Never Give Up: Royal Never Give Up looks to make one last push up the Pro Circuit Rankings as it joins PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming as China’s 3 representatives at the EPICENTER Major
The EPICENTER Major qualifies have reached their final day of action now, as the last 2 regions are completing their qualifier runs and locking down their representatives for the last Major of the 2018-2019 season. China was included among this final duo of groups, with the region’s 3 slots in Moscow now officially set as the trio of PSG.LGD, Roytal Never Give Up, and Vici Gaming have earned places at the Major. PSG.LGD will be making its fifth straight Major appearance of the season, RNG will be attending its first Major and fourth overall Pro Circuit event of the campaign, and Vici Gaming will be making its fifth Major appearance and sixth overall appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow. As for the 5 other teams in the field for this qualifier, there will be one final opportunity left to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage, as the qualifiers for the final Minor of the season are fast approaching. Before we get to those qualifiers though, we can take a moment to look at the results from this one, with the participants categorized based on their final place in the event standings.
Top 3 (Qualified for EPICENTER Major)
Record: 7-1 (6-1 Group Stage, 1-0 Tiebreakers)
PSG.LGD followed up its Top 4 finish at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major with an impressive performance against its regional rivals in this qualifier, posting a 7-1 overall record to claim the 1st place position in the event and avoid the Playoff Stage entirely. The team’s core trio of Ame, Maybe, and Chalice once again turned in masterful performances against their fellow Chinese squads, with the group combining to average 18.13 kills and 28.38 assists on just 6.01 deaths per game as PSG.LGD cruised its way through this qualifier. Between its continued dominance at home and its consistent success on the international level, PSG.LGD will surely enter the EPICENTER Major as one of the strongest teams in the field and a potential favorite to earn another Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage.
Royal Never Give Up
Record: 10-3 (6-1 Group Stage, 0-1 Tiebreakers, 4-1 Playoffs)
Royal Never Give Up entered this qualifier as a team that clearly had skill and potential, but its somewhat lackluster record against ranked squads within its home region had the expectations for the squad somewhat lower than usual. The squad had no such difficulties against ranked squads in this qualifier, as the team put together a 10-3 overall record that included 8 wins against ranked opponents. The team got solid production across the entirety of its roster, with the Carry/Mid duo of Monet and Setsu averaging 13.77 kills and 17.15 assists on 5.23 deaths per game, while the trio of Flyby, LaNm, and ah fu put together a combined 38.54 assists per game as well. The squad’s performance was not entirely flawless, as the team still could not top PSG.LGD with 2 losses against the team, but it was certainly one of the more impressive showings that we’ve seen from RNG in recent times. As of right now, RNG won’t likely be looked at as one of the leading teams in the field for the EPICENTER Major, but if the squad can replicate this strong regional performance on the international level, then it stands a solid chance of putting together a strong showing in Moscow and potentially making a play for one of the final Top 12 positions in the Pro Circuit Rankings.
Record: 8-5 (4-3 Group Stage, 4-2 Playoffs)
As a Major Champion and one of the leading teams within the Chinese region, Vici Gaming came into this Major qualifier with incredibly high expectations. The squad was one of the favorites to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage in Moscow, and while the team did encounter some struggles in this event, it was able to pull through in the end to lock down a place at the EPICENTER Major. With an 8-5 overall record through, Vici Gaming’s performance was not without its flaws, with the team seeming to have particular difficulties against Royal Never Give Up as it lost all 3 of its matches against the squad. In the end though, those issues all proved to be relatively minor in scale, as Vici Gaming pushed its way to a 3rd place finish to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage once again. Considering the extensive levels of skill and experience on the team’s roster, combined with its previous success on both the regional and international level, Vici Gaming still looks to be in one of the most favorable positions as it heads to Moscow for its fifth Major appearance of the season.
Record: 7-6 (5-2 Group Stage, 2-4 Playoffs)
The season to this point had not been a very agreeable affair for Newbee, as the squad came into this Major qualifier with a long string on inconsistent play and roster changes in this 2018-2019 campaign. With an updated lineup and a new sense of hope though, the squad was looking to turn thins around with a strong showing against its regional rivals in this event. With a 7-6 record and a 4th place finish in this Major qualifier, Newbee appeared to do just that, missing out on earning a place at the Major itself but putting together a fairly impressive showing against some of the strongest teams in its region. Of the team’s 13 total matches in this qualifier, 12 of them came against ranked opponents as Newbee managed to put together a 6-6 record in those games. The squad’s most recent roster additions ended up playing a large role in the squad’s performance in this event, as new Carry JiaJia averaged 5.60 kills and 7.67 assists on 3.20 deaths per game, while veteran Support Fenrir averaged 11.60 assists on 4.07 deaths per game. With its new lineup looking relatively comfortable together and putting together some respectable performances against its most prominent regional rivals, Newbee appears to be in a position of strength heading into the upcoming Minor qualifiers. Whether the team takes advantage of that favorable position remains to be seen, but the squad looks about as strong as we’ve seen it so far in this 2018-2019 campaign.
Record: 5-9 (2-5 Group Stage, 2-0 Tiebreakers, 1-4 Playoffs)
Team Aster came into this qualifier with a new lineup and new hopes for putting together a surge in the final days of the Pro Circuit season. While the team did advance to the Playoffs of the qualifier, its 5-9 overall record was perhaps not as impressive as it may have been hoping for. The squad did at least manage to put together a 4-5 record against ranked opponents in this event, put that marked proved insufficient for Team Aster to earn itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage. The team’s play was an encouraging sign though, and if Team Aster can improve upon this showing moving forward, then it stands a solid chance of putting together a stronger showing in the upcoming Minor qualifier and potentially earning its an appearance on the Pro Circuit stage with its new lineup.
Record: 2-6 (2-5 Group Stage, 0-1 Tiebreakers)
Keen Gaming came into this qualifier as one of the leading teams in the Chinese region, but the squad certainly didn’t seem to look the part with an incredibly disappointing 2-6 overall record. The squad struggled against all but the weakest teams in the field in this event, and found itself playing from behind across the vast majority of its matches in this qualifier. The lone bright spot for the team was the play of old chicken, who managed to average 6 kills and 5.88 assists on 3 deaths per game despite the struggles of the rest of the squad. As the team’s record shows though, those performances were not enough to lead Keen Gaming to wins. This stumble within its home region comes at an incredibly inopportune time for Keen Gaming, as the squad is currently sitting below the point threshold needed to lock down its Top 12 position in the Pro Circuit Rankings and earn a direct invite to TI9. If the team wants to keep its fate in its own hands, then Keen Gaming will have to prove that it can recover from this poor showing and regroup to put together a stronger performance in the upcoming Minor qualifiers to make a run for the Major the long way around.
Record: 2-6 (2-5 Group Stage, 0-1 Tiebreakers)
Team Sirius came into this qualifier as a team that appeared to have a lot of potential, but its lack of experience together as a squad had the expectations set fairly low for it in the face of some of its regional leaders. As it turned out, those low expectations proved valid, as the squad put together a relatively lackluster 2-6 performance in this event to finish in the bottom section of the event standings. While the team’s overall record may not seem particularly impressive, it should be noted that Team Sirius very nearly advanced beyond the Group Stage of this qualifier, as the team fell just short in the 5th Place Tiebreakers with a loss to Team Aster. Coming within a single game of advancing to the Playoffs is probably more than most were expecting out of Team Sirius, and it does speak to the level of skill and potential that this team has. Unfortunately, the time left for Team Sirius to actualize that potential is running short, as the 2018-2019 season is swiftly approaching its end. The squad may have another opportunity to put its strength on display in the upcoming Minor qualifier, but it is clear that the team will need to step its level of play up a bit if it wants to have a shot at reaching the Pro Circuit stage in that event.
Record: 1-6 (1-6 Group Stage)
After the squad’s recent period of multiple roster changes, it appeared that the team’s lineup was finally beginning to stabilize and that it was ready to return to a position of prominence within the regional hierarchy. The squad at this stage was considered to be perhaps a step behind the leaders within the Chinese region, but it was still believed that EHOME had the potential to contend with those squads in this qualifier. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as EHOME put together an awful performance against its regional rivals that saw it win just a single game for a disappointing 1-6 overall record. With an average game length of around 34 minutes, the squad more often than not found itself playing from behind in those matches as well, as it was out killed 83-146 across the entirety of the qualifier. Considering the level of talent and experience that the team has on its roster, this incredibly poor performance would appear to be an aberration or a fluke. However, the squad won’t have much to prove such as the season is rapidly approaching its end, with the upcoming Minor qualifiers potentially being EHOME’s final shot at turning things around before the start of the TI9 qualifiers.