The first half of The International has concluded. The group stages are over and we have clear favorites to claim the Aegis of Champions. Over the past 4 days, we have seen incredible Dota from teams all over the world. Their efforts have now been rewarded as the top 4 teams from Group A and Group B will find themselves in the Upper Brackets and the next 4 teams will be in the perilous Lower Brackets. For a couple unfortunate teams who finished very last in the groups, their journey towards immortality ends here.
In my previous piece, I predicted and analyzed the two groups in The International. Now, us first take a look at the Brackets for The International 2018's Main Event:
The Upper Bracket teams have a distinct advantage in this format. If any team loses in the Upper Brackets, they simply drop down to the Lower Bracket stage vertically below them. For example, if Team Liquid were to lose to Optic Gaming, they would find themselves in Lower Bracket Round 2. If any team loses in the Lower Bracket, it is over for them. All games are best of 3 except the Lower Bracket Round 1 which is Best of 1 and the Grand Finals which will be Best of 5.
The Eliminated Teams
Invictus Gaming - Perhaps the biggest surprise of this International, Invictus Gaming, one of China's best teams got eliminated with a poor record of 4-12. Winstrike Team was the team I predicted will be eliminated and they tied IG's record of 4-12. But in the BO3 tie breaker, Winstrike wiped out IG 2-0 to qualify for the lower brackets. Burning's team registered their worst ever position in the International and will go home with a cheque of ~$62,000. The amount will be increasing a bit as the prize pool is still increasing thanks to the Compendium Battle Pass.
PaiN Gaming - South America's only representative in The International, PaiN Gaming was the first team to be eliminated from the International as they finished their group with a record of 5-11. Although not that bad of a record, the next placed team, Vici Gaming has a record of 7-9. This was PaiN's first ever International and they are off to a terrible start indeed. Also, Team captain W33ha registered his worst ever finish in TI after finishing second in 2016. They will also go home with a prize of ~$62,000.
Lower Bracket Teams(Group A)
Fnatic - Fnatic had a great start to the International with a record of 5-3 after 2 days, but their form slumped significantly and they lost their last 4 games in a row. As a result they were demoted to the Lower Brackets with a final record of 7-9 as I had predicted.
VGJ.Thunder - The Chinese squad of VGJ had a poor start to their group stage but recovered soon enough. Their first day record was 1-5 and they seemed lost but they bounced back and finished the group stage with a record of 6-10 qualifying for the Lower Brackets like I predicted.
Mineski - South East Asia's biggest team in TI had a poor showing in the groups. One of the favorites to grab an Upper Bracket spot failed to do so managing a record of 5-11 qualifying for the Lower Brackets as per my predictions.
Winstrike Team - I predicted that the Russian team will be eliminated from the groups. They went very close to it finishing with the joint worst record of 4-12 shared with Invictus Gaming. But they beat IG in the tiebreakers to secure Group A's final Lower Bracket berth.
Lower Bracket Teams(Group B)
Newbee - Last year's runner-up had a disappointing year and their bad form continued in TI. They were stuck in a 3-way tie between themselves, Team Secret and Optic Gaming. In the 3-way tiebreaker, they lost to both Secret and Optic sending them down to the Lower Bracket with a record of 8-8 like my prediction.
TNC.Predator - The Filipinos managed a Lower Bracket spot. I was uncertain whether they would do so or get eliminated in my predictions but they pulled through and qualified to the main event with a record of 7-9.
Team Serenity - The biggest underdogs of this TI, Serenity managed to go to the main event in their first ever TI. Their innovative playstyle impressed me and I predicted a Lower Bracket spot and they did so managing a record of 7-9.
Vici Gaming - Among all invited teams, Vici might have had the worst run. Nearly getting eliminated they pulled through at the last moment. I had doubts whether they will make the Upper Brackets or Lower, but they put my doubts to rest with a record of 7-9 and going to the lower brackets.
Upper Bracket Teams(Group A)
Team Liquid - The defending champions didn't disappoint at all and ploughed through the group stage. Without losing a single BO2 Liquid dropped just 3 games and qualified to the Upper Brackets with a record of 13-3. I had them as favorites to top the group and top the group they did.
Evil Geniuses - Surprising everyone, EG performed just like the old days and disposed of every top team in the world with ease. Losing a BO2 only to Team Liquid and dropping just 1 map except that, they finished the group with a 13-3 record and qualified for the Upper Brackets just as I predicted.
PSG.LGD Gaming - The strongest Chinese team in the tournament, PSG.LGD had somewhat of a disappointing run as people, including me, expected them to top the group. However, they did qualify for the upper brackets with a record of 11-5.
Orgless Gaming - OG surprised everybody. Having the worst year in their existence and having a reputation of under-performing at TI, nobody expected OG to make it to the Upper Bracket. Even I predicted OG to secure a Lower Bracket spot. But they proved all doubters wrong and managed to grab the final Upper Bracket spot with a record of 9-7.
Upper Bracket Teams(Group B)
VGJ.Storm - Now let me be clear. Nobody expected VGJ.Storm to make it to The International. They weren't even expected to be here. Now they are in the Upper Brackets as the position 1 seed. They surprised everybody as they pulled upset over upset and qualified with a record of 12-4 atop Group B. Although I speculated they might make the Upper Bracket, I didn't expect them to top the group as well.
Virtus.Pro - VP's form is worrying. They were supposed to be the strongest team in the entire tournament. Their record of 10-6 speaks otherwise. Although they qualified to the upper brackets, people expected more from them. I had them as the group topper but they qualified to the upper brackets nonetheless.
Team Secret - Secret found themselves in a 3-way tie after the group stage. In the 3 way tiebreaker against Newbee and Optic, they beat Newbee to successfully qualify to the Upper Brackets as Newbee lost to Optic as well making Secret and Optic the winners of the tiebreaker. They had a record of 8-8 and matched my prediction of Upper Bracket qualification.
Optic Gaming - The third team in the 3 way tie, they beat Newbee as well to find themselves in the Upper Bracket. I took a gamble by predicting that Optic will qualify to the Upper Brackets and so they did with a record of 8-8.
Lower Bracket Matches
All 4 Lower Bracket matches have been announced. They will be contested in BO1s. The losing team will be eliminated from The International with a prize of ~$124,000. Let us take a look at the matches.
Fnatic vs Team Serenity
Fnatic is one of South East Asia's hope in TI. While Team Serenity is one of the biggest underdogs from China. It isn't unknown for a Chinese underdog to win TI as Wings Gaming did so in 2016. But here it is unlikely that Serenity does make it through. Both teams had a record of 7-9 in their respective groups, but Fnatic looks much stronger on paper. Still I love myself an underdog story, so..
Prediction - Team Serenity
TNC.Predator vs Mineski
The other two SEA teams have been matched against each other meaning that SEA can have a maximum of two surviving teams in the tournament after this round. TNC scratched their way to The International while Mineski comfortably gained an invitation. But in the group stages, TNC fared better with a record of 7-9 and Mineski struggled with a 5-11 record. Judging by their record, TNC should take the win as their form has just been much better.
Prediction - TNC.Predator
Newbee vs Winstrike
Newbee is one of China's strongest teams. While Winstrike is a massive underdog from Russia. Newbee had a rough group stage and a rough year while Winstrike was basically unheard of. Newbee had a record of 8-8 while Winstrike barely made it through with a record 4-12. Newbee should go past them easily and dispatch of them without much trouble.
Prediction - Newbee
VGJ.Thunder vs Vici Gaming
An all Chinese match-up this can be the game of the round. Both teams have had quite average runs so far. VGJ.Thunder had a record of 6-10 and Vici Gaming had a record of 7-9. This should be evenly matched and we should see some good Dota. Although evenly matches I believe Vici should take this home.
Prediction - Vici Gaming
Upper Bracket Matches
First of all, let me explain how the Upper Bracket match ups work. Group toppers, say A1 and B1, get the choice to choose between the 3rd and 4th placed teams of the other group. Like, A1 can choose between B3 and B4. The second placed team, A2 will be facing B3 or B4 depending on A1's choice. Similarly, Team Liquid and VGJ.Storm chose their initial opponents and the other two matches were decided accordingly.
Let us take a look at all the matches individually.
Team Liquid vs Optic Gaming
Optic is one of the dark horses of the tournament. While Liquid are the stern favorites. Liquid finished 13-3 while Optic finished 8-8. Liquid might as well end up being the first team to win back to back TIs while Optic can provide a huge upset. It is to be seen what eventually happens although I predict Liquid to steamroll past Optic.
Prediction - Team Liquid
Virtus.Pro vs PSG.LGD Gaming
Virtus Pro was the biggest favorites to win TI. While PSG was the hope of the Chinese, in the year of the Chinese. They have matched up against each other early on and will certainly give us a game to remember. A best of 3 between two of the best teams in the world is a mouth-watering prospect. However, I will go for VP to upset the Chinese.
Prediction - Virtus.Pro
VGJ.Storm vs OG
The matchup of the overachievers. OG and VGJ.Storm exceeded all expectations by finishing much higher than expected. While VGJ topped the group with a record of 12-4 and OG finished with 8-8. VGJ's form has looked unstoppable as of late and they should easily beat OG to qualify.
Prediction - VGJ.Storm
EG vs Team Secret
EG are on a roll while Secret maintained their status as the most consistent team ever. EG has a record of 13-3 while Secret scrapped through with a record of 8-8. Two of the best teams in the world, this should also be an incredible series of Dota. As of who will win, my heart says EG will continue their winning ways and defeat Secret.
Prediction - Evil Geniuses