Moving Forward: Forward Gaming joins EG as the 2 North American representatives at the EPICENTER Major
The last round of Major qualifiers for the 2018-2019 season is winding down now, as more and more of the teams in the field for the campaign’s final Major are being locked in. So far this season, the North American region has been the stomping grounds of Evil Geniuses, but this last Major qualifier represented a significant opportunity for another of the region’s squads to potentially make a statement and carve out a place for itself as the number 2 team in North America. The qualifier began with 8 teams in the field, but by the time the matches had come to an end in this event, just 2 teams remained to claim places on the Pro Circuit stage at the EPICENTER Major. The duo of Forward Gaming and Evil Geniuses ended up earning the positions of North American representatives on the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow, with Forward Gaming set to make its fourth Major appearance and fifth overall appearance on the Pro Circuit stage this season while EG will be making its fifth straight Major appearance of the season at the event. As for the remaining squads in the field who did not earn a place at the Major, the upcoming Minor qualifiers will serve as one final opportunity to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage. For now though, we will take a look at how each of the teams in the field performed in this regional qualifiers, with the participants categorized based on their final place in the event standings.
Top 2 (Qualified for EPICENTER Major)
Record: 7-0 (7-0 Group Stage)
Forward Gaming entered this qualifier as a team with some relatively high expectations, but the squad truly outdid itself with a perfect run through the Group Stage and a 7-0 record against its regional rivals. The squad’s whose new roster had seemingly struggled on the Pro Circuit stage at the previous Minor experienced no such difficulties back in its home region, as the team decimated every opponent that it came across. Leading the way for Forward Gaming was the Carry/Mid duo of YawaR and CCnC, as the duo combined to average an incredible 17.28 kills and 21.29 assists on just 3.57 deaths per game. The team’s play in this qualifier was beyond even the most optimistic of predictions, and if it can come even close to replicating that level of play on the Pro Circuit stage, then Forward Gaming could be a formidable threat in Moscow at the EPICENTER Major.
Record: 13-2 (6-1 Group Stage, 7-1 Playoffs)
Throughout the entirety of the season so far, Evil Geniuses has been the top squad in the North American region, and for the fifth time in this 2018-2019 campaign, the team will be representing its home region at the Major. With a 13-2 overall record against its regional rivals, EG once again dominated the competition, with 10 of its 13 wins in this qualifier coming against ranked opponents. The Carry/Mid duo of Arteezy and Suma1L led the way for EG in this event, combining to average 17.33 kills and 19.07 assist on just 4.53 deaths per game across the team’s 15 total matches in the qualifier. Considering the squad’s consistent performances on the Pro Circuit stage this season, EG will assuredly come into the Major in one of the more favorable positions among the field of participants as it looks to claim its first ever Major Championship title in Moscow.
Record: 10-8 (4-3 Group Stage, 6-5 Playoffs)
Complexity Gaming’s first Major appearance of the season did not end up going particularly well, but the squad was hoping to bounce back with a strong showing against its regional rivals in this Major qualifier. While the team didn’t quite have enough to earn itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage, Complexity Gaming at least succeeded in putting together an impressive performance in this event with a 3rd place finish and a 10-8 overall record. Unfortunately, the squad couldn’t quite find consistent success against the top teams in its region, with Complexity Gaming putting together a 6-8 record against ranked opponents in this qualifier. The good news for the squad is that its strong performance in this event sets it up with a favorable situation heading into the Minor qualifiers, where some of those top squads will no longer be in the picture.
Record: 6-8 (4-3 Group Stage, 2-5 Playoffs)
J.Storm came into this qualifier as a team that had failed to meet expectations to a certain degree this season. Near the start of the 2018-2019 campaign, the team was looked at as a potential leader within the North American region and maybe even a squad that could threaten regional leader Evil Geniuses. For the most part, that scenario did not play out, as the squad performed relatively well in its home region, but did not pull away from its rivals as it may have been hoping to while putting together lackluster performances on the international level. The addition of Resolut1on to the lineup though offered hope that the team could change all that in the final days of the season, but things didn’t quite go according to plan in this qualifier. The team did manage to finish in the 4th place position among its regional rivals, but its 6-8 overall record was not enough for the team to earn itself a place at the Major. The problem for the squad in this event was the one that has plagued it all season long: the team simply couldn’t find consistent success against ranked opponents. Of the team’s 14 matches in this event, 11 of them came against ranked teams, with J.Storm putting together a 3-8 record across those matches. That kind of play against its most prominent regional rivals simply isn’t good enough for J.Storm, and the team is going to have to quickly turn that trend around if it wants to have a shot at rebounding in the upcoming Minor qualifier.
Record: 3-8 (3-4 Group Stage, 0-4 Playoffs)
After a somewhat disappointing showing on the Pro Circuit stage at the previous Major, Beastcoast came into this qualifier hoping that it could bounce back from that poor performance with a stronger run against its regional rivals. Unfortunately, the squad’s play in this Major qualifier did not exactly convey the highest level of confidence, as Beastcoast finished in the 5th place position with a 3-8 overall record. The team did not do all that well against the leading squads in its home region, as Beastcoast played 8 matches against ranked opponents and managed to win just 1 of them. That win came in the form of a Group Stage victory over J.Storm, and unfortunately seems to be the highlight of the event for the squad. The team’s play against its most prominent regional rivals was incredibly concerning in this event, and while the upcoming Minor qualifiers represent a potential rebound opportunity for the squad, it is clear that Beastcoast will need to step things up dramatically if it wants to have a chance at making a return to the Pro Circuit stage before the end of the season.
Young Drug Gaming
Record: 2-5 (2-5 Group Stage)
The largely unheralded squad Young Drug Gaming did not come into this qualifier with the highest of expectations, as the team had no significant experience playing against some of the more established regional powers in this field. Considering the incredibly low projections for this squad though, its 2-5 overall record is really not all that disappointing. The team did exactly what many had though it would do, take wins over the weakest squads in the field while failing to stand up against the ranked squads of the North American region. Perhaps the squad will be able to put together a stronger showing in the upcoming Minor qualifier when some of the stronger teams in the region will not be participating. However, the squad’s unsurprising but still relatively weak showing in this qualifier may leave the squad in a position where it will have to put together another successful open qualifier to be included in the field for that Minor qualifier at all.
Record: 1-6 (1-6 Group Stage)
Black Sheep did not put together a particularly impressive performance in this Major qualifiers, but that wasn’t necessarily an unexpected development for this squad. The team was not considered to be a significant power within the North American region, and its struggles against the more established squads in the regional hierarchy didn’t come as much of a surprise. The good news for the team is that it at least managed to avoid going winless in this qualifier, as the team managed to claim its lone victory against Team Xolotl. Based upon the performance that we saw in this qualifier, Black Sheep doesn’t seem to factor as much of a threat for the upcoming Minor qualifiers either, although at this point the team may have to make another open qualifier run to even be included in the field for that event in the first place.
Record: 1-6 (1-6 Group Stage)
Team Xolotl came into this qualifier as a team that appeared to be taking some small steps forward in terms of its development within the North American region. However, those steps were not coming at a fast enough rate for the team to be considered a significant player within its regional hierarchy, and its poor showing in this Major qualifier does little to alter that perspective. The team earned just a single kill across the entirety of the event, putting together a 1-6 overall record that left little in the way of bright spots or silver linings. With an average game length of around 32 minutes, the squad more often than not failed to put up much of a fight against its regional rivals. With the Minor qualifiers just around the corner, perhaps Team Xolotl can find some form of redemption for this pitiable showing, but based on its struggles in this event, the Mexican squad may find itself in need of a successful open qualifier run to reach that stage.