From TI attendee to viewer — Winstrike
Winstrike were formerly known as FlyToMoon, but as they edged closer to qualifying for The International 2018 they were picked up by the new organization. In the end, FlyToMoon finished as the best team in the CIS qualifier — they bested the Group Stage and didn't lose a single series in the playoffs.
Bogdan 'Iceberg' Vasilenko and his team were underdogs at TI8, but they achieved success by reaching the main stage. They even beat their Chinese opponents, Invictus Gaming, in the tiebreaker. The biggest surprise of all was watching Winstrike beat TI7 Grand Finalists Newbee in the first round of Main Stage, eliminating them in the process. However, Winstrike had no chance in losing 2-0 to VGJ.Storm, finishing 9th-12th.
Winstrike decided to stay together as a team after TI to compete in the upcoming Dota 2 Pro Circuit. However, the qualifier for The Kuala Lumpur Major has shown that the competition in the CIS region is much closer this year. The primary reason for this is that no team is invited to a Major — even Virtus.pro have to battle their way through their regional qualifiers.
Although Winstrike topped their group in the KL qualifier, they lost against Team Spirit and AS Monaco Gambit, meaning direct qualification for the Major was impossible. The last hope was to win the Minor, but they didn't even qualify for the CIS closed qualifier — Winstrike lost a deciding game against the revamped roster of Natus Vincere.
This means Winstrike will be absent from the first round of Valve events.
Kaka and his team are not yet ready
There is no discussion that of all regions, China is the most stacked. In previous seasons it wasn't easy to get through a Chinese qualifier, but now, without invites, it's almost impossible for newcomers. It's therefore little wonder that top teams such as Newbee, Royal Never Give Up and Team Serenity are in the qualifier for the Minor — China has just three slots for the Major.
The last team to join the Chinese trio in the closed qualifier is xiao8's EHOME. However, it wasn't Keen Gaming who EHOME had to face in the final game — Hu 'Kaka' Liangzhi and his teammates lost to Team EVER beforehand.
Keen Gaming signed three new players to play alongside the retained pair of Zhai 'Ying' Jingkai and Song 'dark' Runxi — with two being the Chinese allstars Kaka and Yang 'Eleven' Wei Ren.
They failed to make it into the closed qualifier for The Kuala Lumpur Major, and didn't even make the final round to qualify for the Minor — Keen Gaming exited both qualifiers at the semi-final stage.
LaNm's new squad sees disastrous end
Another team that can confirm that China is by far the toughest region is DeathBringer Gaming. After more than eight years in various world-class teams, such as EHOME, Vici Gaming and DK*, Zhi Cheng 'LaNm' Zhang decided on a fresh start with a new organization, DeathBringer Gaming.
#KLMajor 🏆 Así termina el clasificatorio chino:— Borja Encinas (@shiro_himura) 18. September 2018
❌Royal Never Give Up
To complete the roster, they signed three EHOME players on loan, as well as Liu 'Freeze' Chang — formerly of VGJ.Thunder.
LaNm and his squad reached the top eight at the closed qualifier for The Kuala Lumpur Major, but lost in Round One of the playoffs against Team Serenity. The result was that DeathBringer weren't granted an invitation to Stockholm for the Minor closed qualifier.
They faced For The Dream in the Round of 16 and promptly lost the BO1 match — DeathBringer were out of the Minor before even reaching the top eight of the open qualifier. China is really tough this year.
Malaysia's hope with no chance to go to the Major
Mineski had an excellent first season on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit — they won a Major and directly qualified for The International 2018. After TI three players decided to join new teams — Mineski had to replace them, and on paper they made excellent choices.
They signed Damien 'kpii' Chok, Kim 'Febby' Yong-Min and the young Thiay 'JT-' Jun Wen, with Chai 'Mushi' Yee Fung switching to position five to captain the team.
However, it seems as though the transition hasn't gone as well as fans hoped. Mineski are still trying to find their feet, a crucial factor that influenced their loss in the Major qualifier. They were invited the the final qualifier, but lost against Team Amplfy in the Lower Bracket to exit in a lowly 5th-6th position. Redemption should have come in the Minor qualifier, but Mushi and his team lost a deciding game against the Indonesian underdogs of BOOM Esports.
Which teams should have done better?
Photo credit: Valve