor as what its final position would indicate. The team handily defeated a struggling Forward Gaming squad in the Group Stage, but missed out on a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event due to a pair of 1-2 series losses to Mineski. Under normal circumstances, that match up is one that would heavily favor the Chinese squad, but EHOME’s recent roster change and need for a stand-in due to Faith_bian’s injury seemingly leveled the playing field to a certain degree. Of course, there is no guarantee that the team’s normal roster would have been able to produce a different result, and at this stage the “what ifs” don’t really matter much. The most concerning aspect of EHOME’s performance in Stockholm will almost certainly be its Lower Bracket loss against Infamous, the loss that knocked the team out of the Major. Bo1s are situations that almost inherently favor the underdog, as the less favored squad just needs to out play its opponent a single time to find success. Usually, that success is predicated on a pocket or “cheese” strategy, but that simply wasn’t the case for EHOME. Infamous didn’t pull out anything particularly unexpected, it simply out played EHOME, and it did so to an alarming degree. Even with a stand-in and a relatively new member on its roster, EHOME was expected to be significantly more competitive in this match, if not win it outright. The good news for the Chinese squad moving forward is that it will have more time to integrate its new players and grow more accustomed to playing with its new roster. As of right now, it is not fully clear when Faith_bian will be returning to active play, and with the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifiers right around the corner, EHOME will have to prepared to go up against its regional rivals with its current roster.

 

Keen Gaming Keen Gaming

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $60,000 & 900 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 6-7 (4-2 Group Stage, 2-5 Playoffs)

Keen Gaming came into this event as a rising power within the Chinese region. Coming into this event, the squad had strung together a multitude of Top 4 finishes in smaller tournaments and qualifier runs. On top of that, the team had recently made its first appearance of the season on the Pro Circuit stage, having put together an impressive 3rd place performance at The Bucharest Minor back in January. Between its success at home and its solid showing on the international level, there were many wondering just how far this Keen Gaming roster would be able to go as it prepared to take the stage at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major.

Keen Gaming began its run in Stockholm with a match up against the defending Major Champion, as the team played Team Secret in the Opening Matches of Group A. Game 1 did not go particularly well for the Chinese squad, as Keen Gaming fell behind early and was never able to mount any sort of effective comeback effort as it fell in less than 24 minutes of game time. Game 2 started off looking much better for Keen Gaming, as this time it was the Chinese squad that jumped out to an early lead by out killing Team Secret 17-4 over the first 20 minutes of play. Unfortunately, Keen Gaming was unable to maintain its momentum, as the mid and late-game stages belonged exclusively to Team Secret. Keen Gaming suffered defeat after defeat in team fights, as the team fell further and further behind in the face of Team Secret’s aggression. Down by over 16k net worth by the 25 minute mark, the team opted to concede defeat to fall 0-2 in the series.

Following its loss to Team Secret, Keen Gaming had a chance to bounce back with a series against J.Storm in the Losers’ Match of Group A. Keen Gaming quickly took advantage of that opportunity, as the squad completely dismantled its opponent in a pair of massively one sided matches. Across the 2 game series, Keen Gaming managed to out kill its opponent 67-21, putting together a pair of dominant performances that did not allow J.Storm any opportunities to keep things even remotely competitive. The squad’s core trio of old chicken, 一, and eLeVeN combined for 52 kills and 59 assists with just 9 deaths across the 2 games, and no member of Keen Gaming died more than 5 times in either match as Keen Gaming simply overwhelmed its opponent and rolled its way to a quick 2-0 sweep in a series that lasted just over 55 minutes of total game time.

Riding a high from its one sided sweep against J.Storm, Keen Gaming entered the Decider Match of Group A with confidence as it faced off against Team Liquid. As it turned out, that confidence was not without merit, as the Chinese squad absolutely obliterated its opponent in Game 1 of the series. While the 2 teams remained relatively even in terms of net worth over the first 15 minutes of play, Keen Gaming’s more aggressive strategy earned it far more kills than its opponent. The squad out killed Team Liquid 39-13 by the end of the match, and those kills combined with constant farming and a combined 25-5-51 stat line from its core trio allowed Keen Gaming to claim a victory in just under 29 minutes of game time. Game 2 also began as a relatively competitive match, as the 2 teams were separated by less than 3k net worth over the first 30 minutes of play. Things began to look a bit grim for Keen Gaming in the late-game stage though, as Team Liquid began to pull away with a modest net worth advantage. Keen Gaming struck back hard though, out killing its opponent 16-6 over the final 10 minutes to shift momentum back into its own favor and close out the match for an impressive 2-0 sweep over Team Liquid.

After taking down Team Liquid to close out its Group Stage run, Keen Gaming found itself facing off against Evil Geniuses in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket. Game 1 of that series did not go well for the Chinese squad, as the team was out killed 6-23 in a completely one sided match that saw the team trail by nearly 10k net worth at the 23 minute mark before conceding defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would be a much more contentious affair though, as Keen Gaming put together a core trio of Sven, Puck, and Doom that was far more capable of holding its ground in team fights. Said core trio combined for a 30-20-51 stat line, as Keen Gaming was able to push its way past EG for a hard fought victory to tie up the series at 1-1. After winning Game 2, Keen Gaming rolled into Game 3 riding a high of confidence that it immediately put to use against EG. The team jumped out to a strong start with a multitude of early pick offs, and once the team had the lead it never gave it up. The team’s core trio of Troll Warlord, Shadow Fiend, and Leshrac combined for 28 kills and 38 assists on just 8 deaths in the match, absolutely dominating EG en route to a lopsided victory in less than 29 minutes of game time to claim a 2-1 win in the series.

Keen Gaming’s victory over EG put it just 1 series away from a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Major, but the squad needed to get past Southeast Asian squad Fnatic in order to reach that position. Unfortunately for Keen Gaming, that proved far harder than it had been anticipating, as Fnatic dominated the series from the very start. Game 1 was a disaster for the Chinese squad, as Keen Gaming was out killed 8-25 in a massively one sided match. While the squad was able to keep things relatively even through the early stage of the game, Keen Gaming was out killed 2-15 over the final 10 minutes of the match as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw Keen Gaming earn a significantly higher kill count, but those extra kills did little to help the team avoid a similar situation to its previous match. Despite a valiant effort from 一 on Outworld Devourer (6-3-5), Keen Gaming simply could not keep up with its opponent. Trailing by nearly 30k net worth by the 44 minute mark, Keen Gaming opted to call “gg” to lose the match and the series as it dropped down into the Lower Bracket.

Keen Gaming found itself in for a challenge in its first Lowe Bracket series, as the Chinese squad faced off against defending Major Champion Team Secret with a Top 4 finish on the line in Stockholm. Throughout most of Game 1 though, it appeared that Keen Gaming was ready for that challenge, as the Chinese team was in control through the early and mid-game stages. With 一’s Puck (10-5-7) putting together an impressive performance, the team held a net worth lead throughout the first 32 minutes of the match. Unfortunately, the squad could not close out the game despite that advantage, as Team Secret came roaring back with a late-game surge that Keen Gaming was unprepared for. Out killed 4-14 over the final 8 minutes of the match, Keen Gaming lost control as its opponent completed a comeback win to hand the team a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 would end up playing out in an eerily similar manner for the 2 teams, as Keen Gaming once again managed to take a lead early in the match. Old Chicken’s Troll Warlord (62–1) led the charge for the Chinese squad, helping the team pull away in the early stages of the match. Beyond the 20 minute mark though, the team collapsed, earning just 2 kills compared to 16 from Team Secret as the team pulled off back to back comeback wins to give Keen Gaming a 0-2 loss in the series. Said loss knocked the Chinese squad out of the Major, with Keen Gaming finishing in the 5th-6th place position with a 6-7 overall record in Stockholm.

Keen Gaming came into this event as a strong team in the Chinese region that was beginning to test its strength on the international level. The team had looked solid in its previous appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, but against some of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world, it was unclear just how the Chinese squad would hold up. Prior to the start of the Major, Keen Gaming was projected to finish in the 9th-12th place position in the standings with a solid, but not overly impressive showing on the Pro Circuit stage. As it turned out, the squad absolutely annihilated that modest prediction, putting together a 6-7 overall record that saw it push all the way to the 5th-6th place position in Stockholm. The team’s run began with a predictable loss to Team Secret in the Group Stage, but after that series the squad put together an amazing run. The team swept past both J.Storm and Team Liquid, then claimed a shocking 2-1 victory over EG to knock the North American squad out of the Upper Bracket before finally falling in back to back 0-2 losses to Fnatic and Team Secret to end its Major run. At 6-7, the team’s overall record in Stockholm may not seem as impressive as its final position in the standings would indicate, but consider this: The Chinese squad played all 13 of its matches at the Major against teams that were ranked inside of the Top 12 in the Pro Circuit Rankings at the beginning of this event. In every single match up that the team faced at this event (except perhaps its series against J.Storm), Keen Gaming was considered to be the underdog, and the squad still managed to put together a respectable record despite consistently having the odds stacked against it. Keen Gaming significantly out performed expectations at this Major, but the question now for the squad is how much further can it go? The team’s strong play on both the international level and within its home region has afforded Keen Gaming something of a head start in its quest to return to the Pro Circuit stage, as the squad has been directly invited to the MDL Disneyland Paris Major China Closed Qualifier which is set to begin just a few days from now. We will have to wait and see whether or not Keen Gaming can build upon this impressive display on the Pro Circuit stage and maintain its high level of play over the second half of the season.

 

Fnatic Fnaticlogo

Place: 3rd

Winnings: $100,000 & 2,100 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 11-7 (5-3 Group Stage, 6-4 Playoffs)

Fnatic came into this event as the top ranked Southeast Asian squad in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and as a team that was slowly but surely showing improvement on the Pro Circuit stage. After a 7th-8th place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major and a 5th-6th place run at The Chongqing Major, the team was hoping to take that next step forward and claim a Top 4 performance on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm. With a roster of talented and experienced players and a string of impressive showings both at home and on the international level, the team was confident that it had the capacity to hold its own against the elite teams of the Dota 2 world.

Fnatic got its run in Stockholm started with a series against European squad Ninjas in Pyjamas, and the 2 squads immediately put together one of the longest matches of the event. The teams battled it out for over 72 minutes in Game 1, with Fnatic playing from behind for most of the mid and late-game stages. However, the squad refused to give in, and behind a combined 27-20-48 stat line from its core trio of Lone Druid, Invoker, and Viper the squad put together an incredible series of team fight victories in the final minutes of play to wipe out NiP and claim a last second comeback win. That near miraculous victory would prove to be the team’s lone success in the series though, as Fnatic quickly fell apart in Games 2 and 3. The team trailed in terms of net worth across the entirety of both matches, and was out killed 18-64 in back to back losses that handed Fnatic a rough 1-2 defeat in the series.

After losing its initial series against NiP, Fnatic found itself taking on South American squad Infamous in the Losers’ Match of its group, and right from the start the Southeast Asian squad ran into difficulties. Game 1 of the series began as a relatively close match, but Fnatic was the team playing from behind throughout the early stages. As the match shifted into the mid and late-game stages, the squad’s troubles only increased, as Fnatic was out killed 4-14 over the final 10 minutes of play to ultimately lose the opening match of the series. Game 2 proved to be another one sided match, but this time Fnatic was the squad in control as the team jumped out to a strong start and kept Infamous on the defensive throughout the match. Behind a combined 8-5-17 stat line from its core trio of Lone Druid, Shadow Fiend, and Leshrac, Fnatic was able to close out a one sided victory in just over 28 minutes of play to even up the series 1-1. The Southeast Asian squad carried its momentum form that victory over into Game 3, as Fnatic quickly established control of the match thanks to an impressive performance from Abed on Templar Assassin (9-1-4). The team held its opponent to just 8 kills in the match, and forced a “gg” call from Infamous in just over 25 minutes to lock down a much needed 2-1 victory in the series.

Fnatic’s win against Infamous set it up for a rematch against NiP in the Decider Match of its group, this time with a spot in the Upper Bracket on the line for the 2 squads. Game 1 was a tightly contested affair across the first half of play, as the teams were separated by no more than 3k net worth through the first 30 minutes of the match. Past that mark though, everything appeared to go Fnatic’s way, as the Southeast Asian squad pulled away from its opponent with the help of a 12-4 run in terms of kills over the final 10 minutes of the match. With Abed’s Puck (11-0-19) leading the way for the squad, Fnatic was able to close out the victory to take a 1-0 lead in the series. After a relatively even match to open the series, Game 2 ended up being a bit less contentious, as Fnatic was the team in control for much of the match. However, that didn’t mean that the squad was able to completely shut out its opponent, as NiP put together multiple surges throughout the mid and late-game stages that threatened the Southeast Asian squad’s hold over the game. Thanks to a combined 30-18-70 stat line from its core trio of Phantom Lancer, PUck, and Legion Commander though, Fnatic was able to withstand all of those surges and maintain its hold over the match to lock down a 2-0 sweep of the series and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

Fnatic’s first opponent in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event would be a former Major Champion, as the Southeast Asian squad faced off against VP in Round 1. If its opponent intimidated it, Fnatic certainly didn’t let it show, as the squad came out in Game 1 with an aggressive core trio of Ursa, Templar Assassin, and Brewmaster. The aggressive strategy appeared to fairly successful for Fnatic, and behind an unbelievable performance from MP’s Ursa (18-3-8), the squad was able to seize control of the match to claim a victory over VP and a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar manner for the Southeast Asian squad, as the team remained relatively even with its opponent in the early and mid-game stages before taking control late. With a combined stat line of 25-8-45 from its core trio of Lifestealer, Pangolier, and Timbersaw, Fnatic was able to control the majority of the team fights in the late-game stage as it finally broke through VP’s defenses to close out a shocking 2-0 sweep over the CIS powerhouse.

Following its impressive sweep of VP in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket, Fnatic found itself facing off against Keen Gaming in Round 2, with a spot in the Upper Bracket Finals on the line. As it turned out, the Southeast Asian squad did not have much difficulty dispatching its opponent, as Fnatic dominated the series from the very start. Game 1 was a blowout victory for the team, as Fnatic out killed its opponent 25-8 with all 25 kills coming from the team’s core trio of Juggernaut, Dragon Knight, and Timbersaw. Behind those 3 cores, the squad closed out the match on a 15-2 kill run in just over 9 minutes to lock down a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 ended up playing out in a similar manner, with Fnatic jumping out to an early lead and massively expanding upon said lead in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a pair of strong showings from MP on Juggernaut (15-2-16) and Abed on Puck (9-1-15), Fnatic was able to shut down any attempts from Keen Gaming at a sustainable surge or comeback as the squad methodically pushed through its opponent’s defenses to claim a 2-0 sweep in the series.

That victory put Fnatic in the Upper Bracket Finals, where it played Chinese squad Vici Gaming for a spot in the Grand Finals of the Major. Game 1 of the series saw the Southeast Asian squad put together a core trio of Ursa, Invoker, and Pangolier that put it in control for much of the match. Behind a combined 40-13-64 stat line from said core trio, the squad held the net worth lead throughout the mid-game stage and managed to hold off a late-game surge from Vici Gaming to close out an impressive win to start the series. Game 2 played out in a similar manner, as Fnatic was able to take control of the match in the mid and late-game stages thanks to a combined 28-15-64 stat line from its core trio of Ember Spirit, Outworld Devourer, and Dark Seer. Just like in the previous match, Vici Gaming made a surge in the late-game stage, but this time Fnatic was unable to maintain control, as the Chinese squad pulled off a last second comeback to even up the series. With the series down to just a single match, Fnatic opted to come out with an aggressive strategy. Behind an impressive showing from Abed on Monkey King (9-5-6), the team led in terms of net worth throughout nearly the entirety of the match and appeared poised for a victory. Unfortunately, the squad proved unable to close out the game, and Vici Gaming put together another incredible comeback effort to hand Fnatic a surprising 1-2 defeat in the series.

Following that loss, Fnatic found itself in the Lower Bracket Finals for a rematch of its first Main Event series against VP. Game 1 saw the Southeast Asian squad blow the 5 time Major Champion out of the water, as Fnatic out killed its opponent 22-8 to force a “gg” call from the CIS squad in just over 25 minutes of game time. Unfortunately, Fnatic’s momentum seemed to die there, as VP was quick to seize control in Games 2 and 3. Across those final 2 matches, Fnatic was out killed 27-50 and trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes. Despite solid efforts from MP on Phantom Assassin in both matches (combined 11-6-11 in 2 matches), Fnatic could never truly take back control from its opponent, as the Southeast Asian squad fell 1-2 to bring its run in Stockholm to an end as the team claimed to a 3rd place finish at the Major and an 11-7 overall record.

Fnatic came into this event as a clear leader within the Southeast Asian region, but the squad was looking for an opportunity to put its strength on display on the international level as well. Over the course of the season, the team had been steadily improving its performance outside of its home region, and this appearance in Stockholm was the squad’s chance to take that next step forward and potentially claim a place among the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. Coming into the Major itself, Fnatic was projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position, but the Southeast Asian squad managed to out perform that prediction with a 3rd place run in Stockholm. With an 11-5 overall record at the Major, Fnatic managed to holds its own against some of the best teams on the Pro Circuit, making a strong case for it to be included among the elite teams in the Dota 2 world. The team’s run in Stockholm began in solid fashion with a 5-3 Group Stage showing, but it was the Main Event that saw the Southeast Asian squad truly shine. After dispatching both VP and Keen Gaming in a pair of 2-0 victories, the team proceeded to fight both Vici Gaming and VP to respectable 1-2 losses in both the Upper and Lower Bracket Finals. Of the team’s 18 total matches at the Major, 13 of them came against teams that were ranked inside of the Top 5 in the Pro Circuit Rankings at the start of the Major. Across those 13 matches, Fnatic put together a 7-6 record that,while not exactly dominant, is more than respectable considering the fact that it came against some of the Pro Circuit’s most successful teams. Given the level of growth that we’ve seen from the team this season, and its steadily improving results on the international level, it’s hard to argue at this stage that Fnatic doesn’t belong in the conversation with those top squads. Unless the team suffers some sort of massive and catastrophic setback within the next month or so, it feels safe to say that Fnatic has earned itself a place among the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. Up next for Fnatic will be defending its newfound position as a leader on the international level, as the squad’s quest to return to the Pro Circuit stage will begin just a few days from now at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Southeast Asia Closed Qualifier.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 5-8 (5-4 Group Stage, 0-4 Playoffs)

Mineski came into the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as a team that finally appeared to be hitting its stride after a somewhat slow start to its 2018-2019 campaign. The squad took a bit of a step back within its home region over the first half of the season, and suffered through a significantly reduced presence on the international level as well. After a couple of roster changes though, the squad finally appeared to have found a combination that worked for it, and the team’s new roster was eager to prove that it was ready to return the team to prominence within the Dota 2 world. In order to do that though, the squad was going to need to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage, which would prove to be quite the challenge against what was a very formidable field of opponents in Stockholm.

Mineski’s first series of the event saw it go up against Chinese squad EHOME in the Opening Matches of Group C, and the Southeast Asian squad jumped out to a fantastic start. The team out killed its opponent 37-7 in Game 1, with Ahjit’s Sven (20-0-8) leading the way with an unbelievable performance that drove Mineski to an easy victory to open the series. Game 2 appeared to be on pace for a similar outcome, as Mineski once again built up a sizable lead throughout the early stages of the map. Ahjit led his team for the second match in a row, putting together an incredible showing on Phantom Assassin (15-6-10) that put victory in the team’s sights. Unfortunately, EHOME had other plans, as the Chinese squad mounted a furious comeback and took advantage of some key misplays from Mineski to snatch a victory away from the Southeast Asian squad and even up the series at 1-1. After blowing its late-game lead, Mineski entered Game 3 determined to make up for that loss, and the squad certainly managed to follow through as it turned in a strong showing in the final match of the series. Behind impressive performances from Ahjit’s Morphling (8-1-3) and Moon’s Pangolier (10-2-5), Mineski led in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the match en route to a solid 2-1 victory to begin its Group Stage run.

After taking down a Minor winner in its first series of the event, Mineski found itself facing off against a Major winner next as it played Virtus.pro in the Winners’ Match of Group C. Game 1 saw the Southeast Asian squad get off to a strong start, as Mineski built up a decent lead early and continued to extend it throughout the match. Behind a pair of incredible performacnes from Ahjit’s Juggernaut (18-2-10) and Moon’s Shadow Fiend (10-5-16), Mineski was able to beat back every surge from its opponent to close out a victory to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, things quickly went downhill for Mineski following that initial victory. The squad was significantly out played in Games 2 and 3 of the series, as the team trailed in terms of net worth for all but 3 minutes across those final 2 matches. The team was out killed 25-44 in those last 2 games as well, and simply could not generate any significant momentum as VP exerted complete control to hand the Southeast Asian squad a 1-2 defeat in the series.

Mineski’s loss to VP put it in to the Decider Match of its group, where it would face a rematch of its initial Group Stage series against Chinese squad EHOME with a spot in the Upper Bracket up for grabs. Game 1 saw the Southeast Asian squad caught off guard, as the team fell behind as soon as the laning phase ended and never managed to catch up. Out killed 13-35, the team could not find any significant opportunities to mount a comeback effort, and were forced to concede defeat just shy of the 35 minute mark after falling behind by as much as 18k net worth. Following that initial defeat though, Mineski flipped the switch, putting together a pair of absolutely incredible performances that blew away any hopes for EHOME to remain competitive in the series. The squad out killed its opponent 40-10 across Games 2 and 3, dominating EHOME in a pair of absolute stomps, including a Game 3 win in which 4 of the team’s 5 players did not record a single death. Those lopsided victories secured Mineski another series victory over EHOME, as the team claimed a 2-1 win over the Chinese squad and locked down its place in the Upper Bracket.

While Mineski had earned itself a place in the Upper Bracket, it was in for quite a challenge as it faced off against PSG.LGD in Round 1. Unfortunately for Mineski, it was clear very early on that the Southeast Asian squad would not be the team in control of this series. Mineski found itself overwhelmed and out played in back to back matches, with the squad being out killed by its opponent 26-60 in the series. Despite a solid effort from Ahjit, who posted a combined 13-8-5 stat line across the 2 games on Ember Spirit and Morphling, Mineski simply could not counteract the aggression from its opponent as it fell 0-2 in the series to drop out of the Upper Bracket.

Mineski’s first series in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event saw it go up against North American squad J.Storm, and from the very start of the series it was clear that the Southeast Asian team had not fully recovered from its previous defeat. Mineski looked off in this series, as the team was dominated by J.Storm from the very start of play and simply couldn’t put together any sort of unified effort to get itself back into contention. The team was out killed 41-74 by its opponents, and trailed in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the series as it was constantly attempting to catch up to J.Storm. The team did manage to get an admirable effort from Ahjit, as the team’s Carry posted a combined 23-7-11 stat line across the 2 matches on Morphling and Ember Spirit. However, those efforts were not nearly enough to lift up the rest of the Mineski, as the team struggled throughout what ended up being a harsh 0-2 defeat in the series. With that loss, Mineski found its run in Stockholm at a rather abrupt end, as the team finished in the 9th-12th place position overall with a 5-8 record.

Mineski came into the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as a squad that many believed was approaching a turning point in its season. After struggling through the first half of the 2018-2019 campaign, the team was showing its first signs of a potential recovery both within its home region and on the international level. While hopes were high for the Southeast Asian squad coming into this event, the expectations were still kept relatively grounded, as Mineski was projected to finish in the 9th-12th place range prior to the start of play in Stockholm. That prediction ended up being pretty accurate, as the team posted a 5-8 overall record at the Major to finish in the 9th-12th place position in the standings. The squad’s performance at this event will likely be seen by many as a step forward for Mineski, and to be fair it is absolutely a strong positive sign for the squad. However, the problem with the team’s run at the Major as a whole was the wildly different levels of play between the squad’s Group Stage showings and its performances in the Main Event. The squad managed to claim 2 hard fought 2-1 series victories over EHOME in the Group Stage, and even managed to take a match off of VP for a solid 5-4 record. Once the squad hit the Main Event of the Major though, everything simply seemed to collapse around it as it lost handily in back to back 0-2 series losses to PSG.LGD and J.Storm to bring its run to a sudden stop. The loss to PSG.LGD is a bit more understandable, as the squad is still one of the leading teams both in China and on the Pro Circuit even without Somnus`M in the lineup. The lopsided loss at the hands of J.Storm is a much harder result to reconcile with though, as the North American squad had continuously struggled on the international level prior to this event. Some of the team’s issues may have been draft related, as the squad picked 5 different heroes in is Main Event matches that it had never selected across any of its Group Stage series, and all of those 5 new heroes failed to make much of an impact for the squad. For the most part though, it seemed like the team simply lost confidence and focus in the second half of the event, and its opponents proved more than capable of taking advantage of those lapses. Mineski obviously has a lot of work to do if it wants to have a chance of reclaiming a position as a leader on the Pro Circuit, but this performance at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major at least represents a solid start to the team’s recovery efforts. The next opportunity for the Southeast Asian squad is right around the corner, as the team will almost certainly be competing in the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Southeast Asian Qualifier which is just a few days away.

 

Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $40,000 & 450 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 8-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 4-4 Playoffs)

Evil Geniuses came into this Major as one of the most accomplished teams on the Pro Circuit, having secured back to back 3rd place finishes at the season’s previous 2 Majors. Those performances afforded the North American leader with a spot near the very top of the Pro Circuit Rankings, and put the squad within sight of the ultimate goal of the 2018-2019 campaign: a direct invite to TI9 in Shanghai this summer. Depending upon the results of this event in Stockholm, EG has a chance to lock down one of those coveted direct invite spots and punch its ticket to the Dota 2 world’s biggest and most prestigious event. While there were a number of scenarios that would help EG claim its place in the TI9 field, the most obvious path for the North American squad would be creating its own success with a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm as the team pursued its third straight Top 4 Major finish of the season.

EG’s first series of the event put it in a match up with CIS squad Na’Vi, and the North American leader was quick to establish control over the match up in Game 1. The team out killed its opponent 32-9, with Suma1L’s Mirana (15-0-12) putting together a dominant performance that fueled the squad to an easy victory to open the series. Game 2 started out looking like another one sided match, as EG was once again able to establish a large lead early in the match. Behind a strong showing from Arteezy on Terrorblade (8-4-3), the team looked poised to claim another victory, but Na’Vi managed to bounce back with an incredible shift in momentum. EG was out killed 5-17 over the final 10 minutes of the match, losing its lead and losing the match as well as the series was tied up at 1-1. After losing control of Game 2 though, EG was quick to reassert its authority in Game 3 with a dominant showing against Na’Vi. The team out killed its opponent 24-5, overwhelming the CIS squad with a combined 16-2-29 performance from its core trio of Spectre, Viper, and Tidehunter. Leading by over 15k net worth by the 23 minute mark, EG forced its opponent to concede defeat to close out the series 2-1.

After taking down Na’Vi, EG found itself facing off against Vici Gaming with the top spot in the Group D standings on the line. As it turned out, the Minor Champion didn’t present much of a challenge to the North American squad, as EG absolutely dominated the series right from the start. Across the 2 game series, EG managed to out kill its opponent 64-21 in a pair of lopsided victories in which the team’s Carry/Mid duo of Arteezy and Suma1L combined for a stat line of 43-4-45. In less than 58 minutes of total game time, EG was able to secure itself an impressive 2-0 sweep over Vici Gaming that locked down a spot in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event for the team.

Round 1 of the Upper Bracket put EG up against Keen Gaming, and the North American squad was quick to establish and early lead in the series. Game 1 was a complete stomp for EG, as the squad out killed its opponent 23-6 behind a pair of incredible performances from Suma1L on Viper (7-1-10) and Cr1t- on Clockwerk (8-0-11). The team completely controlled the match beyond the laning stage, and did not surrender a single kill past the 11 minute mark as it claimed a victory in less than 24 minutes to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 would not be nearly so easy for EG though, as the squad found itself in a much more tightly contested match against its Chinese opponent. While the 2 teams remained relatively even in terms of kills throughout the match, and Arteezy put in a strong showing on Ursa (12-7-8), the North American squad was unable to get itself a win as Keen Gaming managed to pull out a victory to even up the series at 1-1. After failing to close out the series in Game 2, EG was absolutely stomped in Game 3 of the series, as Keen Gaming jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. EG’s core trio of Spectre, Mirana, and Doom simply could not keep pace with their counterparts, and the team lacked the ability to take fights as the game progressed further. Out killed 15-34 and facing a net worth deficit of nearly 25k at the 28 minute mark, EG’s defenses were eventually broken as the squad was handed a 1-2 defeat that dropped it out of the Upper Bracket.

EG’s first opponent in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event would be NiP, as the 2 squads faced off in an elimination series to determine which team would claim a spot in the top half of the event standings. As it turned out, EG didn’t face many difficulties taking down its opponent, as the team absolutely stomped NiP in back to back lopsided victories. Across the 2 game series, the North American squad out killed its opponent 63-15, and no member of the team died more than 5 times across both matches combined. It was a textbook dismantling of an opponent on the part of EG, as the squad blew past NiP for a quick and relatively easy 2-0 sweep of the series to keep in run in Stockholm alive.

After its somewhat one sided series against NiP, EG found itself in a much more challenging situation as it took on VP in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket. For most of Game 1, it appeared that the North American squad was on the defensive, as the team trailed in terms of net worth for the first 40 minutes of play. Behind a pair of strong performances from Arteezy’s Lycan (9-1-13) and Cr1t-‘s Pangolier (8-3-16) though, the squad was able to turn things around with an impressive late-game surge that shifted momentum inexorably into the team’s favor. Closing out the match on a 10-0 run in terms of kills, EG was able to complete a comeback victory to take a 1-0 lead in the series. In Game 2, it looked as though the team was in a position to repeat its late-game heroics from the previous match, as the squad once again trailed through the first half of play. Behind solid showings from Arteezy on Sven (10-5-12) and Suma1L on Viper (7-4-12), the North American squad put together another surge in the late-game stage to take a sizable net worth advantage. This time around though, the team could not maintain its hold on that lead, as VP came storming back into the match to shatter the squad’s momentum and even up the series at 1-1. Unfortunately, EG proved unable to bounce back from that defeat as it came into Game 3, with the North American squad quickly falling behind in the final match of the series. The squad was out killed 10-28 by its opponent, and trailed in terms of net worth for the entire match as the team simply could not stop the aggression from its opponent. With that 1-2 defeat in the series, EG’s time in Stockholm came to a close, with the North American leader putting together an 8-5 record at the event to finish in the 7th-8th place position overall.

Evil Geniuses came into this event as one of the top ranked squads on the Pro Circuit, having put together an impressive run of success on the international level over the past year or so. Between the team’s solid performances at home and its sustained success on the Pro Circuit stage to this point in the season, the expectations were incredibly high for the team as it made its way to Stockholm. Prior to the start of the Major, EG was projected to finish in the Top 4 range and potentially compete for the title of Major Champion in Stockholm. As it turned out, the squad fell a fair distance short of that prediction, as EG finished its run at the Major in the 7th-8th place position overall. At first, that performance appears to be a significant disappointment for a team that came into this event off of back to back 3rd place finishes at the last 2 Majors, and in one respect it is. On the other hand, the team’s performance as a whole in Stockholm was far from disappointing. The team dominated its Group Stage series, taking down Na’Vi and Vici Gaming while only dropping a single match to claim the top spot in its group standings. It was only in the Main Event where the “problems” started for the squad, as the team lost 2 of its final 3 series. However, EG did not go down easily across those 2 series losses, claiming wins off of both Keen Gaming and Virtus.pro in a pair of 1-2 series defeats. Across the Main Event as a whole, EG’s record was a respectable 4-4, but that decent record does not fully absolve EG of any potential issues with regards to its performances. Across the team’s 5 series in Stockholm, it was almost certainly considered to be favored in all of them except for its final series against VP. The fact that the team took down squads like Na’Vi, Vici Gaming, and NiP is still impressive, but it is something that we had expected from a team ranked as highly as EG is. The close loss to VP is hardly damning for EG, but its 1-2 loss at the hands of Keen Gaming is the part of its run that comes as the most surprising and perhaps disappointment development. Even with that being said though, EG still finished in the top half of the event standings in Stockholm, and it still claimed the prize that it was looking for from the very start, as the squad’s 7th-8th place finish secured it enough Pro Circuit points to lock down a direct invite to TI9 barring any penalties to its total. With the squad’s goal for the season now ostensibly secure, the disappointment of losses to a Pro Circuit powerhouse in VP and a rising force like Keen Gaming are unlikely to bring the team or its fans down. Despite its lowest finish on the Pro Circuit this season, EG walk away from Stockholm as a successful squad, and likely a confident one as well as the team prepares for the upcoming MDL Disneyland Major Qualifiers.

 

J.Storm J Storm Small

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $40,000 & 450 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-6 (0-4 Group Stage, 3-2 Playoffs)

J.Storm came into this event as a team that has regularly disappointed on the international level. While the team continued to play well against its fellow North American squads, it simply hadn’t been able to translate that regional success into any comparable results away from home, especially on the Pro Circuit stage. However, the team’s appearances at the previous 2 Majors in this 2018-2019 season, disappointing as they may have been, still had J.Storm sitting in a relatively favorable position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. If the squad could manage to finally put together its breakthrough performance in Stockholm, then many of its previous issues on the Pro Circuit stage would become significantly less impactful to the team’s chances of earning a place at TI9.

J.Storm found itself facing off against Team Liquid in its first series of the Major, but the North American squad quickly found itself in a tough spot. Game 1 of the series did not go well for the team, as Team Liquid jumped out to a quick lead and never allowed J.Storm a chance to recover. Out killed 10-24 in game where it trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match, J.Storm had no choice but to concede defeat to lose Game 1 in just over 25 minutes of play. Game 2 of the series ended up going slightly better for J.Storm, but not by much. The team managed to keep relatively even with its opponent for the first 25 minutes of the match, but things quickly took a turn for the worse beyond that point. The team failed to secure a single kill over the final 10 minutes of play, as Team Liquid dominated the mid and late-game stages to hand the North American squad a harsh 0-2 defeat in the series.

Following its rough initial series against Team Liquid, J.Storm found itself facing off against Chinese squad Keen Gaming in the Losers’ Match of Group A. Unfortunately, this series would prove to be just as one sided as the previous one, as J.Storm was once again caught on the wrong side of a stomp. The team was out killed 21-67 across the 2 game series, as Keen Gaming did not afford J.Storm any opportunities to build momentum for itself. No member of J.Storm managed to earn more than 5 kills in either of those 2 games, and the North American squad found itself trailing in terms of net worth for all but 5 minutes across 55 minutes of total game time. The series never featured a moment where J.Storm appeared to have any control over the course of event, as the team suffered its second straight lopsided series defeat to finish at the bottom of the Group A standings.

Following its winless performance in the Group Stage, J.Storm began its Main Event run in the Lower Bracket, where it faced Na’Vi in a Bo1 elimination match. The North American squad was quick to show that it had put its Group Stage struggles behind it, as the team jumped out to a lead early in the match and only expanded upon it as the game went on. Behind an unbelievable performacne from Moo on Lifestealer (20-2-9), J.Storm was able to withstand multiple surges and comeback attempts from Na’Vi, maintaining its control over the match throughout the mid and late-game stages. Though its opponent was able to significantly extend the match, J.Storm eventually managed to break through Na’Vi’s final defenses in order to secure itself its first win of the event and advance to the next round of the Lower Bracket.

After surviving its Bo1 match against Na’Vi, J.Storm came into its next series with a little bit of confidence and momentum on its side as it faced off against Southeast Asian squad Mineski in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket. As it turned out, that confidence was fully justified, as J.Storm proceeded to out play its opponent in back to back one sided matches. Across the entire 2 game series, J.Storm out killed its opponent 74-41 and held a significant net worth lead for nearly the entirety of both matches. Leading the way for the North American squad was its Carry/Mid duo of Moo and Bryle, as the former combined for 31 kills and 29 assists on just 2 deaths with Lifestealer and Monkey King, while the latter put together a combined stat line of 17-4-37 on Queen of Pain and Death Prophet. With those impressive performances, J.Storm established near complete control over the series, and kept Mineski relatively quiet as the team secured itself a surprising 2-0 series victory and a guaranteed finish in the top half of the event standings in Stockholm.

J.Storm’s 3 straight victories in the Lower Bracket had the team feeling confident in itself as it entered Round 3 of the Lower Bracket, but that confidence would be put to the test with a match up against defending Major Champion Team Secret. Unfortunately, J.Storm did not appear to be ready to handle that test, as the squad was out played by its opponent from the very start of the series. The team was out killed by Team Secret 20-60 over the 2 game series, and trailed in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of both matches as the squad was constantly playing from behind. Unable to put together any sort of effective comeback effort, the North American squad fell 0-2 in the series to bring its run at the Major to an end with a 3-6 overall record and a 7th-8th place position in the event standings.

J.Storm entered the DreamLeague Season 11 Major as a team that had consistently struggled on the international level, but the team was hoping to change that with this appearance in Stockholm. Prior to the start of play at the Major though, that wasn’t expected to happen, with J.Storm holding a projection at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position. Fortunately for the team, J.Storm was able to massively out perform that meager prediction, as the squad pushed all the up to the 7th-8th place position by the end of its run in Stockholm. The team’s final position in the event standings is certainly an incredible development for the squad, but J.Storm’s play at the Major still left us with a number of questions moving forward. The narrative for J.Storm in Stockholm was a tale of 2 teams, as the squad swapped between periods of competence and confidence and stretches of disappointing performances. The team’s Group Stage showing falls under the former category, as J.Storm put together a 0-4 record against Team Liquid and Keen Gaming and simply looked out matched and overwhelmed by those opponents. Based on that winless start to its Major run, J.Storm was not expected to last long in the Main Event, in line with the team’s pre-Major projection. However, J.Storm managed to finally find success on the international level with 3 straight wins against Na’Vi and Mineski before falling to Team Secret in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket. At the end of the day, the fact that J.Storm managed to fight its way to a place in the top half of the event standings is incredibly impressive. However, the team’s solid finish in Stockholm does not fully cover up the fact that the team’s play was still dramatically inconsistent. The potential for success on the international level has always appeared to be there for this J.Storm roster, but the issue for the team now will be whether or not it can maintain a high level of play over the rest of the season. With the regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major already on the horizon, J.Storm should have a solid shot at earning itself yet another appearance on the Pro Circuit stage so long as its strong play at home holds up.

 

Forward Gaming Forward Gaming

Place: 13th-16th

Winnings: $10,000 & 75 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 1-5 (1-4 Group Stage, 0-1 Playoffs)

Forward Gaming came into this Major as team that had quite a lot to prove on the Pro Circuit stage. The North American squad had struggled mightily across its previous Pro Circuit appearances this season, and had seemingly had issues with performing on the international level in general in its 2018-2019 campaign. The team’s continued success and consistency within its home region afforded it another shot at success on the Pro Circuit stage, but the team was in desperate need of a strong showing in Stockholm to reverse the ongoing narrative around its lack of results away from its home region.

Forward Gaming’s quest to turn around its recent struggles on the international level began with a rather intimidating test, as the team faced off against Virtus.pro in the Opening Matches of Group C. The North American squad rose to the challenge in Game 1 though, putting on a dominant showing against the CIS titan. Led by an awe-inspiring performance from YawaR on Timbersaw (20-0-7), Forward Gaming was able to establish a lead early in the match and held it throughout the rest of play. The team did not allow VP a chance to mount any sort of comeback effort, as the North American squad closed out a wire to wire victory to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, Forward Gaming found itself on the other side of a lopsided match in Game 2, as VP bounced back with a dominant showing of its own. The team’s core trio of Faceless Void, Shadow Fiend, and Tiny struggled to gain any momentum, and VP exerted complete control over every team fight in the game as it wiped out Forward Gaming’s defenses to even up the series at 1-1. The third and final match of the series proved to be a tightly contested one, as neither side led by more than 3k net worth for the first 33 minutes of play. Behind a solid effort from YawaR on Monkey King (8-5-5), Forward Gaming was keeping itself competitive heading into the late-game stage, but its momentum would peter out beyond that point. Over the final 5 minutes of the match, Forward Gaming was out killed 2-7 as VP finally pulled away to hand the North American squad a 1-2 defeat in the series.

Forward Gaming’s loss to VP put it in the Losers’ Match of its group, where it faced off against Chinese squad EHOME to determine which team would finish at the bottom of the group standings. Game 1 was a somewhat bizarre match for the North American squad, as Forward Gaming found itself out killing its opponent for much of the match, but could not convert those kills into a net worth advantage. The team got a pair of admirable performances from Resolut1on’s Lifestealer (5-2-9) and MSS on Ursa (7-2-8), but trailed in terms of net worth throughout nearly the entirety of the match as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 did not end up going any better for the team, as the squad simply could not generate any sense of momentum for itself., Despite another valiant effort from MSS on Brewmaster (7-5-6), the team never managed to turn things around after falling behind early, and eventually lost the match to suffer a 0-2 defeat in the series.

The squad’s somewhat disappointing performance in the Group Stage had it beginning the Main Event of the Major in the Lower Bracket, where it faced off against NiP in a Bo1 elimination match. Early on things appeared to be going fairly well for the team, as it remained relatively even with its opponent in terms of net worth for the first 20 minutes of play. From that point on though, things went decisively in favor of NiP, as Forward Gaming lacked the damage to break through the tanky lineup of its opponent. Despite a solid effort from YawaR’s Mirana (6-3-4), Forward Gaming could not follow up its strong team fight control with enough raw damage to win fights, and the team found itself steadily falling further and further behind as the match went on. The North American squad put together one final attempt to defend its base and turn the tides of the match, but those efforts proved futile as NiP closed out the game and handed Forward Gaming a defeat that ended its run in Stockholm with a 1-5 overall record and a 13th-16th place finish.

Forward Gaming came into this event as a team that had been continuously struggling on the international level, as the squad had been pretty disappointing outside of its home region. Prior to the start of play in Stockholm, the team was projected to finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position, and that was exactly where the North American squad ended up when its run on the Pro Circuit stage had come to an end. The team finished its time at the Major with a 1-5 overall record,  which comes as a disappointing development considering the fact that the team’s run in Stockholm actually began with a bit of hope and optimism. The team lost its initial series of the Group Stage against Virtus.pro, but the team had at least managed to claim 1 win off of the 5 time Major Champion. That win against one of the Dota 2 world’s elite teams gave life to some minuscule hope that maybe, just maybe, Forward Gaming was on the verge of a breakthrough on the international level. Unfortunately, that breakthrough didn’t come to pass, as the squad lost 0-2 to EHOME before falling 0-1 to NiP in the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. At this stage, nothing appears to be working out for Forward Gaming, and we’re starting to see the team experiment a bit in terms of both its strategies and the positions of its players. The team played with MSS in the Offlane role at this event, while UNiVeRsE was shifted to a Support position in his stead, but that shift wasn’t enough to push the squad to more than its single win in the Group Stage. Across all of these preview and recap posts, it has always been an objective to try to avoid making knee jerk reactions or calling for changes for a particular squad. However, every rule has its exception, and in this case the exception appears to be Forward Gaming. There’s still 2 Minors and 2 Majors left in this season, as well as a slew of third party events on the international level as well, but time is running out for Forward Gaming to turn things around outside of its home region. It’s not just an issue with time and opportunities for this team either, as confidence is approaching an all time low in terms of the squad’s continued struggles on the international level. With the conclusion of this Major, the team’s record outside of North America stands at 20-38 on the season, and while there is still hope for this team moving forward, it appears to be fading with each passing day. The team’s next chance to earn another shot at redemption on the international level will come in just a few days, as Forward Gaming is set to participate in the MDL Disneyland Paris Major North America Qualifier at the end of March.

 

Chaos Esports Club chaos

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 2-2 Playoffs)

Chaos Esports Club came into this Major as the clear-cut leader within the South American region. The squad was one of just a handful to find any sort of consistent success against its regional rivals, and among those rivals the team held the highest position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. As the team made its way to Stockholm though, those positions were in jeopardy as teams like Thunder Predator, Infamous, and Demolition Boys all looked to spark runs in the second half of the season to dethrone Chaos Esports Club. With those squads looking for a potential weakness to exploit, Chaos Esports Club found itself in need of a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to create a bit of distance between itself and its regional rivals.

Chaos Esports Club began its Major run with a match up against the Minor Champion, as the team took on Vici Gaming in its first series of the event. The South American squad found itself playing from behind throughout the first half of Game 1, though the 2 teams were never separated by more than 6k net worth through the first 35 minutes. Chaos Esports Club was able to pull away in the late-game stage though, with hFn’s Troll Warlord (14-4-10) leading the way for the team as it went up by over 13k net worth. Unfortunately, the team proved unable to hold that significant lead, as Vici Gaming mounted a furious comeback effort that shattered the momentum of Chaos Esports Club and handed the squad a shocking defeat to open the series. After its late collapse in Game 1, Chaos Esports Club was unable to turn things around in Game 2, as the South American squad fell behind early and never recovered. No member of the team earned more than 5 kills in the match, and the team as a whole was out killed 11-29 in a massively one sided defeat that led to a 0-2 series loss for the Chaos Esports Club.

The team’s defeat at the hands of Vici Gaming dropped Chaos Esports Club into the Losers’ Match of Group D, where it faced off against Na’Vi to see which team would end up at the bottom of the group standings. Game 1 ended up being an incredibly one sided match, as the South American squad quickly established control and never looked back. The team out killed its opponent 17-6 in just 23 minutes, with its core trio of Spectre, Razor, and Beastmaster putting together a combined 13-2-16 stat line to help the team secure a quick and easy victory to open the series. From that point on though, things did not go well for Chaos Esports Club, as Na’Vi came back with a vengeance to seize complete control of the series. Across Games 2 and 3 of the series, Chaos Esports Club found itself out killed 18-51, and the team trailed in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of both matches. The squad’s previous momentum from its Game 1 win simply seemed to vanish, as the South American squad could do little to generate any momentum for itself and never found a big enough opening to put together any sort of effective comeback effort as it fell 1-2 in the series.

Chaos Esports Club’s Group Stage performance was certainly disappointing, but the South American squad still had one last chance to turn things around in Round 1 of the Lower Bracket with a Bo1 elimination match against Team Liquid. Despite the team’s previous struggles at this event, Chaos Esports Club turned up for this match and managed to take the TI7 winner by surprise. The team opted for an aggressive strategy spearheaded by a core trio of Ursa, Razor, and Omniknight, and that strategy proved to be far more than Team Liquid was capable of handling. With the previously mentioned core trio combining for a stat line of 20-3-24, Chaos Esports Club quickly ran away with the game, out killing Team Liquid 27-7 to take a somewhat surprising victory and advance to Round 2 of the Lower Bracket.

After dispatching Team Liquid, Chaos Esports Club came into Round 2 of the Lower Bracket with a fair bit of confidence in itself as it took on VP in a Bo3 series. In Game 1, we saw that confidence pay off for the South American squad, as Chaos Esports Club absolutely ran over its opponent with an aggressive early strategy. Behind a core trio of Ursa, Razor, and Omniknight, the squad out killed its opponent 15-5 in just 22 minutes of play, forcing VP to concede defeat quickly and giving the team a 1-0 advantage in the series. From that point on though, everything went wrong for Chaos Esports Club, as the squad was unable to hold off VP in Games 2 and 3 of the series. Out killed 32-61 over the course of those final 2 matches, the South American squad simply could not find answers to the stronger play of its opponent. The team trailed in terms of net worth across the majority of its final 2 games, and could not mount a sutainable comeback effort as the team lost the series 1-2. The loss ended the team’s run at the Major, with Chaos Esports Club claiming a 9th-12th place finish overall with a 2-6 record in Stockholm.

Chaos Esports Club came into this Major as a team that was looking to solidify its position at the top of its regional hierarchy while simultaneously making a push up the Pro Circuit Rankings. The team sat in a tie for a Top 12 position heading into this event, but that Ranking had more to do with the quantity of the team’s Pro Circuit appearances rather than the quality of them. The team had attended both of the previous Majors this season, but had finished in the bottom half of the standings at both events. Coming into this third Major in Stockholm, there wasn’t a whole lot of confidence in the team’s ability to break that streak, as Chaos Esports Club was projected to finish in the 13th-16th place position overall. While it’s true that the team didn’t manage to push into the top half of the event standings in Stockholm, it was at least able to out perform that prediction as it finished in the 9th-12th place position with a 3-6 record. The difference between a 13th-16th place finish and a 9th-12th place one ended up doubling the team’s earnings in Stockholm, but the team’s play as a whole was still somewhat inconsistent. The team did not look good in the Group Stage of the event, earning just a single win in fairly lopsided series losses to both Vici Gaming and Na’Vi. However, the Main Event of the Major saw the squad look significantly stronger, as Chaos Esports Club knocked out Team LIquid while taking a match win against VP in a 1-2 series defeat. Inconsistency on the international level has been an issues for this team all season long, and it doesn’t look like the squad has managed to resolve that problem just yet. The good news for the team is that its performance at this event did buy it a bit more time to figure things out, as the team remains the top ranked South American squad and is still fairly close to the Top 12 in the Pro Circuit Rankings. The focus for Chaos Esports Club at this stage will be maintaining its strong presence on the home front, as the squad will return to the South American region in the near future for the upcoming MDL Disneyland Major Paris South America Qualifier.

 

Infamous LOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Place: 9th-12th

Winnings: $15,000 & 150 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 2-6 (1-4 Group Stage, 1-2 Playoffs)

Infamous came into this Major as a team looking for an opportunity to claim a spot at the top of its regional hierarchy and make its mark on the international level as well. The squad had gone through a number of roster changes throughout the season to this point, with those frequent changes impacting the team’s ability to compete outside of its home region on a consistent basis. With this most recent iteration of the roster though, Infamous is hoping that it has finally found a combination of players that will bring it success on the international level, and the DreamLeague Season 11 Major provides the team with the perfect opportunity to put its strength on display with the eyes of the Dota 2 world watching.

The first test on the international level for Infamous’ new roster came against Chinese juggernaut PSG.LGD in the Opening Matches of Group B. Game 1 ended up being an alarmingly one sided match, as Infamous fell behind right at the start of the match and couldn’t seem to generate any momentum for itself. The team was out killed 8-31, and no member of the squad earned more than 3 kills in the match as Infamous was rolled over in the opening game of the series. Game 2 saw Infamous put together a slightly better effort, but the end results were still the same for the South American squad. The team trailed in terms of net worth for all but a couple of minutes in this match, as PSG.LGD dominated the match up and left Infamous with no real opportunities to get back into the match. Down by over 20k net worth by the 32 minute mark, Infamous opted to concede defeat to take a one sided 0-2 defeat in its first series of the Major.

After falling short in its series against PSG.LGD, Infamous dropped into the Losers’ Match of Group B for a match up against Southeast Asian squad Fnatic. Game 1 of the series saw the South American squad put on a dominant showing against its opponent, as Infamous out killed Fnatic 32-12 in a massively one sided match. The team’s core trio of Alchemist, Ursa, and Doom combined for 26 kills and 21 assists on just 4 total deaths as Infamous led in terms of net worth from start to finish to secure a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, things did not go well for the team beyond that point, as Fnatic was quick to bounce back from that initial defeat. Infamous found itself trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of Games 2 and 3, despite only earning 10 fewer kills than its opponent (20-30). The cores for Infamous simply could not keep pace with their counterparts, and that advantage allowed Fnatic to completely control both of those final 2 matches to hand Infamous a frustrating 1-2 defeat in the series.

Infamous may not have had the greatest of Group Stage runs, but Round 1 of the Lower Bracket introduced the “great equalizer” in the form of the Bo1 elimination matches. Infamous found itself in for a challenge though as it faced off against Bucharest Minor winner EHOME in said elimination match. As it turned out though, the Chinese squad didn’t prove to be much of an issue at all for the South American squad, as Infamous dominated the game from the very start of play. Behind a combined 14 kills and 25 assists on just 3 deaths for its core trio of Lifestealer, Death Prophet, and Dark Seer, Infamous establish control early and never looked back. The team held its opponent to just 5 kills across the entirety of the match, and built up a net worth lead of nearly 12k before forcing its opponent to concede defeat to claim a win in the match and advance to the next round of the Lower Bracket.

Round 2 of the Lower Bracket saw Infamous face off against the defending Major Champion in the form of Team Secret, and right off the bat things went poorly for the South American squad. The team was out killed 17-45 across the 2 game series, as Infamous simply could not keep up with its opponent. No member of the Infamous roster managed to reach double digit kills across the entirety of the series, and the South American squad trailed in terms of net worth for all of both matches save for a brief period at the very start of Game 2. The team was seemingly out played at every turn, and Infamous simply had no answers as it fell 0-2 to Team Secret in a series that lasted just over 47 minutes of total game time. With that loss, Infamous saw its run in Stockholm come to an end, with the team finishing in the 9th-12th place position with a 2-6 overall record.

Infamous found itself entering this Major in a very interesting position among the 16 teams in the field for the event. On the one hand, the squad was looking to make its mark on the international level, and was in need of a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage to distance itself from some of its main regional rivals. On the other hand, the expectations for the team were set fairly low coming into the event, meaning the team had very little to lose as it was essentially playing with house money from its position as an underdog squad. Prior to the start of play in Stockholm, Infamous was projected to finish in the 13th-16th place position overall, but the squad managed to exceed those expectations with a 2-6 record and a spot in the 9th-12th place position int he standings. At first glance, the team’s final tally in Stockholm may not seem overly impressive, but things look a bit better for Infamous upon closer inspection. To start things off, the team had the deck stacked against it to a significant degree in the Group Stage of the Major, as it was placed in a group that contained the 3 squads (PSG.LGD, NiP, and Fnatic) that were ranked 4th, 5th, and 6th in the Pro Circuit Rankings. The fact that Infamous finished at the bottom of the standings in that group is hardly unexpected, and the squad’s lone match win in its series against Fnatic is probably more than many were expecting from the squad. The pivotal moment for Infamous though was its Bo1 match against EHOME, as the South American squad put together an impressive performance to dismantle its Chinese opponent. That victory, combined with the team’s match win against Fnatic in the Group Stage, gave us a glimpse of what this team could do now that it has added mason to the lineup. The newest member of the squad put together averages of 4.25 kills and 3.25 assists on 2 deaths per game in Stockholm, and while those numbers are not the most impressive objectively, they represent the strongest average performance among the team’s players with a 3.75 KDA. It’s obvious that this Infamous roster is not on the verge of breaking out as a potential power on the international level, but this showing from the team in Stockholm at least instills a bit of hope that the team could be trending in the right direction moving forward. The key for Infamous in the near future will be maintaining a strong presence within its home region, and the squad is set to tested on that front almost immediately after the conclusion of this Major as it prepares for the upcoming regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.

 

Vici GamingVICI_Gaming

Place: 1st

Winnings: $350,000 & 4,950 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 13-7 (4-2 Group Stage, 9-5 Playoffs)

After a small couple of small setbacks in the recent Major qualifier and MDL Macau 2019, there were some who were questioning whether this Vici Gaming lineup was heading for potential roster changes. However, after a victorious run at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor, Vici Gaming had put most of those doubts to rest and was looking to reclaim a position as a leading team in the Dota 2 world with a strong showing at the Major in Stockholm. The team and its players were certainly no strangers to playing on the international level coming into this event, and the team’s hope was that its recent victory at the Minor would spark a strong run at the Major against some of the best opposition that the Dota 2 world had to offer.

The StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Champion began its run in Stockholm with a match up against South American squad Chaos Esports Club in the Opening Matches of Group D. Game 1 of the series was a tightly contested affair for the first half of the match, as the 2 teams were never separated by more than 6k net worth through the first 35 minutes of play. The Chinese squad got itself into a bit of trouble in the late-game stage though, as it fell behind by over 13k net worth. However, the team was able to bounce back from that deficit, as the duo of Paprazi’s Terrorblade (13-1-11) and Ori’s Necrophos (10-6-16) spearheaded a massive comeback effort that snatched a victory away from its opponent and gave Vici Gaming a 1-0 lead in the series. After its comeback win in Game 1, Vici Gaming came out with a dominant showing in Game 2 of the series. Behind another impressive showing from Paparazi on Morphling (13-1-8), Vici Gaming took control early and keep Chaos Esports Club down throughout the rest of the match to secure itself a 2-0 sweep of the series.

After a solid 2-0 victory over Chaos Esports Club, Vici Gaming found itself trading out a South American opponent for a North American one in the form of Evil Geniuses. Unfortunately for Vici Gaming though, it would not carry over any momentum from its previous series, as the Chinese squad struggled significantly this time around. The team earned just 21 kills across the entire series, a number that paled in comparison to the 64 kills that it allowed EG to rack up as the team suffered back to back lopsided defeats. No member of Vici Gaming managed to earn more than 4 kills in either match, and the team trailed in terms of net worth for all but a couple of minutes in a disastrous series for the Chinese squad. The silver lining for Vici Gaming was that its suffering was over fairly quickly, as the team’s 0-2 defeat in the series took less than 58 minutes of total game time.

After that tough defeat at the hands of EG, Vici Gaming was given another shot at earning a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, so long as it could get past CIS challenger Na’Vi. As it turned out, that didn’t prove to be much of a challenge for the Minor Champion, as Vici Gaming absolutely dismantled its opponent in a relatively quick 2 game series. Vici Gaming out killed its opponent 59-18 over the course of the series, with no member of the squad dying more than 6 times in both matches combined. The series as a whole lasted just over 51 minutes of total game time, and Vici Gaming held a net worth lead for each and every one of those minutes as it exerted complete control over both matches to sweep the series 2-0.

With that victory, Vici Gaming secured itself a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, but the Chinese squad was in for a challenge as it took on defending Major Champion Team Secret in Round 1. Game 1 proved to be a largely one sided affair, as Vici Gaming was playing for behind for nearly the entirety of the match. Behind a pair of solid efforts from Paprazi’s Troll Warlord (6-2-7) and Ori’s Death Prophet (6-3-10), the team did manage to temporarily take back the net worth lead in the mid-game stage, but that advantage was only temporary as Team Secret quickly reestablished control and closed out the match to hand Vici Gaming a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 appeared to be playing out in the same manner, as Vici Gaming was once again playing catch up against its opponent through most of the match. Behind another impressive performance from Paparazi on Razor (7-2-7), Vici Gaming managed to fight it way back into a position of power in the late-game stage. This time around, the team managed to keep Team Secret at bay, completing its last minute comeback to tie up the series at 1-1. After struggling through the first 2 matches of the series, Vici Gaming finally managed to turn the tables in Game 3, as this time the Chinese squad was the team in control throughout the match. With the team’s core trio of Morphling, Troll Warlord, and Pugna combining for a stat line of 35-10-44, Vici Gaming dominated the match and out killed its opponent 39-18 to knock Team Secret down into the Lower Bracket and advance to the next round.

With its impressive victory over Team Secret, Vici Gaming found itself facing off against one of its biggest regional rivals in PSG.LGD, with a guaranteed Top 4 spot at the Major on the line. Game 1 of the series proved to be a disaster for Vici Gaming, as the squad struggled in the early stages of the match and was quickly blown away by its opponents over the second half of play. Out killed 8-29, the squad attempted to draw out the match as long as possible, but was eventually forced to concede defeat in a lopsided loss to open the series. Game 2 saw Vici Gaming remain a bit more competitive, but the squad was still trailing in terms of net worth throughout most of the match. The team faced of net worth deficit between 5 and 10k for almost the entirety of the mid and late-game stages, but Vici Gaming managed to keep itself within striking distance of its opponent despite that deficit.Behind a pair of incredible performances from Ori’s Razor (16-4-11) and Paparazi’s Terrorblade (7-4-12), Vici Gaming was able to pull off a stunning surge in the late-game stage that caught PSG.LGD by surprise, allowing Vici Gaming to complete an unexpected comeback to tie up the series at 1-1. After taking control of Game 2 at the last possible moment, Vici Gaming came into Game 3 of the series with a sense of momentum and confidence. The team once again surprised its opponent, this time in the draft with a last pick Broodmother that PSG.LGD was not ready to handle. With Yang putting in a 12-2-13 performance on said Broodmother, and Paparazi’s Weaver (10-1-17) putting in a strong showing as well, Vici Gaming out killed PSG.LGD 34-16 and claimed a victory over its regional rival in just under 29 minutes of game time for a 2-1 series win.

With that victory over its regional rival, Vici Gaming ended up in the Upper Bracket Finals of the Major, where it played Southeast Asian squad Fnatic for a place in the Grand Finals in Stockholm. Game 1 of the series saw Vici Gaming playing from behind for most of the match, as the team had difficulties finding the right execution with its team fight oriented lineup. Behind an impressive showing from Yang’s Pugna (12-10-8) though, the team was eventually able to put together a surge in the late-game stage that briefly gave it a net worth advantage. Unfortunately, the team could not sustain that surge, as Fnatic was able to reassert control to hand the squad a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 played out in a similar manner for Vici Gaming, as the team once again found itself playing from behind. Just like in Game 1, the Chinese squad was able to reclaim control late in the match, but this time Vici Gaming was actually able to close out the game thanks to a pair of strong showings from Paparazi’s Terrorblade (11-6-10) and Ori’s Viper (10-5-15). Late-game heroics and last second comebacks won Game 2 for Vici Gaming, and they ended up being the deciding factor for the squad again in Game 3. Vici Gaming was trailing in terms of net worth throughout the first 35 minutes of the match with its Major lives on the line, but the Chinese squad was once again able to pull out a last second miracle. With its core trio of Bloodseeker, Medusa, and Necrophos combining for a stat line of 20-13-32, Vici Gaming pull off an improbable team fight win that wiped out Fnatic’s lineup, allowing Vici Gaming to complete a shocking comeback to win the series 2-1 and claim its place in the Grand Finals.

The Grand Finals saw Vici Gaming take on 5 time Major Champion VP, and the Chinese squad refused to be intimidated by its opponent as it struck first in the Bo5 series. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Paparazi’s Morphling (12-0-12) and Ori’s Death Prophet (13-3-9), Vici Gaming was able to keep VP largely contained as the team build up a sizable net worth lead and never looked back for a fairly one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 saw Vici Gaming come out strong again with a multitude of early kills and team fight wins over the first 25 minutes of play. This time around though, the team could not maintain that momentum, as VP turned things around in the mid and late-game stages. Despite another strong showing from Paparazi on Weaver (13-3-14), Vici Gaming could not put together an effective comeback effort as it’s defenses were eventually broken to tie up the series at 1-1. After losing control in the second half of Game 2, Vici Gaming was determined to strike back in Game 3, and the Chinese squad proved more than capable of doing so. Behind an incredible performance from Ori on Bloodseeker (10-0-5), Vici Gaming simply rolled over its opponent, out killing VP 22-8 to claim a massively one sided win in just over 22 minutes of total game time. That win put the team just 1 game away from claiming the title in Stockholm, but VP still had some tricks up its sleeve as it pulled out a last pick Storm Spirit in Game 4. The surprise pick caught Vici Gaming off guard, and the Chinese squad simply did not have an answer to the hero as its lineup struggled beyond the laning phase. Despite a solid effort from Ori’s Dragon Knight (9-6-7), Vici Gaming fell behind in the mid and late-game stages and could not find a way back into the match as the series was once again tied up at 2-2. With one last chance to claim a Major Championship title, Vici Gaming opted to combine farming power and ganking potential in Game 5, picking up a core trio of Razor, Medusa, and Nature’s Prophet alongside supports of Vengeful Spirit and Oracle. The strategy proved successful almost immediately for Vici Gaming, as the squad was able to apply significant pressure to VP’s cores from the very start of the match. With its own core out pacing their counterparts, Vici Gaming was able to establish near complete control of the match, shutting down VP’s lineup and out killing the CIS squad 16-6 to lock down a 3-2 series win. With that final victory, Vici Gaming claimed the title of Major Champion in Stockholm, finishing 1st at the event with a 13-7 overall record.

As the Minor Champion, Vici Gaming entered the Major as a team with a fair bit of confidence on its side. The squad had a long history of success on the international level, and the team was hoping to get back to its winning ways with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Stockholm. Coming into the event, the team was projected to finish in the 7th-8th place range, but Vici Gaming managed to absolutely annihilate that prediction as it claimed a 1st place finish with a 13-7 record and become the first team to advance from a Minor to win the subsequent Major. As a whole Vici Gaming’s play at this Major was about as impressive as it possibly could have been, as the team ended up winning 6 of its 7 total series in Stockholm. The squad’s only loss came in a 0-2 Group Stage series against EG, but the team proved more than capable of bouncing back from that defeat. The squad’s path at the Major saw it run the gauntlet of top Pro Circuit teams, as Vici Gaming defeated Team Secret (T-1st), PSG.LGD (4th), Fnatic (6th), and VP (T-1st) in consecutive series in order to claim its first Major title in the organization’s history. As always seems to be the case with Vici Gaming, the team’s success was due in large part to the spectacular play of its 2 star players in Paparazi and Ori. The Carry/Mid duo turned in some incredible performances in Stockholm combining to average 14.35 kills and 19.45 assists on just 6.15 deaths per game across 20 matches at the Major. The team’s star duo was not the only factor in its success though, as the team’s Offlaner Yang and Support duo in Fade and Dy combined to average 41.4 assists for the squad. With the team putting together these kinds of performances, it’s hard to argue that Vici Gaming hasn’t earned its place near the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings and among the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. The fact that the team’s performance has also secured it enough points to earn a direct invite to TI9 only serves as further evidence that Vici Gaming is back to being a leader in the Dota 2 world. At this stage, the rumors and whispers of roster changes from earlier this month have to have been completely done away with, as this squad in its current form proved that it is still more than capable of finding success at the highest level in the game. Up next for Vici Gaming will be the regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, as the squad will take on its regional rivals in a bid to return to the Pro Circuit stage in Paris to defend its Major Championship title.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s