It’s time for Pinnacle Cup: Malta Vibes 3, and Ben “noxville” Steenhuisen has taken a look at all of the participating group stage teams. Which teams does he see making the playoffs? Read all about it in his Event Preview!
With the Regional Qualifiers for The International 2023 already over, there’s a small break before all eyes turn to Seattle. You would expect the period to be quiet as TI-qualified teams focus on bootcamping and preparation, whilst everyone else starts their off-season break early. That is not the case this year, however, as multiple tournaments have sprung up in this final gap - including the third iteration of Pinnacle Cup: Malta Vibes.
Like the first two Pinnacle Cup: Malta Vibes tournaments, there are tiered invites, as most teams start from the beginning before four highly rated teams join at the playoff stage. Unlike prior Pinnacle Cup: Malta Vibes competitions, the event will not simply be just one big single-elimination bracket – instead, there’s now a group stage (two groups, six teams per group) to determine the playoff seedings. In an interesting change, there will also be some players from the Americas participating: 4 Zoomers (two USA players) and Infinity (four Peruvian players and a Bolivian). Let’s take a quick look at each of the groups and make some early power ranking predictions.
Group A features the team I believe has the best chance of upsetting the invited teams and placing well in the event - Level Up. They are a team that were promoted to Division 1 in Western Europe after Tour 3, and came fifth/sixth in a very deep WEU Regional Qualifier.
MarsBet Team features Fabian "Mo13ei" Knehr and Nikola "LeBronDota" Popović, two players who were part of Ancient Tribe - a team eliminated very early in regionals and just about survived in Division 2 in Tour 3. They have made changes to their line-up that might suggest some revitalization, but they have limited experience as a squad.
STORM, MoneyMakers, and NAVI Junior are three teams in Eastern Europe Division 2 who finished in fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively, and failed to obtain promotion to Division 1. STORM have made a change from their Regional Qualifier team (which finished fifth-sixth alongside MoneyMakers), but are probably still the favourites to come second in the group.
The all-Romanian Ram Squad have had middling results in various smaller tournaments, however they will not be playing with Mihai "canceL^^" Antonio as they did at IESF.
- Level Up
- STORM and MoneyMakers
- Ram Squad, MarsBet and NAVI Junior
Update: UALEIKUMNIHAO withdrew from the tournament after this article was published. SIBE Team have replaced them, but due to this they are unfortunately not covered in this event preview.
Whilst Group A has mostly well-known teams, Group B is a lot more chaotic and difficult to predict - mostly because we’re going to see cross-regional action involving teams that don’t really get to experience it that much.
In the North American Regionals, Wildcard Gaming came fourth overall, losing to nouns and B8. Four of their five players are now playing under the 4 Zoomers banner.
Infinity had a disappointing Regional Qualifier run in South America - they came in as the second seed, but placed fifth/sixth overall and failed to secure an invite to The International. They’ll be playing with a slightly modified post-regionals team, so their true skill might be a lot more varied than expected.
One Move were just a single series away from going to The International (no pun intended), however Virtus.pro seemed near unstoppable within the Eastern European qualifiers and were able to keep them shut out. They have remained consistently in the middle of the table in Eastern Europe this year, always behind the “big three” (Team Spirit, BetBoom Team, and 9 Pandas) and Virtus.pro – a tough challenge in such a talented region. They are my favourites in this group.
KZ Team had a frustrating end to the DPC season. First, they missed out on Div 1 promotion in a tiebreaker with Level Up and Nigma Galaxy, and then faced a difficult draw in the Western Europe regional qualifiers where they lost to Quest and Level Up. Against the rest of the group, I expect them to do well and perhaps even challenge for the top spot.
- One Move
- KZ Team and 4 Zoomers
- Infinity and Arava
- SIBE Team
What’s great is that we’ll get to see a bunch of interesting matchups between a lot of similarly skilled teams, and then the invited teams will filter in to challenge their momentum. With $50,000 on the line, a big win here would be a great way for these teams to finish off the 2022/23 season.