2 spots in Split are up for grabs as 5 returning squads from the Major qualifier look to hold off a trio of newcomers in the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 Europe Qualifier
The final regional qualifier for the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 is set to get underway, as the European region is set to close things out with a 2 days qualifier beginning on the 5th of April and running through the 6th. A field of 8 teams will be looking to claim 1 of the region’s 2 available spots at the Minor and punch their ticket to Split, Croatia for a shot at the title of Minor Champion and that coveted 16th slot in the field for the MDL Disneyland Paris Major. Included in the 8 team field for this event are the 5 unsuccessful teams from the previous Major qualifier (The Final Tribe, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Alliance, SexyAsF, and Goblin Legs), as well as a trio of squads from the open qualifier (Kingdra, Team Singularity, and Freelancers).
With 2 spots at the Minor available in the European region, the format for this qualifier will look a bit different compared to most of the other regional qualifiers. The 8 participating teams have been seeded into a double elimination bracket, with all series in the Upper Bracket as well as the Lower Bracket Finals being played in a Bo3 format. Meanwhile, the series in the first three round of the Lower Bracket will all be played in a Bo1 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.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
Adrian “Fata” Trinks
Neta “33” Shapira
Martin “Saksa” Sazdov
Peter “ppd” Dager
Despite the fact that the team did not end up securing itself a spot at the MDL Disneyland Major, Ninjas in Pyjamas still comes into this Minor qualifier as one of the strongest and most accomplished squads in the European region. The team is currently sitting in 7th place in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and is 1 of just 2 teams in the field for this event to have attended a Major this season. Taking into account the fact that the teams responsible for 4 of NiP’s 7 total losses (Team Liquid and Team Secret) in that previous event will not be participating in this Minor qualifier, NiP appears to be in an incredibly favorable position heading into this event. With 2 spots at the Minor available in this qualifier and the format changed from single to double elimination as well, NiP’s path to success appears to be relatively clear. So long as the team avoids and significant setbacks or upsets, NiP should be expected to claim 1 of the 2 European spots at the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019.
The Final Tribe
Pontus “Frost” Frost
Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin
Andreas “Xibbe” Ragnemalm
Simon “Handsken” Haag
Adrian “Era” Kryeziu
Throughout all of this 2018-2019 campaign, The Final Tribe has been a team stuck in a sort of limbo in between the group of elite teams in Europe and the squads of the Tier 2 scene. The team has shown flashes of its significant skill and experience at times, but consistency has proven to be a rather sizable issue for the squad against its regional rivals. However, the team’s recent 4th place finish in the Major qualifier has hopes high that The Final Tribe is once again picking up momentum within its home region. The squad’s 5-8 record in said qualifier was a solid showing for the Swedish team, and with the teams responsible for 6 of those 8 defeats (Team Secret and OG) not participating in this Minor qualifier, a valuable opportunity appears to have appeared for it. Of course, the team’s relatively strong performance in the Major qualifier is no guarantee of its ability to repeat that feat in this event, and the field for this qualifier still has more than a couple of formidable opponents. However, should The Final Tribe manage to maintain the level of play that we just saw from it in the Major qualifier, then it should have a rather favorable path to success this time around as the team looks to secure its second appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season.
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.
Omar “Madara” Dabachach (Stand-in)
Samuel “Boxi” Svahn
Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi
Tommy “Taiga” Le
Even with the squad playing with a stand-in for the event, Alliance managed to put together a respectable performance against its regional rivals in the recent Major qualifier. At 3-6, the team wasn’t the strongest of threats to claim a place at the Major, but its performance at least separated it from squads like Goblin Legs and SexyAsF, both of whom put together significantly less impressive 1-4 records in the qualifier to share the 7th-8th place position. Despite the team’s losing record, the core trio of Madara, qojqva and boxi managed to put together some solid numbers in terms of their per game averages, and if Alliance is going to have a shot at claiming a place at the Minor, said trio is going to have to perform at an even higher level this time around. For the most part, Alliance has relied upon a balanced attack from its cores, allowing the team to put together strong performances as a unit without relying upon the output of a single player. The other side of that strategy is that the team more often than not becomes reliant upon all of its core players operating at a certain level to find success. If the team can make the necessary adjustments in order to get that required output across the board, then it will almost certainly be in the mix for 1 of the region’s 2 spots on the Pro Circuit stage in Croatia.
Steve “Excalibur” Ye
Jure “Pingvincek“ Plešej
Maxim “Shachlo” Abramovskikh
Jerry “EGM” Lundkvist
Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov
Team Singularity may have come into this event through the open qualifiers, but the squad has managed to accrue quite a bit of experience for itself within the European region compared to some of its fellow open qualifier squads. Under both the Team Singularity banner and the team’s former name, The ReaL DeaL, the squad put together 9 total appearances in the Europe and CIS regions and earned itself 5 Top 4 finishes. While the team’s results across those appearances haven’t been quite as consistent as it may like, continued exposure to some of the top squads across 2 regions definitely affords Team Singularity and advantage over some of the other teams in the field. Whether Team Singularity actually manage to make use of that advantage is anyone’s guess, but the situation at least puts the team in a slightly more favorable position than many of its opponents in this event as it looks to earn its first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage.
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.
Charlie “CharlieDota” Arat
Mihai “canceL^^” Antonio
Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann
Alaan “SexyBamboe” Faraj
Merlin “Luft” Seibel
Throughout the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season to this point, Kingdra has been an inactive squad, as the team’s last official matches prior to its recent open qualifier run came before the start of the season. However, the squad has been revived by the combination of a trio of former Kaipi players in CharlieDota, canceL^^, and Luft, and the free agent duo of KheZu and SexyBamboe. Under normal circumstances, a team that forms just before the start of open qualifiers and has no other recent experience as a roster would not hold a very favorable position heading into a Minor qualifier. To be fair though, the expectations are still relatively low for Kingdra coming into this event, but the players’ previous experience together does at least appear to give it a small advantage. Of course, the squad would still need a series of heroic efforts in order to contend with some of the leading teams in this field, and the team’s odds to actually claiming 1 of the 2 European slots at the Minor appear to be incredibly low as of right now. However, the team and its fans can at least hold out hope that it can pull off an unexpected run against its regional rivals to rise to the challenge in this event.
Tasos “Focus” Michailidis
Aggelos “ntakii” Tikas
Kharis “SkyLark” Zafeiriou
Dimitris “ThuG” Plivouris
Giorgos “SsaSpartan” Giannakopoulos
SexyAsF absolutely did not impress in its Major qualifier run, as the team posted a 1-4 overall record to finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 7th-8th place position. Based upon the team’s poor showing in that recent appearance, many might wonder why the team is actually projected to finish higher in the standings for the Minor qualifier. The main reasons are two-fold in this situation, with first reason being the rather obvious development of 3 of the region’s top teams not participating in this qualifier. With Team Liquid, Team Secret, and OG all headed off to the Major, the strength of the teams in the field for this Minor qualifier drops to a certain degree, which ostensibly puts SexyAsF in a stronger position for success. The second reason for the team’s more slightly higher projection is the fact that it put up a somewhat solid fight despite its 1-4 record, as the team’s average game time was just under 41 minutes across its 5 matches. Compared to fellow 7th-8th place finisher Goblin Legs which held an average game length of under 34 minutes, SexyAsF was able to at least delay its defeats for a longer period of time despite eventually falling in the majority of those scenarios. To be perfectly honest, the line between SexyAsF and the teams at the bottom of the projections is not particularly thick, and this team would still need a near miraculous performance against its regional rivals to have any chance at contending for a place on the Pro Circuit stage.
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.
Tomas “Syuuu” Teo Mortimer Sainio
Serhii “Shisui” Koren
Joni “Buugi” Fält
Jan “Qupe“ Tinnemeier
Petu “Peksu“ Vaatainen
With a 1-4 overall record and a finish in the 7th-8th place position in the recent Major qualifier, Goblin Legs does not come into this Minor qualifier with very high expectations. In the team’s defense, it did at least manage to take 1 game off of NiP for its lone victory of the event, but aside from that small bright spot the team’s play was not very impressive. With 3 of the team’s strongest teams now locked in to spots at the Major and not participating in this qualifier, one would think that the odds of finding success would increase for Goblin Legs. Unfortunately, that may not be the case, as the squad’s 1-4 record in the previous Major qualifier came against the duo of Alliance and NiP; two squads that will be in the field for this event. In order for Goblin Legs to have even the slightest shot at claiming a place at the Minor, it is going to need someone in its lineup to step up and put together a breathtaking performance in this qualifier. Barring that happening, Goblin Legs is more than likely headed for another finish in the bottom half of the event standings.
Roy “Rajjix“ al Rajji
Mikki Mørch “HesteJoe-Rotten” Junget
Alexandru “ComeWithMe” Craciunescu
Jad “Eixn” Hammoud
As a team that has only recently come together with its current roster, Freelancers does not enter this Minor qualifier with particularly high expectations. Many of the players on its roster are ones that we’ve seen here and there on various minor squads in the European region, but none of them have managed to find their way to the Pro Circuit stage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that, the squad will have any better luck finding success in this event, as the team will almost certainly be considered an underdog in every match up that it will face. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Freelancers can’t potentially pull off an upset, as its players are are fairly skilled and experienced despite not having the highest level of exposure at the top of the regional scene. It would take a monumentally strong showing from the team, but Freelancers certainly doesn’t have much to lose by trying as it prepares to take its shot at earning its first appearance on the Pro Circuit stage.