The International 2018 is much closer than most of you think, and after much excitement thanks to other DotA 2 tournaments throughout the year, we’ve finally reached the peak hype. For the 8th time in a row, we’ll be enjoying some of the best teams battling it out and fighting for glory, power, respect and a little bit of cash too (a little bit of cash, to say the least). Only the winners are remembered and etched in history s we’re all looking at another amazing International. As with any other tournament of this size (and trust me, there’s just a couple of them), there are several invited teams. The number of them was slightly increased compared to The International 2017 (the number went from 6 to 8) but this is only due to a new system being integrated into the tournament format. On the bright side, this time around there will not be any invitations coming just because of a team’s name. Nope – they were all decided on their respective success at major and minor DotA 2 championships throughout this year. So, at the end of the day – it’s all down to the skill! With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how skilled the 8 invited teams really are and what are their chances of taking the big W and a whole heap o prize pool money for this tournament! Read more about the The International 2018 Teams and Players here.
Teams and Players | TI8
Virtus.pro has been around since the beginning of DotA 2. The team was established all the way back in 2003, but they’ve actively started taking part in DotA 2 tournaments in 2012. You might remember KuroKy being part of the team for a very short time after their inception. Nonetheless, the team went through many changes and regroupings, but, after a tough couple of years, they are finally back on the right track. In fact, their latest run of victories on tournaments has earned them quite the fearsome reputation. They are the living proof that, even when you hit rock bottom, you can still bounce back and become the best at what you do. It does take a lot of patience and hard work – but it’s achievable. Virtus.pro won the DotA Summit right before the end of 2017, which caused spectators to start expecting more from them. And that’s exactly what they’re planning on doing on the International 2018. It’s quite evident that Virtus.pro talked the talk and walked the walk when it came to figuring out their playstyle (as they always had something chaotic in store for us). Once they reached a consensus within the team their communication improved drastically, resulting in an outstanding win at the DotA Summit 8.
The biggest success so far: Winner of DotA Summit 8, Second in Kiev Major 2017
- Carry: RAMZES666
- Mid: No(o)ne
- Offlane: 9pasha
- Roamer/Support: RodjER
- Hard Support: Solo (Captain)
Another iconic eSports organization, Team Liquid has roots in Brood Wars and Starcraft and they have a very rich history. There’s so much going on with them that there aren’t enough words to describe their entire history and a fair share of success. The first international they attended was way back in 2013 (after being formed in 2012). In the entirety of 2017 competitive DotA season, they were always on the podium (per se) on Premier tournaments. Three gold medals and one silver is pretty great. What’s even greater is that this form continued. MATUMBAMAN, MinD_ContRoL, and KuroKy are basically veterans in Team Liquid, having been around since 2015. Their playstyle is aggressive, yet calculated, and each team member is a cog in the machine. Each of them can work their own magic (especially the three most experienced players), but when working together, they are almost unstoppable. And, they’re looking to plow through anyone who ens up in their way to the victory in The International 8, similarly to how they deleted the opposition last year out. Of course, it all depends on their form and team compositions… but Team Liquid is still looking very sharp!
The biggest success so far: Winner of The International 7
Team Liquid Roster:
- Carry: MATUMBAMAN/Miracle-
- Mid: Miracle-/MATUMBAMAN
- Hard Support: KuroKy (Captain)
PSG isn’t just stunning in soccer; they’re pretty good at Dota too. Well, technically, they’re not a new or unknown team. PSG.LGD was known as FTD (For The Dream) before PSG decided to sponsor and partner with them. This happened two months ago but since then, they’ve won EPICENTER XL, beating Team Liquid 3-1. PSG.LGD has a very strong track record in recent time but they did go through some trouble back in 2015. They took part in almost every International since the tournament’s inception and, excluding a 3rd place finish in 2012, they haven’t had much success in them. However, a big positive for them is that each following International, they were getting better and better and in 2017, they were 4th. The team changed multiple players with Ame and Somnus M being the ‘oldest’ ones in the team. 2018 has started great for them the team is looking to win in this year’s International. They have the potential, for sure, but will it be enough against some more experienced teams.
The biggest success so far: Winner of EPICENTER XL (2018)
- Carry: Ame
Mid: Somnus \ M
Roamer/Support: fy (Captain)
- Hard Support: xNova
The love child of NaVi, Fnatic, and Alliance, Team Secret formed some time after TI4 in what was known as ‘the shuffle’. Some players from these teams decided to form a new team and what was thought to be the biggest powerhouse of them all. Unfortunately, the team had more than one disappointing performance and people began to doubt their integrity and team skill. This caused almost all of the team to be void of its original players (except for Puppey who decided to stay) and a couple of new faces joined. This was a positive thing for Secret as they desperately needed to start winning and shining. The wins came, but it didn’t seem enough. Puppey is a very experienced player that always seems to come up with surprising tactics; all he needed was a team that could follow him to the end. As such, Team Secret is definitely interested in leaving a big mark on The International 8, and Puppey is going to try to find redemption for previous unsuccessful attempts at winning The International.
The biggest success so far: Winner of The Shanghai Major 2016, Winner of DreamLeague Season 8
Team Secret Roster:
- Carry: Ace
- Hard Support: Puppey (Captain)
Mineski is one of those teams that rang a bell when you mentioned them, but you just couldn’t exactly figure out why. You kind of get the ferel9ing that they are famous, but can’t remember any great successes they’ve had over the last few years. It always seemed like they lacked that extra spark, which by no means makes them a terrible team. On the contrary, compared to opponents of similar skill level, they usually come on top pretty often. Unfortunately, they’ve never taken part in The International (except in 2011 when they didn’t achieve any great success) so their road in this year’s tournament will be tough, to say the least. However, they did achieve some international success for the past ear or so, grabbing first place in a few stronger tournaments, but nothing extraordinary. Mineski also has a relatively young squad (with only ninjaboogie being in the team since 2016). Iceiceice is their star player and might manage to pull the team through to the next round. There’s no doubt, however, that Mineski will have to play out of their minds if they want any semblance of the Grand Finals.
The biggest success so far: Winner of Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018
- Carry: Mushi
- Mid: Moon
- Offlane: iceiceice
- Roamer/Support: Jabz
- Hard Support: ninjaboogie (Captain)
Vici Gaming started off in 2012 without any previous professional experience in tournaments (although their original players were highly ranked on the Chinese Dota ladder). One of the players was sydm, who had a run with TyLoo before moving to Vici Gaming. Cty, their mid laner at the time, was victorious in a 1v1 tournament back in 2009, beating some of the most skilled players in the world such as Sylar, Hao, and Ferrari_430. However, the team went through a plethora of player changes and their current lineup was brought on in 2017. Vici Gaming didn’t win a major or premier tournament since 2015, but they’re slowly coming to grips. The brightest spot in their history is second place in The International 4. Considering their roster is new and, in a way, untested, it’s understandable that they need some time to refine their tactics. They did, however, finish 2nd in ESL One Katowice, losing to the powerhouse known as Virtus.pro. Their future is promising and with players such as Fenrir and LaNm, they could start showing some ferocity real soon. They are currently ranked #6 in the Pro Circuit, which let them qualify (technically ‘invited’) to The International 8.
The biggest success so far: Second in The International 4, Winner of The Summit 2 (2014), Second in ESL One Katowice 2018
Vici Gaming Roster:
- Carry: Paparazi
- Mid: Ori
- Offlane: eLeVeN
- Roamer/Support: LaNm
- Hard Support: Fenrir (Captain)
Back in 2014, Newbee was probably the strongest and most skilled team in the world. This was proven by their victory in the Grand Finals of The International 4 where they defeated Vici Gaming (including a lightning fast win in Game 4 that lasted a bit over 15 minutes). This trend continued even after player swaps and Newbee started becoming a household name in Dota 2. We would see them again in 2017 where they took part in The International 7, losing to Team Liquid in the Grand Finals). It’s safe to say that they have plenty of professional experience in both winning in critical moments and losing in such moments as well. The original Newbee lineup was dissolved and now features 5 amazing players that joined in 2016. They managed to find their groove and excel at tactics and teamplay. They also harbor a dose of flexibility because Kaka and Faith can change their position depending on what the team needs. Basically, this gives them the element of surprise when playing against some of the best Dota 2 teams right now. SanSheng has returned to Newbee as the coach on May 14th and this might just give them the edge they need. SanSheng was part of Newbee’s lineup when they won The International 4, so his advice will be crucial to the current team.
The biggest success so far: Winner of The International 4, Second in The International 7
- Carry: Moogy
- Mid: Sccc
- Offlane: kpii
- Roamer/Support: Kaka
- Hard Support: Faith (Captain)
VGJ Thunder is the youngest invited team consisting of players that have been here from 2017. It was created in 2016 in an agreement between Vici Gaming, China Digital Culture (Group) Limited, and professional basketball player Jeremy Lin. VGJ is endorsed by these two entities and Jeremy (hence the name – VGJ – Vici Gaming Jeremy). Sylar and ddc are the most experienced players on the team and have played together in LGD back in the day. People weren’t too optimistic at the start, but after seeing some of their gameplay and achievements since inception, it’s hard to say that they don’t deserve to be here. A combination of younger players and more experienced ones can be beneficial to the team. A fresh take on the game combined with wise input and thoughts from Sylar and ddc might help them overcome certain obstacles. They have won two major tournaments, but other than that, no notable victories were recorded. Nonetheless, VGJ.Thunder is looking to show the world that they have what it takes to win The International 8!
The biggest success so far: Winner of Galaxy Battles II: Emerging Worlds, Second in The Bucharest Major
VGJ. Thunder Roster:
- Carry: Sylar
- Mid: Freeze
- Offlane: Yang
- Roamer/Support: Fade (Captain)
- Hard Support: ddc
There was a lot of talk regarding this OG team and whether or not they can return to their former glory. So far in 2018 they haven’t gathered any notable achievements… but 2017 and 2016 are completely different stories. Last year they won The Kiev Major 2017 while back in 2016 they had successful (read winning) campaigns on The Manila Major 2016, The Boston Major 2016 and ESL One Frankfurt 2016. However, OG as a team has changed a lot during the course of the last 2 seasons. Miracle-, moonMeander and 2 other players left in August 2016 so the team had to be completely revamped around N0Tail who is still standing strong as their captain. JerAx was brought in as Cr1t-‘s replacement and so far he is doing himself justice. However, ana and Topson haven’t played a lot of high tier competitive matches together with the squad so their fluidity might suffer if they don’t work on team chemistry before the start of TI8. They shouldn’t be taken for granted though – 2017 has been a major success for them and even though they haven’t kicked off 2018 with style, OG can be considered as one of the dark horses of the tournament.
The biggest success so far: Winners of the Manila Major 2016, Frankfurt Major 2015, Kiev Major 2017, and Boston Major 2016
- Carry: ana
- Mid: Topson
- Offlane: 7ckngMad
- Roamer/Support: JerAx
- Hard Support: N0tail (captain)
Winstrike Team doesn’t really have a proper list of achievements. However, that’s not surprising at all considering they are a brand new team on the map of Dota 2. 20th of June can be considered as the day Winstrime Team was brought to life. That’s when they signed contracts with all 5 of their starting players who previously played for FlyToMoon. Now that you know that information, perhaps it’s logical to dig deeper and see what type of performance can these 5 players output during the TI8. For starters, FlyToMoon (all thanks to these 5 players), ended up at the 3rd place of Epicenter XL, a well-known tournament that only brings best teams to the table. They’ve managed to defeat Team Liquid in a 2-1 fashion to bring home whopping $110,00 in prize money. This was, needless to say, the biggest pot for these players so we can’t really speak that highly of their experience. On a side note, we are talking about a mix of Russian and Ukrainian players with fiery personalities worthy of the big W in TI8.
The biggest success so far: Winners of the International 2018 CIS Qualifier
- Carry: Silent
- Mid: Iceberg
- Offlane: nongrata
- Roamer/Support: Nofear (captain)
- Hard Support: ALWAYSWANNAFLY
Team Serenity was formed back in September 2017 when it consisted of doodle, BiG_A, longGGG, mianmian and XCJ. doodle was the first player to leave the team with others following in first few months on 2018. Now, XCJ is the only player that has been with Team Serenity from the very start of its existence. zhizhizhi, Zyd, XinQ and the current captain Pyw all came after their relatively short flair of unimpressive matches. This year, they’ve started off in fashion by managing to qualify for their first-ever International. And they had quite a difficult task in China Main Qualifiers by beating LGD.Forever Young and Invictus Gaming, so don’t think they were just lucky enough to cement their spot. They might not be among the favourites to win it all, but if their callmakers can do a good job in the opening matches, I’m sure they’ll rise up to the challenge later on and be a threat to any team competing for the big W.
The biggest success so far: Winners of the International 2018 China Qualifier
- Carry: zhizhizhi
- Mid: Zyd
- Offlane: XinQ
- Roamer/Support: Pyw (captain)
- Hard Support: XCJ
Invictus Gaming always poses as a hefty presence in each highly competitive Dota 2 championship. Back in 2012, the pinnacle of their team’s success was the victory in The International 2012. After that, they struggled with finding the right formation and team cohesion. They also struggled to find the right players as several years passed by with frequent roster changes. Undoubtedly, this left a huge mark in the entire Invictus Gaming franchise… but luckily they managed to recuperate and find their stroll. This resulted in an amazing DAC 2017 performance where they took the big W. Agressif and Srf are the newest players on the team, arriving in February this year. The backbone from 2016 still remains strong with Xxs, BoBoKa and Q holding the backline. TI8 will be interesting for this group of players… One thing is for sure, they aren’t lacking in motivation!
The biggest success so far: Winners of The International 2012, Winners of Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017
- Carry: Agressif
- Mid: Xxs
- Offlane: Srf
- Roamer/Support: BoBoKa
- Hard Support: Q (captain)
If there was ever a terribly unlucky team in Dota 2, then that title surely goes to Fnatic. As you can see down below in “the biggest success so far”, Dota 2 Fnatic team doesn’t have a single podium place on a noteworthy tournament. Sure, runners-up at the DreamLeague Season 9 and DOTA Summit 8 are somewhat noteworthy, but they’re not premier tournaments by any means. If we’re just counting those, Fnatic has an abundance of 4th places, with ESL One Birmingham being the latest in the line of heartbreaks. They’re not lacking in talent or team chemistry though – 4 out of 5 starters date all the way back to 2017 with only UNiVeRsE being brought in early 2018. Luck, on the other hand, was definitely the biggest lacking point in their lineup. Wrong calls at crucial games and lack of experience have taken their toll, and Fnatic will have to sort those things out if they want a proper chance at making a good result in TI8!
The biggest success so far: 4th places on The International 2016, ESL One Katowice 2018, and ESL One Birmingham 2018
- Carry: EternaLEnVy
- Mid: Abed
- Offlane: UNiVeRsE
- Roamer/Support: DJ
- Hard Support: pieliedie (captain)
TNC Predator is another underdog with great ambitions at TI8. They’ve managed to accumulate a good starter roster consisting of the best Philippines players out there. Of course, I’m referring to Raven, Sam_H and co, all of who are looking sharp and ready for the first TI8 matches. As far as their form this year goes, the only notable result is the 4th place at DAC 2018 where they lost against Virtus.pro in the 3rd round lower bracket. Other than that, they’ve also done a fairly good job at China Supermajor where they took home $60,000 in prize pool money by securing 7-8th place after getting knocked out by OpTic Gaming, again in 3rd round lower bracket. It seems as though they suffer the 3rd round knockout curse which they’ll have to fight against if they want a proper result this time around. Can they do it? Well, they surely got the player base… but seem to lack morale in crucial matchups of the knockout stages.
The biggest success so far: Winners of WESG 2016, Winners of China Top 2017
- Carry: Raven
- Mid: Armel
- Offlane: Sam_H
- Roamer/Support: Tims
- Hard Support: Kuku (captain)
VJG.Thunder is sort of like the backbone of North American VGJ franchise while VGJ.Storm enjoys a much lower following. For those of you who don’t know, VGJ was brought to life thanks to Vici Gaming, China Digital Culture (Group) Limited, and professional basketball player Jeremy Lin, hence the name VGJ (Vici Gaming Jeremy). VGJ.Storm started off by picking up is GG’s roster back in September 6th 2017. However, after the support drop from VGJ, the players continued to play for is GG before VGJ.Storm eventually reappearing with a brand new roster in February this year. But what can this new roster do? It is not a USA-only team anymore. Nope, it now consists of 3 USA players with the rest being from Ukraine and Pakistan. Still, they managed to show off decent skill and team cohesion by winnng GESC: Thailand Dota2 Minor and placng 2nd in MDL Changsha Major after a tough defeat versus PSG.LGD. How will they perform in TI8? Well, if they can work on their rotation a bit better than was the case in the finals of MDL Changsha Major, perhaps they’ll have a chance…
The biggest success so far: Winners of GESC: Thailand Dota2 Minor, 2nd in MDL Changsha Major
- Carry: YawaR
- Mid: Resolut1on
- Offlane: Sneyking
- Roamer/Support: MSS
- Hard Support: SVG (captain)
One of the seniors in Dota 2 esports industry, Evil Geniuses are a team formed all the way back in October 2011. They are among the most renowned North American teams for sure… but their current lineup doesn’t really draw roots all the way back to its establishment. However, the backbone of their teams has played together for a very long time. More precisely, Arteezy, Suma1L, and Cr1t- have been in EG since September 2016… while the remaining two positions (offlane and hard support) came just 2 months ago. We’re talking about s4 and Fly, their current captain, ruling the game from the hard support role (as usual). As far as their form is concerned, Evil Geniuses will enter TI8 with great confidence, hoping they won’t repeat the debacle of last year’s International when they finished 9/12th after a reckless defeat against Team Empire. However, if we take a look back, EG won TI5 and got bronze medals on TI6 and TI4. Pretty good stats, if you ask me… but can the current lineup follow up on such great results? Well, we’ll have to wait a bit longer and find out!
The biggest success so far: Winners of The International 2015, 3rd place on The International 2016 and 2014
- Carry: Arteezy
- Mid: Suma1l
- Offlane: s4
- Roamer/Support: Cr1t-
- Hard Support: Fly (captain)
OpTic Gaming dates back to the golden days of the competitive Call of Duty scene. However, the franchise has changed a lot over the years, now focusing on completely different types of games than what was the case back when it first saw the light of day. As far as the Dota 2 division of OpTic Gaming is concerned, their story practically started shortly after the end of TI7, when they acquired The Dire roster. Up to this day, 4 out of 5 players from The Dire roster are still playing for OpTic Gaming. The only one who left was MiSeRy. He departed to Evil Geniuses but said his goodbyes earlier this year before changing teams 2 more times. His replacement on the offlane position turned out to be 33 (Neta Shapira) who looks to be a firm player but without that much experience as far as winning premier tournaments is concerned. This could actually be quite a problem for OpTic Gaming’s ambitions in TI8, but surely they’ll make up for it with great team chemistry and smart plays throughout the tournament.
The biggest success so far: 2nd in ESL One Birmingham 2018, Winners of StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5
- Carry: Pajkatt
- Mid: CC&C
- Offlane: 33
- Roamer/Support: zai
- Hard Support: ppd (captain)
Another relatively new team that doesn’t just concentrate on Dota 2 but plenty of other games as well. With that being said, paiN Gaming is involved in LoL, Vainglory, Clash Royale, and Overwatch in addition to Valve’s MOBA masterpiece. As far as their competitive form is concerned, paiN Gaming players have kicked things off with a blast. They’ve placed 3rd in ESL One Birmingham 2018 and 2nd on WESG 2017. However, their biggest flaws were shown in EPICENTER XL where they lost against FlyToMoon – map control. That’s something they’ll definitely have to work on as they were all over the place in that matchup. Usually, tavo, Duster and co are more composed and calm, but they just let that match get away from them relatively early in. Once again, there’s no denying the fact they’re coming into this tournament with some fine results in the past few months… but their performance will heavily depend on their first group match and how they set their pace. Hopefully, they’ll be at their best form. If that’s the case, they’re as good dark horses as you could expect!
The biggest success so far: 2nd place on WESG 2017, 3rd place in ESL One Birmingham 2018
- Carry: hFn
- Mid: 33
- Offlane: tavo
- Roamer/Support: Kingrd (captain)
- Hard Support: Duster