EPICENTER Major 2019 Chinese Qualifier preview

EPICENTER Major Chinese qualifier preview
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Six Chinese teams have been invited to their regional Qualifier for the EPICENTER Major and two more will arrive from the stage of the open qualifiers, which only conclude on Tuesday.

The main qualifier will begin the following day and conclude on Sunday (May 19) with the two best teams advancing to compete in Moscow next month.

The teams will battle it out starting in a group stage with two groups of four played in GSL elimination format. The next step will be main event where the eight teams will start direct elimination from winners’ and losers’ brackets.

Vici Gaming, PSG.LGD, Keen Gaming, EHOME, Royal Never Give Up and Newbee are the invited teams, while Team Sirius have already won the 1st open qualifier.

The Favourites

Vici Gaming are the only Chinese team to have won a Major this season and did so in an impressive manner. Having failed to qualify directly for DreamLeague Season 11, Vici Gaming won the StarLadder Minor to earn their spot. They duly proceeded to decimate all-comers and claimed the title from the winners’ bracket. Outside of that stellar moment, Vici Gaming finished 7-8th in the other three Majors and are already through to The International having acquired 6,300 DPC points to sit 4th in the DPC rankings. They are guaranteed to finish in the top 12.

PSG.LGD are the other big name competing. Falling just short of winning The International 2018, PSG.LGD will be looking to correct the mistake in this year’s edition. They find themselves in a comfortable 5th position in the DPC rankings with 4,140 points but the worrying factor for them is that while they have been regulars at the Majors, their best result is 4th place (Chongqing and MDL Paris). The squad has stayed intact since last year and consists of star players such as Somnus丶M and fy.

Keen Gaming are another team to have made an impact on the international scene in some of the Majors and they currently hold 9th spot in the DPC rankings with 1,140 points. Their TI9 qualification is not secure yet, however, and advancing to EPICENTER is a must. Last time Keen Gaming needed to qualify, they did so at the expense of Vici Gaming and thus proved that they can take on the big teams. The team’s current roster was assembled ahead of the new season with players to watch including TI7 finalist Kaka and the talented off-laner eLeVeN.

The Contenders

EHOME already appeared on the stage of two Majors this season and on the path to DreamLeague Season 11 went through Vici Gaming, notching a 2-0 victory. The team are 13th in the DPC rankings with 589.6 points and if they want to secure a direct spot at TI9, earning points at EPICENTER will be vital. EHOME’s best finish this season is the 5-6th spot in Chongqing, but since then the former Chinese powerhouse’s performance has been declining – they finished 13-16th in DreamLeague 11 and missed out MDL Paris entirely. With hopes for better days, a legend of the past, Ferrari_430, was signed in March, but he is yet to make an impact.

Royal Never Give Up are a new team formed at the beginning of the season. They haven’t managed to qualify for any of the Majors so far, but have participated in several Minors. With just 63.65 DPC points, they are far off of the bare qualification minimum for TI9. The team was bolstered in April by the addition of Dota 2 legends of the near past LaNm (position 4) and Super (coach). They join some players already proven on the international stage such as ah fu and Monet so this team should really be doing much better.

Only Sccc remains of the Newbee team that reached the The International 7 final two years ago – the players have gradually been replaced since the beginning of the season, but the changes haven’t led to any notable results. On the contrary, Newbee don’t have a single DPC point and have yet to participate in any Majors or Minors this season.

Team Sirius fought hard to reach the main qualifiers, seeing off teams such as IG and CDEC Gaming. A highly-successful player and regular participant on the stage of The International, Sylar, is someone who cannot be overlooked in this line-up. He has switched to position 5 and is captaining the month-old team.

Verdict

Unlike the four Majors so far this season, EPICENTER will feature only two slots for Chinese teams (as compared to three in the others) and the fight will subsequently be even more merciless.

PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming have both already qualified for TI9, but this will hardly make them less motivated. Team quality and results dictate that these should be the two teams to advance, but Keen Gaming have proved on occasions that they can defeat Vici Gaming in qualifiers and they desperately need points to guarantee their spot at the season’s biggest Dota 2 event.

EHOME are not in their best form, but shouldn’t be written off, while the stakes might be too high for the remaining teams.