DOTA 2’s The International 2018 – The Contenders!

After DOTA 2’s The International 7 (TI7) last year, Valve came up with a brand new qualifying system for transparency – aptly named the DOTA Pro Circuit (DPC).

Different tournaments tagged as Minor and Major, allowed teams that place well in these events to earn points, all vying for an invite to The International. Valve has done a recap series on the DPC, and also a lowdown on each of the individual teams participating in TI8.

Of these, the 16 best teams in the world are currently embroiled in a struggle to reach the top, but some teams are more prepared than others and some are certainly going to be more intense that others.

Here are a few of the teams that you can count on to provide quality entertainment.

[divider]Team Liquid[/divider]
Last year’s champions, Team Liquid is back in full force this year. Not losing a single one of their star players from last year, they are once again favourites to take the crown. Liquid was in a precarious position last year, dropping to the lower bracket after their first series. Facing elimination, they slayed through the lower bracket, culminating in the first ever 3-0 sweep in the grand finals against Newbee.

Having star players in every position, and backed up by a captain affectionately known in the community as “The Garbageman”, Team Liquid looks to repeat their success, and to reaffirm their history-defining status once again by becoming the first ever team to repeat the championship.

There is a fine line between confidence and hubris, and Virtus.pro is a team that skirts the line dramatically. At their best, they play with a swagger like no other, consistently outplaying their opponents, taunting, and all-chatting all the way to victory. Initially a team that crumbles under pressure, time spent together has steeled their nerves. Replacing only one player in two years, this team has had unprecedented success in the first ever DPC, winning four major tournaments, twice more than any other team.

A team that fights impeccably, and the raw talent blossoming from their two young core players are stabilised by the most experienced captain Russia has to offer. Not many teams talk as much as Virtus.pro, but perhaps no other can walk it as well as they do.

LGD Gaming is a Chinese powerhouse, having had phenomenal players even in DOTA days. Their slogan, LGD Invincible, is a culmination of their dominance over the years, and the steadfast belief that no matter the odds, they will prevail.

PSG.LGD is one of the yougest average teams in the tournament, with their oldest player only being 23 years old. However, what they lack in experience they make up for in raw skill. After being picked up by PSG e-sports (yes, the football team), they experienced tremendous success, winning two majors and cementing themselves as one of the best teams China has to offer. However, their highest ever placing at TI has only been 3rd, and this year might be the best chance they get.

[divider]Evil Geniuses[/divider]
Evil Geniuses is a team with pedigree, having been a pioneer in North American e-sports, and winning the fifth International. This year, their roster has been through massive overhaul, looking to Europe to bolster their waning might.

An American citizen born in Pakistan, a Canadian, a Swede, a Dane, and an Israeli. Different nationalities, but one thing in common: they are some of the most individually skilled players alive. Two of them have won Internationals, while all of them have been Major winners.

Despite only winning one DPC Minor, the roster overhaul has proved to be a stroke of genius. Throughout the season, EG has been ridiculed, as their confidence was repeatedly trampled on by early losses. At The International, a different EG showed up, only losing three games in the group stages, two of them to TI7’s champion, Team Liquid. Expectations have been held aloft, and it’s time to see whether the geniuses can lift the Aegis once more.

[divider]OpTic Gaming[/divider]
The Green Wall. A fanbase so rabid that it transcends games. OpTic started their trade in FPS games, but their unprecedented success has allowed them to expand. In a surprising twist, these fans started following them from game to game, and the results? The Green Wall has arrived in DOTA 2, and it looks like they’ve picked up a dark horse.

How did this team start? The captain, Peter “ppd” Dager, was the captain of Evil Geniuses for three years, achieving unprecedented success for the organisation, placing 3rd at TI twice and winning the whole thing at TI5. After TI6, ppd retired known as one of the greatest captains of all time, and became the CEO of Evil Geniuses. From pro player to CEO, he seemed to be living the dream. But, he wasn’t content. Leaving the organisation in 2017, he created his own team to satisfy his professional gaming itch.

One of the greatest minds in DOTA set to work, and he seems to have found a winning formula. Taking veteran, pubstars, and reuniting with one of his oldest friends, ppd exhausted all avenues to assemble a team that could possibly bring him another championship. A team that is increasingly proving doubters wrong, OpTic has a hard path to the top, but it would be folly to count out ppd.