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The International 2018 - Groups Reveal, Analysis and Prediction.

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As we head into the month of August, the world of E-Sport comes to a halt as one game takes center stage - Dota 2. Much like the last 7 years, we prepare ourselves for The International, the biggest E-Sport event of the calendar year. With a prize pool of over $24 million and still climbing, the 2018 edition is expected to break the record for the highest prize money of any E-Sport event. Again.

In my last piece, I covered all the teams playing in TI8. As of today, Valve has officially announced the groups of all 18 teams. Let's dive straight into that.


The Groups for The International 2018:

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Groups of TI 8

The groups have been divided according to their Dota Pro Circuit performance and the Region from where they have qualified.

Four-time Major winners and DPC rank #1 team Virtus.Pro have been placed in Group B alongside DPC #4 Team Secret. While DPC #2 and #3, Team Liquid and PSG.LGD Gaming gave been correspondingly place in Group A. Out of the other four teams, ranks #5 and #8, Mineski and VGJ.Thunder have been placed in Group A while #6 and #7, Vici Gaming and Newbee are in Group B.

Among the qualified teams, the only EU and CIS region teams OG and Winstrike Team have been placed in Group A. The only South American team, Pain Gaming find themselves in Group B. The North American teams have been divided, with Evil Geniuses in Group A while VGJ.Storm and Optic Gaming are in Group B. The two SEA teams have been separated with Fnatic in A and TNC.Predator in B. Similarly, the two Chinese teams have been divided with Invictus Gaming in A and Team Serenity in B.


When is the Group Stage?

The Group Stage matches begin on August 15th, 5:30 PM GMT. The opening ceremony is expected to take place about a couple hours before that. The opening match of the tournament is expected to be between China's Invictus Gaming and Mineski. You can find the full fixtures here.


What happens in the Group Stage?

All matches in the group stage are best of twos. That is, every team will face each other twice, which will count as one whole game. Each team will face every single team in their group once in a best of two. Thus, every team will play 16 games of Dota in total during the group stages. A win (2-0) counts as 2 points. A draw (1-1) counts as 1 point and a loss (0-2) will amount to 0 points. The top 4 teams will advance to the Upper Brackets while the next 4 advance to the lower brackets. The bottom team from each group will be eliminated.

Ties will be resolved by the head to head result. If the head to head match ended in a draw, the results of tied teams against lower seeded opposition only will be considered. If that also ends up being the same, a coin toss will be the last resort. However, if two teams tie along the Upper-Bracket or Lower Bracket divider, additional set of matches will be played to determine the higher seed.


Where to watch the Group Stage?

Anyone who plays Dota can watch the group stage matches and the entire tournament for free in their in-game client. For those who are new to the scene or prefer a better viewing experience, the event will be covered live on stream on the streaming website, Twitch.

The official stream on Twitch will be streaming in 3 languages: English, Chinese and Russian. Unofficial Streams in several other languages will also exist. Every single moment of all the action taking place will be shown in these streams so you won't miss a thing.

Analyzing and Predicting the Groups

After all 18 teams have been drawn into 2 groups, it is time for me to tell you all what each team brings to the table and which team is likely to do well and which team is not. There are several underdogs and several favorites. Let me walk you through it all.


Group A:

Team Liquid - Defending TI champions, Team Liquid finished second on the DPC Circuit points table. They are just as strong today as they were a whole year ago. We can expect Liquid to easily qualify for the Upper Brackets and can also consider them one of the favorites to top the group.

Expectation - Upper Bracket Qualification.

PSG.LGD Gaming - The best Chinese team at the moment. In the "Year of the Chinese," PSG are stern favorites to lift the Aegis this year. They should be able to breeze past their opponents in the group and secure an upper bracket spot. Alongside Liquid, they are the favorites to top the group.

Expectation - Upper Bracket Qualification.

Mineski Gaming - Mineski ranked 5th in the DPC. They started the season with a bang but slowed down recently. Although one of the highest ranked teams, their form hasn't been quite spectacular lately. We can expect them to qualify in the Lower Brackets at least.

Expectation - Lower Bracket Qualification.

VGJ.Thunder - The Chinese squad of VGJ finished 8th in the DPC, just edging past Optic to claim an invite to TI. The pressure of securing an invite has derived some great results from the team. They should qualify but a lower bracket berth seems most likely.

Expectation - Lower Bracket Qualification

Evil Geniuses - The boys in blue had a disappointing season. But adding S4 and Fly, EG seems back on track. With redemption on their mind, we can expect the TI5 champions to qualify easily. An Upper Bracket spot doesn't seem too far from reach for EG.

Expectation - Upper Bracker Qualification.

Orgless Gaming - OG had their worst year since the team's inception. They have a relatively new squad and have been performing poorly. They should qualify to the main event but anything above the Lower Brackets seems too far-fetched.

Expectation - Lower Bracket Qualification

Invictus Gaming - One of China's top teams, Invictus had a very disappointing year. But adding the legendary Burning as their coach, they might upset some big names to claim an Upper Bracket spot but as the team has played very less in recent times, it is hard to predict.

Expectation - Will Qualify. Position Uncertain.

Winstrike Team - The only CIS team in the tournament, Winstrike is also one of the least known and weakest teams. They are huge underdogs and very little is expected of them. They are the most likely to be eliminated in the group.

Expectation - Elimination.

Fnatic - After being eliminated from groups last year, Fnatic will look for redemption. A farm stronger squad can help them with that. They should qualify easily. But a lower bracket berth is the most probable spot.

Expectation - Lower Bracker Qualification.


Group B:

Virtus.Pro - The best team in the world at the moment, Virtus.Pro is unstoppable. They have won a record amount of tournaments this season and are favorites to claim the Aegis. They should top the group by all means.

Expectation - Upper Bracket Qualification

Team Secret - Secret is one of those teams who has always been at the top of the game but never actually won anything. They have been looking to change their fate since TI5 and will be doing so again but I don't believe anything more than sure qualification awaits them.

Expectation - Upper Bracket Qualification

Vici Gaming - The highest ranked team from China, Vici Gaming carries the hopes of the Chinese in the year of the Chinese. They have been looking strong and consistent. But their qualification spot looks uncertain and hard to predict.

Expectation - Will Qualify. Position Uncertain

Newbee - Last year's runner-up, Newbee has had a huge drop in their form. They haven't looked as lethal and strong like they were last year. They will qualify nonetheless, but they aren't likely to disturb the top half of the group.

Expectation - Lower Bracket Qualification

TNC.Predator - One of the underdogs in the tournament, TNC.Predator is the weaker of the two teams fielded by TNC. However, they shocked everyone and qualified for the grandest stage of them all. But they are not expected to go much far in the tournament itself.

Expectation - Possible Elimination or Lower Bracket Qualification.

VGJ.Storm - VGJ's North American line-up looked strong this year but failed to get an invite. They qualified easily to TI and look to make history. They should do well in the group stage and might even make the upper bracket.

Expectation - Will Qualify. Position Uncertain.

OpTic Gaming - One of North America's strongest teams, Optic narrowly missed an invitation to TI. But they have performed incredibly well in recent times. As of their fate at the groups, I'll take a chance and say Optic will make Upper Brackets this year.

Expectation - Probable Upper Bracket Qualification.

paiN Gaming - South America's only representative in TI is also perhaps the weakest team in their respective group. An elimination from the group seems most likely for the Brazillian squad. There is, however, a small chance of making through.

Expectation - Possible Elimination or Lower Bracket Qualification.

Team Serenity - The biggest underdogs in the tournament, Serenity is one of those teams from China who have the potential to upset the biggest of names. Qualifying to TI without any prior professional history, Serenity is the unknown factor in this year's TI.

Expectation - Lower Bracket Qualification.

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Edited by Mayank Vora
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