<div class="paragraphs"><p>Which TI Champion Has the Best Shot at Collecting Another Aegis?</p></div>

Which TI Champion Has the Best Shot at Collecting Another Aegis?

Sarah Zulkiflee
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The International 10 (TI10) Western Europe (WEU) qualifier finally came to an end with OG emerging victorious, concluding the TI10 regional qualifiers.
While most of the participants who did manage to qualify are aiming to capture their first TI title, there are a select few that will be eyeing the Aegis for the second or even the third time at TI10.
We will be seeing former TI5 winner, SumaiL, TI8 and TI9 champions from OG, TI6’s title-holder, Faith_bian and y’, plus a few more from TI1, TI3, and TI7.

The International 10 (TI10) Western Europe (WEU) qualifier finally came to an end with OG emerging victorious. This concluded a two-week long marathon of TI10’s regional qualifiers which saw several heartbreaks. Some favorites such as Team Nigma, Na’vi, EHOME and TNC Predator, unfortunately didn’t make it through the gruesome qualifiers and fans will be lamenting their absence. While most of the participants who did manage to qualify are aiming to capture their first TI title, there are a select few that will be eyeing the Aegis for the second or even the third time at TI10. We will be seeing former TI5 winner, SumaiL, TI8 and TI9 champions from OG, TI6’s title-holder, Faith_bian and y’, plus a few more from TI1, TI3, and TI7.

With the Aegis of Champions already in their noble collection, which of these previous TI champions have the best shot at claiming another one?

Two-time hopefuls of TI10

Clement "Puppey" Ivanov

The only Dota 2 player who would have made it to all 10 editions of The International this October, Puppey, is known for his vast knowledge and is a highly respected player in Dota 2. This Estonian player appeared on the very first TI stage in 2011, together with prominent names, Dendi, XBOCT, Artstyle, and LighTofHeaveN. The lineup won the championship under Na’vi’s banner, getting a lion’s share of the $1.6 million USD.

Spanning a decade-long career in Dota 2, Puppey has consistently only been in two teams. After his release from Na’vi in 2014, he immediately formed a team with a star-studded roster under the name, Team Secret. Despite being fan-favorites, the team struggled to achieve decent results and in 2015, only Puppey remained from the original roster. Forming a team around himself, he went through ups and downs before finally having a fruitful lineup.

As Team Secret’s captain, Puppey has led the team to win multiple championships including The Chongqing Major, Paris Major, and DreamLeague Season 13. With teammates, MATUMBAMAN, Nisha, zai, and YapzOr, Secret managed to show a consistent performance throughout both DPC seasons, placing first and fourth, respectively. This awards them enough DPC points to gain them a direct invite to The International 10.

Secret is known to dominate Majors and other notable tournaments, however, the team has failed to prevail in every single International. Somehow, TI is Secret’s kryptonite, every time the season approaches, the team grows weaker. We can only hope to see Team Secret break its curse and award Puppey with his second Aegis.

Gustav "s4" Magnusson

This Swedish player has long started his gaming career, competing in Heroes of Newerth and transitioned to Dota 2 in early 2012. Known for his Magnus and Puck plays, he rose to fame under the team No Tidehunter and later on joined an all-Swedish squad called Alliance, which went on to clinch the title at The International 3 after an intense grand final.

After a disappointing performance in TI4, s4 parted ways with Alliance and joined Team Secret. Due to the team’s lackluster showing, s4 returned to Alliance and reformed the TI-winning squad, nonetheless, the lineup failed to show decent results. With the same pattern, s4 switched to OG and Evil Geniuses before finally reuniting with Alliance once again, in early 2020.

S4 currently looks comfortable with Alliance’s roster; Nikobaby, Limmp, Handsken and fng, as they have convincingly secured a direct invite to TI10. Alliance was ranked two in the first DPC season and ranked one in the next, showcasing an outstanding record and earning them enough points to get a direct invite to the grand event.

S4 and his teammates look like strong contenders based on their achievements in the regional leagues, however, the team has failed to win a single series in both the Singapore Major and the Weplay Animajor, placing 13th and 9th-12th respectively. It remains uncertain how Alliance is going to bring their A-game to TI10 and if s4 is going to claim his second title.

Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan

Sumail at The International 2015

The Pakistani prodigy, SumaiL, is widely regarded for his powerful midlane skills and mechanics. Emerging into the pro scene at only 15 years old, he was picked up by the North American esports organization, Evil Geniuses (EG). The squad proceeded to win The International 5 with SumaiL becoming the youngest player to win the championship at only 16 years old.

EG, with the help of SumaiL, displayed brilliant performances throughout the years, scoring a consistent top three placing in nearly all of the tournaments. In TI9, the team scored a 5th-6th placing and SumaiL decided to depart from the organization. He temporarily joined his brother, Yawar, in Quincy Crew for no longer than a month. The fellow was then recruited into OG to replace the carry player, ana, however, due to the pandemic, the partnership ended and SumaiL was once again teamless. After a year-long hiatus, he was called to stand-in for Team Liquid throughout the second season of DPC and also the Weplay Animajor, which then, he was finally picked up by OG once again, just a few weeks before the TI10 WEU qualifier started.

With OG’s current lineup; Topson, Ceb, Saksa and N0tail, SumaiL managed to prevail in the qualifier, winning an intense grand final against Tundra Esports. Although OG’s performance was lackluster during both DPC seasons and the team was absent from both Majors, they successfully secured the final slot to TI10 through the final hope of qualifiers.

Even though OG had a disappointing run in the past year, the team is known to have their TI mojo everytime the season approaches. They are the dark horse of Dota 2, which is proven with their track record of back-to-back TI wins, despite their major setbacks before the event. With OG’s qualification to TI10, the community is anticipating another miracle, this time with SumaiL as their carry player.

Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida

Faith_bian is a Chinese player who was significantly known as a member of Wings Gaming. Known for his Beastmaster plays, Faith_bian set a reputation for himself as a strong offlaner and in 2016, he managed to grab the Aegis in a convincing manner, together with players of Wings Gaming.

Following the controversial disbandment of Wings Gaming, the former squad created Team Random and competed in The Kiev Major 2017. Achieving mediocre results, players slowly left the team and Faith_bian decided to join the established organization, EHOME. A year later, he was recruited into PSG.LGD to replace the former offlane player, Chalice.

Faith_bian is currently playing with teammates; Ame, NothingToSay, XinQ, and y’. PSG.LGD had effortlessly accumulated DPC points throughout the seasons and Majors. With their latest win in the WePlay Animajor, PSG.LGD earned enough points to receive a direct invite to TI10.

The roster looks powerful as they scored a consistent top four placing in both DPC seasons and dominated the Majors, securing third place in the Singapore Major and first place in the WePlay Animajor. Coming into the grand event as one of the favorites, a lot of fans are expecting to see PSG.LGD claim the title in TI10.

Zhang "y`" Yiping

Y’ is a Chinese player who, similar to Faith_bian, also was a player of Wings Gaming . Highly respected for his position five gameplay, y’, also known as Innocence, had won The International 6 and claimed his first Aegis of Champions.

With an almost exact path as Faith_bian, y’ had joined Team Random with the former squad and following the team’s average results, he had departed the lineup to join EHOME. Due to a vacancy in PSG.LGD, y’ was recruited into the reputable team as their position five and captain.

Currently in charge of leading his teammates in PSG.LGD, y’ had successfully brought the team on top of the scene. With a consistent score in the China DPC, and a top three placing in both Majors, PSG.LGD garnered enough points to gain a slot in TI10.

All is looking clear and smooth for y’ and his team as they have recently bagged a Major championship and are now waiting for TI10. Easily the tournament favorites, PSG.LGD will be expected to come in strong in the grand event.

Lasse Aukusti "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen

Matumbaman, a carry player from Finland, started out with unknown teams and was later recognized through his extreme mechanical skills on heroes such as Ember Spirit and Tinker. He was invited to join KuroKy’s team in 2015, which was later signed by Team Liquid. Together with his new team, Matumbaman won his first International in 2017.

After serving in the longest lasting five-man roster in Dota 2, Matumbaman departed Team Liquid’s lineup in June 2019. He joined Chaos Esports, previously known as Digital Chaos, and failed to achieve decent results. A few months later, Matumbaman was called to play for Team Secret, replacing MidOne.

Matumbaman has since played with Team Secret and accumulated a respectable list of achievements. Together with the lineup; Nisha, zai, YapzOr, and Puppey, they have consistently dominated tournaments, including both DPC seasons. Collecting a total of 950 points, Team Secret managed to earn a direct invitation to TI10.

Despite their “curse” of underperforming every International, Team Secret looks hopeful to win this year’s championship. With both Puppey and Matumbaman thirsting for their second Aegis, we will surely see Team Secret put forth their best show.

Three-time hopefuls of TI10

Johan ”N0tail” Sundstein

N0tail lifting the Aegis at The International 2019

N0tail is a well-known Dota 2 veteran who has started appearing on The International stage since 2013 in Seattle. The Danish player has competed under Fnatic, Team Secret, Cloud9 and finally, his own team, created together with Fly, (monkey) Business which was later rebranded into OG. A conflict erupted between the players just a few months before TI8, causing abrupt roster changes; which somehow miraculously led the team to win the championship.

After lifting the Aegis in 2018, ana left the team to “retire” and OG struggled to earn any prominent achievements afterwards. Just before TI9 approached, ana was announced back in the roster and this reunion brought to them another International win. The same pattern can be seen once again, as OG’s performance deteriorates throughout the seasons in 2021.

OG, as a result of insufficient DPC points for a direct invite to TI10, had to go through the last chance regional qualifier in WEU. After defeating Tundra Esports 3-2 in the intense grand final, OG earned the final slot to the grand event. Currently, OG has a different squad compared to the two previous TIs. Together with SumaiL, Topson, Ceb, and Saksa, N0tail managed to lead the team to another International.

As The International 10 approaches, OG looks even better and has been performing at its usual TI level. As the known dark horse of Dota 2, OG seems motivated to put on a show later this October, in Bucharest, Romania.

Sébastien "Ceb" Debs

Previously known as “7ckngMad”, this French/Lebanese player started competitively playing in 2011 and qualified for his first International in 2012, under the team mTw. Following his unsuccessful attempts to achieve results as a pro player, Ceb hopped into the broadcast talent as an analyst, and later on, as a coach for OG. In 2018, OG faced difficulties as they had an incomplete roster to join The International and Ceb filled in the offlane position, miraculously winning the championship after.

Post-TI8, OG struggled throughout the season, however, they claimed the title consecutively in 2019. Ceb had stepped down and became OG’s coach, opening his offlane position to MidOne. Although, after a few roster shuffles, Ceb returned to position 3 of OG and has been a part of the roster ever since.

Currently together with his TI-winning members, Topson and N0tail, with the addition of Saksa and SumaiL, Ceb struggled to accumulate enough points for a direct invitation to TI10. This brought the team to their last resort, which was the gruesome regional qualifiers. With Ceb’s passionate and inspiring nature, he had driven his team to win the final slot to TI10, defeating Tundra Esports 3-2 in the grand final.

Recently, OG has improved significantly and we can all speculate the reason to be the upcoming International in October. OG doesn’t hold a brilliant record on paper these past few seasons, but being the back-to-back defending champion, the squad will definitely be a strong contender in TI10.

Topias Miikka "Topson" Taavitsainen

Topson is a new star in the world of Dota 2 as he has only participated in two Internationals, TI8 and TI9. The Finnish midlaner was a pub player before he was unexpectedly asked to join OG, who at that time had roster problems and urgently needed a position two player. With no experience of professional Dota, he still managed to seize the title with the OG squad and did so once again in 2019.

Topson has since been with OG and went through some difficulties throughout the years, as mentioned previously with N0tail and Ceb.

Following OG’s failure to collect enough DPC points, Topson had gone through the brutal WEU qualifier to gain the last coveted slot for TI10. Under N0tail’s leadership, Topson now will be attending another International, set to happen in Bucharest, Romania.

Boasting a 100% win rate in TI, Topson has another shot at claiming his third Aegis. With his calm and collected persona plus a touch of OG’s TI magic, Topson will definitely be looking forward to win the upcoming championship together with his teammates.

Who will be the next TI champion?

Many players are hoping to lay their hands on the Aegis for the first time and yet, nine of them are already set to claim it for the second and even the third time.

Puppey and Matumbaman look convincing with their roster from Team Secret. s4 from Alliance has proven his dominance throughout the DPC seasons in WEU. SumaiL, together with N0tail, Ceb, and Topson is looking to set another record as the defending champions, while members of PSG.LGD, Faith_bian and y' will be entering TI10 as one of the favorites.

It will be interesting to see who will snatch the title this time around. Will we witness new players holding the Aegis? Will the two-time TI winner pool expand? Or most excitingly, will we see a historic three-peat by none other than OG themselves?

We will have three months to wait before we witness the thrilling action of the grand event, set to take place in Bucharest, Romania later this October.

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Sarah is a big esports enthusiast and high-key addicted to Dota 2. With a strong passion for journalism, she is now diving into writing and content editing for AFK Gaming.