Dota 2 Pro Circuit Major Preview: MDL Chengdu

Challengers in Chengdu: MDL Chengdu Major brings Pro Circuit back to China for first Major of 2019-2020 campaign

The recently completed DOTA Summit 11 Minor gave us our first taste of Pro Circuit action in the 2019-2020 season, but the excitement is set to ramp up even further with the onset of the season’s first Major. The eyes of fans across the Dota 2 world will return to China just a few months after the conclusion of TI9, as the city of Chengdu will play host to the MDL Chengdu Major, the first Major of the 2019-2020 season. 16 teams from across the 6 Dota 2 regions will be making their way to the Chinese city in the hopes of laying claim to the coveted title of Major Champion. The event itself will also likely serve as a sendoff for the current patch, as the much anticipated Outlanders Update is expected to be released soon after the conclusion of this event.

Organized by Chinese studio Mars Media, the MDL Chengdu Major will be the latest the group’s Mars Dota 2 League series of events and tournaments. Said series dates back to 2014 when its first, all-Chinese iteration was first announced, but the series has taken on a much more international flavor over the years, claiming a place as one of the permire series of events in the Dota 2 world. The MDL Chengdu Major will be the fourth iteration of the event to hold Pro Circuit status, with the series having previously produced 2 Majors (MDL Changsha and MDL Disneyland Paris) and 1 Minor (MDL Macau). As its name would suggest, this latest Major will take place in the city of Chengdu, with the LAN portion of the event being hosted in the Chengdu Century City New International Convention & Exhibition Center.

The format for the Major itself is one that fans have likely grown accustomed to at this stage, as the MDL Chengdu Major will be run along the same organizational lines as all of the Majors from last season. The 16 participating squads will be broken up into 4 groups of 4 team each for the Group Stage. Said group stage will feature GSL style groups, with all Group Stage match ups being played in a Bo3 format. The top 2 teams from each group will advance to the Upper Bracket of the subsequent Playoffs, while the bottom 2 teams from each group will be seeded into the Lower Bracket. Said Playoffs will feature a double elmination bracket, with all match ups being played in a Bo3 format save for the first round of the Lower Bracket (which will feature Bo1 match ups) and the Grand Finals themselves (which will be a Bo5 series).

With the format for the Major and the basic information regarding the venue and organizer now covered, we can shift our attention to what the team’s themselves will be fighting for in Chengdu. Obviously, the main goal for each of the participating squads will be earning the title of Major Champion at this event, but each of the 16 teams in the field will also be walking away with a share of prize pools of $1,000,000 USD and 15,000 Pro Circuit Points. To see just what each team will be taking home in terms of money and points, we can take a look at the distribution of the prize pools in the list below:

1st: $300,000 & 4,850 DPC Points

2nd: $160,000 & 3,000 DPC Points

3rd: $110,000 & 2,100 DPC Points

4th: $80,000 & 1,350 DPC Points

5th-6th: $60,000 (Per Team) & 900 DPC Points (Per Team)

7th-8th: $40,000 (Per Team) & 450 DPC Points (Per Team)

9th-12th: $25,000 (Per Team) & 150 DPC Points (Per Team)

13th-16th: $12,500 (Per Team) & 100 DPC Points (Per Team)

With the MDL Chengdu Major being the first Pro Circuit Major of the 2019-2020 season, the participating squads will find themselves sitting near the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings once this event concludes. The teams that finish between 1st and 12th will earn enough Pro Circuit Points from their performances at the Major to be guaranteed Top 12 positions in said Rankings, making them early front runners for the 12 direct invites for TI10 this summer. With that in mind, we can take a look at each of the 16 squads that will be fighting for the first Major Championship title of the 2019-2020 season, and how they stack up against each other heading into the event itself.

Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or necessarily objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data. Also note that the “projected finishes” are based upon the perceived strength of a given team in relation to its opponents in the entire field, and does not take into account any match up specific scenarios (i.e. whether a team gets put into Group A rather than Group B for the Group Stage).

 

Alliance Alliance

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov
2. Linus “Limmp” Blomdin
3. Neta “33” Shapira
4. Simon “Handsken” Haag
5. Adrian “Fata” Trinks (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

With the departure of its previous lineup for the Team Liquid organization, Alliance found itself taking a chance on a new lineup led by veteran player Fata and featuring a number of recognizable names in the European scene. With heavy hitters like Team Secret, OG, and ex-Liquid sitting out the first few months of the season, the new-look Alliance has come out on fire within the European region and the international level as well. The team has made one hell of an impression to this point in the season, but the new Alliance roster has a chance to set itself up in an even more favorable position if it can replicate its prior success on the Pro Circuit stage at the season’s first Major.

Alliance officially announced the signing of its new roster at the beginning of October, and ever since then, the team has been a dominant force within the European region. The squad’s 2019-2020 season began with a run in the MDL Chendgu Major Europe Closed Qualifier, in which the team posted a 10-3 record against its regional rivals and never lost a series. The team’s appearances since that qualifier have been across international events, though Alliance has continued to present a near unstoppable force against its regional rivals. Coming into the Major, Alliance holds a record of 13-4 within the European region, and has yet to lose more than a single match against any other team in said region.

The squad’s success has not been limited to just its home region though, as Alliance has been putting together some impressive performances on the international level as well. The team’s most recent 2 appearances came on the international level, with Alliance claiming a 1st place finish at DreamLeague Season 12 and a 3rd place showing at ESL One Hamburg 2019. Across those 2 events, Alliance’s record against non-European squads was an impressive 18-10, with the squad pulling out either a win or draw in 9 of its 11 series of at least 2 matches. Between its incredible performance within the European region, and its consistent success so far on the international level, Alliance will enter this first Major of the season as one of the more formidable teams in the field in Chengdu.

Any time an organization picks up a new roster, there is bound to be some degree of risk involved. However, the acquisition of Alliance’s new lineup has so far produced nothing but success for the European organization, with its new roster looking incredibly impressive even at this early stage of the 2019-2020 campaign. The team has taken advantage of the absence of some of last season’s elite European squads, carving out a favorable place for itself within its own regional hierarchy and immediately separating itself from some of its most prominent regional rivals. This early in the season, most teams that have shown success in their home regions haven’t had many opportunities to display that strength on the international level. Alliance has bucked that trend though, taking advantage of multiple opportunities to show that it’s consistent strength is not simply limited to its home region. Not only has the team managed to put up strong results both at home and on the international level, but it comes into this Major fielding a roster of players who all have a respectable level of experience on big stages in the Dota 2 world. Between that previous experience and the team’s impressive start to the season, it’s hard to see Alliance as anything short of a favorite coming into the Major. With that in mind, the squad is projected to finish in the Top 4 range in Chengdu, and should be one of the leading candidates to contend for the first Major Championship title of the 2019-2020 season. While a drop off of some kind is always a possibility on the Pro Circuit stage, we haven’t seen anything from this squad to this point that would suggest that Alliance won’t be confident and consistent in its first Pro Circuit appearance of the campaign.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Qualification Method: Europe Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Michael “miCKe” Vu
2. Max “qojqva” Bröcker
3. Samuel “Boxi” Svahn
4. Tommy “Taiga” Le
5. Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi (Captain)
C.
William “Blitz” Lee

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

With the departure of its previous lineup in the offseason, there were many who were wondering whether Team Liquid would be able to bring together a new roster to retain its position as an elite squad within the European region. After picking up the entirety of the former Alliance roster at the beginning of October, there was hope that the organization would do just that, especially with top regional squads like Team Secret, OG, and ex-Liquid sitting out the first few months of the season. The team has certainly put together some solid showings within its home region, but the issue for this roster even when it played under the Alliance banner was turning regional success into comparable results on the international level. The team’s inconsistency away from home was certainly a frequent narrative in the previous season, but an early opportunity to perform on the Pro Circuit stage at the season’s first Major gives Team Liquid a perfect shot at turning that narrative around early in the 2019-2020 campaign.

Since acquiring the former Alliance lineup at the beginning of October, Team Liquid has emerged as one of the leading squads within the European region, with the team putting up some impressive performances against its regional rivals. The squad has only made a single appearance in an event that was limited exclusively to the European region, with that lone event being the MDL Chengdu Major Europe Closed Qualifier. In that qualifier, Team Liquid posted an overall record of 12-3, losing just a single series to Alliance en route to locking down its place in the field for this first Major of the season. Since the start of October, Team Liquid’s record against other European squads stands at 15-6, setting the team up as a clear contender within its home region.

While the team’s performance at home has been impressive, its record on the international level has not been nearly as consistent. Against teams from outside of the European region, Team Liquid holds a record of 4-9, with those 4 victories coming against the duo of Demon Slayers (NA) and FlyToMoon (CIS). Those 4 international wins were enough to earn Team Liquid a 4th place finish in its first international appearance at DreamLeague Season 12, but resulted in a much more disappointing 11th-12th place showing at the more recent ESL One Hamburg 2019. The issue for this particular roster has always been the strange dichotomy between its regional and international performances, and it appears that those same issues have already begun popping up for the team heading into this first Major of the season.

Team Liquid comes into the MDL Chengdu Major with the entirety of the previous Alliance lineup, as well as all of the strengths and weaknesses that that roster brings with it. Under the Alliance banner, the squad had carved out a favorable place for itself on the home front, but proved frustratingly inconsistent on the international level. Even with the shift in organization, this Team Liquid lineup will only have those concerns amplified as it prepares for a daunting challenge on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu. Once again, the squad has emerged as a solid contender within the European region, with a solid record against its regional rivals to this point in the season. However, the struggles on the international level have followed the roster across organizations, and that lack of consistency appears to be a glaring weakness for the squad coming into this event.

To be fair to this squad, its roster has managed to turn in some strong showings on the international level in the past, with the team having claimed 1 Top 4 finish at DreamLeague Season 12 earlier this season and notching a couple of similar performances with Alliance last season. The issue for Team Liquid coming into this Major is not a lack of ability or experience; it is a lack of consistency. The squad has all of the talent, experience, and leadership that it needs to find success on the international level, but the fact of the matter is that it has simply hasn’t been able to get it done as frequently as the team or its fans would prefer. It appears that the squad is still suffering from that inconsistency, which hurts the teams expectations coming into this Major. With that being said, Team Liquid is projected to finish in the 9th-12th place position in Chengdu. The squad certainly has the ability to push its way up the standings and compete for a Top 4 spot at the Major, but until we see for sure that the squad can truly hit its stride on the international level, that kind of scenario will remain unlikely at best.

 

Vici Gaming VICI_Gaming

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier Top 2

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Zhang EurusChengjun
2. Zeng  “Ori”Jiaoyang
3. Zhou “Yang”Haiyang
4. Xiong “Pyw”‘ Jiahan
5. DingDyCong
C.
Bai “rOtK” Fan

Projected Finish: Top 4

Vici Gaming comes into the first Major of the 2019-2020 season as one of the premier teams within the Chinese region, and one of the elite squads across the whole of the Dota 2 world. After a 2018-2019 campaign that saw the squad claim 2 Major Championship titles and a 5th-6th place finish at TI9, Vici Gaming managed to keep its roster largely intact. The only change to the team’s lineup came with the addition of Pyw in September, with the Support taking the place of outgoing member Fade. With only minimal changes made to its roster, Vici Gaming appears to be in a prime position to retain its standing as one of the world’s most formidable teams. The squad’s performance to this point in the season has been fairly impressive, but this first Major of the 2019-2020 campaign will be the perfect opportunity for Vici Gaming to definitively reestablish its place among the leading teams in the Dota 2 world.

While Vici Gaming came into this new season as one of the leading teams within its home region, the squad itself has not been as active as some of the other squads in China. However, what we have seen from Vici Gaming to this point in the season has been very impressive, as the team has consistently found success against its regional rivals. The team began its 2019-2020 campaign with a successful run in the MDL Chengdu Major China Closed Qualifier, posting a 8-3 record en route to locking down its place in the field for this event. The squad has also been competing in the ongoing China Dota2 Professional League Season 1, where it has put together a 5-2 record through the first 3 weeks of the Group Stage. With a 13-5 overall record in China, Vici Gaming’s pace has not exactly been the most prolific within its home region, but it is certainly a strong sign of the team’s continued success that none of its regional rivals have been able to find many weaknesses to exploit in Vici Gaming.

While Vici Gaming’s performance within its home region has certainly been impressive to this point, its lone showing on the international level proved to be a strong showing in its own right. The squad recently participated in ESL One Hamburg 2019, with the event earning the squad its first official matches outside of the Chinese region this season. Even with the team playing with a stand-in in the form of X1aOyU, Vici Gaming still proved to be one of the stronger squads in the field, posting a 10-5 record to finish in the 5th-6th place position in Hamburg. For many squads in the field for this event, that kind of performance would already constitute a successful effort. For Vici Gaming to have pulled off that feat with one of its usual roster members absent speaks to the strength of its lineup as a whole, which appears to put the team in an incredibly favorable position heading into this Major.

Vici Gaming comes into the MDL Chengdu Major as one of the elite teams in the Dota 2 world, with the season’s first Major providing the Chinese squad with an opportunity to remind the Dota 2 world of that status. The departure of Fade certainly brought a big of drama to the organization in the offseason, but the addition of Pyw and the team’s ability to keep the remaining pieces of its roster together bodes well for the team’s chances of retaining its position as a premier team on the international level. The team’s appearances to this point in the season, both at home and in international events, speaks to the continued strength and consistency of the squad, with Vici Gaming rarely suffering from any sort of serious setback or lapse in their play. Last season, that consistency was a huge part of the team’s success, as opponents simply could not afford to make more than a handful of mistakes against the Chinese juggernaut. So far in this 2019-2020 campaign, that signature consistency has not wavered yet, which puts Vici Gaming in a position as one of the more dangerous squads in the field for this event. With that in mind, the Chinese powerhouse will take the Pro Circuit stage in its home country with a projection in the Top 4 range, with the squad appearing to be one of the leading candidates to claim the first Major Championship title of the campaign. Given what we’ve seen from this team over the past year or so, the odds of Vici Gaming suffering some sort of massive drop off on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu appear to be almost infinitesimally small as the team pursues its third Major Championship title in 2 seasons.

 

Team AsterTeam Aster

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier Top 2

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. SongSccc Chun
2. Kee ChyuanChYuan Ng
3. LinXxs Jing
4. YeBoBoKa Zhibiao
5. Pan “Fade” Yi
C.
Tong “Mikasa” Junjie

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

After falling off a bit in the second half of the 2018-2019 season, Team Aster came into the 2019-2020 campaign looking to reestablish itself as a contender within the Chinese region. To that end, the squad welcomed a pair of new players, with Fade coming over from Vici Gaming and Sccc joining from the roster of Newbee. With that experienced duo joining an already impressive Team Aster roster, the squad has been generating quite a bit of buzz over the first few months of the season. The team’s new roster and strong start within its home region have certainly been encouraging signs for Team Aster, but the true test of this squad’s strength will come on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu, as Team Aster looks to prove itself at the season’s first Major with the eyes of the Dota 2 world watching.

Since bringing on the duo of Fade and Sccc at the beginning of September, Team Aster has been hard at work trying to establish some early momentum and success for itself within the Chinese region. The team’s efforts have proven largely successful, with Team Aster notching a handful of impressive regional performances over the first few months of the season. The team’s first regional showing on the season came in the form of a 3rd place performance in the ESL One Hamburg 2019 China Qualifier, in which the team lost out to an Invictus Gaming squad that would go on to qualify for the main event itself. Just a week later though, Team Aster came back with an even stronger showing in the MDL Chengdu Major China Closed Qualifier, picking up ties or wins in 5 straight series to earn itself a place at this very Major with a 1st-2nd place finish. The squad’s most recent regional appearance came near the beginning of the month, as Team Aster kicked off November with a 2nd place showing at the Hainan Master Cup after falling in the Grand Finals to fellow Major attendee EHOME. Across the season as a whole, Team Aster has put together a record of 14-11 against its regional rivals. That mark within its home region is certainly encouraging at this early stage in the season, but it isn’t exactly what we would likely classify as elite just yet. The good news for Team Aster is that said 14-11 overall record has earned the team wins or ties across 8 of its 11 series of 2 or more games, so the squad is at least managing to come out ahead more often than not, even if the series wins themselves aren’t particularly pretty.

Team Aster has managed to raise its profile to a significant degree within its home region, but the true test of the team’s staying power on the Pro Circuit level will lie in its ability to similarly contend on the international level. On that front, we have seen alarmingly little from the squad, as Team Aster will enter the MDL Chengdu Major without a single official match played against a non-Chinese team this season. The international level was an area in which Team Aster struggled last season, with the team finishing at the bottom of the event standings in its 2 Major appearances while earning just 2 Top 4 finishes in a pair of mixed Chinese/Southeast Asian events in the 2019 section of the season. Of course, the team’s offseason roster changes mean that last season’s struggles are not nearly as relevant to the squad’s 2019-2020 campaign. However, without any official matches under its belt in this new season, one cannot be certain that the new-look Team Aster has fully gotten over the issues that plagued it in the previous season.

Team Aster appears to be a team that is on the rise within the Chinese region, with the squad having earned the right to represent China on the Pro Circuit stage at the first Major of the 2019-2020 season. However, this event will likely be the true test for Team Aster in terms of the squad’s ability to advance even further within its own regional hierarchy, as well as within the wider international scene. Team Aster comes into this event having put together some impressive performances within its home region, with the team opening up its 2019-2020 campaign with 3 straight Top 4 finishes against its regional rivals. The fact that this first Major will be taking place on home soil in Chengdu should also give the squad something of a boost, as the team will have the benefit of playing before a hometown crowd on the Pro Circuit stage. However, support from the crowd isn’t exactly enough to win an event all by itself, and Team Aster comes into this Major without a whole lot else to show in terms of its strength on the international level.

While Team Aster’s play at home has been a bright spot in the early stages of the season, the lack of any official matches outside of its home region is a glaring issue for Team Aster that cannot be easily overlooked. Under normal circumstances, a team in this situation could potential look back to previous endeavors on the international level from last season, but that scenario doesn’t do Team Aster many favors either. Between the squad’s offseason roster changes and its struggles away from home in the 2018-2019 campaign, there is little in the way of hard evidence to suggest that Team Aster can be relied upon to contend with some of the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. With that in mind, the Chinese squad will come into the Major expected to finish in the lower half of the event standings, with a projection in the 9th-12th place range overall. The addition of Sccc and Fade, along with the considerable experience of some of the other members of this roster, does keep the door open for a stronger showing from Team Aster on the Pro Circuit stage. Until we see for certain though that this new lineup has what it takes to find success against non-Chinese opponents, it would be best to temper expectations for Team Aster as it makes its first international appearance of the 2019-2020 season in Chengdu.

 

EHOME800px-EHOME

Region: China

Qualification Method: China Qualifier 3rd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Cheng “vtFαded” Jia Hao
2. Tang “897” Zhirui
3. Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida
4. Zhao “XinQ” Zixing
5. Zhang “y`” Yiping (Captain)
C.
Zhang “xiao8” Ning

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

EHOME’s 2018-2019 season ended in somewhat disappointing fashion, as the squad fell short of the mark to claim a direct invite to TI9, then narrowly missed out on another chance to attend the prestigious event after falling 1-2 in the deciding series of the TI9 China Qualifier. The offseason saw the squad make some changes to its roster, with VtFaded and 897 joining up with the squad for the 2019-2020 campaign. So far this season, the new EHOME lineup has managed to look fairly impressive, but this appearance on the Pro Circuit stage at the MDL Chengdu Major will likely be the most telling test of the squad’s overall strength within the Dota 2 world. With its updated roster building up some early momentum within the Chinese region, EHOME will enter this first Major of the season looking to truly make its mark on the Pro Circuit stage with a strong showing against some of the elite teams of the Dota 2 world.

Since finalizing its new roster near the end of September, EHOME has committed nearly the entirety of its efforts to improving its standing within the Chinese region, with the squad making a handful of appearances in regional events. The team’s first run in a regional competition came in the qualifier for this very Major, in which it put together a 3rd place showing to claim its place in Chengdu. Two weeks later, the squad turned in another Top 4 showing in VKGAME BATTLE OF DAWN, putting together a 3rd place performance that was ended by a 1-2 loss to fellow Major attendee Team Adroit. Even more recently, EHOME put together its strongest finish of the season so far, claiming a 1st place position in the Hainan Master Cup that included a field that featured fellow Major attendee Team Aster and TI9 attendees RNG and Keen Gaming. Across the entire season to this point, EHOME’s current roster has put together a 19-8 record against its regional rivals, including wins or ties in 10 of its 12 series of 2 or more games. The squad has certainly emerged as an intriguing potential contender within its home region, but the bigger question for EHOME coming into this event is how it will fair on the international level.

On that front, EHOME has decidedly less experience this season, with the team having played a total of just 5 matches against non-Chinese squads. With a 3-2 record in those matches, nothing appears to be particularly concerning for the squad in terms of their overall strength, but the small sample size does make it hard to have much confidence in any potential conclusions that could be drawn. Coming into an event as big as a Pro Circuit Major though, that lack of recent experience on the international level will be cause for at least some small degree of concern for EHOME.

After a pair of disappointing misses at the end of the previous season, EHOME has certainly been off to a strong start to its 2019-2020 campaign so far. With PSG.LGD still inactive at this point in the season, EHOME has emerged as a potential contender within the Chinese regional hierarchy, but that position is far from secure at this early stage. A strong showing on the international level, and on the Pro Circuit stage as well, would serve to solidify the team’s position both at home and in the Pro Circuit Rankings, but the task will certainly be a difficult one for the squad. The team has proven itself to be strong and stable within its home region, but a lack of matches on the international level still leaves a number of questions to be answered for the squad heading into this event.

Even with the unknowns regarding its play on the international level, EHOME comes into this Major with a fair bit of momentum and confidence. The team’s roster still has a fair bit of experience under its belt, and the new additions of vtFaded and 897 have proven to be relatively consistent in the team’s regional matches to this point. With that in mind, EHOME enters the Major with a projection in the 9th-12th place range, though the squad certainly appears to have the capability of pushing beyond that prediction under the right circumstances. Of course, those circumstances will almost certainly rely upon the duo of vtFaded and 897 continuing to perform at a high level for the team in an environment that they have somewhat limited experience in. Should that duo pull through for EHOME though, expect the Chinese squad to put together a competitive run on the Pro Circuit stage in front of a home town crowd in Chengdu.

 

Gambit EsportsGambit Esports

Region: CIS

Qualification Method: CIS Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Kiyalbek “dream`” Tayirov
2. Danil “gpk” Skutin
3. Maxim “Shachlo” Abramovskikh
4. Danial “XSvamp1Re” Alibaev
5. Artsiom “fng” Barshack (Captain)
C.
Nikolay “distilled” Prokhorenko

Projected Finish: Top 4

After spending the majority of the 2018-2019 season as one of the leading teams within the CIS region, Gambit Esports ended up falling short int he final days of the campaign as it missed out on earning itself a place at TI9. The offseason brought some big changes to the organization though, with Gambit Esports introducing a drastically changed lineup for the 2019-2020 season that included 4 new additions to the roster. With many of those roster additions being younger and less experienced talents, Gambit Esports was certainly taking a chance with its new lineup, but the squad has been putting together some impressive performances to this point in the season. The team has emerged as a leading team within the CIS region, but an equally solid showing on the Pro Circuit stage would help push Gambit Esports into a position as a contender on the international level as well, and would perhaps put the squad in a position as the elite team within its regional hierarchy.

So far this season, Gambit Esports has managed to put together some impressive performances within its home region, with the squad finding success both within the CIS region, and in mixed CIS and European events. The squad began its 2019-2020 campaign with a 1st place finish in the GG.Bet Hamburg Invitational, beating out a field of European and CIS squads to claim a place at ESL One Hamburg 2019. A few weeks later at the start of October, the squad again put together an impressive showing against its regional rivals in the MDL Chengdu Major CIS Closed Qualifier, claiming a 1st place finish that earned the squad its place at this first Major of the season. Simply put, Gambit Esports has been dominant within the CIS region, with the team holding a 17-2 record against its regional rivals coming into the Major. With that incredibly regional record over the first few months of the season, it’s hard to argue against Gambit Esports being one of the leading squads within the CIS region.

The success for Gambit Esports has not been limited solely to its home region though, as the CIS squad has also been able to put together some impressive showings on the international level as well. The squad’s aforementioned victory in the GG.Bet Invitational earned it a spot at ESL One Hamburg 2019, where the squad earned a 2nd place finish after a 2-3 Grand Finals series against TNC Predator. Across the entirety of the 2019-2020 season so far, Gambit Esports has put together a 13-10 record against non-CIS teams, which stands as a respectable record for this early stage of the campaign. Considering the fact that many of the other teams in the field have little to no recent experience on the international level, Gambit Esports should enter the Major with a slight advantage over its opponents in terms of its ability to hold its own against teams from outside of its home region.

Gambit Esports certainly took a chance with its recent roster rebuild, looking towards something of a youth movement to propel it to prominence in the Dota 2 world. So far, the gamble has paid off, as the CIS squad has emerged as a leader within its home region while putting up an impressive performance in one of the season’s first truly international competitions. Based upon the impressive results from the squad both at home and on the international level, Gambit Esports comes into the MDL Chengdu Major with a projection in the Top 4 range, as the teams looks like an early candidate to seriously compete for the first Major Championship title of the 2019-2020 season. However, it should be noted that said prediction is reliant upon a number of factors going Gambit Esports’ way in Chengdu.

First and foremost, the team obviously needs to continue playing at the form that we’ve seen to this point in the season. Considering the team’s relative consistency to this point in its campaign, those concerns should be fairly minimal. However, the team’s ability to retain its previous level of play will almost certainly come down to the ability for its younger players to remain composed and calm on one of the biggest stages in the Dota 2 world. To their credit, youngsters like dream`, gpk, and XSvamp1Re all managed to hold their own in the team’s previous international appearance at ESL One Hamburg 2019, which was itself a fairly prestigious event. However, the pressure of the Pro Circuit stage always seems to take things to an added level, and it will be interesting to see how that trio of players react to the additional scrutiny of playing at that level. Should the team and its players manage to avoid any significant setbacks or collapses though, expect to see Gambit Esports make a deep run in its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu.

 

Team Spirit (Formerly Positive Guys) 536px-Team_Spirit_2016

Region: CIS

Qualification Method: CIS Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Igor “iLTW” Filatov
2. Egor “Ergon” Kozlov
3. Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk
4. Alexander “Immersion” Hmelevskoy
5. Mihail “Misha” Agatov (Captain)
C.
Maxim “TheHeartlessKing” Fadeev

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

After having its previous roster effectively disband in August, it appeared that the Team Spirit organization would be sitting out the first Pro Circuit events of the season. However, the organization managed to return to active play fairly quickly with the signing of the Positive Guys roster just a few weeks ago. Said new roster had been drawing a bit of attention to itself within the CIS region even before being picked up by Team Spirit, but now the squad has an opportunity to take an even larger leap forward if it can find success on the Pro Circuit stage in this first Major of the season. Considering the level of competition that it is set to face at this event, the task is most certainly a daunting one for the new Team Spirit, with the CIS squad having a big opportunity to shift itself from an up and coming regional squad to a power on the international level.

Under the Positive Guys banner, the squad now known as Team Spirit has put together some solid performances at this stage in the season, with the squad making a number of appearances in both CIS and mixed CIS and European events. The team began its 2019-2020 season with a 3rd-4th place finish at the GG.Bet Hamburg Invitational in September, and followed up that performance just over a week later with a 2nd place showing in WePlay! Reshuffle Madness 2019. In October, the squad put together a 2nd place showing in the MDL Chengdu Major CIS Closed Qualifier to earn its place in the field for the Major itself. Across the season in general, Team Spirit has put together 3 Top 4 finishes in 5 total appearances, with a record of 19-11 against its fellow CIS squads. That record within its home is certainly impressive, but the true test for Team Spirit coming into this Major will be its play on the international level.

Away from its home region, Team Spirit has not been quite as active, but what we’ve seen from the team to this point has been somewhat encouraging. The squad will come into the Major with an 8-4 record against non-CIS squads, which looks fairly impressive at first glance despite being a somewhat smaller sample size. However, it should be noted that the team’s international experience to this point in the season comes with a few caveats. First and foremost is the fact that most of those matches have come against European squads, with only 3 of its international matches coming against a team from outside of the combined EU/CIS pool. Another 5 of those matches came in open qualifiers against somewhat weaker opposition, while 5 of its 12 matches have come against a single opponent in the form of Team Singularity. None of this is to say that the team’s experience outside of the CIS region should be fully ignored. However, the squad’s international experience at this stage in the season is still very much limited to an environment in which Team Spirit is somewhat familiar.

With the former Positive Guys roster now under its banner, Team Spirit is looking to pull off a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in order to establish itself as both a true contender within the CIS region, and a potential power on the international level. While the team’s play one the home front has been fairly impressive to this point in the season, its results on the international level are somewhat murky. As previously mentioned, the squad holds a 8-4 record against non-CIS squads, but just 3 of those matches have come outside of the combined European and CIS scenes. While Europe and CIS do constitute about a fourth of the squads in the field for this Major, that still leaves a multitude of squads from other regions that we have yet to see Team Spirit face off against.

Also of note for the squad is the fact that its performances to this point in the season haven’t always been consistent. The team has managed to put together 3 Top 4 finishes in its 5 total event appearances this season, but its other 2 appearances resulted in a pair of underwhelming showings in open qualifiers. When the squad is playing at its best, Team Spirit has shown us an impressive degree of strength, but the team has also shown some lapses in its level of play that make it hard to have a high level of confidence in it coming into the Major. With that in mind, Team Spirit enters this event with a projection in the 13th-16th place range. Considering the performances that we’ve seen from the team to this point, Team Spirit obviously has the potential to push past that meager prediction. However, there is a rather wide margin between the team’s potential strength compared to what we can reasonably expect to see from the squad in Chengdu. Until we see proof that the squad can hold its own on the Pro Circuit stage though, it seems best to keep hopes high and expectations low for Team Spirit.

 

FnaticFnaticlogo

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification Method: Southeast Asia Qualifier Top 2

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon
2. Kam “Moon” Boon Seng
3. Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang
4. Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti
5. Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong (Captain)

Projected Finish: 9th-12th

After a successful regular season campaign in the 2018-2019 season, Fnatic found itself facing a shocking decline on the Dota 2 world’s biggest stage, as the squad put together a disappointing 13th-16th place finish at TI9. In the wake of that underwhelming performance, the Fnatic organization opted for some changes to its roster in the offseason, bringing in the duo of 23savage and Moon while returning Jabz to his previous Support position after a stint as the team’s Carry. While the squad ended up parting ways with one of its star players in Abed, the hope was that the infusion of new talent and the significant levels of experience on its new roster would be enough to push Fnatic back to a position of strength in the Dota 2 world. With this appearance at the first Major of the 2019-2020 season, the Southeast Asian squad has the chance to do just that, with a strong showing in Chengdu being the perfect means to reestablish Fnatic’s hold over both its home region and its status as on the elite teams on the Pro Circuit.

While the new Fnatic roster was finalized near the beginning of September, the squad itself has not been particularly active in the time following the announcement of its lineup. The team’s only appearance in an official event came over a month ago, as the team managed to put together a 1st-2nd place finish in the MDL Chengdu Major SEA Closed Qualifier to earn its place in the field for this very event. That qualifier run saw Fnatic post a 9-1 record against its regional rivals in what was a dominant performance to begin its 2019-2020 campaign. However, it should be noted that said Major qualifier was the team’s lone appearance within the Southeast Asian region to this point in the season, and the squad’s impressive run in the event did not include any matches against fellow regional powerhouse TNC Predator. Overall, we’ve seen some encouraging signs from Fnatic’s new roster, but the incredibly small sample size of matches make it hard to tell just how relevant its lone regional appearance really is.

If the team’s recent activity within its home region would be described as “limited”, then its recent experience on the international level could only be summed up with the word “nonexistent”, as the squad will enter the Major without any official matches against non-Southeast Asian teams this season. Unfortunately, that lack of matches on the international level comes at an inopportune time for the squad, as Fnatic closed out the 2018-2019 season with 3 straight 13th-16th place showings on the international level at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, the EPICENTER Major, and TI9. While the team does have an altered lineup compared to the ones that appeared at those events, the fact remains that Fnatic comes into the 2019-2020 season with a string of inconsistent performances as its most recent experiences on the international level. With its limited number of matches on the home front and complete lack of recent experience on the international level, Fnatic comes into this Major with an incredibly number of questions to answer.

The offseason saw Fnatic make changes to its lineup in an effort to bring to an end a string of inconsistent performances on the international level, but so far this season we have yet to see those changes have much of an effect. That isn’t necessarily because the team hasn’t made improvements, but rather due to the fact that we simply haven’t seen enough of the team in general to come to any any solid conclusions. The squad has appeared in just 1 event this season (not including the custom game-mode event Midas Mode 2), and while the squad’s performance in that lone event was incredibly impressive, it isn’t enough to definitively prove that the team is ready to go toe-to-toe with the elite teams of the Dota 2 world.

The good news for Fnatic coming into this Major is that it still has a fair bit of experience on its roster, with 3 members of its TI9 lineup still with the organization and recent addition Moon also bringing with him a respectable level of experience on the international level. However, the team’s most recent appearances on the international level at the end of the previous season resulted in a series of incredibly disappointing performances, and the addition of Moon and 23savage may not be enough to fully alleviate concerns regarding those poor showings. With that in mind, Fnatic comes into the Major with a projection in the 9th-12th place range, with even that prediction feeling somewhat generous for a team that has 0 official matches on the international level with its current roster. To be honest, the team’s projection in the 9th-12th place position is due largely to a respect for the previous experience and accomplishments of the individual members of its roster. Because of that, Fnatic could very easily find itself moving away from its prediction outcome when all is said and done in Chengdu. If the team’s roster comes together and proves itself capable of strong and consistent play on the Pro Circuit stage, then Fnatic could realistically push its way into the top half of the event standings. However, the lack of any official matches on the international level and limited activity within the Southeast Asian region makes it essentially impossible to reasonably expect that scenario to play out at the Major.

 

TNC PredatorTNC Predator

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification Method: Southeast Asia Qualifier Top 2

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte
2. Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios
3. Damien “kpii” Chok
4. Timothy “Tims” Randrup
5. Park “March” Tae-won

Projected Finish: Top 4

TNC Predator spent most of the 2018-2019 as an elite team within the Southeast Asian region, but a 9th-12th place performance at TI9 led the squad to make some changes to its roster in the offseason. After parting ways with Kuku, eyyou, and Heen, the organization brought in veteran replacements kpii and March in the hopes of putting together a roster that could continue to hold a position as a leader in the Southeast Asian hierarchy. To this point in the season, the updated roster certainly hasn’t disappointed, as the new-look TNC Predator is off to one of the best starts that we’ve seen across the entire Dota 2 world. Following success both at home and on the international level, the Southeast Asian powerhouse is looking to find success on the Pro Circuit stage and claim a position at the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings, as TNC Predator looks to earn its first ever Pro Circuit title in Chengdu.

Since the announcement of its new lineup in September, TNC Predator has been on an absolute tear within the Southeast Asian region, with the team putting together dominant performances against its regional rivals. Across 3 total appearances in Southeast Asian this season, the squad has put together a pair of 1st place showings, along with a 1st-2nd place finish in the qualifier for this very Major. Over the course of those 3 regional appearances, TNC Predator has put together an incredible 21-4 record against its regional rivals, and has yet to lose a single series of 2 or more games with 8 wins and 1 tie. While it is still fairly early in the 2019-2020 season, it is clear that TNC Predator stands as an elite squad within the Southeast Asian region, as none of the squad’s regional rivals have been able to stand against it to this point in the campaign.

While the team’s efforts have been largely focused on the home front this season, TNC Predator does not come into this Major without success on the international level as well. Near the end of October, the squad made its way to Europe for ESL One Hamburg 2019, and managed to put together an incredibly impressive performance against a host of top tier squads from across the Dota 2 world. After posting a 9-1 Group Stage record, the squad proceeded to win series against Alliance and Gambit Esports in the Playoffs, before downing Gambit Esports a second time in the Grand Finals to claim the title of ESL One Hamburg 2019 Champion with an overall record of 14-3. While that event was the team’s only experience on the international level with its current lineup, the 1st place finish and incredibly record against non-Southeast Asian teams certainly appears to put TNC Predator a step ahead of most of the other teams in the field for this Major.

TNC Predator came into this season as one of the leading teams within the Southeast Asian region, and its recent roster changes have only led to the squad strengthening that favorable position in the early stages of the 2019-2020 campaign. The team has looked nearly flawless on the home front, turning in victorious performances one after another with little end in sight. On the international level, the team’s play has been just as impressive, with the squad claiming the title of ESL One Hamburg 2019 Champion in what had been the only event prior to the DOTA Summit 11 Minor to include teams from all 6 of the Dota 2 regions. With that incredibly strong series of results to begin the season, it is hard to view TNC Predator as anything other than a favorite coming into this Major.

Between the squads solid play to begin the season, and the high levels of talent and experience on its updated roster, TNC Predator easily comes into this Major with a projection in the Top 4 range, and should be considered one of the leading candidates to make a run for the title of Major Champion in Chengdu. To this point in the season, we have not seen a single indicator that the squad’s strength or consistency can be disrupted, even against some of the other elite teams of the Dota 2 world. While some sort of lapse in play or collapse on the Pro Circuit stage is always a possibility, TNC Predator have done just about everything possible to limit the odds of one of those scenarios actually unfolding at the Major. Expect another strong showing on the international level from TNC Predator, as the Southeast Asian squad looks to become just the second team from its region to ever win a Major title.

 

Team AdroitTeam Adroit new

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification Method: Southeast Asia Qualifier 3rd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. John Anthony “Natsumi-“ Vargas
2. Mc Nicholson “Mac” Villanueva
3. Jun “Bok” Kanehara
4. Marvin “Boombacs” Rushton (Captain)
5. Bryle “cml” Alviso

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

Team Adroit came into the 2019-2020 Pro Circuit season as a squad that not many people likely had their eyes on, as the more dramatic roster shuffles and collapses of organizations like Fnatic, TNC Predator, and Mineski took center stage in the offseason. However, the Filipino squad had picked up some momentum with a solid finish to the previous season, and the team wasted no time proving that it had carried that momentum over into the new season. With some standout performances both within its home region and in China, Team Adroit has captured the attention of quite a few people in the Dota 2 world, and now the team has the opportunity to prove that it belongs in the limelight of the Pro Circuit stage. Should the team manage to put together an impressive performance in its Pro Circuit debut at the MDL Chengdu Major, then it would likely have secured its place as both a leading squad within the Southeast Asian region, and a legitimate contender on the international level.

Since the beginning of the Pro Circuit season in September, Team Adroit has been hard at work carving out a favorable position for itself within the Southeast Asian region, as the squad has produced a series of impressive performances against its regional rivals. Across 6 total appearances within its home region, Team Adroit has managed to earn 6 Top 4 finishes. Coming into the Major itself, the squad has put together a 39-15 record against its fellow Southeast Asian squads, putting itself in the company of elite squads like TNC Predator and Fnatic in terms of its ability to consistently find success against its regional rivals. In fact, those other 2 powerhouse squads have been the only ones that have been able to consistently bring down Team Adroit, with the 3 of the team’s 4 series losses (2+ games) coming against the duo. Against all other Southeast Asian opponents, the squad has put together a series record of 21-1, firmly establishing it as an early leader within the regional hierarchy.

While the team’s play within its home region has been incredibly consistent to this point in the season, Team Adroit’s performance away from home has been somewhat more varied. Coming into the Major, the squad has participated in 3 events with mixed Southeast Asian and Chinese fields, putting together a single Top 4 finish across those appearances. To the team’s credit, that lone Top 4 finish was the most recent of those 3 event runs, with Team Adroit claiming a 1st place finish in VKGAME BATTLE OF DAWN just under a month ago. The squad comes into this Major with a 26-14 record against non-Southeast Asian squads (all against Chinese opponents), but it should be noted that 12 of those victories came from the team’s aforementioned run in VKGAME BATTLE OF DAWN. The good news for the squad is that its most recent experience outside of its home region was a successful one, but the potential downside is that it is unclear whether the team can maintain that recent level of play on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu.

Team Adroit has certainly emerged as a power within the Southeast Asian region in the early stages of this 2019-2020 season, with the all-Filipino squad putting up some incredibly dominant performances against the vast majority of its regional rivals. With only the likes of TNC Predator and Fnatic proving capable of finding consistent success against the squad, Team Adroit is a clear leader on the home front, but this Major will test the team’s ability to translate that regional success into similar results on the international level. The squad’s efforts away from home have been fairly solid, though much of the team’s overall success against non-Southeast Asian teams came from its most recent appearance, and all of its matches outside of its home region came against Chinese opponents. Even with that being the case, the fact that the team has any significant level of experience this season outside of its home region is a benefit, as many of the other teams in the field have little to no recent experience away from home coming into this event.

Considering the team’s dominant performances within the Southeast Asian region, and its recent success against opponents outside of its home region, Team Adroit certainly appears to be a formidable squad coming into this Major. However, the somewhat varied results from the team on the international level, combined with a lack of extensive international experience among the members of its roster does somewhat limit the expectations for the Filipino squad. The team enters the MDL Chengdu Major with a projection in the 7th-8th place range, looking a bit stronger than many of the other teams in the field while coming up slightly short against some of the more established, elite opponents. Considering the fact that many of the individuals on the team’s roster have limited experience playing at the top tier of the international level, the team’s overall performance could easily end up changing compared to its predicted outcome. Even with that being said, we can reasonably expect Team Adroit to put together a solid showing in what will be its debut performance on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu.

 

Evil GeniusesEvil Geniuses

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier Top 2

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
2. Abed “Abed” Azel L. Yusop
3. Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev
4. Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen
5. Tal “Fly” Aizik (Captain)
C.
Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Evil Geniuses has been one of the pillars of the Dota 2 scene for quite a few years now, but the recent offseason brought some rather dramatic changes to the team’s lineup. The North American organization parted ways with SumaiL and s4, bringing in the duo of Abed and RAMZES666 to replace them to form a rather formidable new roster. The extensive level of experience on the team’s new lineup certainly commands a significant degree of respect for Evil Geniuses, even if we haven’t had the luxury of seeing said lineup in action as much as we would like coming into this event. It remains to be seen if the considerable level of experience and previous success from the squad’s current roster will be enough to fuel EG to a strong performance on the Pro Circuit stage though, as the squad looks to claim the first Major Championship title in the organization’s history.

Despite coming into the 2019-2020 season as one of the leading teams within the North American region, EG hasn’t exactly been the most active of squads on the home front. The team has participated in just a single event since the start of the campaign, with that lone performance being the MDL Chengdu Major North America Closed Qualifier. To the team’s credit, EG put together a near flawless run in said qualifier, posting a 10-1 record against its regional rivals to claim its place in the field for this event. However, the fact that said qualifier run is the team’s only official appearance within its home region prior to the start of this Major is something of a concern for the squad.

If the team’s lack of matches within its home region is a small concern, then the team’s current position on the international level will likely present itself as a much more pressing issue. Coming into the Major, Evil Geniuses has not played a single match with its current roster outside of the North American region, which is not exactly an encouraging sign for the team. The good news for EG is that its lineup boasts an incredible level of experience on the international level, though said experience comes on an individual basis. The question for EG coming into this Major will be whether the previous experience of its new roster will be enough to outweigh the concerns from its lack of official matches as a team.

Evil Geniuses comes into the MDL Chengdu Major having made some rather significant changes to its roster in the offseason. With the addition of RAMZES666 and Abed, the North American organization certainly added some big names with considerable levels of talent, but the fact that we haven’t seen the team’s new roster in action much prior to the start of this event certainly leaves some big questions for the team to answer on the Pro Circuit stage. On the one hand, the team put together a dominant performance in its lone regional appearance, dropping just a single match in its run in the qualifier for this Major. However, the North American region across the first few months of the season has not necessarily been overly competitive, with EG having played some less than impressive squads in that qualifier run. That, combined with a lack of any official matches on the international level with its current roster puts EG in a somewhat awkward position heading into the Major.

Even so, the North American squad will make its way to Chengdu with some high expectations, with the team projected to finish in the 5th-6th place position at the event. Considering all of the concerns that were previously laid out with regards to the team’s relative inactivity to this point in the season, that favorable prediction likely seems somewhat out of place for EG. To be honest, the team’s limited appearances to this point in the season do not warrant the team’s high projection, with the vast majority of optimism for the North American squad stemming from a respect for the skill and previous achievements of its individual players. The 5 current members of the EG roster have combined for 4 Top 4 finishes at TI, 38 Top 4 finishes at Pro Circuit Majors with 11 Major Championship titles, and 15 Top 4 finishes at Pro Circuit Minors with 4 titles. That kind of proven success at the highest level of play is something that can’t easily be overlooked, even if the roster itself has only played 11 official matches as a unit. While a lapse for the North American squad is certainly a possibility on the Pro Circuit stage, one can reasonably expect EG’s incredibly experience and prior success to fuel it to a strong showing in its season debut on the international level in Chengdu.

 

Fighting PandaSNo Team Logo

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier Top 2

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao
2. Jonathan Bryle “bryle” Santos De Guia
3. David “MoonMeander” Tan
4. Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu
5. Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling (Captain)

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

Out of the chaos of the post-TI9 roster shuffle, the squad known as Fighting PandaS emerged within the North American region, with veteran player EternaLEnVy putting together a new squad to compete in the 2019-2020 Pro Circuit season. The team features some well known names within the regional scene, and the experience of those players has led to Fighting PandaS emerging as a potential contender within the North American region. Considering the fact that we haven’t seen much from North America outside of the region’s top 3 or 4 teams though, the squad will have to make its mark on the international level if it wants to truly put its strength on display in the eyes of the Dota 2 world. With this appearance at the season’s first Major though, Fighting PandaS has the opportunity to do just that, but it remains to be seen if the squad’s respectable experience will be enough to fuel it to a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu.

While the team’s roster features some familiar names from the regional scene, Fighting PandaS began this season needing to make up a lot of ground in order to catch up to more established regional powers like EG and J.Storm. To that end, the squad has been fairly active within its home region to begin the 2019-2020 campaign, making a total of 3 appearances in North America through the first few months of the season. To the team’s credit, it has managed to look incredibly impressive in those regional appearances, notching a pair of 1st place finishes in the ESL One Hamburg 2019 North America Qualifier and the World Electronic Sports Games 2019 Canada Closed Qualifier, while claiming a 1st-2nd place finish in the MDL Chengdu Major North America Closed Qualifier to earn its place at this event. Coming into the Major, Fighting PandaS has put together a total record of 21-4 against its regional rivals, including a 6-3 mark against fellow Major attendee J.Storm. That record on the home front is certainly an impressive one for Fighting PandaS, but it should be noted that the squad’s record does not include any official matches against the consensus leader within the North American region: Evil Geniuses. With no experience going up against the squad that many consider to be the elite team in the region, it remains to be seen whether this Fighting PandaS has the strength to stand up against the top tier of squads in the Dota 2 world.

That ambiguity regarding the strength of Fighting PandaS is only exacerbated when one looks at the team’s recent experiences away from its home region, as the North American squad does come into the Major with some official matches on the international level. All of those matches stem from the recent ESL One Hamburg 2019, in which Fighting PandaS put together a mostly forgettable performance that saw it finish in the 9th-10th place position in the event standings. The team posted a 2-8 record at the event that failed to advance it out of the Group Stage, with its only wins coming against a Vikin.gg squad that also finishes with a 2-8 record. The event itself certainly wasn’t a display of strength for the North American squad, and it didn’t do a whole lot to improve the team’s overall position coming into the first Major of the 2019-2020 season.

Fighting PandaS comes into this Major as a squad with a fair bit of experience, though that experience comes from the individual players themselves rather than the team as a whole considering the fact that Fighting PandaS has existed as a team for only a few months now. While the squad was only formed in the build up to this 2019-2020 campaign, it has already managed to establish a fairly favorable position for itself within the North American region. With the NA region looking somewhat less competitive than many of the others in the Dota 2 world though, that accomplishment is somewhat less impressive than it may have been in previous years. With that in mind, the squad comes into this event needing a strong showing on the international level to truly prove itself as a potential contender on the Pro Circuit. However, the odds don’t appear to be particularly favorable for the North American squad prior to the start of this event.

Though Fighting PandaS has been able to put together a rather impressive overall record against its fellow North American squads, the team comes into this event without any official matches against Evil Geniuses, the de facto leader of the North American region. Combine that lack of matches against the elite team within its home region with the squad’s disappointing debut performance on the international level at ESL One Hamburg 2019, and there isn’t much reason to have a particularly high level of confidence in this team coming into the Major itself. With that in mind, Fighting PandaS will make its way to Chengdu with a projection at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position. Considering the incredibly levels of experience of the individual members of the Fighting PandaS roster, there is always the possibility for the squad to defy expectations and put together a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage. Unlike regional rival and fellow Major attendee EG though, the previous experience of its members has not always been successful, and squads led by EternaLEnVy have a somewhat well earned reputation for being inconsistent at best with regards to their overall level of play on the international level. While there may be hope for this team, that hope is largely obscured by a veritable mountain of inconsistencies and doubts that the squad will have no choice but to push through if it wants to have any shot of finding success in Chengdu.

 

J.StormJ Storm Small

Region: North America

Qualification Method: North America Qualifier 3rd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. David “Moo” Hull
2. Leon “Nine” Kirilin
3. Braxton “Brax” Paulson
4. Joel Mori “MoOz” Ozambela
5. Clinton “Fear” Loomis (Captain)
C.
Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

While J.Storm has stood as one of the leading squads within the North American region since the inception of the team, the squad has never quite been able to replicate its regional success on the international level. Coming into the 2019-2020 season, the organization opted for some changes to its roster in the hopes of finally bringing an end to that trend, welcoming the duo of Brax and MoOz to its lineup. The team’s updated roster comes into this Major having done enough to maintain a favorable position on the home front, but the true test of the squad’s strength will come at this event, as the team looks to prove that it can finally break its streak of disappointing performances on the Pro Circuit stage with a strong showing in Chengdu.

So far in this 2019-2020 season, J.Storm has managed to represent itself well within its home region, putting together some solid performances that have largely reaffirmed the team’s position as a leading team in North America. The squad has participated in a pair of regional events to this point in the season, claiming Top 4 finishes in both the ESL One Hamburg 2019 North America Qualifier and the MDL Chengdu North America Closed Qualifier. Across the season as a whole, J.Storm has put together a 16-10 record against its regional rivals, but that positive record does not come without a caveat. While the team has posted a positive record on the home front, it should be noted that many of those wins have come against lower level competition within its region. Against other North American squads to have qualified for a Pro Circuit event this season (i.e. Fighting PandaS, Evil Geniuses, and Chaos Esports Club), J.Storm has put together a somewhat less impressive 5-8 record so far. Considering the caliber of opponent that the squad will be facing in Chengdu, J.Storm’s somewhat inconsistent record against its elite regional rivals is a fairly concerning issue for the North American squad.

Even more concerning for J.Storm than its record on the home front is the team’s efforts on the international level. The team struggled to a frustrating degree on the Pro Circuit stage last season, and so far the squad has not quite impressed away from its home region. The team has participated in 2 events outside of the North American region to this point in the campaign, earning a Top 4 finish in 1 of them. Across those performances though, the team has put together a record of just 3-4 agaisnt non-North American squads. Also of note for the squad is the fact that its lone Top 4 finish at WePlay! Reshuffle Madness 2019 wasn’t exactly earned in the traditional sense for J.Storm. The squad was invited directly to the Semifinals of the Playoffs, guaranteeing the North American team a Top 4 finish before it had even played a single match in the event. With its most impressive international achievement of the season having been given to it by default, and its other experience away from home proving to be extremely limited, J.Storm still has a multitude of questions to answer coming into the Major itself.

J.Storm comes into the MDL Chengdu Major as a squad looking to do away with a reputation for disappointing performances on the international level, as the squad struggled to find its footing away from home in the previous season. Some changes to the team’s roster has instilled a certain degree of hope for the squad, but it remains to be seen whether the new-look J.Storm roster truly has what it takes to emerge as a leader both within the North American region and on the international level as well. To this point in the campaign, the squad’s efforts have been somewhat mixed, with the team showing some encouraging signs while also displaying a concerning degree of inconsistency at times. The team had put together a solid record within its home region, but that record is largely predicated upon match ups against Tier 2 and 3 opposition, with J.Storm’s record against the likes of Fighting PandaS, Evil Geniuses, and Chaos Esports Club sitting at a somewhat less impressive mark. That inconsistent success against the elite teams of its home region, combined with a limited number of matches on the international level, makes it incredibly difficult to have significant confidence in the squad coming into this event.

J>Storm has looked decent to this point in the 2019-2020 season, but we haven’t quite seen enough from the squad to have confidence in its ability to contend with some of the Dota 2 world’s elite teams on the Pro Circuit stage. With that in mind, J.Storm will make its way to Chengdu with a projection at the bottom of the event standings in the 13th-16th place position. The team’s roster does have a fair bit of talent and experience under its belt, but we haven’t seen those factors come together in the right manner to fuel J.Storm to more than middling success within its home region. Perhaps this new version of the team’s roster does have what it takes to push its way to a successful showing on the Pro Circuit stage, but until we actually see that kind of breakthrough performance from the squad, it seems best to keep the expectations as low as possible for the North American squad.

 

beastcoastBeastcoast

Region: South America

Qualification Method: South America Qualifier 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Hector Antonio “K1” Rodriguez
2. Jean Pierre “Chris Luck” Gonzales
3. Adrian “Wisper” Cespedes Dobles
4. Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña
5. Steven “StingeR” Vargas (Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-6th

Coming into the 2019-2020 season, beastcoast had a much different roster compared to the one that it will play with at the MDL Chengdu Major. However, the organization’s previous North American roster effectively collapsed near the end of September, forcing beastcoast to look for a new lineup early into its Pro Circuit campaign. With the signing of Team Anvorgesa (which had played under the Infamous banner at TI9), beastcoast suddenly found itself standing as one of the leading teams within the South American region. To this point in the season, the squad has only managed to solidify its previous position, but a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage in the first Major of the 2019-2020 campaign would propel the squad even further into the company of the elite teams in the Dota 2 world.

Since acquiring its new roster at the beginning of October, beastcoast has made just a single appearance within the South American region, with that appearance coming in the qualifier for this very Major. The good news for the squad is that it absolutely dominated that event, posting a 12-1 overall record against its regional rivals to earn a 1st place finish that locked the squad into a place on the Pro Circuit stage for the season’s first Major. While that lone qualifier does constitute the entirety of beastcoast’s regional experience with its current roster, the fact that the team put together such an impressive performance against most of the other top squads in South America certainly attests to the squad’s ability to retain its status as a regional leader. Coming into the Major though, the focus for beastcoast will be less on its regional performances, and more on its strength away from home.

With this current beastcoast roster consisting of the entirety of the Infamous lineup that claimed a 7th-8th place finish at TI9, there was a fair bit of optimism regarding the team’s ability to remain a realistic threat on the international level. To this point in the season, beastcoast certainly has not disappointed, despite making just a single appearance outside of its home region. That lone international event for beastcoast came in the form of ESL One Hamburg 2019, where the South American squad earned itself a 4th place finish as the lone representative of its home region. The squad went 11-8 over the course of that event, and attracted a decent bit of attention with a 2-1 victory over Vici Gaming that knocked the Chinese squad out of the event in the Lower Bracket of the Playoffs. With ESL One Hamburg 2019 having been one of the only truly international events of the season so far (i.e. events that include teams from all 6 of the Dota 2 regions), beastcoast’s Top 4 finish certainly has it sitting in a favorable position coming into the MDL Chendgu Major.

beastcoast comes into this first Major of the season as a squad that has done nothing but impress over the last few months. The team’s current roster comes into this event just a few months removed from earning the best TI finish of any South American squad, and it’s continued success on both the regional and international level has it looking like a formidable opponent prior to the start of the action in Chengdu. The team’s roster is talented and has experience playing at the highest level in the Dota 2 world, and there really doesn’t appear to be any significant signs of the squad’s momentum tapering off anytime soon. The South American squad may not have pushed its way into a spot among the elite teams of the Dota 2 world just yet, but it certainly appears to be on the cusp of that achievement coming into this Major.

Between the team’s continued dominance at home and its recent success at ESL One Hamburg 2019, beastcoast will enter this event with a clear advantage over most of the other teams in the field. With that in mind, the squad will make its way to Chengdu projected to finish in the 5th-6th place range, sitting just a step below the favorites in terms of its predicted finish, but certainly having the strength to push its way further up the standings if things go well for it on the Pro Circuit stage. The squad has proven itself to be a fairly consistent and reliable squad to this point in the season, and that consistency puts it in a perfect position to take advantage of any potential mistakes from the favorites in the field for this event. We will see if the squad truly has the strength to take that next step into contention for a Major title, but for now, we can reasonably expect beastcoast to find itself sitting comfortably in the top half of the event standings when all is said and done in Chengdu.

 

Team UnknownTeam Unknown

Region: South America

Qualification Method: South America Qualifier 2nd Place

Pro Circuit Rank: T-4th (0 Pro Circuit Points [Guaranteed at least 100 points from Major])

Roster:
1. Bernando “Berna” Rocca
2. Juan “Atun” Ochoa
3. Alexis “Greedy” Ventura
4. Nicolás “Wij” Moreno
5. Sergio “Prada” Toribio (Captain)
C.
Huester “FalcoStyle” Valenzuela

Projected Finish: 13th-16th

For the past few years, Team Unknown has found itself sitting on the periphery of the South American scene, as the squad has struggled to carve out a place for itself within the regional hierarchy. Coming into the 2019-2020 season, the team opted for a change to its roster, bringing in a quartet of new players that included a trio of experienced additions in Atun, Greedy, and Prada. With its rebuilt lineup, Team Unknown has immediately attracted a fair bit of attention within its home region, beating out many of its regional rivals to claim a place at the MDL Chengdu Major. However, the true test for the South American squad will come on the Pro Circuit stage itself, as Team Unknown will look to prove its newfound strength against some of the Dota 2 world’s elite opposition in its Pro Circuit debut in Chengdu.

Since unveiling its new roster in September, Team Unknown has focused all of its efforts on establishing itself as a contender within the South American region. While the squad has not been overly active within its home region with just 2 event appearances, those appearances have served to display the team’s strength against its regional rivals. So far this season, Team Unknown has earned Top 4 finishes in both of its appearances within the South American region, with the squad claiming a 2nd place finish in the MDL Chengdu Major South America Closed Qualifier and a 3rd place performance in the Movistar Liga Pro Gaming Season 1. Across those 2 appearances, Team Unknown has put together a 22-17 record against its fellow South American squads, and has earned either a win or tie in 12 of its 18 series of 2 or more games. That record isn’t exactly a dominant one compared to a more prominent regional rivals like beastcoast, but it does at least display the ability of the new Team Unknown roster to find some measure of success against its regional rivals in the early stages of the season.

The real measure of Team Unknown’s potential coming into this Major would be its record outside of the South American region, which brings us to a bit of an issue for the squad. Coming into the MDL Chengdu Major itself, Team Unknown has not played a single international match with its current roster, with the entirety of its efforts to this point in the season having been focused upon its play on the home front. Considering the fact that just 1 member of the roster was on the team last season, any international results from that time frame are almost entirely irrelevant at this point as well. While some of the team’s more experienced players have previously made appearances on the international level, it is hard to say just how much that individual experience will effect the team’s performance as a whole. For now, Team Unknown’s strength on the international level is just that: unknown.

Team Unknown come into this Major as one of the more exciting stories within the South American region so far, as the team revitalized itself with a new roster and has risen to become an early leader in its home region in the first few months of the season. Now though, the squad will have the chance to prove that it can take its early regional successes and translate them into similar results on the international level. The team’s play on the home front has certainly been encouraging to this point in the campaign, but it should be noted that the team’s performance within its home region has not been without flaws and inconsistencies. More often than not, the squad has been able to come out on top against its regional rivals, but Team Unknown has been far from a dominant force on the home front. Combine its solid, but at times inconsistent, presence at home, and its complete lack of matches on the international level, and the South American squad comes into this event with some serious questions and potential issues.

Considering the team’s lack of experience on the international level with its current roster, it is nearly impossible to have much confidence in Team Unknown as it prepares for its season debut on the Pro Circuit stage. The South American region has certainly looked more competitive this season than what we saw from it last year, but even the uptick in strength from its regional rivals doesn’t quite increase Team Unknown’s record at home to the point of fully alleviating potential concerns. With the squad entering this event without any matches outside of its home region, there is little reason to be optimistic in terms of the team’s expectations. Prior to the start of the action in Chengdu, Team Unknown is projected to finish in the 13th-16th place range, with the squad looking like one of the weaker teams within the field for the Major. While there is always hope that the South American squad can pull off some sort of Cinderella run on the Pro Circuit stage, the odds of that kind of scenario actually occurring at the Major are exceptionally small at this stage.

 

Invictus Gaming 600px-Ig_logo

Region: China

Qualification Method: DOTA Summit 11 1st Place

Pro Circuit Rank: 1st (140 Pro Circuit Points [Will retain either 140 points or a higher total from its finish at the Major])

Roster:
1. Jin “flyfly”‘ Zhiyi
2. Zhou “Emo” Yi
3. Thiay “JT-” Jun Wen
4. Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi
5. Chan “Oli” Chon Kien
C.
Su “super” Peng

Projected Finish: 7th-8th

As the winner of the DOTA Summit 11 Minor, Invictus Gaming enters this event as the top squad in the Pro Circuit Rankings, and a potential contender on the international level. The team has emerged as a consistent threat within the Chinese region, and its breakthrough performance on the Pro Circuit stage at the recent Minor has helped to push the squad into contention for a similar position away from home, as the team appears to be seeking a place among the elite teams of the Dota 2 world. The team’s performance at the Minor was certainly impressive, but Invictus Gaming is set to take on even stronger resistance at the Major that will surely test the mettle of the Chinese squad as it takes to the Pro Circuit stage once again on home soil in Chengdu.

As previously mentioned, Invictus Gaming has been putting together some impressive performances within its home region, with the team emerging as an early leader in China in the wake of PSG.LGD’s hiatus. The squad has put together 4 Top 4 finishes in its first 5 regional appearances, with the team’s only finish outside of the Top 4 coming in the qualifier for this very qualifier, necessitating the team’s run through the DOTA Summit 11 Minor. So far this season, the team has posted a 37-17 record against its regional rivals while earning a win or tie in 17 of its 21 series of 2 or more games. The squad has proven itself to be incredibly consistent to this point in the season, an achievement that becomes a bit more impressive when one considers the traditionally crowded and competitive nature of the Chinese scene.

While the team’s performance within its home region has been incredibly strong so far this season, the majority of the attention being paid to Invictus Gaming coming into this event will be centered around its performances on the international level. Considering the fact that the squad just claimed the first Minor title of the 2019-2020 campaign with a stellar showing on the international level, that’s hardly surprising. The team didn’t just win the recent Minor, it dominated the competitive in Los Angeles, posting a 11-2 overall record and winning 5 straight series that was capped off by a stunning 3-0 sweep of Chaos Esports Club in the Grand Finals. That performance on the Pro Circuit stage brought Invictus Gaming’s international record up to 14-3 on the season, with the squad having earned a win or tie in all 7 of its series on the international level of 2 or more games. With the team almost certainly still riding the high from its success at the Minor, Invictus Gaming enter the MDL Chengdu Major as a formidable foe as the squad looks to emulate the accomplishments of regional rivals Vici Gaming and become the second team to ever win both a Minor and its subsequent Major.

It has been a few years now since we have been able to truly consider Invictus Gaming as an elite team within the Dota 2 world, as the glory days of the organization that won TI2 appeared to have come and gone. However, this new iteration of the team has been doing its best to return the iG name to prominence, both within the Chinese region and across the wider Dota 2 scene. With some strong showings on the home front and a breakout performance on the international level in its successful run at the DOTA Summit 11 Minor, Invictus Gaming comes into this Major looking stronger than it has for quite some time. The team has held its own within the Chinese region, and has taken advantage of the absence of PSG.LGD to establish itself as an early regional leader, and its first significant test on the international level saw it look calm and confident against non-Chinese opposition. The question for Invictus Gaming now is less about the region that its opponents come from, and more about the caliber and quality of those squads.

Invictus Gaming is set to face off against some of the Dota 2 world’s elite squads in Chengdu, as the squad will take on what should be its toughest test of the season so far. The team’s that the squad defeated at the Minor certainly posed a formidable threat to the Chinese squad, but the vast majority of the teams in the field for this Major would likely be considered to be at least a step or two above the level of those Minor participants. Even so, iG’s victory at the Minor cannot be overlooked or underestimated, with the Chinese squad and Minor Champion entering the MDL Chengdu Major with a projection in the 7th-8th place range. That prediction is not exactly iron-clad though, as there is still the possibility that iG stumbles in the face of some of the elite opposition in the field for this event. Barring that kind of massive setback or collapse though, we can reasonably expect Invictus Gaming to continue its impressive start to the season with a respectable showing on the Pro Circuit stage in Chengdu.

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