Dota 2 Pro Circuit Minor Recap: OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019

Ninjas in Pyjamas stands tall in Croatia, defeats EHOME 3-2 to claim Minor Championship and first ever Pro Circuit title at OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019

The penultimate Minor of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season has officially come to a close now, as the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 had concluded and the season’s fourth Minor Champion has been crowned in Split, Croatia. After a week long event, the field of 8 participants had been reduced down to just a single winner, with said squad laying claim to the title of Minor Champion while also earning the right to advance to the upcoming MDL Disneyland Paris Major as the sixteenth and final team in the field for that event.

When the action in Split had come to an end, the squad that stood victorious was one that many had considered to be a favorite coming into the event, as Ninjas in Pyjamas was able to lay claim to the title of Minor Champion. The team brought down Chinese squad EHOME in an intense 3-2 Grand Finals victory to earn its first Pro Circuit title of the season as well as its first Pro Circuit title as an organization. Across the entirety of the event, NiP posted a 13-7 record (4-5 Group Stage, 9-2 Playoffs) that saw it claim series victories over Gambit Esports, Majestic Esports, Forward Gaming, Alliance, and EHOME on its path to success on the Pro Circuit stage.

With the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 officially at an end, the Pro Circuit Rankings are due for a bit of a shakeup as the point earnings from this event are applied to its various participants. With its victorious performance at the Minor, NiP claimed 120 Pro Circuit Points to bring its total up from 1570 to 1690 as the squad retained its 7th place position in the Rankings. However, the team has the chance to supplant those 120 points with a greater value depending upon its performance at the upcoming Major. At 2nd place in the Minor standings, EHOME claimed 60 Pro Circuit Points, which was reduced from its original value of 100 due to the team’s use of a stand-in for the event. Those 60 points brought the Chinese squad’s total up from 489.6 to 549.6 and moved the squad up the Rankings from 12th to 11th overall. In third place, and also receiving a reduction to its earning for the use of a stand-in was Alliance, as the European squad had its earnings reduced from 90 points to just 54. Those points brought the team’s total up from 225 to 279, though the squad remained in the 14th place position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Rounding out the Top 4 in Split was South American squad Majestic Esports, as the team earned 70 Pro Circuit points to make its debut in the Pro Circuit Rankings at 23rd overall.

Starting things off in the lower half of the event standings was the duo of BOOM ID and Forward Gaming, with both squads coming away from the event having earned 40 Pro Circuit Points with their finishes in the combined 5th-6th place position. For BOOM ID, those earnings doubled the Southeast Asian squad’s total for the team, moving it from 40 points to 80 while pushing it from 30th in the Pro Circuit Rankings to a tie for 21st. As for Forward Gaming, its 40 points moved the squad’s total up from 153.6 to 193.6, and shifted the squad up one spot in the Rankings as it moved from 17th to 16th overall. Sitting at the bottom of the event standings was Royal Never Give Up and Gambit Esports, as the two squads finished in the 7th-8th place position at the Minor and each earned 20 Pro Circuit Points for their efforts in Split. For RNG, the points moved its total up from 43.65 to 63.65, pushing the squad up from 29th to 24th in the Pro Circuit Rankings. For Gambit Esports, the 20 points moved its total up from 208 to 228, but didn’t change the team’s position in the Rankings as it held firm at 15th overall.

With NiP officially crowned the winner of the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 and the Pro Circuit Rankings adjusted for the results of the event itself, we can take a look at how each of the participants in the field managed to perform on the Pro Circuit stage and how they stacked up compared to their pre-event expectations.

 

Ninjas in Pyjamas Ninjas In Pyjamas

Place: 1st

Winnings: $125,000 & 120 Pro Circuit Points (Advances to the MDL Disneyland Paris Major)

Event Record: 13-7 (4-5 Group Stage, 9-2 Playoffs)

As the top ranked squad among the field of participants for this event, NiP came into the Minor with some high expectations as it looked to improve its position in the Pro Circuit Rankings and earn itself a Minor Championship title and a place at the upcoming Major as well. The squad’s play on the international level in recent times had been somewhat inconsistent though, and the squad found itself in need of a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage in Split in order to get itself back on track and right the ship heading into the final stretch of the 2018-2019 season. Considering the vast amounts of skill and experience that the squad could bring to bare, NiP appeared to be in a position of strength coming into this evet, but the question was whether or not all those factors could come together at the right time for the squad to find success on the Pro Circuit stage in Croatia.

NiP’s first series of the Minor saw it face off against Royal Never Give Up, and right off the bat we had an incredible match between the two squads. Game 1 proved to be a tightly contested affair, as the match itself went just over 62 minutes of game time and saw each team at one point hold a net worth lead of over 10k. In the end though, it was NiP that was able to get the last laugh, as the squad put on an impressive surge late in the match behind strong performances from Ace’s Drow Ranger (11-7-22) and Saksa’s Lion (11-6-16) to pull off a comeback victory to open the series. Unfortunately for NiP, its momentum would end at the conclusion of that first match, as RNG kept the team on the back foot over the course of the next two games. While NiP was able to remain somewhat competitive, it still trailed in terms of net worth for the vast majority of Games 2 and 3 as it suffered a 1-2 loss to begin the Group Stage.

After its opening loss to RNG, NiP found itself facing off against Gambit Esports in a match up between two squads that were looking to bounce back from losses in their initial series. Game 1 proved to be an incredibly one sided affair, as NiP pulled away early behind a combined 17-6-20 stat line from its core trio of Naga Siren, Omniknight, and Doom and never looked back. The team never trailed in terms of net worth, and while Gambit Esports was able to delay the match with a stubborn defensive effort, NiP eventually broke through to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 appeared as though it was going to play out in a very similar manner, as NiP once again jumped out to a sizable lead early in the match. However, a series of costly team fight losses in the late-game stage saw NiP out killed by its opponent 0-9 over the final 7 minutes of play as Gambit Esports pulled off an impressive comeback effort to even up the series. Despite losing control late in Game 2, NiP entered the final match of the series with a sense of confidence that it immediately put to use against its opponent. The team jumped ahead early with an aggressive start to the match, and quickly caught Gambit Esports off guard. Out killing its opponent 19-6 in just under 22 minutes of play, NiP was able to secure itself a quick and easy victory to close out a 2-1 win in the series.

NiP’s final series of the Group Stage saw it face off against BOOM ID, and the European squad wasted no time establishing an advantage for itself in Game 1 of the series. Led by an impressive performance from 33 on Bounty Hunter (9-2-5), NiP was able to create enough early momentum for itself to dominate the mid and late-game stages and largely neutralize the team fight power of its opponent. Ahead by over 21k net worth by the 32 minute mark, NiP had little issues countering the final team fight attempts from BOOM ID to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. From that point on though, things shifted rather significantly out of NiP’s favor as the squad struggled throughout the rest of the series. The team trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of Game 2 and ended up losing the match despite a valiant effort on the part of Ace’s Spectre (7-3-7). Game 3 ended up being even worse for the squad, as its hard pushing lineup fell victim to early aggression from BOOM ID and completely fell flat in the mid and late-game stages. Without the level of map control that it had been anticipating and facing a massive net worth deficit, NiP had no choice but to concede defeat to suffer a 1-2 loss in the series that put it in the lower half of the Group A standings.

Round 1 of the Upper Bracket saw NiP face off against Majestic Esports, and the European squad quickly set out to bounce back from its weaker Group Stage effort. NiP absolutely dominated the series, putting together back to back stomps of its opponent that saw the team out kill Majestic Esports 57-21 across two games. The team ended up leading in terms of net worth across the entirety of the series , as NiP did not give its opponent any opportunity to fight their way back into either match. Overall, the team’s core trio of Ace, Fata, and 33 combined for a stat line of 44-6-74 in the series, and only one member of the team (ppd) ended up with double digit deaths across the entire series as NiP claimed a dominant 2-0 victory in its first series of the Playoffs.

After its dismantling of Majestic Esports, NiP found itself shifting from a South American opponent to a North American one as it faced off against Forward Gaming in Round 2 of the Upper Bracket. As it turned out, Forward Gaming wouldn’t prove to be much more of a challenge than its previous opponent had, as NiP once again put together a dominant performance. The European squad put together back to back blowout victories once again, leading in terms of net worth across the entirety of the two game series and completely shutting down its opponent. Overall, NiP out killed Forward Gaming 40-21, with Ace leading the way for the squad with a combined stat line of 16-1-10 on Drow Ranger and Anti-Mage. Behind those solid performances and an impressive effort from the team as a whole, NiP was able to lock down another 2-0 series sweep as the squad pushed its way past Forward Gaming with relative ease to secure itself a Top 4 finish at the Minor.

With four straight victories to open its Playoff run, NiP now had its eyes on a place in the Grand Finals of the Minor as it matched up against Alliance in the Upper Bracket Finals. Unfortunately for NiP, the squad did not come out firing in Game 1 of the series as it got off to a relatively slow start compared to its opponent. Trailing in terms of net worth for the majority of the first 35 minutes of play, the team was forced to bide its time in the hopes of mounting a comeback effort in the late-game stage. Thanks in large part to a pair of strong performances from Ace’s Medusa (6-3-8, 33.6k net worth) and Fata’s Ember Spirit (13-0-11, 30.4k net worth), NiP managed to do just that, claiming two critical late-game team fight wins that shifted the momentum of the match into its hands. From there, NiP broke through the defenses of Alliance to complete its comeback win and claim a 1-0 lead in the series. After snagging the momentum near the end of Game 1, NiP wasted little time reestablishing control over its opponent in Game 2. The squad out killed its opponent 25-8 in the match, with its core trio of Meepo, Mirana, and Bounty Hunter combining for a stat line of 20-5-32 to lead NiP to a blowout win. Said win handed NiP a 2-0 sweep of the series, as the team successfully earned itself a place in the Grand Finals of the Minor.

NiP’s opponent in the Grand Finals would be the the only squad that it had yet to face at the Minor, as the squad took one EHOME in a Bo5 series to determine which squad would lay claim to the title of Minor Champion in Split. Game 1 would prove to be a largely one sided affair for the most part, as NiP jumped out to a sizable net worth lead in the early stages of the match. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Ace on Morphling (12-1-5) and 33 on Broodmother (11-4-11), NiP kept EHOME in check through the majority of the match. However, a pair of massive surges from EHOME in the late-game stage very nearly broke the team’s hold over the match, and it was only thanks to some exemplary team fight execution that NiP was able to hold the line to claim a win in the opening match of the series. For most of Game 2, it appeared as though NiP was once again in control of the match, as the squad held a decent net worth advantage throughout the mid and late-game stages. Behind a strong showing from Fata on Templar Assassin (10-3-5), NiP looked poised for another victory, but EHOME would once again put together a surge in the late-game stage. This time around, NiP proved unable to hold off its opponent as it had in Game 1, as the team lost control and the momentum of the match shifted irrevocably into EHOME’s hands to allow the Chinese squad to tie up the series at 1-1. After losing control late in Game 2, NiP came into Game 3 determined not to repeat its mistakes as it once again jumped out to an early lead in the match. Behind an impressive performance from Ace on Medusa (13-3-7, 45k net worth), NiP held the net worth lead throughout the rest of the match, shutting down EHOME in the mid and late-game stages to lock down a fairly one sided victory to claim a 2-1 lead in the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum from the Game 3 win did not carry over into the next match, as NiP found itself on the wrong end of a stomp in Game 4. Out killed 11-24, the squad trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match as it desperately attempted to by more time for its Terrorblade pick. While the team did succeed in extending the match, its efforts eventually proved futile, as EHOME broke through the team’s defenses to tie up the series at 2-2 and force a decisive Game 5. That final match would prove to be a relatively one sided one, as NiP built up a lead early and held it for nearly the entirety of a 68 minute long game. Despite holding the advantage for the majority of the match, NiP found itself struggling to knock out its opponent as EHOME stubbornly refused to give in and fought tooth and nail to extend the match. Those efforts very nearly succeeded, as NiP lost a team fight late in the match that forced the squad to defend its base in a desperate attempt from EHOME to make a final push to pull off a comeback. However, NiP managed to hold the line, and with that final surge put down, the squad was able to close out the match to secure a hard fought 3-2 victory in the series that saw NiP claim the title of Minor Champion in Split.

NiP came into this event as a squad that many considered to be a heavy favorite to contend for the title of Minor Champion, especially considering the fact that many of the other teams in the field had either recently formed or had undergone changes to its roster. Prior to the start of play in Split, NiP was projected to finish in the Top 4 range, and the squad more than lived up to those expectations as it put together a 13-7 record to claim the title of Minor Champion at the event. The team’s campaign at this event got off to a somewhat rocky start though, as the squad suffered 1-2 defeats in the Group Stage to both RNG and BOOM ID while claiming a 2-1 victory over a Gambit Esports squad that massively under performed at the event. The team’s Group Stage performance certainly failed to impress, but once the Playoffs rolled around things dramatically improved for NiP. The squad rattled off seven straight wins and won 9 of its next 11 matches en route to claiming a 1st place finish at the event. The play of the team was incredibly at every position, but the Carry/Mid duo of Ace and Fata proved to be particularly productive and consistent across the event. In 20 total matches in Split, the duo combined to average 12.29 kills and 16.33 assists on just 5.05 deaths per game, with neither player ever recording more than 7 deaths across any of their matches. The fact that two of the team’s core players could produce on that level while also minimizing their own mistakes to such an extreme degree was an integral part of NiP’s successful run in this Minor, and it is as aspect of the team’s game plan that should terrify its opponents. With this victory in Split, the team’s sights are now set on even bigger prizes, as NiP takes its Minor Championship title to Paris where it will hope to emulate Vici Gaming and become the second team this season to win a Minor and its accompanying Major.

 

Alliance Alliance

Place: 3rd

Winnings: $35,000 & 54 Pro Circuit Points (Reduced from 90 due to playing with a stand-in)

Event Record: 10-7 (6-2 Group Stage, 4-5 Playoffs)

Alliance came into this Minor as a squad looking to finally shake off a reputation for poor performances on the international level. The squad had been a solid contender within the European region all season long, but repeatedly failed to translate that regional success into comparable results away from home. With the team still playing with Madara as a stand-in due to miCKe’s injury, there was a small degree of uncertainty regarding how far this squad could go on the international level. Considering the fact that Alliance hadn’t found much success outside of Europe so far, there was hope that the temporary change to the team’s lineup could finally help the squad push itself way to a strong result on the Pro Circuit stage in Split.

Alliance’s first opponent of the Minor was Chinese squad EHOME, but the European squad was quick to prove that it wasn’t intimidated by The Bucharest Minor Champions. The squad came out strong in Game 1, bouncing back from a handful of early deaths to seize control by out killing its opponent 13-2 over the final 13 minutes of play to claim a win to open the series. Game 2 would not be nearly so straight forward, as the two teams battled it out in an epic match that lasted 71 minutes of game time. After pulling away in the mid and late-game stages, Alliance found itself unable to hold off an impressive surge from EHOME late that put the Chinese squad up by over 13k net worth around the 60 minute mark. However, Alliance did not fold in the face of that pressure from its opponent, and behind a pair of incredible performances from Madara on Juggernaut (18-3-24, 46.1k net worth) and boxi on Pugna (21-7-26, 24.9k net worth), Alliance was able to pull off a comeback in the last moments of the match to wipe out EHOME and close out the series with a 2-0 victory.

After taking down EHOME in its first series, Alliance next found itself facing off against North American squad Forward Gaming in its second series of the Group Stage. Game 1 of the series did not go all that well for Alliance, as the squad found itself trailing its opponent throughout the match. While the team’s efforts did allow it to extend the match significantly, Alliance could never fully turn the tides in its favor, as it was out killed 23-51 in the match and earned just 4 kills over the final  20 minutes of play to suffer a defeat in the opening match of the series. Game 2 saw Alliance bounce back from that defeat with an absolutely dominant performance, as the squad simply trampled Forward Gaming with an aggressive lineup. Behind impressive showings from Madara’s Lifestealer (10-0-5) and boxi’s Axe (12-1-6), Alliance out killed its opponent 31-4 to claim a massively one sided victory in just over 29 minutes to even up the series. The final match of the series would prove to be a much closer contest, as Alliance and Forward Gaming remained close throughout the entire match. In fact, neither team held a net worth lead of more than 5k at any point in the match, though Alliance would be the team with the lead for most of the second half of play. Behind strong performances from Madara on Morphling (8-1-4) and qojqva on Queen of Pain (11-2-10), Alliance was eventually able to break through Forward Gaming’s defenses to secure itself a 2-1 victory in the series.

Alliance headed into its final series of the Group Stage looking to lay claim to the top spot in the Group B standings and a perfect 3-0 series record as it took on South American squad Majestic Esports. The series would begin with a tightly contested match in Game 1, as the two squads traded the net worth lead 14 times in the first 40 minutes of play. Unfortunately for Alliance, that semi-stalemate was broken late in the match as the European squad dropped back to back team fights that allowed Majestic Esports to pull away and claim a victory that put Alliance down 0-1 in the series. The squad would be quick to bounce back from that defeat though, as the team dominated the following 2 matches of the series. Across Games 2 and 3, Alliance out killed its opponent 65-20 and led in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes as it claimed back to back victories. Leading the charge for Alliance was the duo of Madara and qojqva, as the former put together a combined 22-1-16 on Lifestealer and Morphling while the latter posted a combined 22-3-22 in two matches as Storm Spirit. Those victories secured Alliance a 2-1 win in the series along with the top seed in the Group B standings.

Following its impressive performance in the Group Stage, Alliance found itself facing off against a Gambit Esports squad that was coming off of an underwhelming showing to begin the Minor. However, Alliance found itself in for quite a fight in the opening match of the series, as the European squad fell behind in the mid and late-game stages. Facing a net worth deficit of nearly 14k, Alliance looked to be in a bad way for most of the match, but the team managed to stave off defeat long enough to turn things around. Behind a pair of impressive performances from qojqva on Razor (11-3-6) and Madara on Naga Siren (7-2-9), Alliance pulled off a series of team fight wins that allowed it to mount a comeback effort to take a 1-0 lead in the series. After needing a comeback to claim victory in Game 1, Alliance was determined to be the team in control in Game 2, and it certainyl accomplished that. The European squad put together an absolute beat down of its opponent, out killing Gambit Esports 31-2 in just under 26 minutes in a ridiculously one sided match. Behind an incredible performance from boxi’s Slardar (12-0-12), Alliance closed out the series with a 2-0 victory to advance to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket.

With the team just one more series win away from a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Minor, Alliance faced off against BOOM ID in Round 2 of the Upper Bracket. Game 1 of the series proved to be a fairly one sided affair, as Alliance jumped out to an early lead that it held throughout the entirety of the match. Behind a combined 33-11-55 stat line from its core trio of Weaver, Queen of Pain, and Bristleback, the squad kept BOOM ID at bay and eventually wore down the Southeast Asian squad’s defenses to secure itself a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 would see Alliance on the other end of a one sided match though, as the European squad was blitzed by its opponent. Out killed 4-22 in just over 26 minutes of play, Alliance simply never had an opportunity to make its mark on the match as the squad failed to record a kill in the last 13 minutes of the game to suffer a loss that tied up the series 1-1. After that lopsided defeat in Game 2, Alliance came into Game 3 determined to reestablish control over its opponent, picking up an aggressive lineup headlined by a core trio of Troll Warlord, Razor, and Doom. Said core trio combined for a stat line of 25-3-31 in the match, as Alliance took the fight to BOOM ID early and often and came away with both a multitude of kills and a net worth advantage that it would hold throughout the rest of the match. Ahead by over 45k net worth by the 51 minute mark, Alliance was able to break through BOOM ID’s final defenses to claim a 2-1 win in the series and a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Minor.

With its victory over BOOM ID, Alliance found itself just one more series win away from a place in the Grand Finals as it matched up against NiP in the Upper Bracket Finals. Alliance began Game 1 in impressive fashion, with its core trio of Sven, Alchemist, and Tidehunter out pacing their counterparts through the first half of the match. Behind a solid showing from Madara’s Sven (9-4-8), Alliance looked poised for a victory, but the squad would prove unable to close out the match as NiP came storming back in the late-game stage. Despite the team’s best efforts, Alliance ended up losing a pair of team fights late that shifted the momentum into its opponent’s hands, as the squad’s defenses were shattered to put it down 0-1 in the series. Unfortunately, the squad would not recover from that initial defeat, as Game 2 proved to be a stomp that did not go in its favor. Out killed 8-25 in just under 30 minutes, Alliance found itself playing from behind throughout the vast majority of the match. No member of the Alliance roster managed to pick up more than 3 kills in the match, as the team had not choice but to concede defeat to drop out of the Upper Bracket with a 0-2 defeat in the series.

Despite losing its series against NiP, Alliance still had a shot at making its way to the Grand Finals of the Minor as it faced off against EHOME for the second time at the event in the Lower Bracket Finals. The rematch did not begin well for Alliance, as the squad was blitzed in Game 1 and was woefully unprepared for the early aggression that it faced. Out killed 1-24 in less than 20 minutes of play, the European squad stood no chance of bringing things back to an even footing as Alliance opted to simply concede a quick defeat and move on to the next match of the series facing a 0-1 deficit. Game 2 would be a much closer match, and would see Alliance put together a much stronger showing than it had in Game 1. The squad remained close with its opponent through the first half of the match, with neither side leading by more than 2k net worth in the first 30 minutes. Behind a strong showing from qojqva’s Lina (12-4-12) though, Alliance began to slowly pull away from its opponent in the late-game stage. Unfortunately for Alliance, that lead would not last it through the end of the match, as EHOME repeatedly put together surges that threatened the team’s tenuous control over the match. Eventually, those surges proved too much for Alliance to hold off, as the European squad lost the final team fight of the game to suffer a 0-2 defeat that brought its run at the Minor to a close. With its final series loss, Alliance finished its time in Split with a 10-7 overall record that earned it a 3rd place finish at the event.

Alliance came into this Minor looking to finally shake off its reputation for underwhelming results on the international level, as the squad’s previous appearances away from its home region had not quite lived up the expectations. However, the team’s solid play in recent times and the exemplary results from long-term stand-in Madara had hopes high that the team would finally get over that hump in this event. The expectations for the squad matched those high hopes, as Alliance was projected to finish in the Top 4 range in Split. The squad more than lived up to those high expectations though, putting together a 10-7 record at the event while claiming its first Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage with its 3rd place position in the event standings. The team looked incredibly impressive in its run through this event, beginning in the Group Stage were it claimed victories in all three of its series against EHOME, Forward Gaming, and Majestic Esports. The team even began its Playoff run with that same level of confidence and intensity, claiming wins over Gambit Esports and BOOM ID before finally being brought down by back to back 0-2 losses in the Upper and Lower Bracket Finals. Of the team’s 7 total series at the Minor, the squad managed to win 5 of them, only really losing its momentum at the end of its run with its losses to NiP and EHOME. Despite not being able to reach the Grand Finals of the event, Alliance put together an impressive showing in Split, and it did so playing the same style of Dota that it has been known for all season long. The addition of Madara as a stand-in did nothing to alter Alliance’s game plan of a balanced attack, with the temporary roster member slotting very well into miCKe’s usual place in the team’s strategies. Altogether, the team’s core trio of Madara, qojqva, and boxi combined to average 19.53 kills and 29 assists on 9.88 deaths per game across the team’s 14 matches at the Minor. The ability for any member of the core trio to carry the team to a win is one of the most valuable assets that this Alliance squad has, and the strength of its roster was one full display on the Pro Circuit stage. The question now for the squad will be whether it can carry this recently earned momentum forward and whether miCKe is any closer to making a return to the team’s active roster. Regardless of whether miCKe returns or the squad continues to play with a stand-in, Alliance will need to be fully focused upon making the most of this final stretch of the season. The team is still in the hunt for a potential Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings and a direct invite to TI9, and it will need every bit of its momentum from this Minor performance to either make a push for that coveted status or prepare itself for the upcoming TI9 qualifier.

 

Forward Gaming Forward Gaming

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $15,000 & 40 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 5-9 (3-6 Group Stage, 2-3 Playoffs)

Forward Gaming came into this event as a squad that had recently undergone some dramatic changes to its lineup. With over half of its roster having been altered in the time since the squad’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage, there was a significant degree of uncertainty surrounding the team as it made its way to Split. However, the team’s changes had also instilled a sense of hope that this new version of the roster would be able to turn around what had been a string of disappointing appearances for it on the international level. With the team sitting on the wrong side of the cutoff line for a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings, Forward Gaming and its new roster came into this event knowing that it had a valuable opportunity to both improve its position on the Pro Circuit and display its strength to the Dota 2 world with a strong showing in Croatia.

Forward Gaming began its Group Stage schedule with what would be a hard fought series against South American squad Majestic Esports. Game 1 saw Forward Gaming playing from behind for most of the match, as the team struggled to make the most of its team fight oriented lineup. Despite the best efforts of Sneyking on Ursa (10-6-4), the squad couldn’t string together the team fight wins that it needed to turn things around, as Forward Gaming fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 saw the squad go with a more aggressive strategy, with the team attacking its opponent early and often. The aggressive play payed off almost immediately, with the duo of YawaR’s Faceless Void (14-1-9) and CCnC’s Lina (7-0-12) leading the team in a dominant performance in which Forward Gaming out killed its opponent 28-6 to even up the series with a lopsided victory. Unfortunately for Forward Gaming, the momentum from that Game 2 win did not seem to carry over into the final match of the series. The North American squad was trailing in terms of net wroth for the majority of the game, as the team once again struggled to find consistent team fight success. Despite a series of surges in the late-game stage, the team could not keep pace with its opponent long enough to turn the match around, as Forward Gaming’s defenses eventually crumbled to hand the team a 1-2 loss in the series.

After dropping its first series of the Minor, Forward Gaming found itself in need of a bounce back performance as it faced off against Alliance in its second series of the event. The North American squad got the series started in impressive fashion, as the team put together a strong performance in Game 1 and led in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the match. Behind a pair of strong showings from YawaR on Terrorblade (18-3-12) and CCnC on Ember Spirit (15-4-29), Forward Gaming managed to out kill its opponent 51-23 to claim a victory to begin the series. Unfortunately, Forward Gaming did not follow up its Game 1 victory with an equally impressive performance in Game 2, as the squad found itself completely out played by Alliance. Out killed 4-31 in just 29 minutes of play, Forward Gaming had no real opportunity to mount any sort of comeback effort as it conceded defeat to even up the series at 1-1. Game 3 proved to be a much closer affair, as Forward Gaming and Alliance fought it out one last time in a match that saw neither team lead by more than 5k net worth. Despite remaining close in terms of net worth and kills, Forward Gaming found itself trailing for much of the second half of the match. Despite the team’s best efforts, its defenses were eventually worn down by Alliance, as Forward Gaming suffered another 1-2 series defeat.

With one final match up against EHOME left to play, Forward Gaming began Day 3 of the Minor looking to avoid a 0-3 series record in the Group Stage. That quest did not get off to the strongest of starts through, as the North American squad found itself quickly playing from behind in Game 1 of the series. As soon as the laning phase ended, all of the momentum in the match belonged to EHOME, as the Chinese squad built up its lead while keeping Forward Gaming’s lineup at bay. Trailing by nearly 10k net worth at the 29 minute mark, Forward Gaming opted to concede defeat as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Despite its struggles in the opening match of the series, Game 2 would see Forward Gaming bounce back in impressive fashion. The squad was quick to establish a favorable pace of play for itself in this game, taking the net worth lead early and keeping EHOME on the defensive throughout the rest of the match. Though its opponent was able to prolong the match to a certain degree, a pair of incredible performances from YawaR’s Morphling (20-2-11) and CCnC’s Monkey King (13-4-21) helped Forward Gaming close out the match as it tied up the series 1-1. Coming into Game 3 of the series, it appeared that Forward Gaming had a fair bit of momentum on its side, as the squad once again pushed out to a small net worth lead to begin the match. Throughout the first 30 minutes of play, the North American squad was able to maintain that modest advantage over its opponent, but the late-game stage saw things spiral wildly out of its control. Despite holding its own for the most part in the late-game team fights, Forward Gaming’s lineup quickly found itself being out paced by the cores of its opponent, as EHOME built up a sizable net worth advantage. With the momentum of the match completely shifted, Forward Gaming found itself unable to hold off the advance of EHOME, as the Chinese squad broke through its final defenses to hand the team a 1-2 defeat in the series and its third straight series loss of the Minor.

Forward Gaming’s somewhat underwhelming Group Stage performance had it facing off against Royal Never Give Up in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket, but the North American squad was quick to show that it wasn’t intimidated by its opponent. The squad dominated the series from the very start, out killing its opponent 62-26 in a pair of significantly one sided match games in which Forward Gaming held a net worth lead for all but a handful of minutes. Led by back to back solid showings from YawaR, who combined for a stat line of 25-5-24 on Chaos Knight and Terrorblade, Forward Gaming held control of the series from start to finish as it claimed a somewhat unexpected 2-0 sweep to claim its first series victory of the Minor.

Forward Gaming’s impressive victory over RNG had it facing off against NiP in Round 2 of the Upper Bracket, but from the very start of the series it was apparent that Forward Gaming wasn’t quite up to the task of taking on the European squad. Despite keeping relatively even in terms of kills in Game 1, Forward Gaming found itself trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match as the squad was brought down in just over 28 minutes of game time. Game 2 of the series proved to be even more one sided, as Forward Gaming was blitzed early and never managed to recover. Across the two game series, Forward Gaming was out killed 21-40, and the North American squad trailed in terms of net worth for the entirety of the series as it was absolutely out played on just about every level by its opponent. In less than 59 minutes of total match time, Forward Gaming was handed a 0-2 defeat that brought its time in the Upper Bracket to an end as it dropped into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs.

Forward Gaming came into this event hoping to put the strength of its new lineup on display for the Dota 2 world to see, and also hoping to put together a strong enough performance to push itself back into contention for a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings. While the squad’s lineup was relatively untested as a unit, the skill and experience of its players on an individual level had hopes high for the North American squad as it came into this event with a projection in the Top 4 range. Unfortunately, that prediction proved to be overly optimistic, as Forward Gaming fell short of that mark with a 5-9 overall record and a 5th-6th place position in the event standings. As a whole, the team’s performance in this event was not quite as strong as it may have been hoping for, as the struggles for Forward Gaming began as soon as the Minor had started. The team lost all three of its Group Stage series against Majestic Esports, Alliance, and EHOME, with the only silver lining from that scenario being the fact that all of its losses went the full three games. The fact that the team managed to pull off an impressive 2-0 sweep over Royal Never Give Up in its first series of the Playoffs had many believing that the squad was poised to turn things around in the second half of the event. Unfortunately. the squad was quick to crash back down to Earth after that victory, losing its next three matches against NiP and EHOME to drop out of the event altogether. All in all, the team’s performance at this event will come across as slightly disappointing, although the end result wasn’t exactly unexpected. The team clearly needs a bit more time to adjust to its new lineup, but the skill of its individual players is evident, particularly its new Carry/Mid duo of YawaR and CCnC. The two players combined to average 12.71 kills and 16.86 assists on 7 deaths per game across the team’s 14 total matches at the Minor. Those kind of performances will likely be the foundation upon which Forward Gaming looks to build heading into the final days of the season, but the team will have to build pretty quickly with the 2018-2019 campaign beginning to wind down. The next step for Forward Gaming will likely be the final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers set to begin in May, where the team will look to earn itself one last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage before potentially having to make a run through the TI9 qualifiers this summer.

 

Majestic Esports (Formerly Pacific eSports)

Majestic Esports

Place: 4th

Winnings: $25,000 & 70 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 7-7 (5-4 Group Stage, 2-3 Playoffs)

Majestic Esports came into this Minor as something of a pleasant surprise to many, as the team had been virtually unknown prior to its participation in this event. The team (under its former name Pacific eSports), had come out of nowhere to claim the South American region’s lone spot in this event, bouncing back from what had been a disastrous performance in the previous Major qualifier. With such a dramatic variance between its performance on the home front, many were unsure of what to expect from this squad as it prepared to play its first official matches on the international level. It was clear that the squad had a degree of skill and potential, but the question for Majestic Esports was just how far that skill could push them and how much of that potential would be realized at this event as the squad made its debut on the Pro Circuit stage in Croatia.

Majestic Esports began its Minor run with a series against North American squad Forward Gaming as it kicked off its Group Stage schedule. Game 1 saw the squad come out with a fairly aggressive strategy that quickly overpowered its opponent. Despite encountering some difficulties in the mid-game stage, the team’s core trio of Templar Assassin, Lifestealer, and Doom eventually helped Majestic Esports pull away, combining for a stat line of 19-2-34. Those performances fueled a dominant run over the final minutes of the match, as Majestic Esports secured a pair of team fight wins to lock down a win to open the series. Unfortunately, the team did not carry over its momentum into Game 2, as Majestic Esports fell behind early and never caught up. Out killed 6-28 in under 26 minutes, the squad had little choice but to concede a relatively quick defeat as the series was tied at 1-1. With the series on the line, Majestic Esports managed to bounce back from its poor showing in Game 2, putting together a much more impressive performance in the final match of the series. Behind an impressive performance from K1 on Sven (9-0-8), Majestic Esports held the lead throughout the majority of the match. The team did have to endure a couple of surges from Forward Gaming in the mid and late-game stages, but eventually the South American squad was able to close out the win to take the series 2-1.

Majestic Esports’ second series of the Group Stage brought it up against EHOME as it looked to claim back to back series wins to start the Minor. Game 1 of the series did not go well for the South American squad though, as Majestic Esports was out killed 10-28 in the match, including a 3-15 stretch in the final 14 minutes of play. With the mid and late-game stages firmly out of its control, Majestic Esports opted to concede defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would see the roles reversed between the two squads, as this time Majestic Esports was the squad to establish control over the match. Behind strong performances from Chris Brown on Templar Assassin (10-0-7) and K1 on Chaos Knight (7-2-7), Majestic Esports out killed its opponent 29-11 en route to a one sided victory to even up the series. After blowout matches in Games 1 and 2, the final game of the series would see both squads hold sizable net worth leads over the course of play. Majestic EHOME spent most of the first 25 minutes of the match playing from behind, but the late-game stage saw the South American squad turn things around and seize control with a series of team fight victories. Thanks in large part to a heroic effort from K1’s Phancom Lancer (17-1-8), Majestic Esports was able to survive one final surge from EHOME, closing out the match to claim an impressive and hard fought 2-1 win in the series.

With one final series left to play against Alliance, Majestic Esports came into the match up looking for both the top spot in the Group B standings and a perfect 3-0 series record in the Group Stage. The squad faced a formidable challenge in Game 1 of the series, as neither team was able to pull away for the majority of the match. Over the first 39 minutes of play, neither squad held a net worth lead of over 4k, but that all changed late in the game as Majestic Esports managed to seize control. Behind an impressive showing from K1 on Sven (13-1-4), Majestic Esports claimed back to back team fight wins that shut down Alliances final defense attempt and allowed the squad to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum from that initial victory would not carry over into the rest of the series. Majestic Esports found itself out played significantly in Games 2 and 3 as it was out killed 20-65 across those two matches. Aside from a handful of minutes at the start of Game 3, Majestic Esports found itself trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of Games 2 and 3 as the team suffered back to back losses that handed it a 1-2 defeat in the series.

Following its impressive Group Stage performance, Majestic Esports came into its first Playoff series with a fair bit of confidence as it faced off against NiP. Unfortunately, that confidence was not nearly enough for the team to contend with its European opponent, as Majestic Esports quickly found itself out played in the series. Majestic Esports fell behind early in both matches of this two game series, and never managed to find an opportunity for anything even remotely resembling a comeback effort. Across the two games in the series, the South American squad was out killed 21-57 and trailed in terms of net worth for the entirety of both matches as the squad suffered a rough 0-2 defeat in the series.

With its defeat at the hands of NiP, Majestic Esports found itself dropping into the Lower Bracket as it faced off against RNG in the dreaded Bo1 matches. The South American squad did not get off to the greatest of starts, as it gave up a number of early kills and found itself playing from behind through the first half of the match. However, Majestic Esports managed to turn things around in the mid and late-game stages with a series of team fight wins that shattered its opponent’s momentum. Led by pair of impressive performances from Chris Brown on Templar Assassin (9-0-12) and Yadomi on Grimstroke (8-4-15), Majestic Esports was able to seize control to pull off a surprising victory that kept the squad alive in the Lower Bracket.

Riding a high from its victory over RNG, Majestic Esports entered yet another Bo1 elimination match, this time against Southeast Asian contender BOOM ID. The team quickly put its previous momentum to use in this match, pushing out to an early lead that it would only build upon as the game progressed. With the team’s core trio of Phantom Lancer, Templar Assassin, and Brewmaster combining for a stat line of 24-7-33, Majestic Esports held the net worth lead throughout the entirety of the match and out killed its opponent 30-15 in a completely one sided match up. Up by over 23k net worth at by the 30 minute mark, Majestic Esports was able to force a “gg” call from its opponent to claim its second Lower Bracket victory and secure itself a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Minor.

Majestic Esports looked to keep its Lower Bracket run going entering Round 3, as the South American squad faced off against EHOME for the second time at the Minor in the final Bo1 match of the event. Unfortunately for Majestic Esports, its previous momentum seemed to abandon it in this match, as the squad fell behind immediately and never managed to catch up. Out killed 8-23, Majestic Esports trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match in what was a decisively one sided affair in which no member of the team managed to record more than 2 kills. The loss brought the team’s run in Split to an end, with Majestic Esports having tallied a 7-7 overall record to finish 4th at the Minor.

Majestic Esports came into this Minor as a relatively unknown squad within the wider Dota 2 world. The team’s impressive run in the qualifier for this event had come as something of a surprise, but the squad made its way to Split as one with high hopes and low expectations. Without any official matches as a team outside of its home region, the squad was projected to finish in the 7th-8th place range, but the South American squad blew that pessimistic prediction out of the water as it fought its way all the way up to 4th with a 7-7 record at the Minor. While that record may not be quite as eye popping as some may believe, but considering the fact that Majestic Esports was considered an underdog in just about every match up that it faced at this event, it’s hard not to be impressed by the squad’s performance at the Minor. The team claimed a pair of 2-1 series victories in the Group Stage against Forward Gaming and EHOME, and drew its series loss to Alliance out into a full three game set as well. When the squad was smacked down with a 0-2 loss to NiP in the Upper Bracket, it appeared that the team’s run was approaching its end. However, the squad rattled off back to back wins in high pressure, Bo1 elimination matches against both RNG and BOOM ID to push itself into the Top 4 at the event. Something worth noting for Majestic Esports in its Minor run is the fact that the team played 9 of its 14 total matches at this event against teams that ended up finishing in the Top 4 range. For a squad with incredibly limited international experience to hold its own in that kind of scenario speaks volumes about the skill and the potential that this Majestic Esports roster has. Add on to that the fact that the team’s 4th place finish has now earned it a place in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and things become a lot more interesting for Majestic Esports both within its regional hierarchy and on the Pro Circuit as well. With the final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers right around the corner, Majestic Esports has a shot at earning itself a return to the Pro Circuit stage and maybe even sparking a potential run for a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings in  the final days of the 2018-2019 season. If the squad wants to have a shot at pulling that off though, it is going to have to continue to play at the level that we say from it in its debut on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Gambit Esports Gambit Esports

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $10,000 & 20 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 3-9 (3-6 Group Stage, 0-3 Playoffs)

After back to back 2nd place finishes in the previous two Minors, Gambit Esports came into this event as a clear contender to finally make it over the hump and lay claim to a Pro Circuit title in Split. However, there were still some doubts surrounding the squad as it made its way to Croatia for its fourth Pro Circuit appearance of the season. The team had proven unable to take that final step forward twice before, and despite some impressive play both at home and on the international level, there was no guarantee that the team would be able to play its way past a field of hungry competitors at this event. That being said, the team’s experience and skill made it a heavy favorite among the participants at the Minor, as the CIS squad looked to finally lay claim to a Pro Circuit title and earn that final spot in the field for the subsequent Major.

Gambit Esports’ first opponent of the Group Stage was BOOM ID, and right from the start it was clear that the squad was in for a challenge. BOOM ID came out strong to begin Game 1, with Gambit Esports quickly facing a net worth deficit in the match. Despite a solid showing from Afoninje on Necrophos (8-6-6), the team couldn’t ever manage to fully turn the tides of the game in its favor, though it did manage to draw out the match to just short of the 53 minute mark. Despite the extra time, Gambit Esports simply could not hold back its opponent, as its defenses were eventually broken to hand the team a 0-1 deficit to begin the series. Game 2 saw the squad bounce back in a big way, as Gambit Esports went aggressive early in the match and caught BOOM ID off guard. Behind a pair of impressive performances from Daxak on Lifestealer (8-0-6) and Afoninje on Templar Assassin (8-2-8), Gambit Esports out killed its opponent 24-9 to claim a quick victory in just over 31 minutes to even up the series. Unfortunately, the final match of the series would see the roles reversed between the two teams, as this time Gambit Esports was the squad that fell victim to early aggression. The team was out killed 5-25 and trailed by nearly 23k net worth just 28 minutes into the match, forcing the squad to concede defeat as it lost the series 1-2.

After beginning its Group Stage run with a loss, Gambit Esports was looking to bounce back with a stronger performance as it faced off against Ninjas in Pyjamas. Unfortunately, the team didn’t come out with a sense of urgency in Game 1 of the series, as Gambit Esports found itself trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match. While the squad did manage to draw out the match, it couldn’t put together any effective comeback effort as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 began in a very similar fashion for Gambit Esports, as the team once again found itself trailing for most of the match. This time around though, the team had an answer in the form of Afoninje’s Queen of Pain (15-0-6). Behind that incredible performance, Gambit Esports turned things around late in the match, putting together a pair of team fight wins while out killing its opponent 9-0 in the final 7 minutes to pull off a comeback win to even up the series. Unfortunately for the team, any momentum from that comeback win failed to carry over into Game 3, as the squad was absolutely trampled by its opponent. Out killed 6-19, Gambit Esports opted to concede defeat just shy of the 22 minute mark to suffer yet another 1-2 series loss.

By the time that the team’s final Group Stage series rolled around, Gambit Esports was already guaranteed to finish in the lower half of the Group A standings. However, the squad was still looking to claim its first series victory of the Minor as it faced off against Royal Never Give Up in the final matches of Group A. Game 1 did not go all that well for the CIS squad though, as Gambit Esports quickly fell behind in the mid-game stage. Out killed 1-11 past the 15 minute mark of the match, the team’s prospects at a comeback were pretty slim as it opted to call a relatively quick “gg” to drop the first match of the series. Game 2 saw the team put up a much stronger fight, as Gambit Esports was able to keep fairly close to its opponent in a back and forth match that went just over 50 minutes in terms of game time. The team found itself facing a sizable deficit in the late-game stage, but thanks to a pair of impressive performances from Daxak’s Drow Ranger (9-3-21) and Afoninje’s Necrophos (14-6-19), Gambit Esports was able to claim back to back crucial team fight wins to complete a comeback victory that tied up the series. Unfortunately for Gambit Esports, the roles would end up being reversed in the third and final match of the series. After trailing through the laning phase, Gambit Esports was able to put together a surge that gave it a small net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages. Behind a strong showing from Daxak on Ursa (10-3-1), the team appeared to have a shot at closing out the match and the series. However, RNG came roaring back into the match with a series of team fight wins that completely shifted the momentum of the game away from Gambit Esports. With its lineup unable to counter the strength of its opponent, the CIS squad had no choice but to concede defeat to suffer a 1-2 defeat and its third straight series loss of the Minor.

The Group Stage may not have gone well for Gambit Esports, but the CIS squad was looking to turn things around as it faced off against Alliance in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket. For most of Game 1, it appeared that Gambit Esports had finally found its footing, as the squad put together an impressive performance led by its core trio of Wraith King, Sniper, and Bounty Hunter. Said core trio helped the squad establish a sizable net worth lead in the mid and late-game stages, going up by nearly 14k at one point. However, the team couldn’t close out the match as it suffered repeated team fight losses in the final minutes of the match that served to completely drain its momentum. With its advantage squandered, Alliance mounted a comeback effort to snatch a victory away from Gambit Esports and put the squad behind 0-1 in the series. Unfortunately for Gambit Esports, it would not have a chance to correct its previous mistakes in Game 2, as the match was essentially out of the team’s hands from the earliest stages of the game. Out killed 2-31 in the match, Gambit Esports was simply trampled by its opponent as the squad was forced to concede defeat in less than 26 minutes of play to suffer a rough 0-2 defeat to start its Playoff run.

The team’s 0-2 loss at the hands of Alliance dropped it into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs for a do or die elimination match against EHOME. Throughout the first 35 minutes of play, it appeared that Gambit Esports was in near complete control of the match. The squad held a net worth lead throughout that time frame, with the duo of Daxak’s Troll Warlord (8-4-6) and Afoninje’s Templar Assassin (8-4-9) leading the way for the team as it situated itself into a favorable position in the late-game stage. Unfortunately, the CIS squad couldn’t take advantage of that favorable position to close out the match, as EHOME mounted an impressive comeback effort that wiped away any momentum for Gambit Esports and handed the squad a loss in the match that ended its run at the Minor. With that final defeat, Gambit Esports ended up with an overall record of just 3-9 in Split, finishing in the 7th-8th place position at the bottom of the event standings.

Gambit Esports came into this Minor as a squad looking to avenge a pair of Grand Finals losses in the previous two Minors. Given the team’s impressive performances both at home and on the international level, Gambit Esports made its way to Split as one of the favorites to contend for the Minor Championship title with a projected finish in the Top 4 range. As it turned out, the team finished about as far away from that predicted outcome as it possibly could have as the squad posted an underwhelming 3-9 record to finish in the 7th-8th place position overall. To be honest, the word “underwhelming” doesn’t quite seem to be enough to describe just how disappointing the team’s performance was at this event, as the team fell short of even the most pessimistic of predictions. The team did not win a single series throughout its run at the Minor, and while a number of its matches were fairly close, the fact that Gambit Esports failed to claim wins in most of those games should be incredibly concerning for it moving forward. The team has handled itself well on the international level for the most part this season, but a decline in its results away from home could not come at a worse time for the CIS squad. With the squad still sitting outside of the Top 12 in the Pro Circuit Rankings, the final months of this 2018-2019 season are almost guaranteed to take on a new level of anxiety and urgency for Gambit Esports. The squad must now recover from its disastrous run in Split and shift its focus to the upcoming final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers in the hopes of closing out its season with one last run on the Pro Circuit stage. If the team can’t manage to mount that kind of surge up the Pro Circuit Rankings, then Gambit Esports will have to risk a harrowing run against its regional rivals in the TI9 qualifiers.

 

BOOM ID Boom ID

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $15,000 & 40 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 7-7 (4-4 Group Stage, 3-3 Playoffs)

With this Minor serving as the squad’s third appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season, BOOM ID was looking to finally put together a strong showing against opponents outside of its home region. The team’s previous two attempts on the Pro Circuit level had resulted in a pair of last place performances, but the squad had confidence that its lineup had grown and improved heading into this event. Considering the team’s position fairly far down in the Pro Circuit Rankings, BOOM ID found itself in need of an inspired performance on the Pro Circuit stage if it wanted to have a chance of pushing its way to within striking distance of a Top 12 spot in the Rankings.

BOOM ID found itself facing off against Gambit Esports in its first series of the Group Stage, and the Indonesian squad wasted no time in establishing a favorable pace in Game 1. With its core trio of Ember Spirit, Lina, and Beastmaster combining for a stat line of 33-11-50, the squad jumped out to an early lead and managed to hold it for all but a handful of minutes in the match. While Gambit Esports’ efforts were able to draw out the match to a rather significant degree, BOOM ID’s momentum could not be fully overturned, as the Southeast Asian squad eventually broke through its opponents defenses to claim a win to open the series. Unfortunately for BOOM ID, Game 2 would see it on the other end of a one-sided match up, as Gambit Esports came out with some aggressive play that caught the team off guard. Out killed 9-24 in 31 minutes of play, BOOM ID had little choice but to concede an early defeat as the series was tied up 1-1. In Game 3, BOOM ID opted to use its opponent’s strategy against it, coming out with an aggressive strategy of its own that Gambit Esports was not prepared for. Behind a combined 23-2-22 stat line from its core trio of Ursa, Outworld Devourer, and Ominknight, BOOM ID out killed its opponent 25-5 in just over 28 minutes to claim an emphatic victory that earned it a 2-1 win in the series.

Following its impressive victory over Gambit Esports, BOOM ID found itself with an opportunity to jump to the top of the Group A standings as it faced off against Chinese squad Royal Never Give Up. The squad got off to a decent start in Game 1 of the series, out pacing its opponent by a slight margin in the laning phase. Beyond that point though, things went poorly for BOOM ID, as the team simply could no string together enough kills to maintain its control over the match. Out killed 3-11 over the last 10 minutes of play and facing a net worth deficit of nearly 11k at the 25 minute mark, BOOM ID opted to concede defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 ended up being a near repeat of its predecessor, as BOOM ID once again managed to get itself off to a strong start. Unfortunately, the Southeast Asian squad proved unable to maintain its hold over the momentum of the match, as the team gave up multiple team fights and pick offs that handed control of the game to its opponent. Despite one final valiant attempt to turn the tides in its favor, BOOM ID’s defenses were eventually broken as the squad was handed a 0-2 defeat in its second Group Stage series.

The final Group Stage series for BOOM ID would see it face off against NiP, with both squads looking to lock down a spot in the top half of the Group A standings. Game 1 did not go well for the Southeast Asian squad, as BOOM ID fell behind early and trailed throughout the rest of the match. Despite the squad’s team fight potential, it could never find the right execution to out play its opponent, as BOOM ID fell behind by over 21k net worth before calling “gg” to drop the first game of the series. Game 2 would see BOOM ID turn the tables on its opponent, as this time it was the Southeast Asian squad that established an early lead in the match. Behind fantastic showings from both Dreamocel’s Lifestealer (13-1-6) and Mikoto’s Dragon Knight (8-1-12), BOOM ID held the net worth lead throughout the entirety of the match and managed to continuously hold off its opponent to tie up the series at 1-1. Fortunately for BOOM ID, the squad managed to carry over some of that momentum from its Game 2 win in to the final match of the series, as the team was quick to establish control in Game 3. Behind a combined 20-5-24 stat line from its core trio of Troll Warlord, Ember Spirit, and Lechrac, the squad dominated the early and mid-game stages. From the 15 minute mark through the end of the match, BOOM ID out killed its opponent 20-8 as it locked down a victory that earned it a 2-1 series win and the number 2 seed in Group A.

BOOM ID’s 4-4 performance in the Group Stage led the squad to a match up against EHOME in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket, and the team would quickly go about establishing control over the series at its opponents expense. Behind a core trio of Sven, Outworld Devourer, and Omniknight, BOOM ID put together a dominant showing in Game 1, leading in terms of net worth for the majority of the match. With that trio dominating fights and significantly out pacing their counterparts on EHOME, BOOM ID was able to claim a one sided victory in less than 29 minutes of game time. While Game 2 would end up lasting quite a bit longer than its predecessor, BOOM ID was once again the team in control throughout the entirety of the match. Behind an absolutely awe inspiring performance from Dreamocel on Lifestealer (19-0-5, 41.4k net worth), BOOM ID took the net worth lead early and never let it go. EHOME didn’t go down without a fight though, as BOOM ID had to endure a handful of surges from the Chinese squad in the late-game stage that very nearly eliminated the team’s lead. In the end though, BOOM ID was able to hold off those surges, securing itself another victory to claim a 2-0 series sweep as it advanced to the next round in the Upper Bracket.

With its victory over EHOME, BOOM ID found itself just one more series win away from a Top 4 spot at the Minor, but the Southeast Asian squad would have to fight its way past Alliance in order to reach that goal.That fight did not get off to a strong start for BOOM ID, as the team was playing form behind throughout the entirety of Game 1 of the series. While a valiant effort from Mikoto’s Razor (9-7-7) helped the team prolong the match, BOOM ID was never able to find an opportunity to truly mount any effective comeback as the squad’s defenses were worn down to hand it a 0-1 deficit in the series. Game 2 saw the squad bounce back from its initial defeat though, as BOOM ID put together a dominant showing against its European opponent. The team out killed its opponent 22-4 in less than 27 minutes play, and no member of the team team died beyond the 13 minute mark of the match in what was an impressive performance for BOOM ID. With that lopsided victory, BOOM ID managed to tie up the series 1-1 and force a third and decisive match. Unfortunately, BOOM ID would not carry any of the momentum from its previous win over into that final match of the series, as the Southeast Asian squad was once again playing from behind throughout the game. While the team was able to delay the game in the hopes of bringing its Terrorblade pick online in the late-game stage, Alliance’s power was too much for the squad to handle in the end. With its final defenses broken, BOOM ID was handed a 1-2 defeat in the series as the squad dropped down into the Lower Bracket.

With its Minor life now on the line, BOOM ID found itself facing off against Majestic Esports in a Bo1 elimination match in Round 2 of the Lower Bracket. Unfortunately for the South American squad, the match proved to be a fairly one sided one, with BOOM ID on the wrong side of the match up. The team fell behind early in the game, and its core trio of Morphling, Outworld Devourer, and Batrider was given previous little room to build up any sense of momentum for itself. The team ended up trailing in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match, and simply could not find any way to take a team fight win as its net worth deficit ballooned over the course of the game. Down by over 23k net worth by the 30 minute mark, BOOM ID eventually opted to concede defeat, taking a 0-1 loss in the series and bringing its run at the Minor to an end with a 7-7 overall record and a 5th-6th place finish overall.

Coming into this Minor, BOOM ID’s record on the Pro Circuit level was one of relative disappointment considering it had finished in last place in both of its previous Minor appearances. Prior to the start of play in Croatia, the team wasn’t expected to break that trend, with the Southeast Asian squad projected to once again finish in the 7th-8th place position. However, the team was able to push past that meager prediction this time around, putting together a respectable 7-7 record that pushed it to the 5th-6th place position the event standings. The team managed to put up a pairs of hard fought 2-1 series wins over NiP and Gambit Esports, two squads that had been considered significant favorites in the field heading into the event. Additionally, the squad put together an impressive 2-0 sweep of EHOME and a valiant losing effort in a 1-2 series against Alliance that lasted over three hours of total game time. The team’s performance certainly wasn’t without its flaws and weaknesses, but for the most part BOOM ID looked like a much improved team from the one we saw in its last Pro Circuit appearance. The team’s Carry/Mid duo of Dreamocel and Mikoto combined to average 17.79 kills and 13.64 assists on 5.93 deaths per game across the team’s 14 total matches at the event. Overall, the team’s performance on the Pro Circuit stage showed a small degree of improvement compared to its previous appearances, but with limited time remaining in this 2018-2019 campaign, that improvement may not be coming quickly enough for BOOM ID to have much of a shot at a direct invite to TI9. Up next for the team will be one final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers as it looks to spark a last minute push up the Pro Circuit Rankings. Should the team fail in that though, it will need to start shifting its focus to the tough task of fighting its way through the TI9 qualifiers.

 

Royal Never Give Up Royal Never Give Up

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $10,000 & 20 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 6-5 (6-2 Group Stage, 0-3 Playoffs)

Royal Never Give Up came into this Minor as a squad looking to figure out its place within the hierarchy of the Pro Circuit. After starting the season off strong with a Top 4 finish at the first Minor of the 2018-2019 campaign, the team has dropped off a bit on the international level. Amid roster changes and a shifting landscape on the home front, the team has struggled to continue pushing forward, but with this appearance on the Pro Circuit stage the team had an opportunity to spark a return to prominence both in China and on the international level. With its lineup appearing to have settled after a shuffle with its sister squad Royal, the updated Royal Never Give Up lineup was determined to show the Dota 2 world that it still had the strength and skill to contend on the Pro Circuit stage as the team looked to claim its first ever Pro Circuit title and a shot at reaching its first Major with a victory in Split.

RNG’s first series of the Group Stage pitted it against European squad Ninjas in Pyjamas in the first matches of the Minor. Game 1 of the series proved to be quite the match, as the two team battled it out over an hour of game time. Behind an impressive showing from Setsu’s Ember Spirit (14-8-17), RNG managed to come back from a 10k net worth deficit to build up an 18k net worth advantage late in the match, but couldn’t close out the game. A series of team fight losses in the final minutes of the game and a lost Divine Rapier spelled the end of RNG’s fight in Game 1, as the Chinese squad conceded defeat in a hard fought loss to open the series. Though the team lost Game 1 of the series, RNG would immediately claim control in Games 2 and 3. With Setsu leading the way with a combined 25-3-24 on Templar Assassin and Ember Spirit in the final 2 games of the series, RNG was able to keep its opponent contained and on the defensive for the rest of the series as the squad claimed a 2-1 win to begin the Group Stage.

After taking down NiP, RNG found itself in a position to claim an incredibly favorable place in the Group A standings as it faced off against BOOM ID in its second series of the Group Stage. Game 1 proved to be a fairly straight forward match for the Chinese squad, as RNG was able to recover from a somewhat slow laning phase to establish near complete control of the game. Behind an impressive showing from Monet on Morphling (9-0-3), RNG was able to out kill its opponent 11-3 over the final 10 minutes of play to secure itself a quick victory to open the series. Game 2 would play out in a very similar manner, with RNG enduring a few surges from its opponent in the early and mid-game stages before taking control in the second half of the match. With its core trio of Ursa, Outworld Devourer, and Dark Seer combining for a stat line of 19-3-33, RNG was able to force its way past BOOM ID’s defenses to secure itself a 2-0 sweep of the series.

RNG’s final series of the Group Stage brought it up against Gambit Esports, as the Chinese squad looked to lock down a 3-0 series record at the Minor. The squad got off to a strong start towards that goal in Game 1, with its core trio of Juggernaut, Medusa, and Dark Seer putting together a 9-4-17 stat line that put a significant level of pressure on the cores of Gambit Esports. Over the final 14 minutes of play, RNG out killed its opponent 11-1 as it secured a relatively one sided win to open the series. Game 2 would prove to be a much closer affair than its predecessor, as the two squads traded control of the match back and forth over the course of a 50 minute match. Behind an impressive performance from Monet on Phantom Lancer (16-7-11), RNG looked poised for another win as it built up a net worth lead of over 14k in the late-game stage. However, a series of crucial team fight losses allowed its opponent to pull off a late comeback effort that wiped out RNG’s momentum and cost the squad its victory as the series was tied up at 1-1. Though the Game 2 loss a bit demoralizing for the squad, RNG came into Game 3 determined not to repeat its previous mistake. The squad endured a somewhat rough stretch in the mid-game stage of the match only to once again establish control late thanks to a pair of strong showings from Monet on Bloodseeker (13-4-13) and Setsu on Outworld Devourer (13-2-14). This time though, the squad managed to maintain control when the final team fights rolled around, closing out the match and the series with a 2-1 victory and the top spot in the Group A standings.

Following its impressive Group Stage performance, Royal Never Give Up appeared to be the team to beat as it faced off against Forward Gaming in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket. Very early on though, it was clear that RNG wasn’t quite ready to match up with its North American opponent. RNG fell behind early in the series and stayed behind throughout its two matches against Forward Gaming, with the Chinese squad being out killed 26-62. Despite the team’s best efforts, RNG trailed in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the series, as the squad simply had no answers for the dominant performances from its opponent. With back to back blowout losses, Royal Never Give Up ended up dropping the series 0-2, suffering its first series defeat of the Minor.

The squad’s defeat in its lone Upper Bracket series dropped it into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs for a Bo1 match up against South American squad Majestic Esports. The Chinese team began the match in relatively strong fashion, putting together a handful of early kills and pick offs to establish a modest net worth advantage for itself over the first 20 minutes of play. Unfortunately, the squad was not able to build upon that early momentum once the mid and late-game stages rolled around. Over the final 13 minutes of play, the team was out killed 3-22 as RNG completely lost control and was overrun by its opponent to lose the match. That loss ended the team’s run at the Minor, with the squad posting a 6-5 overall record while finishing at the bottom of the event standings in the 7th-8th place finish.

Royal Never Give Up came into this Minor with aspirations of making a return to prominence within both the Chinese regional hierarchy and the Pro Circuit Rankings, and with a newly updated roster the squad had hopes that it would be able to accomplish this with a strong showing in Split. Coming into the event itself, RNG was projected to finish in 5th-6th place range, but the squad ended up falling short of that prediction with its 7th-8th place position on the Pro Circuit stage. The story for RNG in this Minor was a tale of two different teams, as the Chinese squad looked relatively strong in the first half of the event before absolutely collapsing in the second half. The squad’s Group Stage performance was incredibly encouraging, as the squad posted a 6-2 record and managed to sweep its three series against NiP, BOOM ID, and Gambit Esports. Throughout those Group Stage series, the squad looked relatively confidence in its own play, but that all disappeared once it reached the Playoffs and proceeded to lose its next three matches to suffer a premature end to its run at the Minor. Across those final three losses, RNG was out killed 39-88 as it was simply out played by ts opponents. Overall, RNG has a handful of things that it can take away from this event in terms of its performance as a whole. On the one hand, the team’s impressive Group Stage record displayed its strength and abilities against international opposition. On the other hand, the wild and dramatic shift that it underwent to bomb out of the Playoffs shows a level of unpredictability and volatility that the squad cannot be happy with moving forward. In conclusion, this performance domes as a clear disappointment for Royal Never Give Up, and it is clear that the newest version of the team’s lineup still has a bit of work to do if it wants to consistently compete on the Pro Circuit level. With time running out in this 2018-2019 season though, the Chinese squad will have to light a fire under itself if it wants to have a real shot at building up some momentum for itself heading into the TI9 qualifiers. Up next for the squad though will be one last round of Pro Circuit qualifiers later in May, as the team will take its shot at earning a place at one of the final two Pro Circuit events of the season.

 

EHOME 800px-EHOME

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $65,000 & 60 Pro Circuit Points (Reduced from 100 due to playing with a stand-in)

Event Record: 10-10 (3-5 Group Stage, 7-5 Playoffs)

Coming into this Minor, EHOME’s story was one of unfortunate circumstances, as the team has been working to put out fires over the last few months. Between injuries to one of its players, the departure of another, and the benching of two more members of the roster, EHOME looks a bit different from what we saw just a few months ago. With so many changes having come in recent times, many were not entirely sure what to expect from this new-look EHOME lineup. It was clear that the team had put together a squad with incredible levels of skill and experience, including three TI winners in Ferrari_430, Xiao8, and y`. However, skill and experience alone do not guarantee that a squad will be able to come together to find success, especially on the Pro Circuit level. With that in mind, EHOME came into this Minor with more than a few questions and doubts hanging around it, but the squad was confidence and hopeful that it could dispel some of those doubts with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage as it looked to claim its second Minor Championship title of the season.

The first test for the new EHOME roster on the Pro Circuit stage was a match up against European squad Alliance in the team’s first series of the Group Stage. Unfortunately for EHOME, the series did not get off to a fantastic start, as the team found itself playing from behind for most of Game 1. Despite finding some early kills in the laning phase, the team did not have the strength to match Alliance beyond that point as it was out killed 2-13 past the 15 minute mark of the match. Facing a 10k net worth deficit at the 28 minute mark, the team opted to concede defeat as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would be an entirely different sort of match, as the two teams battled it out in an incredible 71 minute long contest. Though the team found itself trailing in the mid and late-game stages, EHOME was able to put together a massive surge in the second half of the match. Behind a combined 39-25-56 stat line from its core trio of Monkey King, Ember Spirit, and Leshrac, the team led by over 13k net worth late in the game and appeared to be poised for a victory. Unfortunately, the team proved unable to capitalize on its momentum, as Alliance pulled off an incredible comeback effort with a crucial team fight win in the final moments of the match that wiped out EHOME and forced the team to concede defeat to suffer a disappointing 0-2 loss in the series.

After losing that initial series, EHOME find itself in need of a bounce back performance as it took on South American squad Majestic Esports in its second series of the Minor. The Chinese team was quick to establish itself in Game 1 of the series, coming out aggressively with a core trio of Wraith King, Dragon Knight, and Omniknight. While that core trio combined for a stat line of 17-7-31, it was XinQ’s Dark Willow (10-0-12) that stole the show as EHOME out killed its opponent 28-10 en route to a one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 saw EHOME on the opposite side of a blowout though, as the Chinese squad fell victim to the very same aggressive tactics that had worked in its favor in Game 1. After giving up a multitude of early kills to its opponent, EHOME was left in a position where it was forced to play from behind throughout the entirety of the match. Out killed 11-29 and trailing by over 25k net worth at the 28 minute mark, EHOME opted to concede defeat as the series was tied up at 1-1. Game 3 saw EHOME get off to a much better start that it had in the previous match, as the Chinese squad built up a modest net worth lead for itself through the first 25 minutes of play. However, that advantage quickly evaporated in the late-game stage, as EHOME found itself losing team fight after team fight as Majestic Esports took control of the match. Despite a valiant last effort to put together a successful comeback, EHOME ultimately called “gg” just shy of the 44 minute mark to suffer a 1-2 defeat and drop its second series in a row at the Minor.

Coming into its final match up of the Group Stage against Forward Gaming, EHOME was determined to avoid an 0-3 series record as it looked to claim a win over the North American squad. Game 1 proved to be a fairly straight forward match for the Chinese squad, as EHOME managed to pull away from its opponent early and kept it at bay through the rest of the game. Behind a strong showing from END on Morphling (7-0-2), EHOME held control of the match and built its net worth lead up to nearly 10k by the 29 minute mark before forcing a “gg” call from its opponent to claim the opening match of the series. The second match of the series would see EHOME as the squad playing from behind, as the Chinese squad trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes in this game. Despite that, the squad was able to extend the match significantly, pushing to game to just short of the 45 minute mark thanks in part to a strong performance from END on Lifestealer (12-3-8). Despite the team’s efforts to prolong the match in search of a comeback opportunity, said opportunity never came, as EHOME’s defenses were eventually broken to tie up the series at 1-1. The third and final game of the series saw EHOME once again playing from behind across much of the match, as the team trailed in terms of net worth through the first 30 minutes of play. This time around though, the squad was able to turn things around in the late-game stage, putting together a surge that gave it control of the match thanks to a series of team fight wins and pick offs. The duo of END on Wraith King (7-0-9) and Ferrari_430 on Templar Assassin (8-2-7) led the way for EHOME, with its support duo of XinQ and y` combining for 27 assists on the team’s 22 total kills to help the squad lock down a 2-1 victory in the series.

After a somewhat underwhelming performance in the Group Stage of the Minor, EHOME had a chance to turn things around as it faced off against Southeast Asian squad BOOM ID in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket. Unfortunately, EHOME wasn’t quite up the task of taking on this particular match up, as the squad struggled throughout the series. Game 1 saw the team remain relatively even with its opponent in terms of total kills, but the same couldn’t be said with regards to net worth, as EHOME fell further and further behind as the match progressed. The net worth deficit quickly put EHOME in a position where it couldn’t match up with the strength of its opponent, as the squad was forced to concede defeat in the less than 29 minutes of game time. Game 2 of the series saw things improve for EHOME, but not by much as the squad once again fell behind early and trailed throughout the rest of the match. This time around, the team was at least able to prolong the match, thanks in large part to a pair of valiant efforts from END’s Drow Ranger (6-4-10) and Ferrari_430’s Necrophos (8-5-9). Those efforts even led the team to a handful of big surges that very nearly shifted the net worth lead and the momentum of the match into EHOME’s favor. However, every surge and close call was eventually overturned by the team’s opponent, forcing a “gg” call from EHOME as the squad suffered a 0-2 defeat in its first series of the Playoffs.

That loss dropped EHOME into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs, where the Chinese squad faced off against Gambit Esports in a high stakes Bo1 elimination match. Said match did not begin in auspicious fashion for EHOME, as the team fell behind early in the match and struggled to keep pace with its opponent. After trailing in terms of net worth through the first 35 minutes of the match though, EHOME finally managed to get its lineup online as it began to push back in the late-game stage. Behind a strong showing from END on Drow Ranger (12-2-6), EHOME was able to swing the momentum of the match into its favor and push through its opponent’s defenses. Despite a valiant final effort from Gambit Esports, EHOME was able to win one last team fight to claim a victory that kept the squad alive in the Lower Bracket.

EHOME’s Lower Bracket run would continue with a rematch against Forward Gaming in Round 2, this time with both teams fighting for a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the Minor. The two teams remained neck and neck over the first 20 minutes of the match, with neither squad leading by more than 2k net worth over that span. As the mid-game rolled around though, EHOME found itself beginning to fall behind thanks in part to a couple of misplayed team fights. However, the team was eventually able to turn things around in the late-game stage, with Ferrari_430’s Leshrac (10-2-19) and END’s Spectre (7-2-18) leading the squad to back to back critical team fight wins that shifted the momentum of the match irrevocably in its favor. With the tables turned on its opponent, EHOME managed to march its way down the middle lane to pull off a comeback win to advance to Round 3 of the Lower Bracket and a guaranteed Top 4 finish at the event.

Though the team had secured itself a Top 4 finish in Split, EHOME had its sights set on an even bigger prize as it entered the final Bo1 match of the Lower Bracket against Majestic Esports. The Chinese squad hit fast and hard in the elimination match, coming out with an aggressive lineup that immediately put serious pressure on the lineup of its opponent. Behind an impressive performance from END on Drow Ranger (10-2-4), EHOME out killed its opponent 23-8 in just over 32 minutes of play as it absolutely dominated the match. The team held a net worth lead from start to finish in this game, never allowing its opponent any real chance at tipping the balance of power in its favor. Ahead by nearly 20k net worth by the 32 minute mark, EHOME marched down the middle lane and smashed through Majestic Esports’ defenses to lock down a win in the match and advance to the Lower Bracket Finals.

EHOME’s victory brought it out of the Bo1 matches and within one series of reaching the Grand Finals of the Minor, but to reach that stage the squad would need to avenge its Group Stage loss to Alliance as the two squads faced off again in the Lower Bracket Finals. EHOME struck first in the series, and it struck hard with an absolutely dominant showing that Alliance was not even remotely prepared to handle. The Chinese squad out killed its opponent 24-1 in less than 20 minutes of play, with the duo of Xiao8’s Leshrac (9-0-8) and XinQ’s Sand King (7-0-13) leading the way in a complete dismantling of Alliance that handed EHOME a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 would not be nearly so straightforward, as the two squads put together a tightly contested affair in a match that lasted just over 56 minutes. Across the first 30 minutes of that match, the two squads were never separated by more than 2k net worth, as the sides battled back and forth without either side pulling away. Even in the second half of the match that status did not change much, as every lead and every surge from either side seemed to be countered relatively quickly. Behind a pair of impressive performances from END on Drow Ranger (14-4-13) and Ferrari_430 on Necrophos (10-3-14) though, EHOME finally broke through with a late-game team fight victory that shattered Alliance’s defenses and allowed the Chinese squad to close out a 2-0 win in the series.

With its place in the Grand Finals of the Minor secured, EHOME turned its focus towards the final obstacle in its path to claiming its second Minor Championship title of the season: NiP. Game 1 got off to an inauspicious start for the Chinese squad though, as EHOME fell behind early in the match and struggled to keep pace with its opponent. Despite playing from behind throughout most of the early and mid-game stages, EHOME was not quite willing to go down without a fight. Behind an impressive showing from END’s Wraith King (13-6-8), EHOME put together a pair of surges in the late-game that briefly wiped out the squad’s sizable net worth deficit. Unfortunately, those efforts proved unsustainable, as EHOME’s final pushes were shut down by NiP to put the squad behind 0-1 in the series. For most of Game 2, it appeared that EHOME was in danger of dropping its second straight match in the series, as the Chinese squad found itself once again playing from behind for most of the mid and late-game stages. However, the team managed to pull of some late game heroics once again, with the team’s core trio of Wraith King, Medusa, and Leshrac leading the charge in a dramatic reversal that wiped out NiP’s lineup and allowed EHOME to claim a comeback victory to even up the series at 1-1. Unfortunately for EHOME, the trend of slows starts would continue in Game 3, as the Chiense squad once again found itself falling behind early. This time around though, there would be no late-game surges or dramatic reversals, as the squad’s net worth deficit only continued to climb as the match progressed. Despite the team’s efforts serving to prolong the match, EHOME could not mount any sort of effective comeback effort, as the squad conceded defeat to fall behind 1-2 in the series. Game 4 would see the squad bounce back though, as EHOME put together a dominant showing of its own against NiP. With its core trio of Lifestealer, Razor, and Centaur Warrunner combining for a stat line of 13-6-30 and XinQ dropped a masterful performance on Rubick (10-2-9), EHOME led the match from start to finish as it steamrolled its opponent to tie up the series and force on final match to determine the Minor Champion. Game 5 would be the longest of the entire series, as the two squads battled it out for nearly 68 minutes in an incredible fight to the finish. EHOME found itself trailing in terms of net worth throughout the first half of the match, but pair of strong performances from END’s Spectre (4-2-15) and Ferrari_430’s Ember Spirit (7-2-17) sparked a furious comeback that had the Chinese squad on the verge of a victory. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum couldn’t quite get it over the edge, as NiP managed to hold the line inside of its base and march down the middle lane to close out the match and hand EHOME a 2-3 defeat in the series. With that loss, EHOME brought its overall record at the event to an even 10-10 as the squad claimed a 2nd place finish at the Minor.

EHOME came into this Minor as a team that many weren’t sure what to expect from, as the squad entered the event off the back of some serious changes to its roster in recent times. Prior to the start of the event, expectations for the squad were somewhat modest, with the team projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position. Despite the myriad of recent changes to its lineup, EHOME blew that prediction away with a 10-10 record and a 2nd place performance on the Pro Circuit stage. To be honest, the team’s run at the Minor did not begin in the greatest of fashions, as the team appeared to struggle through the first half of the event. The team dropped two of its three Group Stage series, with its only series victory coming against a Forward Gaming squad that dropped all three of its own Group Stage match ups and finished at the bottom of the Group B standings. After the squad dropped its first Playoff series with a 0-2 loss to BOOM ID, many had basically written EHOME off, as it appeared that the team’s new roster simply couldn’t get on the same page. The team’s strength in the late-game stage was wildly inconsistent, and its penchant for falling behind early across those matches didn’t do it any favors either. However, the risk of elimination in the Lower Bracket appeared to flip a switch for EHOME, as the squad rattled off five straight wins to fight its way to the Grand Finals, where it very nearly knocked off the tournament favorite in a 2-3 loss to NiP. The confidence and focus that had been nearly nonexistent for EHOME in the first half of the event had suddenly reappeared for it during that incredible run, and the team’s greatest weakness became one of its greatest assets as the squad pulled off more than a few late-game heroics to keep its run at the event alive in the face of incredible odds. The dramatic shift in the level of play that this squad showed in this event is certainly something that should come as a concern for EHOME moving forward. However, the fact that the team was able to come together with a display of skill and incredible resilience also stands as a testament to the strength of this new version of the squad. The question for EHOME in the coming days will be whether or not it can maintain that level of play through the rest of the season. As of the conclusion of this event, EHOME retains a place in the Top 12 in the Pro Circuit Rankings as is in line for a potential direct invite to TI9. However, with two Majors and one Minor still left to play in this 2018-2019 season, EHOME will likely have to continue with quite a few contenders and challengers before that place in Shanghai is secure. The next step for EHOME at this stage will be the final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers in May, where the squad will once again face off against its regional rivals in the hopes of earning one last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage to further bolster its position before the end of the season.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s