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ESL One Kuala Lumpur Closed Qualifiers - What Did We Learn From Day 1?

Published at: 2023-11-17 04:44:00

The conclusion of The International 12 has left teams scrambling with roster shuffles, and the first big test for these teams has finally arrived. Teams from all six regions compete in the Closed Qualifier for the ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023 tournament, which will be the first big LAN post-TI. Here are some things we’ve learned from each region's first day of Closed Qualification.

Southeast Asia

Almost every notable Southeast Asian team went through a roster shuffle, and we finally saw them in action. 

Here is an overview of the bracket, and 

  • Team Aurora, ex-Talon Esports, still looks like the best team in SEA.
  • Geek Fam’s new roster is no joke. They defeated Execration in 2-0 fashion.
  • The new Talon roster looks promising. IHC Esports, or Team Mongolia, didn’t stand a chance against them.
  • Blacklist International is warmed up. Though they showed weaknesses in the Open Qualifier, Blacklist is playing exceptionally well, up to standards.
  • BLEED’s new roster looks shaky. The international team looked lost in multiple portions of their match against Blacklist, so they need to tidy things up quickly.

The Lower Bracket matches were played the same day, with Execration and BLEED eliminating Neon and IHC. Now, only six teams remain.


China is another interesting region that underwent many roster changes. In case you missed it, here’s how Day 1 in the Chinese region went:

  • Invictus Gaming needs time. They struggled in the Open Qualifier and dropped a map against a lesser-known team, Team Eagles. Still, they won their match and advanced to the next stage.
  • The new Team Aster has potential. They dismantled Ignite 2-0, a team with familiar names like Ulu, Dust, and Deth.
  • Team Bright aren’t flukers? Bright was responsible for eliminating the previous Team Aster from the Chinese Ti12 qualifiers, and they look solid now.
  • Team Zero looks like a serious competitor. This team almost qualified for The International 12, and they’ve come back with a similar roster and are showing great progress.

Other than these four teams, the remaining teams are mostly temporary stacks, but some might surprise us. 

Western Europe

Pretty much every match in the WEU region went as predicted. There were no upsets today, but some pointers to take away include:

  • Liquid, Entity, and OG had successful debut matches. In particular, OG looked like they have significantly improved, especially after their addition of Wisper.
  • Team Secret does not look too good. Most fans were underwhelmed with the team’s roster changes, and their results prove why. OG easily defeated them and only managed to defeat Alliance in a nail-biter game to stay alive.

Nothing was too interesting yet, but we can expect to see exciting matchups like OG vs. Entity soon.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is another interesting region to talk about. Here’s what happened:

  • BetBoom Team and Virtus.Pro still look good. Both teams did not make any changes to their rosters. However, v1olent is currently standing in for Kiritych on Virtus.Pro. Still, both teams made quick work of their opponents and are likely the candidates to qualify for the main tournament.
  • The new 9 Pandas roster is quite disappointing. After changing three players, the 9 Pandas roster lost to Munkushi and swedenstrong’s new stack, knocking them down to the Lower Bracket.
  • Mixed feelings about Na’Vi. They struggled against Team Klee, which isn’t a bad team, but an organization like Na’Vi must defeat them easily if they want to go all the way.

9 Pandas and Team Klee survived the Lower Bracket, but these two teams only have one more life to make it to Kuala Lumpur.

North America

North America isn’t too interesting without Shopify Rebellion, but Nouns and TSM appeared with new rosters.

  • TSM revealed that Ari’s replacement was Immersion. Their opponents were Fart Studios, a meme stack, so nothing much could be said about that. 
  • Stormstormer and Yuma are standing in for Nouns, making their NA debut. Yuma went with a Meepo pick to easily defeat Pomoika, another lesser-known stack team.

Overall, TSM and Nouns are clear favorites in the North American qualifier, so things will only get interesting when the two teams clash.

South America

With the disbandment of Evil Geniuses and Beastcoast, the South American region looked much weaker than before. The teams to look at were Keyd Stars, a team that qualified for TI, and BOOM Esports.

  • Keyd Stars are performing up to standards and will likely make it to the Grand Final. 
  • BOOM’s debut did not work out. They lost 1-2 against Mad Kings, which was a massive upset. 
  • BOOM dropped to the Lower Bracket, where they almost lost to JimPark’s stack.

BOOM narrowly survived, and one more loss in the qualifier will result in them missing out on ESL One Kuala Lumpur.

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