The competitive scene has remained relatively quiet between the conclusion of the TI7 qualifiers and now and that’s not likely to change in the coming weeks.
Yet, both tournaments are mere whimpers compared to the thunderous boom that awaits us once the real thing starts.
As we speak, all 18 TI-bound teams are hard at work, practising, scrimmaging and refining their play styles while devising new strategies to better prepare themselves for The International 7.
While all the teams headed to Seattle on August have proven themselves worthy of playing at the biggest stage in Dota, the four teams below are simply a cut above the rest.
Winners of a record total four Valve events, OG already have a strong case for being the winningest team in Dota 2 history.
Sure, OG may not have won as many LAN tournaments this year compared to last year, but they’ve continued to remain a dominating presence. Besides, there’s also an argument to be made that this year’s roster is better than last year’s.
One of their newest members, Gustav ‘s4’ Magnusson, is a proven winner and has long had a reputation for being one of the best playmaking mids in the world. Although he has since taken his talents to the offlane, the transition seems to suit him just fine. s4 continues to excel in his new found role, creating space and often making amazing things happen for OG.
The second of their three new members, Jesse ‘JeraX’ Vainikka is as perfect of a fit as can be for the team. Together with OG’s captain, Tal ‘Fly’ Aizik, the two make up one heck of a support duo that has proven key to the team’s success.
OG also found another breakout star in Anathan ‘ana’ Pham who has quickly established himself as one of best mid players in the game and has willed the team to victory on countless occasions.
— OG (@OGDota2) July 8, 2017
OG’s form heading into The International 7 may be less than ideal, hit hard by the recent nerfs brought by the patch 7.06. However, betting against a hungry and driven team that, as s4 said during a podcast, would not be content with anything less than a 4th-place finish, isn’t exactly the brightest move.
If OG shows up at TI in top form, it’ll be hard to find a team that can go toe-to-toe with them in a BO3 or BO5 series.
As one of the top Dota 2 teams of the past few years, if not all time, it’s easy to take Evil Geniuses for granted.
Yet, while we’ve come to expect a lot from the boys in blue, they rarely disappoint and this year’s roster has been no exception.
Gone may be the team’s steadying forces throughout the years, Peter ‘ppd’ Dager and Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis. However, their replacements are just as capable.
Artour ‘Arteezy’ Babaev returns once again to the team that he once helped create. Meanwhile, their new captain, Andreas ‘cr1t-‘ Nielsen, is no slouch, having won two Majors and other LAN tournaments with OG.
With no single weak link in their roster, the team is fully capable of styling over their opponents en route to winning a series.
EG have 4 LAN titles this year, as well as numerous high-place finishes to show for this.
So far, Cr1t- has proven that he’s capable of leading his team to victory.
Now, all that remains is for him to do the same at The International 7, where a chance for him to forge his own legacy while helping the team make history is at stake.
After dominating for much of the post-TI5 season, Team Liquid were forced to watch from the sidelines as their former rivals, OG, continued their winning ways post-TI6 while they were left to try to figure out how to best play with their retooled roster, highlighted by their recent acquisition of Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi.
Team Liquid initially experimented with Kanishka ‘BuLba’ Sosale at the position 4 before eventually finding the perfect complement to Miracle- in the form of the Lebanese pub star, Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej.
GH’s play style clicked with Miracle- right from the start and as soon as GH came to the team, they went on to win DreamLeague Season 6, which they followed up by winning SL i-League StarSeries Season 3.
Unfortunately, their successful run would come to an abrupt end as they finished DAC 2017 in the last place before posting another equally disappointing 5th-8th finish at The Kiev Major 2017.
Despite the mixed results, however, the team chose to run it back with the same squad post-Kiev.
The decision would pay dividends for the team as they would go on to win three consecutive LAN titles in the months leading up to The International 7.
After winning SL i-League Invitational #2 and successfully defending their at the EPICENTER 2017, their direct invite to TI7 was all but secured.
With another successful title defence, this time at the recently concluded DreamLeague Season 7, Team Liquid’s confidence must be at an all-time high.
That’s a scary proposition for the teams who will go to face Team Liquid at The International 7.
Formed in August of 2016, Virtus.Pro burst into the scene by sweeping OG in their first LAN tournament of the year at The Summit 6. Although they followed this up with a couple of middling performances, they returned to form at The Kiev Major 2017, where they secured a rematch with OG in the Grand Finals.
Virtus.Pro looked primed to win against the heavy favourites of the tournament after taking a 2-1 lead headed into Game 4. However, OG would go on to tie the series before making a huge comeback in Game 5 to win their fourth Major in five tries.
After the devastating Grand Finals loss, Virtus.Pro would go on to win two small tournaments before disappointing at EPICENTER 2017.
Their 5th-6th place finish at Moscow highlighted some of the team’s weaknesses, namely their lack of hero diversity. Many commented on how teams have now figured out how to play against their tendencies and draft against them.
So, Virtus.Pro did what any other team in their position would do and went on to pick 81 heroes in 17 straight games to defend their title at The Summit 7.
That was two months ago, and we have yet to see Virtus.Pro in LAN action since. Of course, they’re probably busy preparing for The International 7, as other teams are.
Having recently signed a contract extension that will see them stay together as a team through 2018, the unlikely champions of the CIS region has a chance to not just win The International 7 but also cement themselves as one of the top Dota 2 teams of all time.
The Teams To Beat at TI7
Noticeably absent from our list of the top Dota 2 teams at The International 7 are Newbee and Invictus Gaming. Although both received invites on the backs of their consistent year-round play, they fall way short when stacked up against EG, OG, VP and Team Liquid.
Of course, we can never fully predict what will happen at The International 7; heavy favourites may disappoint and bow out early; underdogs may rise up and make for yet another feel-good story.
If there’s one thing we’re sure of, though, it’s that we’re in for an action-packed two weeks once group stages kick off on August 2 as teams from all around the world will battle it out for pride, glory and prestige.