MDL: The Showdown Before Shanghai
While many DotA fans are already looking ahead to the Shanghai Major, first blood will be drawn this weekend at the MarsTV Dota 2 League. With balance updates before the Winter Major unlikely, and eight of the ten teams in attenance slated to be back in China next month, the MDL will be an important test.
EG will be entering with quite a bit of momentum after ending 2015 on a high note. After finishing a relatively disappointing 3rd at the Frankfurt Fall Major, the team bounced in a big way at The Summit 4 where they completed runback against Virtus.Pro in the Grand Finals after being down 0-2. The team was not able to perform that same feat last week at StarLadder, where they finished 2nd to the newly rejuvenated Alliance, however this weekend's forecast seems to promise a lot less bears.
The teams have been sorted into two groups for a Bo2 round-robin prelim. The bottom team of each group will be eliminated, and the top two of each group advancing to the Winners' Bracket for the playoffs. EG has the arguably harder group of the two where they will face a star-studded ViCi Gaming line-up, the winners of the Frankfurt Fall Major OG, the new rising star of CIS Team Spirit, and TI4 champs Newbee.
First up is Team Spirit, the newest project of CIS veteran Goblak After a whirlwind of short tenures at numerous teams which led him to name his last squad "CIS Rejects," it seems that Goblak has finally found a line-up that works. Spirit was not only able to claim the EU qualifier slot for MDL in a field that included VP, they punched their ticket to Shanghai with a victory over Empire. The team is young and untested, but full of potential. And as we saw at Frankfurt, this seems to be the time for such teams to shine. However, it would be hard to make the case that Spirit should be favored in a match-up against the battle-tested EG, especially with a captain like Peter "ppd" Dager at the helm who is less likely than most to be shaken by Goblak's "unique" drafting.
Next is OG, possibly EG's fiercest competition of the group. OG proved their mettle at Frankfurt, ousting EG in the Losers' Final en route to a Grand Final victory over Secret. However the special flowers might be wilting just a bit under the more intense spot light following their victory at the Fall Major. At TS4, they finished in 4th eliminated by VP after being tossed into Losers' by VG. EG has actually yet to take a set against OG, having faced off only twice previously (the most recent being the Frankfurt Losers' Final), but EG will definitely be looking to change that.
Third is be Newbee. While Newbee has been the butt of many RPG jokes lately, the former champions actually managed to pull a tie against EG during group stages of EG's championship run at TI5, And the recent addition of another former champion, Chuan of iG, has helped Newbee round into form. While Newbee certainly aren't favorites to take any tournament lately, much less TI, but it would be folly to think the former champs are all washed up. Afterall, it was barely a few months ago when another former TI champion was a mere afterthought before putting themselves right back into contender talk.
Last is VG. EG and VG has been the premier West vs. East rivalry since EG's elimination at TI4 by VG. However after trading titles in Grand Finals rematches in the latter part of 2014, the match-up became fairly one-sided in 2015. VG's last win against EG was at the Dota Asia Championships' Winner Bracket finals, a victory that was short lived after EG shut VG out of the Grand Finals 3-0 to claim the title. Since then EG won the next five matches. For the moment it seems that VG has stalled at the cusp of being a great team instead of merely a good team, not quite keeping up with the progression of its former peers at the top echelons. But VG's new line-up, featuring the reunion of Emperor BurNIng with former teammates Iceiceice and Super, seems to have a higher ceiling than its previous incarnations even if it's not a magical pancea.
|Score||Player 1||Map||Player 2||Score|
|2||EG||Best of 2||Team Spirit||0|
|0||EG||Best of 2||OG||2|
|1||EG||Best of 2||Newbee||1|
|0||EG||Best of 2||ViCi Gaming||2|
|Group Wins3||:||5Group Losses|
|Score||Player 1||Map||Player 2||Score|
|0||EG||Best of 3||EHOME||2|
|2||EG||Best of 3||compLexity||0|
|2||EG||Best of 3||ViCi Gaming||1|
|2||EG||Best of 3||LGD||1|
|2||EG||Best of 3||OG||0|
|0||EG||Best of 3||EHOME||3|
|Playoff Wins4||:||2Playoff Losses|