PGL KeSPA Asia Minor preview
PGL KeSPA Regional Minor Championship Asia is set to begin in a little over 24 hours, which means it's time for us to preview the attending teams fighting for $50,000 and two spots at the ESL One Cologne Main Qualifier.
TheMongolz and Renegades received a direct invite for the Asia Minor as the top two sides from IEM Taipei, while qualifiers in South-East Asia, China, Oceania and South Korea determined the remaining six teams.
Those eight will, over the course of a prolonged weekend from May 5-8, fight for a total of $50,000 and—more importantly—two spots at the ESL One Cologne major's Main Qualifier.
|Group A||Group B|
The competition will kick off with two groups of four, which you can see above, played in the classic double elimination format. The initial round and losers' matches will all be played in best-of-one's, winners' matches and deciders will feature best-of-three's.
This Minor will, much like the CIS one, feature double-elimination, best-of-three playoffs, and so the best teams should make it to the top once they survive the best-of-one start.
In the following preview we will go over all attending teams, their recent history, most important players and chances of making the all-important grand final.
|Enkhtaivan "Machinegun" Lkhagva||26||1.26|
|Batbayar "kabal" Bat-Enkh||20||1.04|
|Erdenetsogt "element" Tengis||20||1.03|
|Temuulen "Zilkenberg" Battulga||25||1.02|
|Tsog "Tsogoo" Mashbat||21||1.01|
* element and kabal only have 6 maps in our statistics
TheMongolz is a team that has in the past faced quite some difficulties. After winning the IEM Taipei Asia Minor in a surprising fashion (defeating Renegades on two swift maps), the Mongolian squad was denied visas to the US and thus couldn't attend the Main Qualifier prior to MLG Columbus 2016.
However, they were able to acquire visas to Poland for IEM Katowice, for which they also earned a spot thanks to the victory in Taipei, and attended their first big international tournament.
Their road in Poland was expectedly unsuccessful, as they went out in last place following convincing losses to all teams in their group and could only go back home thinking of it as a learning experience.
All eyes on Machinegun, once again
Shortly afterwards they failed to qualify for DreamHack Masters Malmö following a BO3 loss to the then-uknown Thai side Signature (who went on to take VG.CyberZen to two close maps), and decided to swap two players due to disappointing international results.
Since adding kabal and element TheMongolz only lost to TYLOO, in the semi-finals of MixBOT Pro League Invite Season 2, and gained some much-needed confidence with the new lineup by winning Rising Stars SEA Promotion Cup over nxl.
|Bin "Savage" Liu||27||1.16|
|WeiJie "zhokiNg" Zhong||22||1.10|
|BingYuan "tb" Li||25||1.08|
|ZhiHong "aumaN" Liu||21||1.08|
|Zhuo "advent" Liang||23||0.94|
With CS:GO blooming in China and Asia overall, especially due to new and exciting events coming to light, Savage's squad have had a busy couple of months, mostly playing against domestic teams.
Due to their one-sided rivalrly with TYLOO, CyberZen haven't been able to reach outside of Asia since the start of the year, when they attended SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals and managed to defeat the old G2 squad (now known as FaZe). Apart from that their only meaningful matches against non-Chinese teams were against Legacy and Signature, neither of which we'll see at the Minor.
VG.CyberZen will have to find a way to beat at least one of TyLoo & Renegades to advance
Domestically VG.CyberZen have been as dominant as ever, outside of TYLOO whom they only beat once this year (in this Minor's Chinese qualifier) and lost three more series to them, mostly in quite a convincing manner.
Due to that it's quite hard to assess what China's number two chances are at making the grand final. Also, the fact that Nuke will be played instead of Inferno, which has historically been one of VG.CyberZen's best maps, isn't going to help in best-of-three matches.
|Ryan "zewsy" Palmer||19||1.09|
|Ricardo "Rickeh" Mulholland||24||1.07|
|Chris "emagine" Rowlands||25||1.03|
|Mohammed "MoeycQ" Tizani||23||0.99|
|James "James" Quinn||22||0.93|
However, likely due to FACEIT League shying away from Oceania and the lack of other competitions in the region, they have barely played any official matches since Karlo "USTILO" Pivac left for Renegades and the team added MoeycQ and zewsy.
zewsy's new team have a tough task ahead of them
Their chances of attending DH Masters Malmö were set ablaze by TYLOO, who destroyed the Australian squad on two maps in the Asian qualifier—though it was only a few weeks after the big change.
Another big chance for Immunity was the Counter Pit League Season 2 Finals, for which they qualified in late 2015, but there they only got to play a fairly close series with Virtus.pro due to the format.
They are realistically favoured only over the unknown that is m0nster, but the other teams in their group are also by no means favoured over them, as there is simply no history between them.
|Eun "Sunbi" Jang||24|
|Chun-Heum "ReDWateR" Jung||22||0.89|
|Seon-Ho "xeta" Son||18|
|Jong-Sun "suN" Park||22|
|Yeong-Jun "tr1gger" Kim||24|
As mentioned above, m0nster are an absolute unknown going into the Asian Minor. Apart from MVP Project the Korean scene is almost non-existent, which is the reason why PGL and KeSPA received so much criticism for giving two Minor spots to Korea.
Setting fairytales such as the home turf advantage aside, there is really nothing going in favor of this team, who have no record of playing against the region's best teams—or any significant teams—even individually.
After contacting the team we have learned m0nster isn't even an organization, which means the team doesn't have any sort of backing like most of the other teams do.
That isn't really an argument against them, if anything it should give them some extra motivation to prove themselves and earn a place in a self-sustaining organization. However, one of the team's players, Sunbi, admitted that the team hasn't put in any special preparation and only worked on basic tactics and communication.
|Justin "jks" Savage||20||1.11|
|Aaron "AZR" Ward||23||1.06|
|Karlo "USTILO" Pivac||22||1.03|
|Yaman "yam" Ergenekon||27||0.98|
|Chad "SPUNJ" Burchill||26||0.90|
Renegades have been living in the United States for more than six months now, and while they have more matches and experience to gain there, they haven't been able to improve significantly.
The Australians are still solid contenders within North America, they most recently finished in seventh place of the ESL Pro League Season 3 and were quite close to qualifying for the Finals.
jks and co. could make it to another Major qualifier
Also, unlike nearly every other team attending the Minor Renegades have Major experience behind them, and they even defeated Dignitas at the last Main Qualifier and came close in the decider versus Cloud9.
They are one of the biggest favourites of the tournament alongside TYLOO, who they were unfortunate enough to get in their group as the top side from China finished in second place at the qualifier.
What could be the Aussies' downfall is that they've always liked Inferno and probably consider it one of their home maps—and there was very little time to make up for it elsewhere—, but the same goes for the two Chinese teams.
|YuLun "Summer" Cai||18||1.20|
|Ke "captainMo" Liu||26||1.19|
|Hui "DD" Wu||21||1.16|
|YuanZhang "Attacker" Sheng||19||1.15|
|HaoWen "somebody" Xu||20||1.06|
TYLOO are without a doubt the most exciting team to watch in Asia, as they've shown not only domestically but also very recently at one of the biggest non-major events this year, DreamHack Masters Malmö.
Not only with their results did they earn thousands of new fans, but also with their aggressive, explosive style of play, and where they lack patience they make up for it in individual skill. That part they even bolstered with Attacker, who was their best player in Malmö.
TyLoo's edge over VG will be a big factor in their chances to qualify
Meanwhile, Summer, who has drawn a lot of attention world-wide due to his domestic statistics, was very quiet on four of the seven maps. However, that could be accounted to the fact that it was his first big tournament at an age of 18, and he still showed sparks of his true level against Liquid.
As mentioned above, TYLOO are one of the two favourites of the tournament, being the best team in Asia and now having big international wins to their name, but are also another team who have Inferno as one of the best maps in their map pool.
|Love "havoK" Paras||23||1.04|
|Abdulaziz "Nami" Al-Hammadi||19||0.95|
|Obaid "breAker" Al-Muhairi||25||0.79|
|Khalid "KarriBob" Al-Junaibi||21||0.79|
|Mohammed "k1tkat" Al-Nuaimi||21||0.77|
The team managed to qualify from their region's qualifier for the second time in a row, as they participated in the previous Asia Minor, IEM Taipei, and finished in 5th-6th place following losses to Chiefs and CyberZen in the group stage.
Since then they tried their luck at the Asian closed qualifier for Malmö, but couldn't make it past Round of 16 after a one-sided series with inchk1ng.
Their close results even in regional competition as well as lack of experience versus the best teams in Asia hint at what their chances could be at the Minor—very slim, especially considering they have the two biggest favourites in their group.
|Hyun-Pyo "XigN" Lee||19||1.02|
|Hae-Sung "HSK" Kim||21||0.97|
|Jung-Hyeon "rindA" Jeon||22||0.94|
|Hyung-Ju "Sound" Nam||19||0.93|
|Soon-Woo "Argency" Kwon||24||0.83|
Last but not least are Korea's best and the only competitive team so far, MVP Project. The same team, barring one player, were a match away from qualifying for IEM Taipei at the start of the year but lost to TheMongolz (eventual winners of the Minor) in a one-sided best-of-three.
Much like Risky they also tried their hand at the DreamHack Masters Malmö Asian closed qualifier and lost in the first round, to the Malaysian team MVP.karnal.
Shortly afterwards they showed promise by taking VG.CyberZen to a very close best-of-two series during the SL i-League Invitational China qualifier, but they also fell to TYLOO convincingly and split maps with lesser Chinese teams, AllGamers and LGD.
Still, they should be in a much better place than their aforementioned comrades and could provide a solid match versus Risky, but anything further than that would be considered an upset.
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