The International 2018: Top Contenders
Photo courtesy of PerfectWorld
Each year teams around the world gather in the same place with the same goal between their eyes—to take home the most prestigious title and trophy in Dota 2, the Aegis. Only one team can make it happen and although it has been seen before where the Underdogs and Dark Horses have risen up to usurp the tournament favorites (read about our Underdogs article here) most fans and avid gamblers hedge their bets on the leaders of the season and the teams that dominated their opponents time and time again.
Virtus.pro, Team Liquid, Team Secret and PSG.LGD slid into the top four places of the DPC rankings for 2017-2018 with some of the most spectacular and stunning performances with rarely challenged authority. These juggernauts are the top contenders to take the cake at The International 8.
Photo courtesy of ESL
Most of this Virtus.pro lineup has been together now for almost two year, with only one roster change happening in February when VP traded traded Ilya 'Lil' Ilyuk to Na'vi for Vladimir 'RodjER' Nikogosyan.
Over the course of the two years, the Russian organization has created a masterpiece in the Dota 2 scene —their playstyle, personalities, and presence are a work of art that amazes fans around the world. You can't help but to stop and stare in awe as they take the battleground and stage.
Although VP didn't seem to have the best start in the DPC season. They tripped in the first event they
participated in — PGL Open Bucharest, failing to get through the qualifiers. Maybe it was the hit that interrupted the calmly sleeping bear and awoke the Russian beast . They quickly bounced back for the third DPC event which was the first major
of the season — ESL One Hamburg Major. It was here, in Germany that the Russian giants took the first of several ESL titles and set the stage for things to come as they continued to monopolize all of the ESL Majors following as well — ESL One Katowice and ESL One Birmingham, not to mention the MVP Mercedes E class rewards.
Throughout the season they managed to surpass all expectations, taking the first major title of 2017 and 2018, becoming the first team to seize two consecutive major titles, and were the first team to stake a claim of a TI8 direct invite in the middle of the season, long before any other team was able to secure their place.
Despite having secured their position, the team refused to back down. Instead, they charged forward even harder finishing the season with a total of 12,372 qualifying points. That is almost 3000 points more than Team Liquid who was next in line.
Photo courtesy of PerfectWorld
The Team Liquid crew is indeed one of the teams that owned the heart of the crowd. Since taking the Aegis at The International 7, the team was one of the rare squads that won the title and crushed the curse of falling apart in the following season. The continued to be at the head of the class time and time again, dominating the DPC early in the season with the first event —Starladder i-League
Invitational Season 3 and ending on an even higher note for the last event — the China Dota 2 Supermajor.
Being the TI7 champions, Team Liquid was invited to participate in the first DPC 2017-2018 minor. Their solid play carried over from the summer and they went undefeated through the entire event —groupstage and brackets to take home the first DPC title of the new system.
Liquid continued to be a formidable opponent, taking 3-4th at ESL One Hamburg, 1st at DotaPit, 2nd at DreamLeague Season 8 followed by another silver finish at ESL One Genting. They then took another title at a second StarLadder invitational before landing third place at their next three consecutive events — ESL One Katowice, Bucharest Major and DreamLeague Season 9.
A slight dip in performance at DAC was followed by another 2nd place finish at Epicenter XL Major. Once again, the team slid in the next event to a shocking 7-9th place finish at ESL One Birmingham, leaving many to scratch their heads. In one final swoop, Team Liquid reminded the entire world, they were still in top form and crushed the competition at China Dota 2 Supermajor for the final title of the season.
Team Liquid's strong presence not only gave them the honor of being the second team to receive a direct invite to TI8, but their total earnings are the highest in Dota 2, reaching a staggering $15,547,847.10 so far. Team Liquid is well within a genuine chance of making TI history as the first two-time championship team.
Team Roster :
Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen.
Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi.
Ivan "MindControl" Ivanov.
Maroun "GH" Merhej.
Kuro Salhi "Kuroky-" Takhasomi.
Photo courtesy of EPICENTER
The Chinese Team PSG.LGD grabbed the attention of the entire community. Rising up through the ranks throughout the season, spectators and opponents were forced to watch as they gained momentum and evolved with each passing event.
The first half of the DPC 2017-2018 was rough for the Chinese team. They mostly fell just short of reaching the LAN events, usually taking up the 2nd and 3rd place spots in the regional qualifiers. They managed to qualify for the Perfect World Masters where they ultimately came in 9-10th place and then Dota Summit 8 almost two months later where they ended up with another disappointing 8-9th place finish. In between the two, they were invited to MDL Macau, where they also took a dismal 5-9th place. Things weren't looking so hot for the team and they ended the year needing to adjust if they wanted to see any achievements worth noting — and they did in a big way.
With the start of the new year, they brought on board Yang "Challice" Shenyi and Yap " xNova" Jian Wei. Adjusting the roles, playstyle and strategies, the Chinese rising stars had all but stunned the community with their impressive 180 degrees turn around. They began to take qualifier after qualifier and ultimately achievements at every event starting almost immediately. They seized 2nd place at Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4, hit a slight bump at ESL One Katowice for 9-12th place but then regained their footing with 2nd place at Dota Asia Championship 2018, first at EPICENTER XL, first at MDL Changsha Major and third at the China Super Major.
Team Roster :
Wang "Ame" Chunyu
Lu "SOMNUS丶M" Yao
Yang "Challice" Shenyi
Xu "Fy" Linsen
Yap ""xNova" Jian Wei
Photo courtesy of DreamLeague
Last, but not least on the list of TI8 top contenders is Team Secret.
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov is a well-experienced Captain that can easily be considered one of the top
captains of Dota 2 history. Hailing from the days of DotA, he has his own vision and leadership ways
that seem to have paid off for him and his teams time and time again.
Although Team Secret participated in more than half of the DPC events for the 2017-2018 season, they were only able to secure three titles and one 2nd place finish.
At the start of the year, the Europeans dominated the EU region, taking all of the qualifier spots for the first three events and the majority of them for the first two months before tournament organizers started to invite them directly. With commendable finishes right off the bat, they took points right away, continuing to be a strong presence at events until they landed their first title at DreamLeague Season 8, a feat that they repeated in the next iteration at DreamLeague Season 9.
While they might not have had the most stand out record or performance of the year, they were consistent and able to slid into the fourth place of the DPC rankings. Loaded with talent and experience, there is no doubt that this team is a real contender to give Puppey a second Aegis.
Team Roster :
Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard
Yeik Nai "MidOne" Zheng
Adrian "Fata" Trinks
Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
The International 2018
The International 2018 is set to begin on August 15 and scheduled to run through August 25. For the first time ever, The International will be held in Vancouver, Canada with a total of 18 teams competing. Currently, the prize pool now over $20 million after a significant increase from the weekend bundle sale.