The biggest DotA 2 event of the year is fast approaching, and the excitement is building for fans.
Adding fuel to burning passion and excitement, on April 21st Valve announced the six teams that have made the list for The International 7 (TI7).
Team OG has been tearing it up this year at large tournaments. Still lead by returning OG players Johan “N0tail” Sudstein and Tal “Fly” Aizik, the rest of the roster has changed since their appearance at TI6 last year. After the departure of Andreas Frank “Cr1t-” Nielson, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, and David “MoonMeander” Tan, the team quickly reformed. N0tail and Fly recruited Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, Anathan “ana” Pham, and Gustav “S4” Magnussom–all very strong and experienced competitive Dota 2 veterans. Since this team shuffle, OG has placed no lower than 2nd in all notable tournaments they attended. They won first place at The Boston Major 2016, going 3:1 against Ad Finem. They also took first place at The Kiev Major 2017, going 3:2 against Virtus.Pro, another notable team who also received a direct invite to this year’s International. OG’s 2017 season makes them a strong team positioned to win TI7. However, N0tail and Fly were in a similar position last year at TI6, where they were knocked out by South East Asian team TNC Pro Team before the round eight even started. Will they overcome the competition this year, or once again face an upset defeat?
Hailing from Russia, Virtus.Pro (VP) has been barreling through most competitions they’ve participated in this year. While they faced losses in the round of 8 at the Boston Major, they plowed through the competition at Kiev, only losing to OG in a best of 5 series. At The Summit 6 in November of 2016, VP toppled OG 3:0 to take 1st place. Just earlier this month, VP stampeded through the competition at DOTA Summit 7, playing a large number of different styles, making the tournament look like just another practice. No matter the situation, VP has proven itself a force to be feared. Captained by their position five player, Alexei “Solo” Berezin, VP has shown amazing teamwork and flexibility in all their matchups, which makes them seem unbeatable. The question is, will this streak of strength last?
Evil Geniuses (EG) is a name that is familiar to anyone who’s followed esports for any amount of time. Each player on the current roster could have pages written about them individually: Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, Ludwig “Zai” Wåhlberg, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev, and Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen. They make up the current roster of one of the most powerful teams in DotA 2. Placing 3rd and 4th in both the Kiev and Boston Majors is perhaps the least of the team’s achievements in the past year. Under the coaching of DotA 2 veteran Clinton “Fear” Loomis, the team has placed first in Mars DotA 2 League 2016 Autumn, China Top 2016, and The Manila Masters, beating out Team Newbee in each tournament. Despite their aptitude, they were knocked out of both Valve Sponsored Majors 0:2 by OG. If they face up against each other again at TI7 will EG be able to adapt their playstyle enough to win, or will they once again crumble at the hands of OG?
Team Liquid (TL) is well known throughout esports. This Netherlands-based organization has esports rosters in almost all the big name franchises, including DotA 2. They’ve been consistent contenders for years and are looking stronger than ever. This is likely in no small part due to the addition of Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi to the roster. Miracle-, TL’s current mid lane player, is the first person to ever achieve 9,000 MMR in DotA 2. He also was OG’s former mid player, which may give TL an edge should the teams face off at TI7. The current roster has placed first in the ASUS ROG DreamLeague Season 6 and StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3. While the team didn’t make it through the round of 8 at the Kiev major, getting taken out by Invictus Gaming (IG), they have since placed first at both EPICENTER 2017 and the StarLadder i-League Invitational #2. They may not appear to have the same momentum of other teams, but they defeated both EG and VG at EPICENTER 2017 to claim the first place spot. This proves they are a powerful force to be reckoned with, given the chance.
Invictus Gaming (IG) is one of two Chinese teams directly invited to The International 7 this year. While the name may not be as recognizable to western fans, they are an extremely active and skilled team. In the past year, they’ve participated in at least 25 tournaments, placing in the top 8 in almost all of them. Their position one player, Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei, is one of the most well-known core players in all of professional DotA 2. With an impressive nine year career under his belt spanning both DotA and DotA 2, BurNIng’s talents never seem to diminish. Despite being knocked out of the Kiev Major by VP, IG was able to topple the Kiev champs OG at the DotA 2 Asia Championships 2017 earlier that same month in a 3:0 sweep. Under the leadership of former second place TI player Fu “Q” Bin, IG can be expected to give the other teams a run for their money. They have the knowledge and experience to handle whatever is thrown at them.
The second Chinese DotA 2 team Newbee has faced mixed results in the past. Since the restructuring of the team after The International 6, they’ve upped their game considerably. In the past year since TI6, Newbee has seen reasonable success in tournaments, but haven’t performed as strongly as other teams. Despite this, they’ve pulled out some impressive wins, such as beating Planet Odd 3:0 at Galaxy battles, and NP 3:1 at the ZOTAC Cup Masters. The two players on the roster retained from Newbee’s TI6 lineup are also arguably the reason they performed as well as they did. Damien “kpii” Chok and Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi are both extremely skilled players, whose playstyles compliment each other. Joined by former IG player and DotA 2 veteran Zeng “Faith” Hongda, former Tongfu mid Xu “Moogy” Han, and Song “Sccc” Chun, Newbee will no doubt give the other teams some fierce competition.
The International 7 Kicks off on Monday, August 7th and runs through Sunday, August 13th. Matches are held live at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. Tickets for the grand finals are sold out, but all matches are viewable online on Twitch. Matches can also be viewed in the DotA 2 client, with chances to win cosmetic items for viewing first blood, mega kills, hero denies, courier kills, and victories.
All images belong to their respective teams.