As the closed qualifiers for the EPICENTER Major reach the halfway point, six teams have already claimed a spot in the final event of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit season.
The top seeds from each region have been decided despite significant upsets during the opening rounds.
In each qualifier, the team with the best record after the opening round skips the playoffs and immediately takes one of that region’s spots in the Major. This put extra emphasis on the lightning round that had every team play each other once.
The first upset came early when Forward Gaming brought a shuffled roster into the North American qualifier and proceeded to dominate the competition. Even against proven teams like Evil Geniuses and J Storm, Forward demonstrated that they have what it takes to make one last push for The International 2019.
Forward’s 7-0 run was the only perfect record in any region throughout the first round.
Now that Valve readjusted the spots allocated to each region, the remaining NA teams only have one shot at directly qualifying for the Major. Between EG, J Storm, and Complexity Gaming, several promising teams will be left in the dust.
In Europe, Team Secret continued their dominant run to become the first of three EU clubs to qualify and the only team thus far to attend every Major this season. Their opponents in grand finals of the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, Team Liquid, were the only team to take a game from the current DPC leaders.
LGD Gaming went 6-1 in the China qualifier, while other top teams like Keen Gaming and Vici Gaming struggled. Like Secret, they already have a spot locked down for TI9 and will just be fighting to improve their seeding.
Gambit Esports pulled off a huge upset against Virtus Pro, which, along with a victory over Natus Vincere, gave them the tiebreaker to take the top seed. This will be their first Major since placing 13th at The Kuala Lumpur Major in November.
Despite this, Gambit have placed well in several Minor events since then and are among the top squads in CIS. Without at least a top five placement, the team likely won’t qualify for TI9. But this still gives them a shot.
In Southeast Asia, TNC Predator jumped back into the DPC picture by defeating Mineski and Fnatic to take the top seed. Their victory over Mineski actually eliminated the other team from the event, and ended Mineski’s chances at a TI9 birth.
Even though they haven’t qualified for a DPC event since The Chongqing Major in January, they still sit in 11th place on the DPC rankings and could very well lock up a ticket to TI9 if they place well.
PaiN Gaming were the final team to join the first wave of Major attendees. After Chaos Esports Club pulled out of South America, paiN instantly jumped to the top of the power rankings in that region.
Signing their new roster has given them another shot at a Major. Even though they don’t have the experience of some other competitors, all they need is a few good matches to rise up the DPC leaderboards.
Closed qualifiers will continue on until all 14 of the open spots are filled on May 19. That will leave the final two slots to be decided through the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2.