North America: Forward Gaming
There were two big names going into the Dota PIT Minor: North America Qualifier: Forward Gaming and J.Storm. And while just a few weeks ago J.Storm was on an absolute tear, they have really simmered down in recent performances. All the better for Forward Gaming, then, who seized the opportunity and 2-0'd their North American rivals in a rather clean series.
The interesting thing about Forward Gaming is that they recently went through a roster reshuffle. With Roman 'Resolut1on' Fominok and Saahil 'Universe' Arora stepping away from the team, JingJun 'Sneyking' Wu and Kartik 'Kitrak' Rathi joined on a trial basis. And while their probation is still ongoing, Forward Gaming has definitely seen a great improvement with them on the roster. Only time will tell, but Forward seems to be heating up at just the right moment.
It’s official - we’re headed to Croatia! We take the series against @Team_JStorm 2-0 and secure our spot at the @OGADotaPIT minor! GGWP, J.Storm!— Forward Gaming (@goFORWARDgg) April 4, 2019
Huge congrats, boys! @YawaR_YS @ccncdota2 @FWD_Sneyking @MSSDota @kitrakdota pic.twitter.com/AXvEebaUhj
South America: Pacific eSports
When the Dota PIT Minor: South America Qualifier started, many expected a more household South American name like Infamous to take the spot; however it was the virtually unknown team FreeStyle that were able make it to the Finals and ultimately best Thunder Predator 2-1 to make their way to the Minor.
Very little is known about the team, and so expectations will be commensurately low. If they want to make waves in the Dota 2 scene this will be their chance, as no top tier teams will be competing in the Minor, but some very strong, very respectable teams will be—the level of competition should be just right.
Europe: Ninjas in Pyjamas
There were three big teams going into the Dota PIT Minor: Europe Qualifier: The Final Tribe, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Alliance. The Final Tribe has been erratic at best lately, but they did have a strong showing against NIP at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifier. However, true to their recent performances, their showing at the Minor Qualifier was quite weak, and they were forced to bowed out early.
Peter 'ppd' Dager's Ninjas did exactly what they were expected to do—qualify. They dropped only one game against Kingdra (Mihai 'canceL' Vasile's latest stack), and proceeded to 2-0 their next to series to take one of the two European sports. They will undoubtedly be a frontrunner to win the entire tournament.
Alliance were the other European team to win, and although they have had a shaky few months, they were able to successfully navigate the shifting Bo1 waters in the Lower Bracket, winning two of these matches, and eventually claim a confident enough 2-0 against Goblin Legs to qualify.
However, Alliance remains a question mark. They have moments of brilliance, surely, but they also have moments of abject confusion. They certainly can play well, but who is to say which version of Alliance shows up to the Minor? Here's hoping that they can concrete themselves some kind of proper performance when the time comes.
We secure the Minor qualifiers and will be headed to 🇭🇷Split! Hard work continues from here.— Alliance (@theAllianceGG) April 6, 2019
Thanks to the #ALLFAM for your cheers and congratulations once again to@MadaraDotA2 @qojqva1 @boxi98 @Taigadota @iNsan1a @LodaBerg
Vidimo se tamo!!💚#LongLiveAlliance #Dota2 pic.twitter.com/Yf2hk92BIh
CIS: Gambit Esports
Natus Vincere and AS Monaco Gambit were the two big teams looking to claim the Dota PIT Minor: CIS Qualifier spot. Na'Vi was looking especially strong lately entering the Qualifier, having won a match at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major Qualifier against none other than Gambit. However, when the time came for a rematch, they faltered, losing 2-0.
Gambit Esports themselves seems to have gotten over their momentary lapse and were looking very sharp. They took a pair of 2-0's en route to the Finals (inclusive of their win against Na'Vi), and were able to take a 2-1 victory against the scrappy Old But Gold. Gambit was looking stellar just a month ago, and right now it appears as though they will continue their winning form in Croatia.
China: Royal Never Give Up
Save for Vici Gaming and at times Keen Gaming, China has been sorely lacking in consistent, top tier Dota 2 as of late. Thus the Dota PIT Minor: China Qualifier was filled with many mid-tier teams. In the end it was Zhi Cheng 'LaNm' Zhang's team Royal Never Give Up that was able to steer their way through the bracket and ultimately take a 2-1 against EHOME.
There is certainly lots of talent on the team, but the perenniel, and also very important question remains: Can they come together as unit and play well? When you have a veteran like LaNm in your ranks, certainly anything is possible. Let's see if the actual team can live up to his pedigree.
EHOME, after losing to their countrymen Royal Never Give Up, dropped down to the Lower Bracket and immediately took a 2-0 against Newbee, securing the second qualification spot. Just like Royal Never Give Up, however, their team is filled with talent and veteran experience, but seem to be nonetheless mired in mediocrity.
Both Zhang 'xiao8' Ning (who is currently standing in while Zhang 'Faith Bian' Ruida recovers) and Luo 'Ferrari_430' Feichi are huge names with untold amounts of Dota 2 insight. On paper, the team should be due at any moment to explode into success and stay in that form; however, we are no longer in an era where Chinese Dota is gospel. Success will have to be earned, not asked for.
Our new lineup doing work 💪 See you at the Dotapit Minor later this month! pic.twitter.com/RvAlZatsCU— EHOME (@EHOMECN) April 5, 2019
Southeast Asia: BOOM ID
If we're being honest, the entire Dota PIT Minor: Southeast Asia Qualifier should have been no contest for TNC Predator. They by far were the best team going into the bracket. And yet, every team has a bad day (or in the case of TNC Predator, a few bad days). Ultimately, when all the matches were over, it was BOOM Esports, a team that has shown lots of promise but few actual results, that were triumphant.
The big question is the obvious one: Can BOOM ID actually compete with the other teams? Potential is one thing, but results are quite another. They will need to ascend to another level to really make waves at the Minor. And, like many teams, the follow-up question, while also obvious, is again the most important: Will they?
The Dota PIT Minor starts on April 22nd.
Who is your favourite to win the Dota PIT Minor?
Photo Credit - ESL - Patrick Strack