Dota 2 Minor Team Preview: MDL Macau

Dota 2 world shifts focus back East as Pro Circuit comes to Macau.

With the excitement and high stakes action of the season’s second Major still fresh in the minds of fans, the eyes of the Dota 2 world will once again shift towards the East as the Pro Circuit presents the latest event on its busy December schedule. The autonomous Chinese territory of Macau will host its first Pro Circuit event as Chinese organizer Mars Media will present the latest in its Mars Dota 2 League(MDL) series: the MDL Macau Minor. Running from December 8th through the 10th, the event will bring nine teams to the Macau University Music Hall for a shot at money, Qualifying Points, and the title of Minor Champion. With nine teams in the field of participants, the MDL Macau Minor offers an intriguing level of diversity among its teams in terms of Pro Circuit experience and success. Three of the teams(EHOME, VGJ.Storm, and TNC Pro Team) will be making their first LAN appearance on the Pro Circuit in Macau, while four of the participants(Virtus.pro, LGD Gaming, LGD.Forever Young, and Natus Vincere) have already earned Qualifying Points this season. The MDL Macau Minor offers opportunities for Pro Circuit newcomers and veterans alike, as prize pools of $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points will be on the line, with the distribution of those prize pools outlined below.

1st: $130,000(Total) and 150 Qualifying Points(per player)

2nd: $65,000(Total) and 90 Qualifying Points(per player)

3rd-4th: $30,000(Total) and 30 Qualifying Points(per player)

5th-9th: $9,000

The prize pools may be standard for a Pro Circuit Minor, but the odd number of teams(9) creates the need for a tournament format that we haven’t seen to this point at a Pro Circuit event. The MDL Macau Minor will feature a nine-team round-robin Group Stage with best-of-1 matches. The top 4 teams at the end of the round-robin matches will then advance to a single elimination playoff bracket, with the other five teams being eliminated from the Minor. With the tournament format outlined, we can now look at the teams that will be fighting for the Minor Title in Macau.

  • Please note that the “projected finishes” for each team are my own predictions and do not constitute any official or objective ranking based upon specific statistics or data.

 

Virtus.pro 600px-Virtus

Region: Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS)

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 3rd (2295 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev   2. Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko   3. Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov   4. Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk   5. Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov (Substitute)

Projected Finish: Top 4

In the aftermath of the previous Major, Virtus.pro have been knocked from their top spot in the Pro Circuit standings, but the CIS squad continue to be one of the strongest and most dangerous teams in the world heading into the MDL Macau Minor. The trip to Macau will mark the team’s fourth Pro Circuit event of the season, with two of the prior three events yielding Qualifying Points for the CIS squad. The team will come into this Minor with a slightly different look though in terms of its roster, as the squad announced that team captain Alexei “Solo” Berezin will be taking a break from active play for the rest of the month. In his place, the team has called coach Ivan “Artstyle” Antonov back into action as the team’s position five support. Any team replacing a regular member of its roster, even for a short time, is due to go through an adjustment period, but VP are hoping that bringing in someone already so close to the team and organization will help mitigate any potential issues. Artstyle may not have been an active player for some time(~ one year), but he is a veteran player and a TI winner joining one of the most dominant teams on the Pro Circuit. VP will be no less dangerous as its makes its way to Macau looking for another victory in its already impressive campaign.

The last Pro Circuit LAN appearance for Virtus.pro came just a few short days ago at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals. VP shockingly fell short of the mark for a top 4 finish in Jönköping, finishing in the 5th-6th position after losing an elimination series against North American squad Evil Geniuses. Falling out of the top 4 at the Major is a bit surprising for VP considering its position coming into the event, but the field of opponents in Sweden was particularly strong and the Majors always tend to bring out the best from perceived underdog squads. In this regard, the finish outside the top 4 for VP is still disappointing, but not likely an occurrence that the team or its fans should find themselves overly concerned with. The team’s success to this point in the season both within the CIS region and on the international stage speak volumes about this team’s abilities, and a slightly disappointing performance at the Major is not going to drastically affect the way VP plays going forward. Even the situation with Artstyle standing in for a month can’t really hurt the team at this point. VP’s coach will stand in for the squad at two events in December(MDL Macau and Dota Summit 8), and even if the team comes out of those two events with no Qualifying Points, its current position of 3rd in the Pro Circuit standings is unlikely to fall very far. The fact is that VP is in a safe enough position to potentially coast to the end of the calendar year.

With all of this in mind, Virtus.pro should still be considered one of the strongest teams in the field in Macau. The Major Champion still stands as the highest ranked team among the nine participants in this Minor, and with several of the teams making their Pro Circuit debut or facing significant struggles this season, the CIS squad is a good bet for a top 4 spot even with the roster shift. Though the team’s play style may see some small shifts to accommodate Artstyle, the transition between players should not hinder this team much in Macau. However, there is always the possibility that the transition from coach back to active player does not go smoothly for Artstyle, and with the round-robin Group Stage being played in a best-of-1 format, there is potential for underdog teams to score enough wins against the CIS squad to derail its campaign at the Minor. We will see how well the team manages to adjust as it makes its way to Macau to begin its quest to reclaim the top spot in the Pro Circuit standings.

 

LGD Gaming 800px-LGD

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: 9th (202.5 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Wang “Ame” Chunyu   2. Lu “Maybe” Yao   3. Xu “fy” Linsen   4. Yao “Yao” Zhengzheng (Captain)   5. Chen “Victoria” Guanhong

Projected Finish: 5th-9th

Chinese squad LGD Gaming present something of an enigma as the team makes its way to the MDL Macau Minor. The squad began the season looking like one of the Chinese region’s leading squads, finishing no worse than fourth across five Pro Circuit Qualifiers and winning one of them (Perfect World Masters China Qualifier). The team even managed to bring home a second place finish at the PGL Open Bucharest minor even with its coach standing in for one of its regular roster members. Since then, the team has looked a bit inconsistent, with unpredictable performances at home and struggles against international teams. The MDL Macau Minor could provide the team an opportunity to stabilize and return to the limelight if the Chinese squad can put together a solid performance.

LGD Gaming’s last Pro Circuit appearance came a little over a week ago at the Perfect World Masters in Shanghai, China. The chance to perform on home soil was meant to be an opportunity for the Chinese squad to show its strength on the international stage, but that opportunity didn’t go as planned for the team. The Perfect World Masters was a disaster for LGD Gaming, as the team faced significant struggles in the Group Stage. The squad earned 1-1 splits against Team Kinguin, Newbee, and Team Secret while losing its series 0-2 against SEA squad Mineski. Those matches gave LGD Gaming an 0-3-1 series record (3-5 overall) that came in as the worst record in its group, and resulted in the squad being eliminated from the Minor before the playoff stage even began with an ignoble 9th-10th place finish. The team hasn’t played any Pro Circuit matches since that Minor, but its performance in the weeks prior to it were looking somewhat encouraging. The team had placed in the 5th-6th position in the DPL Season 4 in China, and had won the China Qualifier for the Dota Summit 8 Minor, defeating regional rivals like VGJ.Thunder, EHOME, Newbee, and Vici Gaming in the process. For a team that was looking relatively strong in its home region, the lackluster result at the Perfect World Masters is concerning, and casts some doubts over this squad as it heads into the MDL Macau Minor.

LGD Gaming’s performance at the Perfect World Masters was not ideal, and its lack of matches since that time don’t give us much else to look at when considering the expectations for the Chinese squad in Macau. The fact that the team was performing well in its home region prior to the poor showing at the Minor is somewhat positive, but it still becomes difficult to predict what we will see from LGD Gaming at this event. Should the team that we saw in the early stages of the season show up in Macau, then LGD Gaming becomes a very threatening squad. However, should the inconsistent and seemingly struggling team that we saw in Shanghai return in Macau, then LGD Gaming don’t look like a squad that can make much of an impact at the Minor. With this in mind, I don’t feel fully comfortable projecting LGD Gaming as a top 4 squad, and since the division of positions for the teams that don’t make it out of the group stage haven’t been specified, I have to simply project LGD Gaming as a 5th-9th place squad in Macau. LGD Gaming obviously holds its fate in its own hands in Macau, but the squad is going to have to definitively put its poor performance at the Perfect World Masters behind its if it wants a shot at Qualifying Points at this latest Minor.

 

LGD.Forever Young LGD.Forever_Young

Region: China

Qualification: DPL Top Season 4 Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: T-10th (135 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Du “Monet” Peng   2. Xie “Super” Junhao   3. He “Inflame” Yongzheng   4. Tue “Ahfu” Soon Chuan   5. Leong “ddc” Fat-meng (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

LGD.Forever Young come into the MDL Macau Minor fresh off of a successful debut on the Pro Circuit, with the team having claimed a 3rd place finish at the Perfect World Masters at the end of November. The Chinese squad looks to make its Pro Circuit record two-for-two as its trip to Macau marks the team’s second Pro Circuit event of the season. LGD.Forever Young have been consistently performing well within the Chinese region from the outset of the season, and the team’s recent success on the international stage is putting it in an increasingly favorable position to breakthrough into the upper echelon of squads on the Pro Circuit. The MDL Macau Minor will provide LGD.Forever Young with a chance to put its skill and momentum to the test as it looks for back to back top 4 finishes in its first two Pro Circuit events.

The last Pro Circuit appearance for the Chinese squad came at the previously mentioned Perfect World Masters Minor in Shanghai, where the squad earned itself a 3rd place finish. The team hasn’t seen any further action on the Pro Circuit since then, but its performance as a whole this season tells a story of a team playing an impressive and consistent level of Dota. The team has now played in nine Pro Circuit events, qualifiers, or qualifying third party tournaments (DPL Season 4), and has yet to finish worse than 4th in any of these appearances. To achieve that level of performance on such a consistent basis is already impressive, but to do it in an always crowded and competitive Chinese region makes the accomplishment even more notable. With the team playing well in its home region, all LGD.Forever Young needs now is to maintain that level of play across more international appearances, and the MDL Macau Minor presents an opportunity for the Chinese squad to do just that.

With the team building a fair amount of momentum both at home and on the international stage following its breakthrough debut on the Pro Circuit, LGD.Forever Young enter the MDL Macau Minor as one of the more impressive teams in the field of participants. With a good portion of the teams at this Minor either unproven on the Pro Circuit or facing difficulties at this stage in the season, LGD.Forever Young appears to be a strong option for a top 4 spot in Macau. If the team can hold onto its momentum and maintain the level of play that it has displayed so far this season, there appear to be few teams in the field that I would expect to defeat the Chinese squad. The threat of a setback or drop in play is always a possibility, but for a team that has made its name on consistency this season, that outcome seems like an incredibly unlikely occurrence as LGD.Forever Young look to continue its march up the Pro Circuit standings.

 

TNC Pro Team Tncproteam

Region: Southeast Asia

Qualification: Southeast Asia Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Marc “Raven” Fausto   2. Carlo “Kuku” Palad   3. Sam “Sam_H” Hidalgo   4. Timothey “Tims” Randrup   5. Sivatheeban “1437” Sivanathapillai (Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-9th

It has been a relatively quiet start to the season for Southeast Asian squad TNC Pro Team. Following the team’s run at TI7 and the announcement that the squad would not be making any roster changes in the off-season, many expected TNC Pro Team to emerge as a leader in the SEA region and a potential competitor on the Pro Circuit. Unfortunately for the squad, those expectations have not translated into reality just yet, as TNC Pro Team will be making its first appearance at a Pro Circuit event in Macau. The team has been performing admirably in qualifiers and non-Pro Circuit events to this point, but the SEA squad now has a chance to finally make its mark and potentially claim a spot in the Pro Circuit standings if it can put together a solid run at the MDL Macau Minor.

TNC Pro Team have not participated in any Pro Circuit events so far this season, but the team has been busy with qualifiers and third party events that can give us some idea of where the team stands coming into its first Minor. The team has participated in nine Pro Circuit Qualifiers so far this season, and has managed a 4th place or better finish in seven of them. From this we can see that the team has been competitive within the Southeast Asian region so far this season, but seem to consistently fall just short of the mark to qualify for any Pro Circuit events until now. Though the squad has not managed to make its way to any Pro Circuit LANs, the team has still found ways to accrue experience on the international stage, with two appearances at third party events. The squad won The Manila Invitaional, a showmatch event in which TNC Pro Team defeated both OpTic Gaming and Invictus Gaming Vitality to claim 1st place at the event. Most recently, the team participated in the China Top 2017 tournament in Shenzhen, China, where it defeated Invictus Gaming and won back to back series against VGJ.Thunder to secure another 1st place finish. From the team’s results so far this season, we can see that TNC Pro Team is standings in a solid position both at home and on the international level, but have lacked the opportunities to show its strength on the Pro Circuit. The team’s debut at the MDL Macau Minor will provide that much sought after opportunity, and the squad looks to be in a decent position to take advantage of it.

TNC Pro Team come into the MDL Macau Minor unproven on the Pro Circuit, but with solid results in the SEA region and in third party events to bolster its resume. In a field with only a handful of proven teams, the potential is there for TNC Pro Team to make a statement with a strong debut on the Pro Circuit. Should the team come into Macau at the top of its game and ready to play, then the SEA squad could find itself as a potential competitor for a top 4 spot. However, without any experience at a Pro Circuit LAN this season, it is still a bit difficult to decisively put faith in the team in the Minor. TNC Pro Team has the potential for a top level run, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that such a run is expected of the SEA squad. With that in mind, TNC Pro Team come into the MDL Macau Minor as a projected 5th-9th place team, but with what is most likely the highest probability of breaking out of that projection into the top 4 at the event.

 

VGJ.Storm 600px-VGJ_201710_logo_notext

Region: North America

Qualification: North America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Damien “kpii” Chok (Substitute)   2. Eric “Ryoya” Dong   3. Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu   4. Francis “FrancisLee” Lee   5. Stanley “Stan King” Yang (Captain)

Projected Finish: 5th-9th

VGJ.Storm has been a team that has unfortunately made more noise outside of the game than in it. The team will be making its first Pro Circuit LAN appearance in Macau, but its path to the Minor and its season as a whole has certainly not been a smooth one. The team was the center of some attention in the off-season, as the Chinese organization VGJ announced the signing of “is GG” to the team’s first ever North American roster. Recently, the squad has been in the news due to a roster change, as it was announced in late November that Ravindu “Ritsu” Kodippili would be leaving the team. That departure left the team with an opening at the carry position, which as of this Minor the team has not permanently filled. The squad has been playing with stand in players for events and qualifiers following the roster change, and that will continue through the MDL Macau Minor, as the team announced that Damien “kpii” Chok of Chinese team Newbee would be standing in for the team at the event. Playing with a substitute player is often a difficult process for even the best of teams, and it will be interesting to see how VGJ.Storm adapt to this change and if kpii can help the squad make a splash in its Pro Circuit debut.

VGJ.Storm have not made a Pro Circuit LAN appearance so far this season, and its results prior to this Minor are not particularly impressive, though they could be far worse. The team began the season with a rough start, but had steadily been making progress in the North American region prior to Ritsu leaving the team. The team has participated in nine qualifiers or qualifying events so far this season, winning one of them and claiming a top 4 finish in four others. With the recent roster changes, it becomes hard to gauge the full impact of these prior performances, but if the team finds a solid permanent replacement for Ritsu there is hope that it can continue climbing in the North American region. Of course, since the team has not yet announced a new player to fill its empty slot, we can’t even really speculate on where the team’s level of play will be at moving forward. That level of uncertainty is dangerous for a team, particularly one like VGJ.Storm that is sitting precariously on the edge between competing in the North American region or falling into obscurity.

VGJ.Storm does not come into the MDL Macau Minor with many encouraging or confidence instilling signs. In fact, the team enters its Pro Circuit debut with quite a few of the hallmark of teams headed for disastrous performances. Regional inconsistency, limited or nonexistent international experience, roster instability, and the using of a stand in player conjure up the perfect storm of negatives for a North American squad desperate for a solid showing in Macau. VGJ.Storm could be an up an coming team in the North American region, especially if its finds itself the right carry player on a long term basis, but for now the team is a hot mess that can’t safely be counted on to perform when it matters. There is one silver lining for the squad though, in the form of its stand in, kpii. VGJ.Storm has shown some solid teamwork and ability to play together well, and kpii is a ridiculously talented player. If he can work himself into that framework on VGJ.Storm and fit into the team’s play style effectively then the team could make a surprise run at the Minor, as teams will have no real way of planning against a roster that has never played an official match together. The potential is there, if somewhat limited, for VGJ.Storm, but the expectations have to be placed significantly lower than what is essentially the best case scenario for the team. VGJ.Storm enter the MDL Macau Minor as a projected 5th-9th place team, with only a truly inspired performance from the team and kpii keeping the possibility for success alive.

 

Infamous LOGO-INFAMOUS-COMERCIAL

Region: South America

Qualification: South America Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Alonso “Kotarō Hayama” León   2. Mariano “Papita” Caneda (Captain)   3. Steven “StingeR” Vargas   4. Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña   5. Christian “Accel” Cruz

Projected Finish: 5th-9th

The season so far has been an interesting affair for South American squad Infamous. The team is set to attend its third Pro Circuit event, but the squad has yet to earn any Qualifying Points and remains unranked in the Pro Circuit standings. Infamous as a whole has been looking like a stronger competitor within the South American region, but the team’s failure to convert opportunities on the international stage has been somewhat disappointing. The MDL Macau Minor will provide the team with another chance to make its mark at a Pro Circuit event and emerge as the first South American team to earn Qualifying Points this season.

The team’s last Pro Circuit appearance came just a few days ago, as Infamous served as the South American representative in Jönköping for the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals and the season’s second Major. The event did not go particularly well for Infamous, as the team lost its opening series 0-2 against Chinese powerhouse Newbee to drop down to the lower bracket. In its first lower bracket series, the team ended up falling 0-2 again to Evil Geniuses, ending its run at the Major without a single win at 0-4 and earning a 7th-8th place finish. This struggle on the international stage has been something that Dota fans have seen before, as the team’s previous outing at a Pro Circuit event, the PGL Open Bucharest Minor, also ended with an 0-4 record and a last place finish. Infamous may be having difficulties producing solid results on the international level, but the squad has seen some improvement within its home region recently. Between the team’s first Pro Circuit appearance in Bucharest and its most recent at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, Infamous has participated in three Pro Circuit qualifiers, with increasingly strong results. The team finished 3rd in the qualifier for the Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minor, 2nd in the Dota Summit 8 qualifier, and 1st in the qualifier for this MDL Macau Minor. These results show evidence of Infamous improving against its South American rivals, but the team has still yet to prove that it is capable of contending with top teams on an international level.

The improvements at home for Infamous have the team looking stronger as its enters the MDL Macau Minor, but it doesn’t seem like those improvements will be enough to push this team to a breakthrough performance at this event. Even with a handful of teams in the field of participants making their Pro Circuit debut in Macau, the struggles that Infamous have faced outside of South America seem too significant for the squad to overcome. The likelihood that Infamous put together a top 4 run at the Minor appear to be exceptionally low, and the comes into Macau as a projected 5th-9th place team. The team’s recent string of solid results in South American regional qualifiers leaves some small semblance of hope that the team could pull off a truly impressive performance, but the expectations for Infamous are still incredibly low in Macau.

 

OG 425px-OG_RB_Logo

Region: Europe

Qualification: Europe Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein   2. Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok   3. Gustav “s4” Magnusson   4. Jesse “jerAx” Vainikka   5. Tal “Fly” Aizik (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

The season so far for European squad OG has not been nearly as successful as many may have predicted. The team will be making only its second appearance at a Pro Circuit event this season, with its previous performance at the Dota Pit Minor failing to secure the squad any Qualifying Points. The team has been struggling with inconsistent play throughout the season, which has led to the squad missing some opportunities to appear on the international stage. With the team’s success in the qualifier for this Minor, OG is hoping that it is ready to put some of its prior poor performances behind it and put itself back into the competitive equation on the Pro Circuit.

The last Pro Circuit appearance for OG came over a month ago at the Dota Pit Minor, where the European squad made its Pro Circuit debut. The team lost its opening series against Vici Gaming 1-2 to drop down to the lower bracket, where the format of its matches went from best-of-3 to best-of-1. OG managed to defeat Southeast Asian squad Fnatic to advance to the next round, but failed to take down Chinese powerhouse Newbee, ending its run just short of the top 4 mark with a 5th-6th place finish. Since then, the team has returned to its home region and has looked like a much stronger team overall. OG has participated in three Pro Circuit qualifiers since its performance at the Minor, winning Europe Qualifiers for both the MDL Macau and Captain’s Draft 4.0 Minors, and within a single game of qualifying for the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals Major. OG’s recent success in the European region is highly encouraging for the team coming into the MDL Macau Minor, but the true test will still be just how the squad stacks up against international competition.

OG has been looking like a stronger team in the time since its previous LAN appearance, looking to reclaim a spot atop the hierarchy in the European region. The teams lack of Pro Circuit events and Qualifying Points is a source of diappointment for the team this season, but it doesn’t seem feasible for a squad with as much skill and experience as OG to remain without a significant event win for much longer. The field of participants in Macau have a few standout teams that can be considered favorites, but most of the teams at the Minor don’t appear to be on the level required for a top 4 finish to be an expected finish. With that in mind, OG comes in as a somewhat risky projection to claim a top 4 spot at the MDL Macau Minor. The teams improved play at home as well as its close call at the Dota Pit Minor have the team sitting just one small level above the rest of the pack at this event. Such a small advantage means that OG is particularly susceptible to a fall to a weaker position should it suffer a setback in Macau. However, should the team be able to maintain the level of play it has been showing of late, then the European squad should be capable of earning its first Qualifying Points of the season.

 

Natus Vincere 668px-Natus_Vincere

Region: Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS)

Qualification: CIS Qualifier Winner

Pro Circuit Rank: 8th (225 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek   2. Danil “Dendi” Ishutin   3. Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini   4. Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan   5. Akbar “SoNNeiko” Butaev (Captain)

Projected Finish: Top 4

Fresh off of a successful campaign at the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, Na’Vi comes into the MDL Macau Minor with the confidence and momentum of team playing at its best. After a top 4 finish in Jönköping that earned the CIS squad its first Qualifying Points of the season, Na’Vi will look for another top 4 finish in the hopes of continuing its climb up the Pro Circuit standings. Na’Vi has been exceptionally strong within the CIS region so far this season, but its record at the international level had been anything but encouraging prior to its breakthrough performance at the Major. With its consistent regional success and recent victories against international opponents, Na’Vi enter this event as one of the stronger teams in the field of participants.

Na’Vi’s last Pro Circuit appearance was the previously mentioned DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, where the team earned its first top 4 finish of the season. The CIS squad lost its opening series to fellow CIS team Virtus.pro 1-2, before taking back to back 2-1 victories against Fnatic and Newbee. The team’s run was brought to an end by North American squad Evil Geniuses, who managed to hand Na’Vi an 0-2 loss to end its run at the Major. The team had not played any Pro Circuit matches in the days since the end of the Major, but by looking at the team’s performance between its last two Pro Circuit LAN appearances, we can get a grasp of how for forward the team has come. Between the PGL Open Bucharest Minor and the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals, Na’Vi participated in four qualifiers and earned LAN spots from two of them. In the qualifiers that Na’Vi did not end up winning (Dota Summit 8 Minor & Galaxy Battles II Major) the team still managed to finish 2nd and 3rd-4th, respectively. Outside of the Pro Circuit, Na’Vi also won the Adrenaline Cyber League Finals in Moscow, defeating mousesports 2-0 and taking down Virtus.pro 3-1 to claim 1st place at the event. These recent successes do quite a lot to present Na’Vi as a strong and stable team as it heads into the MDL Macau Minor.

Na’Vi’s string of strong results makes it one of the more accomplished teams in the field of participants in Macau. With many other teams making their Pro Circuit debut or facing struggles either at home or on the international stage, Na’Vi is one of the only squads to have proven success on both fronts. Those successes and consistency are heavily valued on the Pro Circuit, and they help instill a high level of confidence in Na’Vi’s ability to perform in Macau. Na’Vi come into this event as one of the safest projections for a top 4 spot among the participating teams, but the possibility still exists for an unexpected challenge from one of the underdog teams. We’ve seen Na’Vi struggle against international opponents earlier in the season, and the best-of-1 format in the Group Stage could lead to some surprises. Despite that possibility, Na’Vi should still be looking at a top 4 finish so long as it can continue to play as it has been over the past month or so.

 

EHOME 800px-EHOME

Region: China

Qualification: Direct Invite

Pro Circuit Rank: Not Ranked (0 Qualifying Points)

Roster: 1. Wang “old chicken” Zhiyong (Captain)   2. Chen “Cty” Tianyu   3. Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida   4. Xu “Hym” Zhi   5. Zhang “y`” Yiping

Projected Finish: 5th-9th

A surprise addition to the list of participants in Macau, EHOME came to be invited to this Minor through a rule violation on the part of MDL. The organizers decided to use the Chinese exclusive Dota 2 Professional League(DPL) Season 4 as an alternative to a Chinese Qualifier, giving a slot at the event to the team that won (LGD.Forever Young). Unfortunately for EHOME, it was not allowed to participate in the DPL, but the exclusion from the event violated Valve policy in regards to Pro Circuit Qualifiers, and thus EHOME was directly invited to the event as compensation. For EHOME, the trip to Macau will mark the team’s first ever appearance at a Pro Circuit event, and the Chinese squad will be looking to make the most of this surprise opportunity to perform on the international stage.

EHOME has not attended a Pro Circuit event so far this season, but not for a lack of trying. The season has been one of near constant struggle for the squad, as it has failed time and time again to breakthrough in the Chinese region. The team has participated in six regional qualifiers so far this season, and its best result in those qualifiers was a 4th place finish in the qualifier for the StarLadder i-League Minor. These struggles within its home region are not very encouraging for EHOME, but the team has had some success at the international level this season, just not at a Pro Circuit event. The team participated in The Major League, a third party tournament consisting of Chinese and Southeast Asian teams hosted in Malaysia. EHOME managed to fight its way through the lower bracket at the event to make it to the Grand Finals, but lost to Execration 1-2. The 2nd place finish at this event helps instill some hope that the team can perform against international opponents, but EHOME will need an impressive performance if it wants to make a statement in its Pro Circuit debut.

With its struggles within the Chinese region, limited international success, and utter lack of Pro Circuit experience, it is incredibly difficult to have a high level of confidence in EHOME at the MDL Macau Minor. The team has talented and experienced players, including two TI winners (Faith_bian & y`), but that may not be enough to carry this squad to victory considering its recent string of poor performances. EHOME may have some sort of miracle run ready to be revealed at the Minor, but the expectations for this squad have to be placed significantly low coming into the event. EHOME sit solidly within the 5th-9th place range in terms of its expected performance in Macau, and its would take a truly inspired and shocking showing from the Chinese squad to exceed those expectations.

 

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