TI9 direct invite hopefuls set to compete in StarLadder Minor
The lineup of teams for the last two events of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season is now set.
The qualifiers for the StarLadder Minor are officially done, which finalizes the list of competitors for the final major cycle before The International 2019. The last four direct invitations to the event will be handed out at the Epicenter Major, and some of the favorites to take those spots have a long road ahead of them.
The StarLadder Minor qualifiers had very few surprises with familiar contenders advancing in almost every region. Alliance and Ninjas in Pyjamas came out on top in Europe, Mineski maintained its spot as one of Southeast Asia’s best, and the remnants of Team Majestic became South America’s representative as Team Anvorgesa.
In China, EHOME returned to form after an ugly outing in the Epicenter Major qualifiers while Team Sirius outshone its sisters squad, Team Aster. CompLexity Gaming continued its recent resurgence by winning the North American qualifiers. Finally, the retooled Winstrike Team locked up the CIS spot.
It’s a solid lineup of teams that will be competing with a lot on the line, but just as interesting as who made the competition is who fell short.
The International 2019 Direct Invitations on the Line
Keen Gaming is currently in position for an invitation to TI9 but are being left to the whims of fate from here on out. The Chinese squad has been a standout team in recent months, but flopped badly in both sets of qualifiers. Keen still sits in ninth place on the Dota 2 leaderboard but will be hoping that established teams dominate Moscow, keeping them in a good position.
J.Storm has long looked like one of North America’s best, but has consistently stumbled on grander stages. The team tried to remedy that by adding former Digital Chaos carry Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok and shifting David "Moo" Hull to the offlane. The lineup looked formidable on paper, but in practice it looked unremarkable in the Epicenter Major qualifiers and looked no better while trying to gain admission to the StarLadder Minor.
Chaos Esports Club made a bold move during the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, dumping most of its Brazilian roster in order to make a fresh start in Europe. The team likely would have made the cut to TI9 with another smooth trip through South America’s qualifiers but instead, it was jammed up in the European open qualifiers for both events.
Natus Vincere finally looked like a serious threat in the Epicenter Major qualifiers. The popular squad beat the formidable Virtus.pro on three separate occasions and advanced to the grand finals of the CIS playoffs. Unfortunately, the fourth time proved to be the charm for VP and that loss seemingly sucked the momentum out of Na`Vi heading into the StarLadder Minor qualifiers, where the team fell to Winstrike.
There are still plenty of interesting teams looking to break through at the StarLadder Minor and Epicenter Major including TNC Predator, Forward Gaming, and Gambit Esports. Two teams from the minor will earn a spot in the major, with a top-three finish guaranteeing a spot in TI9 and that bar likely to lower during the event as already invited teams advance.
The StarLadder Minor begins on June 12.
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