4 Pro Circuit Ranked squads and a trio of new challengers look to usurp Fnatic’s position as regional leader and claim a place on the Pro Circuit stage in the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Southeast Asia Qualifier
The first round of regional qualifiers for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major are coming to a close, which means that the time is fast approaching for our second group of regions to begin their own qualifiers and determine which squads will be heading to the Pro Circuit stage for the season’s fourth Major. The Southeast Asian region is set to begin its qualifier run on March 30, with the event itself running through the 1st of April. The qualifier will feture a field of 8 teams, with 4 of them (Fnatic, Mineski, BOOM ID, and TNC Predator) having received direct invites while the other 4 (EVOS Esports, Neon Esports, WarriorsGaming.Unity, and Tigers) reached this stage through the region’s 2 open qualifiers. OF those 8 participating teams, 5 of them (Fnatic, Mineski, BOOM ID, TNC Predator, and Tigers) have previously attended a Pro Circuit event this season, another (WarriorsGaming.Unity) has participated in a previous Pro Circuit qualifier but did not qualify for an actual event, and the final 2 (EVOS Esports and Neon Esports) are making their first Pro Circuit qualifier appearances of the season.
The 8 teams in the field will be divided into 2 GSL style Groups of 4 teams each, with the top 2 teams from each group advancing to the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs while the third place teams from each group will begin the Playoffs in the Lower Bracket. The teams that finish at the bottom of each group will be eliminated from the qualifier and will not advance to the Playoffs. Said Playoffs will feature a double elimination bracket, with all series across both the Group Stage and Playoffs being played in a Bo3 format. The Southeast Asia qualifier will see 2 team’s qualify for the Major, with the victors of both the Upper Bracket Finals and the Lower Bracket Finals claiming places in Paris. With some basic information about the event and its format covered, we can take a look at each of the 8 teams in the field for this regional qualifier, with the teams being divided into our usual 4 categories: Favorites, Contenders, Maybe Ifs, and Long Shots
These squads are the elite of the group, comprised mostly of squads that attended one of the prior Pro Circuit events this season or have emerged as dominant forces within their home region and contenders on the international level. These are the teams that will likely be considered as favorites in this qualifier regardless of the match up that they face, and if a team in this section does not earn itself a place at the Major, then it will come as a bit more of a shock and a disappointment compared to the other squads in the field.
Pyo “MP” No-a
Abed “Abed” Azel L. Yusop
Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang
Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti
Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong
Fnatic will come into this qualifier as the clear favorite in the field of participants, as the squad will still be just a few days removed from its 3rd place finish at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major in Stockholm. Even without the benefit of that recent success on the Pro Circuit stage, Fnatic would likely be the leading team in this field anyway due to the squad’s consistent dominance within the Southeast Asian region. Since the start of this 2018-2019 season, Fnatic has appeared in 4 regional events or qualifiers and has won each and every one of them. The squad has consistently out performed even the most prominent of its regional rivals, and there is little reason to believe that things will change in this fourth round of Pro Circuit qualifiers. Perhaps there is a team in this field that can rise up to knock off the Southeast Asian leader, but it would take a rather monumental collapse from Fnatic for the team to miss out on earning itself a place in Paris.
The squads in this section are the ones that fall just a small step below the favorites in terms of their skill, level of success, or perceived strength of their lineup. Teams in this section are ones that may have attended one of the previous Minors but not a Major, or struggled on the Pro Circuit stage in general. These are the teams that could fairly easily claim 1 of the 2 spots up for grabs in this tournament, but aren’t necessarily expected to win out over the entire field. These teams will likely be right at the cusp of success in this qualifier, and are the ones that seem most probable to end up as direct invitees to the upcoming Minor Qualifiers if it cannot secure a place at the Major.
Randy “Dreamocel” Sapoetra
Rafli “Mikoto” Fathur
Saieful “Fbz” Ilham
Tri “Jhocam” Kuncoro
Alfi “Khezcute” Nelphyana
BOOM ID’s rise to prominence within the Southeast Asian region has been an impressive sight to behold, as the squad has carved out a place for itself in the regional hierarchy and has even made 2 appearances on the Pro Circuit stage since the start of 2019. While that pair of Pro Circuit appearances did not go particularly well for the team, the fact remains that BOOM ID has developed into a powerful force within its home region. Since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, BOOM ID has made a total of 17 appearances in regional events and qualifiers (including open qualifiers), and has earned Top 4 finishes in all but 1 of them. Of course, the fact that a decent portion of those appearances came in specifically Indonesian events does reduce the significance of those results ever so slightly. However, even against the best teams in the wider Southeast Asian region, BOOM ID has been able to maintain that same level of success. At this stage, no team in this field appears to be quite on the same level as regional leader Fnatic, but BOOM ID certainly stands as one of the more formidable teams among the participants in this qualifier, and should have a solid shot at claiming a position in Paris should it continue to play consistently against its regional rivals.
Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte
Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios
Carlo “Kuku” Palad
Timothy “Tims” Randrup
Nico “eyyou” Barcelon
There was a point in this 2018-2019 season where TNC Predator stood as the top ranked Southeast Asian squad in the Pro Circuit Rankings, but a rough patch to start 2019 came as a significant setback to the team’s campaign. With the recent promotion of eyyou from stand-in to full member of the lineup though, the organization is hoping to restore its position as a regional leader with a strong showing in this Major qualifier. In eyyou’s time with the team, TNC Predator has put together 3 Top 4 finishes in 4 appearances within the Southeast Asian region, including 1st place performances in the Asia Pacific Predator League 2019 and the ESL One Mumbait 2019 Southeast Asia Qualifier. Add on to that a 1st place showing at WESG 2018 where it played with 4 of its 5 current players, and TNC Predator shapes up to be a formidable force in the field for this qualifier. Considering the team’s struggles in the last round of Pro Circuit qualifiers, success is far from guaranteed for the squad. However, if the team can put together a strong and consistent performance with its new roster, then TNC Predator should stand a strong chance of making a return to the Pro Circuit stage with a spot in Paris for the Major.
Trịnh “458” Văn Thọ
Danil “Dendi” Ishutin
Kim “Velo” Tae-sung
Kenny “Xepher“ Deo
Sivatheeban “1437“ Sivanathapillai
Tigers began the 2018-2019 season as a squad on the rise both within the Southeast Asian region and on the international level, as the squad claimed the first Minor Championship title of the season and attended The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November. Following those appearances though, the squad took a bit of a step back within its home region suffering a setback that it only just now appears to be recovering from. After some struggles on the home front and a number of changes to its roster, the Tigers lineup of today is quite different from the one that lifted the trophy at the DreamLeague Season 10 Minor just 4 months ago. However, it appears that the squad’s myriad changes have born fruit in the end, as Tigers comes into this event riding a hot streak of solid showings within the Southeast Asian region. Since the beginning of 2019, Tigers has made 5 appearances in regional events and qualifiers (including open qualifiers) and has earned Top 4 finishes across all of them. The team’s record against its regional rivals since the start of the year is a respectable 23-12, which puts it in a solid position to potentially contend for a spot at the Major in this regional qualifier.
The “Maybe, ifs..”
This section is where we start to get into some particularly interesting scenarios, as we take a look at some of the squads with somewhat lower expectations for this qualifier. These squads are more than capable of putting on a good show and potentially taking a spot at the Major, but they more than likely will need a little bit of help to get there. The squads in this section are most likely ones that attended prior Pro Circuit qualifiers, but did not earn places at an event, and represent the upper echelon of the Tier 2 scene in their region. Whether its a favorable group, a particularly beneficial match up, or the opportunity to avoid playing one of the stronger teams, these squads are the ones that might just need a little outside help to claim a place on the Pro Circuit stage.
Lai “Ahjit” Jay Son
Kam “Moon” Boon Seng
Damien “kpii” Chok
Ryan “Bimbo” Jay Qui
Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.
After the departure of Febby and pieliedie in the aftermath of the recent Major, there were quite a few questions surrounding this Mineski lineup heading into this regional qualifier. However, the reintroduction of a pair of former members of the organization in Bimbo and ninjaboogie seems to have given the squad a new hope for the second half of this 2018-2019 season. Of course, the addition of new players is always a somewhat tricky subject, and no 2 teams seem to react exactly the same way to the challenges of integrating new members of its roster. That degree of uncertainty has slightly lowered the expectations for Mineski heading into this event, but hopes are still high for the team and its new lineup. Should the duo of Bimbo and ninjaboogie prove that they can hit the ground running with the rest of the squad, then Mineski should be able to out perform its modest projections and potentially challenge for a spot at the Major in this qualifier.
Christian-John “Skadilicious” Abasolo
Marc “Marc” Mamales
Rafael “Rapy” Sicat Palo
Prieme Ejay “PlayHard” Banquil
Josef Leonard “`JL” Brazal
Neon Esports is a squad that comes into this regional qualifier as something of an underdog. The organization does not exactly have a long history of success within the Southeast Asian region, but the team has been making strides over the last year or so and now stand with an opportunity to put together an impressive showing against some of its most prominent regional rivals. Since the beginning of hte 2018-2019 season, Neon Esports has participated in 13 regional events and qualifiers (including open qualifiers) and has finished no lower than the 5th-6th place position across all of them. Included in those 13 event appearances are 10 Top 4 finishes headlined by 1st place performances in the X-Bet.co Rampage Series #4 and Asia Pro League Season 2. Those events, and the majority of the events that Neon Esports has attended this season, may not be the most widely regarded or prestigious tournaments, but there is something to be said for a team that has consistently been able to find success at its level. Neon Esports has shown potential across its 2018-2019 campaign, and the question for the squad at this point is whether or not it is ready to take the next step forward and compete with some of the strongest teams in the Southeast Asian region. Considering the strength of some of the other teams in this field, success will certainly not come easily for Neon Esports. However, the team has earned its shot at trying to make a name for itself within the Southeast Asian region, and depending on how well it performs in this qualifier, the team does have a small chance of potentially challenging some of the leading squads in its region.
The Long Shots
In this final section, we find the squads that have very little in terms of expectations for this qualifier. These are the underdogs, the Cinderella stories, and the teams that would frankly send shock waves through the regional scene should they manage to claim a spot at this event. These are the squads that many have probably already counted out of the fight for a place on the Pro Circuit stage, but we’ve seen underdog stories and unbelievable runs before, and these teams will be hoping to add their names to the list of squads that have shocked the Dota 2 world.
Nikolay “Nikobaby“ Nikolov
Kee Chyuan “ChYuan” Ng
Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin
Chong “FelixCiaoBa” Wei Lun
Ng “YamateH” Wei Poong
Note: ChYuan is playing in the Major qualifier instead of poloson. That change is not reflected in the following preview.
WarriorsGaming.Unity turned some heads when it appeared in the recent open qualifiers with a drastically altered roster than the one it had officially registered. However, after a successful run through said open qualifier and a confirmation of its new roster additions, a new iteration of WarriorsGaming.Unity is looking to make its mark on the Southeast Asian region. With the only event that the team has played with its new roster being the open qualifier, there is little to evaluate this roster on aside from that one event and the previous experience of its players. On that front, the team appears to be in a solid position, as the duo of Nikobaby and FelixCiaoBa have proven themselves to be solid players and are now joined by three of the most experienced players in the region in Ohaiyo, Poloson, and YamateH. On paper, this team looks to have quite a lot of potential, but the problem its that we’ve just seen too little of the squad to be sure of where it stands compared to the rest of the field for this qualifier. With that in mind, the expectations for the squad will be set low coming into the event, with the onus on the new WarriorsGaming.Unity to put its strength on display against its regional rivals.
Muhammad “inYourdreaM” Rizky
Usep “Facehugger” Satiawan
Adit “Aville” Rosenda
Indra “Vlaicu” Utama
Matthew “Whitemon” Filemon
Note: EVOS Esports replaced “BLACKPINKXTOKOPEDIA” with Muhammad “inYourdreaM” Rizky on March 29.
EVOS Esports comes into this qualifier as a team that many in the Dota 2 world likely haven’t heard of, or are at least not particularly familiar with. The Indonesian squad started its 2018-2019 season with some solid performances, putting together 4 straight Top 4 finishes in regional qualifiers and even making an appearance on the international level at ESL One Hamburg 2018 as a replacement for TNC Predator. Unfortunately, the team’s hot start fizzled out over the following months, with the team putting together a series of inconsistent performances and lackluster results. However, the squad’s recent success in the open qualifier has reignited hope that EVOS Esports can get back to those impressive showings that we saw at the beginning of its Pro Circuit campaign. Since the beginning of 2019, the team has put together a 20-13 overall record, though a large portion of those victories came in the team’s recent open qualifier run. Furthermore, the squad holds just a 1-4 record against the other teams in this qualifier across that time span, which means that the odds are not favorable for EVOS Esports. Of course, one of the most exciting things about professional Dota 2 is that just about anything can happen, but it would take a near miraculous run from this squad for it to push itself into a position to contend for a place at the Major.