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.
While Group B doesn’t have OG, it’s just as strong, if not stronger than Group A, nevertheless. I’d suspect that more teams from this group will have places in the Top 8. With that said, let’s talk about the teams, in order of strength in my opinion.
The team who can’t win a big tournament, yet makes the Finals anyways, Team Liquid is doubtlessly one of the strongest in the world. While it does suffer a beating against OG more often than not, the fact of the matter is that Liquid makes it there to fight the best. While it would be brave and naive to place them first, they do deserve to be called the second-best team in the world, while an argument could be made that they are the third best. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good place to be.
An argument could be made that Newbee could take Liquid’s spot as the second best team in the world. The only thing that stops me from confirming it is that Newbee is a Chinese team, which doesn’t face Western competitors very often. Dota 2 is not like League of Legends, it’s much more centered in the Western hemisphere. When Newbee did face Westerners, Team Liquid to be exact, they lost, proving that Liquid is probably a little better.
While MVP Phoenix doesn’t go sweeping up against strong opponents, they do perform well nevertheless, with some improvement in their results seen over time. I don’t believe that MVP will go and steal the tournament from OG or the two teams discussed above, however, they will probably place respectably either way. I would expect them to be 5-6th like in The Manila Major, to be honest.
The Malaysian Fnatic heavily depend on how their leader, Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung does. If he feels well, plays well, and manages to inspire his teammates, Fnatic can at least try and win against any team in the world, provided that the circumstances are right. If Mushi is not at his best, however, Fnatic can also lose against anyone. The best word to describe Fnatic’s Dota 2 team is… mercurial. When they are on a high, it’s amazing; when they sink into a low point, it is soul crushing. I am exaggerating, of course, but the spirit of the idea stands. Fnatic lives and dies by Mushi and their moods. That is not a dependable strategy when you want to win a $19M tournament.
EHOME is one weird cookie. A middle-of-the-pack team , which does decently well against some of the stronger teams in the world, yet manages to lose against some which are actually weaker than them. That isn’t very welcome when your roster contains The International veterans like Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng and Daryl Koh “iceice” Pei Xiang. If I had to guess, I would say that EHOME will barely make the Top 8 or fall short by a narrow margin.
Once upon a time, Team Secret was thought to be the best team in the world. Now, even their most diehard fans would feel hesitant saying something similar out loud. Following the conclusion of the Shanghai Major, Team Secret fell into a big hole. As a result, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora left the squad and Kanishka ‘Sam’ “BuLba” Sosale joined up. The team looks better now, however, it would be optimistic to say that they will lift up the trophy at the end of The International. Still, they shouldn’t get embarrassed like they were in the Manila Major, finishing in last place.
Vici Gaming Reborn
Similar to the whole CJ Entus Frost and CJ Entus Blaze debacle from several years ago, where the main roster was overtaken by their sister team meant to be simply scrimmage partners, Vici Gaming Reborn is an “academy” team, which is performing better than the main roster. There are some issues, however. First, their offlaner, Zhou “Yang” Haiyang had some visa troubles, making it harder for Vici Gaming Reborn to perform up to their full potential. If that wasn’t enough, the team is also swingy, capable of beating teams, which are much stronger than them on paper, but compensating for that by getting beat by teams they have no business losing to in a million years. All things considered, I would be surprised if they made it far into the tournament.
This NA team is one of the weakest in The International. Of course, that means that they belong among the top 16 teams in the world, where thousands of wannabe pro Dota 2 players exist. It’s a good place to be in. Yet, I would be, frankly, stupefied if Digital Chaos didn’t get eliminated in the first couple of matches in the Main Event. Yes, they can fight the other underdogs. Against Team Liquid, however? Blood would flow freely and it wouldn’t be Team Liquid’s.
Group B looks to be just as strong as Group A, if not stronger. While Group A has OG, that’s only one spot in the Upper Bracket, while Group B will certainly have Team Liquid and Newbee. For the rest of their Upper Bracket contributions, I would have to say that these spots should be taken by MVP Phoenix and Fnatic, unless they decide to get out of the bet on the wrong foot. Then, EHOME might have a chance.