With the biggest tournament of the year fast approaching, it's time for a good old-fashioned power rank.
Looking towards this event it looks to be the closest iteration of TI yet, with no single clear favourite and several teams showing a form that could take the crown if they play to their abilities on the right day.
This is the convergence of a hundred stories each comprised of a hundred struggles. The Dota 2 scene has been strengthened by the addition of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit, and ranking these teams was quite a challenge. Here's our breakdown of where the teams stand on the cusp of TI8.
One of the two Chinese teams who qualified through the Chinese qualifiers, their past performances at both international tournaments and qualifiers signal that Invictus Gaming is not quite at the same level as their opponents. While there is always a chance for a sudden resurgence in performances, they will have to pull out all the stops if they don't want to be one of the first two teams eliminated.
Unlike IG, paiN Gaming has actually shown some promise at previous Dota Pro Circuit events. But, evidently, they’ve lost a lot of momentum since their run at ESL One: Birmingham where they dished out two back to back losses to the reigning TI champions, Team Liquid. But South American teams have always done well in Valve tournaments, perhaps paiN can harness that and use it to their advantage.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that no one in the Western world knows about this Chinese team with literally non-existent experience in international competitions, and the only quality to show is their upset win at the Chinese Regional Qualifiers. However, Chinese fans are calling them the new Wings Gaming thanks to their explosive playstyle. But Serenity is actually a better team than given credit for. zhizhizhi might just be the best Morphling player in the world, and they run a variety of intriguing dual-core lineups. It's a tough road at TI8, but Team Serenity has the tools to make it if everything aligns perfectly.
OG has always headed into TI with multiple Major wins and as one of the favorites. But this season, things are different. OG didn’t win a single major and had two key players leave them without much notice. But they still possess some heavy-hitting talent on their side that could put them over for securing a spot at the main event. The addition of Topson to their lineup allows them to play some very unorthodox heroes in the midlane giving them quite the edge against teams who aren't well-versed against Topson's hero pool which includes a Meteor Hammer Invoker, Mid Monkey King and the burst heavy Skywrath Mage.
Easily one of the most promising of the TI8 qualifier teams, Winstrike have some serious talent on their side. We’ve already seen what they can do at EPICENTER XL and their performance at the CIS Regional Qualifiers was exactly what was expected of them. They could do some serious damage if they get momentum on their side.
A big advantage for Winstrike is that they're quite unpredictable. There are precious few games to research, few strategies to untangle. Better still, the team-bouncing histories of Iceberg, Silent, and Alwayswannafly have beaten them into a team of flexible mercenaries.
One of the most experienced teams in the International 8, VGJ.Thunder had a stellar run right in the middle of the DPC season (2nd place finishes in the Bucharest Major, GESC: Indonesia and SL i-League S5) which was pivotal for them securing the 8th and final invite slot for TI8. However, they've lost any and all momentum since then, to put it mildly. VGJ.Thunder have failed to win any of the remaining qualifiers, and they bombed out of the Supermajor after receiving a direct invite. In fact, The only series they have won on LAN since their second place finish at StarLadder have been against Infamous and The Final Tribe.
It's a testament to the quality of the overall Dota 2 scene that TNC Predator sits at this spot on our rankings. An SEA team that has more than a few victories under its belt, TNC sports impressive talent and some big potential for upsets. The greatest stumbling block for this team will be their traditional inconsistency. They can be a real competitor at The International, but finding their stride will be paramount to making it far in the main event.
The NA team’s late resurgence, after picking up Resolut1on has made them a genuine threat in The International 8. But they've still got a long way to go if they hope to break into the Top 8. The roster boasts several experienced players, but it is Yawar who is proving to be a standout due to his dependable control of mid, yet their performances could still improve a fair bit.
It looks like Team Liquid somehow managed to pass their TI curse on to Newbee who have looked lost since their hard-fought victory at ESL One: Genting. Newbee cruised at the same altitude of "really good" for almost all of 2017 but they haven't looked like worldbeaters since that Minor. It seems like they have most of the ingredients of a championship team without actually being one.
Their obvious reluctance to trying out new things and tendancy to stick to what has often worked for them has lost them their fair share of big games this season. Unless they improve upon this particular schtick, they will not be surprising the world like they did in TI7
Any team with EternaLEnVy on their roster will always be a dark horse, and that remains true for Fnatic at the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships. They are capable of taking games off the best teams in the world but at the same time can turn around and lose to anyone. They regularly win the unwinnable and throw the unloseable. In Anime, there’s always that character who gets a sudden boost of power, right? Haters will always call it a ‘convenient power up’, but Fnatic proves that it actually does happen in the real world, as well. They only truly show their mettle when they’re pushed into a corner.
One of the defining features of Fnatic’s gameplay is their ability to innovate. They are well known for picking outside of the current meta-game, and quietly ignoring the trends of each patch. With immensely greedy drafts that focus on quick farming and mobile team fights, Fnatic has the ability to take out their opponents easily in the mid-game, fail and then make a comeback later with Abed or DJ bailing them out.
The King has slid back into the mid role with ease, and Fly and S4 have fit in quite naturally with their former teammates. The biggest question, though, is if this team can perform against the truly top tier teams. A good showing at The Summit 9 helped ease worries, but the boys in blue are still working uphill against negative expectations. EG won't enter TI with as impressive a resume as previous years’, but don't count them out either. Sumail will make sure that "Punks are satisfied"
The fact is that NA legend, PPD has never finished outside of Top 3 at TI. The man just seems to know how to turn up the heat at the biggest event of them all. They will walk into TI as NA’s best hope.
OpTic Gaming has gone from being just another struggling NA team that has boasted some impressive star power, to one of the most improved and dangerous teams in the West. Zai finally seems to be playing great Dota again, and the addition of 33 to the offlane seems to have had a great effect on the team's overall performance.
SEA’s best hope at the upcoming TI, Mineski is a mixture of the best of SEA’s old guard and young talent. They shocked the world as they won DAC 2018, becoming the first SEA team to win a Major. Since then, they’ve solidified themselves as a world-class team, the experience of iceiceice and MuShi alongside MooN’s pure mechanical skill in the mid lane, backed up by Jabz’s flashy playmaking and ninjaboogie’s selfless warding has propelled them as the biggest hope of the SEA region.
Mineski have shown that they are capable of gradually adjusting and refining their team momentum towards the strategic direction suitable to the team as a whole. It no longer pigeonholes their gameplay around one or two core heroes on the team, like the notoriously tasteless passive turtling where the team inevitably gets too heavy for iceiceice to carry
Vici Gaming possesses one of the most talented, yet experienced squads in the Chinese scene. Pairing up two youngsters with three veterans, Vici Gaming has easily become one of the most fun teams to watch in Dota 2, regardless of whether they win or lose. They can go far in The International 8, if they play up to their potential.
Team Secret looked like they were so much better than the rest of the playing field, earlier in the season. Unfortunately, they lost their momentum while the rest of their competition surged ahead. Team Secret's journey to TI8, therefore, is not an effort to bring their skill to newfound heights, but a quest to rediscover their formula for victory. Team Secret have all the ingredients for winning the Aegis within them, but the gears have simply been out of place. Several analysts observed that Secret seems to have become stuck, struggling in a state of limbo for months. This predicament has manifested itself in a variety of ways: imprecise teamfight coordination, incongruent decision making, and questionable drafting.
But it looks like they've found their mojo once again, with a Top 4 finish at the China Supermajor showing us that they were down but not out. Perhaps this is the year that Puppey really chose to save strats for TI and showcase it in the big stage.
There is very little separating the Top 3 teams in the DPC. They’re all a cut above the rest of the teams and any one of them could easily pry away the Aegis from the others. PSG.LGD represents China’s best hope for Ti8.
It took them a while to find their footing, but when they did, they rolled through their opponents becoming only the 2nd team in this year’s DPC to win back-to-back Majors (Epicenter XL and MDL Changsha Major). With 2018 supposedly being China’s turn to win TI, it won’t come off as a surprise if we ended up seeing PSG.LGD walking away from the 2018 International Dota 2 Championships as the winners.
Perhaps the only team in recent memory to escape the TI winner’s curse, Team Liquid hasn’t slowed down in the slightest, and have continued to play some phenomenal Dota consistently for about a year and a half now. While they had to wait till the last major of the season: The China Supermajor to win their Major trophy, Multiple Minor wins alongside several other 2nd place finishes have shown us that they’re just a tier above most of the teams in the world. Kuro, Miracle and the rest of Team Liquid will make history if they can win TI8.
Virtus Plow, as they’re fondly referred to by the western fans is one of the best teams of all time. They’ve proven their status as the best team in the world by amassing a mammoth 12,373 Qualifying Points in the DPC. It truly exemplifies how strong VP are when they are working at their full potential.
The team as a whole is exceptional, but their cores No[o]ne and Ramzes have proven to be particularly great, with Solo's strong leadership and RoDjer's astounding skills on support paving the way for VP's domination. Lastly, 9Pasha has proven to be the deciding factor in many of VP's closer matches. Expectations are high for VP, but if they can play at the level they did throughout the DPC, they're on the path to earning the Aegis of Champions.