The Pro Circuit stage welcomes back Ninjas in Pyjamas, Alliance, as the duo claim the 2 European slots at the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019
The last of the regional qualifiers for the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 has officially come to an end, with the field of teams for the seasons’ fourth Minor now complete. The European region has concluded its qualifier run, with 2 squads out of a field of 8 set to take the stage in Split, Croatia. The duo of Ninjas in Pyjamas and Aliance will represent Europe on the Pro Circuit stage, as the squads posted records of 6-1 and 6-2 in this qualifier, respectively. The OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 will serve as NiP’s second Minor appearance and its fourth Pro Circuit appearance in total this season, while Alliance will be making its first Minor appearance and third overall Pro Circuit appearance at the event. With the action from this regional qualifier officially at and end, the time has come to take a look at how of the teams in the field performed in this event and how they stacked up compared to their pre-qualifier projections.
Top 2 (Qualified for OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019)
Ninjas in Pyjamas
As one of the top teams in the Pro Circuit Rankings and with 2 slots at the Minor available in this qualifier, NiP was considered to be a heavy favorite to earn a return to the Pro Circuit stage. The team certainly looked the part of a regional leader in this qualifier, as NiP dropped just a single match to finish in 1st place among its regional rivals and secure itself a place at the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019. The team’s path to success wasn’t necessarily an easy one, with NiP’s average match length came in at just over 43 minutes as the squad had to put in a fair bit of work and effort to dispatch its opponents. The team’s performance in its most recent Pro Circuit appearance was not quite as strong as it had been hoping for, but the chance to play in its second Minor of the season and potentially play its way to the MDL Disneyland Pairs Major will almost assuredly motivate the squad to be at the top of its game in Croatia.
When Alliance announced that Madara would be playing for the team in this round of Pro Circuit qualifiers in the place of miCKe, there were some immediate concerns as to how well the squad would be able to perform with a stand-in in the roster. After a middling performance in the Major qualifier though, Alliance was able to put on a much more impressive show in this event to earn itself a spot on the Pro Circuit stage. Though the team’s efforts in this qualifier took an early hit with a 0-2 loss to NiP in the Upper Bracket, Alliance bounced back with wins over SexyAsF, Kingdra, and Goblin Legs in 3 straight elimination series. Whether the team gets miCKe back in time for the Minor or continues playing with Madara as a stand-in, Alliance stands in a position of strength as it prepares for its first Minor appearance of the 2018-2019 season in Split.
After a somewhat lackluster performance in the Major qualifier, the expectations for Goblin Legs coming into this Minor qualifier were not particularly high. Despite that, the squad managed to put together a much stronger performance against its regional rivals, posting a 4-3 record to finish in 3rd place and just barely miss out on earning a place on the Pro Circuit stage. The team’s qualifier run began with solid victories over SexyAsF and Freelancers, but stymied with back to back 0-2 losses to Ninjas in Pyjamas and Alliance in the Upper and Lower Bracket FInals. Still, the fact that the team advanced that far into the event at all is incredibly encouraging for a squad that previously had earned just a single win in the previous qualifier.
In an event that featured a trio of squads that had all previously made appearances on the Pro Circuit stage this season, Kingdra was not considered to be a favorite heading into this Minor qualifier. However, the team was looked at as a potential contender and threat in the field, and Kingdra managed to live up to that projection with a 3-3 record and a 4th place finish against its regional rivals. After falling 1-2 in its initial series against NiP, the squad proceeded to take down both Team Singularity and Freelancers in back to back Bo1 elimination matches before finally falling to Alliance just shy of the Lower Bracket Final. The team put together a fairly impressive performance in this qualifier, and a large part of that success can be traced back to the play of its Carry/Mid duo of CharlieDota and canceL^^. The 2 players averaged 15.33 kills and 16.17 assists on 7.33 deaths per game and served as the driving force behind the squad’s play against its regional rivals. Given how tightly contested the European region has been this season, it’s not clear whether or not Kingdra will be able to truly establish any sort of stable position for itself within the regional hierarchy. For the time being though, this Minor performance should come as an encouraging sign for Kingdra moving forward into the rest of the season.
As 1 of the 3 open qualifier teams in the field for this event, Freelancers did not have the highest of expectations against its regional rivals. While the squad did not end up being a significant threat the claim a spot on the Pro Circuit stage, it did put together a performance that was somewhat stronger than some may have been expecting. Witha 2-4 record and a 5th-6th place finish in the qualifier, Freelancers flashed a fair bit of skill and potential in this event, especially in its 2-1 victory over The Final Tribe in the Quarterfinals. In particular, the play of Rajjix and Adrej Porjazovski served as a bright spot for the squad, with the duo averaging a combined 15.5 kills and 16 assists on 9 deaths per game. Considering the fact that the team only recently formed in the lead up to this latest round of Pro Circuit qualifiers, it is unclear whether Freelancers will be able to maintain a comparable level of play moving forward, or if the team will even remain together in its current form at all. We will simply have to wait and see whether or not Freelancers gets another opportunity to challenge its most prominent regional rivals again in the future.
SexyAsF certainly did not impress with its performance in the Major qualifier, but this Minor qualifier offered the squad a shot a redemption as it took on its regional rivals once again. This time around, the team managed to put together a much better showing, posting a 2-3 record to finish in the 5th-6th place position. The team’s play in this qualifier was much more impressive than its previous attempt, as SexyAsF took a hard fought 1-2 loss at the hands of Goblin legs and knocked The Final Tribe out of the event with a 1-0 victory before finally being brought down by Alliance in a nearly 63 minute long match. With an average match length of just under 53 minutes, SexyAsF ensured that whatever team won had to put up a serious fight in order to do so. Despite the squad’s commendable efforts in this qualifier, it is unclear how the rest of this season will play out for SexyAsF. The squad may opt to split up and pursue other opportunities over the final months of the 2018-2019 campaign, or it could attempt to remain together as a roster and try to close out the season in an incredibly stacked European region.
The Final Tribe
Once again The Final Tribe entered a Pro Circuit qualifier with high hopes of finding success against its regional rivals, and once again the squad has come up short of that goal, as the team put together a disappointing 1-3 record to finish in the 7th-8th place position in this event. We’ve seen what this squad is capable of when it is playing at its best, but the Swedish squad has simply been unable to maintain that level of play on a consistent basis. This time around though, the team’s performance takes on a slightly less encouraging aspect due to the fact that the team avoided two of the teams that were considered its largest threats in Ninjas in Pyjamas and Alliance. At this point in the season, The Final Tribe is sitting pretty much at the bottom of the Pro Circuit Rankings, and its situation on the home front continues to be a frustrating affair for the squad. With one last round of Pro Circuit qualifiers left to play in May, The Final Tribe does still have one last shot at getting back to the Pro Circuit stage. However, if the squad can’t significantly elevate its level of play from what we saw in this event, then The Final Tribe isn’t likely to have much of an impact in those final qualifiers of the season.
Things certainly did not go according to plan for Team Singularity, as the squad ended up falling out of the Minor qualifier earlier than it had anticipated while failing to secure a single win in the competition. At 0-3, the squad’s performance was not nearly as strong as many had been expecting, as the squad found itself playing from behind across the vast majority of its 0-2 defeat against Alliance. In its final match against Kingdra, Team Singularity was actually the squad in control through most of the match, but the squad couldn’t hold on as it allowed its opponent to pull off a late comeback to win the match. In the wake of this underwhelming performance, consistency is going to be the key issue for Team Singularity over the final months of the season. If the team can bounce back from this less than ideal performance, than it should have to skill and experience to potentially build up some form of momentum heading into the season’s final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers and the TI9 qualifiers as well.