TI8 Qualifiers Recap and Meta Review

The TI8 qualifiers have ended and what a rollercoaster of a ride it has been.

From nail-biting elimination matches that went down to the wire to the meta being as diverse as it has ever been in a while, the past two weeks have made for some of the most entertaining matches of the year. As it should.

Now that it’s been nearly 48 hours since the conclusion of the TI8 qualifiers, we’ve had plenty of time to review and recap everything that happened.

Click here for a complete list of all the Dota 2 teams that made it to The International 2018.

The Biggest Disappointments of the TI8 Qualifiers

LGD.ForeverYoung

TI8 Qualifiers

Less than 12 months after nearly winning it all, LFY now found themselves at home watching the festivities in August. (Valve)

LGD.ForeverYoung have not had a good season, but still. For a team that finished third-place at TI7, failing to qualify for TI8 is disappointing, to say the least.

Losing Leong ‘ddc‘ Fat-meng must’ve hurt more than most people realized. After all, you can’t exactly make it to eight straight TIs by just being lucky. But, then again, the lack of roster stability all season long probably didn’t help either.

While LFY weren’t too far off from qualifying for TI8 — they only lost to Invictus Gaming and Team Serenity, the two Chinese teams who made it to TI8 —  they can’t exactly be happy with their results.

Don’t expect this roster to stay together for long.

Natus Vincere

TI8 Qualifiers

After teasing a return to relevancy all season, Natus Vincere couldn’t even make it out of the open qualifiers for TI8. (Natus Vincere)

For the second TI in a row, Natus Vincere, the first ever Dota 2 team to win a TI, will not make it to Dota 2’s biggest annual event.

Of course, they have no one to blame but themselves. Natus Vincere played like a headless chicken without a proper captain in the open qualifiers, failing to emerge victorious out of the clusterfuck of aspiring random stacks despite having made it to the most DPC tournaments of all CIS teams outside of Virtus.Pro this season.

Now, the Natus Vincere roster is inactive, with the clock probably ticking on everyone’s time on the roster — including that of fan-favourite Danil ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin.

BlinkPool

TI8 Qualifiers

For the second TI in a row, the veteran player Misery will be experiencing TI like the rest of the world — as part of the audience. (Valve)

What a story it would’ve been had Rasmus ‘MISERY‘ Filipsen found a way for his band of misfits to qualify for The International 2018.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.

OG made the TI8 qualifiers in Europe their playground, losing only two games the entire time with neophyte Topias ‘Topson‘ Taavitsainen and returning sophomore Anathan ‘ana‘ Pham taking turns styling on their opponents.

Had there been two slots for Europe this year, BlinkPool would’ve made it. Although Wind and Rain — another stack led by Lee ‘Forev‘ Sang-don — would’ve made it close. Either way, given how majority of his teammates are known for sticking together, expect MISERY to try and keep this lineup together and make some noise next season, especially after he made it clear during a HotCox interview that he planned on doing the same thing that Kuro ‘KuroKy‘ Salehi Takhasomi did with Team Liquid back in 2016.

The Biggest Surprises At The TI8 Qualifiers

Team Serenity

TI8 Qualifiers

A team full of relative unknowns emerging out of the chinese qualifiers is relatively unheard of, so it’ll be interesting to see how Team Serenity match up against other teams at TI8. Wykrhm Reddy)

Hands up if you thought that a team of no-names would make it out of the most competitive region of the TI8 qualifiers?

Nobody expected this to happen. Team Serenity were the very definition of a dark horse team — all of them are literally unknown save for the most ardent of Dota 2 fans. Even then, none of their players has really achieved much at all competitively. Not this past season. Not ever.

That Team Serenity made it by taking down both favourites in Invictus Gaming and LFY only made their run even more amazing.

With all five players making their TI debut this August, here’s to hoping that the jitters don’t get the best of them and they continue performing as well as they have.

CompLexity Gaming

TI8 Qualifiers

If David ‘Moonmeander’ Tan stays, compLexity Gaming could be pretty special next season. (CompLexity Gaming)

OpTic Gaming. VGJ.Storm. Evil Geniuses. 

Those names were on everybody’s mouths heading into the NA qualifiers. Arguably nobody gave CompLexity Gaming a chance. But, for a moment, they almost proved all of their doubters wrong.

Dropping only one game in the group stages, CompLexity Gaming played in a three-way tiebreaker with OpTic Gaming and VGJ.Storm. Had they won both games, they would’ve qualified for TI8. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and their relative inexperience playing together showing against better teams in the playoffs.

It’s not all bad news, though. This is a talented roster they have on their hands. If they stick together, CompLexity Gaming will have a legitimate shot next season with a bit more time and practice.

OG

TI8 Qualifiers

The absence of pressure and high expectations could be exactly what OG needs to finally finish higher than top 8 at a TI. (OG)

Who would’ve ever thought that OG would stomp the EU qualifiers as they have all season long?

Scrounging up a relatively unproven lineup just ahead of the qualifiers, OG won every game during the group stages and dropped only two games — all to Wind and Rain — in the playoffs on the backs of stellar play from Ana and Topson. But, their record is only half the story, because how they played was also a revelation.

Gone were the defensive OG of the past, with Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik now with Evil Geniuses. Instead, we saw a fast-paced OG team that played around their two young stars, with Sébastien “7ckngMad” Deb somehow finding farm just about every game they played, regardless of who he played.

With Jesse ‘JerAx‘ Vainikka playing lose and wreaking havoc and Johan ‘N0tail‘ Sundstein seemingly revitalized in his return to the support role,  this iteration of OG are a wild card and definitely one of the more intriguing teams to watch out for at TI8.

A Very Diverse Meta

Only three heroes went unpicked during the TI8 qualifiers: Riki, Sniper, and Necrophos. 

Sure, in comparison to last year’s qualifiers, that’s one hero more. However, if you dig deeper, this year’s qualifiers only had one hero picked more than 100 times (Windranger was played 102 times). Last year, 7 heroes were played in more than 100 games, with a few more in the high 90s. Furthermore, the second-most picked this year was Warlock with 90 games. The rest were picked 76 games or less.

A lot may complain that the meta isn’t in a good place right now, but it is. It may not be as diverse as it’s ever been, but it’s getting there. Especially because Riki, Sniper, and Necrophos were the subjects of the most recent patch.

Give or take a tweak or two, we’ll probably see every hero played at The International 2018, which will, no doubt, result in more varied and entertaining games.

Get Ready for The International 2018

With the arrival of patch 7.18, we can consider the pick and ban rates of the heroes that dominated the TI8 qualifiers arguably moot. After all, Io and Nightstalker’s viability should tank after the recent set of nerfs. Of course, we can’t say that for certain — professional Dota 2 teams have a penchant for figuring out what’s OP and what’s not.

Having said that, with all the uncertainty that’s going on, one thing we’re sure of is that the fun has just begun.

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