photo by: ESL One
The closed qualifiers for EPICENTER Major, the last tournament on the Dota Pro Circuit schedule, are in full swing in all six regions. The battle started in each region with eight teams fighting in a best-of-one Round-Robin group stage where the winner of the group is already granted a spot at the Major.
EPICENTER Major qualifiers fittingly conclude Gambit Esports’ journey through this season. Back in the qualifiers for the first Major in the circuit, the Kuala Lumpur tournament, a newly created team named Ferzee was delivering the big surprize in the CIS competition. The five players got immediately signed by Gambit Esports and eight months later the team was delivering another surprise. EPICENTER Major will be Gambit’s only second Major participation. After the Kuala Lumpur the CIS squad went trough roster changes, but still haven’t been able to secure a Major ticket. They went to the Bucharest, the Kiev and the OGA Dota PIT Minors this season, but they didn’t prevail in any of those. However, they qualified now as the first seeded team from CIS, ahead of Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere after beating both these teams in the group stage tiebreakers for the first place in the group.
CIS region has two qualifier tickets to offer and the second one will be claimed in the playoffs stage where only four teams advanced, namely Na’Vi, Team Empire, Winstrike and Virtus.pro. The qualifiers playoffs stage commences today in a double elimination bracket format, best-of-three games, and a best-of-five grand final.
Unsurprisingly, the first qualifier slot in the European region went to Team Secret, who finished 6-1 in the group stage. Their only loss was registered against Team Liquid, who were extremely close to losing these qualifiers. This was the only victory for Liquid and they had to go through a three-way tiebreaker between themselves, Alliance and Aachen City Esports to keep their hope alive. The team with two losses in the tiebreaker got eliminated, namely the open qualifiers winners, Aachen City Esports, which was, in fact, a CIS stack playing in the EU brackets.
Team Secret are two times Major winners this season and the first placed team in the DPC rankings with 14250 points. Europe has three qualifier slots for this Major and the four teams left in the competition are OG, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Alliance and Team Liquid.
North America was blessed with three qualifying slots in all the Majors this season, but Valve changed their mind with this final tournament of the circuit. The game developer took the third qualifier slot from NA and gave it to the second placed team in the Minor preceding the EPICENTER Major.
With a new addition to their name, Forward Gaming went on a victory spree in the group stage. They are the only squad from all regions to finish undefeated, with a clean 7-0 track record to book the trip to Moscow, Russia. Their several roster changes took away a decent chunk of points earned through the season and they now sit only on the 18th place in the DPC ranking with just 154.88 points. ?At the end of EPICENTER Major, the top 12 teams in the rankings will have secured their spot at the International 2019. For FWD this means that they are most likely going to need at least a top six finish in Moscow.
Evil Geniuses, compLexity Gaming, Beastcoast and J.Storm are the four teams left to duel in the NA qualifiers for the other ticket to EPICENTER.
Recently reformed, paiN Gaming are set for a sprint at the end of the season. They’ve already been to the MDL Disneyland? Paris Major, but finished just bottom four there and scored only 150 DPC points for their run. Now they emerged as the top team in the SA group stage and secured a place at the last Major of the season, but much like Forward Gaming from NA, paiN will need to improve their game by a lot and make the jump to at least a top 6 finish in Moscow in order to have a chance at qualifying to TI9 via DPC points.