A quartet of returning squads from the Major qualifier and a duo of new challengers all look to claim the lone CIS slot in Kiev in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 CIS Qualifier
The final set of Pro Circuit qualifiers is set to get underway in the coming days, as the field for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 will be determined as squads from around the Dota 2 world pursue one last opportunity to make an appearance on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. The CIS region will be one of the first to get their regional qualifier started, with the event set to begin on May 21 with 6 squads battling it out for the lone CIS spot at the Minor. Four returning squads from the recent Major qualifiers (Na’Vi, Winstrike Team, Team Empire, and Black Hornets Gaming) received direct invites to this qualifier, while the final 2 members of the field (Team Colizeum RU and Magic Hands) earned their places in this event through successful runs in the open qualifier.
Though the CIS region has just 1 slot available at the Minor, the expansion of the field for this event means that there will be a slightly altered format compared to some of the other regions. The event itself will begin with a Group Stage, as the 6 squads will be split into 2 groups of 3 teams each. Within those groups, the teams will play a Bo2 round robin, with the bottom squads from each group being eliminated outright while the remaining 4 teams advance to the Playoffs. Said Playoffs will feature a single elimination bracket, with all match ups played in a Bo3 format. 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.
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.
Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek
Idan “MagicaL” Vardanyan
Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree
Bakyt “Zayac” Emilzhanov
Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev
Na’Vi certainly put together an impressive performance in the recent Major qualifier, as the squad came just 1 game away from claiming a place at the Major and very nearly took down regional powerhouse VP. In fact, the squad managed to put together a 6-4 record against VP, and finished 10-7 against ranked opponents in the event. That performance puts Na’Vi in an incredibly strong position coming into this Minor qualifier, and with both VP and Gambit Esports on their way to Moscow and no longer in the field for this event, Na’Vi appears to stand as the favorite to lay claim to the lone CIS slot in Kiev. Should the squad manage to replicate the performance that we just saw in its last appearance, then there appears to be little standing in the way of Na’Vi earning itself a return to the Pro Circuit stage at the final Minor of the season.
Airat “Silent” Gaziev
Zaur “Cooman” Shakhmurzaev
Alexey “nongrata” Vasilyev
Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk
Alexander “Nofear” Churochkin
With the squad opting to make some significant changes to its roster just days before the start of the recent Major qualifier, Winstrike Team’s strong showing in said event came as a rather pleasant surprise. With a 7-7 overall record, the team and its new lineup was able to put its considerable experience to good use as it held its own against some of its more prominent regional rivals. With 6 of its 7 total losses coming against the now absent duo of VP and Gambit Esports, it would appear that some of Winstrike Team’s largest obstacles to success have been removed from their path. Of course, there is no guarantee that the squad can maintain the level of play that we saw in its most recent appearance, but doing so would certainly put the squad in one of the more favorable positions heading into this final Pro Circuit qualifier of the season.
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.
Kiyalbek “dream`” Tayirov
Konstantin “kodos-” Kogai
Igor Andreevich “Maden” Modenov
Oleg “sayuw” Kalenbet
Rinat “KingR” Abdullin
When Team Empire finished at the bottom of the event standings at the last Major, there weren’t too many people ready to panic, as the squad had not been expected to be a serious contender in that event. However, the team’s 4-8 record in the recent Major qualifier does come as a cause for some concern though, as Team Empire’s consistency at home had been one of its biggest strengths since the start of 2019. At this stage, the best case scenario for the squad would be that it proves its poor performance in the Major qualifier to be a fluke or a one time occurrence with a strong showing against its regional rivals in this event. However, the team’s struggles in that Major qualifier have introduced a small degree of doubt for Team Empire heading into this event, and the squad will have its expectations set on the lower side of the spectrum until we see for sure that it has bounced back against its regional rivals.
Black Hornets Gaming
Nikita “Palantimos“ Grinkevich
Yaroslav “Pikachu” Vasilenko
Yevgeny “chshrct“ Kostroma
Danil “Bignum” Shehovtsov
Vladislav “BLACKARXANGEL“ Ivaschenko
Black Hornets Gaming did not put together a particularly impressive performance in the recent Major qualifier, as the team posted a 2-5 overall record that saw it fail to advance out of the Group Stage. With the expanded field for this Minor qualifier though, the squad was able to secure itself a direct invite and a valuable opportunity for redemption against its regional rivals. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening for the Black Hornets Gaming don’t appear to be all that high coming into this event, due in large part to the team’s poor showing in its last qualifier appearance. The squad put together a measly 1-4 record against ranked opponents, and even with a pair of ranked squads in VP and Gambit Esports now removed from the field, Black Hornets Gaming is not likely to face many match ups in which it is considered to be favored. With that in mind, the best course of action here appears to be to keep expectations low for this team, while hoping that the squad can put together a stronger performance as it takes its shot at earning a place at the final Minor of the season.
Team Colizeum RU
Yaroslav “Limitless” Parshin
Vladislav “Imba4” Khoroltsev
Semyon “TTR” Melnikov
Sergey “dsr” Ivanov
After a successful run through the open qualifier for this event, Team Colizeum RU finds itself with a place in its first Pro Circuit qualifier of the season as it looks to earn a spot on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. The squad has only recently formed within the CIS region, but its victorious open qualifier performance is certainly a solid indicator of the potential that the squad may have moving forward. Unfortunately, potential won’t be enough to earn a place at the Minor, as Team Colizeum RU is set to face off against a caliber of opponent that it has yet to encounter as a team. With the squad and its player relatively unknown as this stage, it is possible that its opponents somehow overlook or underestimate it and provide an opportunity for Team Colizeum RU to take advantage of. Even if that scenario does play out though, the squad would need to put together a near miraculous performance to actually fight off all of its regional rivals in this qualifier to claim the lone CIS spot at the Minor.
Ilya “lil sorry“ Daleckiy
Yernar “Mantis” Urazbayev
Magic Hands comes into this Minor qualifier as a near completely unheralded squad, as the team has largely been confined to smaller tournaments and open qualifiers in this 2018-2019 season. With this appearance at the Minor qualifier though, the team is hoping for one opportunity to display its strength against some of the stronger teams in its region. The squad’s successful open qualifier run has earned them just that sort of opportunity, but the squad will be hard pressed to actually take advantage of it in this event. Against some of the leading teams in the CIS region, the odds of Magic Hands having much of an impact in this qualifier are seemingly nonexistent considering its lack of experience against the caliber of team that it will be facing in this event. Perhaps there is some sort of miracle run from this squad that is simply waiting to be unleashed, but until we see any evidence of such a scenario playing out, the expectations will be set about as low as possible for Magic Hands in this qualifier.