The International (TI) is always a time where anything can happen. Underdogs, Cinderella stories, and unorthodox strategies are frequent at the event. Teams will give their all at TI because even finishing in sixth place rewards a team with upwards of $1 million.
Although there are some underdog stories, most series have been very predictable. What’s even more surprising is the fact that not one series has gone to three games – they have all been 2-0. It is rather odd that this is the case, because the talent gap between teams is minimal. Players also claim that this is the most competitive year yet, with every team deserving their spot.
This leads to the conclusion that there will be a massive clash in the final games of the tournament. Teams and players that are destined to win an International will go head to head in an all out bloodbath.
OG & VGJ.Storm
So far, there have only been one or two upsets at the main stage. The first upset, and probably the least important, is OG’s 2-0 victory over VGJ.Storm. This series is classified as an upset because of VGJ.Storm’s strong performance at the group stage. VGJ.Storm was the top of their group, while OG just barely made it to the winners bracket.
The reason it is the least important, however, is because OG is a team that is absolutely capable of winning that series. Both games were very controlled victories for OG and it seemed as though they were won from the draft. Part of that feeling might stem from the fact that VGJ.Storm was penalized after the group stage for using two coaches. They were banned from using a coach during the draft phase and had a draft time penalty for the entire main stage event.
Fnatic & Team Serenity
The next upset comes from the lower bracket first round, which were best of one series. These series are deadliest point in the entirety of The International because they can send a team home for one poor performance. This is what happened to Fnatic, who lost to Team Serenity and were eliminated.
Fnatic was poised to go far at the tournament had they been able to get through Serenity. This shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place, seeing as Serenity was seen as an underdog team going into the event. After winning the open qualifiers, they won the regional qualifiers, and earned a spot at TI. Serenity went on to lose 2-0 to OpTiC Gaming, specifically to their mid player Quinn “CCnC” Callahan, who absolutely dominated.
Winstrike & Newbee
The last and probably most surprising upset was Winstrike’s victory over Newbee. 2018 is supposed to be a China year at The International, so seeing a Chinese powerhouse drop out of the tournament is a bad sign. Winstrike seems to be the China killer, as they barely scraped through the group stages past Invictus Gaming.
The match was an hour-long slugfest with many players drawing more than ten deaths each. Slowly but surely though, Winstrike ate away at Newbee and won. They will go on to play VGJ.Storm in a best of three in hopes of keeping their place at the tournament. Regardless of what happens, Winstrike has proven themselves as a competent group of players.
The International 8 is an even year, so it is supposed to end with a victory for a Chinese team. Although the Chinese team’s performances have been underwhelming, they have not been horrendous. There are ten teams left in the tournament and those team’s distributions based on region are very even. There are three European teams, three North American teams, two Chinese teams, and two CIS teams.
Europe has the strongest placement in the tournament with two upper bracket teams, but North America has the strongest team in Evil Geniuses. China does have one team in the upper bracket: PSG.LGD, who look very strong, The other Chinese team is Vici Gaming, who had a weak group stage performance making them the last team in their group to make it to the main event.
Featured image courtesy of Liquipedia
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