Less than a week from now, the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships will see eighteen teams clash for the lion’s share of a still-growing $23.6 million USD prize pool — last year’s prize pool reached a record-setting $24,787,916 USD before crowd-funding ended.
It’s no secret that the eighth iteration of the biggest event in all of Dota 2 is perhaps its most competitive yet. For all of its flaws, the newly-introduced Dota Pro Circuit has done its job in helping elevate the level of play in the competitive scene. And though there are still a couple of teams who are clearly better than the rest, the gap is not as wide as the chasm most make it out to be. In fact, we dare say that every Dota 2 team playing in the tournament this year has a fair shot at making a deep run if not winning it all.
Having said that, we’ve decided to power rank the eighteen teams who will be playing at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships.
1. Team Liquid
The reigning champions may not be the best team in the world in the eyes of other people, but they top the list of our rankings and are the ultimate favorites of the tournament.
Having already gotten over the hump at TI7 last year, Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi did a mighty fine job making sure that his team did not slack off last year. There might’ve been a drop-off or two, but you can forgive them when they’re playing in so many tournaments with such a large target on their back all-year round. Besides, Team Liquid did more than redeem themselves by winning the biggest tournament outside of TI of the year, and at the expense of Virtus.Pro at that.
If nothing else, Team Liquid are looking like a better team this year than they were a year ago, with a much wider hero pool and even better chemistry after having spent so much time playing together. That’s a scary thought for the other seventeen Dota 2 teams looking to prevent the defending champions from making history and becoming the first to go back-to-back.
One could easily make an argument that Virtus.Pro deserve to be ranked above Team Liquid. Perhaps they should be. After all, they did amass a whopping 12,373 Qualifying Points throughout the season. They won four Major LANs, including two straight, and a Minor too, just in case the first part wasn’t impressive enough.
It’s hard to put into words just how dominant Virtus.Pro were this year. But, consider this: their lowest individual point-getter, mid-season acquisition Vladimir ‘RodjER‘ Nikogosyan, would’ve had enough points (3,330 Qualifying Points) on his own to be ranked ahead of the fifth-place team on the season leaderboards, Mineski.
Behind strong individual play from all of its members, and an all-time captain in Alexei ‘Solo‘ Berezin at the helm, anything lower than a top three finish will be considered a disappointment for the CIS bears.
Just when people thought that China would not have a strong representative at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships, PSG.LGD rose up to remind everyone that it’s foolish to count the Chinese out so early.
It may have taken a while for the newly-built PSG.LGD squad to find their footing, but once they did, they never looked back.
Once again, Lu ‘Maybe‘ Yao and Wang ‘Ame‘ Chunyu, the only ones left over from last year’s LGD Gaming squad that came in fourth-place at The International 2017, are leading the charge for the Chinese powerhouse. But, unlike last year, they’ve got the legendary Rubick player Xu ‘fy’ Linsen on their side, rounded out by two relatively new but highly-skilled players in Yang ‘Chalice‘ Shenyi and Jian Wei ‘xNova‘ Yap.
With 2018 supposedly being China’s turn to win TI, it won’t come off as a surprise if we ended up seeing PSG.LGD walking away from the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships as the winners.
4. Team Secret
Another year, and we’ve got yet another TI where Team Secret are headed into the tournament as one of the top teams.
Considered as a powerhouse ever since making their public debut back in 2014, Team Secret always prided themselves on keeping their opponents guessing with their unique lineups. However, this year looks to be different. Because, although they have an all-star roster yet again, this is arguably Team Secret at its most versatile yet, thanks mostly to the deep hero pools of their two cores, Marcus ‘Ace‘ Hoelgaard and Yeik ‘MidOne‘ Nai Zheng.
If Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov can avoid drafting his team into a corner, Team Secret might just be able to finish higher than eighth-place for the first time ever in team history at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships.
5. ViCi Gaming
An enigma wrapped in a riddle. That’s one way of describing ViCi Gaming.
Following the age-old formula of pairing up two youngsters with three veterans, ViCi Gaming have easily become one of the most fun teams to watch in Dota 2, regardless of whether they win or lose. Unfortunately, they seem to have a penchant for doing more of the latter, especially when the stakes are the highest — they finished in second-place four times in LAN tournaments this season.
This lineup has the talent and experience, but it just needs to find a way to consistently put both together in every game to make a deep run.
Speaking of inconsistency, Mineski are no better than ViCi Gaming. In fact, you could probably say that they’re worse, although their win at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships might beg to differ.
Ever since Mineski brought in Tang ‘71‘ Wenyi to coach the team, they’ve looked better than ever, and considering 71’s reputation for accepting no less than a tournament win, Mineski will make for a promising bet to go on an upset run at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships.
Here’s to hoping that they really do that; both Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung and Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang deserve to win a TI before retiring.
Where the two teams that preceded Newbee in our rankings were inconsistent, Newbee are anything but. In fact, they’re very much predictable, which is probably a back-handed compliment when you think about it.
As scary as Newbee’s lineup is in terms of collective talent and experience, their obvious reluctance to trying out new things and tendency to stick to what has often worked for them has lost them their fair share of big games this season. But, make no mistake, this is still the same lineup that defied expectations and took second place at last year’s TI.
With most eyes on the more prominent teams, Newbee might fly below the radar just enough to pull off yet another upset run like last year.
8. OpTic Gaming
The #greenwall had a less-than-ideal showing at the Dota Summit 9. Quinn ‘CCnC‘ Callahan, for one, seemed to have played one too many pubs in their downtime since the season ended, leading him to playing like one-man team, much to the detriment of the entire team. Although you can’t exactly pin everything on him when the rest of the team just wasn’t as in sync, probably because of the lack of practice.
Either way, don’t expect the same issues to plague OpTic Gaming come TI8. Lest we forget, this is still the same team where Peter ‘ppd‘ Dager is the captain.
As someone who has yet to fail to guide his team to anything lower than a third-place finish at a TI, you’d best expect that the TI5 winner has been hard at work whipping his team into shape and coming up with new strategies for the biggest tournament in all of Dota 2.
9. Evil Geniuses
This isn’t the first time that Evil Geniuses changed their roster just before a TI only to qualify quite handily. The last time it happened, which was at TI6, they took third place and very nearly made it to the ultimate round.
Will we see a repeat of that at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships? We don’t know. What we do know is that the newly-built lineup boasts some of the best individual skills on the planet, with three cores who are very capable of winning their respective lanes and using the smallest of advantages to snowball to a victory.
Evil Geniuses may not have had much time to play with their latest roster and a win at the Dota Summit 9 doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things, but only a fool would count the boys in blue out this early on.
Any team with Jacky ‘EternaLEnVy‘ Mao on their roster will always be a dark horse, and that remains true for Fnatic at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships.
While EternaLEnVy’s latest squad may not be as volatile and prone to imploding as previous squads, they remain wildcards nonetheless. Even with TI5 winner Saahil ‘Universe‘ Arora and prolific position 4 playmaker Djardel Jicko B. ‘DJ‘ Mampuston the roster, Fnatic will have a hard time putting everything together. But, if they do, they’re one of the few Dota 2 teams who have a fair shot against everybody.
VGJ.Storm seem to have missed the memo when they went up against Fnatic at the Dota Summit 9, because if they did, they would’ve known better not to give them even the slightest chance of coming back.
Kidding aside, VGJ.Storm have a fair share of victories under their belt. Now, the biggest hurdle for them is to find a way to win without overly relying on Roman ‘Resolut1on‘ Fominok .
VGJ.Storm have the potential to mirror Digital Chaos’ success at TI8, but only if they can find a way to shore up their weaknesses.
A promising team laden with talent and experience, VGJ.Thunder fell off the map as the season came to a close. In fact, if not for OpTic Gaming failing to find a way to win against Virtus.Pro, they probably wouldn’t have made it to TI8; their recent performance suggests that even making it out of the Chinese Regional Qualifiers was a tall task for them.
If Bai ‘rOtK‘ Fan can find a way to pull his squad together, a strong showing at TI8 is possible, but we’re not betting on it.
13. TNC Pro Team
Armel Paul ‘Armel‘ Tabios has been a revelation since joining TNC Pro Team earlier this season. But, for them to have a shot at making a deep run at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships, the onus is on Carlo ‘Kuku‘ Palad to find a way to improve his team’s adjustment mid-series and late-game decision-making.
If Kuku can help his team make the necessary adjustments, TNC Pro Team may not just pull off a solid run at TI8, but they could make the proverbial jump between fringe contenders to legitimate powerhouses.
Unlike in previous years when OG were the presumptive favourites to win it all, the latest iteration are heading into the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships as a squad that’s not even expected to make it to the Top 8.
But, that ultimately could end up being a good thing.
With very little pressure on them to perform well and with two highly skilled youngsters in Anathan ‘ana‘ Pham and Topias ‘Topson‘ Taavitsainen, this might finally be the year that the four-time Major champions break past the eighth-place barrier at a TI.
Easily one of the most promising of the TI8 qualifier teams, Winstrike have some serious talent on their side. We’ve already seen what they can do at EPICENTER XL and their performance at the CIS Regional Qualifiers was exactly what was expected of them.
If Winstrike can keep up their level of performance at TI8, they could end up making some serious noise at the main event.
16. Invictus Gaming
Invictus Gaming have very little to show outside of its region, and in its two LAN appearance, the team didn’t exactly impress. Bottom-half finishes in front of the home crowd at the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships and MDL Changsha Major leave a lot to be desired. But, even so, with Sun ‘Aggressif‘ Zheng’s heroes currently in the meta and the rest of the team capable of pulling their own weight, Invictus Gaming has the potential to do some damage.
17. paiN Gaming
The 2018 International Dota 2 Championships will just be the second time a South American Dota 2 team will be making its appearance, and already, the difference in skill between this year’s paiN Gaming squad and last year’s Infamous is evident. But, even so, paiN Gaming face a much taller task of making it out of the group stages with a much deeper competitive pool this year.
It’s a tough road ahead for paiN Gaming but they have all the tools they need to succeed if everything aligns perfectly.
18. Team Serenity
The biggest question mark of all the teams playing at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships, with virtually non-existent experience against international competition and the only quality win to show is their upset win at the Chinese Regional Qualifiers. But, we can’t exactly discount them just yet; Team Serenity have shown that they are not afraid to experiment and try out radically different things in the few times we’ve seen them play, and with very little tape on them, the mystery surrounding how they play could be exactly just what they need to pull off some quality wins.
What do you think of power rankings for the Dota 2018 International Dota 2 Championships? Which teams do you think will surprise us? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.