Southeast Asia and CIS are the hottest regions entering MDL Chengdu, the first Major of the 2019-2020 Dota Pro Circuit. And that’s because TNC Predator and Gambit Esports have both made a strong statement only a couple of weeks back when they fought in a thrilling grand final at ESL One Hamburg.
The best-of-five battle for the ESL One trophy showcased two teams that are ready to take the scene by storm right from the start of the season, but their absolutely outstanding performance has also put a huge target on their backs. While both teams might have shown in Hamburg everything that they have in their repertoire, there are other competitors at this Major who haven’t played a single official match apart from the regional qualifiers for this event, and who will most likely come prepared for the ESL One Hamburg finalists.
TNC and Gambit should be riding the momentum at this first Major, but with no patch in between the tournaments and with a plethora of official matches already played, especially by TNC who have also secured a spot at WESG by playing in the Philippines and SEA qualifiers this month, it becomes harder for them to surprise the other competitors. It’s not a coincidence that the captains of these two teams have both declared that they don’t have any expectations from this event. In an interview for AFK Gaming after his big victory at ESL One Hamburg, Park “March” Tae-won said: “going into the MDL Chengdu Major, I still think that not putting pressure on yourself is the best way to play. So I am not going to expect anything, I don’t really mind going out of the tournament in last place either, as long as we play and draft the way we practice. I still believe that as long as we do that, we will do well in this tournament.”
At the same time, in a Vlog made by Gambit on their departure to China, Artsiom “fng” Barshak mentioned that they put a lot of pressure on themselves for the ESL One event, but he doesn’t want to make a prediction for his team going into the Major. He also stated that the current meta has become “boring” and that he expected a patch to be released in between the Hamburg and Chengdu, but as that hasn’t happened, he said that for his team it is more important to show what they can do with what they practiced.
With these two hot teams coming to the Chengdu Major with no expectations, and most probably extremely aware that they will be targeted, Fnatic and Team Spirit are the next two squads capable of delivering the upsets. Fnatic have a slightly changed roster and no tournament record so far. The five members of Team Spirit started the season as Positive Guys, a newly formed team in the post TI9 shuffle, featuring rather familiar faces of the CIS scene.
Igor “iLTW” Filatov, who made a name for himself during the trial period with OG from last season, is in the carry position, Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk is the Team Spirit offlaner, while the support four position is taken by Gambit’s player from last year, Alexander “Immersion” Hmelevskoy. Team Spirit have the tournament experience to power through this Major and take advantage of the great opportunity that they are present with now. Until Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere get their stuff together and find a formula that can bring them back to the DPC tournaments, Gambit and Team Spirit are the only hopes for the CIS fans.