Chongqing was the host city for the second Major of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit. The tournament was preceded by the biggest drama of the season and it forced TNC Predator to play with a stand-in.
Carlo “Kuku” Palad was banned by Valve and allegedly by the Chongqing municipality from attending the tournament after he used a racist slur against the Chinese people. The Kuku incident set a precedent in the Dota 2 professional scene as it was the first time when Valve themselves stepped in and settled the conflict by banning a player from participating in a tournament sanctioned by the game developer. Given the endless discussions created around the Kuku drama, many were extremely sceptical about the Chongqing Major. Often times Dota 2 fans were bringing up into discussion the disastrous Shanghai Major from 2016 to remind others that some tournaments in China faced big technical issues in the past. The Chongqing Major was extremely important for the whole scene as everyone treated it as a dress rehearsal for TI9 in terms of production quality.
Speaking of production value, management and viewers experience, StarLadder and ImbaTV delivered perhaps one of the best Majors of the season. The tournament itself wasn’t spared from a few unforeseen problems. Chongqing Major marked Team Liquid’s return to the competitive season, but unfortunately, they couldn’t attend with the full formula and upon their arrival in Chongqing, they announced the former Wings Gaming carry Chu “Shadow” Zeyu standing in for Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi. Liquid’s problems didn’t stop there. Through the group stage, Shadow had to be hospitalized due to stomach flu and so, the TI7 Champions grabbed only a top eight placement in the tournament.
Nonetheless, Liquid’s presence in Chongqing with Shadow brought one of the nicest surprises the Dota 2 fans could have wished for. During the main event, the tournament organizers managed to reunite the TI6 Champions, Wings Gaming for a show match against Team Liquid.
The Major in China also meant the debut of Richard Campbell in the Dota 2 world. His first-ever appearance as a Dota 2 tournament host was received with open arms by the majority of the community. Rich’s presence on the Chongqing Major desk was a breath of fresh air and later on in the season StarLadder and ImbaTV contracted him again for the last Minor of the circuit, where he once again proved to be a very good fit with the Dota 2 scene.
In terms of team performances on a Major stage, the tournament was filled with outstanding matches and witnessed the beginning of the season rivalry between Team Secret and Virtus.pro. The two were absolutely dominant throughout the entire event, even though VP had to play with their coach during the upper bracket quarterfinals to allow Alexei “Solo” Berezin fight a rather virulent flu before heading into the main event, on the arena stage. The first direct confrontation between Secret and VP came in the upper bracket finals, where the Europeans took the series 2-0 to advance into the grand finals. VP bounced back from the lower bracket finals and fought for a second Major title, but lost 1-3 in the grand finals to a very well prepared Team Secret, who weren’t afraid to draft an unorthodox support Luna for Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat.
Despite not having a Chinese team in the finals day, the BLOOMAGE Cultural and Sports Center in Chongqing was packed with fans happy to witness the best two teams of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit going head to head for the Major title.
All in all, The Chongqing Major experience was one to remember for the fans present in the venue, as for the ones watching from home. The organizers managed to wipe all the bad memories that the fans and professional players might have had with the 2016 Shanghai Major and they brought a lot of hope for a top-notch TI9.