Winstrike Team earns season debut on Pro Circuit stage with 1st place finish in StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 CIS Qualifier
The second regional qualifier for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 has come to an end now, with the CIS region having determined which squad will represent it on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. 6 squads came into this event looking for one final chance to prove its strength with a spot at the Minor, but only 1 of them could come out on top and claim the lone CIS spot in Kiev. In the end, it was Winstrike Team that emerged victorious against its regional rivals, with the squad posting a 7-2 overall record to earn its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage. With this final qualifier now complete, there are no more opportunities available for CIS squads to earn Pro Circuit points, with those teams not in contention for a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings now forced to turn their attention to the upcoming TI9 qualifiers in the hopes of earning a place for itself in Shanghai in the biggest event in the Dota 2 world. Before we start thinking about those qualifiers though, we can take a look at the results from this one, with the participants categorized based on their final place in the event standings.
1st (Qualified for StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2)
Record: 7-2 (3-1 Group Stage, 4-1 Playoffs)
In the wake of its fairly impressive 7-7 performance in the recent Major qualifier, Winstrike Team looked to be in a very favorable position heading into this Minor qualifier. The squad had a fair bit of momentum on its side, and its roster boasted a strong combination of skill and veteran experience that it hoped to take advantage of against its regional rivals. As it turned out, the squad managed to do just that, with Winstrike Team putting together a 7-2 overall record en route to securing its first Pro Circuit appearance of the 2018-2019 season in Kiev. Much of the team’s success in this event can be pinned squarely on the shoulders of Carry Cooman, as the most recent addition to the team’s lineup put his teammates on his back with an unbelievable series of performances. With averages of 11.22 kills and 9.56 assists on just 2.78 deaths per game across 9 total matches, Cooman effectively willed his squad onto the Pro Circuit stage himself. If the team can continue to get that kind of production out of its core players, then Winstrike Team stands as an incredibly dangerous squad heading into the final Minor of the season.
Record: 7-2 (4-0 Group Stage, 3-2 Playoffs)
After coming just 1 game short of reaching the Major, Na’Vi came into this Minor qualifier with high expectations and a sense of determination as it looked to dominate its regional rivals and secure a place on the Pro Circuit stage. For most of the event, the squad managed to do just that, with Na’Vi winning its first 6 matches of the qualifier to earn a place in the Finals against Winstrike Team. Unfortunately, the squad ended up falling 1 win short of success for the second event in a row, as the team narrowly lost the series 1-2 to finish the qualifier with a 7-2 overall record and a 2nd place position. The team put together a incredibly impressive performance in this event, with the Carry/Mid duo of Crystallize and MagicaL combining to average 14.77 kills and 19.22 assists on just 4 deaths per game across the team’s 9 total matches. Unfortunate, those efforts weren’t enough to secure the team a spot on the Pro Circuit stage, and its chances at earning a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings and a direct invite to TI9 are now officially dead. However, if the squad can continue to play in the way we’ve seen in its last 2 qualifier appearances, then Na’Vi will likely be one of the leading teams in its region heading into the TI9 qualifiers.
Team Colizeum RU
Record: 2-5 (1-3 Group Stage, 1-0 Tiebreakers, 0-2 Playoffs)
Team Colizeum RU was not expected to have much of an impact in this qualifier coming into the event, as the squad’s roster was comprised of relatively unknown players. While the squad’s 2-5 overall record against its regional rivals does not appear to be all that impressive at first glance, it proved to be enough to earn the team a finish in the 3rd-4th place position in the event standings. Those efforts still proved to be well short of the mark to get the squad to the Pro Circuit stage though, and it should be noted that the squad’s only wins in the Minor qualifier came against Black Hornets Gaming; a squad that finished in the shared last place position in this event. Even with that being said, this performance should certainly be considered a positive one for a squad that had almost no experience against the top squads in its region.
Record: 2-4 (2-2 Group Stage, 0-2 Playoffs)
After putting together a 4-8 record in the recent Major qualifier, Team Empire came into this Minor qualifier with something to prove as the squad looked to produce a stronger showing against its regional rivals to get itself back onto the Pro Circuit stage. Unfortunately, the squad fell short of that mark in this event with a 2-4 performance that was not nearly as strong as what many might have expected from it. The team put up 1-1 splits in both its two Group Stage series, before suffering an absolutely pummeling from Na’Vi in its lone Playoff series. Across the team’s 6 matches in this qualifier, Team Empire did not have a single one last more than 40 minutes as its average game length came in at just over 31 minutes. Overall, the team’s play in this final Pro Circuit qualifier of the season was far from inspiring, and it puts the team in a somewhat awkward position moving forward. We’ve seen this Team Empire roster play much better than this, and it would appear that the skill and capability are there for the squad. The key will be whether or not the team can get itself back on track and take advantage of its abilities in time to put together a run in the upcoming TI9 qualifiers.
Black Hornets Gaming
Record: 1-4 (1-3 Group Stage, 0-1 Tiebreakers)
After a somewhat lackluster performance in the recent Major qualifier, Black Hornets Gaming came into this Minor qualifier looking to bounce back with a stronger showing against its regional rivals. Unfortunately, that strong performance did not quite materialize in this event, as the squad put together a 1-4 overall record to finish in the 5th-6th place position. To be fair to Black Hornets Gaming, it still came just 1 game away from advancing to the Playoffs of the qualifier, but the squad couldn’t win its tiebreaker match against Team Colizeum RU. With its hopes of reaching a Pro Circuit event now officially dashed, Black Hornets Gaming will have to turn its attention to the upcoming TI9 qualifiers, where it will face off against its regional rivals once again with the goal of earning a place on the biggest stage in the Dota 2 world.
Record: 1-3 (1-3 Group Stage)
Magic Hands didn’t exactly come into this Minor qualifier with the highest of expectations, as the squad and most of its players were essentially unknown within the professional scene in the CIS region. With that being said, the squad did at least manage to claim a win for itself in this event, taking 1 match off of Team Empire to post a 1-3 overall record in the qualifier. Out killed 67-122 across its 4 matches in this qualifier, the squad was clearly a level or two below its opponents, but the squad at least managed to put up a fight in a situation in which it was considered a significant underdog. Considering the team’s relatively minor status within the CIS hierarchy, Magic Hands isn’t likely to be a significant power in the upcoming TI9 qualifiers. Then again, the squad wasn’t expected to even reach this Minor qualifier, so perhaps the team has another surprise in store for its regional rivals in that event as well.