Prelude for a Champion: A TI Primer – Planet Dog/Hellraisers

Planet Dog looking for spectacular introduction to Dota 2 world at TI

Edit: Since the posting of this blog, Planet Dog has been signed by the orgnaization “Hellraisers”. Any references to Planet Dog in this post refer to the team now playing as Hellraisers.

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 the second European team to qualify for TI7, and a team that most Dota fans may be unfamiliar with – Planet Dog.

Planet Dog comes to The International via the European Qualifier, having finished in 2nd place and securing a slot in Seattle. It’s worth noting that Planet Dog’s path to TI took a slightly longer path than most of the other teams, as the squad had to fight its way through the Open Qualifiers in order to reach the main European Qualifier. Planet Dog is one of just 2 teams at TI to have come through the Open Qualifier for its region. Planet Dog has gone through quite an ordeal to win its spot at TI, but the squad is probably still one that you are unfamiliar with, and that’s not necessarily your fault. 4 of the team’s 5 players left their previous organization in June, with the final member of the roster, Switfending, being added the next day. While 4 members of Planet Dog previously played as ProDota Gaming, the changing of even a single player can drastically alter a team’s playstyle, especially when the change comes at the 1 position like it has for this team.

Planet Dog does not have an extensive list of results with its new roster, having formed just prior to the TI Qualifiers. However, the squad has already shown some degree of mental focus and fortitude by making runs through both of the Open Qualifiers for the European region. The made it all the way to the final series of the first European Open Qualifier, only to come up short, forcing the squad to try again in the second Qualifier. Though Planet Dog did make it through this second qualifier to move on to the main regional qualifier, the ordeal has the squad play 25 matches over 4 days. If nothing else, Planet Dog has proven that they have the mental and physical endurance to put up a fight at TI.

Planet Dog is a hard team to judge in terms of expectations heading into TI. The team formed for the TI Qualifiers, but aside from that there aren’t many other results or performances to look at. Because of this, it’s difficult to say that Planet Dog can expect a strong result in Seattle. However, one could certainly say that the team’s hopes are high entering TI7. Planet Dog held its own in the European Qualifier, but the field at TI should prove to be a step above that the the European group. It remains to be seen if Planet Dog’s regional success will carry over onto the Dota world’s biggest stage. Planet Dog may not be a primary threat to win TI7, but they are a team that can still have a large impact on the standings. This squad is more than capable of taking a series against another team in the field, potentially playing the role of spoiler for a team with higher expectations of success.

Planet Dog’s recent results consist of the Open Qualifiers, the subsequent regional qualifiers, and a single lower level European tournament. It’s not a lot to really go on, but the team’s results in these events do project a positive image of the team’s abilities going into TI. As previously mentioned, the European squad placed 2nd in the TI7 European Open Qualifier #1, before finishing 1st in Open Qualifier #2. At the European regional Qualifier, the team posted a 6-3 record that got it into the playoff stage. After losing 1-2 to Mousesports in the first round, the team fought back through the lower bracket to force a rematch with Mousesports that Planet Dog was able to win to earn a spot at TI. The only other tournament performance for the team was in the ProDota Cup Europe #19, where Planet Dog placed in 3rd place. However, it should be noted that the 3rd place finish came because Planet Dog forfeited its lower bracket final match against Danish Bears.

Planet Dog present what has to be the biggest mystery in terms of the teams in the field at The International 2017. Though some may have been familiar with the squad when it played as ProDota Gaming, the roster changes mean that one cannot assume that the team will employ the same strategies and playstyles going forward. The team’s small pool of recent games could serve as a blessing as some teams may not have a set gameplan for playing against it. Regardless of whether teams are preparing for it or not, the situation places Planet Dog, somewhat aptly, in the role of underdogs in Seattle.

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