With the pinnacle of DOTA 2 competitive gameplay getting underway later this month at The International 2017, the pressure is on for all of the professional teams to prove they’re up for the challenge. And at the Mars Dota 2 League 2017, we’ll enjoy a glimpse of the meta leading up to the main event, and perhaps even see the future champions – a decisive victory in the Chinese competition could mean good things in the weeks to come.
Eight teams have been invited to Wuhan, China, to compete in the round robin tournament, which is now entering its fourth year. Four of these sides were invited directly, while four earned a spot in their respective regional qualifiers beforehand. Invictus Gaming, Newbee, OG and Evil Geniuses all received the proverbial golden ticket, while the qualifiers were quite a bit more interesting.
Clutch Gamers came out on top in the Southeast Asia qualifier, while in the China qualifier, LGD Gaming and LGD.Forever Young – each a branch of the LGD Gaming organisation – both earned their spot in the League. Meanwhile, the European qualifiers had to be unexpectedly cancelled, with the spot being granted to Vici Gaming – another predominantly Chinese team – instead. With that in mind, the home fans will certainly take an interest in this tournament – five of the eight teams participating are composed primarily of Chinese players.
The format of the tournament is nothing unusual, being made up of a fairly standard round robin group stage double-elimination. All eight teams will initially face off against each other, offering plenty of competitive gameplay for fans to watch right from the beginning. The four top-scoring teams will move onto the winners’ bracket, and the rest to the losers’ bracket. The League will go on as standard matches from there until a winner is decided, with the victors taking home the lion’s share of the undisclosed prize pool.
Competition is looking to be fierce between the highly seeded teams this year. OG seem to be the favoured team heading in, with many speculating that they may well end up as 2017’s International champions as well. They’ve failed to take home gold from just one of the five Majors and boast a very solid team of capable players.
They won’t be without competition, though: Invictus Gaming, who crushed the Europeans at this year’s Asia Championships, will also be in attendance. Many players are hoping they’ll put in a repeat performance and challenge OG’s favouritism.
With two LGD Gaming teams participating, the organisation has doubled their chances of taking home the gold. Both teams faced each other in the China qualifiers, with LGD.FY only narrowly defeating LGD in the Winners’ Finals, so – the two are clearly very evenly matched.
Newbee, another Chinese team, have been seen as something of a controversial invite this year. The outfit simply haven’t been able to put in a consistent performances lately, failing to to qualify for key tournaments earlier this year. They have enjoyed some recent success, however, winning the ZOTAC Cup Masters and Galaxy Battles Premier events, but expectations are still muted.
Although Clutch Gamers have proven themselves to be an extremely strong team in the past, particularly from April-May this year, their more recent tournament showings have been somewhat underwhelming. That being said, their unpredictable nature may only add to their allure, and it’ll definitely be worth keeping an eye on this team as MDL 2017 gets underway.
Vici Gaming, meanwhile, managed to make something of a name for themselves at the International 2015 by finishing 4th, but lack the competitive record many of the other attending teams boast. Without any recent reforms to give them an edge, it’s hard to see this side taking the win this year.
Evil Geniuses are the final team to have received a direct invitation to the tournament. This world-renowned side have put on a number of strong displays recently, winning the Manila Masters and coming a close second at the EPICENTER. With a tried and true team of players, and a few victories under their belt already, it’s certainly not too hard to see EG coming out on top at MDL 2017.
The pool of teams this year is certainly an interesting one, particularly for those invested in the Chinese scene. Although the disparity in form and class between some teams is perhaps wider than usual, the League is still shaping up to be a hotly contested tournament. And, with it being so close to the International 2017, it is absolutely worth keeping tabs on.