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The International 2016: 10 teams to watch out for

OG DotA 2
The only team to win two Majors will be looking to add a TI crown to their collection
asgrawdota

The International 2016 is well and truly upon us and every DotA 2 fan can’t wait for the action to get underway. This promises to be the most exciting TI yet, as the prize pool is officially the largest for any E-sports tournament ever. Time for some nail-biting games and sick plays from our favourite teams.

As we gear up for the start of the Group Stages of TI6, let’s take a look at the teams which are expected to have a strong showing and some teams which may come out and surprise everybody.

#1 OG

An incredible season has brought OG to The International 2016 with a direct invite. After placing top 3 in their last five events, this team is out to solidify one of the greatest season runs in DOTA 2 history. OG are bringing a consistent form and an incredible dominance over all western teams, but the bane of their existence is written in the east. In the entirety of this patch, over the last three months and four LAN events, OG have lost three series; Two to Wings Gaming at The Summit 5 and one to Newbee in the group stages of The Manila Major. For OG their teams to fear are Wings, LGD, Newbee, and Ehome.

Player to watch: Miracle

Described as a focused, calm, and collected person, Miracle is the ultimate player to have on your team. Incredible focus brings the talented mid and carry player excellent precision, flawless timing, and ingenious form. With a drafting style dedicated to giving miracle an excellent game whenever possible; he is set up for success and delivers time and time again.

#2 Wings Gaming

Wings Gaming
Can Wings be this year’s CDEC?

Wings are not a team that succumbs to indecision. They will fight you on your turf or their turf; with a disadvantage or an advantage, because they think they can win. This is a team that is incredibly reminiscent of CDEC, the wildcard team that brought an incredible early aggressive rotation and gank based playstyle to The International 2015 and pushed through the event with a very commendable second place finish. With an excellent record over this patch and great set wins over Newbee, Liquid, Na`vi and OG Wings have proven themselves to be a contender for first place at The International 2016.

I’ve ranked them second simply because not only do I think they can reach second in the entire event but because they’re the only team in recent times who have been proven to be able to beat Liquid and OG on a consistent basis. Wings is a firm believer in the ‘pick what you want’ style of play and their ingenuity in the drafting stage translates extremely well into the server. Wings can be expected to bring out a plethora of heroes, sometimes nonsensical picks, and incredibly well organized and aggressive early and mid gameplay.

Player to watch: Faith_Bian

Faith_Bian is one of those offlaners who brings a ton of momentum and playmaking with him when he leaves the lane. This is a guy who is very capable of wreaking havoc on the offlane with his signature Batrider and making incredibly clutch plays when needed.

#3 Team Liquid

Team Liquid
It’s time for the boys in blue to end their second place jinx.

Poised to win The Shanghai Major, Liquid fell short and got second place. Poised to win The Manila Major, they fell short and got second place again. For Liquid, this is a chance to change what would be a tragic history of almosts, could’ves, and not quites. For Liquid, there is no second place; in their minds, they are first place or they are nothing. Despite their unfortunate ‘so close’ finishes this season, Team Liquid’s consistency across multiple patches and metagames deserves significant commendation. They have been able to find ways to diversify their picks and still remain at the top for more than half a year. Liquid is very capable of taking OG, Wings, Newbee, and any other team to three very close games. The question for Liquid is will they find the composure it takes to string together multiple series and wins in order to get the vengeance they seek.

Player to watch: Matumbaman

Matumbaman is the lynchpin of Team Liquid. With FATA and Mind_Control playing incredibly disciplined and routine DOTA with minimal risk taking, Matumbaman often takes it upon himself to be the space creator and playmaker. Matumbaman is deservedly considered the best Lycan in the world and despite not playing it for the past few events, I expect to see a resurgence of Lycan in the hands of Matumbaman when the going gets tough.

#4 Newbee

Newbee
This Newbee team have been looking scary

Newbee is defined by one word: Discipline. The three TI winners in Hao, Mu, and Chuan have drilled excellence into their young Chinese talents Kpii and Kaka; both of whom joined the team in March this year. This is a team that makes incredibly well-timed smoke rotations and is very excellent in keeping composed and following a strategy. It’s been two years since Hao and Mu won their first TI, and four for Chuan. They are coming into The International 2016 with one goal: Be the first two-time International Champions. Expect a lot of Faceless Void, Naga siren, Drow Ranger, and Death Prophet from this team.

Player to watch: Mu

If Maybe is the Chinese Miracle, Mu is the Chinese FATA. With a significant albeit safe presence on heroes like Dragon Knight and Invoker and previously Death Prophet, Mu plays his laning phase incredibly well and gives his team an advantage in the midgame simply by being one of the most efficient space makers and space takers in the game.

#5 LGD

Xiao8
Mr. LGD himself will be looking for yet another TI victory

With incredibly decorated captain Xiao8 at the helm, LGD is a team everyone should fear coming into such a high stakes, high pressure, stressful tournament. This is not a team that will choke under pressure and this is specifically the type of team that is expected to play at their peak potential when it’s absolutely the right and only time, which is now. It’s a curious thing that LGD don’t have a very definitive playstyle in this patch as of yet, possibly due to missing Esl One Frankfurt and not showing if their 4th place at The Manila Major where they defeated MVP 2-1 was a fluke or not. I’m incredibly interested to see if this team can contend with Team Liquid who knocked them out of Manila and Newbee who recently knocked them out of Nanyang Championships. Considering Xiao8 has led his team to top 3, three internationals in a row, you can expect a top 8 finish minimum for LGD.

Player to watch: Maybe

If Miracle is the ultimate, Maybe is the penultimate. In my eyes, Maybe is the second best player in the world and is absolutely in contention for best mid players of all time in DOTA 2. This is a superstar player boasting some of the best Timbersaw, Invoker, Dragon Knight, and puck plays in DOTA right now. Not only is Maybe a threatening presence on his own, but it's very often that Agressif plays a more early game oriented carry in order to allow Maybe to scale bigger and better into the Lategame. This is a strategy and playstyle akin to that of OG, the best team in the world right now.

#6 MVP Phoenix

MVP Phoenix
Is it time for the Korean Overlords to take over?

MVP is a team we don’t get to watch often as spectators due to their distance from the western scene, but this is a team that showed incredibly rich and beautiful team play. In their series where they beat Team Liquid 2-0 in the upper bracket of The Manila Major, Forev, and QO showed us some of the most awe-inspiring two man teamwork with Axe and Slardar. Febby and Dubu demonstrated fantastic item utilization with mind blowing glimmer cape and force staff saves in the most stressful of moments. This is a team that with more consistency and time has the potential to be top 2 or 3 in the world, but without seeing them play big international events since their 5th-6th place in Manila 3 months ago, we cannot assume they will do much better here.

Player to watch: Febby

Febby has proven himself as a support capable of making huge plays in the vein of Jerax and Cr1t. For me choosing Febby as the player to watch was absolutely a no-brainer, despite him being a support player. If Febby manages to bring the incredible saves and plays he had in Manila against Liquid to The International 2016, they are a shoe-in for top 8.

#7 Na`Vi

Na'vi
Are Na’vi finally back?

Na`vi are back. After an appalling end to 2015 and a very rough start to 2016, this new lineup has gone from promising, to good, to excellent. Na`vi have risen from the ashes with an excellent showing at Starladder. Na`vi may have gone out in 4th place at The Summit but they showed tons of potential to go toe to toe with the best teams in the world and were very close to taking a series off of Wings. This is a team that yields an incredible amount of versatility in hero pools outshined only by their Chinese counterparts, Wings. Expect a lot of Chen, Wisp, and Mirana to be banned against or picked by this team, and expect them to be one of the most aggressive and flashy teams to watch at the event.

Player to watch: Sonneiko

Sonneiko in my eyes is the most underrated player in the world right now. He is just popular enough to be ‘rated’, and just ignored enough to not be rated properly. He is easily a contender for best support in the world and always delivers incredibly excellent players whether it be on Phoenix, Bounty Hunter, and Wisp. I specifically picked Sonneiko because his performance is an indicator of how Na`vi will do in most given matches. If Sonneiko is having a very terrible start or is unable to be used properly for any given reason, Na`vi are in for a lot of trouble.

#8 Fnatic

DJ Fnatic Dota 2
DJ has evolved into one of the best supports from Asia

Fnatic are the heart and soul of Southeast Asia. This is a team that has a ton of individual skill and experience but seems to struggle from identity issues. Constantly changing the roles of Mushi and Midone and struggling to find heroes that Mushi can succeed on has led me to be anxious about the potential of Fnatic to even make top 8. At The Summit we saw a desperate Fnatic try and put Mushi on invoker, a hero he has virtually no history on, and bomb out of the event in third place looking quite lost. I feel this team, knowing they are very intelligent and skilled players, must know their team is missing a real identity and I am hoping they have been working on solving this. Building up consistency in their young star Midone and solidifying a place in the team for their on again off again captain and veteran Mushi is are two absolute musts for this squad.

Player to watch: DJ

DJ is the key player to watch in Fnatic due to his incredible supporting and useful midgame presence as a 4 position player. With an elite level Enigma and Earth Spirit, I expect DJ to contribute a lot to the success of Fnatic. If DJ cannot get his game started and get the ball rolling for his team, I can very well see them placing 9th-13th or worse.

#9 EHOME

EHOME iceiceice
Can iceiceice carry EHOME back to the glory days?

A wise man once said “When you hear EHOME, you know the king has entered”, but EHOME have lost their crown for some months now. After numerous role changes and some horrible performances, Iceiceice has finally found his place in the carry role. The team appears to be gelling quite well and they broke out of the Wildcard tournament in very dominant fashion. I’m expecting this team to be able to just barely make into the top 8 if all things go correctly, or make it far into the lower bracket before being eliminated. I don't see them losing to many non-top-10 teams in the event due to all the experience this team has.

Player to watch: Lanm

LanM has had quite the identity crisis and has called a postmortem on playing the carry role after the team fielded an extremely poor string of performances. Back on the role he was built for, Lanm has been born anew; he’s shown impressive lane and skirmish presence over the wildcard matches thus far in The International 2016 and I’m quite certain he’s our player to watch for Ehome.

#10 Team Secret

Team Secret
Can Team Secret prove everyone wrong?

At Manila, we saw a very broken team secret that suffered from terrible identity issues due to having multiple farming cores and no one to apply pressure, create space, and die for the betterment of the team. After realizing too many self-interested playstyles results in a worthless team, Secret sacrificed their regionals invite to bring in Bulba and add some newfound midgame and aggressive presence into the game. With a lot of hard work evidenced by their performance at Starladder i-League season 2, where they lost in the grand finals to Na`vi 3-1, Secret looks like they have the potential to make a deep and potentially top 8 run into the tournament. Little is known about how they’ll fair against teams like OG, LGD, and MVP, but expect this all-star lineup to put up a fight against any team in the tournament.

Player to watch: BuLba

BuLba has often been the butt of all jokes and regarded as the weakest link in teams he has represented in recent times but people seem to have forgotten the Clockwerk master who brought Seattle to its feet with “USA, USA” chants. The offlaner will need to be in top form if Secret are to defy the odds and put in a good TI run.

Edited by Staff Editor

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