Familiar faces return to the Pro Circuit stage as NiP, Alliance claim second straight Minor appearances with Top 2 finishes in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Seaon 2 Europe Qualifier
The final day of Pro Circuit qualifiers in the 2018-2019 season certainly brought some excitement and some high stakes matches, as the final squads for the last Minor of the season were determined with the conclusion of the last 3 regional qualifiers for the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2. Europe found itself including among that final group of regions, as its 2 slots on the Pro Circuit stage were locked down by a pair of victorious squads from the original field of 6 challengers. When the qualifier had officially run its course, it was the duo of Ninjas in Pyjamas and Alliance that laid claim to the regions’ 2 Minor slots, securing themselves one more appearance on the Pro Circuit stage and the chance to compete for both the title of Minor Champion and a place at the subsequent Major. The StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 will be NiP’s third Minor appearances and sixth total Pro Circuit appearance of the 2018-2019 campaign, while Alliance will be making its second Minor appearance and fifth overall appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season. As for the other teams in the field, their dreams of making it to one of the season’s final Pro Circuit events have officially died, with the focus for those squads now likely turning to the upcoming TI9 qualifiers. Before we begin the discussions surrounding those qualifiers though, we can take a look at just what went down in this one, as we examine how these 6 squads stacked up against each other in this final Minor qualifier of the season.
Top 2 (Qualified for StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2)
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Record: 8-1 (3-1 Group Stage, 1-0 Tiebreakers, 4-0 Playoffs)
After missing the mark to earn itself a place at the Major, NiP came into this Minor qualifiers as one of the clear favorites in this field to claim 1 of the 2 European slots in Kiev. The squad wasted little time living up to that projection, with the team claiming the top spot in its group with a 4-1 record before sweeping its way through the Playoffs with back to back 2-0 series wins to claim its place on the Pro Circuit stage. The team got incredible levels of production from every part of the roster, with its core trio of Ace, Fata, and 33 combining to average 25.34 kills and 36.34 assists on 11.22 deaths per game, while the Support duo of Saksa and ppd poured in 33 assists per game. The European squad has already claimed one Minor title this season, and if the team continues to play like this heading into the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2, then it will stand a very strong chance of winning another.
Record: 8-2 (4-0 Group Stage, 4-2 Playoffs)
After narrowly missing the mark to earn a spot at the Major with back to back 1-2 defeats in the Winners’ and Losers’ Finals of the previous qualifier, Alliance came into this final Pro Circuit qualifier determined to get over that last obstacle and earn itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage again. With an 8-2 overall record against its regional rivals in this event, the team certainly managed to do that as it fought its way to a Top 2 finish and claimed the second European slot at the Minor. Leading the way for the squad was the Carry/Mid duo of miCKe and qojqva, as the 2 players combined to average an impressive 18.2 kills and 23.5 assists on just 3.8 deaths per game across the team’s 10 total matches. The team’s play on the international level has proven to be rather inconsistent in this 2018-2019 campaign, but if the team can carry this level of play over to the Minor, then it stands a solid chance of putting together another impressive performance as it returns to the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.
The Final Tribe
Record: 4-6 (2-2 Group Stage, 2-4 Playoffs)
After an entire season’s worth of missed opportunities and somewhat lackluster results, The Final Tribe did not come into this final Minor qualifier with the highest of expectations. however, the squad managed to put those previous struggles behind it to muster up a fairly respectable performance agaisnt its regional rivals. The team wasn’t quite able to earn itself a place on the Pro Circuit stage with a 3rd place finish in the event, but its 4-6 overall record was far more encouraging than some of its previous performances. Unfortunately, those efforts still proved to be insufficient for The Final Tribe to find success in this qualifier, and after a season of similar performances, the squad will have a few serious questions to answer as the 2018-2019 campaign comes to a close. Of course, a strong showing in the upcoming TI9 qualifier could certainly alleviate many of the concerns regarding the team moving forward, but if the squad cannot put together a strong showing in that event, then The Final Tribe will be in a somewhat stagnant position heading into the offseason.
Aachen City Esports
Record: 3-6 (3-1 Group Stage, 0-1 Tiebreakers, 0-4 Playoffs)
Despite having earned itself direct invite status for this final Minor qualifier, Aachen City Esports still entered the event with relatively tempered expectations. The squad’s previous appearance at the Major qualifier had been impressive, but the squad still appeared to be a level or two below some of its more prominent and established regional rivals. With a 2-6 overall record in this qualifier, that assessment proved to be accurate, as the squad put together an admirable, but ultimately unsuccessful run against its regional rivals. The team began its qualifier run in fairly strong fashion, winning 3 of its first 4 matches in the Group Stage. However, things quickly fell apart from that point on, as the team proceeded to lost its next 5 matches in a row to bring its time in the event to an end. Even with its rather abrupt exit from the qualifier, Aachen City Esports has displayed some rather encouraging signs over these last 2 qualifier appearances. It is clear that the squad at least has some potential, but whether or not it manages to make significant enough improvements to become a legitimate threat in a crowded European region is hard to say at the moment. Up next for the squad will almost certainly be a run in the qualifiers for TI9, where the squad will hope to put its strength on display once again against a field of some of its strongest regional rivals.
Wind and Rain
Record: 0-4 (0-4 Group Stage)
With the squad and its new roster only officially coming into existence around 2 weeks ago, the expectations were pretty low for Wind and Rain coming into this final Minor qualifier of the season. The low expectations ended up being justified though, as the squad put together a winless performance against its regional rivals with a 0-4 overall record in the event to finish in the shared 5th-6th place position. Aside from Game 1 against Aachen City Esports in which the team fell apart in the late-game stage, Wind and Rain found itself playing against significant net worth deficits across nearly the entirety of its matches in this qualifier. If there was some sort of silver lining for Wind and Rain from this performance is was likely the play of Midlaner Andrej Porjazovski, who averaged 7.50 kills and 5 assists on 5.5 deaths per game. Those numbers aren’t exactly the most impressive we’ve ever seen, but at least it comes as some sort of positive take away for the squad as it now prepares for the onset of the TI9 qualifiers. Unless the squad managed to make some drastic improvements in the coming days though, don’t expect Wind and Rain to be much of a factor in said qualifiers.
Record: 0-4 (0-4 Group Stage)
Even with the team’s previous Pro Circuit qualifier appearances taken into account, the expectations for Hippomaniacs were not particularly high coming into this Minor qualifier. As it turned out, the low expectations proved prudent, as the Czech squad failed to win a single match to post a 0-4 record against its regional rivals. Out killed 55-121 over the course of its 4 total matches, the squad found itself playing from behind throughout the vast majority of its match ups. To the team’s credit, the fact that Hippomaniacs was able to attend multiple Pro Circuit qualifiers this season in a European region that is incredibly crowded with talented teams is a testament to the team’s improvement over the course of this 2018-2019 campaign. The down side though, is that it is clear that Hippomaniacs hasn’t quite come far enough to contend with those bigger regional rivals. The upcoming TI9 qualifiers will give the squad one more chance to display its strength against its regional rivals, but at this stage it is hard to see the team being a significant power within the field for that event.