For the defending champions, Team Liquid, it was a fight against the “TI Curse”. After winning the Supermajor, they had the best odds of any team in the past of repeating, and though they fell short, hopes were alive until the penultimate day of the tournament.
For former champions Evil Geniuses, their new roster arrived with questions which were all but answered by the time they soared as high as 3rd. The team’s talents were unlocked during The International, and they can only get better from here.
For Chinese giants PSG.LGD, they were one game away from crowning themselves champions. One lasting TI tradition was broken in Vancouver — the West-China flow of winners — but TI will be heading to China next year, and the hometown favorites should be back to take revenge.
Outside the top 4, Fnatic narrowly missed out on the upper bracket only to fall in the best of 1 lower bracket match, and Pain Gaming represented their entire continent and showed so much potential for growth.
Although we could not see our players celebrate upon the completion of The International, taking 2nd, 3rd, and 4th is a result that everyone can be proud of. Not only did PSG.LGD, EG, and TL manage to finish so close to the top, they did so by all making it into the upper bracket semi-finals. After their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes in group A they each faced a difficult matchup in the first round of the upper bracket. Team Liquid took on the surging OpTic Gaming, PSG.LGD took on one of the tournament Favorites, Virtus Pro, and EG had to beat Team Secret.
All three series ended 2-0 in our favor and just like that our upper bracket teams all advanced to the top 8. While Team Liquid’s win over OpTic was expected, the other two series were predicted to be much less one sided before the games were played out. Virtus Pro had gone into TI as the strong Favorites and had just beaten PSG.LGD at the Supermajor — but history was not to be repeated. VP took a massive lead in game 1 against PSG.LGD’s Drow lineup but one great fight allowed Ame and Somnus to storm into VP’s base and clutch victory from the jaws of defeat. Ame and Somnus went on to crush game 2 with the help of Chalice, Fy, and xNova and the team seemed unbeatable heading into the second round where they would face Team Liquid.
EG on the other hand was a bit of a puzzle to other teams at TI. They had reformed at the last minute with the additions of Fly and s4, which meant that no one really knew what to expect. Yet everyone agreed the talent the team was fielding could potentially be the best in the scene. Immediately, EG went to work to prove themselves and took down Team Secret, another Favorite of the tournament, albeit behind the likes of PSG.LGD, Team Liquid, and VP. It wasn’t so much that EG 2-0’d them, it was the way EG 2-0’d Secret that sent a message to every other team in the upper bracket. Suma1L and Arteezy were on fire, there were no signs of nerves, and with both of them firing on all cylinders Secret never even came close to taking a game off of them.
EG would get knocked into the lower bracket in their next match to set up a bout against Virtus Pro — the team no one thought EG would be able to beat prior to the tournament. Yet now, EG was much stronger. They 2-0’d Virtus Pro and stayed alive, eliminating the Russian Favorites in two convincing wins. This was more than just a symbolic victory for EG, it was proof that the changes they had made were made for the right reasons. The struggles they had faced just to get to TI were paying off, and the next season after TI looks brighter than ever for the team who had been searching for their identity through most of the year.
On the other side of the bracket, the defending champions, Team Liquid, had also fallen to the lower bracket after being 2-0’d by PSG.LGD, and they were set to face a familiar foe in Team Secret. We saw Team Liquid in the lower bracket last year, and it was how their incredible story to claim the TI7 championship began. Many thought we may be witnessing a repeat of last year, and Kuroky eliminated his former captain Puppey to advance to the next round. There, former teammate Arteezy lay waiting for another TL-EG derby.
At this point it was guaranteed that one of our teams would make it to the finals, but it was also a certainty that they would need to beat each other to get there. The first game of EG vs Team Liquid was an hour long brawl with a Divine Rapier being passed between the teams at the very end. When the dust settled, EG stood victorious with the defending champions at their feet, and they would next play PSG.LGD to decide which of our teams would make it to the grand finals of TI8. After another gruelling series, PSG.LGD earned their ticket to the grand finals — a 5 game series that will be remembered for years to come. Although all three teams ultimately fell short of the Aegis, their stories don’t end here.