South American rivalries form as SG e-sports qualifies for Kiev

The audience at the Dota 2 International competition in Seattle, WA on August 13, 2016. Michael Hanson for ESPN

SG e-sports came out victorious at the inaugural South American Online Regional Qualifier for the Kiev Major in what is quickly developing into a budding rivalry with Not Today. Winning the online qualifiers ensures SG-esports a place at the Main LAN event in Kiev, Ukraine on April 27-30 and marks the first appearance of a South American team at a Valve event since 2015.

Detractors claimed splitting the American Region into North and South would only lessen the quality of play in both qualifiers. Surprisingly the split has produced some of the best Dota in recent memory from each of the respective regions. Three teams finished the round-robin stage with an impressive 8-1 record and, after tiebreakers, Not Today found themselves sitting atop the table Sunday. Not Today, an open qualifier team, battled its way through the only two invited teams, Midas Club Elite and SG e-sports, on its way to the Grand Finals. Despite its last major event appearance in 2015 (The Summit 3) and continual roster inconsistency, Not Today seemed to be in a class above its competition, with each of its individual playoff games lasting no more than 35 minutes.

After avenging an earlier loss to SG-esports during the round-robin stage of the qualifiers, Not Today hadn't seen the last of the Brazilian squad. Claiming some vengeance of its own in the semifinals, SG e-sports swept Infamous, who defeated them during the round-robin stage and knocked them out of three separate events over the past year. After swift defeat at the hands of Not Today in the Winner's Final, SG e-sports found themselves up against the only other invited team, Midas Club Elite. With its backs against the wall after losing Game 1, William "hFn" Medeiros led the rally for SG e-sports, winning the next two games to take the series 2-1 and ensuring a rematch with Not Today in the Grand Finals.

In the Grand Final showdown, it was SG-esports who threw the first punch. Taking full advantage of Not Today's unconventional support Sven pickup, SG e-sports put Not Today on its back foot by securing Game 1 in 22 minutes. Slowing down the pace, Not Today played Game 2 very cautiously, intent on not letting its hard work be in vain. Slowly but surely Not Today was able to amass an insurmountable lead that enabled them to force a Game 3. In the final game of the best-of-three series, Not Today looked rattled. Drafting in reaction to SG e-sports instead of drafting for their own gameplan, Not Today ended up with a hodgepodge lineup that looked ill prepared to accomplish anything. Taking advantage of the mental blunder, SG e-sports secured the Game 3 win and its place at the Kiev Major, becoming the first team since Team Unknown in 2015 to attend a Valve event.