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The champions of the first Major of the 2019-20 Dota Pro Circuit will miss the third Major of the season—and not by choice.
While it’s been customary for top teams to take a break throughout the year—whether it’s at the start like Secret, OG, and PSG.LGD or more recently like Vici Gaming—TNC Predator haven’t missed a single qualifier despite sitting pretty on top of the DPC table with 5,300 points.
The standings might see some changes in the near future, however. TNC’s poor performance in the ESL One Los Angeles Major qualifiers leaves them out of the running for a playoff spot, thereby locking them out of a chance to battle for a berth at the Major.
TNC still have one series left to play against Reality Rift, but they’ve been mathematically locked out of contention. IO Dota 2, a recently formed stack headlined by Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung and Galvin “Meracle” Kang, has won five games and secured the second seed in Group A.
Fortunately for TNC fans, there’s still a way for the SEA titans to make it to the LA Major. They’ll have to take the longer path through the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor and will need to win the event to book their tickets to the City of Angels.
Judging from TNC’s poor form, however, there’s no guarantee that the team will even make it to the qualifiers. If they lose against Reality Rift, TNC will have to play a best-of-three with the fourth-placed team from Group B to decide who heads to the Minor qualifier. If they draw, tiebreakers will have to be played.
The Southeast Asian team had a blazing start to the season, winning two straight championships at ESL One Hamburg 2019 and the MDL Chengdu Major. Their form has dropped precipitously after their two trophies, however. They barely escaped the qualifiers for the Leipzig Major as well thanks to a fortuitous internet issue with their opponents.
The team barely got into the top half of the field at the Leipzig Major, a far cry from their dominant showings at the beginning of the season.
TNC continue to rely on comfort strategies, such as Morphling-Earthshaker, and while they certainly remain a skillful team, the roster is seemingly deprived of ideas and continues to struggle to adapt to the meta.
If they don’t climb out of their slump soon, SEA’s two-horse race might have just lost its legs.