I am currently in Seattle for the Dota 2 International 6 (TI6) which starts tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! Currently the prize pool is sitting well over 20 Million dollars, and with so many teams doing well it’s going to make for some amazing games.
I am most looking forward to being part of the crowd. I can’t wait to be in that stadium when someone gets first blood, a team makes an epic comeback (I am looking at you Alliance), or even just cheering at a dewarding. Being there with so many other equally excited Dota fans is an experience you can’t quite get at home. I can’t wait to be cheering for my favorite players as they fight for the ultimate prize of claiming the aegis and showing that they are the best in the world. I am also looking forward to meeting people: pros, commentators, content creators, and fans. I have already had the chance to talk to LD and Charlie Yang but the best interaction I had was meeting one of my viewers who flagged me down as I was filming some shots. It was someone that I met at PAX East when I only had 78 followers and remembered me. We chatted about who we think is going to win the event. Meeting the fans always reinspires me with streaming by reminding me that this is what I want to do for a living, to play games, to go to events, and to share my passions with you all.
I picked up a lot of sweet merchandise today. This year I skipped the 8 hour line for a chance to get pins, plushies and apparel. Instead I preordered everything that I wanted a couple weeks in advance and just showed up today, waited 30 minutes and picked up my order. Well done Valve and We Love Fine! So this year I picked up 4 pins sets (to get the extra rare pin), a couple of plushies, a button up shirt, and a Windrunner figure. Along with my purchase I got a bunch of emoticharm pins for free.
So to start things off I pulled a Skywrath Mage and Dazzle plush, one being one of my favorite heroes the other being quite well made. The pins I did okay with, I got only 1 duplicate with the random rare pins. The duplicate was IO but I think this made it all the easier to find someone to trade for the missing Enigma pin as IO has become a giant meme and IS going to win the arcana vote (just an extra prediction there for you). So I am quite happy I got all the pins and won’t have to scour Ebay again this year.
I have yet to open the Windrunner figure but I have seen others and the quality is amazing. While I wish they had done this is addition to the demi heros they had the last couple of years, I will enjoy being able to pose my favorite hero in all sorts of action shorts. Also it came with a small postcard sized print that will look nice on my Dota wall.
The button up shirt feels really nice and has some minor Dota accents to it so I won’t feel weird wearing this out to bars and the like even when dressing up a little bit.
And finally the emoticharm pins. Each set comes with 3 pins and a code to redeem in game for those emoticons. Collect all 6 sets and you get a special set. Luckily I ended up with just 2 duplicates and was easily able to track down someone to trade for the one I was missing. I love having a trading space as it helps people make new friends and streamline the process of finding others looking to trade. The extra set is amazing this year with a chicken, Legion Commander and salt shaker as the special set. Nothing makes me happier than getting that salt shaker.
Moving on to the main event! Let’s take a look at who is playing tomorrow, talk about their story and who I think will come out on top. First off we have some graphics from Wikipedia to show the teams, their group record, win/loss and overall points (3 for a 2-0, 1 for a split and no for 0-2).
Starting off in the winner’s bracket we have OG and MVP Phoenix. OG the first team to claim to Major (Valve sponsored tournaments) and the team favored to win the entire event. Since they finished top of their group they get to choose their opponent from the top 4 of the other group. They chose the team with the weakest record, MVP Phoenix (MVP:P), a team that split most series only losing outright to EHOME (our Cinderella of TI6). MVP:P has shown us some amazing plays and looked solid overall through the group stage. Overall I think this was a smart move by OG. Their game tomorrow is a best of 3, so they will have a chance to claim an early win against MVP:P. Even if they lose the first or second game, OG has shown the ability as a team to adapt and punish sloppy play. I believe that this first series will end with a 2-1 win for OG.
Match 2 is between the dark horse Digital Chaos (DC) and Wings Gaming. Out of all the matches for tomorrow I believe that this has the most potential to be the most explosive series as both teams have been known to step up and try crazy things. I foresee this match going one of three ways, both teams show up strong and we have an epic best of 3 (Bo3), one team shows up and we have a blowout, or neither is fully prepared and there will be play mistakes all over. But you may be asking why I say this, I mean surely both of these teams are in the winner’s side they have to be good teams, right? And yes you are correct but it depends on what team show up tomorrow at the Key Arena. DC had an epic group stage but their prior tournament showings have not been the greatest. On the other side we have Wings Gaming a team that has shown great promise in their last few tournaments most recently winning The Summit 5 over OG with a 3-1 record. Though what has many people worried is the team’s showing at the Manila Major just a couple of months ago where they placed 13th-16th. In a tournament such as TI with so much pressure and all eyes on you it is a wonder if the pressure will get to the team. Overall I think that Wings gaming will have a 2-1 victory over DC and move on to face OG.
Moving on to the best of 1’s where the pocket strats come out as teams have their back against the wall and need to win to even make it to the Bo3’s. The first match features TNC and VG:R. Admittedly I have not had a chance to watch many of TNC’s games but from what I have gotten to see they were pretty one sided matches. They have shown that they can beat these top teams but was their win against Wings a result of their own skill or Wings having an off couple of games? Their opponent VG:R ended the group stage at the bottom of group B, and they have not looked the strongest placing 5th/6th at Nanyang Season 2 and placing 7/8th at the Manila Major. Over all this could show to be one of the weaker matches, but we will have to see if these teams have some aces up their sleeves. I give the edge to TNC as they have shown more life in their group matches. So a 1-0 victory to them.
Next up we have the match I am looking forward to the most, Team Secret (my favorite) and LGD Gaming. If you asked anyone about either team before the group stages no one would have suggested that either team would be in the loser’s bracket, let alone one of the two best players getting last place. Starting with Team Secret (Secret) has been a roller coaster of a team from winning a majority of their events since the team’s founding in the wake of TI4 including the Shanghai Major. Secret started off strong in the group but then quickly fell into an 8 game losing streak. However LGD has faced their own issues. The first issue that this Chinese team faced came before the tournament even started as their support MMY was unable to get a visa for the event meaning that Banana needed to come out of his playing retirement. That being said Banana is no slouch he too was part of the Newbee team that won TI4. This team as a whole was projected to go far in the tournament but without MMY they have been struggling managing to get some wins over strong teams but falling short on the weaker ones.. Overall we have two expected titans feeling the weight of potential disappointment on their shoulders that being said I give the edge to Team Secret as they have a broader hero pool and have shown that they can beat LGD even at their best. While Banana is not a liability he is certainly a weak link in their team and his lack of flexibility when it comes to supports can be a downfall if exploited. 1-0 Secret
Our 3rd match is Fnatic vs Escape Gaming (Escape). Fnatic in the past has shown some quality appearances in the Majors usually ending 5th/6th. This SEA team has shown some strength in the group stages and have had pocket strats in the past and can be something to fear come time for Bo1’s. Escape on the other hand is our 2nd wild card team but ended up with the worst record overall The team is a rather young one only being founded back in March the team looks good in terms of cohesion but lacking when it comes to playing in the current meta. Era and qojqva have that big stage experience but I don’t think it will be enough to beat Fnatic I give Fnatic a 1-0 win here.
Finally we have Na’Vi and Liquid two teams that have watched the world crumble around them. Na’Vi for those of you that follow Dota at all was the team that won the first International and Dendi became the poster child of professional Dota. Na’Vi looked to have found some footing in recent tournaments but they shocked a lot of people ending up in Loser’s. This team has a history of strong picks during the draft and have shown what happens if you let the wrong heroes through bans. One slip up during hero selection and you may have already lost the game. Liquid on the other hand is a team that has been quite strong in recent events placing in the top 3 of their last 9 tournaments placing 2nd at both the Manila and Shanghai Majors. But they seem to be lost in the current meta. While Liquid have shown consistency in the past I think what matters most is the ability to surprise your opponent and play weird picks well. So I give the win to Na’Vi