TI10 Returns After A Two-Year Absence - What Can We Expect?
Eighteen of the finest Dota 2 teams across the globe converge in Bucharest, Romania today, to mark the beginning of the 10th International. After over a year of constant adaptation to online play and the slow resurgence of the DPC season, the marquee moment is finally here, it’s finally time for the grand finale for Dota 2’s competitive scene.
Nothing can really fully encapsulate the magic of TI other than experiencing it for yourself. The glamour, the stories, and (of course) the money. It’s the Ritz Carleton of tournaments, where everyone from different games across the world hears about TI and comes together almost every year to view what the industry’s finest tournament has to offer.
In its production and its core identity, every iteration of The International offers something new, something special that the viewers can latch on to. The crowning of champions, the brutal reality of defeat, and $40 million dollars on the line. If this is your first TI, or you’re popping in to check it out after two years of being off the air, welcome. You’re going to be in for an incredible treat.
Return of The OGedi
Perhaps the most significant and crucial storyline for TI10, is the return of back-to-back defending champions, OG. At TI8, they mesmerized the world with their incredible underdog story of flowers and friendship that lead them to becoming immortalised in the annuls of Dota history. At TI9, they were both the team to beat and completely underestimated until it was too late, almost embarrassing every opponent and solidifying a dynasty for themselves as the first-ever two-time TI champions.
Now, at TI10, they’re back for a history defining defence of their Aegis, granted again, by another beautiful run through the European open qualifiers, and a top favourite to go all the way. Whether or not OG can win again is not the question, they certainly can and certainly will if left unchecked. The real question is who’s going to rise up to the challenge? Every player on OG is exceptionally gifted at the game, and perhaps most frightening of all, they play like they have nothing to lose. To see the challengers to OG’s locked tight Aegis, we need to look at those teams with the strongest cases going for them.
None the Worse For Wear
If it isn’t going to be a three-peat by OG, then someone is going to win their first TI or maybe even their second. The team many look forward to taking up that challenge, is none other than TI8 runners-up and TI9 third placers PSG.LGD, who, despite only retaining one player from the original roster that accomplished those feats, look no less poised to be serious threats to OG’s Aegis.
At every position, PSG.LGD have the capacity to play to perfection. In reality, not much has changed from the LGD of the past. Both iterations centred around two superstar cores, with oppressive offlaners who weren't afraid to make big flashy moves on their own, and one of the most aggressive position 4's in the game. That being said, the way this PSG squad operates, it's like a well-oiled machine. Wang "Ame" Chunyu has grown to become one of the best carry players in the world, and his execution is almost flawless during a match. The key to LGD is going to be consistency and focus. They went deep into the last two TIs but fumbled the bag at the most crucial of moments. They need to maintain the pace, if they want a chance at lifting the Aegis.
Curses and Choking and What Not
If you had to pick out two potentially strong performing teams from a lineup of suspects, nine times out of ten, someone is more than likely going to pick Team Secret or Evil Geniuses. For this TI, both Secret and EG are coming in with some fanfare, but definitely not as much in previous years. The reason being is, well quite simply, both of these teams have the uncanny ability to “choke” when it comes to TI.
Team Secret especially has a very pronounced history of dominating the DPC regular season only to flounder at The International. Their best placing was 4th at TI9, and any TI before that was basically a disappointment. For Secret, maybe this is the roster they finally found magic with, in a meta that could heavily lean into the pools of their players. This is the proving ground for Secret, if it can’t happen here, it’s going to be hard to believe it’ll happen some other time.
As for EG, they don’t as much choke, more like they’re cursed to never get beyond third place, and for their carry player Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, to never be able to win TI. Well, good news for EG and their fans is that they’ve shaken most of that bad blood business between them and OG, revamped their roster to bring in two superstar core players since the last time the team played at TI, and they actually got second at the AniMajor tournament this past June, so you know, maybe the curse can be broken this year!
EG look poised to be good. A team who, if you let them play in their comfort zone, will completely dismantle you without any semblance of mercy. They have great players and a mix of strong hero pools that would make them formidable opponents to face off in bracket. EG has a shot, they have the capabilities to bring another title to the team, and first-time titles to all of their players.