While there are no guarantees in Dota 2, there are a few sides that might help hesitant bettors feel more assured of their predictions. Let’s take a look.
The major champions
It’s hard to go wrong with the favorites, and there is a trio of them coming into The International.
At the top of the marquee is OG. No other team has had OG’s success at big tournaments. The pressure of the big stage doesn’t rattle them, and it actually seems to bring out their best. Considering the stakes that come with competing for more than $23 million in prizes, handling the spotlight is crucial.
This is reflected in OG’s history at major tournaments. The team has won an incredible four major championships since the major system was first introduced in 2015, more than any of its competitors. However, one notable trophy is still missing: The International’s.
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein and Tal “Fly” Aizik have anchored the squad through it all, but the real star is Anathan “Ana” Pham. The Australian carry keeps OG a cut above all but the very best teams. Should any team hope to defeat OG, it will need to subdue Pham. That’s not an easy task.
The reliable elite
It can be convincingly argued that no team has been more consistent during the past few years than Evil Geniuses. The American side made its first big statement on an international stage by winning the inaugural Summit tournament in June 2014. They’ve been on a tear ever since, including a win at The International in 2015.
Since then, the team has seen quite a bit of change. Gone from the active roster is Peter “ppd” Dager, who captained the squad to so much success. His replacement, Andreas “Cr1t” Nielsen, is a fine player whose drafting has at times caused fans to question him. But there’s little doubting Nielsen can get the job done if the team’s draft does come together.
Saahil “UNiVeRse” Arora is still the reliable offlaner he has always been, but the star of the show for Evil Geniuses is young mid laner Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan. There may not be another player capable of changing a game the way Hassan can with his stellar mechanical skill. With Evil Geniuses basing much of their plan around Hassan’s success, it’s critical he perform up to his potential.
CIS team Virtus Pro may not be as accomplished as OG or Evil Geniuses, but they’ve had their share of success. More importantly, they look to be in fine form heading into this year’s International.
Boasting such playmakers as Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko and Alexei “Solo” Berezin, it’s not hard to see why. The squad seems liable to run directly over an opponent on any given day. Questions remain, however, regarding Virtus Pro’s ability to withstand the pressures that will come with Dota 2’s biggest stage.
If this team is able to keep its collective head throughout the competition, it may be Virtus Pro who emerge triumphant in claiming more than $10 million in first-place prize money. If not, they just might crash out of the tournament far earlier than expected.
So where should bettors look for a return at The International? It depends how much risk they’re willing to take on.
Evil Geniuses are likely the safest bet, but questions remain regarding their ability to get the better of the event’s very best teams in an extended series. OG may be the safest bet to actually win the event, but the team’s been just inconsistent enough to give cause for concern.
Bettors willing to take a big risk might then look to Virtus Pro. There are even fewer guarantees with this team than with the other tournament favorites, but their potential is limitless. Besides, riding with this potent side will certainly make for an interesting week of spectating.