One of the most widely followed esports events each year, The International 2017, is about to begin.
It’s the seventh installment of the Dota 2 Championships, and is expected to be highly competitive. Since 2011, The International has pitted the top Dota 2 teams from across the globe against each other in a high-stakes, double elimination bracket to compete for glory, prize money and the coveted Aegis of Champions. The Aegis has seen a different wielder each year, as no team has ever won The International twice.
Most recently, a now disbanded Wings Gaming lifted the Aegis in 2016, beating out Digital Chaos in the Grand Finals. With a prize pool currently sitting at a staggering $23 million — and growing — The International 2017 will stand as the most lucrative competitive Dota 2 event that fans have ever seen.
But what can we expect? Which teams are expected to fly through the qualifiers, and what possible upsets can we look forward to seeing?
The Dota 2 community’s consensus is that three teams stand out: Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses and Virtus.pro have had the most success this year, with each boasting several first place finishes throughout the 2017 competitive season.
Team Liquid, captained by Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, has placed first in each of the last five major Dota 2 events they have participated in. Their winnings are over $500,000 in prize money since November of 2016. While their last International appearance in 2016 resulted in a 7-8th place finish, the team has seen a lot of improvement and only two roster swaps since the completion of the 2016 event. Liquid newcomers Amer “Miracle” Al-Barkawi and Maroun “GH” Merhej will join repeating participants Ivan “Mind_ContRol” Borislavov and Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen, along with their captain at this year’s TI.
Virtus.pro have had a series of mixed performances at major events over the course of 2017, but have remained in the top five at each of their last four, taking first place victories at two. Winning both The Summit 6 and 7, they have proven themselves as top competitors heading into The International, and will be competing with an entirely different roster than that which featured at last year’s event. They failed to qualify for the main event at The International 2016. The new team is led by Alexei “Solo” Berezin, and is expected to improve upon last year’s disappointment. Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev, Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko, Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov and Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk will fight alongside their captain to attempt to establish themselves as one of the top global talents.
Evil Geniuses’ appearance at this year’s International has been surrounded by the most hype the competitive Dota 2 scene has ever seen. Having placed at least third at each of the last three International events — as well as taking home the gold in 2015 — they are no stranger to Dota 2’s most prestigious event. Though veterans Peter “ppd” Dager and Clinton “Fear” Loomis are no longer part of the roster, Evil Geniuses’ long standing core talents Syed “SumaiL” Sumail Hassan and Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora are expected to have incredible performances. Artour “Arteezy” Babaev and Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg have also featured in Evil Geniuses’ previous International squads, but took a brief hiatus from the team in 2015 to compete with Team Secret. Nonetheless, the two are known in the scene as players of incredible skill and complexity, and are expected by many to follow new captain Andreas “Cr1t” Nielsen to a second International victory.
The International has developed a series of expectations that come alongside the event. While the above teams stand out as the top talents following the most recent competitive Dota 2 events, any and all repeat viewers know that upsets are always possible, and that shock performances are expected to occur. It will be interesting to see where Team Liquid, Virtus.pro and Evil Geniuses end up placing, and how they compete against other extremely skilled teams from all over the world.’
If you won’t be able to tune into the The International 2017, The Daily Walkthrough will be covering the main event on Facebook and Twitter, as well as in each of our daily issues starting Aug. 2. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen. It’s that time of year.