To say that the group stage results were unpredictable would be an understatement. OG and Team Secret starting playoffs in the lower bracket, Fnatic not getting to the main event and four out of five Chinese teams starting in the upper bracket.
The other four upper bracket slots are filled with teams from each other major region, with Team Liquid showing that EU Dota still stands strong, Virtus.Pro giving some glimmers of hope for CIS fans, TNC proving that results from last year were not a fluke and EG once again ready to please the home crowd.
There is even a case for South America to be proud. Not only did Infamous get to the playoffs, but they also managed to win games from both Team Secret and Team Empire and even 2:0'ed iG.Vitality, all of which have considerably more experience. It is already a respectable result for the first showing on the biggest stage of the year. Moreover, while they might have a very tough matchup versus OG, the bo1 format definitely works in their favor and not all hope is lost.
Team Secret will be playing Execration in their elimination match. The latter proved to be very inconsistent during the group stage, but they also managed to win games off OG, iG and VP, all of which are by all means top tier teams. However, the game will be hard for the SEA squad, especially given that MidOne is a SEA representative himself and will not be easily startled by the region’s typical ultra-aggressive playstyle.
Other lower bracket matches are matched more evenly. Team Empire with Resolut1on shows some promise and by the end of the group stage started to look slightly more coherent in their farm distribution. To be fair, fn still looks bleaker than he usually does, given how the team switched from the typical 4-protect-fn to 3-not-sure-who-to-prioritize approach, but they are against Cloud 9, so anythEEng can happen.
DC vs. iG.Vitality should be the most fierce bo1. Before the tournament iG.V would look like a clear winner, but DC finally stopped looking disorganized in their macro, making it a very interesting matchup indeed. Truly, the International experience forces the teams to evolve very fast and DC is the prime example for that statement.
A total of 106 (94.6%) of heroes were picked during the tournament and 108 (96.3%) were contested, making it the most diverse TI, and that is before the main event even started. At this point it is safe to say that the 7.xx era has fully recovered the almost perfect balance of 6.88b and went even further. Bane, Spectre, Tiny and Wraith King remain as the only ignored heroes of the tournament and there is a strong case for each of these heroes to appear on the main stage.
Only three heroes have a contest rate of 80%+: Nyx Assassin, Night Stalker and Batrider. All three heroes have been banned more than they were actually played and it is understandable. Nyx Assassin is incredibly strong and a flexible pick, which serves as a hard counter to many popular heroes. Night Stalker is both annoying and scary to play against, especially in a pro-environment, where vision becomes even more important and finding a good initiation angle can make up for the biggest of economic deficits. Finally, Batrider is simply the most iconic TI hero: he has always been a comfort pick during big tournaments and no amount of nerfs can break his incredibly powerful design.
Earthshaker, Sand King and Puck were the most picked heroes of the tournament, appearing in 36.8%, 36.1% and 35.4% of games respectively. All three are flexible utility/nuke heroes who can initiate, counter-initiate and provide catch for the team. It is worth noting, however, that their popularity comes not only from their strength in the meta, but also from how safe it is to pick them in the first phase.
Nyx is in a league of his own: he lanes incredibly well, courtesy of a massive starting HP regeneration and armor, he can scout for his team, he is a strong damage dealer vs. most intelligence cores in the late-game, he provides a lot of disables and completely ruins Batrider initiations and with some farm he becomes incredibly hard to kill. The hero is also somewhat flexible and can be both an offlaner and a support, making him the ultimate meta pick.
Lycan is a very safe core pick with high potential for taking objectives. He is also one of the few melee heroes who are almost impossible to kite and his win rate is a direct result of this. And while he might not farm exceptionally fast and his abilities are not as amazing DPS-wise in the late game, he still has a slot advantage over most carries, since he doesn’t really need boots in the late game and can simply carry BoTs in his backpack.
Sven has a slightly different approach to kiting: he simply leaves no one to kite him after the initiation. The hero farms incredibly fast, deals tons of damage and has a natural way of dealing with all illusion heroes. In the ultra-late game he might not be able to hold his ground against some harder carries, but his window of opportunity is pretty wide: he can become the dominant force in the game pretty early and retain his position for a very long time.
With teams often favoring mobile heroes or prioritizing force staffs in the early game, the lack of success for the latter is understandable. With Hurricane Pike being an overall great item for practically all ranged carries, the window where Clockwerk can reliably lock down a target is incredibly small. He does offer some scouting capabilities, however they are heavily rivaled by Night Stalker, who is no longer dependent on his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade, and Nyx Assassin, who, as stated previously, is the ultimate meta pick.
Silencer and Void are slightly different. Their win rate is not low enough to safely assume their weakness, but they do have a very common issue — their most impactful spells have very long cooldowns. To top it off, the former can be easily dealt with in the late and even mid game — there are many core and support items which offer some form of protection against silences. Chronosphere, while great, is still hard to use at maximum efficiency. It doesn’t work particularly well with melee cores on the team either, heavily restricting the amount of situations where it is actually useful. And with Faceless Void frequently being an offlane pick, it is rare to see him have enough farm to kill targets inside the Chrono himself.
Arteezy's Lycanthrope claws down three heroes
EG and Secret have a closely knit history and rivalry, but that's long gone with Secret's new roster. The day kicked off with this series, and with EG and Secret battling in the middle of the pack, the outcome of it was significant in determining the upper and lower bracket cutoff.
In this game, Secret had a substantial net worth lead, but when pushing EG's highground they essentially gave away two deaths, a die-back, on their Clinkz.
Day 3 had two rare comeback victories from mega creeps. In the final bout, ig.V.dogf1ights nabs the Divine Rapier and mows down three heroes on his Weaver, enough justification for him to chat-wheel afterward "Brutal.Savage.Rekt."
For most Dota players, the game outcome is inevitable when one team gets megacreeps. But if a team has the heroes for it, then they can manage a little bit. The game was a 2 hour slog, and IG.V managed against megacreeps for almost an hour of it.
Who says Queen of Pain can't transition into the late game? Kuku did work in TNC's comeback victory against mega creeps, netting close to 1k CS and leading his team in kills and damage.
All it takes is really one fight. IG.V dominated the early game, destroyed all of Fnatic's outer towers, and secured an economic advantage. But Fnatic found a small window to push the high ground, eventually baiting IG.V to venture outside their base and feed a few more heroes. Fnatic desperately needed a win for the day as they're fighting against elimination. They have a tough final match against EG in Day 4.
Cloud 9 doubled their win total with this victory, which they almost threw. FATA walked out of Puck's Aghanim's, upgraded Coil a few times, at the end of its duration. The team altogether couldn't contain Nando's AM, who ran rampant after a late, 20 minute Battlefury. C9's woes have been memed into oblivion, with fans sarcastically predicting an anime, like revival in the final day. For that to happen, they'll first need to stay alive in Day 4.
Cloud 9 finally managed to pull themselves together and start showing what they are truly capable of. EternaLEnVy insists on baffling the viewers and casters with his unconventional item builds, but now it actually seems to work as intended. DC were caught off-guard multiple times by a surprisingly tanky carry, resulting in several severely punished overextensions.
Amazing series showcasing that both teams are real contenders for a high placement in the tournament. Despite their losses on day 4, DC is probably the team that improved the most during the group stage. They were quite successful at both playing from behind and securing an early game advantage in games 1 and 2 respectively, putting up a great fight versus the second seed of group B. Abed deserves a special mention for his ability to read the map and stall the game, preventing early victories by Newbee.
A game filled with really uncharacteristic mistakes from iG, which allowed for an amazing VP comeback. There was so much at stake in this match, as loss would mean VP would have to go into tiebreakers against OG to secure the winners bracket start. If you want some EE-level buffoonery, but from the whole iG team at the same time, look no further.