The sixteen teams qualified or invited to The International 2016 will battle each other over three days of play, starting today, on the 3rd of August, set to conclude on the 5th, when the top four teams from the group will be place in the Upper Bracket, with the rest moving to the Lower Bracket of the Main Event.
Group A has arguably the best team in the world right now, OG. Looking at the rest, it’s quite likely, that the European force of nature will have an easy time on their way to the Upper Bracket.
The whole tournament is extremely important for OG, as they would become the best Dota 2 team ever if they managed to win, becoming the first squad to lift the trophy of a Valve-sponsored even three times. Individually, OG seems to be just as skilled as their opponents. The amazing thing is that their individual skill is only overshadowed by their teamwork. And yet, crowning OG champions and forgetting about it would be a mistake. There are many strong teams.
Speaking of strong teams, Wings Gaming is a possible beast of a team, with a high skill ceiling which can’t be relied on to be reached due to their comparatively young age as a squad, resulting in wavy performance, where they can beat Team Liquid in ESL One Manila, lose to compLexity Gaming in the Manila Major, and then come back to annihilate OG in The Summit 5 in four games.
While it’s hard to say whether Wings Gaming is going to lift up The International trophy, they definitely should be able to find their way to the Upper Bracket.
Natus Vincere has been experiencing some performance issues in the last year, however, their performance seems to be trending upwards after the Manila Major, where they lost to Team Liquid in the Top 8, ESL One Frankfurt, where they reached the Final, losing to OG, the Summit 5, where they fell to Liquid once again, and finally, StarLadder i-League, where they placed 1st against Team Secret. While they only lifted the trophy once, their results appear to be improving.
Despite that, I don’t see Na’Vi actually challenging the best teams in the world for a shot at the trophy. Yes, they can beat all teams except the very best ones, like OG and Team Liquid, unless some kind of shenanigans happen.
LGD Gaming’s strength is a difficult thing to divine. The reason? They don’t have a full roster. LGD’s Support, Xue “September” Zhichuan wasn’t able to compete due to visa issues. He will be replaced in the tournament by Wang “Banana” Jiao, whose last tournament was The Frankfurt Major. If the team had their full roster, i would bet on them making the playoffs and might even agree that they could reach the semi-finals. Now? It’s very hard to tell. If the rest of the team likes bananas, they might get to the top 8 or even the top 4, but I’m not too optimistic.
After struggling with dwindling performance, Evil Geniuses decided to make some roster changes. Following that, the team had to go through American Qualifiers to make it into The International 2016. They succeeded quite easily, however, the team is hard to judge because they don’t have that many games with the new roster at the moment. It will all depend on how the players manage to mesh together for the most important tournament of the year. If their preparation was successful, they could do well in this tournament, however, if they haven’t found their flow, they might get dumpstered by the top teams.
Once a global superpower of Dota 2, the Swedish team, Alliance, has been having difficulties for a while now. Known for it’s quirky picks and strategies, which allow them to get some wins against the conventionally better teams, Alliance is best when they can define the metagame of a tournament. If they can do this for The International 2016, they might go quite deep before getting shut down, however, if they resign themselves to playing what everybody else does, they run at this tournament will probably be short and salty.
It might be a harsh thing to say, but TNC Gaming looks to be like the Looney Tunes team in Space Jam, where they got Michael Jordan to play for them against the bad guys. The problem is that Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho is no Michael Jordan and the top teams in The International are no bad guys. They are superevil death machines with a nuke in one hand and Donald Trump in the other. While TNC getting to the tournament might be cute, I don’t believe that they can actually stand up to the top teams in the world.
Similar to TNC Gaming, Escape don’t have much of a chance to go deep in The International in my opinion. Of course, it’s possible that they could upset someone and avoid finishing the tournament in the last place, however, that’s the extent of their potential. The team does have some talented players. Who knows, if they work hard, they might be able to actually stand a chance in a tournament of TI’s prestige and importance. I will congratulate them if they get there, however, for now, I just don’t see it yet.
Looking at all the teams in Group A, the likely teams to find their way to the Upper Bracket should be quite clear— OG, Wings Gaming, Natus Vincere, and LGD Gaming. Of course, man makes plans; God laughs, so who knows. OG, Na’Vi and Wings should definitely make it out, though. It will be interesting to see whether something unexpected happens or not.