Evil Geniuses, J.Storm, EE start strong in MDL Chengdu Major

Steven R. November 18, 2019

North American Dota 2 had a disastrous 2018-2019 season, but things might just be turning around this year.

The group stage of the MDL Chengdu Major has wrapped up and all three North American teams earned a spot in the upper bracket. Evil Geniuses, J.Storm, and Fighting PandaS all went 2-1 in their groups to ensure a top-12 finish and a bit of a safety net moving forward in the event.

Though the MDL Chengdu Major is far from over, each of the three teams could be ready to make a run.

Evil Geniuses, J.Storm, Fighting PandaS solid in MDL Chengdu Major

The three North American squads all faced some adversity on their way to the upper bracket.

Evil Geniuses started off strong in group C by easily handling an overmatched Team Adroit. Though the boys in blue seemed ready to close out their group 2-0 they ate a loss to Team Liquid that put them into an awkward position. This put them into a dangerous deciding match against Team Aster.

The first game was neck-and-neck for over 40 minutes despite Abed “Abed” Azel L. Yusop going wild on Ember Spirit, but Evil Geniuses managed to avoid squandering its kill lead and took the victory. They weren’t so lucky in game two as a 10,000 net worth advantage went to waste as Aster scored the comeback win. Evil Geniuses pulled off a comeback of their own in game three though, thanks to a big game from Artour “Arteezy” Babaev on Juggernaut.

EG wasn’t dominant during the series but they looked good enough to possibly be a contender moving forward.

J.Storm also started off with a win, edging out Gambit Esports at the start of the group stage with a 2-1 win. From there, they faced Invictus Gaming and lost 2-0, first in a 62-minute marathon and then in a 23-minute shellacking. That set them up with a game against beastcoast.

The South American squad hasn’t looked in top shape in Chengdu, at least partially due to an illness suffered by mid laner Jean Pierre "Chris Luck" Gonzales. The team’s struggles continued in their series with J.Storm as they came out on top of a sloppy game one, but then dropped the next two in disastrous fashion as they ceded 114 kills across the two losses.

Fighting PandaS had a very different story. The team dropped its opening series against EHOME 2-1, which forced them into a tricky spot. They then beat Team Unknown in order to stay alive, but were forced to rematch EHOME in the deciding game.

While the first series was a fairly convincing victory for EHOME, Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao got revenge in 2-0 fashion thanks to a pair of big games by Jonathan Bryle "bryle" Santos De Guia.

NA teams in for tough fight in MDL Chengdu Major upper bracket

Naturally, the upper bracket is where the real fight begins for each of the three teams. Evil Geniuses and Fighting PandaS had unfortunate draws as they face off with Invictus Gaming and Vici Gaming, respectively.

The Chinese teams are arguably the favorites to win the tournament and looked strong in the group stage. They’ll likely enter the matchups as the favorites, but these wouldn’t be huge upsets all the same.

J.Storm has the best matchup in Team Liquid. Though Liquid managed to beat Evil Geniuses en route to its 2-0 finish in groups, the team has still looked vulnerable.

The final upper bracket matchup is TNC Predator vs. Alliance.

EG and Fighting PandaS will play on November 18, while J.Storm faces Liquid on November 17.