With roughly two weeks until the International 2018 and no other tournaments left, it is time to do our predictions. Today we are going to focus on the “Teams” tab of the compendium, giving our reasoning behind certain choices.
Predictions are hard, but if you carefully look through the data and apply your Dota knowledge, you can make more educated guesses and increase your chances of being correct. Much like real life betting, Compendium Predictions require a decent amount of work, but in this case we will try to do most of it for you.
There are three clear favorites coming into TI: Team Liquid, Virtus.Pro and PSG.LGD and either of these choices is as valid as the other ones. They have the most DPC points, with Team Liquid and PSG.LGD coming in strong at the end of the year.
Virtus.pro are currently leading the race to win TI, according to most bookies with Buff88.com offering 4to1 odds for the outcome. After winning the last 3 ESL Majors–ESL One Hamburg 2017, ESL One Katowice 2018 and ESL One Birmingham 2018–with all 3 MVP prizes being awarded to different players on the team, the CIS team has shown outstanding diversity in their playstyle and have proven that they can adapt to any team and patch change. The only setback on their way to The International was their close 2-3 loss to Team Liquid in the final of the China Dota2 Supermajor in early June.
Team Liquid is the only team in history to have won a TI final 3-0 which they did last year over Newbee. After going to the lower bracket, TL had to face Virtus.pro and 3 Asian teams to win and most people had written them off. The team managed to beat all 4 opponents and grab over 10 million dollars. During the run Liquid showed a dominant style of play and that they, much like VP, are excellent at adaptation due to their great captains - KuroKy and Solo respectively. They had Virtus.pro’s number last time around but will they be able to duplicate it on the biggest stage? On Buff88.com, the odds are equal at 4to1 for Team Liquid to win the International 8.
After rebranding to PSG.LGD in mid-April, the Chinese team has managed to win back-to-back big events. They beat Team Liquid 3-1 in early May at EPICENTER, held in Moscow and secured a 3-0 over VGJ.Storm in MDL Changsha Major in the end of the month. It can be presumed that the momentum is on their side. However, a disadvantage might be that Chinese teams know each other rather well and LGD could get upset if they come across another Chinese team. Having said that, Chinese teams usually have a strong start in the biggest Dota 2 tournament. Will they manage to go all the way? Buff88.com has them at 5to1 to win it all.
Realistically, you can put any team in this section and provide enough argument to support it. It is The International and anything can happen. Personally, I am putting Team Serenity there, hoping for another Wings Gaming-style run, hopefully without the similar aftermath.
Essentially we are looking for a team that has an above average game length, above average levels of aggression and drafts that favor teamfights over objective taking. A team like this will have more drawn-out matches with lots of kills.
We also shouldn’t put absolute favorites or underdogs in this section: favorites will generally finish their games against underdogs very quickly, so both categories of teams will have less time to make kills, dragging the average down. It is not Average Kills per minute, it is Average Kills per match, so we are looking for a mid-tier team that won’t quickly crumble under the pressure of favorites, but will sometimes have trouble against the underdogs.
Looking at the Summit 9 stats for matches of over 60 minutes, there is one thing in common for all of them that immediately stands out: Fnatic.
This team checks all four of our checkboxes. They are the mid-tier team with the highest average game lengths that they fill with intense action. Betting on Total Kills going above a certain value is always safe with Fnatic, because they exceed it in every. single. game. they. play.
It is only natural to put Fnatic as a team with the highest kill average, at least with the data we have. Winstrike could also be one of the contestants for this spot, as they are an aggressive mid-tier team that can surprise us. Depending on your outlook on South American Dota, Pain Gaming is also worth considering.
There is a reason we talked about highest Kill average first, despite it being the third category in the compendium predictions. The team with most kills in a game is most likely to be a better team playing against the team with the highest kill average.
Basically, we are looking for a very strong team that will have this one match against Fnatic that goes on for 60+ minutes, keeping us on the edge of our seats. It should be one of the tournament’s favourites that also likes to play aggressively and get into many fights.
There are three major favorites of the tournament, as discussed previously. Of them, Team Liquid is the most surgical: they have one of the highest KDA ratios in China Supermajor, despite being only fifth in average kills. They aren’t going to give Fnatic their scrappy fights, instead striking once or twice with deadly precision to win the game. They might have long games, but they won’t consciously engage in fights they have lower chance of winning.
Virtus.Pro is an aggressive team and they are more than happy to fight the enemy, but they are also very objective-oriented. Their drafts often revolve around objective-taking heroes that they push to their limits in teamfights, so it is unlikely they will have a drawn-out match with Fnatic in the first place. Once again returning to China Supermajor stats: Virtus.Pro is one of the teams with lowest average match lengths, and it will probably cancel out the Fnatic effect.
That leaves us with PSG.LGD and they are going to be our choice for this section. High kill average, high death average, above average game length, one of the strongest teams in the tournament. As long as there is at least one Fnatic vs. PSG.LGD series, we will probably have one of these epic games everyone talks about for several years and it is unlikely either of these teams won’t make it through the group stage.
Each International there is this one game where the score is incredibly one-sided, with a very low amount of deaths on one team. It frequently gets to something like 20:1 and the enemy team simply “gg”s out of the game after yet another unsuccessful fight. We are looking for a recipe for a game like this.
Obviously, one team has to be a lot better than the other for a game like this to happen, so we are definitely not looking at underdogs. But perhaps an even more important ingredient is how flexible and versatile the team is and how willing their captain is to step out of meta, risk experimenting and completely outdraft the opponent, leaving them no chance from the very start.
You can put Team Liquid in this category, as they are the team with one of the lowest average deaths per game, with players who have a very wide hero pool. It is a safe bet, but maybe a bit too safe, as we aren’t looking for the lowest death average, but rather for this one game of complete and utter outdraft.
Personally, I will be going with Optic Gaming and PPD on this one. Legendary captain, strong team, high versatility on all positions and willingness to take risks. Depending on your own preferences and beliefs, Team Secret and Evil Geniuses are also worth considering.
When it comes to assists, we are looking for a team that plays grouped up, rarely going for split-push tactics. They will have higher assist average and are more likely to have the most assists in a single game.
Statistically, Vici Gaming, Mineski and TNC Predator have the highest average amount of assists, so they are probably the best candidates for this category. Of these, TNC Predator is the one that is most likely to get in the zone, playing some god-tier Dota, winning teamfight after teamfight, but not ending the game because they are simply enjoying the process so much.
All three teams are definitely worth considering, but players on both Mineski and Vici Gaming are much older, more disciplined and are more likely to simply end the game when they are already leading so much that they can win teamfights over and over again.
It might look like that we can go back to the “Most Kills” or “Highest Average Kills” sections and pretty much repeat what we’ve already said about Fnatic and PSG.LGD, but in reality this section is quite different.
The “Chinese Turtle Dota” stereotype is quite outdated, as after TI4 we’ve seen very different Chinese teams playing different Dota and they are now often the aggressors. However, while it is outdated, it isn’t completely dead.
Of all Chinese teams, Vici Gaming is probably the most conservative. They have high average game lengths, but are not necessarily aggressive. Whereas Fnatic's gameplan often revolves around going late, Vici Gaming is much more likely to get stuck in a never-ending stalemate, with both teams unwilling to take risks.
There will be an 80+ minute game, but not with constant buybacks, fights, throws and counter-throws, but rather with fermented Cheeses, fifth Roshans, multiple Divine Rapiers and, potentially, a very anti-climactic ending. These things happen, and most often they happen to Vici Gaming. If you intend on following this team, we strongly recommend learning to appreciate zen-beauty of the old school Chinese Dota.
Once again, Shortest Game is not necessarily the same as the lowest amount of Deaths. The recipe for the latter is a complete outdraft and the length of the game is highly dependant on how willing the enemy will be to admit defeat, when they are essentially stuck in their base with nothing to do.
The recipe for the former is surgical precision, objective-oriented drafting and quick and deadly strikes. We’ve used the same expressions to refer to Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro previously and both of these choices are valid for this category. Choosing either is largely a matter of preference: Virtus.Pro is more likely to have a faster-paced lineup, while Team Liquid is less likely to make a positioning mistake, allow the enemy to get a return kill and extend the game by another unnecessary minute.
We are looking for a versatile team that is likely to do well in the tournament, playing more matches and having more opportunities to pick different heroes. It has to be a highly adaptable team, but it shouldn’t necessarily be too dominant.
Looking back at TI5 and TI7, the Champions weren’t the most versatile teams in the tournament. They simply had a question in their draft that their opponent couldn’t answer: “what are you going to do about our Techies?”, “what are you going to do about our KotL?” or ”what are you going to do about our Io?”. Neither Newbee, nor CDEC could respond or come up with an even more interesting question.
Moreover, no teams in the International 2018 look like they can afford to do what Wings Gaming did in TI6. They asked a simple, yet undeniably effective question: ?, and to this day many seek the answer to it with no success.
With an absence of a team that can go ?, our best bet is to go back to stats, looking for strong teams with high versatility.
With how equal in strength the top teams of the tournament look, either of them can be a safe pick, but Virtus.Pro is probably the safest bet. Not only is it a team that won the Summit 7 without playing the same hero twice, it is also the top4 team that experimented the most during the recent China Supermajor, with 47 unique picks, compared to 34, 36 and 37 by Team Liquid, PSG.LGD and Team Secret respectively.
Alternatively, VGJ.Storm is also a good bet, if you believe they will make it far into the tournament. In the last three months four members of this team played more than 20 different heroes.
This category has the “minimum 10 games played” restriction, but it doesn’t matter, since every team will have 16 matches during the group stage. Essentially, we are more or less looking for a team that will get eliminated during the group stage, coming to the tournament underprepared and having a limited amount of strategies. Someone who will exit the tournament in shame, will show nothing and will most likely disband the following season.
Alternatively, it can actually be the most dominant team that will have a strategy no one can beat. They will crush every opponent with ease and will not be forced to adapt in the slightest, because they figured out the ultimate way to play Dota this TI. Their enemies won’t be able to find an answer, and when someone would try to deviate, banning one of the heroes they thought crucial, they would get crushed even harder.
Personally, I am going with Evil Geniuses.