After four full days of action and two teams getting eliminated, we’re now down to just 16 teams in the TI8 main event as every team takes center stage and play in front of a live audience in the double-elimination playoffs.
You can now breathe.
The group stages showed us that this year’s TI has got to be the most tightly contested TI ever, with nearly every team taking a game off of everybody. During the final day of the group stage, we saw three teams in Team Secret, OpTic Gaming, and Newbee, all tied up with an 8-8 record for the third and fourth place. Mind you, this was after everybody had counted OpTic Gaming out for going 4-8 through the first three days of the group stages.
Newbee ended up losing the three-way tiebreakers, which means that they’re going to start the TI8 main event in the lower bracket. Speaking of tiebreakers, Winstrike also pulled through at the end. The underdogs from CIS swept and eliminated Invictus Gaming from the tournament after splitting their final series against OG to move on to the TI8 main event.
With both Invictus Gaming and paiN Gaming now gone from the tournament, only sixteen Dota 2 teams remain for the TI8 main event.
Having said that, we’ll try to predict what’s going to happen next, including a throw-in TI8 Battle Pass prediction for how we think the TI8 main event will play out.
All odds courtesy of GGbet.
TI8 Main Event: Battle Pass Prediction
We’re going with Team Liquid as our clear winners here, mainly because the reigning champions have no clear kyptonite and the usual foils, the Chinese, have been mostly shaky at best. Not to mention that majority of them are starting their run in the lower brackets.
Earlier in the tournament, Evil Geniuses looked like they had what it took to take down Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi and his squad, but after losing decisively 2-0 to Team Liquid during the group stage, we’re not exactly sold on that proposition anymore. Virtus.Pro are a great team, and it’s a shame that they or PSG.LGD will have to face off against Team Liquid so early on in the tournament, but both have proven incapable of toppling Team Liquid once they get themselves going.
That leaves us with Team Secret, who looked like they had Team Liquid all figured out earlier in the season, but are instead looking like a team who have yet to fully figure themselves out.
While the TI8 main event boasts the deepest competitive pool at a TI yet, Team Liquid have proven themselves to be the best Dota 2 team in the world in the rare occassions that they are motivated to do so, and there’s no better motivator than a chance to make history and become the first Dota 2 team to win a TI twice.
TI8 Main Event: Upper Bracket
1. Team Liquid vs 4. OpTic Gaming
Match Schedule: August 21, 0100H (UTC +8)
OpTic Gaming have proven that you can’t exactly count them out just yet, going 4-0 (5-0 if you count their tiebreaker matchup against Newbee) in the final day of the group stages. However, when you consider that those wins came against struggling squads such as the now-eliminated paiN Gaming and ViCi Gaming, who are bound to the lower brackets, it’s good enough of a reason to give you pause about their chances against the reigning champions.
Team Liquid just recently hit their stride, winning eight straight games after going 5-3 during the first two, and the teams they’ve beaten are no slouch either, as it includes none other than Evil Geniuses, who recently trashed OpTic Gaming at the Dota Summit 9.
As such, this is a no-brainer pick here.
Betting: Correct Score 2:0 (in maps) in favor of Team Liquid at 1.6 odds. (GGbet)
1. VGJ.Storm vs 4. OG
Match Schedule: August 22, 0100H (UTC+8)
VGJ.Storm were wise to pick OG over PSG.LGD.
No offense to the former, but the latter did win two Majors this season, with one of those wins coming at the expense of VGJ.Storm. Meanwhile, the former is just a shell of its past Major-winning self, with a largely unproven roster whose mid player, Topias ‘Topson‘ Taavitsainen, is a newcomer to the competitive scene and is only making his first TI appearance.
Normally, this series would’ve been easy pickings for VGJ.Storm. However, because they will be penalized for their first series for bringing in two coaches in the room while drafting during the group stages and as a result, will have to play without their coach, Aaron ‘Clairvoyance‘ Kim, the possibility of them losing the game via the draft is real.
You can pencil this in as a reach, but OG are not as big of underdogs as most people think they are.
Betting: OG to win at 2.79 odds (GGbet)
2. Virtus.Pro vs 3. PSG.LGD
Match Schedule: August 21, 0400H (UTC+8)
With VGJ.Storm picking OG, the CIS bears were left to face off against PSG.LGD, and that’s probably okay with them.
While it’s true that PSG.LGD hold an edge over Virtus.Pro in series throughout the season — the Chinese powerhouse have won 4 out of their past 5 meetings against Virtus.Pro — it’s also clear that Virtus.Pro can and will beat PSG.LGD when they want to, and you’d best bet that they’re not going to pull any punches come the TI8 main event.
Regardless of the outcome of this match, you can expect this to be one of the highlight series of the entire tournament, which makes it a damn shame that these two teams are going to meet this early in the tournament.
Betting: Virtus.Pro to win at 1.71 odds (GGbet)
2. Evil Geniuses vs 3. Team Secret
Match Schedule: August 22, 0400H (UTC+8)
As often as these two Dota 2 teams have met in the past, they actually haven’t played each other in three months, so there’s really no history to dig up here, especially because Evil Geniuses recently changed their roster before the China Dota2 Supermajor.
Team Secret’s inconsistency also makes them winning a series against the fairly stable Evil Geniuses squad a fairly questionable proposition at best. But, we’ve seen what they can do when they put their mind to it, and, lest we forget, this is the very same roster to have ever swept Team Liquid in a Grand Finals.
If Clement ‘Puppey‘ Ivanov can rally his squad and stop pulling off their typical shenanigans during the draft, Team Secret have a good chance of winning here.
Betting: Team Secret to win at 2.35 odds (GGbet)
TI8 Main Event: Lower Bracket
5. Fnatic vs 7. Team Serenity
Match Schedule: August 21, 0700H (UTC+8)
In a best-of-one against Fnatic, the game quickly devolves into how many heroes of Abed Azel ‘Abed‘ Yusop you can ban, and that’s before you count how many must-ban heroes his teammate, Djjardel Jicko B. ‘DJ‘ Mampusti, also have.
Team Serenity have done well to get to this point, but there’s just no way Fnatic will allow themselves to lose this early on, even if they have to pull out one of their already-signature weird, long-game wins to stave off elimination.
Betting: Fnatic to win at 1.52 odds (GGbet)
6. TNC Predator vs 7. Mineski
Match Schedule: August 21, 0800H (UTC+8)
Normally, you’d favor Mineski in a game over TNC Predator. They’ve lorded over SEA for much of this past season and seeing them lose to another SEA team just doesn’t seem possible. But, it is, especially since we’re talking about a best-of-one game.
TNC Predator have the formula for winning best-of-one tilts down pat, making a win here in their favour more than likely.
Betting: TNC Predator to win at 1.77 odds (GGbet)
5. Newbee vs 8. Winstrike
Match Schedule: August 21, 0900H (UTC+8)
Heading into the tournament, Winstrike averaged the most kills and assists out of every team playing at TI8. Now, they’re ranked second from the bottom, just slightly above ViCi Gaming, with only 22.83 average kills and 48.11 average assists per game.
Talk about getting exposed.
Newbee are no strangers to playing aggressive teams, and with their disciplined play, it’s highly likely that they’ll extend their run from the lower brackets for one more day.
Betting: Newbee to win at 1.5 odds (GGbet)
6. VGJ.Thunder vs 8. ViCi Gaming
Match Schedule: August 21, 1000H (UTC+8)
In most series, it only makes sense to pick the more consistent team of the two to win. However, what happens when both teams are arguably equally inconsistent?
That’s the problem we have in the TI8 main event matchup between the sister teams VGJ.Thunder and ViCi Gaming. The former were a pleasant surprise late into the season, claiming second place at three different Dota Pro Circuit LANs before fizzling out in the lead up to TI8. Meanwhile, the latter has been a powerhouse right from the get go, made up of veterans in the scene and led by two of the youngest superstars in all of China.
Now, these two Dota 2 teams will face off in a best-of-one with their backs against the wall.
Normally, we’d have ViCi Gaming pegged to win here. Unfortunately, we’ve seen them deal with pressure before and it wasn’t pleasant to watch. In contrast, VGJ.Thunder have a veteran carry in Liu ‘Sylar‘ Jiajun at their disposal.
Having said that, this series is likely to go VGJ.Thunder’s way.
Betting: VGJ.Thunder to win at 2.34 odds. (GGbet)
Disappointing seems to be the trend among the Chinese teams heading into the TI8 main event.
Compared to last year, where 4 teams from China played in the upper bracket, only 1 will play this year. The rest (4) will have to play in the lower bracket and another has already been eliminated.
While we’re definitely not counting them out just yet, it’s highly likely that we’ll see the TI east-west cycle finally broken this year.
Click here for our The International 2018 power rankings.
What do you think will happen during the opening rounds of the TI8 main event? Which teams do you think we’ll see advance further into the tournament? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.