Vega Squadron’s perfect record in the CIS Qualifier group stage make them the team to beat in the playoff. (Image via Vega Squadron)
The group stage for the CIS Qualifier for Dota 2’s The International 2019 has wrapped. Four teams will advance to the playoffs, which start July 9, while four teams are heading toward roster shuffles and a long summer of “what ifs.”
A savage “GG” and disconnect by Andrey “Afoninje” Afonin in the Gambit versus Winstrike game may have been the most controversy here. He tapped out after a death relatively early on in the game. It didn’t seem as though the game was lost yet, but from his perspective, it must have felt over. Whether Afoninje was tilted by a misplay or if what’s happening behind-the-scene with the team set him over the edge is unclear.
— Gambit Esports (@GambitEsports) July 8, 2019
Regardless, the incident underlined Gambit’s surprising struggle in the group stage of the Qualifier. They barely missed securing their direct invitation to The International 2019, and now their hopes of qualifying have been dashed by their 3-4 group stage record.
The team that dashed Gambit’s hopes was FlyToMoon. Already eliminated from contention, the Ukranian-Russian squad beat Gambit in a game that went 57:47 on the clock. Then, FTM went on to beat Nemiga Gaming in another long (54:11) game, preventing them from the necessary 4-3 record to potentially slide into the top four in the region. While FTM’s roster came together specifically for TI9 qualifiers and is unlikely to survive long beyond them, they deserve plenty of respect for taking their games on day two of the group stage seriously.
Vega Squadron’s had a disappointing Dota 2 Pro Circuit season, but boy, did they make up for that in the group stage of the CIS Qualifier. Going 7-0, Vega turned up with a roster of very unfamiliar Russian and Belarussian players to upset the Qualifier. Can they keep this momentum going through the playoffs?
Three teams have something to say about it. In a three-way tie for second place were Winstrike Team, Team Empire and Natus Vincere. The head-to-head records were used along with results versus lower placed teams to determine the seeding into the playoffs bracket.
The close competition makes it all the harder to say farewell to CIS teams, particularly Gambit Esports, but also Nemiga Gaming, FlyToMoon and Team Spirit. Their roads may end here, but there’s still plenty of CIS Dota 2 action to come in this qualifier.
CIS playoffs will run July 9-10. They’re a double-elimination bracket. Vega Squadron will face Natus Vincere while Winstrike squares off against Team Empire. You can catch all the action on Twitch as part of Beyond the Summit’s TI9 Hub coverage.