A New Order: paiN Gaming, Infamous take advantage of the departure of Chaos Esports Club by locking down South America’s 2 slots at the EPICENTER Major
The last round of Major qualifiers in this 2018-2019 season is approaching its end now, as more and more regions are locking in their representatives for the EPICENTER Major in June. The South American region had a little extra drama added to the mix for this event though, as the top ranked team from its region (Chaos Esports Club) actually transferred to Europe prior to the start of this event. With the former regional leader now removed from the picture, this qualifier represented a scramble among the remaining squads in the region to lay claim to a place at the top of the South American hierarchy. 8 teams came into this qualifier looking to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage, but just 2 of them would actually achieve that goal and lay claim to the 2 South American spots at the EPICENTER Major. The duo that will represent their home region on the Pro Circuit stage ended up being paiN Gaming and Infamous. The Major will represent paiN Gaming’s second Major appearance with its current roster, while Infamous will be making its second Major appearance and its third Pro Circuit appearance of the season overall in Moscow. As for the remaining squads in the field, the upcoming Minor qualifiers will provide a potential opportunity for redemption as the 6 unsuccessful squads from this event will look to make one last push for a spot on the Pro Circuit stage in that qualifier. 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: 6-1 (6-1 Group Stage)
With Chaos Esports Club having departed the South American region, paiN Gaming appeared to be one of the leading candidates to seize at least some degree of control within the regional hierarchy. The Brazilian squad lived up to those expectations with an impressive performance against its regional rivals, putting together a 6-1 record to claim a 1st place finish in the Major qualifier. The team as a whole was able to put together some strong and consistent play against its regional rivals, but the standout performance came from Mandy, as the team’s Carry averaged an insane 10.57 kills and 5.57 assists on just 3.43 deaths per game. The question for paiN Gaming at this stage is whether or not the squad will be able to replicate those kinds of performances when it transitions to the international level in Moscow. Success outside of South America has been a significant hurdle for teams from the region, but paiN Gaming has to be hoping that it will be able to buck that trend as it makes its way to the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow.
Record: 12-3 (5-2 Group Stage, 7-1 Playoffs)
With 4 European players on its roster, Infamous came into this Major qualifier with a bit of controversy handing around it. Once the matches actually began though, the squad proved more than capable of putting outside issues aside with an incredibly strong performance against its regional rivals. With a 12-3 overall record, the squad was able to handle just about every match up that it faced in this event, with oliver and Black^ leading the way with a combined average of 17.46 kills and 20.06 assists on just 4.20 deaths per game across the team’s 15 matches in the qualifier. At this stage, we have yet to receive any official word from Valve regarding the controversy over Infamous’ roster, but if the squad is allowed to compete, it has a solid shot at laying claim to a position as the leading squad in South America.
Record: 8-8 (4-3 Group Stage, 4-5 Playoffs)
EgoBoys certainly a came into this qualifier with a fair bit of hype and excitement around it. Despite having formed only recently, the squad boasted some well known and experienced players in the regional scene. Unfortunately, the squad ended up falling short of the mark to earn itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow, but EgoBoys still managed to put together a fairly impressive performances against its fellow South American squads in this qualifier. The biggest problem for the squad in this event though came in the form of Infamous, as the two teams faced off 6 times over the course of this qualifiers. Across those 6 matches, EgoBoys failed to record a single win over Infamous, including a harsh 0-3 defeat in the Grand Finals of the qualifier. While Infamous proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for EgoBoys, the team’s performance against the rest of the field was much more encouraging. Despite failing to qualify for the Major, the team’s solid play in this event makes it one of the clear favorites heading into the upcoming Minor qualifiers, as the squad will make one final attempt to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage.
Record: 8-6 (5-2 Group Stage, 3-4 Playoffs)
With the team coming into this qualifier with a new roster, there was a certain degree of hope surrounding Gorillaz-Pride for this event, as well as a level of uncertainty and apprehension. As it turned out, the squad was able to put a few of those doubts and uncertainties to rest with a solid showing against its regional rivals. Though the team fell short of the mark to reach the Major, its 8-6 overall record and 4th place finish in this qualifier certainly stands out as a significant achievement in a region that is experience a late-season power vacuum with the departure of Chaos Esports Club. The squad managed to put together a 6-3 record against ranked opponents in this event, holding its own against some of the stronger teams in its region. With the squad’s Carry/Mid duo of Kotaro Hayama and USH combining to average 12.43 kills and 14.15 assists on 7.44 deaths per game, it would appear that Gorillaz-Pride have a decent foundation to build upon moving forward. If the squad wants to truly emerge as a leader within the South American region, then it clearly has more than a few improvements that it needs to make moving forward. For the time being though, the team’s play in this event was definitely an encouraging sign, and the team will have a chance to follow up this performance as it competes in the upcoming Minor qualifier and takes its last shot at reaching the Pro Circuit stage in this 2018-2019 season.
Record: 4-7 (4-3 Group Stage, 0-4 Playoffs)
With Chaos Esports Club out of the picture, Thunder Predator was seen as a potential candidate to size at least some amount of the regional control that the departing squad left behind. Unfortunately, the Peruvian team didn’t quite manage to make the most of that opportunity in this qualifier, with Thunder Predator putting together a solid but uninspired 4-7 record against its regional rivals in this event. The team managed to fight its way through the Group Stage with a 4-3 record, but the Playoffs saw the squad fall apart as it tallied back to back 0-2 series losses to finish in the 5th place position overall. The most unfortunate aspect of Thunder Predator’s performance in this event though has to be the fact that the team only played 3 of its 11 matches against ranked opponents, and only managed to win 1 of those matches. For a squad looking to claim a place at the top of the regional hierarchy, that kind of performance simply cannot happen. The next step for Thunder Predator in the wake of this somewhat disappointing showing will be an attempt to rebound in the upcoming Minor qualifier, as the squad will have one last chance to earn itself another appearance on the Pro Circuit stage.
Record: 2-4 (2-4 Group Stage [Default win vs Midas Club])
The squad formerly known as Majestic Esports came into this qualifier as one of the more formidable teams in the field, although the recent addition of Duster in the place of Yadomi introduced a small degree of concern for the squad. Apparently, those concerns might have been somewhat understated, as the squad appeared to struggle against its regional rivals in this event. With a 2-4 record in games that were actually played (the team received a default win in its final match against Midas Club), FreeStyle had difficulties putting together consistent performances against the top squads from its region. The silver lining for FreeStyle is that some of its cores managed to put together some strong showings, with K1 and Wisper combining to average an impressive 13.67 kills and 20.57 assists on 8.43 deaths per game. That level of production is certainly a positive for FreeStyle moving forward, but it is clear that the team is going to have to significantly improve its level of play before it stands a strong chance of making a return to the Pro Circuit stage before the end of the season.
Record: 1-6 (1-6 Group Stage)
SG e-sports came into this qualifier as a team that had been seemingly making progress in its development within the South American region. However, with the 2018-2019 season swiftly coming to an end, the Brazilian squad was running out of time to put its improvements on display before the onset of the TI9 qualifiers. Unfortunately, this Major qualifier did not serve to show us the strength of the SG e-sports roster, as the team struggled throughout the event and put together a lackluster 1-6 overall record. The only real positive note for SG e-sports in this event was the play of Golem, as the team’s Carry managed to average a decent 4.57 kills and 6.29 assists on 3 deaths per game. However, those numbers won’t be nearly enough to earn the squad a place on the Pro Circuit stage, and it is clear that SG e-sports is going to have to step up its play significantly if it wants to have a shot at putting together a stronger showing in the upcoming Minor qualifier.
Record: 0-6 (0-6 Group Stage [Default loss vs FreeStyle])
Suffice it to say that things did not go according to plan for Midas Club in this qualifier, unless the plan was to put together a winless performance against its regional rivals in one of the final Pro Circuit qualifiers of the season. The team struggled to an absurd degree in this event, losing every single one of its match ups while having just 1 match go past the 40 minute mark and even forfeiting the final game on its schedule. The expectations for this team were certainly low coming into this event, due in large part to the fact that we didn’t even know that it would be participating until the day before the qualifier began. Even with that being the case though, this incredibly disappointing performance comes as something of a surprise. The question for Midas Club at this point is where does the squad go from here moving forward. The upcoming Minor qualifiers could provide the team with a second chance at reaching the Pro Circuit stage, but considering its incredibly weak performance in this event, the team will likely have to fight through the open qualifiers in order to earn a spot in the field for that qualifier.