Vici Gaming Cruise Past Competition to win StarLadder Dota 2 Minor

Vici Gaming dropped only a single game the entire tournament, including a 3-0 sweep over Gambit Esports in the grand finals, to win the StarLadder Dota 2 Minor in Kiev. They will take home $125,000 in prize money and 120 DPC points. More importantly, they’ll advance to the Stockholm Major on March 14.

Vici Gaming’s captain and position 4 support player, Pan ‘Fade‘ Yi, was one of the standouts for the team throughout the entire tournament. Recently benched in favour of Leong “ddc” Fat-meng and Sun “Agressif” Zheng, Fade used the StarLadder Dota 2 Minor to prove just how valuable he is to the team. Fade’s timely rotations, especially in the grand finals while on Dark Willow, were crucial to helping secure the games of Vici Gaming’s core.

In total, Fade finished the tournament among its top performers with a 5.75 KDA, which is high for a support player.

With both Zeng ‘Ori‘ Jiaoyang (7.28 KDA) and Zhou ‘Yang‘ Haiyang (5.76 KDA) also playing relatively well, the opposition simply stood no chance. Forcing enemies to deal with them and leaving them no choice but to leave Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun alone, Paparazi was able to farm until his heart’s content and ended up dying only once against Gambit Esports in the grand finals while topping the networth charts and finishing with 19 total kills, which is nearly as many Gambit Esports’ total number of kills the entire series. 

Nikita ‘Daxak‘ Kuzmin was the lone standout performer for the runner-ups, Gambit Esports. He ended the tournament as the overall top performer with an 8.66 KDA. However, he was notably missing when his team needed him the most; he had far more total deaths than kills in their series against Vici Gaming. 

Vici Gaming Weather Out the Storm

StarLadder Dota 2 Minor

Yang rebounded big from an awful performance at MDL Macau 2019 to help Vici Gaming win the StarLadder Dota 2 Minor. (StarLadder Dota 2)

The Dota Pro Circuit is a long season. Anything and everything can happen between the start and the end. Teams can break up and reform, while others can go through dry spells for months before finally hitting their stride.

For Vici Gaming, who entered the season as arguably the best collection of Dota 2 talent that China had to offer outside of PSG.LGD, the past few weeks have been less than ideal for the team. After spending the entirety of last season as perennial contenders, infamously finishing in second-place in numerous tournaments, Vici Gaming experienced a slight drop-off as the youngster’s inexperience showed a lot in their games. Although they had managed to snag a couple of top finishes in DPC tournaments, they weren’t apparently not enough for the organization as they experimented with the lineup following their Top 8 finish at the Chongqing Major.

As of the moment, however, the original lineup is still complete. Chances are, it’ll remain that way — winning does that to a team.

The win at the StarLadder Dota 2 Minor might not seem like a big win for a Vici Gaming squad expected to be a shoo-in at Majors, but they’ll take any that they can get at this point. And, with the team showing signs of improvement, we can only hope that they can finally live up to their potential while playing at a Major.

What is the Ceiling of Gambit Esports?

StarLadder Dota 2 Minor

Arguably the best player on Gambit Esports and the one that gives them the draft flexibility they have, Daxak will need to find a way to play better against better teams who know how to plan against his particular style of play. (Gambit Esports)

Gambit Esports have been THE talk of the Dota 2 community in recent weeks due to their performance in both online and LAN tournaments. Back-to-back winners of WePlay! online tournaments, Gambit Esports also have had a couple of deep runs in LAN tournaments. This includes a second-place finish at the Bucharest Minor, as well as ESL One Katowice 2019, where they lost to EHOME and Team Secret, respectively.

With that said, while numerous deep runs are great to see, it also raises a lot of questions about whether or not the team has what it takes to win it all.

Even though Gambit Esports have won tournaments already, they’re all online. Also, even if they have had relatively good showings when they did show up at a LAN, they almost always get figured out by the better Dota 2 teams, which is a problem in on itself.

Specifically, the biggest question right now is if Gambit Esports have hit their ceiling.

Gambit Esports have only played together for less than three months, so it is really possible that they’re just going through a rough patch. However, it is also true that it’s not a good sign if they consistently struggle to take games off of teams who have had time to prepare. That’s a problem, especially if Gambit Esports want to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the CIS region.

If this keep up, don’t be surprised if we see a couple of new faces on Gambit Esports’ lineup in the near future.

What’s Next?

Time is definitely running out for teams who are looking to amass enough DPC points to get enough to receive a direct invite to The International 2019 in Shanghai on August.

With only five Majors and Minors this season, as well as only three more Majors (and two Minors) to go, time definitely is of the essence for any team looking to make a late-season push.

Following their win at the StarLadder Dota 2 Minor, Vici Gaming will fly to Sweden from March 14 to March 24 to compete at the Stockholm Major, otherwise known as DreamLeague Season 11, along with 15 other Dota 2 teams. As for the runner-ups, Gambit Esports, they’ll have to wait at least a month to play at their next big LAN event after receiving a direct invite to ESL One Mumbai on April 16.

What do you think of Vici Gaming’s performance at the StarLadder Dota 2 Minor? Will this signal the start of a period of dominance for the young all-Chinese squad? What about Gambit Esports? Do you believe that they can get even better and achieve more with their current lineup? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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