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General ambient shots at The International 2018
NEWS

The International 8 - Looking to the Future / A Retrospective

Sep 112018

What we usually remember from The International is the stories of the teams who won — those few competitors whose efforts were repaid and forged their names onto the Aegis. Only a fraction of the players manage to achieve their goals and the heartbreak felt by each team as they fall one by one can be felt in the reactions of the players in the booths as the realization of another year suddenly ending washes over them before typing out the hardest two letters of their lives, “gg”. And then, we get to hear their thoughts during their post-elimination interview.

While we didn’t claim the Aegis this year, we could not be prouder of every single one of our players who fought for their lives and gave their all at TI8. Each team sacrificed everything to attain their goals, and we were fortunate enough to be with them during their personal journeys.

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.

THE CYCLE BEGINS ANEW

 

For TL and EG, they’re performance at TI is something that should be applauded. We’ve rarely seen a team with as much consistency as what the Liquid roster has shown: they won TI7, remained competitive throughout the year, won the biggest Major of the year, and finally placed 4th at the following TI. They give an impression of the old Na`Vi but in a much more volatile and competitive era making their feat even more impressive. We saw key performances from every member on Team Liquid throughout TI8, and a few lucky breaks could have made the difference in their few defeats.

 

EG had been together for only 2 months by the time TI qualifiers began, and while Cr1t and Fly had played together in the past, the rest of the team had to adapt to their new teammates immediately just to qualify. Not only did they make it through the qualifiers, they made it to the podium with their 3rd place finish, a result that earned them over two and a half million dollars on top of the realization that, given more time, they could become the best team in the world. S4’s Blackhole’s brought screams of excitement from the casters and the crowd alike while Suma1L has announced his return to the mid lane in a big way, dominating nearly every matchup he played. Watching EG play at TI and hearing fan reactions in the stadium, we can safely say that “punks have been satisfied”.

 

Lastly PSG.LGD has already announced that Ame, Somnus, Chalice, Fy, and xNova will be sticking together next year in an attempt to lift the Aegis at TI9. Their defeat only showed them that by staying together they can win; their individual ability when combined with their teammates makes them the best team in China, and one of the best teams in the world. Fy has now come 2nd at two different TI’s and has proved himself as one of the best captains in China for years. Under his leadership we’re sure we will be seeing much more of PSG.LGD in the future.

 

Overall TI8 was a bittersweet experience. We were able to witness our teams celebrate tremendous victories and pull off insane comebacks and clutch moments, but we also saw the frustration and disappointment when they missed out on the Aegis of Champions when it was at their fingertips. It is this drive that keeps our players going, and next year will bring another International — and another chance for greatness. 

 

After an incredible two weeks, we will finally get a short break before the new DPC season. The brief respite will give Dota fans around the world a time for reflection, and a few more days to grind their Battle Passes. The first DPC season is finally in the books, and we’re all excited for it to begin all over again. Surely, all our teams are too. See you in Shanghai for TI9.

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