Heir to the throne: The departure of Chaos Esports Club has created a power vacuum that a host of squads are hoping to fill in the EPICENTER Major 2019 South America Closed Qualifier
With the MDL Disneyland Paris Major now officially in the books, the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season is down to its final stretch as there is only a single round of Pro Circuit qualifiers left to be played. The South American region is set for a rather intense shake up with those final qualifiers on the horizon, as the departure of Chaos Esports Club for the European region has created a rather sizable power vacuum that many of the region’s best squads will be hoping to fill. Set to being on May 15, the EPICENTER Major 2019 South America Closed Qualifier will bring together 8 teams from the region to compete for a spot on the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow, with 6 teams (paiN Gaming, Gorillaz-Pride, Infamous, Thunder Predator, Freestyle, and Midas Club) receiving direct invites and the final 2 squads (EgoBoys and SG e-sports) having come up through the open qualifiers. Of the 8 squads in the field for this event, 4 of them (paiN Gaming, Infamous, Thunder Predator, and Freestyle [as Majestic Esports]) have previously attended a Pro Circuit event this season, while another 3 (Gorillaz-Pride, SG e-sports, and Midas Club) have participated in a prior Pro Circuit qualifier but did not reach a LAN event. The final squad in the field (EgoBoys) will be making their first appearances in a Pro Circuit qualifier this season.
As of right now, the format for this qualifier has not been revealed by the organizer, and all that is currently known is that the 8 teams in the field will be playing for 2 slots at the Major. Though the exact format for the qualifier is not yet known, we will be using the same categories that we have used all season long to divide the participating squads in terms of their expectations in this event: Favorites, Contenders, Maybe Ifs, and Long Shots
These squads are the elite of the group, comprised mostly of squads that attended one of the prior Pro Circuit events this season or have emerged as dominant forces within their home region and contenders on the international level. These are the teams that will likely be considered as favorites in this qualifier regardless of the match up that they face, and if a team in this section does not earn itself a place at the Major, then it will come as a bit more of a shock and a disappointment compared to the other squads in the field.
Leonardo “Mandy” Viana
Adriano de Paula “4dr” Machado
Rodrigo Lelis “Liposa” Santos
Thiago de Oliveira “Thiolicor” Cordeiro
Anderson “444” Santos
Though paiN Gaming has not existed as a squad for a particularly long amount of time, the team appears to be one of the leading candidates to take at least a share of the regional control that had previously been held by Chaos Esports Club. The team comes into this qualifier having just put together a 9th-12th place performance at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, and has a roster comprised of some of the most experienced players within the South American region. It certainly could be possible that the team’s recent performances have been some sort of fluke that it will prove unable to maintain in this final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers. However, considering the general sense of inconsistency that has plagued many of the leading squads in this region, paiN Gaming still appears to be in one of the most favorable situations among the field of teams for this qualifier, and will likely be considered a favorite to make a return to the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow.
Juan “Atun” Ochoa
Jeremy “Jeimari” Ruiz Aguinaga
Frank “Frank” Arias
Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña
Sergio “Prada” Toribio
Thunder Predator’s last appearance on the Pro Circuit stage may have come all the way back in January at The Chongqing Major, but the Peruvian squad has been putting together some very impressive performances in the time since that event. With the departure of Chaos Esports Club for the European region, Thunder Predator appears to be one of the leading candidates to benefit from the vacancy in the regional hierarchy. Since the start of 2019, Thunder Predator has finished in the Top 4 in all 9 of its appearances within the South American region, including earning 1st place finishes in the BTS Spring Cup: Americas, the Mekansm League, Liga Pro Gaming Season 6, and the joinDOTA League Season 15 Americas. That level of consistency is something that has been sorely lacking among many of the top squads within the South American region, and the fact that Thunder Predator has been able to maintain a high level of play in recent months gives it a clear advantage over most of the teams in the field for this qualifier. So long as the team avoids and significant mistakes or setbacks, it should be one of the squads in the best position to claim a place on the Pro Circuit stage at the Major.
The squads in this section are the ones that fall just a small step below the favorites in terms of their skill, level of success, or perceived strength of their lineup. Teams in this section are ones that may have attended one of the previous Minors but not a Major, or struggled on the Pro Circuit stage in general. These are the teams that could fairly easily claim 1 of the 2 spots up for grabs in this tournament, but aren’t necessarily expected to win out over the entire field. These teams will likely be right at the cusp of success in this qualifier, and are the ones that seem most probable to end up as direct invitees to the upcoming Minor Qualifiers if they cannot secure a place at the Major.
Hector Antonio “K1” Rodriguez
Jean Pierre “Chris Brown” Gonzales
Adrian “Wisper” Cespedes Dobles
Kaue “Dunha1” Camuci
Heitor “Duster” Pereira
The squad now known as FreeStyle certainly made an impression within the South American region upon first breaking out within the regional scene, as the squad managed to earn a place for itself on the Pro Circuit stage under the Pacific eSports and Majestic Esports organizations. Now going without an organization, the squad is looking to make a return to the Pro Circuit stage by taking advantage of the power vacuum created by the departure of Chaos Esports Club and putting together another strong showing against its regional rivals. That task will prove to be a rather daunting one for FreeStyle, as the squad has been fairly inconsistent within its home region despite having earned itself a place at the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019. The team has put together just 2 Top 4 finishes across 5 total appearances in South America, with one of those Top 4 finishes having come in an open qualifier. Those recent results don’t necessarily instill the greatest sense of confidence for this quad, but it does at least create some small degree of hope for FreeStyle heading into this qualifier. However, in order for the team to have a real chance at returning to the Pro Circuit stage, the team is going to have to put together a incredibly strong performance against its regional rivals in this event.
Enzo “Timado“ Gianoli
Leonardo “LeoStyle-“ Sifuentes
Abraham “Kingteka” Canez
Farith “Matthew” Puente
Álex “Masoku” Dávila
If EgoBoys is a squad that you’ve never heard of before, that would be because the squad did not exist until very recently. A quintessential “open qualifier” stack, the team features a number of well known and experienced players from the South American region, who have all banded together to take a shot at earning a place on the Pro Circuit stage. The individual results from the team’s players are certainly impressive, and the skill of the squad’s roster will make it a formidable threat in the field for this event. However, the fact that the team has no official matches together aside from its open qualifier run makes it hard to gauge how well it will perform against some of the top squads in its region. As we’ve seen time and time again on the Pro Circuit, individual skill and talent can only get a team so far before it has to prove that it can’t work together as a team and put together an effort greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps this EgoBoys roster will be capable of doing just that, but until we see the squad in action against its regional rivals, the expectations will be set slightly lower for the team heading into this regional qualifier.
The “Maybe, ifs..”
This section is where we start to get into some particularly interesting scenarios, as we take a look at some of the squads with somewhat lower expectations for this qualifier. These squads are more than capable of putting on a good show and potentially taking a spot at the Major, but they more than likely will need a little bit of help to get there. The squads in this section are most likely ones that attended prior Pro Circuit qualifiers, but did not earn places at an event, and represent the upper echelon of the Tier 2 scene in their region. Whether its a favorable group, a particularly beneficial match up, or the opportunity to avoid playing one of the stronger teams, these squads are the ones that might just need a little outside help to claim a place on the Pro Circuit stage.
Oliver “oliver” Lepko
Dominik “Black^“ Reitmeier
Mikki Mørch “HesteJoe-Rotten” Junget
Malthe “Biver” Winther
Mariano “Papita” Caneda
The past few months have been a period of rapid and near constant change for the Infamous organization, as the team has seen a dizzying number of roster changes in recent times. At this stage in the season, team captain Papita is the only member of the Infamous roster to have been with the organization for more than 2 months, which does present a rather significant concern for the squad heading into this qualifier. Adding on to those concerns is the fact that the team’s play in recent appearances has not been overly impressive. Since the team’s appearance at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major back in March, Infamous has earned 2 Top 4 finishes in 4 total event appearances. At this stage, the only thing really driving any sense of hope for Infamous is those very same roster changes that were the cause for concern with this team in the first place. Infamous’ play has been incredibly inconsistent of late, but the hope is that the infusion of new talent and experience from its roster additions will help the squad turn things around against its regional rivals. If Infamous wants to have a shot at earning a place on the Pro Circuit stage, then it is going to need a standout performance in this qualifier from 1 or more of its new additions.
Alonso “Kotarō Hayama” León
Jose Andree “Sword” Nicosia
Joel Mori “MoOz” Ozambela
Christian “Accel” Cruz
Gorillaz-Pride comes into this regional qualifier as a team dealing with some rather significant changes, as the organization announced a near complete overhaul of its roster just a few days prior to the start of this event. With Sword being the only holdover from the team’s previous lineup, there is a massive sense of both uncertainty and hope surrounding this squad as it prepares for the final Major qualifier of the 2018-2019 season. On the one hand, this new lineup could be the answer to some relatively inconsistent play from the squad in 2019. However, the team’s new roster also represents a sizable risk as it has yet to prove itself in any significant way, with the team having played no official matches since the reveal of its new lineup. The individual members of the team have a fair bit of skill and experience under their belts, but on team can find success on the Pro Circuit level based purely on talent alone. The hopes will certainly be high for the new Gorillaz-Pride coming into this qualifier, but the expectations will have to remain on the lower side until we see proof that the squad can play well together as a unit against its regional rivals.
The Long Shots
In this final section, we find the squads that have very little in terms of expectations for this qualifier. These are the underdogs, the Cinderella stories, and the teams that would frankly send shock waves through the regional scene should they manage to claim a spot at this event. These are the squads that many have probably already counted out of the fight for a place on the Pro Circuit stage, but we’ve seen underdog stories and unbelievable runs before, and these teams will be hoping to add their names to the list of squads that have shocked the Dota 2 world.
Vacilios “Golem” Mavrommatis
Pedro “mini” Rezende
Diego “Sexyfat” Barini
Marcello “MahhxD” Yamamoto
Caio “Nuages” Oliveira
SG e-sports is a squad that we’ve seen before in Pro Circuit qualifiers, but coming into this one is doesn’t appear that the Brazilian team is in a stronger position than it has been in past appearances. The squad is certainly more experienced than it was the last time around, but that added experience has yet to translate into an increase in the team’s level of play. Since its last Pro Circuit qualifier appearance in April, the team has put together 3 Top 4 finishes in 5 regional events, with 2 of those Top 4 finishes having come in the 2 open qualifiers for this event. Those performances may constitute a small step forward for the team, but they are not nearly enough to suggest that the squad is ready to contend with the leading teams in its region. Perhaps there is a small bit of hope that the team can put together some sort of Cinderella run in this qualifier, but those hopes will not be reflected in the team’s expectations for this event, as SG e-sports should not have much of an impact on the final results of this qualifier.
Sergio “rZs” Gonçalves
John “Dashka” Kether
Junior Reyes “Yadomi” Rimari
Higor “H1j4ck” Albuquerque
Lucas “hyko” Morais
Despite the fact that Midas Club received a direct invite to this qualifier, it was the last team to be added to the field of participants, as the squad’s inclusion in this event was not revealed until less than 24 hours before it began. Part of that might have been due to the fact that the Midas Club organization had still been finalizing its roster, as the team recently acquired former FreeStyle member Yadomi. The team has not seen much action so far this season, with its recent appearances in the open and closed qualifiers for the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 constituting its only experience since the start of 2019. Neither of those performances proved to be particularly impressive, and those lackluster showings don’t instill a high degree of confidence in this squad heading into the Major qualifier. Perhaps the addition of Yadomi and some positional changes among its other members will be the catalyst for a strong showing from Midas Club, but the expectations will be set fairly low for the squad until we see proof of that kind of sudden turnaround.