Na’Vi, Gambit, Old but Gold seek return to Pro Circuit stage against a field of familiar challengers in the OGA Dota PIT 2019 Minor CIS Qualifier
The regional qualifiers for the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 are getting into full swing now, as the CIS region will become the third of six to begin its qualifier run. 8 squads from the region are set to battle it out for a single spot on the Pro Circuit stage in Split, Croatia, with 6 of the teams (Na’Vi, Gambit Esports, Old but Gold, Black Hornets Gaming [as Uvajenie], FlyToMoon, and No Creativity) returning from the recent Major qualifier while the otehr 2 (Pavaga Junior and Winstrike Team) have earned their places by winning the Minor open qualifier. The qualifier is set to begin on the 3rd of April, and will run over the course of two days to determine which squad will earn the region’s lone spot at the Minor.
With an expanded field compared to the other Minor qualifiers that we’ve seen this season, the format for the Minor qualifiers 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.
Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek
Idan “MagicaL” Vardanyan
Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree
Evgeniy “Chuvash” Makarov
Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev
Na’Vi comes into this Minor qualifier having just missed out on a spot in Paris with a 3rd place finish in the recent Major qualifier. With a 9-6 overall record in said qualifier, Na’Vi looked incredibly strong and confident against its regional rivals, and the hope is that it can carry over that level of strength and confidence into a Minor qualifier in which it stands in a very favorable position. Against the other squads in the field for this event, Na’Vi was able to put together an 8-2 record in the previous qualifier, which makes the team a heavy favorite to claim the lone CIS spot at the Minor so long as it can replicate that level of success. With the single elimination format of this qualifier, there is always the increased possibility that Na’Vi finds itself upset by another squad in the field. Based on its success against these opponents in its most recent regional appearance though, the odds seem to be in Na’Vi’s favor as it looks to make its return to the Pro Circuit stage.
Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin
Andrey “Afoninje” Afonin
Vasily “AfterLife” Shishkin
Alexander “Immersion” Hmelevskoy
Artsiom “fng” Barshack
For most of the season to this point, Gambit Esports has been the closest thing we’ve seen to a consistent second leader in the CIS region behind Virtus.pro. However, recent times have seen that favorable position come under siege to a certain degree, as squads like Na’Vi, The Pango, and even now Team Empire have risen to contend with the team for coveted spots on the Pro Circuit stage. With its rivals beginning to push into its own territory, Gambit Esports is in need of a solid showing in this Minor qualifier to keep them at bay and retain its favorable position in the regional hierarchy. Luckily, the onset of improved rivals has not diminished Gambit Esports’ own strength, as we saw with the team’s 9-6 record in the recent major qualifier. Should the squad manage at a consistent level of play in this qualifier, then the team will be one of the favorites to claim the lone CIS spot on the Pro Circuit stage in Split.
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.
Old but Gold
Ilya “Illidan” Pivcaev
Sergey Alexandrovich “G” Bragin
Stanislav “633” Glushan
Fedor “velheor“ Rusikhin
Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod
After its Top 4 finish at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor, Old but Gold came into this most recent round of Pro Circuit qualifiers as a potential new contender within the CIS region. The squad’s 3-7 overall record in the recent Major qualifier was not quite as impressive as many may have been hoping for, but that performance still puts Old but Gold in a fairly favorable position heading into this Minor qualifier. The squad’s roster still has a wealth of skill and experience on its side, and the fact that the team responsible for 4 of the its 7 losses in the Major qualifier (Team Empire) is not participating in this event will surely help its chances as well. With squad’s like Na’Vi and Gambit Esports still in the field for this event, Old but Gold isn’t quite at the level to be considered a favorite to claim the lone CIS spot at the Minor. However, if the squad can put together a strong showing against its regional rivals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Old but Gold contend for that spot on the Pro Circuit stage and its second Minor appearance of the season.
Black Hornets Gaming
Nikita “Palantimos“ Grinkevich
Yaroslav “Pikachu” Vasilenko
Yevgeny “chshrct“ Kostroma
Danil “Bignum” Shehovtsov
Vladislav “BLACKARXANGEL“ Ivaschenko
Note: Uvajenie was signed by Black Hornets Gaming on April 2nd.
Black Hornets Gaming did not come into the recent Major qualifier with the highest of expectations, and with a 3-7 overall record in the event, the squad wasn’t exactly a significant threat to claim 1 of the 2 spots in Paris. However, the team’s overall record is not quite as damaging as it would first appear to be when one takes into account the squad’s schedule in the event. All 10 of the team’s matches in the Major qualifier came against either Na’Vi or Gambit Esports, two of the stronger teams within the CIS region and the teams that come into this Minor qualifier as heavy favorites to claim a spot on the Pro Circuit stage. With that in mind, Black Hornets Gaming’s performance in the Major qualifier can be seen in a slightly more positive light, but that information also presents a new problem for the team heading into this Minor qualifier. If the squad could only put together a 3-7 record against the duo of Na’Vi and Gambit Esports, then the team’s odds of getting past one or both of those squads to earn a spot at the Minor appears to be relatively low at the moment. If the squad wants to take that next step and earn itself an appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, then it will have to prove that it can take down those opponents with an exceptional performance in this 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 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.
Airat “Silent” Gaziev
Dmitry “DM” Dorokhin
Alexey “nongrata“ Vasilyev
Milan “MiLAN“ Kozomara
Dino “dnz” Šavuk
Winstrike Team comes into this Minor qualifier as a squad that has undergone some rather dramatic changes in recent times, as the team experienced a significant overhaul of its roster just a few weeks ago. Three of the teams players and its coach all departed roster, with the trio of DM, MiLAN, and dnz being brought in form a new roster. Under normal circumstances, a team that recently made changes to its roster and has only played in a single open qualifier with its new lineup would have the lowest possible expectations heading into a Pro Circuit qualifier. For Winstrike Team though, the combination of the experience and skill of its new roster and the incredibly underwhelming performances of some of the other teams in the field makes it a bit easier to have a higher level of hope and confidence in its abilities. Make no mistake though, Winstrike Team will need to put together an outrageously strong showing in this qualifier to have any shot at reaching the Pro Circuit stage. However, this new iteration of the team’s roster at least appears to have the capability of doing so as it looks to overcome its regional rivals and earn its 2018-2019 debut on the Pro Circuit stage.
Alexander “Nix” Levin
Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko
Maxim “yoky-“ Kim
Danial “yamich” Lazebny
Alexander “Nofear” Churochkin
FlyToMoon absolutely did not impress in the recent Major qualifier, as the squad failed to record a single win in the event with a 0-4 overall record. Of course, the fact that the team had to face off agaisnt both Na’Vi and Gambit Esports makes its poor performance slightly more understandable, but the team needed a big change to come into this Minor qualifier with any sort of confidence or hope for success. Luckily for the team, it did get just that kind of change, as the team picked up two new players in Nix and yamich. The duo may not be game changers all by themselves, but their addition to the roster is almost guaranteed to help the squad put together a better showing that it had in its previous Pro Circuit qualifier run. The team is nowhere close to being a favorite to claim the lone CIS spot at the Minor, but with the right match ups and a strong showing from its new roster, there is potential for FlyToMoon to at least threaten some of the other squads in the field for this event.
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.
Alexander “Pio65” Zalivako
Egor “Ergon” Koz
Vladislav “Kazl” Kozlovsky
Sergey “HappyDyurara” Horonzh
Maxim “Tsyman” Tsymanovich
The main Pavaga Gaming roster may have gone under in recent times, but the organization opted to retain a youth squad that has shown some impressive levels of growth in a relatively short span of time. Pavaga Junior will be making its second Pro Circuit qualifier appearance of the season after putting together a 7th-8th place finish in the DreamLeague Season 11 Major CIS Qualifier with a 2-6 overall record. From an objective standpoint, that record is not particularly impressive for a team hoping to make its way to the Pro Circuit stage. However, considering the fact that the team is made up of relatively unknown players with limited professional experience, a 2-6 run against some of the best teams in its region becomes significantly more impressive. This time around, Pavaga Junior will be looking to improve upon that previous performance, but the odds of that happening in this Minor qualifier don’t appear to be all that high. Even with the single elimination format of this qualifier, Pavaga Gaming is likely to come into any match up as an underdog in a Bo3 series. There is some hope that Pavaga Junior has continued to develop since its last Pro Circuit qualifier appearance, and could potentially have a surprise in store for whatever team it gets matched up against. However, hope is all that the team has to go on for the moment, as the expectations for Pavaga Junior will remain as low as possible until we see that this team is ready to contend with the strongest teams within its home region.
Note: CoM19SpadaNJI withdrew from the qualifier and has been replaced by No Cretivity
CoM19SpadaNJI’s withdrawal hours from the start of this event led to an opportunity for No Creativity, as the team’s 3rd place finish in the open qualifier suddenly afforded it a chance to advance to the Closed qualifier to face off against some of the strongest teams in its region. Unfortunately, the odds of the team finding success in this event are incredibly low, as the team needed the extra open qualifier slot to even attend this event in the first place. Given the single elimination format of this qualifier, there is a possibility that this squad catches its opponent off guard and pulls off an upset victory. However, with the squad’s extremely limited experience playing against some of the top teams in this field, it would take a near miraculous effort from the squad to actually make that scenario a reality.