The International might be the most prestigious tournament in esports history if we consider how massive the prize pool is this year. The reward pool got more significant and more lavish every year, eventually reaching this year’s enormous sum of $40 million. Dota 2 has become one of the most popular esports, rivaling sports in terms of prize pools and interest in recent years. Teams from all regions gave it their all to qualify for the biggest tournament the game has.
Unfortunately, many big teams like Team Liquid, Team Nigma, and EHOME failed to qualify for the tenth iteration of The International. We wanted to see these teams dish it out for the Aegis, but they are not what we will talk about today with you. Instead, we will focus on the teams that qualified for The International after undergoing a grueling few months of intense games. We will talk about these six teams in detail and give you an idea of how they play the game, but more importantly, if they have any chance to lift the Aegis in two weeks.
1- OG (Western Europe)
If you have started following DOTA recently, you must have heard about OG. They are the only team to win The International two years in a row, but they struggled to show the same level of dominance one would expect from them this year. It was partially due to Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka retiring and Anathan “ana” Pham taking a break from professional play.
OG reacted very efficiently and signed three world-class players to fill in the gaps left by two of their most renowned players. They acquired the services of Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan, Martin “Saksa” Sazdov, and Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng in hopes of continuing their dominance. Still, unfortunately, things didn’t work out well for them.
The team was flabbergasted and failed to qualify directly for The International. Still, it could have been a blessing in disguise for them. After their massive failure, OG changed their playstyle and gave SumaiL more freedom to be a carry player, which worked wonders for them. They overcame the complex challenge of Team Nigma and Tundra Esports, and Sumail played a crucial role in their victories.
OG is looking as powerful as ever in their current state, thanks to the experienced roster they have assembled. The team will look to provide SumaiL as much comfort as possible in the drafting phase, so look out for those Puck and Ember Spirit picks SumaiL dominated with throughout his career.
OG has a great chance to be the first team in the history of DOTA to lift the Aegis not twice but thrice in a row. As their fans say, the stars align themselves for OG during The International.
2- Fnatic (Southeast Asia)
Fnatic is a name that everyone knows in the esports world. They have won countless titles over various esports titles; however, they aren’t the favorites this time around. Their last International performance was not the finest, and the newly created squad needs to improve if they want to represent their region without regrets.
The first season of Dota Pro Circuit was a success for Fnatic, who were able to finish first. The glory, however, did not last long, and the squad was unable to compete successfully in the Singapore Major. They were defeated in the upper brackets by Evil Geniuses and were unable to recover against Neon Esports. This was a disaster for Fnatic. They recognized that they needed to make some changes if they wanted to have a shot at playing at The International.
Fnatic signed Yang “Deth” Wu Heng as their new position three player, and Ng “ChYuan” Kee was promoted to position 2. This turned around their form and showed their worth as a powerhouse in Southeast Asia. Deth was a monster on heroes like Doom and Legion Commander, and Fnatic should look to play around him if they want to show the same level of quality in their games against big teams.
Historically speaking, Fnatic has struggled against big names from other regions. Still, if they take it one game at a time, they can go far into the tournament. Unfortunately, winning the whole thing seems like a long shot for now, but things could change if they start their journey strongly.
3- Team Undying (North America)
Team Undying is one of the most promising teams to watch out for this year. They faced big teams like PSG.LGD and Team Spirit but lost to them in very close encounters. However, they failed to win anything meaningful to show their worth as a top team in the world. If they want to win The International, they have to allow their position five-player, Kim “DuBu” Doo-young, to play the heroes he wants to and center their team composition around him.
The main heroes to look out for are Earth Spirit and Witch Doctor. These heroes provide so much playmaking ability to Team Undying, and we won’t be surprised if they opt to pick them early on in the draft. The famous Templar Assassin and Tidehunter combo might also play with Team Undying, so don’t be surprised if they get the same results as Team Liquid in 2019.
Team Undying already had excellent chemistry, but it appears that they will now develop even more synergy thanks to the addition of Kim “Febby” Yong-min as a coach. Febby previously played with teams like Fnatic, so that he will be a massive voice in the team’s environment backstage.
The chances for Team Undying to lift the Aegis of the Champions aren’t solid right now. Still, they are one of the few teams that can come back from massive deficits in-game, thanks to their teamwork. Suppose this teamwork comes into play at The International. In that case, they can surprise a few teams for significant upsets at the tournament.
4- Team Spirit (Eastern Europe)
Team Spirit is one of the teams that have the potential to blow up at any time. Although being the underdog, the team has significant promise and can even go ahead to win The International! However, to achieve that, they need to perform at their best and have a clear game plan against some of the biggest teams in the world of DOTA.
The year has been sort of a rough road for Team Spirit. They have had immense highs at tournaments like OGA Dota Pit Invitational. Still, They have shown abysmal performances at other tournaments like ESL One. They might be the most inconsistent team out of the qualified teams, but their ceiling is very high.
However, Team Spirit had troubles out of the game and recently criticized the tournament management for the facilities the management provided with them for their stay in Bucharest. They have been offered very mediocre PCs and a cramped room to practice in where they can’t even lean back in their chairs.
This could prove to be a big blow for the team. Still, suppose they come out stronger from this obstacle they are facing. In that case, they will be a force to reckon with, even for favorites like Evil Geniuses.
5- Elephant (China)
Elephant came into the professional DOTA scene last year and have managed to gain a massive fan following thanks to their aggressive yet calculated gameplay. They have so much experience in their squad that they could surprise so many big teams from Europe and America that they haven’t played yet. However, they have a poor record against teams like PSG.LGD could prove to be the final hiccup in their journey to lift the Aegis this year.
In this squad, the two players to keep an eye out for are Zhou “Yang” Haiyang and Xie “Super” Junhao. Super is a veteran and has even previously coached Royal Never Give Up, who is a big name in the world of DOTA. Yang, on the other side, was part of the famous Vici Gaming side of 2016. If Yang can get his hands on heroes like Centaur Warrunner or Batrider, he can win the game for his team on his own!
They are still a relatively young team and haven’t faced the tough challenges in the world of DOTA compared to other groups like Evil Geniuses or OG. That could prove to be the main reason behind their fall at the tournament. It is improbable that they will win the Aegis, but it would do wonders for the team if they learn from their time playing against the best teams in the world.
6- SG Esports (South America)
SG Esports has shown a lot of potential with their performances in the qualifiers for the tournament but winning The International looks to be out of their reach. They were demolished by teams like PSG.LGD and Alliance at the end of August, and it is doubtful that they have somehow reached a new level in the last month.
The player to look out for is their offlaner, Tavo. When Tavo joined SG Esports, their fate turned around, and they started showing more promise than ever. The most played hero of Tavo during his career is Beastmaster, and he is an absolute monster while playing the hero. It won’t be the end of the world for big teams to let him play that, but he can quickly punish their audacity if his teammates back him up properly in the game.