It’s the first big tournament of the year and it is loaded with some familiar faces that we haven’t seen for awhile. Ixmike makes his glorious return to the international competitive scene after years of NA Dota skirmishes and endless qualifiers. Faith_Bian, member of the legendary Wings squad, returns under the EHOME pennant coached by the one and only Xiao8. In Europe and CIS the clash between some of the best 5s in the scene as PPD, Notail and fng will likely deliver with some great Dota matches. Let’s not forget about the Peruvian squad in the Minor that’s filled with the most recognizable names that are not banned. If you are bored of always watching the same players, Boom ID from SEA brings fresh talent to this competition. There’s something for everyone in this Minor.
The Path to the Major
The path to this minor also left some upsets along the way. EternalEnvy failed to get through his second qualifier in a row after he faced a major upset in the South America final against Playmakers. Complexity, managed to beat CCnC’s squad test123; but was also defeated in the final against teamteam in a match that not only decided the fate of the qualifiers, but has also shown that NA stacks have out of creativity for their names. EU went as most would have predicted with Khezu, MaybeNexTime and Madara being left behind by OG and NiP in quite straightforward matches. Way harder to predict was the CN qualifier that left behind names as Super and DDC – which puts the TI-Legends in quite a difficult position with very few tournaments to go. The SEA region did have some upsets of their own, Mineski with Pieliedie and Clutch with Kyxy fell behind Boom ID; a team with a roster of players who have only been playing competitively since 2017 with the exception of fbz who started in late 2016.
But if we are going to talk about a Major upset for these Minor qualifiers it has to be Na’Vi hitting a low point by failing to get out of the CIS open qualifier after placing 2nd at the last Minor.
This many upsets didn’t hurt the quality of Minor one bit, from the talent in each lineup to the stakes in place; this Minor has become an important checkpoint for plenty of players as it grants a ticket to the Chongqing Major, which together with this LAN marks the end of the first third of the path to TI9. By the end of this LAN and the next Major, lots of players will hope for others to lose momentum so that they can get to Shanghai.
Whatever helps China recover their old domination of the scene must be empowered not only by PSG.LGD, but by the other squads as well. Even getting a Minor out of the hands of western teams will prove to be a great morale boost for a Chinese scene that urges for more top tier teams that can show-off, not only at TI, but at all of the Minors and Majors. That’s why people like the Director Xiao8 coaching EHOME, and veterans like Old Chicken, Eleven, and Kaka leading Keen Gaming are carrying the hopes of one of the most important scenes in Dota.
NA, SEA, SA and CIS regions have only 1 representative each in this contest but only the SEA squad have 5 names that are more or less completely new to the international stage. Boom ID can boast of a great success after beating the likes of Mineski and Clutch Gamers, two organizations that had notable players in their squad. Dota is a game in which constant confirmation of skill usually forms our opinions about who the best players and squads are and we’re about to see if these players can tackle the challenge ahead at the Minor after besting the opposition at home.
Gambit Esports is perhaps the team in the best shape for this tournament. In a non-DPC event, WePlay Madness, they just defeated direct rivals NiP and OG. This might be an overstatement, as one could argue these tournaments are played without a real intention. But the Vanskor stack have already made some noise in the Dota scene, they’ve got several relevant qualifiers victories recently which gives this team some immense credit for the clash ahead.
Last but not least we have America, represented by familiar faces for both regions. One of the newer members from Peru is Faker, an immortal-tier player that has been around since 2014 but just recently joined pro-level play at the age of 17 years old. We also can’t forget about ixmike and the gang, representing NA Dota. Teamteam doesn’t really look like a squad that can really steal either EG’s crown in the region, or even J.Storm or Forward Gaming, but anything that extends the gap between them and the likes or Complexity or test123 will be worth for them.
One of these teams will get at least 120 points by winning this tournament and the opportunity to earn more by competing at the Chongqing Major. But most importantly: it will grant them the chance of giving a critical blow to some of their direct competitors in the DPC standings. Teamteam might surpass test123 or even take an advantage over Forward Gaming, Playmakers can get ahead of both Pain Gaming and Infamous while Gambit gaming can close the gap with many of their non-CIS rivals. This is a very important tournament for all of the teams involved and should be viewed as a last chance qualifier to the Major itself rather than just a Minor.