With the 2017-18 Dota Pro Circuit officially over a few weeks ago and the 8 The International 8 invites already set, this edition of our semi-regular Dota 2 power rankings will go a little bit different.
For example, we took the following factors into account for this edition:
— The International outlook: How the team is lining up for success at The International 2018 was the main factor in our rankings. We took into consideration how the team performed throughout the season as a whole across different patches.
— Most recent performance: How teams performed at the final three Majors — the MDL Changsha Major, ESL One Birmingham 2018, and the China Dota2 Supermajor — may not be a complete indicator, but it’s enough to give us a good idea of what kind of direction each of the eight The International 8 invites is heading towards.
Click here for our complete preview of The International 2018.
Season Standing: #8 (1935 DPC Points)
When you consider that VGJ.Thunder have had a losing record since their most notable tournament run (43-45), a second-place finish at The Bucharest Major back in March, it’s easy to chalk VGJ.Thunder’s having received one of the 8 The International 8 invites to luck, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong.
VGJ.Thunder required everything to go their way just so they wouldn’t have to go through the Chinese Qualifiers. Case in point, they have not qualified for any DPC tournament for months. Their only recent appearance was at the China Dota2 Supermajor, where they received a direct invite to the event. If not for that, they likely wouldn’t have had a LAN appearance for nearly two months.
But alas, here they are. Leong ‘ddc‘ Fat remains a TI staple, going for his eighth in a row now. Although it’d be nice if there was anything else going well for VGJ.thunder.
Liu ‘Sylar‘ Jiajun remains one of the most reliable carries in the world. He will do a lot of the heavy lifting for the team, along with ddc. Also, VGJ.Thunder’s coach, the legendary Dota 2 player, Bai ‘rOtK‘ Fan will be damned before he lets his team bomb out early at The International 2018.
Unfortunately, with inconsistent and relatively new players beyond those three and their tendency to be one-dimensional, VGJ.Thunder face an uphill battle at TI8.
Season Standings: #7 (2445 Qualifying Points)
Newbee haven’t exactly had a great season following their second-place finish at The International 2017. Expected by many to learn from their mistakes, Newbee, have, instead, remained the inconsistent, one-dimensional team that, although extremely skilled, often loses a lot of their games through the draft by refusing to adapt to the meta and sticking only to their comfort picks.
Comfort picks are good and all, and you can’t totally blame for Newbee on relying on them. They did win two Minors — the Perfect World Masters and ESL One Genting 2018 — this season, which is two more than other The International 8 invites, VGJ.Thunder and ViCi Gaming. However, when you’re up against the best of the best, you’ve got to have a wide hero pool and willingness to experiment, two things that Newbee apparently don’t have.
Newbee will have to work on shoring up those glaring weaknesses if they are to fix their losing record against Virtus.Pro, PSG.LGD and Team Liquid — the three heavy favourites heading into The International 2018.
Season Standings: #5 (3150 Qualifying Points)
Were Mineski lucky that they didn’t meet Virtus.Pro or Team Liquid en route to winning the 2018 Dota 2 Asia Championships? Maybe. While PSG.LGD, their opponent in the Grand Finals who they bested 3-2 in a five-game series, were already showing signs of greatness then, it wasn’t until a few weeks later that they went on to win back-to-back Majors and establish themselves as legitimate contenders.
Mineski are 1-9 and 0-4 against Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro respectively, which isn’t a good sign for a team that many hyped as world beaters after winning 1 of the 9 Majors of the 2017-18 competitive season.
Luckily, all is not lost for Mineski just yet.
We’ve already seen how weeks of intense boot camping under Tang ‘71‘ Wenyi turned out for Mineski. With more than two months for the team to prepare for the big event, 71 will have all the time in the world to mentally prepare Mineski as they seek to give the Dota 2 veteran Chai ‘Mushi‘ Yee Fung, who reportedly is going to retire after this season, one hell of a swan song at TI8.
5. ViCi Gaming
Season Standings: #6 (2835 Qualifying Points)
Considering that ViCi Gaming didn’t win a single DPC tournament all season, them racking up as many points to receive one of the eight The International 8 invites is an achievement in on its own. It’s also a back-handed compliment for a team that finished in second place 4 times in as many DPC tournaments this season.
There’s no doubt that ViCi Gaming have one of the most talented rosters in the world. You’d be hard-pressed to find a duo with more potential than Zhang ‘Paparazi‘ Chengjun and Zeng ‘Ori‘ Jiaoyang. But, when you’ve fallen short of a title that many times, it’s easy to wonder if the team’s inexperience, especially of its two young cores, gets to them when the stakes are the highest.
For all their shortcomings, however, ViCi Gaming remain a team that no one wants to face in August.
4. Team Secret
Season Standings: #4 (5136 Qualifying Points)
For months, many excused Team Secret for playing the long game. That they’re simply trying out different strategies in LANs considering their status as one of the few teams to constantly receive direct invites to tournaments after winning big during the first quarter of the season. But, even so, Team Secret’s atrocious performance during the second half of the season is inexcusable.
Sure, Team Secret defended their title at DreamLeague Season 9 back in March. That was no easy feat. Even though they tried out plenty of looks, they still ended up winning the title, but it does come with the caveat that arguably the biggest contender in the said eight-team Minor was Team Liquid, who was missing arguably their best player in Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi.
Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov remains a stubborn captain that refuses to let his opponent’s strengths and the overall metagame affect his draft. This stubbornness that’s borderline genius makes Team Secret a marvel to watch when everyone is on the same page. If they’re not, well, they’re still pretty good, but far from good enough to beat the likes of Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro.
Hopefully, Team Secret will use the next two months to start practicing all kinds of lineups so they don’t end up looking out of sync come TI.
Season Standings: #3 (7332 Qualifying Points)
From here on out, you can flip the rankings of the remaining The International 8 invites and you could make a good case for one being better than the other.
Ultimately, we decided to give PSG.LGD the lowest spot of the three because of two things: their lack of notable performances during the first half of the season and them losing to both teams ranked above them at the China Dota2 Supermajor.
Mind you, PSG.LGD could easily be the better Dota 2 team on a good day. They’ve got the necessary talent in all positions to succeed in Dota 2’s biggest stage and they are not afraid to experiment. They’re also a very confident bunch and are unafraid to push their heroes to the absolute limit in an effort to break their opponent’s spirits. They also have the results to show in the form of back-to-back Major titles at MDL Changsha Major and EPICENTER XL.
At The International 2018, all eyes will be on PSG.LGD as the entire Dota 2 world looks at them as the favourites to fulfill the east-west TI cycle.
Season Standings: #2 (12372 Qualifying Points)
With their individual members having enough Qualifying Points to each receive one of the eight The International 8 invites, Virtus.Pro’s dominance during the inaugural DPC season is hard to ignore.
Virtus.Pro spent the entire season on top of the proverbial totem pole, giving an inch of space for other teams to try and make their case only for them to reclaim their spot with a resounding win — no other Dota 2 team this season has won multiple tournaments via sweep.
Virtus.Pro’s four Major titles will go down in history as the most any team has won in one season in Dota 2 history and with far fewer Majors next season, don’t expect any other Dota 2 team to come close to tying it anytime soon.
Unfortunately, despite such a dominant season, it’s not enough to make them the favourites to win it all.
1. Team Liquid
Leave it to Team Liquid to write the perfect storybook ending to their season.
After spending the entire Dota 2 season in a relative slumber and even teasing a complete drop-off in performance by breaking their year-long streak of having not finished below Top 4 at any LAN tournament, Team Liquid won the biggest tournament of the season to finally claim their first Major title in franchise history after falling short so many times in the past.
That Team Liquid did so while beating other TI contenders Team Secret, PSG.LGD, and Virtus.Pro, in this particular order, no doubt only made their victory all the more sweeter.
Now, the reigning TI champions head into The International 2018 with their eyes on being the first Dota 2 team in history to win TI twice, and it doesn’t look like anyone can stop them.
Which of eight The International 8 invites do you think we ranked too high or too low? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.