Redemption on the line as 5 returning squads from the Major qualifier look to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage in the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 North America Qualifier
This fourth round of Pro Circuit qualifiers is operating on something of a shortened schedule this time around, as the regional qualifiers for the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 are set to get underway just a couple of days after the conclusion of the Major qualifiers. The North American region is set to kick things off, with a field of 8 teams looking to lay claim to the region’s lone spot in Split, Croatia. The field for this event contains the 5 defeated teams from the Major qualifier (Forward Gaming, J.Storm, Team Xolotl, gg and gg, and Vega Academy) as well as 3 new challengers from the open qualifier (LaGueuleDeBois, sub2kong, and 4Fats n 10ld). The qualifier is set to begin on the 2nd of April, and will run for 2 days in total.
With an expanded field compared to the other Minor qualifiers that we’ve seen this season, the format for this North America qualifier will be somewhat different as well. The 8 participating teams have been seeded into a single elimination bracket, with all series in the qualifier being played in a Bo3 format. With the field expanded from the usual 4-6 range, we will be reusing the categories from the Major qualifier preview (Favorites, Contenders, Maybe Ifs, and Long Shots) to evaluate the expectations for each squad coming into this event.
These squads are the ones that appear to be in the most favorable situations heading into this Minor qualifier. Comprised mostly of squads that attended one of the prior Pro Circuit events this season or put together an impressive performance in the recent Major qualifier, these are the teams that will likely be considered as favorites in this qualifier regardless of the match up that they face. Considering the fact that the majority of the team’s in this qualifier missed out on earning a place at the upcoming Major, success in this Minor qualifier is far from guaranteed. However, if a team in this section does not earn itself a place at the Minor, then it will certainly be considered as more of a disappointment compared to the other squads in the field.
Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
Quinn “CC&C” Callahan
Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu
Arif “MSS” Anwar
Kartik “Kitrak” Rathi
The changes to Forward Gaming’s roster in the wake of its recent appearance at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major were certainly a cause for some concern and apprehension among fans. However, the team proved that it’s new lineup was still a formidable force within the North American region with a 3rd place performance in the recent Major qualifier that had it come just 1 game away from a spot in Paris. The team’s strong showing in that event has it coming into this Minor qualifier as a clear favorite in this field. Considering that many of its opponents in this qualifier are teams that it just defeat in its previous qualifier run, Forward Gaming should be set up for success as it looks to attend its fourth Pro Circuit event of the season, and its first Minor of the 2018-2019 campaign.
David “Moo” Hull
Jonathan “Bryle” De Guia
Lee “Forev” Sang-don
Clinton “Fear” Loomis
Park “March” Tae-won
Though the team ended up falling short in the previous Major qualifier, J.Storm continues to be one of the strongest and most consistent teams in North America, at least against its regional rivals. The team’s woes on the international level have been on display this season, but its 7th-8th place finish a the recent Major has instilled a degree of hope that the team may finally be hitting its stride away from home. The squad’s failure to qualify for the upcoming Major is certainly a setback to its plans, but the team still enters this Minor qualifier as one of the leading teams in the region, and should be a heavy favorite to claim the lone North American slot at the Minor and make its return to the Pro Circuit stage.
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 previously attended a Pro Circuit event, or finished in the middle of the pack in the recent Major qualifier. These are the teams that could fairly reasonably come out on top against its regional rivals, but aren’t necessarily expected to win out over the entire field. That being said, these teams are the ones that are in a favorable enough situation that a beneficial match up or a key series win could be enough to push them onto the Pro Circuit stage.
Jesús Ángel “Ifrit” Valencia Bonales
Jose Esau “Esk” Perez Coronel
Alejandro Skinfill “Jano” Moreno
Omar Fernando “pika2” Velarde Leyva
Héctor Adrián “hector” Garza Cárdenas
Team Xolotl did not put together a particularly impressive performance in the recent Major qualifier, but considering the fact that some of the other teams in this field performed even worse, things don’t look all that bad for the Mexican squad. The team’s 3-6 performance against its regional rivals displayed a bit more of the potential that we’ve seen this team occasionally flash this season, and it will be interesting to see if Team Xolotl can build upon that showing with a stronger run this time around.
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 at least capable of putting on a good show and potentially taking a spot at the Minor, 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 have either limited experience in Pro Circuit qualifiers, or inconsistent results in them. 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.
gg and gg
Ravindu “Ritsu” Kodippili
Eric “Ryoya” Dong
Noah “Boris” Minhas
Francis “FrancisLee” Lee
Andrew “Jubei” Evelynn
Despite having a roster of experienced players, gg and gg put together a disappointing, winless performance in the recent Major qualifier. Based on the experience of its players alone, we know that the team should be capable of a far better showing than what we saw in that previous event. Whether the squad actually manages to recover from that weak performance and bounce back in this Minor qualifier is unclear, but if the team can’t manage a competitive run against its regional rivals this time around, it certainly won’t be due to a lack of talent on the roster.
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.
Pavel “A$AP ROFLEX” Semechkin
Ilyas “Steel-_-Borco” Kaukenov
Maxat “MindGate” Karaev
Timofei “TheBearFaran” Kuznetsov
Nikita “Shoe” Zagrebin
Vega Academy did not show us much in its Major qualifier performance that would inspire any real sense of confidence in its abilities coming into this Minor qualifier. As a young and relatively inexperienced squad, there isn’t a whole lot of pressure on this squad to produce immediate results, with this event serving more as an opportunity for the roster to continue developing as a team. Of course, the possibility always exists for a team to put together some sort of miraculous Cinderella run against its regional rivals, but seeing that kind of performance from Vega Academy would come as a massive shock considering its relatively weak performance just a few days ago.
As 1 of the 3 squads to come into this event through the open qualifiers, the odds for LaGueuleDeBois aren’t particularly favorable heading into this event. The team’s players are largely unknown within the regional scene and have extremely limited experience playing at the professional level and playing against teams of the caliber of those it will be facing in this qualifier. Given the fact that there is only 1 slot at the Minor available in this qualifier, and the single elimination format of the event itself, it would take an absolute miracle of miracles for LaGueuleDeBois to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage.
Note: Don’t Eat Dogs was renamed to sub2kong prior to the start of the event
Sub2kong comes into this Minor qualifier as a massive underdog in this field, as the squad will be going up against 5 teams from the Major qualifier as well as the 2 other teams to have fought through the open qualifier alongside it. The team is comprised of relatively unknown players in the North American scene, and considering the fact that the squad did not even make the Top 8 in either of the Major open qualifiers, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of confidence for the team heading into this event. To be fair, the fact that expectations are so low for the squad could always be a positive for it, as sub2kong will be free from the pressure that some of the more prominent teams in this field may be feeling. However, this squad would still need to put together an unbelievably strong run to even have a chance at claiming the lone North American spot at the Minor.
4Fats n 10ld
4Fats n 10ld needed an extra opportunity in order to earn itself a place in the field for this event, as the squad ended up wining the 3rd place match of the open qualifier to lock down a spot the Minor qualifier. While the team’s efforts did eventually allow it to fight its way into the qualifier, the odds of it finding further success against its regional rivals seem incredibly small. The team was not a significant force in either of the 2 open qualifiers for the Major, and it has already lost against 1 of the teams in this field during its most recent open qualifier run. For 4Fats n 10ld to somehow claim the lone North American spot at the Minor, it would need to put together a mind-boggling, reason defying, miracle run in this qualifier.