Major Storylines Going Into Dota 2’s TI10 Main Event
After an exciting four days of group stages, the Dota 2 TI10 main event stage looks like an even contest among old favorites and rookie squads who are vying for the greatest accomplishment in Dota 2: the Aegis of Champions. The International’s trophy contains a decade of storied competition with the names of players and teams inscribed each year to immortalize their historic victory as one of the best Dota 2 teams in history. With a $40 million prize pool, and over $18 million going to the winners alone, TI10 will be one of the highest paying esports events in history, rivaling 2019’s The International, which distributed over $34 million to its competitors.
The results of the group stages have led to the formation of some interesting narratives at TI10. The upper bracket contains a mix of rookie squads and regional favorites, while the lower bracket sees every team from North and South America fighting for their tournament life against opponents of fluctuating ability. For the first time in a long time, there’s no statistical favorite to win TI10, leaving everyone to go with their gut about who will win, which always makes for some exciting stories for Dota 2’s most prestigious event.
TI10 Main Event – Bracket Preview
Before we go into the major narratives developing at TI10, we should look at both the upper and lower brackets for TI10’s main event. If at any point you want to look at the brackets, you can check out Liquipedia’s entry for TI10.
The following teams will be playing against each other in best-of-3 matches to move on to the next round.
- Invictus Gaming vs. Team Spirit
- Team Secret vs. OG
- PSG.LGD vs. T1
- Virtus.pro vs. Vici Gaming
The following teams will be playing against each other in a single-elimination round to continue their run at TI10. Teams that win their matches will face the losers of the first round of upper bracket matches.
- Team Undying vs. Fnatic
- Quincy Crew vs. Team Aster
- Beastcoast vs. Alliance
- Evil Geniuses vs. Elephant
Now that we have a better understanding of each team’s standing let’s look at some developing narratives going into the main event of Dota 2’s TI10.
The Chinese Dream of a TI10 Champion
It’s been five years since a Chinese team won The International. While it was common for Chinese teams to win The International every other year, the trend was bucked once OG won The International twice in 2018 and 2019. The Chinese region has historically provided many competitors at all TI events, with there never being less than four Chinese teams at The International historically.
TI8 saw the most Chinese teams competing at The International with six individual teams out of 18 teams total. China would also have the most players at the event, with a whopping 27 players present. For comparison’s sake, the next country with the most representatives would be the Philippines, with eight players competing.
Due to the pandemic, the Chinese region has isolated itself significantly from the rest of the world, focusing on keeping domestic competition active to prepare teams for TI10. This insularity has led Chinese teams such as Elephant and Team Aster to dominate in their region despite their lack of experience at international events. These two teams are perhaps the biggest obstacle for a Chinese win at TI10’s main event, as any Chinese team playing against Elephant and Aster in the lower bracket are likely to lose. At the same time, Aster and Elephant are certain to lose their matches against non-Chinese opponents.
Vici Gaming, Invictus Gaming, and PSG.LGD are all currently in the upper bracket of TI10’s main event and will probably see each other in the second round of the upper bracket. If Elephant and Aster can make it all the way to round 4 of the lower bracket, this could spell disaster for China.
PSG.LGD is currently the favorite team to win TI10, and their first match of the main event is against T1, who they’ve historically done well against. Vici Gaming and Invictus Gaming have harder matches ahead of them as both Team Spirit and Virtus.pro seem to be in a good position to force their matches into game three.
While every TI has seen Chinese teams succeeding in the upper bracket, they tend to lose their grit after being dropped into the lower bracket by their countrymen, allowing western teams the comeback momentum they need to go further in the tournament. It’s likely that PSG.LGD will eliminate Vici Gaming on their way to the main event’s grand final and slowly cull the number of Chinese teams looking to make it to the grand finals as they face surprise pocket picks that they aren’t prepared to play against.
The American Nightmare
TI10 will be the first time since 2013 that a team from the Americas region will not be in the upper bracket of a main event at The International. What’s even more interesting is how these four Americas region teams ended up in the lower bracket in the first place.
Beastcoast’s relegation to the lower bracket came about due to their loss to Team Spirit, a rookie squad from CIS that’s made an impressive showing at TI10. Beastcoast needed a win against Team Spirit to remain in the top 4 teams of their group, especially since they would have their final group stage match against PSG.LGD, the strongest team in Group B, likely that match would have resulted in a loss for the Peruvian team.
Quincy Crew sadly was unable to win enough matches to make it in the top 4, with half of their matches ending in losses and the remaining half split between ties and wins.
Over in Group A, a more sinister tale was brewing.
With three teams tied for fourth place in Group A, both Team Undying and Evil Geniuses would need a won series to force a tiebreaker against SEA team T1, who were likely to win their match against Thunder Predator. With the last match for both teams being against each other, a straightforward 2-0 victory would keep an upper bracket dream alive for either team. Evil Geniuses were favored to win the match, but the unexpected ended up happening.
Much to the chagrin of North American fans, Team Undying lived up to their name. After losing game 1, Team Undying drafted a disruptive, reactive, and control-heavy line-up with strong Aghanim’s Scepter and Shard upgrades for their heroes.
With the Aegis on Arteezy, EG would shove in Undying’s lanes looking to go high ground against Undying. However, Undying would smoke into EG, forcing out a fight that left Arteezy isolated while Timado’s Weaver quickly deleted the rest of EG’s squad thanks to Saberlight’s crucial plays. With no way of returning to the game, EG would see their base and heroes demolished by Weaver’s Divine Rapier, ending the series 1-1 and keeping both teams out of the upper bracket at TI10’s main event.
With all Americas region teams in the lower bracket, the possibility of an American champion at TI10 is at risk. TI10 will be the first time Evil Geniuses will be competing in the lower bracket of the main event at The International, which either foretells the decline of North American Dota 2 or suggests that the Evil Genius method of competition is on its way out.
The CIS Rookie Year
Rookie wins at The International are perhaps the most entertaining stories at The International. SumaiL’s win during his rookie year was the most compelling story to come out of TI5, and Wings Gaming shocked audiences when they surged through the upper bracket eliminating their opponents in quick 2-0 contests except for that year’s Digital Chaos. Players like ana, MATUMBAMAN, and Topson were able to win The International in their first year of high-profile, tier-one competition. Now, Team Spirit and Virtus.pro look to do the same with rosters filled to the brim with rookie players.
Team Spirit’s players are currently some of the youngest players competing at this year’s TI10, and it will be the first time four of their players will be competing at The International’s main event. Team Spirit’s carry player Illya ‘Yatoro’ Mulyarchuk is only 18, only two years older than SumaiL when he won TI5 at 16.
Virtus.pro is currently fielding its youngest roster in years, composed of players from Virtus.pro’s academy team, VP.Prodigy. VP’s youngest player is Egor ‘Nightfall’ Grigorenko, formerly known as epileptick1d, who has been competing for VP since 2019, back when he was just 17. The current Virtus.pro roster shows a lot of promise, executing plays with precision unseen from the CIS region in years. However, the team’s relative inexperience on LAN and young age have many doubting their potential to go all the way.
Unfortunately, Team Spirit and Virtus.pro debuting their young rosters against stiff competition from China. Both teams could likely see themselves quickly sent to the lower bracket due to their inexperience. However, both teams could easily come back in the lower bracket if Chinese teams are absent, resulting in either Virtus.pro or Team Spirit in the lower bracket final.
Other Stories Going into TI10’s Main Event
While these three narratives are perhaps the most compelling for this year’s TI10, some other teams have compelling stories of their own.
Fnatic’s Dark Horse Run
Fnatic has shown themselves to be quite resilient as they’ve adapted to the strongest contenders. Their 2-0 win against Team Secret surprised many, even though Secret’s drafts had them at a small disadvantage. Fnatic has also shown that they’re more prepared than many gave them credit for by tying several of their series against teams like Vici Gaming, Elephant, and Quincy Crew. A Fnatic dark horse run in the lower bracket of TI10’s main event is entirely possible.
The Lone South American Survivor
With Thunder Predator and SG esports eliminated from TI10, beastcoast are the only South American team at the main event. While they’re unlikely to go all the way to the grand finals, beastcoast can at least hope for a top 8 finish at the event, especially if their opponents in round two are T1. A top 8 finish would keep South America within expectations for results at The International, as 7th-8th is the best result a South American team has achieved at TI, with the current beastcoast squad achieving that result in 2019.
Alliance’s Redemption Run
Alliance has been on a decline since their win at The International 2013. Since then, with perhaps their strongest roster, Alliance have set their sights solely on another win at The International. However, their rather lackluster showing at TI10’s group stages saw them drop into the lower bracket. Alliance has a long road ahead of them if they want to make it to the grand finals of TI10’s main event, but it would be a fairy tale run if they’re able to go all the way.
With the main event set to commence soon, it’ll be exciting to see how these stories play out.