The Biggest Storylines Heading into the MDL Disneyland Paris Major

The 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit is about to kick off once again as the world best Dota 2 teams are set to kick off at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.

The tournament is set to be one of the biggest of the year, and for a lot good reasons. First, it’s a Major, and Majors are always a big deal. Second, it’s the fourth Major of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit; it’s one of the last few chances to secure a direct invite to The International 2019. Third, all of the top-tier teams are in attendance, along with a couple of teams who are hoping to break through.

Plus, it’s set to be the first Dota 2 Major held in Paris, and should serve as a barometer of the international appeal of Dota 2. It should also already go without saying that there’s a lot at stake here for the Dota 2 teams who will be playing, with plenty of dramatic storylines to follow.

That last bit is something that we’ll focus on today.

So, before the horn sounds and the Dota 2 teams at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major wage war at the happiest place on earth, we’ll take a look at the five of the top stories that we’re excited to see play out at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.

OG’s Major Debut

MDL Disneyland Paris Major

With ana back, OG will have no excuses if they don’t place well at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major. (OG / Instagram )

After a roller coaster of a season at the 2017-18 Dota Pro Circuit, OG found themselves on top of Dota 2 as they defied all odds and won The International 2018. But, seemingly as soon as the confetti landed and OG had to compete once again with the start of the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit, it seemed as if OG were intent on proving all of their doubters and critics right when they say that them winning TI was a fluke.

You can’t exactly really blame them for their early season struggles, however. They did just lose Anathan ‘ana‘ Pham, who decided to take a break following their TI win.

While ana may just be one player, he was arguably the biggest piece of their TI-winning puzzle. Much of OG’s wins at The International 2018 were made on the backs of ana as he pushed the boundaries of his heroes and played them to their absolute limit.

Now, after taking a long vacation, ana is back and it’ll be interesting to see if OG will be able to start winning once again with their TI lineup complete.

Can Team Liquid Bounce Back?

MDL Disneyland Paris Major

Despite Team Liquid’s rather inconsistent season, Lasse Aukusti ‘MATUMBAMAN’ Urpalainen has been one of the more stable performers on the team. (Team Liquid)

Team Liquid were one of the rare exceptions of TI champions not resting on their laurels and continuing to dominate after winning a TI. In fact, Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi and his team were arguably better in the inaugural Dota Pro Circuit, as they won a Major, secured a couple of Minors, and generally looked like every bit of how a defending champion should.

Sure, the season might not have ended in them having successfully defended their title — Team Liquid placed fourth at The International 2018 — and their decision to play the entire year might have led to burnout, but it’s not as if going 1st to 4th at a TI is that bad of a drop-off.

What is a huge of a drop-off is seeing Team Liquid go from arguably the best Dota 2 team in the world to a team that hasn’t really had a good showing lately.

To say that the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit has not been kind to Team Liquid is only fitting. Not only did Team Liquid fail to qualify for the Kuala Lumpur Major, prompting KuroKy to shut down the squad to take a much-needed break, but they also placed last at the CORSAIR DreamLeague Major Season 11 in March.

To be fair, Team Liquid haven’t been that bad — Team Liquid won the MegaFon Winter Clash and the MDL Macau 2019 earlier this year — it’s just they’ve failed to meet the standards that they’ve set for themselves via their earlier performance.

Just as with OG, the MDL Disneyland Paris Major will serve as a test if this lineup still has what it takes to start winning tournaments.

Have Evil Geniuses Hit Their Ceiling?

MDL Disneyland Paris Major

Rightfully held to higher standards than most, anything less than a Grand Final finish at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major will be considered a bust for Evil Geniuses. (Instagram)

When Evil Geniuses claimed third at The International 2018 in what was just their second big LAN together, a lot of people had high hopes for the boys in blue for the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit. But, so far this season, we haven’t really seen the kind of improvement that we expected out of Evil Geniuses. 

No offense, Evil Geniuses have been great. They’ve placed third in two out of three Majors this season, and have generally looked the part of the best Dota 2 team in North America.

Unfortunately, that last bit doesn’t really carry that much weight considering how very few good Dota 2 teams there are in NA these days. Not to mention, given the kind of talent on their lineup, you expect bigger things from Evil Geniuses. However, even though they’ve looked extremely good this season, they’ve also often found themselves thoroughly outmatched when facing off against the likes of Virtus.Pro and Team Secret.

If Evil Geniuses keep performing as they have at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, there’ll be some serious questions regarding if whether or not it’s time to hit the rest button for this lineup.

Which Dota 2 Team Will Stand Out?

MDL Disneyland Paris Major

Anucha ‘Jabz’ Jirawong have come a long way this season for a neophyte captain of an all-star squad. (Fnatic)

The good thing about the Dota Pro Circuit is that, even though it’s not really that friendly to Tier 3 teams, it keeps the competition open to teams who are good enough to break into the Tier 2 and win Minors.

While Virtus.Pro and Team Secret have been the two best and most consistent Dota 2 teams this season, it’s not like they’re the only ones who’ve looked good. PSG.LGD aren’t half-bad either, and for all of their failure to win the tournaments, Evil Geniuses are still right up there among the greats. At the CORSAIR DreamLeague Season 11, Vici Gaming went from a team facing chemistry issues just a month prior to a team that played their way from a Minor to win a Major.

There might not have been other Major winners just yet, but there’ve been other Dota 2 teams who’ve experienced similar breakthroughs over the year.

Fnatic’s all-star SEA lineup are finally starting to gel together, while Keen Gaming have low-key been building a case as another legitimate contender from China. Not tto mention, Ninjas in Pyjamas are fresh off of a win at the OGA Dota Pit Minor and are looking to make some serious noise at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.

The MDL Disneyland Paris Major features arguably the most competitive lineup of all the Majors this season, and while we’ve definitely got our eyes on the favourites, it won’t totally surprise us if another team ends up taking the trophy home for themselves.

The International Appeal of Dota 2

Much has been said about Dota 2’s international appeal, or the lack thereof.

As much as Valve deserves a lot of praise for organically growing the playerbase of Dota 2, they also deserve a lot of criticism for their lack of efforts in making the game more appealing to a broader audience. Sure, much of Dota 2’s lack of appeal is because of the game itself. The games mechanics are quite different from other games, even from titles in the same genre, making the learning curve quite steep for beginners interested to play pick up the game. But, surely, Valve could have done better to make Dota 2 a lot more appealing to the international audience.

As presently constructed, Dota 2 has huge followings in Southeast Asia, China, CIS, and South America. The game’s appeal in Europe is arguable, and it’s downright laughable in North America when compared to other popular titles today.

A successful turnout at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major could help force Valve to take action and advertise Dota 2 more. If not, at least, it should give themtournament organizers a reason to try and host the big Dota 2 tournaments in areas not traditionally known for their Dota 2 playerbase.

Final Thoughts

If there’s a time and place to make dreams come true, then it’s Disneyland Paris this coming May 4-12.

Each Dota 2 team playing at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major will have their own reasons to try and do their best. Some will be looking to add yet another title to their stacked trophy cases, while others will be looking to add their first Major, and there are those who will be happy with just a good showing.

Either way, the MDL Disneyland Paris Major should make for some good ol’ Dota 2 action and we can’t just wait to see what it’s got in store for us fans.

Click here for our complete preview of the MDL Disneyland Paris Major.

Which Dota 2 team do you think will win the MDL Disneyland Paris Major? Do you think we’ll see the favourites triumph once again? Or will another Dota 2 team catch us by surprise? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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