Different from previous years, the TI8 Open Qualifiers will be a must-watch because of the sheer number of big name organizations playing in it as punishment for changing their rosters midseason.
June is here, and the last tournament of the inaugural Dota Pro Circuit just ended. All we’ve got to look forward to now are the TI8 Open Qualifiers, which, any other year, would not be as interesting. But, this year, it’s different. The reason? The reformed competitive Dota 2 system known formally as the “Dota Pro Circuit.” Now, teams who broke the roster lock will be punished by going through the perilous, free-for-all best-of-one matches that is the open qualifiers before they can even get a sniff of a spot at TI8 at the regional qualifiers.
This year, we’ll see TI mainstays like OG and Evil Geniuses play in the TI8 Open Qualifiers. Even more interesting, there’s a chance that we won’t see them playing at Dota 2’s biggest annual event at all. This risk factor only ups the ante for the teams and gives us audiences all the more of a reason to follow what usually is an ignored part of the lead up to TI.
Having said that, join us as we run down the teams at the TI8 Open Qualifiers that you keep an eye on.
Roster: Ilya ‘Illidan‘ Pivcaev (Hard Carry); Sergey Alexandrovich ‘G‘ Bragin (Mid); Olexandr ‘DkPhobos‘ Kucheria (Offlane/Captain); Artsiom ‘fng‘ Barshak (Roaming Support); Malthe ‘Biver‘ Winther (Hard Support)
In case you didn’t know, this is the same team that played under the Virtus.Pro banner sans Ilya ‘Lil‘ Ilyuk that eliminated the stacked Team Secret and finished in the top six at The International 2015. That alone should speak to the amount of chemistry and potential this time has. Sure, they weren’t able to fulfill it at the China Dota2 Supermajor, but their competition at the CIS region aren’t exactly on the same level.
With Natus Vincere reeling from the lack of a steady captain and Team Empire changing rosters more often than they qualify for tournaments, Team Spirit have a legitimate chance of joining Virtus.Pro as the only CIS teams at The International 2018.
Roster: Vladislav ‘Crystallize‘ Krystanek (Hard Carry); Danil ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin (Mid/Captain); Victor ‘GeneRaL‘ Nigrini (Offlane); Fedor ‘velheor‘ Rusikhin (Roaming Support); Ilya ‘Lil‘ Ilyuk (Hard Support)
Natus Vincere warrants inclusion based on the names on their roster alone. Not that they’re an all-star cast or anything, but they’re not half-bad either. Crystallize, the rookie, has proven himself capable of carrying games thus far, and Dendi has been experiencing quite a bit of a resurgence with his favorite heroes back in the meta. Not to mention GeneRaL remains a beast. An inconsistent one, but a great player nonetheless.
The biggest question marks on Natus Vincere are velheor and Lil as a five and their lack of a good leader. The latter is a problem not so easily solved. But, with the relatively shallow competitive pool in the CIS region, Natus Vincere have every bit of a chance to qualify for TI8.
Roster: Anathan ‘ana‘ Pham (Hard Carry); Topias ‘Topson‘ Taavitsainen (Mid); Sébastien ‘7ckingMad‘ Debs (Offlane/Captain); Jesse ‘JerAx‘ Vainikka (Roaming Support); Johan ‘N0tail‘ Sundstein (Hard Support).
Longtime fans of N0tail rejoice. Our favourite flower is back to his old role and this means we might finally see some Meepo support play. We’d say Io, but that pesky wisp has been banned until perpetuity, although we’d love to see the hero in N0tail‘s hands if it doesn’t get banned early on.
We all know nearly everyone on the roster are capable players if not some of the best in the world. So, we’re left to focus on Topson, who’s known for his high-level mid play in pubs but has very little experience competitively.
Even with that much uncertainty, OG are almost a sure thing to make it out of the TI8 Open Qualifiers. They are that good. However, if Topson proves his worth, they’re an easy dark horse contender to make some noise at TI8.
Roster: Omar ‘Madara‘ Dabachach (Hard Carry); Grigoris ‘Keyser‘ Kallianiotis (Mid); Maurice ‘KheZu‘ Gutmann (Offlane); Rasmus ‘Misery‘ Filipsen (Roaming Support/Captain); Martin ‘Saksa‘ Sazdov (Hard Support).
At first glance, this looks like a stack created specifically only for the TI8 Open Qualifiers. Well, technically, it is. However, if given some time to mesh, this is a roster that has a pretty high ceiling that could’ve given OG a good run for their money in the European Qualifiers this season.
Both Misery and KheZu excel in space creating heroes, helping give Madara all the farm in the world and Saksa is a mechanically skilled support that was one of the first players ever to reach 8K MMR. The biggest question mark here is Keyser and he excelled at the qualifiers last year for Planet Dog and later Hellraisers before succumbing to the pressure at The International 2017.
If Misery can make this roster gel together, a spot at TI8 isn’t that far-fetched.
Roster: Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev (Hard Carry); Sumail ‘Suma1L‘ Hassan (Mid); Gutsav ‘s4‘ Magnusson; Andreas ‘Cr1t-‘ Nielsen; Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik
Two TI winners. Two Major winners. A 10K MMR player.
That’s the gist of this new Evil Geniuses roster and while there’ve been plenty of questions about their commitment to improving all season long, adding s4 and Fly to the roster can only serve to do the team well.
With three spots given to North America for TI8 this year, the TI8 Open Qualifiers will be a breeze for this team. The question is, can they figure out a way to play well enough together to turn some heads at TI8?
Roster: Yawar ‘YawaR‘ Hassan (Hard Carry); Roman ‘Resolut1on‘ Fominok (Mid); Jingjun ‘Sneyking‘ Wu (Offlane); Arif ‘MSS‘ Anwar; Avery ‘SVG‘ Silverman.
While this roster doesn’t boast the same accolades as the boys in blue nor the #greenwall, VGJ.Storm are a force to be reckoned with that has the potential to be the second coming of TI6’s Digital Chaos squad that finished in second place overall.
Teams at the China Dota2 Supermajor figured out that the best way to play VGJ.Storm is to make sure that YawaR has a bad game and ask Resolut1on to carry the game on his own. But, with two months between now and TI8, there’s no doubt that SVG will have found a way to iron out their kinks by then and make them a more versatile team.
Roster: William ‘hFn‘ Medeiros (Hard Carry); Aliwi ‘w33‘ Omar (Mid); Otavio ‘tavo‘ Gabriel (Offlane); Danylo ‘Kingrd‘ Nascimento (Roaming Support/Captain); Heitor ‘Duster‘ Pereira.
SG e-sports with Francis ‘FLee‘ Lee and Stanley ‘Stan King‘ Yang are a close second, while Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis’ South American venture with Kyle ‘Kyle‘ Freedman should do well for themselves against lesser competition in South America, but make no mistake, South America’s spot to TI8 is paiN Gaming‘s to lose.
hFn is an underrated carry who farms like one of the best in the world, and he’s got playmakers in w33, tavo, and Kingrd to help enable him to do his job as well as he possibly can.
Unless paiN Gaming happens to choke, we’ll likely see w33 and his band of Brazilian brothers turn up at the Rodgers Arena on August.
Roster: Fernando ‘Nando‘ Mendoza (Hard Carry); Karl ‘Karl‘ Jayme (Mid); Earlwin ‘Ewe‘ Libre (Offlane); Kimuel Borromeo ‘Kimo‘ Rodis (Roaming Support/Captain); Jomari ‘Grimzx‘ Anis (Hard Support).
Every year since TI6, despite not having much to show all season long, Kimo has found a way to will his team to a spot at TI, one way or another. Don’t expect things to be different this time around.
Execration are a scrappy bunch from one of the scrappiest regions in Dota 2 and they’re sure to give both TNC Pro Team and Fnatic a good run for their money for one of the two slots given to Southeast Asia this season.
Roster: Du ‘Monet‘ Peng (Hard Carry); Xie ‘Super‘ Junhao (Mid); He ‘Inflame‘ Yongzheng (Offlane); Tue Soon ‘Ahfu‘ Chuan (Roaming Support); Yao ‘Yao‘ Zhengzheng (Hard Support/Captain).
While China only received two slots this season, there aren’t really too many contenders to worry about contrary to popular belief. The best Chinese Dota 2 teams all received a direct invite except, maybe, for Invictus Gaming, and they are far cry from the contenders they were all of last season.
With inflame fully healthy now and the team having had months to play with each other to build some much-needed chemistry, the TI8 Open Qualifiers should be easy for LFY and they have a good chance of making it all the way through.
Are You Ready for the TI8 Open Qualifiers?
Majority of the teams listed here haven’t had a long time to figure out how to play together, but the potential of each of the rosters listed here are off the charts. Nearly everyone has played at the top level of international events and the talent is there to give all of the proven names a good challenge if they qualify.
So, while all of these Dota 2 teams may be classified as wildcard picks, but you’d be damned to count them out.
It’ll be fascinating to find out how the TI8 Open Qualifiers play out and what kind of performances we’re going to see in the gauntlet and the regional qualifiers that come afterward.
Which Dota 2 teams do you think will turn the most heads with their performance in the TI8 Open Qualifiers? Which of our picks do you think have the best chance of making it to The International 2018? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.