[Dota 2] The International 2018 Preview

The International 2018 is nearly upon us and on August 20, 18 of the best Dota 2 teams are ready to battle it out for the $20m+ prize pool. Which team offers value in The International 2018 odds? Could one of the outsiders cause an upset? Read on for an in-depth The International 2018 preview.

Most esports fans will be well aware of what The International is and what it means to the players and teams taking part. However, as the popularity of esports continues to rise, providing a little bit of background information on the tournament will help those new to the scene.

What is Dota 2 The International?

The International (TI) is one of the biggest events in the esports calendar. An annual Dota 2 competition hosted by Valve (the game’s developer), The International first took place in 2011 and has continued to break prize pool and viewership records ever since.

The International was first held at Gamescom in Cologne and was the first time a $1,000,000 was made available to the winners. While Dota 2 was still in the early stages of development for the first edition of The International, the event has gone from strength to strength and last year had a total prize pool of $24,787,916.

The International is the finale of the Dota Pro Circuit season that takes place over a two-week period. This year’s edition will take place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver after six years in Seattle (three of which were at the KeyArena).

Dota 2 The International champions

In additional the huge prize pool that comes with winning The International, its also considered the most prestigious event in Dota 2. Entry into the tournament has changed over the years and while Valve used an invite system (with some spaces allocated to qualifiers) in the past, qualification this year is been determined by a points-based system.

Only the best of the best in Dota 2 will triumph at The International. Below is a list of previous champions.

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The International 2018: Tournament format

Dota 2’s marquee event has undergone some subtle changes over the years, from the qualification process to the format of the tournament itself. Last year, the number of teams competing was expanded to 18 while the current format has been in place since 2016.

The 18 teams are divided into two groups. Every team in the group will play each other in a best-of-two round robin format. The top four teams in each group proceed to the upper bracket, 5th-8th the lower bracket and the bottom team from each group is eliminated. The lower bracket features one best-of-one round with all other elimination matches being best-of-three until the Grand Final which is best-of-five.

Who will win The International 2018?

There are three teams that are very closely matched in the odds for the outright winner of The International 2018 (Virtus.Pro, PSG.LGD and Team Liquid) but there are plenty of others in with a chance. Here is the top 10 list of our favourites who can possibly win The International 2018 (from biggest favourites onwards):

  1. Virtus.pro
  2. PSG.LGD
  3. Team Liquid
  4. Evil Geniuses
  5. Team Secret
  6. Vici Gaming
  7. Newbee
  8. Fnatic
  9. OG
  10. Mineski

Virtus.Pro

It’s easy to see why the Russian outfit Virtus.pro are favourites heading to The International 2018 - with 12,372 Pro Circuit points they are by far the top-ranked Dota 2 team in the world. RAMZES666, No[o]ne, 9pasha and Solo have formed the core of the team since 2016 but after RodjER joined at the start of this year, they have gone to the next level.

Between the tail end of 2017 and mid-2018, Virtus.pro won five major events (ESL One Hamburg, DOTA Summit 8, ELS One Katowice, The Bucharest Major and ESL One Birmingham). They were unlucky to go down 3-2 in the final of China Dota2 Supermajor and will definitely take some beating in Vancouver.

It’s not just the tournament results that make Virtus.pro the standout contender for The International 2018, it is their consistency and the ease with which they have been defeating their opponents.

PSG.LGD

LGD Gaming recently partnered with soccer team Paris St. Germain to form PSG.LGD earlier this year. Some recent good form has seen the Chinese team climb up to third in the Pro Circuit ranking (they won EPICENTER XL and the MDL Changsha Major in may of this year) and they’ve certainly got the potential to win The International this year. PSG.LGD are currently 2nd favourites to win the tournament.

Most esports fans will be aware of how dominant Chinese teams are in Dota 2 (among other sports). A team from China has won three times at The International and regularly featured at the top of the final standings - 2013 was the only year a Chinese team didn’t win or finish as runner-up), so to come into this year’s tournament as the best Chinese teams shows just how much of a threat PSG.LGD will be.

In terms of individual talent, PSG.LGD has one of the best mids in the game with Somnus \ M and fy would be a very popular pick at position four for any Dota 2 dream team.

Team Liquid

Last year’s winners Team Liquid will be hoping to be the first team in history to retain The International crown. Despite a disappointing year thus far (especially at the Asia Championships and ESL One Birmingham), they have three of the top five Dota 2 players in the world in MATUMBAMAN, Miracle- and GH and will likely be a popular pick for bettors.

With the kind of players they have in their roster, Liquid’s strategic ability and proven track record in high-pressure situations shouldn’t be taken for granted. There’s so much at stake at The International and the benefits of having been there and done it before could make all the difference.

Evil Geniuses

North American outfit Evil Geniuses have had a bit of a stop-start season so far and currently find themselves outside the top ten in the Pro Circuit Ranking and will be taking part thanks to winning the North American Qualifier.

Bettors should be warned against judging a team on paper but a roster filled with previous winners of The International and more Major titles than most makes it hard to discount Evil Geniuses. It’s also important to note that with a Candian in position one (Arteezy), Evil Geniuses will probably get plenty of home support at Rogers Arena.

Two to watch: Newbee and Team Serenity

As the betting would suggest, it does look like it’s going to be a three-way fight to win The International 2018. However, as we’ve seen in the past (notably Digital Chaos finishing second in 2016), there’s always an opportunity for one of the outsiders to cause a shock.

Newbee won The International back in 2014 and are by no means an unknown in the world Dota 2. It might come as a surprise to some bettors to see them so far down on the list of contenders to win this year’s tournament and with the focus on the big three at the head of the betting, the Chinese team could offer potential value.

Team Serenity made it through to The International after winning the China Qualifier. The team was only formed in September of last year so while there is very little form to go on, they have shown signs of promise and have they definitely have potential. It might be too early for the all-Chinese roster but it will certainly be interesting to see how they get on.
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