Prelude for a Champion: A TI Primer – Invictus Gaming

Invictus Gaming hoping for a return to form to fuel deep TI run

 

With this year’s iteration of The International fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old a breakdown of who it is they’re going to be watching in Seattle. This series of posts will each be dedicated to one of the 18 teams that will be participating in The International 2017, with the aim of giving readers a brief overview of the teams, their position coming into TI, and what their expectations might be. Please note that these posts will not contain a comprehensive history of the teams, nor will they go into minute detail for each of the players. There are more thorough breakdowns for teams and players available out there, a la SirActionSlacks’ “TI Down Low” series. These posts aim to provide something more akin to an “in a nutshell” level of information. Today we focus on another directly invited team and the first of our Chinese participants – Invictus Gaming

As one of the 6 directly invited teams at TI7, IG stand as one of the strongest teams in the Dota 2 world. However, Invictus Gaming suffer from a rather interesting issue in that they come from a particularly strong and well represented region. IG is one of 5 Chinese squads at this year’s International, and as such the team may not be getting as much attention as some of the other teams from the region that have had more recent successes. While the other Chinese teams are accomplished in their own right, there is no reason to sleep on Invictus Gaming, who themselves have a legacy of TI greatness that they will be attempting to live up to in August. IG is one of 3 teams in the field of TI7 participants to have previously won The International, with the squad having claimed the Aegis of Champions back in 2012. Unfortunately, no members of that TI2 winning squad remain with the team, but while IG may be lacking in former Champions, they have veteran presence and young talent to hang their hat on. IG are actually putting a bit of a spin on the formula that many other teams at TI seem to be emulating. The Chinese squad are employing a mix of younger players and more experienced veterans, just not necessarily in the same positions as their constituents. Offlaner Xxs is just 17 years old, and IG’s mid player Op has only been in the competitive scene for about a year. However, the team’s biggest source of veteran leadership and experience actually comes at the 1 position, something that very few teams can claim. At 29 years old, BurNIng is a leading figure on IG’s roster and comes into TI7 officially as the oldest active player among the 18 teams.

IG present something of an enigma in terms of their expectations for TI, though not necessarily through any fault of their own. The team have shown stretches of consistently strong Dota against both Chinese and international opponents. However, IG play a style of Dota that is often not particularly flashy or fancy, which might explain why they haven’t received as much attention of late. While this play style may not be particularly showy or even be perceived as “dull” by some, the consistent results that it produces put IG in a strong position to perform well at TI. Perhaps Invictus Gaming do not immediately come to mind when thinking of likely TI champions, but don’t count the Chinese squad out. IG’s consistent play gives them a safe baseline in terms of TI results, but don’t be surprised if the squad make a deeper run in Seattle.

A big deal has been made so far of IG’s consistency, but it’s not without merit. In 2017, Invictus Gaming have participated in 15 major tournaments or tournament qualifiers, and they have placed no lower than 6th in any of these competitions. The team got off to a hot start in 2017, earning Top 4 finishes in 5 straight tournaments, including the Kiev Major as well as their famous victory at the Dota 2 Asia Championship 2017 in China where the team defeated OG 3-0. In recent months, IG have come down a bit, posting a series of less than stellar results. The squad struggled at the Manila Masters, narrowly defeating Clutch Gamers 2-1 before losing series against EG and Team NP to finish in the 5th/6th position. IG went on to have a middling performance at Epicenter 2017, posting a 5-5 record in the group stage before being knocked out in the quarterfinals by Team Secret to earn another 5th/6th finish. MDL 2017 rounded out the tournament season for IG, and the team only managed mid level results here. The team went 3-4 in the group stage and managed to beat Vici Gaming in the first round, but lost to fellow Chinese squad and direct invitee Newbee for yet another 5th/6th finish. IG’s level of play has maintained a relative consistency, but the recent decline in results may have lead some to doubt the Chinese powerhouse.

IG got off to a fantastic start this year, jumping out to a series of impressive performances that put the team at the top of the Chinese region. Only recently has the Chinese squad begun seeing a decline in their performance, however slight it may be. Unfortunately, this decline is coming just as many other teams are making their mark on the Dota 2 landscape, particularly rival Chinese teams. If IG are unable to right the ship before TI begins, then they could find themselves in for a disastrous result in Seattle. However, should the squad get itself back into early year form, we’ve seen that IG are more than capable of making a run for the Aegis of Champions and claiming the organization’s 2nd TI victory.

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