TI7 Power Rank
18 of the best teams the world has to offer will compete at The International 2017 battling for the largest prize pool available in esports. Due to the rule of The International this year should have a western team coming out on top. With powerhouses Team Liquid, EG, and VP in form it is difficult to argue that this trend will be broken this year although LGD, LFY, Newbee, and IG have all had outstanding performances in recent months.
As always we love to hear the opinions of our loyal readers about how wrong we are, so please flame away. With that being said, we at LiquidDota are proud to present The International 2017 Power Rank.
Coming in dead last are unfortunately the underdogs from Hellraisers, qualifying from the European region. Traditionally being considered one of the strongest scenes, its recent separation of the CIS region has substantially weakened what had always been seen as a bloodbath in the leadup to Seattle. As the more renowned teams in EU got direct invites, the qualifiers seemed quite denuded of actual competition with only Secret and a dispirited mousesports as contenders. While Hellraisers’ success in qualifying is still admirable, we do not know how a team formed just a week prior to the open qualifiers can actually stand up to the best of the best. We probably should not write them off entirely as The International has always had a couple of surprise dark horses, but realistically speaking anything but elimination in the group stages can already be considered a major success for Hellraisers.
The team from South America comes to Seattle with many thinking that avoiding an elimination in the group stage would be considered a successful appearance. While we're sure the team feels differently, we happen to agree with what many have said: Last place finishes at both The Final Match and Galaxy Battles surely have not brought much confidence to their fans as they prepare for the group stage in Seattle. Tempering your expectations may be best while watching Infamous make their way through the group stage, where every win they can muster is critical in keeping themselves afloat. Of course there is the potential of another surprise performance from a South American team, similar to SG’s run in the Kiev Major, where we saw the South Americans eliminating Secret and nearly taking down EG. However, these are two different teams and as such we have Infamous placed 17th.
Execration squeezed into TI through the 3rd qualifier spot from the SEA region. They upset Team Faceless by beating them in two bo1's in the group stage, giving them the opportunity to qualify through the playoffs. With wins over Mineski and Clutch Gamers they were able to seize it. Results up to TI's qualifier had been a mixed bag with the team relentlessly trying to fight their way through any situation in every game. Quite often this ended up failing as they repetitively fell against Clutch Gamers, WG.Unity, and a myriad of other SEA teams. While SEA can be said to be constantly under-valued - and prove it with nearly every TI having an underdog SEA team suddenly slaying one of the favourites - we don't see Execration being that team this year. While TnC has consistently proven they can stand against the best, Execration will need to prove that they are capable of doing the same, or fall once again against stronger teams.
Back in April, Fnatic was rebuilt specifically for the chance to make it to TI7. While their immediate results weren't great, they did manage to qualify for the Zotac Masters Cup where they finished 3rd-4th and took a game off of Newbee. With Ahjit, QO, and DJ added to the team new life had been breathed into Fnatic, yet they were still struggling to defeat the top teams in SEA. A patch change happened to cripple Clutch Gamers, and Faceless folded to the pressure placed upon them, leaving an opportunity which Fnatic gladly seized by taking the 2nd qualifier spot for TI in SEA. While we have Fnatic placed back on 15th place, QO and Febby in particular are used to being underdogs. Their shouts of victory over OG during TI6 will be ringing in their ears as they fight to step back out onto that stage.
A dominant victory in the CIS main qualifier earned Empire the right to play in Seattle. After going 7-2 in the group stage they did not drop a single game as they dispatched Vega Squadron 2-0 before defeating Team Spirit 3-0 in the finals. Team Empire embodies what we think of when we hear of CIS dota with its fast paced, “never back down, take the tower after they're all dead” attitude. Spirit Breaker picks shut down Vega Squadron while Razor and Puck made short work of the enemy cores as Empire found the combinations they felt comfortable with just in time for the qualifier. Unfortunately for Empire, their carry Chappie might not be able to attend the event and would be replaced by Resolut1on if his passport is not sent back in time. While this doesn't change where we have put Empire it should impact them tremendously, which is an incredible shame.
The second squad from the North American qualifier is a team that bears an odd resemblance to the last year’s runner-ups who used to be sponsored by the same organization. The old Digital Chaos roster (now Planet Odd) however failed to qualify, in contrast to this team. Both rosters have a mid player widely known for his Meepo, both teams have journeymen captains, and neither one is given much credit for their respective team’s successes.
Now, that’s not to say that this team is a shoo-in to take silver - far from it. Digital Chaos at TI6 was an overlooked anomaly, a team of young guns that happened to put together a fantastic run of Dota that put their names on the map. This DC at TI7 is much more of a known quantity: Mason and BuLba are veterans of the scene, and Forev and DuBu have years of experience themselves. They have a chance at making a splash, but it will be a true feat if they were able to live up to the success of the past Digital Chaos.
Puppey’s glorified journey in Dota 2 faces an existential crisis with the advent of The International: Having founded Team Secret as one of the most star-filled rosters of all time and experiencing back-to-back tournament championships in the past, they still faltered when it mattered the most: at The International. The veteran captain and drafter extraordinaire faces a crucial and most grueling challenge. The 25 year-old MUST make it big at Seattle, for the adverse scenario would highlight a major shortage of skills and leadership among the Europe-based team, with only himself to be blamed.
MP has been an absolute beast during the latest season with Lycan being his choice of weapon. A very similar argument can be made for MidOne, who has wreaked havoc with both Invoker and Ember Spirit. Yapzor on particular heroes such as Rubick and Earthshaker manages to outshine even the foremost authorities on them. Even with such a healthy individually skilled roster, shortcomings are evident as seen in their tournament results: Barring 2nd at DOTA Summit 7, they came 3th-4th at EPICENTER 2017, 7th-8th at The Manila Masters, and 9th-16th at The Kiev Major. Can Puppey rejuvenate the fire that we associated Team Secret 1.0 with? Probably not, and thus, they place 12th in our Power Ranking.
Earning themselves a qualifier spot through topping the group stage of the Chinese qualifier is unfortunately not enough for iG.V to break into the Top 10 of our power ranks (although I tried to convince the rest of staff). While winning against their chinese compatriots is impressive to say the least, we also have to consider that there are more teams attending in Seattle than just their familiar sparring partners. Sadly enough, iG.V’s interregional record is less than stellar. If iG.V can overcome their weakness to the foreign playstyles, they most certainly have the potential to go very far, but whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.
TnC Pro Team
TNC was the dark horse of last year’s TI: Despite not managing to place higher than top 8 they did bring one of the biggest upsets in the history of The International. They went straight to lower bracket after the group stage, and were regarded as huge underdogs in their upcoming match against OG. However - under the leadership of Demon - TNC were able to knock out OG 2-0.
Their roster this year only differs slightly with Tims having replaced eyyou and bringing in veteran 1437 to lead the squad, after he had been dropped by Team NP.
TNC have shown their worth in the SEA region, going 8-1 and taking the top spot of the qualifier. One can still not know with certainity whether the team is strong or the region is weak, however TNC is most likely the best hope the region will have for a good placement in this years TI.
The question on everyone’s mind is “What happened to this team?”: Coming into the Kiev Major, Invictus Gaming was seen as a Juggernaut of the Dota scene. Since then, it has been a slow and steady decline. Their recent form is nothing like the dominance they displayed earlier in the year. For an invited team, they are eclipsed by their countrymen that came through the qualifiers. There is reason to doubt if they would be here at all if they had been in LGD’s place.
Still, this team is far from dead in the water. They have skill at the 1, 3, and 4 positions that - if used correctly - may be able to carry them to a respectable finish. Word on the street is that Anti-Mage may be an en vogue pick, after all.
The infamous partners in crime return donning the blue and white jersey to ride again as ‘Cloud9’. Few rosters have managed to attract the level of notoriety that EternalEnvy, FATA-, Aui_2000 and Pieliedie have garnered over years of fitEE fitEE plays, ridiculous decision-making, and ultimately, some of the finest throws, incredible comebacks and most hilarious moments to ever occur in the history of Dota 2.
With the addition of MSS to the band, the team has managed to stripe a decent number of accolades to their shoulders over the past season, slowly but steadily climbing their way up. The current roster, first seen under the brand Team NP when 1437 and SVG made way for FATA- and Pieliedie, was quick to ascend in the circuit with a gold at the DOTA Summit 7 American Qualifier, silver at the Zotac Cup Masters going down to Newbee, and bronze at The Manila Masters. Statistics meant naught when it comes to them however. The extreme x-factor that is employed by Cloud9 makes it extremely difficult to rank them in our list. However, it is now a irrefutable fact that FATA- has risen from the ashes to once again become a force to be reckoned with. What lies to be seen is whether the rest of the team can live up to their expectations, or falter and yet manage to meet that expectation too?
While this team might have flown under the radar in the past few months, they should not be underestimated. They took second place in this years MDL, a tournament consisting of mostly Tier one teams such as Newbee, OG, EG, IG and LGD.
Looking through the chinese qualifiers, you will also see that LFY manages to almost always perform well when competing against their own countrymen, this however could also be their weakness. You should be aware that LFY at current time have had very limited experience in playing against western teams in general. Even in MDL they managed to go through the playoffs without meeting a non-chinese team. The fact that almost a third of this year’s International is chinese, should benefit LFY in particular.
The roster itself is also relatively new together: While Monet and Super have been playing side by side for almost a year, the remaining three (Inflame, Ahfu and ddc) have all joined the team within the last 4 months.
LGD 6th? If not for losing to EHOME Keen during TI's main qualifiers and nearly not making it to the event, LGD would be sitting higher. The team’s strength was showcased during MDL although their vulnerability can also be seen often. Losses to 7th place finisher LFY in the recent past have stopped them from making it through some Chinese qualifiers but - due to LGD closely coming out on top during MDL - they find themselves in 6th for our power rank. Ever since missing out on the Kiev Major and acquiring Old Eleven LGD's performances have skyrocketed. Their aimless play style that kept them trapped in qualifiers was slowly being overtaken by a real sense of purpose in how the team moved. Despite sometimes lapsing back to old habits, they went from barely making top 8 in qualifiers to finding themselves placing 2nd in four of them. While the possibility for LGD to relapse exists, the time they have had to work on their problems has done wonders for them.
The Masters of the Majors, this team has more Valve events under their belt than any other, sporting victories at 4 out of the 5 Majors ever held. Last International they looked as promising as today, but unfortunately ended up with a disappointing finish, getting knocked out by TNC in round 2 of the lower bracket. Afterwards only Fly and Notail remained, and they went searching for new talent. Bringing in s4, Ana and Jerax, OG managed to fill the void left by their former players and dominated the Majors again this year. At a glance this team is definitely one of the top contenders for first place this year, but their recent results since winning the Kiev Major (5th-6th Manila Master, 7th-8th Epicenter, and 4th at MDL) combined with their result last TI does sow doubt about their position this year. It will not be a surprise if they win this year, but it should not come as a surprise either if they do get knocked out by one of the many strong teams.
If there has been a chinese team consistent at the top of our power ranks it is Newbee. Always a threat to whatever tournament they attend, Seattle is no exception from the rule. Leading the pack from China hungry to break the tradition that every odd-numbered year has a western champion, Newbee are in prime position to actually make it happen. While they have looked a bit weaker against their rivals at home, especially LGD and LFY, Newbee has always been the team that excelled against the foreigners. It is difficult to imagine that a team that has consistently posted strong finishes throughout the season might crash out at the biggest event of the year. All in all Newbee might only be ranked 4th but - in all honesty - the top of the dota world is currently packed together very tightly and the first repeat champion of TI might just be Newbee.
Standing at 5-6th position at the Mars Dota 2 League 2017, runner-ups at EPICENTER 2017, and winners at The Manila Masters, it should come without much surprise that the multi-talented and highly decorated North American pride and hope, Evil Geniuses, stand a tall 3rd rank in our TI7 Power Ranking. Few teams bring the level of experience and consistency as the men in blue do at Key Arena, even fewer bring the level of domination that the they exhibit in their laning phase, brutally triumphing the early game. What can be solely attributed to Arteezy’s choice of teammates for 2017 however, is a characteristically near-psychopathic determination to lift the Aegis of Champions.
Make no mistake, the current roster has been tailored with the single goal of striking gold in Seattle. This year however, while one would make an argument for EG based on consistency and unparalleled discipline at LANs and big events, statistically and relatively, one cannot ignore the achievements of the next two teams which raise enough doubts to place EG a few ranks shy of the pole position. Can EG beat the odds, and bring the trophy back to the Americas?
Since the glory days of Na’Vi there has not been a team from the CIS region that looked as impressive as Virtus.pro have since the beginning of the season. Showing discipline, consistency paired with the trademark aggression of their home region, they have taken the Dota world by storm and fallen just short of first place in our ranking for Seattle. Unmatched in flexibility with their impressive run at The Summit 7 many fans would have expected them to be in first place (me included), but for now they will have to acquiesce themselves with second place.
VP have everything it takes to claim the Aegis in Seattle this year: exceptional individual players, a strong leadership in Solo and the burning motivation to put CIS back on the throne that had been first claimed by their forerunners in Na’Vi. But for all their strengths, we also have to keep in mind their mental game, a weakness that first reared it’s ugly head during Boston but also showed up in the dramatic 2:3 loss to OG in Kiev. It is this single aspect that puts them just below the coveted first place in the power rank.
First place at StarLadder, Epicenter, and DreamLeague. Many have ranked Team Liquid highly given their recent performances, but that is not solely why this team is above the rest of the competition on this list: Team Liquid is seeing its best form on this roster come at just the right time, peaking in the months preceding. They have the potential to win The International, no one doubts that - what sets this team apart is just how high that peak might be. With as many talented players as this team contains, and with such a legendary captain at the helm, Team Liquid has a chance to make history in Seattle.
The superstitions be damned. This team is unlike the favorites of the past: they still have room to grow, to become better, to iron out the mistakes that are unfitting of a team of this caliber. If Team Liquid can do that, they will be unstoppable.
Writers ShiaoPi, OmniEulogy, Yamato, ChilloManiac, Nighimare