The International 8 is well underway and whether you’re a Dota fan or not, you can likely feel its’ presence in the air.
Just two days into the distinguished tournament have shown the puncturing of a few TI8 pipedreams while one dark horse dashes towards the finish line during the group stage.
With $24.5m (£19.25m) on the line, teams are reaching deep for their slice of the prize and the renowned Dota world champion title; we’re taking a look at who has been writing their own script at The International 8 in this week’s ESI Gambling Report, Powered by Thunderpick.
Evil Geniuses rise to the occasion
Evil Geniuses garnered quite a bit of criticism following a late roster change this season causing them to forfeit all of their DPC points, and leaving them to battle it out in qualifiers.
By releasing Rasmus ‘MiSeRy’ Filipsen and Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis to field Tal “Fly” Aizik and Gustav “s4” Magnusson, the team was taking a massive gamble in hopes of a better configuration. That risk seemed to pay off as EG was able to clinch a ticket to TI8 through the North American qualifiers – however, no-one expected to see them burst through the gates at TI8 with this much explosiveness. Having cleanly trounced their opponents PSG.LGD, Mineski, OG and VGJ.Thunder, with the exception of a draw against Invictus Gaming – the boys in blue seemed steadfast in their journey back to the The International’s podium since TI5.
It’ll be interesting to see how EG finish out the group with tough games against Team Liquid, Fnatic, and Team Winstrike – each with something to prove at this event and in Liquid’s case, the opportunity to make history. Their stellar performance thus far has nearly sealed their place in the upper bracket while other teams in the first group are still battling it out for some cushion in the double-elimination bracket.
EG was a shadowy figure in the weeks leading up to TI8, there was a hint of something in the air that nobody could quite put their finger on; now gearing up for Day 3 of the tournament, the North American squad went from being the dark horse to the favourites in a matter of ten games.
A storm is brewing
Across every TI8 preview, the North American squad was never mentioned in the same sentence as winning TI8, and yet at the start of Day 2 they were undefeated. Having bested the likes of PaiN Gaming, Vici Gaming and Team Secret in an upward crescendo, VGJ.Storm quickly tore the status quo at TI8. It’s very clear though that the squad’s largest challenges are still ahead of them in the group stage; one of those obstacles being the favourites, Vitrus.Pro – which, despite showing mortality contradictory of their form prior to TI8, are still going to be a tough match for the group.
A very resilient looking TNC Predators currently sitting in 2nd in Group B should be another dicey match for VGJ.Storm, TNC had seemed to have tapered off slightly after toppling OpTic, tieing Virtus.Pro and PaiN Gaming before closing out Day 2. Not to take away from VGJ.Storm, because they’re playing exceptional at this tournament; if this storm can carry the wind speeds they’ve weathered through the rest of the group then VGJ is going to be a strong contender once seeded in the bracket.
Carrying the tradition or breaking it
As illustrated perfectly by this tournament, The International is impossible to predict. However, one common theme brought to attention by none other than Paul “Redeye” Chaloner in a Luckbox preview is starting to come to life at TI8 – a Chinese team is due to win this year.
Every two years, a Chinese team has taken The International title and with Team Liquid having claimed last year’s TI7, Newbee might be the only hope for continuing this tradition.
The TI4 champions are historically crowd favorites but at the moment, the Newbee needs to seriously reconfigure if they plan on making some waves in Vancouver. Day 2 was rough for Newbee, having swept Team Serenity in the opening match of the day but then falling traumatizing to OpTic Gaming and Vici Gaming the skies started to darken for the Chinese side in the second group. Readily sitting in the middle of the pack with an even score card traversing into Day 3, the Chinese underdogs have a chance at the very least securing a spot in the upper-bracket and granting themselves a bit of breathing room if they can step up to the plate.
With still their three most challenging matches ahead of them, Newbee will have to put up some serious recoil to change things this late in the group stage – a challenge, we find conceivable.
Nothing about this tournament has been what was forecasted for The International 8; it’s still quite early in the group stages, but if what we’ve seen thus far is any indication of how the rest of the event will play out, we’re in for a wild ride.
There’s still plenty of Dota to be played and if you do plan to wager on any of the matches, ESI reminds you to bet responsibly!
These ESI Gambling Reports are powered by Thunderpick. You can check TI8 odds and markets with them, right here.