Pro Circuit Qualifier Preview – StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 China Qualifier

Five returning squads from the Major qualifier and one new challenger look to make a final push onto the Pro Circuit stage in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 China Qualifier

With the qualifiers for the EPICENTER Major now officially at an end, the time has come to the final set of regional qualifiers to get underway for the last Minor of the 2018-2019 campaign, as teams from around the Dota 2 world look to earn a place on the Pro Circuit stage at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2. China will be the region to kick off the action, with its qualifier set to begin May 21 and featuring 6 teams looking to lay claim to 2 spots at the Minor. Returning from the previous Major qualifier is the quintet of Newbee, Team Aster, Keen Gaming, Team Sirius, and EHOME, as the first four squads in that list received direct invites to the event while the latter earned its place through the open qualifier. Joining those returning squads though will be a new challenger, as Typhoon E-Sports Club has claimed the final spot in the field as the second open qualifier winner.

With 2 slots available at the Minor, the China qualifier is set to have a somewhat altered format compared to the other regions. The event will begin with a Group Stage that will see the 6 participants split into 2 groups of 3 teams each. With those groups, the teams will play a Bo2 round robin that will see the bottom squads in each group eliminated from the qualifier. The remaining four teams will advance to the Playoffs, which will feature a double elimination bracket with Bo3 series across all match ups. With the field of teams reduced from the size that we saw in the recent Major qualifier, we will be shifting the categories for the participants from 4 down to just 2: Favored Teams and Underdog Teams.

 

Favored Teams

The team(s) in this section represent the more formidable or accomplished teams in the field for the qualifier that appear to have the best chance at claiming a spot at the Minor. Given the smaller field of teams for these qualifiers compared to the Major qualifiers, the margin between the squads in this section compared to the other may not be particularly high. However, these teams have, or at least appear to have, some small advantage based upon their roster or results in the previous Pro Circuit qualifiers.

Keen Gaming Keen Gaming
Roster:
Wang “old chicken” Zhiyong
Zhai “一” Jingkai
Ren “eLeVeN” Yangwei
Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi
Song “dark”‘ Runxi

Keen Gaming came into this final round of Pro Circuit qualifiers as one of the strongest teams in the Chinese region, but the squad certainly didn’t look the part in the recent Major qualifier as it struggled significantly against its regional rivals. With a 2-6 overall record in that event, the squad simply did not look anything like the squad that we had grown accustomed to seeing. While the team’s poor showing in the Major qualifier certainly has the levels of concern heightened coming into this qualifier, the expectations for this squad will not suffer much. We’ve seen what this squad has been capable of so far this season, both on the international level and within its home region. Considering the squad’s relatively consistent performance to this point in the 2018-2019 campaign, it would appear as though the squad is in a favorable position to bounce back and put together a successful run against its regional rivals in this qualifier.

Newbee_logo Newbee 
Roster:
Tan “JiaJia” Lijia
SongSccc Chun
Wen “awen” Lipeng
YanWaixi Chao
Lu “Fenrir” Chao

After a season of roster changes and struggles, Newbee finally appeared to put together the kind of strong and confident performance that we’ve been waiting to see in the recent Major qualifier. The squad finished 4th at the event with a 7-6 overall record that saw it come within 1 series of earning a place at the Major. The good news for Newbee heading into this Minor qualifier is that it won’t have to deal with some of the squads that gave it the most trouble in its previous appearance. All 6 of the team’s losses in the Major qualifier came against the trio of PSG.LGD, RNG, and Vici Gaming, and with all 3 of those teams off to the Major and removed from the field for this event, Newbee appears to be in line for a much stronger performance. With the biggest obstacles to its success seemingly removed from its path, the expectations will be set fairly high for Newbee coming into this event, as the team will look to finally secure its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage in the final Minor of the 2018-2019 campaign.

Team Aster Team Aster
Roster:
WangJ Wenjun
Kee ChyuanChYuan Ng
LinXxs Jing
YeBoBoKa Zhibiao
FuQ Bin

Despite finishing the event with a 5-9 overall record, Team Aster performed perhaps better than many had been expecting in the recent Major qualifier. The squad’s multiple roster changes over the preceding months had confidence levels somewhat lowered as the team entered that event, but the newest iteration of the lineup was at least able to hold its own against its regional rivals to finish in the 5th place position. Curiously enough, the squad appeared to have an easier time finding success in situations in which it was considered to be an underdog, as the team put together a 4-5 record against ranked opponents in the Major qualifier while posting a significantly less impressive 1-4 mark against unranked squads. To be perfectly honest, it isn’t fully clear just what those statistics mean heading into this Minor qualifier, and to a certain extent they may not matter at all. Whether the team is favored in its match ups or not, Team Aster appears to have a fair bit of skill and experience on its side, and the team will need to put both of those advantages to work in this qualifier if it wants to claim a place on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.

 

Underdog Teams

The teams in this section are the squads that appear to have a somewhat harder path to success than some of their regional rivals, and will not be particularly expected to come out on top across the majority of its potential match ups. That being said, the teams in this section shouldn’t  necessarily be considered long shots or teams that are not capable of finding success in this event. They simply appear to stand as the teams that come in a little bit below the other squads in the field. Whether its a roster change or a poor performance in the previous Pro Circuit qualifier, the teams in this section don’t appear to be quite as strong as the others, though there is still a solid chance that one of them manages to make their way to the Minor.

800px-EHOME EHOME
Roster:
Yang “NeverEnd” Pu
Luo “Ferrari_430” Feichi
Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida
Zhao “XinQ” Zixing
Zhang “y`” Yiping

After an atrocious performance in the recent Major qualifier, EHOME found itself having to fight through the open qualifiers just to earn itself a shot at redemption in this final Minor qualifier of the season. The squad’s 1-6 record against its regional rivals in that previous event leaves EHOME with quite a few lingering doubts and concerns coming into this qualifier, but the squad is not without hope as it prepares to fight for a spot at the final Minor of the 2018-2019 season. The squad’s roster still boasts an impressive level of professional experience, and the hope is that said experience will be enough to allow EHOME to rebound from its recent struggles and turn in a much stronger performance this time around. Even with the veteran players on its roster, putting together such a dramatic reversal in a matter of days is an incredibly daunting task, and one that EHOME doesn’t appear to have thee best odds of pulling off. There’s nothing wrong with holding out hope for EHOME to turn thins around in this qualifier, but for the time being the expectations will have to remain fairly low for the squad coming into this event.

Team Sirius Team Sirius
Roster:
Liu“Sylar” Jiajun
Li “ASD” Zhiwen
HeInflame Yongzheng
Jiang “天命” An 
XuHym Zhi


Considering the fact that Team Sirius only formed its roster around a month ago, the squad’s somewhat lackluster performance in the recent Major qualifier did not come as a particularly shocking development. With this event representing the final qualifier of the Pro Circuit season though, Team Sirius is going to have to show that it is ready to compete with some of its major regional rivals right now. Based on the squad’s 2-6 record in the Major qualifier though, it doesn’t appear that the team is ready to take on that challenge just yet, even with three of its most prominent opponents headed for Moscow and therefore removed from the field for this event. Considering the level of play that we’ve seen from the team’s individual players as members of their previous squads, it is clear that Team Sirius at least has the talent to find success in this qualifier. The question for the squad though is whether or not it can put that considerable talent together to come out on top against the other teams in this event. As of right now, the odds aren’t favorable for Team Sirius, as the team will need to put together a truly impressive showing against its regional rivals to lay claim to a spot on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.

Typhoon E-Sports Club Typhoon E-Sports Club
Roster:
Lai “Fonte”‘ Xingyu
Yin “Aq” Rui
Hu “Guvara” Sen
Tang “CatYou” Xiaolei
Zeng “Faith” Hongda

The squad formerly known as Newbee Young has returned for one last attempt to reach the Pro Circuit stage in this Minor qualifier. With a lineup of relatively less experienced players under the guidance of veteran Support and Captain Faith, there is some small degree of hope for Typhoon E-Sports Club heading into this event. However, this team has proven itself to be very inconsistent within its home region this season, and even the presence of a veteran leader like Faith may not be enough to bring the squad together. The odds don’t appear to be all that favorable for Typhoon E-Sports Club coming into this event, and at this stage it appears that it would take an unbelievable strong performance from this team for it to push past some of its more prominent regional rivals. There may be a small glimmer of hope for this team to find success in this qualifier, but the expectations for Typhoon E-Sports Club will be set about as low as possible until we see for certain that the team is capable of, and ready to compete with its regional rivals in this event.

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