The MDL Changsha Major 2018 is the perfect opportunity for any team not named Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro to step-up and punch their ticket to The International 2018. Because, more than the $1 million USD prize pool, the third to last Major of the 2017-18 Pro Circuit will also have 1,500 Qualifying Points up for grabs.
Though Team Secret have already guaranteed their spot at Dota 2’s biggest annual tournament in August, they need to perform well here. Their confidence could use it after they’ve failed to place in the Top 4 in a Major since they won DreamLeague Season 8 in December last year. Unfortunately, a deep run at the MDL Changsha Major 2018 won’t come easy.
Despite Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro not playing — the first time this has happened in a Major all season long — the tournament is full of contenders. Case in point, PSG.LGD and Mineski, the winners of the past two Majors, EPICENTER XL and DAC 2018. There’s Newbee and ViCi Gaming as well, who, despite their recent slump, are still easily two of the best Dota 2 teams in China. Outside of those 4 are teams who are capable of punching well above their weight, from former powerhouses like Invictus Gaming and OG, as well as dark horses in TNC Pro Team and VGJ.Storm, among others.
Except for their Top 4 finish at GESC Indonesia (Minor), Infamous has failed to make it out of the group stages of every tournament they’ve played in. So yeah, the odds are certainly against the Peruvians. It wouldn’t come off as a surprise if they finished dead last once again with no more than a couple of wins to their name at the MDL Changsha Major 2018.
Betting: Infamous to draw against Invictus Gaming at 2.6 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 14:30 GMT+8)
11. Vega Squadron
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about teams from the CIS region, it’s to never sleep on them. Virtus.Pro may be the incumbent powerhouse, but there are other teams from the region that are capable of punching well above their weight. Case in point, FlyToMoon finishing in third place at EPICENTER XL.
Unfortunately, Vega Squadron is not FlyToMoon and while there surely must be a capable team, their results at both the LANs and the Regional Qualifiers they’ve played in so far tell a completely different story.
Betting: Vega Squadron to draw against Newbee at 2.75 odds (GGbet) (May 15, 10:00 GMT+8)
— Invictus Gaming (@invgaming) March 15, 2018
Being from China works towards iG.Vitality’s favour here. Though they have yet to appear in any Pro Circuit LAN, the fact that they managed to make it out of the Chinese Regional Qualifiers is a testament alone to their strength and potential. Besides, lest we forget, this is pretty much the same team as last season that made it all the way to The International 2017, sans Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun now replaced by Galvin ‘Meracle‘ Kang Jian Wen.
Having said that, of the many Dota 2 teams in this tournament, iG.Vitality have one of the biggest upset potentials.
Betting: iG.Vitality to go 2-0 against OG at 6.25 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 14:30 GMT+8)
9. Invictus Gaming
After winning in their respective groups of DPL, both iG and iG.V have secured a spot at MDL ChangSha Major!!! Congrats to the boys!!! pic.twitter.com/MJggqpl6fr
— Invictus Gaming (@invgaming) April 20, 2018
Speaking of upset potential, iG.Vitality’s sister squad, Invictus Gaming, are right up there as well.
Losing Xu ‘BurNIng‘ Zhilei post-TI7 hurt Invictus Gaming more than people thought it would as they went from legitimate contenders to a team who needed to be invited as the defending champions to appear in their first Pro Circuit LAN all season long at DAC 2018. Since then, though, Invictus Gaming seems to have flipped the proverbial switch, and are heading into the MDL Changsha Major 2018 with a lot to prove.
Betting: Invictus Gaming to go 2-0 against iG.Vitality at 2.1 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 19:00 GMT+8)
All season long, OG have performed like they’re on the cusp of returning to relevancy, playing in tight games against the likes of Team Liquid, Virtus.Pro, and Team Secret only to suffer head-scratching losses to teams that should be a step below them. That was once again the case at EPICENTER XL, where they finished second in Group B only to bow out of the playoffs without even winning a single game.
At this point, it’s hard to figure out what’s wrong with OG, and we’re not exactly sure if whether their current roster is the answer to their problem.
Betting: OG to draw against Team Secret at 2 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 19:00 GMT+8)
Winning the GESC Thailand Dota 2 Minor was awesome. Although the win won’t put VGJ.Storm any closer to earning a direct invite to TI8, it should be resounding enough of a reminder for teams not to underestimate them once the North American Regional Qualifiers for The International 2018 starts.
Until then, VGJ.Storm will have a chance to soak up as much LAN experience as they can, starting with the MDL Changsha Major 2018.
Should VGJ.Storm go on another deep run here, the upstarts from North America might be the second coming of the Digital Chaos squad that came out of nowhere to take 2nd place at The International 2016 — a roster that Roman ‘Resolut1on‘ Fominok was a part of.
Betting: VGJ.Storm to go 2-0 against ViCi Gaming at 5.3 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 12:15 GMT +8)
6. TNC Pro Team
The floor for the current TNC Pro Team roster is somewhere around Top 10-15 in the entire world. The ceiling? Well, that’s an entirely different story. TNC Pro Team have so far proven that they’re good enough not to lose against teams they have no business losing to and hungry enough to take games and entire series off of teams that should be a whole lot better than them. In fact, TNC Pro Team was a few costly late-game decisions away from securing more than a Top 4 finish at DAC 2018 where they went toe-to-toe against the likes of ViCi Gaming, Team Liquid, Virtus.Pro, LGD Gaming, and Newbee.
If they have made the necessary improvements since (and we’re betting that they have), TNC Pro Team is that one team that’s currently outside of the Top 8 of the season leaderboards that could very well book their ticket to TI8 with a win at the MDL Changsha Major 2018.
Betting: TNC Pro Team to go 2-0 against Newbee at 3.5 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 12:15 GMT+8)
Newbee are not a bad team, recent results be damned. They may be stubborn when it comes to their drafts and play style, but you can’t exactly blame them for not changing their ways when it has led them to success more often than not. Besides, Song ‘Sccc‘ Chun remains one of the most explosive midlaners in all of China if not the entire world, capable of taking over games on his own when given the chance.
It’s hard to peg where exactly Newbee will place at the end of the tournament. Let’s just say that it won’t come off as a surprise if they win the entire thing, but it won’t come off as a shock either if they bomb out early as well.
Betting: Newbee to draw against PSG.LGD at 2.25 odds (GGbet) (May 14, 16:45 GMT+8)
4. ViCi Gaming
ViCi Gaming flirted with a Top 4 finish at DAC 2018, narrowly losing to Mineski in the upper brackets before getting eliminated in a tight game by Virtus.Pro in the lower brackets. Throw in arguably the most mechanically skilled roster in all of China and three battle-hardened vets, and it’s plausible that ViCi Gaming may add yet another 2nd-place finish to their resume.
Betting: ViCi Gaming to draw against PSG.LGD at 2.5 odds (GGbet) (May 15, 10:00 GMT+8)
3. Team Secret
You know what’s a shame? When Team Secret keeps on losing because of their draft, whether by picking wonky, high-risk combinations to outright refusing to bad the opponent’s comfort heroes. But hey, that’s how Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov has always been. If his plan works, he’s a genius. If it doesn’t, the team becomes fodder for critics.
With their direct invite to TI8 already secured, don’t expect Puppey to stop experimenting anytime soon. If nothing else, we should see Team Secret pull out some pretty interesting lineups at the MDL Changsha Major 2018.
Betting: Team Secret to go 2-0 against Invictus Gaming at 1.9 odds (GGbet) (May 15, 12:15 GMT+8)
Questionable late-game decisions was the difference for Mineski making it to at least the Top 4 at EPICENTER XL and ultimately finishing in the Top 6. But, when your loss sparks yet another discussion why best-of-ones do not belong outside of the first round of the lower brackets in the playoffs, you can at least raise your heads up high.
Michael ‘ninjaboogie‘ Ross Jr. remains one of the most underrated position five support players in the world. If Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung can reign in his penchant for pulling off high-risk maneuvers — that’s something best left to Daryl ‘iceiceice‘ Koh Pei Xiang — Mineski can win, and win big.
Betting: Mineski to go 2-0 against Invictus Gaming at 2.7 odds (GGbet) (May 15, 16:45 GMT+8)
PSG.LGD won EPICENTER XL, started experimenting with their drafts and taking pages off of other team’s books, and have two switchable cores with support players that have, more often than not, single-handled turned games in their favour.
Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro may be the two best Dota 2 teams right now, but PSG.LGD are starting to look like the team that could fulfil the East-West TI prophecy.
Betting: PSG.LGD to go 2-0 against TNC Pro Team at 2.25 odds (GGbet) (May 15, 14:30 GMT+8)
Which Dota 2 teams are you rooting for at the MDL Changsha Major 2018? Do you think we’ll see a dark horse team come out of nowhere? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.