Image by Team Liquid
With the final teams set to compete at TI8, we’ll be taking a closer look at each of them. While every TI is marked with upsets—wildcard teams like CDEC rising to a 2nd place finish—they wouldn’t be upsets without a consensus on what the stronger teams of the tournaments are. The Dota Pro Circuit has given us a metric on how to rank teams on the totem pole. It takes more than just wins at Majors, but also a sustained level of success to reach the top of the DPC standings.
Virtus.Pro is the runaway leader on the standings. The margin they have above the 2nd place team (Team Liquid) is greater than the total points of the 6th place team (Vici Gaming). VP was the first to secure their TI8 invite, and they haven’t let up. Virtus.Pro have been on a roll ever since they added RodjER back in February this year. They won the Katowice Major just weeks after he joined, where he also acquired a new Mercedes E400 for being the team’s MVP. Three months later, no[o]ne would win his own Benz as VP won ESL Birmingham.Virtus.Pro seals the grand finals victory over Optic at ESL Birmingham
Virtus.Pro plays with the style of aggression marked by CIS teams—a trend dating back to Na’Vi’s early days—but they’ve managed to succeed where their countrymen have failed. Virtus.Pro rarely overextends, able to mete out just enough offense to push their chances of victory, without putting it in jeopardy. That’s in part to their team cohesion, but also the decision making of their individual players. No[o]ne and Ramzes, VP’s core 1 and 2 players, often initiate without pulling their teammates into a losing battle.
In this clip, they’ve baited Secret into the gank and successfully turned it around. Most teams would continue pushing here, picking off the remaining team members. It’s 2v3 and both Void and OD have their ultimates. But instead, they dance backwards, just briefly, planting a Sentry Ward in case a Shadow Bladed Slark was also in tow. That moment allowed 9pasha to wrap around the back, let VP survey that they were in a winning position, and they finished off the remaining heroes.
Virtus.Pro enters TI8 as the large favorites to win it all. While they did lose to Team Liquid in a close 5 game series at the China Supermajor, VP still maintains a winning head-to-head record against the rest of their competition.
PSG.LGD, sponsored by Paris Saint-Germain, stands out by being one of the best teams in one of the toughest regions. While Chinese teams have not been as dominant in recent years, they still still hold 3 out of the 7 TI titles, and last year’s event had 3 Chinese teams out of the top 4.
For a region with a surfeit of exceptional players, LGD has quite a few legendary ones. Maybe, LGD’s franchise player since 2015, is one of the best mid players in the world. Fy was one of the best position 4 players, known for his aggressive rotations and spellcasting during his time with VG.
Chalice and xNova were new additions to the team and both were relatively new to higher level of competition. LGD finished 9-12th at their first LAN at ESL Katowice, but then at DAC 2018 they rumbled through Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro toward a 2nd place finish. They ended up losing to Mineski, who won the event.
Then, at Epicenter XL, LGD matched up against both Virtus.Pro and Liquid again. They bested Team Liquid twice, 2-0 in the upper bracket finals and 3-1 in the grand finals, as part of the double elimination format.
Chinese teams make up half of the top 8 on the DPC standings, but the three other teams—Vici Gaming, VGJ.Thunder, and Newbee—have had inconsistent performances. PSG.LGD carries the challenge of bringing the Aegis back to China.
All eyes are on the defending champions as we enter in TI8. They were the first team to ever sweep a TI grand finals, and as champions, they’re one of the few teams who hasn’t fallen into complacency. Wings.gaming completely dissolved after one of the most impressive runs at TI. Newbee reportedly shifted their gaming grind towards RPGs. It’s surprisingly tough to win multiple TI, even if you’re trying. Na’Vi came close to winning three years in a row (1st, 2nd, 2nd finishes). And Evil Geniuses, with varying rosters, has had the best success so far, placing top 3 in three consecutive years, in a time when the prize pool completely ballooned to 8 figures.
Perhaps partially invigorated by the inaugural year of Dota’s Pro Circuit, Team Liquid has still been competitive at the highest levels. That’s in no small part to having a legendary vet and one of the best captains in Dota, Kuroky.In a 3v5 scenario, Miracle gets an ultra kill off the backlines against PSG.LGD at Epicenter
Team Liquid has had only one Major win this year, but it was the most important one at the China Supermajor. On the road to their 1st place finish, they swept both Secret and PSG.LGD 2-0 in the upper bracket, then eked out a 3-2 victory over Virtus.Pro.
Team Liquid already had a target on their backs as the defending champions. But fresh off their Supermajor win over the best team in Dota, they’ve set the bar for themselves to be the first team to become back to back TI champions.