As with our predictions for the Regional Top 4 and the Invitees, theScore eSports staff make their choices for the teams to make it out of The International's Wild Card. Two out of the four teams will advance to the Group Stage; they will play in a double-elimination, best-of-three bracket on Sunday, July 26.
Connor Dunn: CDEC Gaming and Vega Squadron
CDEC Gaming stands out as the clear favorite among the Wild Card teams. After placing second at ECL 2015 Spring, World Cyber Arena 2015 China Qualifiers and G-League 2015, the team’s confidence should be at an all-time high. In fact with their recent adaptation of the current meta (most notably their Techies/Tusk victory against Vici Gaming), it’s very easy to consider CDEC a top tier team.
Additionally, being the only chinese team in the Wild Card qualifier has inherent advantages for CDEC — with numerous leagues and tournaments readily available in China’s thriving Dota 2 scene, the amount of reliable LAN experience and practice gives them the upper hand against other teams (especially the North American based Team Archon).
The lower bracket of the Wild Card qualifier is much harder to predict due to how similar the remaining team’s skill gap is but I feel Vega Squadron has what it takes to clutch the last spot in the group stage.
Although they have a tough opening match against CDEC Gaming, the Russian team should have no problem bouncing back in the lower bracket with an easy 2-0 against Team Archon. Although the Korean dark horses, MVP Phoenix, are capable of defeating Vega Squadron I feel the chances of that happening are slim.
Dennis Gonzales: CDEC Gaming and MVP Phoenix
CDEC Gaming are the most decorated of all the teams in the wild cards. In 6.84c alone, the Chinese squad has played in four offline events, placing second in three of them: G-League, ECL and the WCA qualifiers. Noteworthy performances in and of themselves, but they made those podium finishes while facing off against the top tier teams from the region.
They took two games off of LGD-Gaming in the Grand Finals of G-League 2015, losing 2-3, but in ECL 2015, CDEC got their revenge and beat LGD in a clean 2-0 sweep. Last, but certainly not least, they defeated Vici Gaming 2-0 during the WCA qualifiers, using a Tusk/Techies combo in Game 1.
They perform well, their podium finishes are testaments of that, and they’re flashy to boot.
MVP Phoenix are no strangers to the wild cards, they got to this stage last year at The International 4, finishing second against Team Liquid. There was only one wild card slot back then, but this time around there are two. If Phoenix can replicate their performance from last year, they’re a shoe-in, but there are a few factors working against them.
The most glaring problem is that Phoenix haven’t played any official matches since the end of the TI5 qualifiers, which finished almost two months ago. With a bit of a dry spell, they’re dependant on their boot camp going well. With training partners in their sister team, MVP Hot6ix, the winners of the SEA qualifier, as well as the support staff and training environment that comes from a Korean organization, they should be set.
Annabelle Fischer: Team Archon and Vega Squadron
Formerly known as the North American Rejects (v2), they fought their way through the unpredictable and crazy field of battle known as the Americas Dota 2 scene before being picked up by Team Archon before heading to this Wild Card showdown. The Wild Card matches should bring a similar level of unpredictability and out of the field of four teams, Archon seem best equipped to prevail. I expect them to lose to Vega but make their way through the rest of their matches to secure Wild Card slot #2.
Of all the players making up the various Wild Card teams, Solo and Mag are some of the most experienced and respected. They have been around the scene for years and both have played for Team Empire on that team’s road to dethroning Na’Vi as one of the top CIS teams. Vega Squadron seem poised to easily take out any obstacle in their way and I expect them to win their first group stage match against CDEC before going on to secure Wild Card slot #1.
The International 2015 starts on Sunday, July 26 in Seattle, WA, USA. You can follow the entire tournament from within theScore eSports app, for matches, interviews, news pieces and more.