The most lucrative event in esports is upon us, and it’s time to expect the unexpected
The International isn’t just well-known for its prize pool — it has also offered up some of the greatest action and hype moments in not just Dota 2, but esports as a whole over the years. The Group Stage begins on 15 October, and we just had to give a thought to how they would end up looking before the Playoffs begin. Because of the length of the tournament, we decided to split up the predictions between group standings and the brackets phase.
The tournament, which has seen nine different champions over 10 iterations, enters its 11th year with only 9 players having the chance to get their hands on a second Aegis. This speaks volumes about the sheer unpredictability of the results, and made writing this article all the more difficult. However, we wouldn’t be gaming journalists without a dash of courage, so here’s our view on how the groups will end up.
TI11 Group A Predictions
As competitive as it will no doubt end up being, Group A is arguably the easier of the two groups. This speaks more to the quality of the teams overall than the participants in the group itself, which contains BetBoom Team, BOOM Esports, Evil Geniuses, Gaimin Gladiators, Hokori, OG, PSG.LGD, Royal Never Give Up, Soniqs, and Team Liquid.
A brutal force of nature, OG are the kind of team you pray has a bad day against you. A young squad full of promise, OG may be playing with a third new squad mate in as many major LAN events, but they’re fine with that. If they’re dominating, you can at least hope that they’ll get overconfident and overcommit to a fight. When they’re on the back foot, however, things are different. Give them the smallest, tiniest, most obscure chance at a way back into a game, and they will pounce like a tiger and show absolutely no mercy. We have them leading the group.
The Chinese juggernauts are back, and this time they want revenge. After losing two finals in three years and cracking the top 3 in all of the last 3 editions of the tournament, the Qatar-backed squad will be aiming to go all the way this year. We don’t quite see them outdo OG in the Group Stage, but rest assured that they will be extremely close, if not equal in terms of points, with the clan that took away their potential crown at TI8.
3. Evil Geniuses
The boys in blue have had a very rough year starting with their horrendous performance at TI10, but they have regrouped over the last few months and are looking solid ahead of Valve’s flagship event. As long as their drafts don’t always center around picking Storm Spirit for Abed “Abed” Yusop every possible game, they should be able to make their way to third place in the groups.
4. Team Liquid
TI7’s dream lower bracket runners will be keen on making their mark on TI11, especially with this possibly being Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen’s last year of professional Dota. Liquid has had a difficult route to TI, full of heartbreaking and heartstopping moments that could have broken their spirits. Instead, they held on, and we think they’ll hold on to fourth place here, even if that comes by way of tiebreakers.
5. BOOM Esports
The SEA powerhouse has been looking dangerous all year, putting up decent performances at major events and finishing 7th on the DPC circuit. BOOM has seemed to lack that killer instinct that sets the very top level of teams apart, but they are nevertheless a potent side with plenty of hunger for success. We believe they’ll finish the group just out of the top 4.
6. Royal Never Give Up
Featuring multiple TI runner-ups, RNG is a potent team that underperformed over the course of the last year. However, they made up for it by taking the top spot of the regional qualifiers for one of the two toughest regions. If they can hold their nerve and play to their strengths, RNG can beat just about any team in the world on a good day.
7. Gaimin Gladiators
The surprise addition to this year’s list of TI teams, this mixed bag of relatively unknown European stars looked extremely dangerous in the first half of this year, but seemed to taper off somewhat near the end. We would have placed them much higher, but the fact that they haven’t played a high level tournament game since the Antwerp Major and did very poorly in the third DPC tour means that we don’t have high hopes for them.
8. BetBoom Team
This all-Russian squad coached by a Ukrainian is the kind of combination that defines the unity of the gaming world. BetBoom surprised many when they upset the likes of Natus Vincere and Outsiders to forge a path into TI through the Eastern Europe regional qualifier. While they certainly aren’t pushovers, we don’t exactly see them pulling a Team Spirit at their first Valve-sponsored LAN event.
The South American regional champs come into their own first TI with plenty of hopes. That being said, the lack of competition in the region barring the top two teams — both of whom qualified by way of DPC points to leave a wide open regional qualifier — isn’t something that inspires confidence. Unfortunately, we don’t think they’ll make it through.
Despite boasting plenty of raw talent, Soniqs just can’t seem to activate at events that involve teams from outside the US. They have had a lot of time to build up their team, gained new sponsors, and did well to secure their TI slot through the qualifier. Still, we’re not quite convinced that they have what it takes to make it to the Playoffs.
TI11 Group B Predictions
Despite some tried and tested heavy hitters in this group, there’s a sense of evenness to the teams, with the distinct possibility of any team defeating — or at least taking games off of — the other. The group boasts the likes of beastcoast, Entity, Fnatic, Talon Esports, Team Aster, Team Secret, Team Spirit, Thunder Awaken, TSM, and Tundra Esports.
1. Team Spirit
As regular visitors to our site probably know, we’re quite fond of the underdogs-turned-champions from the CIS region. Spirit are essentially a more mature version of OG on a good day. To silence their critics — including people who were convinced that the side’s TI win was a fluke — Spirit went on to win the Arlington Major to cement their name as one of the favorites for TI11. The only team whose entire squad has a shot at winning a second Aegis, Spirit should blast through the Group Stage in their trademark aggressive fashion.
The Yin to Gaimin Gladiators’ Yang, Entity came out of nowhere to take the Dota world by storm. Announcing their presence with a brilliant performance at the Arlington Major before making a statement with a flawless run through some of the strongest teams in the European Regional Qualifiers. Entity has gained many fans in a very short time, and they will be one of the teams to watch with their off-beat playstyle and incredible skills.
3. Team Aster
Making it to the final of ESL One Malaysia only to lose to OG, Aster may not play like a hive mind like the team they succumbed to, but they nevertheless have every bit of the skill required to go all the way this year. That being said, we don’t quite see them making the top two spots, but we’ll be damned if they finish outside the top 4 of this group, with three being the likely middle ground.
The South American sweethearts have shown immense talent over the years, but seem to always fall just a little bit short. We’re going to admit that this is a very, very bold prediction especially given the team we’ve listed next, but we’re sticking to it. As long as beastcoast don’t self-destruct, they have a solid chance at being the first SA side to crack the Upper Bracket of TI.
5. Team Secret
After winning the hotly-contested Last Chance Qualifier, Secret will be pumped full of some much-needed confidence. Still adjusting to the addition of two new players, the team will need every bit of the experience and resourcefulness of captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, who will be making a record 11th TI appearance and hunting for his second Aegis of the Immortal.
6. Thunder Awaken
Another South American team that showed plenty of promise this year, Thunder Awaken has since fallen off quite a bit. Like Gaiming Gladiators, their last match was a very long time ago, and they’ll be hoping that this will give them a bit of an element of surprise. Many people think they might be the ones to reach the Upper Bracket, but we have them starting down below.
Tundra were the European team to beat at different points over the last couple of years, but have recently been superseded in that department by the likes of OG, Secret, and even Entity. That being said, they are a powerful squad that narrowly missed TI last year, and they’ll be eager to make their presence felt now that they’ve finally made it to this point.
Forever an underdog of TI, Fnatic have come close to cracking the top spots many times, but always fallen short. Somehow, they always end up having a checkered Group Stage. Many SEA hopes reside with the team, and it’ll be amazing if they can make a deep run. Unfortunately, we don’t think things will finish on the higher side of that this time around.
9. Talon Esports
Like many other teams, Talon showed lots of promise earlier this year but have tapered off somewhat. Their performance at the last big tournament didn’t go anywhere near what the expectations must have been, and they have a truckload to prove if they are to justify qualifying, which they did via DPC points. A lot lies on the shoulders of Position 1 player Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon, who is the standout star of the team.
The American squad has all the potential for destroying opponents — as they have shown time and again — but they seem to be hell bent on following the same playstyle again and again. A lot of people will no doubt be unhappy with this prediction, and there’s every chance we’ll be horribly wrong, but then again, that’s how predictions work.
With these projected results in place, all that remains now is to see how the matches play out. Keep an eye on our site to catch daily recaps, analysis, betting tips and more throughout TI.