Boston Major Regional Qualifiers recap: A new era

After 4 days of thrilling DOTA 2 action at the highest level across the globe, the list of 16 teams attending Boston Major this December has been completed. This qualifier has witnessed the fall of many old-school veterans, as they crumbled during crucial moments against more driven and simply better teams. Out of the 8 that qualified, 2 teams were formed just after TI6, and 4 others had never attended a Valve LAN event before. We are entering a new era for the competitive DOTA scene, and the Boston Major will be the event that marks it on the timeline.

Southeast Asia

Qualified teams: Team Faceless and WarriorsGaming.Unity

Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang is clearly not messing around when he uses his past winnings as well as stream incomes to fund the new SEA powerhouse Team Faceless. Without a proper sponsor, the team relies solely on winning tournaments to continue functioning, and this “Go hard or go home” mentality has netted them an incredible qualifier run. They did not drop a single game throughout the qualifier – a feat no other teams across 4 regions managed to achieve. The Singaporean squad were clearly a league above every single other SEA representatives, and they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming Major. Faceless will attend The Summit 6 in November, giving them the much-needed international experience before heading for Boston.


iceiceice had a wonderful start with Team Faceless

WarriorsGaming.Unity have also been performing above expectations, and while surprising, their eventual victory is well-deserved. The Malaysian squad cruised through the open qualifiers with ease, and finished strong with a 5-3 score during the round robin stage. During the playoffs, WarriorsGaming made a miraculous comeback after dropping their series against the superior Team Faceless by defeating both Fnatic and Mineski.GGNetwork in a convincing fashion and securing themselves a spot in the final 16. This will be the team’s first major tournament – a majority of their previous wins came from small regional competitions. Will they be able to become Boston’s dark horse?

Notable performances:

Mineski.GGNetwork definitely stood out to be one of the stronger teams during the qualifiers, as they had a 7-1 finish after round Robin – only dropping one game to the almighty Faceless. However, the gruelling long series against all of their opponents in the playoffs round took a toll on their performance, and the unfavorable schedule format didn’t help either – they dropped both of their games against WarriorsGaming in the lower bracket and missed their chance. Midlaner Galvin ‘Meracle-’ Kang Jian Wen was particularly impressive with his mastery of Naga Siren and the item Radiance. In fact, the Singaporean prodigy likes it so much that he builds the shiny sword on a typically unconventional hero like Juggernaut. Mineski surely has room to improve, and they can be satisfied with the result.


The new Fnatic failed to qualify despite high expectations

Sadly, the same cannot be said about Fnatic. Despite being expected to easily dominate the SEA qualifiers, the all-star squad seemed to struggle against most opponents throughout their run. Chai ‘Mushi’ Yee Fung’s mid-lane plays were sub-par, while Jimmy ‘Demon’ Ho’s drafts were questionable. The team’s decision making leaves a lot to be desired as well – their indecisiveness led to a loss against Mineski even though they had mega creeps 30 minutes earlier. With so many strong teams on the rise in the region, Fnatic will have their works cut out for them to repeat the successes of The International 6.


Qualified teams: ig.Vitality and LGD.fy

Just as they beat every other Chinese team en route to MarsTV Dota 2 League, ig.Vitality and LGD.fy repeated their successes once again for the Boston Major. Zhang ‘xiao8’ Ning continues to prove his legacy as one of the best captains in the world by leading a fledgling squad to yet another Valve-sponsored LAN event. His penchant for Enigma and the largely underused Jakiro scored them some impressive victories with a 100% win rate, along with Yao ‘Yao’ Zhengzheng’s extremely stable performance on his signature Slardar.


“Director8” continues to impress with his ability as a captain

On the other hand, ig.Vitality relies on early game aggression and bringing a swift end to their opponents. Most of their games finish before the 30 minute mark with active roaming heroes like Bounty Hunter, Earth Spirit or Chen. While these two teams did not obtain favorable results in MDL and are heavily outclassed by Wings or Newbee, they are still Chinese’s best representatives from the qualifiers and should not be overlooked.

Notable performances:

While they failed to qualify for Boston, LGD Gaming left their mark by beating every team in the qualifiers except for iG.Vitality; and ironically it was the young iG squad alone that knocked Lu ‘Maybe’ Yao and co. out of the race. Even more baffling is the fact that LGD could have avoided playing against their arch enemy as they finished top of the group, but they insisted on facing iG Vitality in playoffs only to be pushed down to the lower bracket and eventually eliminated. Xu ‘BurNing’ Zhilei’s invictus Gaming had a good Round Robin run, but were knocked out by EHOME.Keen in a BO1 tie-breaker. Overall, with the exception of FTD.A and EHOME.X, competition was extremely stiff, with 3 teams on a 4-5 score.


Qualified teams: Virtus Pro and Ad Finem

Europe is generally agreed upon to be the most competitive region, as their qualifiers include many big names with established players in their lineup. As a result, Ad Finem’s success surprised a lot of people, but these guys didn’t manage to get this far with just a stroke of luck. The Greek squad had been on the verge of attending a Valve event many times before, but they never managed to make the cut. Despite this, they stuck together to create a well-oiled machine where teamwork and synergy stood above all else. Their hard work and dedication has finally paid off, which is well-earned as you can see by their play. Their ability to move together as a unit is clearly superior than any other EU team in the qualifiers. Even though their group stage was rather shaky at times, Ad Finem was able to eliminate Team Secret and Liquid in a 4-0 streak to claim their spot in the Boston Major. Some of the team’s favorite picks are Io, Luna and Batrider, heroes that work well in clash-oriented lineups that make the most out of their cohesion.


Ad Finem were reward for their hardwork and dedication

Unlike Ad Finem, Virtus Pro walked into the qualifiers as a favorite due to their good recent form, and they managed to deliver some of the best DOTA games that the CIS region had to offer in a long time. VP retain the fast-tempo that is favored by many Russian teams, but they also throw in the mix some very beefy cores that can brawl for an extended period of time, coupled with huge AOE damage/disable. They swept through the group stage with an 8-1 score, and knocking both Liquid and Secret out of the way in the lower bracket to emerge victorious with a outrageous support Weaver by Ilya ‘Lil’ Ilyuk. The vigorous VP are back, and they are looking to reclaim their old glory in Boston.

Notable perfomances:

Team Liquid had some extremely questionable lineup decisions during the qualifiers, as Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi constantly switched roles with Lasse ‘MATUMBAMAN’ Urpalainen between carry and support – something that teams very rarely do without good reason. While KuroKy is a stable and established carry, MATUMBAMAN has very little experience with the support role, and this – coupled with Amer ‘Miracle-’ Al-Barkawi’s lackluster performance – led to Liquid dropping some crucial games in the playoffs which sealed their fate. Team Secret had a strong start but gradually fell off in the later stages, and got eliminated by VP’s Outworld Devourer in a painfully 70 minute-long game. Both of these teams, while looking very strong on paper, have a lot of team coordination to practice before they can look formidable again.


Na’Vi hit a slump once again and are expecting changes soon.

Things are even worse for Natus Vincere. The TI1 champions were crushed during their first day without a single win, and only managed to grab 2 points from the second day – far from enough for them to advance. Internal issues are rumored to be the problem, and while there has not been any official information, it is widely believed that a drastic change may happen within the organization. Alliance also had a disappointing run, but their lineup is fairly new and needs more time to adapt. Vega Squadron and The Imperial both stood at the middle of the pack, but it wasn’t enough to guarantee them a shot at Boston.


Qualified Teams: Team NP and compLexity Gaming

Jacky ‘EternalEnvy’ Mao also had a similar experience to iceiceice in Southeast Asia, as he left his team after TI6 and funded a new brand with his own savings. While the Canadian player is definitely not the best midlaner in the world skill-wise, he had very stellar performances on Mirana and Invoker and coordinated well with the rest of the team to create space for Kurtis ‘Aui_2000’ Ling, whose efficient farming patterns gave him the edge over his opponents. While NP prefer to end the game in the mid-late periods, they have no problem carrying into the ultra-late stages – after all, Envy and Aui are super comfortable with end-game maneuvers with a lot of experience from their Cloud9 days, one of the teams that often had much longer game time than average. They dropped a couple of games throughout the qualifier, but remained fairly stable overall. Obviously the Boston Major will be a much more threatening challenge compared to Americas regionals, but it will be a fitting test for Jacky and his team’s ambitions coming into 2017.


Team NP is definitely a name to look out for

compLexity were also considered to be one of the top candidates, but Team NP were the Achilles’ heel that they never managed to take a game off. While the group stage and first series were quite a breeze, they came dangerously close to being eliminated after losing to NP and dropping their first game against Infamous. However, they managed to prevail in the end and grab the second spot in Americas with two impressive Warlock games, who is quickly becoming Kyle ‘swindlemelonzz’ Freedman’s favorite hero, as compLexity formed various strategies around big teamfights backed up by the strength of Chaos Offering. Romanian midlaner Mihai ‘canceL^^’ Antonio stood out as the key player for the team, as his performance on Mirana ensures that coL had a strong mid game.

Notable performances:

Team Infamous deserve praise for their ability to dominate the laning phase every game, and this particular playstyle helped them defeat a lot of North American teams to advance through the lower bracket finals. Unfortunately, their teamwork and coordination are still somewhat lacking, and this was the deciding factor that stopped the Peruvian squad from going to Boston this December. Friendship, Dedication and Love as well as Team Freedom are clearly two of the stronger teams in this region, but they aren’t quite on the same level as NP and compLexity. Prodota Gaming and Elementals Pro were successful in their open qualifiers invasion, but didn’t stand a chance against America’s elites in the group stage.

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