theScore predicts The International: Invited Teams

by theScore eSports Staff May 6 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

With The International 5 Compendium now available for purchase, a large part of the fun is predicting certain outcomes; the first quiz that Valve has implemented for Dota 2 fans is guessing which teams will be invited to take part in the competition.

TheScore eSports loves a good challenge, so four writers will be comparing notes on who they think will attend. Under each group of picks they'll also list a "Sure thing", a "Maybe", and a "Left out" team, and an explanation for that pick.

Taking part will be Connor Dunn, Dennis Gonzales, Annabelle Fischer and Matt Demers. You can follow them on Twitter by clicking those links.

Connor Dunn

China Europe Americas SEA
Vici Gaming Cloud9 Evil Geniuses MVP.Phoenix
Invictus Gaming Secret
Natus Vincere

Sure thing: Evil Geniuses

Although EG isn’t performing as well as they were during the Dota 2 Asia Championships, they are still considered a top tier team. Being the only American team that can possibly stand a chance against stronger European and Chinese teams, I think it’s fair to assume that EG will be the only American team invited to the International 5.

Maybe: MVP.Phoenix

MVP.Phoenix seems to be the dark horse of every tournament they compete in. While Korea is not known for their Dota, MVP.Phoenix is definitely their strongest team. They also recently surprised everyone placed fourth finish at JoinDOTA MLG Pro League Season 1; having never been invited to the International before, this could be a long shot, but I feel there is a slight chance for them this year.

Left out: Newbee

Despite every single previous International inviting the previous year’s champion, I think it would be wrong to assume the same for this year. Newbee has seen a significant roster change from their 2014 championship with both Hao and Xiao8 leaving for Vici Gaming and LGD, respectively. 

While they are still performing well in Season 3 of i-league, they are not on the same level of VG or iG at the moment.

Annabelle Fischer

China Europe Americas SEA
Vici Gaming Cloud9 Evil Geniuses Team Malaysia
Invictus Gaming Team Secret
LGD Gaming Virtus Pro
Newbee Empire

Sure thing: Vici Gaming

Vici Gaming are one of the few teams that I am absolutely, positively sure about getting an invite this year. Their performance in the latest tournaments like Starladder, VP Game and DAC speaks for itself. What more do I need to say? There are only a few “sure things” this year and Vici Gaming are undoubtedly one of them.

Maybe: Newbee

This seems to be the most questioned possible invite this year as Newbee’s performance since their TI4 win has been less than stellar. Still, it seems only fair that the defending champions be allowed to “defend” their championship, even if they seem unlikely to make it very far. 

Their roster still contains 3 of 5 TI4 members and despite a relatively weak 2015 they have been able to win games (though not matches) against hard hitters like iG and Vici. I may not have included Newbee in my “sure things” but they certainly have a good chance to slip in with the instability and relative weakness of the other regions.

Left out: Alliance

As hype as it may feel to have AdmiralBulldog back in Alliance at the same time as 6.84’s Lone Druid and Nature’s Prophet buffs, the change is the latest in a string of Alliance roster shuffling as they have tried to find their groove. 

Roster stability seems to be a new focus for Valve especially since the Majors announcement and this factor alone made it easier for me to take Alliance out of my big list of European “maybe” teams. I would not be surprised to see Alliance perform very well in the European group stages but a direct invite feels very unlikely.

Dennis Gonzales

China Europe Americas SEA
LGD Gaming Cloud9 Evil Geniuses Team Malaysia
Invictus Gaming Secret
Vici Gaming Virtus.Pro
Ninjas in Pyjamas

Sure thing: Evil Geniuses

For a lot of people, the 100 percent invite is a toss up between Evil Geniuses and Vici Gaming, but when you look closer at their post-The International 4 (TI4) achievements, EG edges out, but just barely.

They both participated in 10 Premier tournaments and both had podium finishes in seven of them; they both finished first in four of them. Differences only arise when you look even closer.

VG won two tournaments that EG were also participating in, namely ESL One New York and The Summit 2. But EG beat VG at World E-sport Championships 2014 and, more importantly, at the Dota 2 Asia Championships. Considering it was the biggest tournament outside of The International, EG’s win there is enough to push them above VG.

Maybe: Newbee

Historically, all of the TI champions have been invited to TI afterwards, but some invoke the argument of Theseus’ Paradox: is it still the same team if only three of the TI4 champions remain on the team?

Artstyle was on Natus Vincere TI1, but was gone by the time they were invited to TI2. Invictus Gaming had the exact same squad when they won TI2 and got invited to TI3, same goes for Alliance for their TI3 win and TI4 invite.

Others argue that they shouldn’t be invited because of their poor performances, but I think that’s a moot point. The champions prior should be given the chance to defend their title, whether they can be considered the same team, though, is up for debate.

Left out: Team Tinker

Team Tinker are one of the most improved teams to come out of the “pre-TI invite shuffle”; they had a 45 percent winrate on patch 6.83 up until their roster change. And after the inclusion of Johan “pieliedie” Åström and Dominik “Black^” Reitmeier, their win-rate up until today (May 4th) sits above 60 percent. It’s a feat for any top tier team, but it may be too little too late.

Tinker only had two podium finishes in the premier tournaments they participated in since TI4, and there were also numerous tournaments where they didn't even make it past the qualifier stage.

Matt Demers

China Europe Americas SEA
LGD Gaming Cloud9 Evil Geniuses Rave
Invictus Gaming Secret
Vici Gaming Virtus.Pro
Newbee Empire

Sure thing: LGD Gaming

LGD don't have the results of Vici or the potential of Invictus Gaming, but they represent a consistently strong Chinese representative that have no reason to not get invited.

The major result to watch after acquiring Xiao8 and Maybe in March is a second place finish for VPGame Pro League, losing 3-1 to Vici after 2-0ing them in Winner's Finals. While that roster change may hurt them a little bit for the supposed "Valve formula", Vici (for Hao) and iG (for BurNing and Faith) would incur the same loss.

Maybe: Rave

Rave was the hardest decision for me because the SEA pick seems to waffle between them and Team Malaysia. While Malaysia's roster is recently-formed, they have the hype left over from their TI3 run as Orange eSports. 

However, I have to go with Rave as my gut choice due to their consistent performances in KDL, a 5-6th finish at DAC (taking a game off of Big God!) and an extremely stable lineup.

Left out: Any American Team Not Evil Geniuses

Sorry Americas, but looking at the teams to choose from in the Compendium made it evident just how sparse the talent pool is in terms of qualified teams. 

Evil Geniuses have the results to earn them a The International spot from winning the Dota 2 Asian Championship and coming in second at joinDOTA MLG Pro League Season 1; none of the others can boat results in international competitions.