MDL Chengdu is set to kick off on Saturday, November 16 and it will mark the first Major of the 2019/20 Dota Pro Circuit season. This year's opening Major of the season will also mark the first time DPC will return back to China since StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4, which took place in February 2018. The Chinese Major will run for nine days and conclude on Sunday, November 24, when the grand prize of US$300,000 and 4,850 DPC points will be awarded to the champions. In total the Major will offer US$1,000,000 in prize money and 15,000 DPC points, which will be distributed between the best performing teams.
Just like previous Dota Major tournaments, MDL Chengdu will feature 16 of the best Dota 2 teams, who will be divided into four GSL groups in the group stage. Playoffs will use a double-elimination format. All games except for the first-round matches in playoffs lower bracket (Bo1) and grand finals (Bo5) will be played in a best-of-three (Bo3) format.
At the tournament, we will see 15 teams who qualified via regional qualifiers with at least two teams from each region. The 16th and last team which qualified for the Major are Invictus Gaming, who earned the spot at the tournament by winning the DOTA Summit 11, which was the first Minor of the season.
Qualified teams are as follows:
Europe: Alliance, Team Liquid
China: ViCi Gaming, Team Aster, EHOME
CIS: Gambit, Team Spirit
SEA: Fnatic, TNC Predator, Team Adroit
NA: Evil Geniuses, Fighting PandaS, J. Storm
South America: beastcoast, Team Unknown
+ Invictus Gaming (DOTA Summit 11)
MDL Chengdu won't feature some of the biggest names in the Dota 2 pro scene (PSG.LGD, Team Secret, OG) who decided to skip the event in order to prepare for the season. That will give some "weaker" teams a great chance to shine and possibly claim their first Major title of the season. That said, we still have EG, TNC and Fnatic in the lineup, who are by no means a pushover when we talk about the strongest teams in the world.
Out of 16 teams present at the tournament, there are a few that stand out in our eyes, some as favorites and others as dark horse picks, who could impress if given a chance. So, let's look over which those teams are, the betting odds provided on them and ultimately give our predictions on which teams do we believe are worth backing up to make something happen at the opening Major of the season.
Team Liquid ($19.00 at Skrilla), which consists of former Alliance roster, earned their spot at the Major with a solid run in the European qualifiers, where they finished behind Alliance, who bested them in the upper bracket finals (1-2). While TL showed immense quality in the qualifiers, they have recently dropped in form as seen by their performance at DreamLeague S12 and most recently ESL One Hamburg. In Hamburg they finished dead last alongside Vikin.gg, which was a result of their disastrous display. It would be safe to assume TL have not shown enough to inspire much hope to win here, but considering the individual quality of their players, we can expect TL to cause some upsets.
Invictus Gaming ($15.50) produced a dominant performance at DOTA Summit 11, where they decimated all of their opponents en route to their first 2019/20 Minor title. The Chinese team topped their group and went on to defeat HellRaisers (2:1) and Chaos EC twice, in semi-finals (2:0) and the grand finals (3:0) to claim their first DPC points, US$72,000 in prize money and a ticket for MDL Chengdu Major. While Invictus played near perfectly at Summit 11, it remains to be seen how well they fare against some of the strongest teams in the world.
Representing the SEA region, we have Fnatic ($9.25) and TNC ($5.00), who are both familiar faces in DPC tournaments. They are entering the MDL Chengdu Major as fourth and second favorites respectively. Fnatic have a very solid team, which produced a dominant run in the SEA qualifiers. That said, they have not met with TNC yet this season, who are seen as the top dogs from SEA team and one of the teams who are seen as a real threat to win in China. Much like Fnatic, TNC dominated their qualifiers and even went on to win the ESL One Hamburg in a rather convincing fashion. They are without a doubt one of the strongest teams present at the Major and one the strongest teams in the world. That said, there is one other team that is seen as the undisputed favorite to claim the largest chunk of DPC points, and US$300,000 in prize money.
That team is Evil Geniuses ($4.00 at Skrilla), who finished TI9 at fifth-sixth place, produced a spectacular show in the European qualifiers, where they did not lose a single map up to the finals. There they dropped one map against Quincy Crew (2-1), who are now playing under Chaos Esports Club banner, however, we do not believe that in any way means EG are a weak team coming to the Chinese Major. EG are an established powerhouse in Dota 2 pro scene and with a star-studded roster they possess, it would be hard to not view them as one of the favorites.
Looking at the odds provided by bookmakers, this tournament is expected to be fought out between EG and TNC, which is fair, as they are objectively the two strongest teams who will travel to China. That said, there will be more than enough opportunities for the remaining teams to leave their mark. Fnatic, for example, seem to be underrated here as they have some very talented and experienced players in their ranks. Furthermore, there’s also ViCi Gaming ($6.10), who are priced very generously by majority of esports bookmakers. Their poor displays at ESL One Hamburg does contribute to the higher odds here and while we can agree that what they have shown there failed to inspire much optimism, ViCi are still a team that should not to be simply crossed out as one of the threats for the title. They are known to have up and down performances, but when on top of their game, ViCi can defeat anyone.
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