Imagine that qualifying to a Major through the Minor is like running late and trying to catch your flight. Most of the time when you are trying to board your plane to a Major, you face one of these, the Guardians of the Boarding Gate. Sometimes they are as angry as Troll Warlord and want to rush into the plane. Often they are ‘late’ for their date, as if they were entitled to skip the line to get right into the money-making matches against other big dogs. They might view the Minor as a mere inconvenience on their trip to the Major. This time, though, things are different. There are no Guardians this time around.
The Kiev Minor: An Economy Ticket to Los Angeles
There are no DPC vacations or TI-saving-strats shenanigans going on here: Nigma, Team Liquid and TNC Predator were defeated by their local “Tier 2/3" competition: almost as if they were trying to reinforce Valve’s point regarding the next DPC season.
This is a rare Major given the number of upsets that occurred in the qualifiers. With the three aforementioned strong teams failing to qualify, and VG taking a mid-season break after having effectively qualified, the Los Angeles Major is looking like one of the most top-heavy tournaments we’ve ever seen. At the very top are Secret, OG, and EG. Discounting the Minor Winner, these teams are looking leagues ahead of the competition. To not see all three of these teams in the top four would be shocking. This leaves whoever wins this Minor with a real chance of farming some needed DPC points as the second half of the season approaches - and with that the end of the DPC vacation for some teams. This is the best a Major will ever look for a Minor-winner.
A's are for Aces
Both Aster and Alliance had rough competition to get here. The Chinese team had to get through the ever-competitive CN Qualifier: they were against the ropes when Keen Gaming tied the LB final after losing the first game. But this eternal “almost tier 1” team managed to not only make a comeback, but gave Newbee a grim reminder of the TI7 finale by crushing them 3-0 in the qualifier final.
Alliance didn’t have it any easier. Normally you expect to face at least one top-dog during the minor qualifier but Alliance had to face two of them… well one and a half. After losing to NiP in the tiebreaker, Alliance faced Liquid and Nigma in the UB Finals and Grand Final, respectively. They managed to defeat Kuroky’s squad in one of the most exciting Minor finals we’ve had yet. At this Minor, Alliance is one step above the rest of the competition. Only Aster seems to be a formidable opponent for the Nordic team. Luckily for Alliance, Lanm will be replacing Sccc for the Minor. Without their normal carry player, Aster’s odds against Alliance have been greatly diminished.
Putting the Dota in NA Dota
With the announcement of Valve regarding the next DPC, many regions can expect their scenes to become more active. Unfortunately, in the case of NADota… things look grim. While NA can put other teams beside EG in a Major, there are serious concerns that there’s absolutely no new blood coming in from the region. But the reason behind this is a matter for another moment.
Throwing NA into further turmoil, EE and Sneyking have left Fighting Pandas (now Cr4zy) for Cloud9 just before this Minor. This led the NA stack to replace them with Skiter and Khezu and while it might sound counter-intuitive, Cr4zy's chances don’t seem to be affected much by this roster change. There’s at least three teams that are clearly a cut above them (Alliance, Aster and Gambit). They’re even worried about Business Associates, considering Fear’s stack got to the minor by defeating the Pandas in the qualifier.
Talking about Fear’s stack: although it seems very unlikely for them to get the ticket to Los Angeles, one could always hope for them to pull an upset during the playoffs. Having Fear back in a Major after defeating Alliance or Aster in a Minor would be quite the redemption arc. An actual American team on American soil led by an iconic American in what might become an endangered scene. It would certainly be something to see.
The rest of the gang
CIS is represented by Gambit and Forze esports, SEA with BOOM ID and SA by No-ping esports. Any of these teams, except for Gambit, would have to pull off something absolutely incredible to win this Minor. All these scenes would benefit greatly from landing another team at the Major: CIS is in need of keeping their player base growing, SA has their second breath with Beastcoast becoming an actual contender for high placings, and SEA can’t afford to keep losing momentum to other regions. It’s likely that after this minor many of these squads will not remain the same, hence is one of the last chances for players like 4dr, Vanskor and Fng to stay on the race for a TI ticket.
While the this Minor has some clear differences in quality of teams, it isn't out of the realm of possibility to see one of the these teams rise to the occasion and earn their trip to Los Angeles. OG have shown us that anything is possible, can anyone here follow in their footsteps?
Graphics: StarLadder & imbaTV
Graphics: StarLadder & imbaTV