NiP stuns fans, Na'Vi stays strong in ESL One LA Major qualifiers

Steven R. February 13, 2020

In every region except for China, the qualifiers to the ESL One LA Major have officially wrapped up. While some regions went largely according to plan, there were more than a few surprises during the proceedings.

Here’s the full list of teams qualified for the ESL One LA Major:

Three more teams will qualify for the event through the China regional qualifiers. The final spot in the major will be given to the winner of the upcoming StarLadder Season 3 Minor.

A quick glance at the list might raise an eyebrow with some Dota 2 fans, both based on the teams that didn’t make the cut and those that did. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened.

Natus Vincere, Virtus.pro, and NiP shine with new rosters

A slew of teams headed into the ESL One LA Major qualifiers after significant roster shakeups. Just days before the qualifiers started, Virtus.pro added Zaur "Cooman" Shakhmurzaev from Winstrike Team and Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov from Natus Vincere.

Natus Vincere responded by adding longtime Vega Squadron captain Semion "CemaTheSlayer" Krivulya.

Both teams likely improved with these changes, but neither had much opportunity to practice with their new lineups. That made things difficult as they were tasked with facing solid opponents including Gambit Esports and Team Spirit. Ultimately, both Virtus.pro and Na'Vi still topped their groups and qualified for the event.

Ninjas in Pyjamas entered the European qualifiers in a similar situation, but faced considerably stiffer competition. The team unveiled a new roster in the days before the qualifier and made the surprise announcement that they would be competing in Europe rather than North America.

That decision baffled Ninjas in Pyjamas fans, as NiP would need to go head-to-head with the likes of Nigma, OG, Alliance, Team Secret, and Team Liquid. Though the logic of the move still remains questionable, the team exceeded expectations in a big way by going 5-3 in its group and beating Aggressive Mode in a best-of-three series in order to qualify.

Nigma, Gambit Esports, TNC Predator among teams looking towards StarLadder Minor

For every team that surprised and qualified for the major, other teams missed out on getting in on the action. No heavy favorites have been eliminated from the major cycle entirely to this point, with many landing in the qualifiers for the StarLadder Season 3 MInor

MDL Chengdu Major champions TNC Predator fell well short of a spot in the ESL One LA Major as a number of southeast Asian squads surged. Fnatic qualifying was no surprise, but Geek Fam cruised in the qualifiers after a strong showing at the WePlay! Bukovel Minor. Team Adroit continues to establish itself as a true contending team.

With only a few major slots to work with in this major cycle, at least one elite Dota 2 European team was doomed to miss out on the major. With NiP surprising with its performance, that means at least two will be missing out. Nigma, Alliance, Team Liquid, and Aggressive Mode are all set to compete for one spot in the minor.

Finally, Gambit Esports continues its skid. The team looked strong outside of Dota Pro Circuit events early in the season, but just haven’t looked particularly good in 2020. They’re the favorites to win the qualifiers regardless as they face off with ForZe, HellRaisers, and Cyber Legacy, and they have a safety net in that there are two slots available to the region.

The qualifiers for the StarLadder Season 3 Minor start on February 13.

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