Dota 2 Pro Circuit Minor Recap: StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2

Back to Back Champs: Ninjas in Pyjamas defeat Alliance 3-2 to claim second straight Minor Championship title at StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2, Both squads to advance to EPICENTER Major

The final Minor of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season has come to an end in Kiev, Ukraine, as the last matches in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 have officially been played and the final Minor Champion of the campaign has been crowned. After 5 days of matches in the Ukrainian capital, the field of 8 squads has been whittled down to just a single team, with that lone squad claiming the coveted title of Minor Champion. While just one squad was able to claim a title in Kiev, both the Minor Champion and the squad that it defeated in the Grand Finals of the event will be making the journey to Moscow as the final 2 members of the field for the upcoming EPICENTER Major.

When the dust had finally settled in Kiev and the Grand Finals of the event had come to a conclusion, the squad standing on the podium was a familiar one, as Ninjas in Pyjamas was able to achieve victory once again to claim back to back Minor Championship titles. The squad was able to fight its way past regional rival Alliance in a hard fought 3-2 Grand Finals series to claim its second Minor Championship title of the season and the organization’s second Pro Circuit title overall. The team posted an impressive 12-5 record in Kiev (4-1 Group Stage, 8-4 Playoffs) and won 5 of its 6 total series in Kiev with victories over Team Sirius, Mineski, Team Anvorgesa, and Alliance.

With the final Minor of the season now concluded, we can take a look at the updated Pro Circuit Rankings heading into the final event of the campaign. In first place comes NiP, as the squad’s victory in Kiev adds 120 Pro Circuit Points to its total. Those added points brings the squad’s total for the season up from 2,470 to 2,590, though the squad did not move from its 8th place position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. The runner-up at the Minor, Alliance, earned 100 Pro Circuit points for its efforts in Kiev, bringing the team’s total up from 279 to 379. That influx of points allowed the squad to move up one position in the Pro Circuit Rankings, advancing from 15th to 14th. If should be noted though, that the Top 2 finishes for both NiP and Alliance in this event means that those squads advance to the upcoming EPICENTER Major, and the teams’ point total and position in the Pro Circuit Rankings could change even further depending upon their performances in that event. Coming in in 3rd place was a newcomer to the Pro Circuit Rankings, as Team Sirius was able to claim its first Pro Circuit Points of the season with its performance in Kiev. The team’s 70 Pro Circuit Points were its first and last of the 2018-2019 campaign, with the Chinese squad sliding into the 24th place position overall. And rounding out the Top 4 in Kiev was the South American squad Team Anvorgesa, as the team claimed 70 Pro Circuit Points from its efforts at the event. Those points are the team’s first of the season, giving Team Anvorgesa 70 in total as it finishes the season at 28th overall in the Pro Circuit Rankings.

Shifting into the lower half of the event standings, we have the duo of EHOME and Mineski, with the two squads finishing in the shared 5th-6th place position at the Minor and claiming 40 Pro Circuit Points each. For Mineski, those points bring its total up from 246 to 286, though the team’s position in the Pro Circuit Rankings does not change as the Southeast Asian squad ends its season in the 16th place position overall. As for EHOME, the 40 added points brings its total up from 589.6 to 629.6, and keeps the Chinese squad in the 12th place position in the Pro Circuit Rankings. With the team not attending the EPICENTER Major, EHOME is now in the position in which is must simply watch the event and hope that no team outside of the Top 12 moves up enough to push it out of contention for a direct invite to TI9. After EHOME and Mineski, we have the two squads that finished at the bottom of the event standings, with Complexity Gaming and Winstrike Team claiming 7th-8th place finishes at the Minor and claiming 20 Pro Circuit Points each. For Complexity Gaming, the points bring its total up from 133.11 to 153.11 and allows the squad to jump up 2 spots to finish its season in the 19th place position overall. As for Winstrike Team, its 20 points are the team’s first and last points of the season, as the squad finishes its campaign in the 33rd place position in the Pro Circuit Rankings.

With Ninjas in Pyjamas now officially declared back to back Minor Champions, as well as the final Minor Champion of the 2018-2019 season, and the duo of NiP and Alliance headed to Moscow for the EPICENTER Major, we can take a look at how each of the squads in the field for this event managed to perform on the Pro Circuit stage and how each of them stacked up compared to their pre-event predictions.

 

Ninjas in Pyjamas Ninjas In Pyjamas

Place: 1st

Winnings: $125,000 & 120 Pro Circuit Points (Advances to the EPICENTER Major)

Event Record: 12-5 (4-1 Group Stage, 8-4 Playoffs)

NiP came into this final Minor of the season in a unique position among the competitors, as the European squad was the only team in the field to have already secured itself a direct invite to TI9 this summer. With that being said, the team did not have nearly the same level of pressure or tension surrounding it heading into this event, as its participation in the biggest event in the Dota 2 world had already been secured. However, that didn’t mean that NiP wasn’t motivated to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. The prospect of claiming the organization’s second Minor title this season, as well as earning itself the chance to contend with the other elite teams of the Dota 2 world at the EPICENTER Major, were all the motivation that the squad needed to bring its absolute best to the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev.

NiP’s run at the Minor began with a series against Team Sirius, as the two squads faced off in the Opening Matches of Group B. The series began in somewhat negative fashion for NiP though, as the squad found itself thoroughly out played in Game 1. Despite an admirable effort from Fata’s Ember Spirit (9-6-7), NiP found itself out killed 17-42 in a match that saw the European squad trail in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the match in an incredibly one sided defeat. Game 2 would prove to be another one sided match up, but this time it would NiP in the driver’s seat as the squad dominated the game. Behind a pair of strong performances from Fata’s Templar Assassin (10-1-13) and 33’s Enchantress (12-2-7), NiP controlled the match from start to finish as it blew out its opponent to tie up the series and force a Game 3. After trading one sided victories through the first 2 matches of the series, the final game between NiP and Team Sirius proved to be a much more tightly contested affair. Neither side of the match up managed to build up a net worth lead of more than 5k over the first 55 minutes of this match, as the two squads remained neck and neck throughout the vast majority of the game. However, NiP eventually managed to break through, with its core trio of Lycan, Batride, and Bristleback combining for a stat line of 39-12-73 to secure the squad a hard fought win to claim a 2-1 victory in the series.

After taking down Team Sirius in its first series of the event, NiP found itself facing off against Mineski with the top spot in Group B on the line in the Winners’ Match of the group. The European squad struck first in the series, putting together a strong showing in Game 1 that Mineski was not fully prepared to match. Behind a combined 23-4-27 stat lien from its core trio of Lifestealer, Leshrac, and Sand King, NiP was able to establish control of the match early and maintained that control through the rest of the game. Over the final 8 minutes of the match, NiP out killed its opponent 15-1 to lock down a victory to open the series. For most of Game 2, it appeared that NiP was set for a repeat performance, as the squad jumped out to a sizable net worth lead over the first 30 or so minute of play. This time around though, Mineski was able to put up more of a fight, with the Southeast Asian squad putting together a surge in the late-game stage that shifted the momentum out of NiP’s favor. After struggling to hold off multiple advances from its opponent though, NiP finally managed to weather the storm thanks in large part to solid showings from Ace’s Medusa (9-3-7) and Fata’s Puck (10-7-17). Behind those efforts, NiP was able to turn back Mineski’s attacks, shifting the momentum back into its favor in time to shatter the defenses of its opponent to claim a 2-0 victory in the series and a place in the Playoffs of the Minor.

The first round of the Playoffs in Kiev saw NiP face off against Team Anvorgesa, but the South American squad would not prove to be much of a challenge for the team as NiP absolutely dominated the match up. The European squad put together a pair of blowout victories that saw it hold the net worth lead throughout the entirety of both matches. The squad managed to get impressive performances from the entirety of the roster in this series, with no member of the team accruing more than 8 deaths across the entirety of both matches while NiP out killed its opponent 50-28 to lock down an incredibly one sided 2-0 sweep of the series.

With that quick sweep of Team Anvorgesa, NiP was just 1 more series victory away from earning itself a place at the Major, as the squad faced off against fellow European team Alliance in the Upper Bracket Finals. NiP struck first in Game 1 of the series, and the squad certainly struck hard as it put together a dominant performance against its regional rival. NiP out killed its opponent 43-12 in that match, with the core trio of Spectre, Lina, and Night Stalker combining for a stat line of 32-5-54 in what was a ridiculously one sided match that secured NiP a 1-0 lead to start the series. Unfortunately for NiP though, its momentum from that dominant Game 1 victory would not carry over into the subsequent matches in the series, as the team struggled to keep pace with its opponent in Games 2 and 3. Across those 2 matches, NiP was out killed by a score of 29-74, as the team simply could not generate any sort of consistent momentum for itself in the mid and late-game stages. Despite the team’s best efforts, NiP ended up conceding in both of those final 2 matches, dropping the series 1-2 and falling into the Lower Bracket Finals where it would face a second shot at earning itself a place at the season’s final Major.

The Lower Bracket Finals would see NiP face off against Team Sirius in a rematch of its Group Stage series against the Chinese squad. As it turned out though, the rematch would prove to be far less competitive than its predecessor, as NiP absolutely dominated the match up with a pair of strong showings. Across the two game series, the European squad out killed its opponent 64-28, and led in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes to completely shut down its opponent. The Carry/Mid duo of Ace and Fata put together some particularly impressive performances for NiP, with the two players putting together a combined stat line of 49-3-43 in the series. Behind those strong showings, NiP had little issues establishing and maintaining control of the match, keeping Team Sirius in a defensive posture throughout the entire series to claim a 2-0 sweep that earned the team a spot in the Grand Finals as well as a place at the EPICENTER Major.

The Grand Finals of the Minor saw NiP face off against Alliance once again, as the two teams fought it out in a rematch of the Upper Bracket Finals. The series did not begin in the most encouraging of fashions for NiP though, as the squad was absolutely overrun by its opponent in Game 1. Out killed 13-41 in that initial match, NiP trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the match, with all of the squad’s efforts only succeeding in delaying the inevitable as Alliance methodically broke through its defenses. Down by nearly 40k net worth by the 44 minute mark, NiP finally opted to concede defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. After that initial defeat though, NiP was able to bounce back in dramatic fashion in Games 2 and 3, as the squad turned the tables on its opponent with a pair of blowout victories of its own. Across those 2 matches, NiP out killed its opponent 66-29, and held the net worth advantage for all but a handful of minutes as the team dominated the mid and late-game stages of both games. Behind an incredible pair of performances from Fata, who combined for a total stat line of 28-2-26 on Mirana and Teamplar Assassin, NiP was able to shift the momentum of the series back in its favor with a pair of wins that put it ahead 2-1 in the series. After three straight one sided matches to being the series, Game 4 would prove to be an amazingly tightly contested affair, as the two squads battled it out in an impressive match that lasted over an hour of game time. Throughout the first 50 minutes of play, neither side led by more than 8k net worth, as the two teams were unable to decisively claim control of the match. Behind yet another strong showing from Fata’s Ember Spirit (11-6-17), as well as an impressive performance from Ace’s Anti-Mage (7-5-12), NiP had held even with its opponent throughout the vast majority of the match. Unfortunately, that duo could not help the squad seize control, as NiP lost a pair of team fights late in the match that shifted the momentum of the match into its opponents favor as the squad suffered a defeat to tie up the series at 2-2. Game 5 saw NiP pull out something special, as the squad drafted a last-pick Meepo for Ace that Alliance was simply not prepared to handle. Ace went wild with one of his signature heroes, putting together a 16-0-5 stat line that helped NiP dominate the final match of the series as it out killed its opponent 26-11 in Game 5. Behind that impressive performance, NiP was able to control the match and shut down Alliance to earn itself a 3-2 victory in the series and the title of Minor Champion in Kiev.

NiP came into this final Minor of the season with some pretty high expectations, as the team was 1 of just 2 teams in the field to hold a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and was the only team among the participants to have already secured itself a direct invite to TI9. Even with that favorable position though, the squad came into this event hungry for both a second Minor Championship title in this 2018-2019 season, and a chance to advance to the season’s final Major to further test its strength against the other elite teams of the Pro Circuit at the EPICENTER Major in Moscow. Prior to the start of the event, NiP was a favorite to claim that title, as the team was projected to fairly easily claim a position in the Top 4 of the event standings. With a 12-5 overall record in Kiev, the squad proved more than capable of living up to, and even exceeding those expectations as the squad claimed a 1st place finish at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2. The team was clearly a step above most of its opposition at this event, as NiP was able to win 5 of its 6 series in Kiev en route to claiming another Minor Championship title. The squad was calm under pressure, and looked to have a supreme level of confidence both in its own play and in the drafts and strategies of team captain ppd. Something that was particularly impressive for NiP was just how much production it was able to rely on from every part of its roster, as the roster’s ability to lean upon any of its core players was truly highlighted in its Minor run. The core trio of Ace, Fata, and 33 combined to average an insane 22.59 kills and 36.18 assists on just 11.47 deaths per game, with the support duo of Saksa and ppd pouring in a combined average of 31.88 assists per game to help set up that core trio for success. NiP certainly played like the elite squad that it is in this Minor, but even with the team still celebrating its victory at this event, its eyes are likely already turning to the upcoming Major which now waits just a few days away. NiP has taken the long way around to reach that final Major of the season, and now the  team will have to hope that its Minor victory helps fuel it to an equally impressive performance in Moscow as NiP looks to close out its 2018-2019 run by making a push for its first ever Major Championship title.

 

Alliance Alliance

Place: 2nd

Winnings: $70,000 & 100 Pro Circuit Points (Advances to the EPICENTER Major)

Event Record: 10-7 (4-2 Group Stage, 6-5 Playoffs)

Alliance came into the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 as a squad that had taken some rather impressive steps forward in terms of its development and growth as a team. The squad went from an up and coming team with potential to a relatively consistent contender within the European region, but the squad has had one glaring weakness in this 2018-2019 campaign. That weakness has been the international level, as Alliance has struggled to turn its regional success into comparable results away from home. Even with that being the case, the team entered this event with a chance to earn a place at the EPICENTER Major and potentially push its way into the Top 12 of the Pro Circuit Rankings to claim a direct invite to TI9. With so much on the line at this event, Alliance made its way to Kiev determined to finally break through on the international level and prove that it has what it takes to contend with the elite teams of the Dota 2 world.

Alliance’s first opponent of the Minor would be CIS squad Winstrike Team, as the two teams faced off in the Opening Matches of Group A. Game 1 of the series did not get off to the greatest of starts for Alliance though, as the team found itself falling behind in the mid and late-game stages. After trailing in terms of net worth for the better part of 20 minutes though, the European squad was finally able to turn things around with a series of late-game team fight wins that dramatically shifted the momentum of the match. Behind a combined 32-16-65 stat line from its core trio of Sven, Storm Spirit, and Mars, Alliance was able to complete a late-game comeback to snatch the opening match of the series. Game 2 would see those roles effectively reversed though, as this time it was Alliance that was able to jump out to a sizable net worth lead in the late-game stage. Unfortunately, the squad followed in the footsteps of its opponent when it subsequently lost that lead due to a late surge from Winstrike Team. Despite an incredible performance from miCKe’s Morphling (22-5-10), the squad could not maintain control as it dropped the match to tie up the series at 1-1. Game 3 of the series appeared to be a fairly one sided affair for most of the match, as Alliance jumped out to a big lead that it held throughout the majority of the match. Some strong showings from miCKe’s Sven (10-7-14) and Boxi’s Batrider (13-9-12) had the squad in control late in the match, but the squad struggled to close out its opponent. A late-game surge from Winstrike Team saw the momentum shift out of Alliance’s favor, but a last second team fight win finally managed to put the CIS squad down as Alliance was able to sneak by with a hard fought 2-1 victory.

That win over Winstrike Team had Alliance just 1 more series victory away from the top spot in Group A and a guaranteed place in the Playoffs of the Minor, as the team faced off against Chinese squad EHOME in the Winners’ Match of the group. The series began with a dominant performance from the European squad, as Alliance jumped on its opponent early with an aggressive strategy. With its core trio of Sven, Lone Druid, and Timbersaw combining for a stat line of 23-7-43 and the support duo of Clockwerk and Grimstroke racking up 31 assists, Alliance was in the driver’s seat throughout the match in what was an entirely one sided affair. Ahead by more than 26k net worth by the 36 minute mark, Alliance was able to force a “gg” call from its opponent to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 would see Alliance get a taste of its own medicine though, as this time it was the European squad that fell victim to early aggression from its opponent. The team’s somewhat greedy lineup was quickly and consistently punished by EHOME’s heroes, with Alliance being out killed 10-29 after securing just 3 total kills in the first 20 minutes of play as the series was tied up at 1-1. The third and final match of the series would see Alliance bounce back with an incredible performance, as the squad looked to avenge its blowout loss in the previous game. Behind a ridiculous showing from miCKe’s Juggernaut (14-0-11) Alliance simply rank over its opponent, out killing EHOME 36-12 while holding a net worth advantage for all but a couple of minutes in what was a complete stomp for the European squad. Ahead by more than 24k net worth by the 41 minute mark, Alliance continued battering away at its opponents defenses until EHOME finally admitted defeat to give Alliance a 2-1 victory in the series and a spot in the Playoffs of the Minor.

After taking down one Chinese squad to end its Group Stage run, Alliance found itself beginning its run in the Playoffs of the Minor with a match up against another Chinese squad in the form of Team Sirius. The series did not begin in spectacular fashion for Alliance though, as the squad remained even with its opponent throughout most of Game 1 before losing control late in the match. The squad was out killed 1-10 over the final 10 minutes of play, the European squad suffered a defeat that put it behind 0-1 to start the series. Game 2 would see the two teams one again remain fairly even through the first half of play, with neither side leading by more than 4k net worth over that span. Beyond that point though, Alliance was able to swing the momentum of the match in its favor, with the duo of miCKe’s Troll Warlord (14-4-19) and qojqva’s Queen of Pain (12-4-18) sparking a surge that put the European squad in control of the match. From there, the team was able to wear down the defenses of its opponent, eventually claiming a win to make the series score 1-1. After dominating the second half of Game 2, Alliance then proceeded to continue its dominance in the final match of the series, with the European squad jumping out to a sizable lead early in Game 3. Thanks to a particularly impressive performance from boxi on Mars (15-2-11), Alliance held near complete control of the match from start to finish, out killing its opponent 33-13 in a one sided victory that secure the team a 2-1 win in the series.

That victory moved Alliance just 1 more series win away from securing itself 1 of the 2 spots at the EPICENTER Major, but the squad would have to take down a regional rival in the form of NiP in order to do so. Game 1 of series proved to be a disappointing affair for Alliance, as the team was completely blown out by its opponent in a massively one sided match. The team was out killed 12-43 by its opponent, and trailed in terms of net worth throughout the entirety of the game as it quickly fell behind 0-1 in the series with a loss in the opening match. After the gut punch that was Game 1 though, Alliance bounced back in a major way to turn the series around over the course of Games 2 and 3. Across the final 2 matches of the series, Alliance managed to out kill NiP 74-29 in a pair of impressive victories that saw the team’s core trio of miCKe, qojqva, and Boxi combine for a stat line of 57-11-92 to lead the squad to back to back wins and a 2-1 victory in the series.

The Grand Finals of the Minor would see Alliance engage in a rematch with its previous opponent, as the squad faced off against regional rival NiP once again, this time with the title of Minor Champion on the line. Alliance struck first in the Bo5 series, putting together an incredible performance in Game 1 of the series that completely caught NiP off guard. Alliance out killed its opponent 41-13 in that initial match with the duo of miCKe’s Troll Warlord (12-0-22) and qojqva’s Queen of Pain (12-2-17) spearheading what was a dominant showing from the team as it claimed a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately, the squad’s momentum from that initial victory would not carry over into the next matches, as Alliance proved unprepared for a massive counterattack from its opponent. Alliance struggled in Games 2 and 3 of the series, with the squad out killed 29-66 over the course of those two matches while the team trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes in a pair of matches that lasted just over 66 minutes of game time. All of Alliance’s efforts to mount a comeback effort in either match were quickly shown to be futile, as the squad was handed back to back defeats that put it down 1-2 in the series and pushed the European squad’s backs against the wall as it faced elimination in Game 4. After a trio of one sided matches to begin the series, Game 4 proved to be an unbelievably close match, as the two squads battled it out in an epic match that lasted just over an hour of game time. The two teams remained incredibly even in terms of net worth throughout the vast majority of that match, with the largest net worth lead over the first 50 minutes of play being a brief 7k advantage for NiP in the late-game stage. However, the deadlock was eventually broken, as Alliance was able to pull away late in the match with a pair of team fight wins that finally shifted the momentum decisively into its favor. Behind a combined 29-14-56 stat line from its core trio of Juggernaut, Storm Spirit, and Slardar, Alliance was able to stave off elimination and tie up the series 2-2 to force a fifth and final game in Kiev. Unfortunately for Alliance, the final match of the series would not go well for it, as the team started Game 5 on the back foot after allowing its opponent to draft a last-pick Meepo. Despite the squad’s best efforts, it could do little to slow down said Meepo, as the hero absolutely dominated the match and helped to shut down any real efforts from Alliance to get itself back into the game. Out killed 11-26 and trailing by more than 24k net wroth by the 32 minute mark, Alliance opted to concede defeat to lose the Grand Finals 2-3 and bring its run at the Minor to an end with a 10-7 overall record and a 2nd place finish.

Alliance came into this event as a squad still entertaining aspirations of making a late-season push up the Pro Circuit Rankings to secure itself a Top 12 position and a direct invite to TI9. In order to do that though, the team needed to finish either 1st or 2nd in this event, thereby advancing to the season’s final Major where it would need another strong showing to have a shot at pushing up the Rankings. The problem for Alliance coming into this event was the fact that it had repeatedly struggled to put together strong showing on the international level, with its success being largely limited to its play within the European region. Even with that being the case, there was hope that the somewhat lower caliber of opponents at this Minor compared to some of its other appearances would give Alliance the edge that it needed to finally break through on the international level. Prior to the start of the Minor, Alliance was projected to finish in the Top 4, and the European squad was able to live up to that prediction with an impressive 2nd place run on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. The team wasn’t exactly dominant across its run at the Minor, as all 4 of the team’s series victories came in full 3 game series. However, the important thing for the European squad was that it was able to keep its composure and claim those series wins at all, as the team showed a level of grit and tenacity that had often been missing or insufficient in its previous international appearances. Even more impressive and encouraging for Alliance was the fact that it was able to hold its own against some of the favorite in the field for this event, particularly the duo of EHOME and NiP; both of whom entered this event inside the Top 12 in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Against those two squads, Alliance put together a 6-5 record that played an integral role in the teams ability to keep its run alive in Kiev. The team certainly enjoyed the return of its full roster to the Pro Circuit stage in this event, as Alliance played its first matches without a stand-in against a non-European opponent since ESL One Katowice 2019 back in February. The return to normalcy resulted in some impressive performances from the squad’s core trio, as miCKe, qojqva, and boxi combined to average 21.23 kills and 37.06 assists on 12.88 deaths per game across the squad’s 17 total matches at the Minor. Between this performance and its 3rd place showing in its previous Pro Circuit appearance, it seems as though Alliance may be on the cusp of finally breaking its pattern of poor performances on the international level. With the squad now headed to Moscow for the EPICENTER Major though, Alliance is set to face perhaps its greatest test yet as the team looks to put together a strong enough performance to claim a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings and punch its ticket to Shanghai with a direct invite to TI9.

 

Complexity Gaming compLexity Gaming new

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $7,500 & 20 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 1-4 (1-4 Group Stage)

Complexity Gaming came into this Minor as a squad that had not received all that much attention within the North American region, at least not for the reasons that the squad would likely have preferred. Aside from the drama around its trio of Southeast Asian roster additions, Complexity Gaming had not done a whole lot to distinguish itself or claim a position as a regional leader. However, this final Minor of the season provided the squad with an opportunity to change that, with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev having the potential to build some much needed momentum for the squad in the final days of the 2018-2019 campaign. Additionally, the prospect of claiming a Minor title and potentially claiming one of the last 2 slots at the upcoming EPICENTER Major served as significant motivation for a squad that was still technically holding onto hope of making a run for a Top 12 position in the Pro Circuit Rankings and a direct invite to TI9.

The first test for Complexity Gaming in Moscow would come in the form of Southeast Asian squad Mineski in the Opening Matches of Group B. Complexity Gaming began the series in impressive fashion, putting together a strong performance in Game 1 that saw the North American team dominate the second half of the match behind Meracle’s Wraith King (11-1-13) to claim a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 of the series did not go nearly as well for the North American squad though, as Complexity Gaming found itself on the other side of a blowout in this match. The squad was out killed 14-35 over the course of the game, and trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes in a loss that lasted just over 31 minutes and saw the series tied at 1-1. With the series down to a final match, Complexity Gaming opted for a core trio of Lifestealer, Templar Assassin, and Sand King, and that trio appeared to be playing well for the squad through most of the game. With a combined 28-17-41 stat line from those 3 heroes, Complexity Gaming dominated the mid and late-game team fights while building up a net worth lead of over 15k. Unfortunately, the team would not be able to maintain that lead through the end of the game, as Complexity Gaming lost a series of late-game fights that shifted the momentum into its opponents hands. Despite its best efforts, the North American squad was unable to reclaim that control, as its final defenses fell to hand Complexity Gaming a 1-2 loss in the series.

That defeat at the hands of Mineski dropped Complexity Gaming into the Losers’ Match of Group B, where it faced off against Team Sirius in the group’s first elimination match. Unfortunately, the added sense of urgency and threat of elimination did little to light a fire under the North American squad, as Complexity Gaming struggled from the very beginning of this series. After holding steady with its opponent through the first 20 minutes of Game 1, things quickly fell apart for the squad, as Complexity Gaming found itself out killed 3-13 over the final 10 minutes of play. Despite a solid showing from Limmp on Puck (6-1-5), the team simply could not keep up with the pace that had been established by its opponent as it fell behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 ended up being an even more one sided affair, as Complexity Gaming was trailing in terms of net worth from the very beginning of the match. None of the team’s core heroes managed to come anywhere close to keeping up with their counterparts of Team Sirius, as the North American squad fell further and further behind as the game progressed. Out killed 15-32 and trailing by over 25k net worth by the 37 minute mark, Complexity Gaming’s defenses finally collapsed as the squad suffered a 0-2 sweep in the series to bring its run at the Minor to an end with a 1-4 record and a 7th-8th place finish in the standings.

Complexity Gaming came into this event as a squad that had not quite been able to step out of the shadow of some of its more prominent regional rivals this season. Though the squad had performed admirably within the North American region, it had not been able to consistently find success against the top teams in its region, and had failed to make up for those regional performances with success on the international level either. This Minor offered the squad a shot at redemption, and its recently updated lineup was hoping to make a statement with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage that would help build up some degree of momentum for the team heading into the TI9 qualifiers. Prior to the start of the event itself, the North American squad was projected to finish in the 7th-8th place position, and that’s exactly where Complexity Gaming ended up when its run in Kiev had come to an end. With a 1-4 overall record, the North American squad didn’t exactly end up being a very formidable threat in the field for this event, as the squad struggled significantly across the majority of its matches and was out killed 108-140 in 5 total games. The silver lining for Complexity Gaming was the play of its Carry/Mid duo, as Meracle and Limmp combined to average 13.40 kills and 17 assists on 8 deaths per game. The trio of tavo, Zfreek, and adam did manage to average 33 assists per game for the squad as well, but did so with an average of 20.4 deaths that significantly reduced their effectiveness. Overall, the team’s performance in this event had some bright spots, but was mostly disappointing. Considering the squad’s relatively low expectations coming into the Minor though, the 7th-8th place position is hardly a disastrous result. However, with the TI9 qualifiers now on the horizon, this poor performance on the Pro Circuit stage does little to instill much confidence in Complexity Gaming as it prepares to once again face off against its regional rivals with a spot in Shanghai on the line.

 

Team Anvorgesa Team Anvorgesa

Place: 4th

Winnings: $25,0000 & 70 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 5-8 (5-4 Group Stage, 0-4)

Team Anvorgesa came into this final Minor of the season as a squad that had emerged fairly late in the Pro Circuit season. The squad that had originally appeared within the South American region as Pacific eSports, and later attended the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 as Majestic Esports, had only existed for a couple of months. However, the squad had already taken steps to establish itself within the South American hierarchy, taking advantage of the power vacuum created by the departure of Chaos Esports Club to cement its place as a leading squad within its home region. Coming into this event though, the squad had aspirations of expanding its reach beyond the South American region and making a push to become a potential power on the international level as well. A strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev had the potential to help Team Anvorgesa achieve that goal, and the prospect of contending for a Minor title and maybe even claiming 1 of the 2 slots at the EPICENTER Major served as significant motivation for the South American squad to bring its best to the Pro Circuit stage in the final Minor of the 2018-2019 campaign.

The South American squad had the honor of taking part in the first series of the Minor, as Team Anvorgesa faced off against EHOME in the Opening Matches of Group A. Game 1 proved to be a fairly one sided affair for the squad, as the combination of K1’s Chaos Knight (18-1-11) and Chris Brown’s Meepo (10-5-14) helped the squad dominate the second half of the match to claim a convincing victory to open the series. Beyond that point though, the momentum simply disappeared for Team Anvorgesa, as the South American squad struggled in the next 2 matches of the series. Across Games 2 and 3, the squad found itself out killed 12-56, with no member of the roster managing to put up more than 5 kills in the two games combined. The pair of blowout losses absolutely shattered any sense of momentum that the squad had previously enjoyed, as Team Anvorgesa lost the series 1-2 to drop into the Losers’ Match of Group A where it would face an early elimination scenario.

The Losers’ Match of Group A pit Team Anvorgesa against Winstrike Team, as both squads attempted to avoid the unfortunate fate of becoming the first team to be eliminated from the Minor. Game 1 of the series did not end up going all that well for the South American squad though, as Team Anvorgesa fell behind past the laning stage and continued to trail throughout the rest of the match. Despite a solid showing from Chris Brown on Leshrac (12-6-9), Team Anvorgesa could not spark any sort of comeback effort as it eventually conceded the match to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 of the series began in a similar fashion to its predecessor, as Team Anvorgesa one again fell behind early in the match. This time though, the South American squad was able to find its footing in time to turn things around, dominating the mid-game stage with a series of team fight wins that saw the squad out kill its opponent 14-3 over the final 10 minutes of play to claim a win and even up the series at 1-1. The final match of the series would see Team Anvorgesa in control for the majority of the game, as the squad managed to find some pick offs and team fight wins through the first half of play that afforded it a modest net worth advantage heading into the late-game stage. With its core trio of Wraith King, Ember Spirit, and Brewmaster combining for a stat line of 27-14-77 and Jericho turning in an impressive showing on Warlock (14-5-21), Team Anvorgesa managed to hold off every attempt from its opponent to shift the momentum of the match as it claimed a 2-1 victory in the series to stave off elimination.

With its win in the previous series, Team Anvorgesa had once last chance to earn itself a place in the Playoffs of the Minor, as the squad faced off against EHOME for the second time in the event. Game 1 of the series looked to be a fairly even game throughout much of the match, as the two squads remained separated by less than 4k net worth over the first 25 minutes of play. Once the match shifted into the late-game stage though, Team Anvorgesa found itself struggling to keep pace with its opponent. Despite a solid effort from Wipser on Sand King (10-7-11), the team simply could not keep up as it fell behind by over 43k net worth. Even a Divine Rapier pick up on the part of Chris Brown’s Kunkka (6-5-13) proved to be insufficient to get Team Anvorgesa back in the match, as the squad suffered a defeat to open the series. Game 2 would be a near replica of its predecessor, but this time it would be Team Anvorgesa to seize control in the second half of the match. After remaining even with its opponent through the first 25 minutes of the match, the South American squad exploded late in the game with a series of pick offs and team fight wins led by a pair of strong showings from K1’s Wraith King (7-4-17) and Chris Brown’s Monkey King (5-0-18). After out killing its opponent 10-2 over the final 5 minutes of play, Team Anvorgesa claimed a win to even up the series and force a decisive Game 3. That third game would begin with Team Anvorgesa playing from behind though, as the South American squad surrendered a large number of early kills to its opponent.  However, the squad’s team fight power eventually came to fruition, as the squad rapidly shifted the momentum of the match into its favor with a series of pick offs and team fight wins that allowed the squad to bulldoze its way through its opponent’s defenses to claim a victory in just over 28 minutes of game time that secured Team Anvorgesa a 2-1 series win and a spot in the Playoffs of the Minor.

Round 1 of the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs saw Team Anvorgesa take one one of the event favorites in the form of NiP, and the match up quickly proved to be one sided once the series began. Team Anvorgesa found itself out played from the very start against NiP, as the team struggled to keep pace in what ended up being a pair of blowout losses for the South American squad. Across just under 72 minutes of total game time, Team Anvorgesa did not hold a net worth lead against NiP, with the squad playing from behind through the entirety of both matches. Out killed 28-50 in the two game series, Team Anvorgesa had no significant opportunities to mount any sort of effective comeback effort, as the squad was simply swept aside and handed a harsh 0-2 series loss that dropped the squad into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs.

Round 1 of the Lower Bracket saw Team Anvorgesa face off against Team Sirius in an elimination match, but the added urgency and tension of a potential elimination scenario did not appear to help the South American squad. The squad managed to remain fairly even with its opponent through the laning stage of Game 1, but beyond that point the rest of the series proved to be a disaster for Team Anvorgesa. The squad was out killed 30-72 over the course of the two game series, with no member of Team Anvorgesa earning more than 10 kills across the entire series. The team trailed in terms of net worth throughout the second half of Game 1, and trailed for the entirety of Game 2 in what was a pair of poor performances for the South American squad. With those back to back losses, Team Anvorgesa suffered a 0-2 defeat in the series that brought its run at the Minor to an end, with the South American squad claiming a 5-8 overall record and a 4th place finish at the event.

Team Anvorgesa came into this event as a relatively recent addition to the South American scene, but the squad had already been making waves against its regional rivals and was looking to take the next step forward and establish itself as a contender on the international level as well. Prior to the start of the event though, the expectations weren’t particularly high, as Team Anvorgesa was projected to fall just short of the Top 4 mark with a 5th-6th place position in the event standings. As it turned out, the squad was able to out perform that prediction, as the squad put together a 5-8 record in Kiev to finish 4th at the Minor. While the squad’s final position certainly comes as an encouraging sign for Team Anvorgesa, there are a few things worth noting for the team in terms of its performance at this event. The best way to describe this Minor from the perspective of Team Anvorgesa would be a tale of two halves, as the squad started the event strong before rapidly fading towards the end of its run. The squad put together a 5-4 record in the Group Stage of the event, taking squads like EHOME and Winstrike Team to full 3 game series, and even winning 2 of those series to claim a spot in the Playoffs of the Minor. If one was paying attention to the team’s final record in this event, they would notice that all 5 of the team’s wins at the Minor came in those 3 Group Stage series, which leads us to the team’s run in the Playoffs. In short, the squad crumbled once it left the Group Stage of the event, with Team Anvorgesa suffering back to back 0-2 sweeps at the hands of NiP and Team Sirius. Those Playoff matches were all fairly one sided as well, with Team Anvorgesa trailing in terms of net worth throughout all but a handful of minutes across the 4 games. The question for the squad at this stage is which version of the squad will we see moving forward into the TI9 qualifiers, as the squad can ill afford to put together such an inconsistent level of play against its regional rivals with a spot in Shanghai on the line. Considering the squad’s previous performances within its home region though, and the strong first half that it put together in this event, Team Anvorgesa at least appears to be in a somewhat favorable position heading into that all important TI9 qualifier run.

 

Winstrike Team Winstrike Team

Place: 7th-8th

Winnings: $7,500 & 20 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 2-4 (2-4 Group Stage)

Winstrike Team came into this final Minor of the season as a squad that had not enjoyed a particularly high level of success in its 2018-2019 campaign. An inordinate amount of roster changes and some inconsistent play outside of its home region kept in a somewhat weaker position compared to its major regional rivals. With the formation of its current roster though, the squad was hoping that it had finally found the right combination to turn things around and salvage what remained of its Pro Circuit campaign. The new iteration of the squad had been performing well within its home region, but this final Minor of the season would prove to be a true test of its abilities as Winstrike Team appeared on the Pro Circuit stage for the first time in its 2018-2019 campaign. The odds of Winstrike Team making a run for a direct invite to TI9 were nearly nonexistent, but the opportunity to test itself on the international level against relatively strong opposition had the potential to generate more than a fair bit of momentum for the squad heading into this upcoming TI9 qualifiers.

Winstrike Team started off its run at the Minor with a match up against Alliance, and the CIS squad appeared to have its opponent’s number early for most of the opening match of the series. The team held a small net worth lead throughout most of the mid and late-game stages, keeping its opponent off guard with a steady stream of pick offs and ganks. Unfortunately, the squad couldn’t turn those smaller strikes into a decisive team fight win, as Alliance was able to dominate late-game engagements to turn the tides of the match in its favor and complete a comeback effort to rob Winstrike Team of a victory to open the series. Game 2 saw the squads swap roles, as this time Winstrike Team was the squad overcoming a late-game deficit with strong team fight execution. Behind a pair of impressive performacnes from Cooman on Templar Assassin (14-4-21) and Silent’s Spectre (12-6-24), Winstrike Team managed to swing the momentum of the match into its favor late in the game to bring down Alliance and tie up the series at 1-1. The final match of the series looked to be a repeat of its predecessor for much of the game, as Winstrike Team once again found itself trailing heading into the late-game stage. Once again, the squad was able to mount a comeback effort, with the duo of Cooman’s Ember Spirit (17-7-30) and Silent’s Spectre (14-7-29) leading the charge as the team took multiple team fight wins against its opponent. Despite having built up a net worth lead of over 12k at that point, Winstrike Team was powerless to stop the sneak attack from its opponent, as Alliance snuck its way into the CIS squad’s base to pull off a last second rush that snatched victory away from the team and handed it a crushing 1-2 defeat in the series.

The team’s heartbreaking loss to Alliance dropped it into the Losers’ Match of Group A, where it faced off against Team Anvorgesa with its Minor life on the line. Game 1 saw the CIS squad step up to the challenge, as Winstrike Team jumped out to an early lead that it would hold throughout the rest of the match. Behind an impressive performance from Silent on Wraith King (14-1-19), the squad was able to keep its opponent off guard with consistent pick offs and team fight wins that allowed the squad to claim a fairly one sided victory to open the series. Game 2 began looking like a repeat of the previous match, as Winstrike Team was able to build up a small net worth advantage for itself early on thanks to some aggressive pick offs over the first 15 minutes of play. Unfortunately, the squad proved unable to maintain that frenetic pace, as the results of those team fights and skirmishes quickly turned against Winstrike Team in the mid-game stage. Over the final 15 minutes of play, Winstrike Team found itself out killed 3-14, as the momentum of the match was irrevocably shifted into its opponent’s favor. Down by over 13k net worth by the 25 minute mark and with two lanes of barracks destroyed, Winstrike Team opted to concede defeat to move into a third and final match in the series. After losing control in the second half of the previous match though, Winstrike Team’s momentum seemed to desert it. After holding a small lead in the early stage of the match, things quickly turned against the CIS squad as Team Anvorgesa consistently found the better trades in engagements. Despite a valiant effort on the part of Cooman’s Morphling (12-5-7), Winstrike Team could not put together a sustainable comeback effort, as the squad’s defenses were eventually broken to hand the squad a 1-2 defeat in the series and an early exit from the Minor with a 7th-8th place finish overall.

Winstrike Team came into this Minor knowing that its chances of reaching the Major and making a run at a Top 12 position in the Pro Circuit Rankings were incredibly slim. However, the event did present the squad with an opportunity to put its strength on display on the international level, and potentially put together a strong showing on a big stage prior to its expected run in the upcoming TI9 qualifiers. Coming into the Minor itself, the squad was expected to perform admirably but finish on the lower side of the event standings with a projection in the 5th-6th place range. Unfortunately, Winstrike Team ended up falling short of that predicted outcome, with the CIS squad putting together a 2-4 overall record to finish in the shared last place position of 7th-8th. While the team’s final position was not particularly impressive, it should be noted that Winstrike Team’s performance at this event was not nearly as bad as it would appear at first glance. The squad played just 2 series in Kiev, with both of those being full 3 game series with an average game length of over 46 minutes. Across its 6 total matches at the event, Winstrike Team actually managed to out kills its opponents 219-217, while the Carry/Mid duo of Coom and and Silent combined to average 18.84 kills and 33.33 assists on 11.33 deaths per game. The fact of the matter is that Winstrike Team managed to put together a respectable performance in Kiev, but that performance wasn’t quite enough to lift the squad out from the bottom of the event standings. Even so, it is clear that the team’s lineup has a fair amount of skill and experience on its side, and those factors should be valuable for the squad heading into the upcoming TI9 qualifiers. The question for the squad as this stage is how it stacks up against its regional rivals heading into that qualifier. The team’s experience at this event will certainly come as a small benefit, but its final position at this Minor will not be nearly as intimidating a factor as it could have been for Winstrike Team heading into the dreaded TI qualifier period.

 

Mineski 600px-Mineski-dota_logo

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $15,000 & 40 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 2-5 (2-5 Group Stage)

Mineski came into this final Minor of the season as a team that was trying to make one final surge on the Pro Circuit before the end of the 2018-2019 campaign. While the squad’s previous appearances on the Pro Circuit stage had not been overly impressive, the Southeast Asian squad still stood in a position to potentially compete for a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings and a direct invite to TI9. In order to hit those goals though, the squad needed to put together a strong enough showing at this Minor to earn one of the final 2 spots at the subsequent Major. Even if the squad could not manage to finish in the Top 2 in Kiev, this appearance at the final Minor of the season gave Mineski a valuable opportunity to display its strength and build up some form of momentum heading into the TI9 qualifiers.

Mineski’s first series of the Minor found it matching up against Complexity Gaming in the Opening Matches of Group B, but the series did not begin in favorable fashion for the Southeast Asian squad. After remaining fairly even with its opponent through the first 20 minutes or so, Mineski lost any semblance of control in the late-game stage. Out killed 16-33 in the match, Mineski trailed by as much of 26k net worth before conceding defeat to drop the first game of the series. Game 2 would see Mineski swap roles with its opponent, as the Southeast Asian squad was quick to establish its control over the match thanks to a combined 22-6-67 stat line from its core trio of Ember Spirit, Templar Assassin, and Pangolier, as well as an impressive showing from ninjaboogie’s Enchantress (12-4-11). The team out killed its opponent 23-4 over the final 11 minutes of play as it secured a win to even up the series and force a third match. Said third game began with the two teams remaining fairly event, as neither side led by more than 5k net worth through the first 25 minutes. As the match shifted into the mid and late-game stages, Mineski found itself falling behind, trailing by as much as 15k after a series of team fight losses. However, the squad managed to extend the match and bounce back late in the match, with the duo of Ahjit’s Phantom Assassin (16-4-10) and Moon’s Ember Spirit (10-4-12) leading a charge that allowed Mineski to turn a series of late fights in its own favor. With the momentum of the game shifted, Mineski was able to break down the defenses of its opponent to claim a 2-1 win in the series and advance to the Winners’ Match of its group.

Mineski’s opponent in said Winners’ Match would be NiP, and right off the bat the Southeast Asian squad had trouble with the match up. Game 1 went decisively in its opponent’s favor right from the very start of the match, with Mineski trailing in terms of net worth throughout the vast majority of the match. Despite an impressive effort from Moon’s Clinkz (10-3-1), Mineski could do little to mount any sort of effective comeback effort, as the squad was forced to concede defeat in just over 28 minutes to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 began in a fairly similar fashion for Mineski, as the squad once again fell behind early and faced a rather sizable net worth deficit over the first 30 minutes of play. This time around though, the Southeast Asian squad was more prepared to fight back against its opponent, as Mineski was able to turn the tides of the match against its opponent with a surge in the late-game stage. Led by a pair of strong performances from Ahjit on Phantom Assassin (9-3-13) and Bimbo on Grimstroke (11-7-12), Mineski took control late in the match and appeared poised for a victory. Unfortunately, the squad proved unable to close out the match in spite of that late lead, as Mineski’s final attacks fell short of their intended goal and gave NiP an opportunity to reclaim control of the match. With its attack and momentum shattered, Mineski was not able to hold off the subsequent push from its opponent, as the Southeast Asian squad lost the match to lose the series 0-2.

Despite the sweep at the hands of NiP, Mineski still had an opportunity to earn itself a place in the Playoffs of the Minor, as the Southeast Asian squad faced off against Team Sirius in the Decider Match of Group B. Unfortunately, things did not go well for the squad in that series, as Mineski was immediately set upon by an aggressive opponent that it was not prepared to handle. Mineski was massively out played across the two game series, suffering blowout defeats in both matches while being out killed 20-58 in what was a disappointing performance from the Southeast Asian squad. Mineski struggled to generate any sense of momentum in the series, and no member of the roster hit double digit kills across both matches combined in what was an alarmingly one sided match up. With the squad trailing in terms of net worth for nearly the entirety of the series, it should come as no surprise that Mineski suffered a quick defeat in the series, taking a 0-2 loss in less than 50 minute of total game time as the squad’s run in Kiev was brought to an end. With that final loss to Team Sirius, Mineski posted a 2-5 overall record at the Minor, which was enough to earn the team a 5th-6th place finish at the event.

Mineski came into this event with the hopes of putting together a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage and claiming a Top 2 finish in Kiev to advance to the season’s final Major and keep its hopes of a direct invite to TI9 alive. The latter half of the season had seen the squad make some significant improvements, even with Mineski having to deal with a change to its roster a few months ago. Prior to the start of this event, the team was expected to be one of the stronger competitors in the field for this Minor, with Mineski projected to finish in the Top 4 range. Unfortunately, the Southeast Asian squad fell short of that mark, as the squad put together a 2-5 overall record in Kiev to claim a 5th-6th place finish at the Minor and miss out on the Playoffs of the event. The team’s run at the Minor began in relatively solid fashion, as Mineski managed to win its first Group Stage series with a solid 2-1 win over Complexity Gaming on its first day of competition. The squad’s second day of play was where everything went wrong though, with Mineski losing 4 straight matches in a single day with a pair of 0-2 sweeps at the hands of NiP and Team Sirius. The team simply looked out of sorts across those last 2 series, as Mineski’s players didn’t appear to be on the same page in terms of their strategy and overall level of play. The lack of cohesion showed in the results of its matches, as 3 of the team’s 4 losses in those series lasted less than 30 minutes of game time. The only silver lining for Mineski from its run in this Minor was the play of Ahjit, as the team’s Carry put together averages of 6.29 kills and 8.43 assists on 3.71 deaths per game, and was the only member of Mineski to average a KDA of more than 3 at this event. To be fair to Mineski, the team’s odds of finishing in the Top 2 at this Minor and then subsequently putting together a strong enough showing at the Major to earn a direct invite to TI9 were somewhat slim. However, this Minor was also meant to be an opportunity for the squad to build up some momentum for itself prior to the start of the TI9 qualifiers. While further experience on the international level will certainly be a small advantage going into that event, it’s hard to say that the squad’s somewhat disappointing performance in Kiev really puts it in a better position to find success against its regional rivals in that all-important qualifier.

 

EHOME 800px-EHOME

Place: 5th-6th

Winnings: $15,000 & 40 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 4-5 (4-5 Group Stage)

EHOME came into this final Minor of the season in one of the most favorable positions among the field of participants, as the Chinese squad was already holding on to a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings. Of course, the fact that the team did not have enough Pro Circuit Points to guarantee that it could maintain that position through the end of the season meant that EHOME was still looking to put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Kiev. Any amount of Pro Circuit Points from the Minor would go towards bolstering the team’s hold on that Top 12 position, but the chance to secure itself an even higher total with a trip to the upcoming Major, as well as the opportunity to claim the organization’s second Minor title of the season, were rather significant motivating factors for the team as it prepared to put its strength on display at the final Minor of the 2018-2019 season.

EHOME’s run at the Minor began with a match up against South American squad Team Anvorguesa, as the two squads faced off in the first series of the event. Game 1 saw EHOME hold relatively steady through the first 20 minutes of play, but things quickly turned against the squad in the late-game stage. Despite a solid pair of efforts from END’s Death Prophet (15-3-13) and Ferrari_430’s Leshrac (10-7-13), EHOME found itself falling further and further behind as it lost most of the team fights late in the match. Down by over 20k net worth, the squad attempted one final, unsuccessful defense of its base before conceding defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Following that initial defeat though, EHOME would take decisive control of the series, as the Chinese squad put together back to back stomps over its opponent in Games 2 and 3. Across those final 2 matches, EHOME out killed its opponent 56-12, while no member of the squad’s lineup racked up more than 4 combined deaths in what was a stunningly dominant showing. Behind those back to back blowout victories, EHOME was able to claim a 2-1 series win over Team Anvorguesa to advance to the Winners’ Match of Group A.

The Winners’ Match of Group A saw EHOME face off against European squad Alliance, as the two teams fought to determine which of them would claim the top spot in Group A and the first position in the Playoff bracket. Game 1 did not go well for the Chinese squad, as EHOME fell behind early in the match and never really managed to recover. Out killed 15-30 in the match, EHOME’s lineup simply could not generate enough momentum to shift the tides of the game in its favor, as the squad conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series. Game 2 would see the roles reversed between EHOME and its opponent, as this time it was the Chinese squad that was able to jump out to an early advantage. Behind a pair of impressive performances from END’s Terroblade (14-1-8) and Ferrari_430 on Leshrac (9-0-13), EHOME dominated the mid and late-game stages ot the match and easily pushed past Alliance’s defenses to claim a win and tie up the series at 1-1. Unfortunately, EHOME proved unable to carry any of the momentum from its Game 2 victory over into the final match of the series, as the team struggled in Game 3. The squad’s core trio of Wraith King, Medusa, and Tidehunter was given little room to operate by its opponents, as said trio suffered a number of early deaths brought on by some aggressive play on the part of Alliance. Out killed 12-36 in the match, EHOME could not buy itself enough time to truly mount any sort of effective comeback effort, as the squad trailed in terms of net worth throughout the match and earned just 3 kills over the final 20 minutes of play to loss the match and lose the series 1-2.

That loss dropped EHOME into the Decider Match of Group A, where it once again faced off against Team Anvorgesa to determine which squad would claim the final spot in the Playoffs of the Minor. EHOME managed to strike first in the series, putting together an impressive second half in Game 1 of the series that saw it pull away from its opponent with a massive surge. Behind a combined 27-13-50 stat line from its core trio of Naga Siren, Templar Assassin, and Tiny, EHOME built up a net worth lead of over 43k before finally breaking through its opponents defenses to claim a dominant win to open the series. Game 2 would see the Chinese squad fall into the very same trap that it had sprung in Game 1 though, as this time around its was EHOME that fell victim to a late-game surge from its opponent. After being separated by no more than 2k net worth throughout the first 25 minutes of the match, EHOME saw the momentum of the match rapidly shift into its opponent’s favor in the late-game stage. Out killed 2-10 over the final 5 minutes of the match, EHOME had little choice but to concede defeat as the series was tied up at 1-1. The Chinese squad entered Game 3 determined not to repeat its previous mistakes, and it appeared to be successful in that endeavor in the early stages of the match. Behind an impressive performance from XinQ’s Earth Spirit (8-4-6), EHOME was able to find a multitude of early kills and pick offs that afforded the squad a modest, but fairly consistent net worth lead over the first 20 minutes of the match. Beyond that point in the match though, things went wrong for EHOME, as its opponent put together an unexpected surge. Out killed 2-7 over the final 8 minute of the match, EHOME could only watch as its opponent marched straight into its base and swept aside its defenses to hand the Chinese squad a shocking 1-2 defeat in the series. With that loss, EHOME’s run in Kiev was brought to an end, with the team claiming a 4-5 overall record and a 5th-6th place finish in the event standings.

EHOME came into this Minor as a squad that had already worked its way into the Top 12 of the Pro Circuit Rankings, but it needed further success on the Pro Circuit stage to actually make sure that it would retain that position when the final events of the season concluded. Despite undergoing a dizzying number of roster changes in recent times, the Chinese squad still came into this event as a formidable opponent, with EHOME projected to finish in the Top 4 range and compete for 1 of the 2 slots available at the season’s final Major. Unfortuantely for EHOME, the team ended up falling a bit short of that prediction, as EHOME put together a 4-5 overall record in Kiev to finish in the 5th-6th place position in the event standings. While the final result for the squad will certainly be viewed as a disappointment, the team’s play in this event was not quite as bad as its position in the standings would suggest. The squad played a total of 3 series at the Minor, with all 3 of those series going to a full 3 games as EHOME at least managed to put up an admirable fight against its opponents. The problem was that the squad’s efforts weren’t quite enough to push its to success, which comes as a rather significant concern considering the fact that EHOME was seen as at least a partial favorite across all of its match ups at the Minor. The good news for EHOME is that it did manage to get impressive production out of its Carry/Mid duo, with END and Ferrari_430 combining to average 13 kills and 18.44 assists on just 5.78 deaths per game across the team’s 9 total matches in Kiev. That level of production served as the most significant bright spot for EHOME in what otherwise turned out to be a disappointing performance at the Minor. While the squad still sits inside the Top 12 in the Pro Circuit Rankings, the fact that it will not be attending the Major and can no longer add to that point total puts EHOME in the unenviable position of having to watch and wait and hope that holds its position through the end of the upcoming Major and can avoid having to make a run through the TI9 qualifiers.

 

Team Sirius Team Sirius

Place: 3rd

Winnings: $35,000 & 90 Pro Circuit Points

Event Record: 8-6 (5-2 Group Stage, 3-4 Playoffs)

Team Sirius came into this final Minor of the season as a late addition to the Chinese scene, with the squad having only officially joined the PRo Circuit back in April. While the team had not existed for a particularly long period of time, Team Sirius was already beginning to make a name for itself with some strong play within its home region. With the Pro Circuit season coming to a close though, the team was looking for an opportunity to take a significant step forward and test itself on the international level. Though the team’s odds of making a run for a Top 12 spot in the Pro Circuit Rankings and earning a direct invite to TI9 were essentially nonexistent, Team Sirius was still presented with a valuable opportunity as it came into this Minor. The chance to test itself against international opposition and put its strength on display for the eyes of the Dota 2 world gave the Chinese squad the opportunity to build up some momentum for itself heading into a tough TI9 qualifier run in what has been a crowded Chinese region.

The first series of the Minor for Team Sirius saw the Chinese squad face off against the top ranked team in the field in the form of NiP. Game 1 of the series saw Team Sirius step up with an impressive performance against the European squad, with the duo of Sylar’s Naga Siren (11-2-13) and ASD’s Leshrac (17-2-14) leading the team to a dominant showing in the match. With those two players leading the charge, Team Sirius out killed its opponent 42-17 to claim a convincing victory to open the series. Game 2 would see Team Sirius on the other side of a blowout match though, as the squad fell victim to an aggressive strategy from NiP. Out killed 16-30 over the course of the match, Team Sirius trailed in terms of net worth from start to finish in what was a massively one sided affair.  Despite a solid showing from ASD on Shadow Fiend (8-4-5), Team Sirius was unable to make any sort of comeback effort as it suffered a defeat that evened up the series at 1-1. Game 3 would prove to be quite a departure from the previous 2 matches, as the game remained tightly contested throughout the vast majority of play. Throughout the first 55 minutes of the game, neither side was able to pull away by more than 5k net worth, with the efforts of Sylar’s Wraith King (8-6-15) and ASD’s Outworld Devourer (11-8-9) helping to keep Team Sirius relatively even with its opponent. Unfortunately, that stalemate would eventually end in a manner that did not bode well for Team Sirius, as NiP seized the momentum with some late-game team fight victories that crippled the defenses of Team Sirius to hand the squad a 1-2 defeat in the series.

After losing its first series of the event, Team Sirius looked to bounce back with a match up against North American squad Complexity Gaming in the Losers’ Match of Group B. Game 1 began with the two squads remaining fairly even, with neither side really pulling head through the first 20 minutes of play. Beyond that point though, everything worked out in Team Sirius’ favor, as the Chinese squad dominated the final 10 minutes of the game and out killed its opponent 13-3 thanks in large part to a pair of strong showings from ASD’s Broodmother (9-1-7) and HYM on Lina (7-2-7). Behind those impressive performances, Team Sirius was able to claim a solid win to open the series and take a 1-0 lead over its opponent. After taking control in the second half of Game 1, Team Sirius had a fair bit of momentum on its side, and the Chinese squad was quick to exploit that momentum in Game 2 of the series. The team looked to push the pace of play early in the match, finding multiple pick offs in the laning stage while securing significant levels of farm for its core trio of Arc Warden, Ember Spirit, and Nature’s Prophet. With said trio combining for a stat line of 23-5-49, Team Sirius was able to establish near complete control of the match and hold it throughout the rest of play, as Complexity Gaming was left powerless to fight back in what was a strong 2-0 series win for Team Sirius.

With its sweep over Complexity Gaming, Team Sirius had a shot at earning itself a place in the Playoffs of the Minor, but it would need to take down Mineski in the Decider Match of Group B in order to earn said place. As it turned out, that task didn’t prove to be particularly difficult for the Chinese squad, as Team Sirius absolutely obliterated its opponent with a pair of blowout wins. Across the two game series, Team Sirius out killed Mineski by a core of 58-20 as it completely stomped its Southeast Asian opponent in back to back stomps. ASD led the way for his squad in those two games, combining for a stat line of 23-4-11 on Templar Assassin and Leshrac as Team Sirius held near complete control of both matches to secure itself a dominant 2-0 win and a place in the Playoffs.

The first opponent for Team Sirius in the Playoffs of the Minor would be European squad Alliance, and the series between the two squads would begin with a tightly contested opening match. Throughout the first 40 minutes of Game 1, neither team led by more than 5k net worth as the two sides remained incredibly close. Thanks to an incredible showing from Sylar on Lifestealer (15-1-13) though, that stalemate was eventually broken, with Team Sirius managing to swing the momentum of the match into its favor with a series of pick offs and team fight wins to take the opening match of the series and a 1-0 lead over its opponent. Game 2 would end up playing out in a very similar manner, as the two squads once again managed to keep things incredibly close over the first half of the match. Unfortunately, Team Sirius proved unable to replicate its Game 1 success, as this time it was the Chinese squad that fell victim to a late-game surge from its opponent. Despite another solid effort on the part of Sylar’s Spectre (10-7-11), Team Sirius could not recover in the second half of the match, as its defenses were eventually swept aside to hand the team a loss that evened up the series at 1-1. After losing control in the second half of Game 2, Team Sirius’ momentum appeared to have been spent, as the squad struggled in the third and final match of the series. The team was out killed 13-33 over the course of the game, and trailed in terms of net worth for all but a couple of minutes in what was a complete stomp by its opponent. With that defeat, Team Sirius lost the series 1-2 and  dropped into the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs in Kiev.

Round 1 of the Lower Bracket pit Team Sirius against Team Anvorgesa, as the two squads fought an elimination series to determine which of them would keep its Minor run alive. As soon as play began though, it was clear that Team Sirius was the squad with the edge over its opponent, as the Chinese squad put together a pair of impressive performances against its opponent. Across the two game series, Team Sirius out killed Team Anvorgesa 72-30, with the duo of Sylar and ASD putting together a combined stat line of 49-8-65 to fuel the squad to a pair of blowout wins. With that 2-0 sweep over Team Anvorgesa, Team Sirius kept its hopes of a Minor title and a place at the EPICENTER Major alive, as the squad advanced to the Lower Bracket Finals.

Said Lower Bracket Finals would see Team Sirius take on NiP for the second time in Kiev, as the two squads faced off in a rematch of their Group Stage series. While Team Sirius had managed to hold its own and put together a competitive series the first time around, the rematch proved to be a much more one sided affair, with Team Sirius on the wrong side of the match up. The Chinese squad was simply overwhelmed in this series, with Team Sirius being out killed its opponent 28-64 in back to back blowout losses. The team trailed in terms of net worth for all but a handful of minutes in the series, as its struggled to generate any sense of momentum for itself in the face of an absolute onslaught by NiP. Across the entirety of the series, no member of Team Sirius managed to reach double digit kills, as the squad was simply out played to suffer a 0-2 sweep that ended its run at the Minor. Team Sirius came away from the event with an 8-6 overall record, as well as a 3rd place finish in its first and last Minor appearance of the season.

Team Sirius came into this event as a squad with a lot of potential, but very little of that potential had been realized yet due to the fact that the team had only recently been formed. Without any definitive experience as a roster outside of its home region either, it was very much unclear just where Team Sirius’ ceiling was in terms of its ability to compete on the Pro Circuit stage. The uncertainty had the squad projected to finish at the bottom of the event standings in the 7th-8th place position, but the Chinese squad proved more than capable of blowing past that meager prediction with an 8-6 record and a 3rd place finish in Kiev. The squad looked incredibly impressive right from the start of the event, as the team was thrown right into the fire to begin its Minor run with a match up against NiP, the top ranked squad in the field. Team Sirius managed to hold its own in that series though with a respectable 1-2 loss, then proceeded to sweep both Mineski and Complexity Gaming to claim a place in the Playoffs of the event. From there, the squad continued to show a high level of strength and determination, taking a hard fought 1-2 loss to Alliance and defeating Tam Anvorgesa 2-0 in an elimination match before finally falling 0-2 in a rematch with NiP that left the squad just 1 series short of the Grand Finals of the Minor. Coming into the event, it was said that Team Sirius was going to have to take advantage of both its veteran experience, and the impressive talent of younger players like ASD, and the squad certainly appeared to do that with its 3rd place run in Kiev. The Carry/Mid duo of Sylar and ASD combined to average 16.22 kills and 19.42 assists on just 7.5 deaths per game across the team’s 14 total matches at the Minor, while the trio of InJuly, 天命, and HYM averaged a total of 41.71 assists per game for Team Sirius. Between that strong level of production from its whole roster, and the team’s Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage, Team Sirius has certailny succeeded in building up some momentum for itself heading into the upcoming TI9 qualifiers. With most of the region’s strongest squads claiming Top 12 positions in the Pro Circuit Rankings and therefore skipping those qualifiers, Team Sirius now stands in a position as a potential favorite among its remaining regional rivals as it will look to fight its way onto the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage in Shanghai.

 

 

 

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