Who will win a hyper-competitive Europe qualifier?
There’s one theme that’s been running on social media this week among the pro players, and that’s the idea that there are not enough slots for Europe at the major tournaments.
That said, the Europe Qualifier is under way as we speak, and there are eight teams scrapping for just three places.
In Group A, Team Liquid get under way against Vega Squadron (EU). Liquid haven’t yet shown us what they can do in an actual event this season, after they declined to take part in the DreamLeague Minor due to health reasons. They also failed spectacularly to qualify for The Kuala Lumpur Major, so all eyes will be on them this time round.
The other opening match in the group sees Ninjas in Pyjamas take on The Final Tribe. Captain Peter 'ppd' Dager has been outspoken about the allocation of qualifier slots, and his side will have to navigate a stacked qualifier if they are to make it to Chongqing.
Group B sees PVP Esports Championship and ESL One Hamburg 2018 winners Team Secret take on Hippomaniacs in their opening match. They’ll be looking to continue their supreme early-season form, which also saw them finish runners-up at The Kuala Lumpur Major, against an all-Czech side who emerged unscathed from the first Open Qualifier.
The second match in the group sees The International 2018 champions OG debut their new-look side against Alliance. This will be the first event of the season for Johan 'BigDaddyN0tail' Sundstein and his team, having taken an extended break after their epic victory in Seattle. Since then, carry Anathan 'ana' Pham has departed active duty, being replaced by former OpTic Gaming carry Per Anders 'Pajkatt' Olsson L..
Revenge for EternalEnvy over former employers?
Later in the day, proceedings turn to North America.
Things get spicy in Group A as compLexity Gaming take on Plus Ultra!!!, the side led by Jacky 'EternaLEnVy' Mao and featuring former coL team-mate JingJun 'Sneyking' Wu. The pair were released two weeks ago at their own request, while Rolen Andrei Gabriel 'ctm' Ong has been benched by compLexity amid the racism storm that is sweeping professional Dota. The match promises to be a feisty one, for sure.
The other match in the group sees Evil Geniuses take on qualifiers Team Borster. They’ll be looking to hit the ground running after their third place finish at The Kuala Lumpur Major. It’s hard to gauge just where EG are in terms of form, but with a 5th-6th place finish at ESL One Hamburg also under their belts, they’ll be optimistic of making the trip to China.
Finally, Group B sees Forward Gaming take on Zugzwang and J.Storm face beastcoast in the opening matches. For Forward, they will want to put in a better performance than they did at ESL One Hamburg 2018, where they finished 7th-8th in their first big event of 2018 after failing to qualify for the first round of DPC events.
This applies just as much to J.Storm as it does to Forward. They managed to make it to The Kuala Lumpur Major, but finished bottom of a group containing Team Secret, NiP and paiN Gaming*. In the Lower Bracket they managed to overcome AS Monaco Gambit in the one-game shootout, but then fell to Evil Geniuses in the second round. Now they aim to make their second Major in a row.
Who do you think will qualify from each region?
Header image: Adela Sznajder | ESL