After a month of relegation and hibernation, the ESEA Mountain Dew League returns as 18 teams fight for AUNZ’s spot at the Global Challenge for Season 29.
For some, they return to the MDL for another chance at an international LAN, while for others, they enter the battlefields for the first time, hoping not to be sent back to ESEA Open at seasons end.
Since there are 18 teams in the MDL, I’ve grouped them together with teams of similar level. Let’s look at Season 29’s contenders and I’ll give my predictions on how they stack up against their opposition and where they may finish when the season concludes.
You know them, and love them or not, it’s the creme de la creme of our region.
Fresh from a recent shuffle, these teams are looking as strong as ever as they continue to build out their lead over the rest of the region. However, all these teams are targets for upsets, and we have seen them fall to minnows like Akademiks before, and with seeding being crucial for the playoffs every game matters for the top 4.
For some, problems are far more noticeable for others. One example at the moment is the Chiefs. As alluded to by their captain Tucks, they won’t have a permanent 5th for the time being after ap0c has left for Tainted Minds. They have recently used mswag in the ESL AUNZ Championship and will be using iyen for MDL (according to their ESEA roster).
Having to split both practice and game time between two players is always a challenge. But as we saw at eXTREMESLAND ANZ Finals, the Chiefs can be adaptable and flexible. And with a 2-0 in ESL AUNZ over Legacy, this may only be a minor hindrance to their MDL campaign.
For the teams in this group, a finals spot is all but guaranteed, but they can’t be complacent, as even a minor upset could see them forced out of the top four spots and put them in a massive disadvantage come finals time.
To use a cycling analogy, if the Top 4 are Froome, Valverde, Contador and Porte, then these next four are your baroudeurs – the Voeckler’s and Chavanel’s of Oceanic Counter-Strike.
These teams are always nipping at the heels of the leaders, and are able to snatch a few cheeky wins every now again. However, they aren’t able to run the full race, as they have been unable to break those above them on a regular basis.
The chasers also have their own issues as well.
ex-Avant for example have only just left the storied org last week, losing one of their main riflers zeph in the process. While they have brought in everyone’s favourite observer MC to replace him, the loss is still significant for the squad.
Meanwhile at Legacy, the loss of coach Snyper has taken its toll on the team. They’ve lost twice to the Chiefs 0-2 since his departure and have struggled in other matches.
It’s not all doom and gloom for these teams however. madLikewizards have secured spots at the ESL AUNZ LAN Finals and CGPL Platinum Finals, while the Rise and Grind roster have finally found a new home with NZ org Breakaway Esports.
While these teams are looking likely to make it to the playoffs, their spot isn’t as safe as it is for the top four. Every game will count for these teams, especially with the likes of our next lot of teams looking to force there way into a playoffs spot.
Speaking of which…
The Dark Horses
These teams will be the bogeymen for everyone above them. While not being able to perform as consistently as the likes of LGC and mLw, these squads can upset on their day. But it’s more than likely that these teams will be fighting to stave off relegation than make playoffs. While they can upset, they have not been consistent to the point where they could make the top eight on a regular basis.
Not to say that any of these teams are bad though (even though most people will infer that).
Teams like Carnage and Trident have had some recent success while squads like MC and SYF have been able to keep their hat in the ring for the past few months. However, the gap between these teams and the second lot is still there, and it’s going to take a lot for any of these teams to make the leap.
But if the conditions are right, then anything could happen and we may see someone like a Carnage, Dynasty or even a Trident make it to playoffs. Only time will tell however if they can make the leap and stick the landing.
Update: It seems that SYF will not be able to field a roster for MDL and have decided to forfeit all their games for the season.
There’s so much to be expected from Ground Zero and Formidable, but it’s safe to say these teams have been struggling as of late. Both teams failed to make it to CGPL-Platinum this season and Formidable are at risk of losing their invite status if they can’t avoid the autumn FFYI.
And for MDL, things look similarly grim.
It will be a challenge for these two to avoid relegation come season’s end, but they have a chance to avoid that battle. GZ in particular have slowly been rising of late, gaining a few victories in ESL AUNZ and are looking to gain a spot at the LAN Finals. But they need to keep up their performance for an extended period of time, something that previous GZ lineups have failed to do.
Until then though, both GZ and Formidable are at risk of relegation, the question is whether they can avoid it.
For these teams, Season 29 will be used for experience.
All 3 teams are heavily outgunned by the rest of the pack and will be fighting between each other to avoid last place and direct demotion to ESEA Open. While a team like Vizard may be able to snatch a win against someone like SYF or MC, expect most of the games involving these teams to be near blowouts.
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