OG is getting in shape
During the Major qualifier we were worried about the reigning TI champion. OG had a solid performance, but they weren't even close to qualify for the DreamLeague Season 11.
Their performance at the Minor qualifier, on the other hand, was way better. They stumbled in their first game against Kaban, but demonstrated no lack of domination in the following games. They finished first in their group and won both matches with a 2-0 against Vega Squadron and Alliance. Both these teams were also favourites to win the qualifier.
Especially the game against Alliance was pure joy to watch. OG completely crushed their European rivals in the Grand Finals leaving no questions who should go and represent Europe at the Minor.
The European rivalry is strong
However, the other teams don't need to be ashamed of their performance. In fact, the other Minor qualifier participants proved the power of Europe. Unlike the Major qualifier where Team Liquid and Team Secret are pretty much set for every Major tournament unless a huge upset happens, the Minor qualifier is way tougher to call - especially with just one slot to be awarded.
The Grand Final wasn't just a duel between Alliance and OG in the end - Vega Squadron with their captain Maurice 'KheZu' Gutmann proved several times during the qualifier that they have an interesting angle on how to play the new patch.
Also, who would've thought that Troels 'syndereN' Nielsen's new squad is actually on the brink of making it to a DPC event? His teammates Oliver 'Skiter' Lepko and Leon 'nine' Kirilin are very talented players that can surprise teams like OG or Alliance on a good day.
BurNIng's squad has some Major and Minor issues
Fans of Team Aster should be disappointed after the latest results of Xu 'BurNIng' Zhilei's team. We got used to the fact that they're not ready for the international competition yet, but they didn't even qualify for a DPC event this time.
They attended the first two Majors of the season, but now they'll have to watch Dota 2 from home - even though they got a new carry. The Malaysian veteran Chai 'Mushi' Yee Fung is already the third mid laner for Team Aster this season. The Chinese team has some big names with Lu 'Fenrir' Chao, Ye 'BoBoKa' Zhibiao and Liu 'Sylar' Jiajun in their lineup, but this still isn't good enough to compete with the top of their region.
Maybe the big names are actually the reason for that. While EHOME or Vici Gaming put their trust in promising talents on important positions, BurNIng's hopes lie on decorated players. Team Aster might be too oldschool to really be a threat at the big tournaments.
New colours, but still no success for Dendi
For more than seven years we were used to see Danil 'Dendi' Ishutin in the traditional yellow and black colours of Natus Vincere, but since the start of this season Na'Vi doesn't play with their iconic mid laner anymore.
A long time rival to our players, now ally. Let’s welcome Danil "Dendi" Ishutin as the 5th member to join the Tigers family today! Bringing the team to a full roster. Fans of Tigers, we want to share this experience with you. Meet the new members of @tigers_dota . #roartigers pic.twitter.com/w75zbAg7yZ— Tigers (@tigers_dota) 22. Januar 2019
After a small break Dendi joined the DreamLeague Season 10 winner Tigers on loan at the end of January. As a part of the South-East Asian team, he missed the qualification for both Minor and Major events. Especially the DreamLeague Season 11 qualifier was a disaster. They didn't even make it to the top 16.
At the Minor qualifier, Tigers at least reached the top 4 and competed in the closed qualifier. However, the team lost in the first round of the Lower Bracket against Yoshimoto.Detonator and therefore won't attend the Minor even though Dendi had a good day in the mid lane. The competition is tough for the legendary Ukrainian.
EE can still do it
Jacky 'EternaLEnVy' Mao attended the first Minor with compLexity Gaming, but left the team after some issues.
He joined different squads with his new pal JingJun 'Sneyking' Wu, but didn't have any success - not even with Infamous in the South American qualifier. He even switched back from support to carry to have more impact on the actual game.
His current team is Flying Penguins. Roster swaps were still a concerning problem for his fans. Right before the Minor qualifier started, Gunnar got replaced by Eric 'Ryoya' Dong - in the end, it proved to be the perfect choice.
The Flying Penguins beat every team in the North American qualifier to make it to Kiev. We'll see if EE finally has a team that will stick together for a bit longer.
What are you most excited for at the Minor in Kiev?
Photo credit: DreamHack - Jennika Ojala/ Valve