Trying to stay as objective as possible when ranking the 7 TI champions is an exercise in futility; the ever-changing meta makes it near impossible to rank one champion ahead of the other.
Still, it never hurts to try.
Below, we’ve ranked each of the past TI champions based on their performance during TI, as well as their playstyle, drafting, execution, and other intangibles.
#7 Natus Vincere
To date, not a single team has yet to match Natus Vincere’s run of dominance from the first ever TI to TI3. However, we’re only counting a team’s run at the event itself. And, while their win at The International at Gamescom in 2011 was a monumental moment in Dota 2 history, in hindsight, it wasn’t exactly all too impressive.
With all due respect to all the teams that participated in the first TI, the competition back then was simply nowhere near compared to a year later and much less when compared to today.
#6 Invictus Gaming
A team filled with some of the best talents China had to offer, chief of which were the 2nd generation “gods” Chen ‘Zhou’ Yao and Wong ‘ChuaN’ Hock Chuan. Perhaps then it’s no wonder that Invictus Gaming stormed out of the group stages with a 13-1 record and eventually won it all.
Unfortunately, while Invictus Gaming did go on to win TI that year, one can argue that it was an off-year from the west as the rest of the world had yet to catch up yet competitively with China and CIS.
Newbee’s run at TI4 was a tale of two halves; the team had very little success during the first and second phase of the tournament. However, as soon as they rolled out their “death ball” line up, not a single team could really stop them. Not even Vici Gaming, the team that they had “copied” the strategy from.
Newbee holds the distinction of being the only TI champions to have won the Grand Finals in less than two hours. In total, all four matches of the TI4 Grand Finals didn’t even last for more than an hour and a half.
#4 Evil Geniuses
Evil Geniuses has always had a reputation for winning games through the draft. At least, for the three years that Peter ‘ppd’ Dager was the team’s captain.
At TI5, Evil Geniuses lineup had just the right mix of experience, tactical brilliance, and up-and-coming talent. Lest we forget, that was the year Syed Sumail ‘SumaiL’ Hassan capped off his coming out party from DAC 2015 and solidified himself as one of Dota 2’s most talented mid players.
Unfortunately, Evil Geniuses, had a relatively safe play style where they forced teams to outplay them and while this netted them a TI, they never really were particularly dominant nor game changers, unlike the other 3 TI champions above.
Banking on the then-foreign concept of sharing the farm between the cores and support, Alliance spread out the map unlike any other team and was one of the first Dota 2 teams to put an emphasis on creating space and making something like a kill on their carry not as crippling.
Alliance’s constantly rotating distribution of farm slightly gimped their core heroes, but it also afforded them supports that wouldn’t wither at the sight of the opposing team’s carry. And, of course, who could ever forget their penchant for split pushing, now better known as r[A]t Dota?
It’s safe to say that Alliance were able to flip Dota 2’s metagame on its head and as a result, lost only one game throughout the entire tournament en route to securing what’s now known as the “El Clasico” Grand Finals of Dota 2.
#2 Team Liquid
Playing in what many consider as the most balanced patch in Dota 2 history, Team Liquid’s run at The International 7 is the perfect example of how much a team can evolve throughout a whole tournament.
Already considered as the heavy favourites after winning 4 straight LANs prior to TI7, Team Liquid learned from their losses and adjusted to suit best who they were playing against at the main event.
A good example of this was when they picked up Lich and Lifestealer against Newbee in Game 1 of the Grand Finals, the exact same pair of heroes that LFY had picked against them in their Game 1 loss in the lower bracket finals.
Provided they stay together, Team Liquid probably has the best chance among the TI champions so far to lift the Aegis of Champions for the second time. However, the one team above them was simply something else.
#1 Wings Gaming
The International 6 champions took Alliance’s farm allocation to a whole new level and executed in a way unseen since 2014’s Team DK.
Wings Gaming could beat teams in so many ways. They played as if they were everywhere at once and often bullied teams into calling “GG”, but they were also just as comfortable playing from behind. They played off of each other perfectly and hit item timings with utmost precision.
Opposing teams couldn’t help but admire just how Wings Gaming pulled one wonky draft after another. Their games became a must-watch both for their entertainment value and how much you could learn from just watching them play.
Were Wings Gaming the most dominant of all the TI champions so far? Most Dota 2 fans would gladly tell you yes. Because for all the cases that one could make for why the others were better, there are easily far more reasons why Wings Gaming were simply the better team.
Which of the 7 TI champions do you think were the best of them all? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.