What to Expect From TI10, Many Experts Predict Chinese Dominance
The clock is ticking and the biggest event in Dota 2’s history is all locked and loaded, ready to begin. The International (TI) 10 will host 18 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams and only one of them will have the honor of lifting the Aegis of Champions as well as the lion’s share of the biggest prize pool in esports history just over $40 Million USD. The pressure and stakes have literally never been higher. TI10 returns to the forefront of our screens for the first time in more than two years, so the “crowning event” of the Dota 2 esports scene takes on even greater meaning this time.
As ever, the International 10 is expected to feature some intriguing matchups, pitting big names of the Dota 2 scene against less-heralded opposition. There will be intriguing clashes of style and tactics, and an opportunity for fans to watch some genuinely brilliant players they might not otherwise usually see.
Evil Geniuses, Quincy Crew, and Undying will be representing North America at The International 10 and will be hoping to restore NA to its glory days in the eyes of Dota 2 fans across the world. Beastcoast, Thunder Predator, and SG e-sports will share a mission to prove the strength of South America (SA) and gain its deserved recognition.
With Team Secret, the 2020 beasts, Alliance, the regional kings, and OG, the back-to-back champions; Europe heads into TI10 with a lot of panache and plenty to prove. China will be the most represented region at TI10 with five teams on the battlefield. PSG.LGD and Invictus Gaming, the crown holders of Majors, Vici Gaming, Team Aster, and Elephant have all proven that they have the mettle of champions, and they will be aiming to replicate it one last time at TI10.
The CIS region brings forth two of its best teams Virtus.Pro and Team Spirit who both feature several young and talented fresh faces debuting at TI. Lastly, Southeast Asia (SEA) will also go to the stage with a lot to prove, with T1 and Fnatic looking to claim SEA’s first-ever TI title.
In the spirit of the International, AFK Gaming spoke to various Dota 2 experts heading into TI10 for their insights, predictions, and help picture what we can expect from the tournament.
TI10 Broadcast Talents’ Thoughts for TI10
Capitalist: “It would be good to see SEA on top again.”
TI10 is expected to be one of the most fiercely competed tournaments in recent memory, thanks to the sheer quality of the teams competing in it. Austin "Capitalist" Walsh, a veteran Dota 2 caster/analyst can’t quite choose who he is rooting for. He said, “Despite popular beliefs, I don't really care what region does well, and I normally don't care what teams perform well.”
The SEA region has consistently attended every iteration of The International and shown impressive gameplay, however, no team from SEA has ever won TI. “I’m definitely pulling for Southeast Asia (SEA) teams as it would be good to see SEA on top again like some of the old days of Dota 2 and Dota 1,” he said. “T1 has been fun to watch and seems like Kuku makes a great captain. Fnatic too, because it would be sad to see the DJ/Jabz combo split.”
Elephant is the superstar team from China, composed of all-star names from the former PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming lineups. The team has not had a chance to compete in an international LAN, so far, since the team placed fifth for both seasons and later made it to TI10 only by winning the Chinese qualifier, defeating EHOME 3-1. Capitalist said, “Elephant has such an amazing roster full of the best in the world, it would be a shame to see them bomb out, so I'm hoping for a strong TI for them!”
“PSG.LGD has been an amazing team to watch all year. It's overused but I do believe that PSG.LGD is the real inheritors of the Wing's mantle.” It is no surprise as PSG.LGD has two members that were a part of Wings Gaming’s formidable roster that won The International 6 championship.
Capitalist stated that PSG.LGD might take the spotlight, but he acknowledges the rest of its counterparts. “China is such a strong, deep region that teams like Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming are big threats to claim the Aegis.” He went down the memory lane and mentioned the Singapore Major’s most heated moment, “Emo (of Invictus Gaming) is a legend for his ‘?’” and he also applauds Ori from Vici Gaming for his improvements. “Ori has been my most improved player since 2014/15.”
Aside from underdogs like SG e-sports, Thunder Predator, Undying, and Team Spirit, he also wants teams that had a strong showing in their regions to put on a show, “It'd be nice to see the teams that dominated their regions actually perform well on LAN for once, like Aster, Alliance, and VP.” he said. “Beastcoast always has a special place in my heart for their legendary runs to prove South America is sick. Of course, North America has something to prove as well with Quincy Crew so I hope they get to prove some of the haters wrong.”
The North American kings, Evil Geniuses have been really consistent throughout this season, securing Top 2 finishes in both Majors and finishing on top of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) table for this season.“Evil Geniuses is just full of great people, I hope they can close out what has been a strong year.” he said.
Of course, he also didn’t leave the most dominant team in 2020 out of the equation, “Secret had an amazing 2020 and it'd be a damn shame to see them place anything less than top four.” He also wished to see the back-to-back champions put on a show at TI, “Really hope OG shows up strong at TI.”
Lyrical: TI10 is EG’s time
Ever since the introduction of regional leagues for the new DPC format, we have witnessed many teams dominate their regions however, most fall short during LAN events. The two Majors saw top regional teams like Team Aster, Alliance, and Virtus.Pro dropping after their first few matches. Gabriel "Lyrical" Cruz stated that he wants them to perform this time around. “Teams that I specifically want to do well would be all those that qualified through the DPC point system,” he said. ”As much as I love the storyline of teams that pull themselves together last minute, I would like to see those teams that have had consistent results all year keep that up through TI.”
Lyrical also believes that the North American top dog, Evil Geniuses may earn the title this time around. “As far as who I think will win the whole thing it's gotta be EG. It's their time.”
LizZard: “I expect China to do really well.”
The Chinese region has shown overwhelmingly dominant performance over the year. In the regional leagues, they’ve shown intense competition among themselves. Even in the Majors, China has dominated with both Invictus Gaming and PSG.LGD emerging as victors.China has always been a strong contender at TIs, but this year, the Chinese teams are anticipated to win the championship.
Admir "lizZard" Salkanovich believes the same. “I expect China to do really well. They've been owning the whole year.” He also mentioned that aside from PSG.LGD, Team Secret also has what it takes to win TI10. “I'm expecting either Secret or PSG.LGD to take the whole thing. PSG.LGD because they've been dominating the whole year and Secret because they haven't.”
Teaguvnor: “Let's hope for a beautiful underdog story.”
“Personally, I have no favorite team that I support throughout Dota,” said Robson "TeaGuvnor" Merritt. “I like to enjoy the beauty of the game and naturally will always root for the underdogs. It's refreshing to see new faces rise up and compete against the best and sometimes take the trophy.”
He mentioned that arguably, about five teams are in contention to take the Aegis of Champions, with most of the favorites coming from China. According to him, “often the favorites don't win TI due to teams often over-studying the best and trying to emulate or understand.”
It has been a known fact that favorites coming to TI have less often than not, lost the championship. This might be due to them being the focus of a lot of teams, thus being read and studied a lot.
PSG.LGD had a strong showing in the last few tournaments in which they competed in. However, they did not participate with their official midlaner, Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang since he could not travel with the team to Europe due to some travel issues and the team’s coach had to stand in for him. This could give PSG.LGD an edge, this time around according to Teaguvnor. “PSG.LGD’s pre-TI tournaments have used xiao8, so the ability to learn from them is not the same,” he said.
All said and done Teaguvnor expects PSG.LGD and EG to be the favorites in this tournament. “PSG.LGD still for sure is a strong favorite but this is also the year for EG to do well. Their roster is solid and their DPC showings have been strong,” he said.
However, he does want the unexpected to happen. “But let’s hope for a beautiful underdog story,” he added.
AvoPlus: “ The most beautiful Dota right now is Chinese Dota.”
Alvaro "AvoPlus" Sanchez Velasco, a Spanish caster who will debut at The International as a host pitched in his thoughts as well. “South America would be the region I am rooting for,” he said. “Most of my friends are from that region and I know both hispanic teams personally.”
In this year’s championship, we’ll be seeing three representatives from South America, beastcoast, SG e-sports, and Thunder Predator. This has been the highest number of teams SA has ever brought to Dota 2’s biggest stage. According to AvoPlus, “I think SG e-sports and beastcoast are going to turn some heads at TI.”
But one can’t ignore the elephant in the room, “That said, I think the most beautiful Dota right now is Chinese Dota. Apart from PSG.LGD, I am a particular fan of Elephant (big rOtK fan) and Vici Gaming due to their playstyle.”
In a recent conversation that AFK Gaming had with Alvaro "AvoPlus" Sanchez Velasco, he mentioned that he was very impressed with Chinese Dota. “I think LGD is a treat to watch every time and I absolutely love watching Vici Gaming ever since the AniMajor. They’re so unique and I’m very surprised nobody talks about how unique their takes on Dota are, including their takes in the AniMajor, where they were almost forcing a whole new meta just by themselves,” he added.
He also has less hope for the SEA region, “T1 has a lot of potential, but I don't think they are going to win. For Fnatic, their players individually are very good, but I feel like this team is way too new to do anything.” he said in our interview.
However, if he had to pick one, the most obvious answer will definitely be PSG.LGD, “They are currently looking like the best team,” he said, “I would not be too surprised if EG lifted the Aegis, however, as I see them as a respectable second.”
Aui_2000: ”I’m looking forward to a carry war between LGD, EG, and OG.”
The International 5 champion, Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling will attend TI10 as part of the broadcast talent. When asked if he’s rooting for any team or region, he stated that he is rooting for North America. “It’s hard not to root for your own region when you’ve played and worked with so many of the players and watched them grow,” he said.
Aui_2000 explained that predicting TI is challenging since everyone that is not a part of the pro scene is like an outsider looking in, because no one has any clue. “Outsiders don’t get to see the scrims or have a look into the team atmospheres.” But, if solely from what spectators view from the outside, he put forth his safe bet, “PSG.LGD and Evil Geniuses should be the favorites,” but he also did not discredit the defending champions, “It’s also OG at TI.”
“Maybe the closest TI yet, but also because there’s so little data, there’s potential for some teams to just stomp,” he stated. This year has been quite dim, with only two big LAN events taking place and thus, he feels there are not enough performances to judge.
Aui_2000 is also anticipating “a carry war between PSG.LGD, EG, and OG.” PSG.LGD has one of the strongest players in its team, (and even the best Dota 2 player now, according to SumaiL) which is Wang "Ame" Chunyu. Evil Geniuses houses the farming beast, Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, and OG has the mid-prodigy-turned-carry, Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan.“I think these three carries, in particular, can have very scary TI performances.” Aui_2000 said.
There’s a lot of factors that we, as spectators, can’t really calculate. But that is what makes The International special and wonderful to witness. We will be able to see the TI magic unfold, starting on 7th October in Bucharest, Romania.