Secret stumbles, Liquid starts strong, and North America sits atop both groups on Day 1 in Vancouver.
TI8 has officially begun, and Day 1 of the Group Stage delivered with the high quality, exciting Dota 2 action that we’ve all been waiting to see. The 18 teams in the field got their feet wet in Vancouver and earned their first taste of action on the TI stage with the first matches of the event. At the end of the day, there were a few surprising story lines to look at, beginning with the strength with which the North American region came out on Day 1. As a whole, the 3 North American teams combined for an overall record of 9-3, and both Evil Geniuses (5-1, Group A) and VGJ.Storm (4-0, Group B) ended the day at the top of their respective groups. Right behind EG in Group A was Team Liquid, which posted a 4-2 record to start its title defense off in impressive fashion after a somewhat shaky performance in its first series against Fnatic. That Fnatic squad started strong as well on Day 1, posting a 3-1 record that has it sitting 3rd in the Group A standings. Also at 3-1 are both Newbee and Virtus.pro, as the 2 teams sit in a tie for the 2nd place position in the Group B standings. Unfortunately, not everyone found success on Day 1, as a couple of teams stumbled out of the gate in Vancouver. In Group A, VGJ.Thunder took a bit of a beating with a 1-5 record in its first 3 series while OG posted a 1-3 record to put both squads at the bottom of the standings. In Group B, 2 Top 8 ranked Pro Circuit squads had some struggles as well, with Vici Gaming going 0-4 while Team Secret posted a surprising 1-3 record to start its Group Stage campaign.
Squads ranked in the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit:
Against non-Top 8 ranked squads: 14-18 (Day 1)
Against other Top 8 squads: 4-4 (Day 1)
Combined overall record: 18-22 (Day 1)
Squads ranked outside of the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit:
Against Top 8 ranked squads: 18-14 (Day 1)
Against other non-Top 8 squads: 4-4 (Day 1)
Combined overall record: 22-18 (Day 1)
With the standings cleared up and out of the way, we can take a short look at how each of the team’s stacked up on Day 1 of the Group Stage. This section will not be particularly in depth, but VODs of the official TI streams will likely be up on Twitch and Youtube and websites like dotabuff and datdota will have match information for those looking for a more thorough examination of the matches. For each of the teams, their name, records, and daily matches will be outlined as shown below, along with a short summary and a look at their upcoming matches on Day 2.
Format: Team Name (Record for Day) (Record Overall) : [Matches for Day]
Evil Geniuses (5-1) (5-1): [Win vs VGJ.Thunder, Draw vs Invictus Gaming, Win vs Mineski]:
After a 5-1 start to its Group Stage campaign, this would be the section in which I put some sort of joke about “punks being satisfied”. In all seriousness though, Evil Geniuses began its TI8 run in nearly the best possible fashion, taking wins in 2 of its 3 series and earning a draw in the other. The team showed a level of confidence that was hard to ignore, and the North American squad was able to use that confidence to build momentum for itself and hold control over its nearly all of its matches. The only games in which the team wasn’t playing with a significant lead in the late-game stage were its sole loss of Invictus Gaming and Game 2 of its series against Mineski. In the latter, the squad put on a display of patience and resilience, coming back from a significant net worth deficit to claim a comeback win and a 2-0 series victory. The team’s play across the board was impressive, but it was Arteezy and Suma1L who seemed to step up and have the sort of huge performances that EG will desperately need to maintain its current pace through the rest of the Group Stage. The team will have a lighter load for its Day 2 schedule, playing in just 2 series against OG (1-3) and PSG.LGD (3-3) as it looks to hold on to its position at the top of the Group A standings.
Fnatic (3-1) (3-1): [Draw vs Team Liquid, Win vs VGJ.Thunder]:
Fnatic is a team that has become known for some wildly inconsistent levels of play, which is why it was particularly important for the Southeast Asian squad to try to put together a solid start to its Group Stage campaign with its 2 series on Day 1. Facing off against 2 Top 8 ranked Pro Circuit squads, the team faced a daunting challenge, but Fnatic managed to hold its own and come out with an encouraging record at the end of the day. Unfortunately, the team’s performance was still significantly inconsistent, with the squad blowing a net worth lead of nearly 10k to lose Game 1 against Team Liquid, before absolutely stomping the European squad in Game 2 with a 39-1 kill score. By the time the team’s second series rolled around, Fnatic had leveled out a bit, putting together back to back lopsided victories to pull out a 2-0 series win and a 3-1 record overall. The concerns for Fnatic will never fully go away so long as it plays with its current style, but for now the Southeast Asian squad sits in a fairly comfortable position in the Group A standings. The squad’s Day 2 schedule will see it play 2 series once again, beginning the day with a face off against regional rival Mineski (3-3). before closing things out with a series against Chinese squad Invictus Gaming (2-2).
Invictus Gaming (2-4) (2-4): [Draw vs Mineski, Draw vs Evil Geniuses, Loss vs Winstrike Team]:
Invictus Gaming came into TI 8 as a team that didn’t have a whole lot of hype surrounding it. With 5 other Chinese team in the field and a relatively weak list of results from its Pro Circuit campaign, iG was looked at as a potential weak link in Group A. Despite that, the team managed to come out with some fire on Day 1, pulling of 1-1 splits with both Mineski and Evil Geniuses, 2 teams that currently sit in the top half of the Group A standings. Unfortunately, a 0-2 loss to Winstrike Team in its final series slightly derailed the squad’s solid start, bringing its overall record down to 2-4. However, Invictus Gaming showed more fight and more promise than many might have been expecting from it, and the team may be able to make a push up the standings in the coming days. Of course, it might also be possible that iG’s opponents underestimated it, or that its play on Day 1 was the ceiling for the squad in terms of its potential level of play at TI. After Day 2, we may have a slightly more accurate measure of where the team’s potential truly lies, as Invictus Gaming will face off against 2 of the leading teams in Group A in the form of Team Liquid (4-2) and Fnatic (3-1) on the second day of play in Vancouver.
Mineski (3-3) (3-3): [Draw vs Invictus Gaming, Win vs Winstrike Team, Loss vs Evil Geniuses]:
Mineski’s Day 1 schedule had the potential to be a somewhat softer opening for Mineski to exploit as it began its Group Stage campaign, with Invictus Gaming and Winstrike Team being looked at as 2 of the weaker teams in the field while the jury still appeared to be out on Evil Geniuses’s recently changed roster. However, things didn’t quite work out that way for the Southeast Asian squad, with Mineski ending Day 1 with a 3-3 record overall. Evil Geniuses ended up being the Group A leader at the end of the day, and Invictus Gaming put up more of a fight than many may have been anticipating. A 2-0 win against Winstrike helped salvage Mineski’s record, but thing certainly could have gone better for the team. That being said, they also could have gone much worse for the Southeast Asian squad, as Mineski’s 3-3 record has it sitting in a tie for 4th place in the Group A standings with PSG.LGD. The silver lining for Mineski is that it got an impressive series of performance from Mushi across the team’s 6 games, with the veteran star averaging 10.33 kills, 3.67 deaths, and 10.67 assists per game. If Mushi can continue to lead by example and if Mineski can continue playing at or above a .500 win rate, then the squad stands a solid shot at keeping its hold over its current position in the top half of the standings. Mineski is set to play 2 series on Day 2 of the Group Stage, beginning its day against fellow Southeast Asian squad Fnatic (3-1) before facing off against OG (1-3).
OG (1-3) (1-3): [Draw vs PSG.LGD, Loss vs Team Liquid]:
OG’s first day of the Group Stage went somewhat well considering the position that the team was in on Day 1. Yes, the squad currently sits near the bottom of the Group A standings, but its 2 series on the first day of play in Vancouver brought it up against the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams on the Pro Circuit during the regular season in Team Liquid and PSG.LGD. Despite taking 3 losses on the day, OG was looking fairly confident in itself and remained somewhat competitive across its matches, even managing to snag its lone win of the Group Stage against PSG.LGD in its first series. Unfortunately, the team’s path doesn’t get any easier on Day 2 of the Group Stage, as the European squad is slated to face both Evil Geniuses (3-1) and Mineski (3-1) in its 2 scheduled series tomorrow.
PSG.LGD (3-3) (3-3): [Draw vs OG, Draw vs VGJ.Thunder, Draw vs Team Liquid]:
As the top ranked Chinese squad on the Pro Circuit and a favorite to compete for the Aegis of Champions in Vancouver, PSG.LGD entered Day 1 of the Group Stage with some lofty expectations weighing on it. Unfortuantely, the squad did not put together the kind of dominant showing that many had envisioned, as the Chinese squad sits at 3-3 at the end of its first day of play at TI8. The good news is that the team’s 3 straight draws still have it sitting in a solid position in the Group A standings, as the team is tied for 4th overall with Mineski. Also of note was the level of play that the team got from Somnus丶M, as the midlaner put up averages of 9.83 Kills, 4.33 Deaths, and 9.83 Assists across the team’s 6 games. Of course, there are still some concerns for the squad moving forward, as 2 of its opponents in OG and VGJ.Thunder were considered to be some of the weaker teams in the group. That being said, it seems somewhat hard to believe that the champion of the Chinese region won’t be able to turn things around over the course of its remaining Group Stage matches. The team’s Day 2 schedule will be a mix of opportunities and challenges for PSG.LGD, as it will begin its day against CIS squad Winstrike Team (2-2) before facing Group A leader Evil Geniuses (5-1).
Team Liquid (4-2) (4-2): [Draw vs Fnatic, Win vs OG, Draw vs PSG.LGD]:
The defending TI champions ended Day 1 with an impressive and solid record when all was said and done, but the European squad certainly scared its fans with the way its day in Vancouver began. After pulling off a comeback win in Game 1 against Fnatic, the squad suffered the worst defeat of TI8 so far with a 1-39 kill score in a Game 2 loss. That kind of brutal beating would have thrown many squads off balance, but Team Liquid was able to rally to finish its day with a win against OG and a draw against PSG.LGD to put together a 4-2 overall record. That record has the team sitting in 2nd in the Group A standings, and its performance over the second half of the day has quieted many of the doubts raised by its questionable play in its initial series. Whether it was the morning start time for the match or some jitters to begin TI8, Team Liquid appears to have put those opening struggles behind it, but the coming days will tell if the squad continues to suffer from any inconsistencies in its play. After its 3 series run to begin the Group Stage, Team Liquid will have a more laid back schedule for Day 2, with the European squad slated to play just 1 series against Invictus Gaming (2-4).
VGJ.Thunder (1-5) (1-5): [Loss vs Evil Geniuses, Draw vs PSG.LGD, Loss vs Fnatic]:
VGJ.Thunder was a squad that many had questions about as it entered TI8, as the squad has somewhat stumbled its way across the finish line to end the Pro Circuit season. With 3 games on its Day 1 schedule, the Chinese squad had the opportunity to come out of hte gates in a strong fashion and silence those doubters with a solid opening to its Group Stage campaign. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how things went for the squad, as VGJ.Thunder struggled significantly on Day 1 and cam away with just 1 win in 6 matches. The team’s schedule was not particularly kind to it though, with VGJ.Thunder facing off against Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, and Fnatic in its first 3 series of the event. The team’s play wasn’t even particularly all that bad, its just that the team gave up a couple of matches to somewhat poor drafting choices and were outplayed in a couple more of its games. The results became a 1-5 record that very realistically could have been something closer to 2-4 or 3-3 save for a few mistakes. Unfortunately, the margin for error is infinitesimally small on the biggest stage int he Dota 2 world, and VGJ.Thunder will have to shape up if it wants to bounce back from an awful Day 1 run and make an effective push up the standings. The team won’t be able to make up all of its lost ground on Day 2 though, as the Chinese squad is set to play only series against Winstrike Team (2-2).
Winstrike Team (2-2) (2-2): [Loss vs Mineski, Win vs Invictus Gaming]:
Winstrike Team entered TI8 as something of a wild card among the field of participants, as very few were fully sure of what could be expected from the CIS squad. Its late push onto the Pro Circuit scene had certainly drawn attention from the Dota 2 world, but the question of whether the squad could consistently compete with top international squads had yet to be answered. With series against Mineski and Invictus Gaming, Winstrike Team had an opportunity to test the waters against some solid squads without having to risk going up against any of the heavy hitting favorites in the field. The CIS squad pulled out a solid but not particularly impressive 2-2 record after its 2 series on Day 1, keeping itself within striking distance of a spot in the top half of the standings. After struggling significantly against Mineski but looking more confident against Invictus Gaming, the question of Winstrike Team’s ability to compete with top level teams hasn’t quite been answered yet. The team’s Day 2 schedule will give it a chance to prove itself though, as Winstrike team will face 2 teams ranked in the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit in PSG.LGD (3-3) and VGJ.Thunder (1-5).
Newbee (3-1) (3-1): [Win vs TNC Predator, Draw vs paiN Gaming]:
Newbee got handed a somewhat advantage schedule on Day 1 to help the Chinese squad get its feet wet in its TI8 campaign. While none of the team in the field in Vancouver are really weak enough to be considered a “free win”, Newbee had the benefit of facing off against 2 of the weaker squads in Group B in the form of TNC Predator and paiN Gaming. Newbee looked absolutely dominant in its series against TNC Predator, and pulled off a 1-1 split against paiN Gaming to close out its day. Newbee’s Day 1 success was due in large part to the fantastic play of kpii in the offlane, as he led the way for his squad with a combined stat-line of 36 kills, 9 deaths, and 43 assists in 4 matches. That performance helped put Newbee near the top of the standings in Group B, and the team’s 3 matches on schedule for Day 2 will provide it with the opportunity to take a commanding position within the group. Newbee will face fellow Chinese squads Vici Gaming (0-4) and Team Serenity (2-2), along with OpTic Gaming (0-2) on Day 2.
OpTic Gaming (0-2) (0-2): [Loss vs Virtus.pro]:
OpTic Gaming began its TI8 run with one of the more unfortunate schedules on Day 1 of the Group Stage, as the North American played just 1 series and had to face off against the number 1 ranked Pro Circuit squad in Virtus.pro. Despite taking a 0-2 loss against VP, OpTic Gaming put up a respectable fight in its matches and at least have some positives to build on heading into Day 2. Though OpTic Gaming will begin Day 2 near the bottom of the Group B standings, its schedule will give it multiple opportunities to secure points and potentially gain ground on its fellow group members. OpTic Gaming will face VGJ.Storm, Newbee, and TNC Predator on Day 2.
paiN Gaming (1-1) (1-1): [Draw vs Newbee]:
paiN Gaming didn’t have much on its schedule on Day 1 of the Group Stage, as the Brazilian squad played just a single series against Chinese squad Newbee. While many see paiN Gaming as one of the weaker teams within the group, the South American squad managed to hold its own in its only matches of the day and came away with a 1-1 split against Newbee. The team’s 1 series for the day meant that paiN Gaming wasn’t going to be sitting at the top of the Group B standings no matter what happened on Day 1. However, the draw keeps the squad in a solid position, and keeps it within striking distance of the Group B leaders if it can pull off a stronger performance in its Day 2 matches. With 3 series on the docket for paiN Gaming on Day 2, the Brazilian squad has a big opportunity to make or break its Group Stage campaign. The team will face off against TNC Predator (2-2), Team Secret (1-3), and VGJ.Storm (4-0) on Day 2.
Team Secret (1-3) (1-3): [Draw vs Team Serenity, Loss vs VGJ.Storm]:
Day 1 did exactly go to plan for Team Secret, as the European squad faced some struggles in its initial Group Stage matches. The team was run over in its first match against Team Serenity, but pulled off a stomp of its own to salvage a 1-1 draw in the series. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum didn’t carry over into its series against VGJ.Storm, as the North American squad handed it back to back defeats for a 0-2 loss. Despite the somewhat discouraging record on Day 1, Team Secret’s performance was not necessarily as bad as one may assume. The big problem for the European squad was inconsistency more than just simple bad play, as the team turned in a couple of solid showing despite winning just 1 of its matches on Day 1. Day 2 will be a pivotal point for Team Secret in the Group Stage, as the squad’s 3 series will likely set the tone for the remainder of its series through into the Main Event. The team’s schedule will begin with a tough challenge against Virtus.pro (3-1), before the squad faces a duo of somewhat weaker opponents in paiN Gaming (1-1) and Vici Gaming (0-4) to close out the day.
Team Serenity (2-2) (2-2): [Draw vs Team Secret, Draw vs Virtus.pro]:
Out of all of the teams in the field at TI8, Team Serenity was likely the one that most fans considered to be the weakest or had the least confidence in. The team had not made any Pro Circuit appearances, and had very limited experience as a roster outside of the Chinese region. It appears that many may have underestimated the Chinese squad though, as Team Serenity put together an impressive performance on the first day of the Group Stage and took draws against both Virtus.pro and Team Secret, 2 of the Top 4 ranked teams on the Pro Circuit. The team’s style on Day 1 could best be described as a “feast or famine” sort of strategy, as Team Serenity either stomped or was stomped across its 4 matches. That kind of inconsistency is somewhat concerning moving forward, but any team capable of taking convincing wins against both Team Secret and VP certainly would seem to have the talent to find further success in Group B. After opening its Group Stage campaign with matches against international opponents, Team Serenity will face more familiar faces on Day 2 with matches against 2 of its regional rivals in Vici Gaming (0-4) and Newbee (3-1).
TNC Predator (2-2) (2-2): [Loss vs Newbee, Win vs Vici Gaming]:
TNC Predator came into TI8 somewhat under the radar, as the Southeast Asian squad was exactly a favorite to make a run at the Aegis of Champions in Vancouver. With a Day 1 schedule featuring matches against 2 Chinese teams, the team had a crucial opportunity to get its Group Stage off to a strong start and build up some much needed momentum in its group. Despite a rough series against Newbee to begin the day, the SEA squad pulled itself together against Vici Gaming and managed to even out its record at 2-2. A .500 record across the Group Stage as a whole may not be enough to get into the upper half of the standings, but its a solid start for the team heading into the heart of its Group Stage schedule. With the team set to play 3 series on Day 2, TNC Predator has a chance to catapult itself to the top of the Group B standings if it can put together a winning record across those series. That feat will be much easier said than done for TNC Predator, as the squad is set to play paiN Gaming (1-1), Virtus.pro (3-1), and OpTic Gaming (0-2) on Day 2.
VGJ.Storm (4-0) (4-0): [Win vs Vici Gaming, Win vs Team Secret]:
VGJ.Storm stormed out of the gate to begin TI8, as the North American squad finds itself sitting at the top of the Group B standings with a perfect 4-0 record after Day 1. The team proved dominant in its matches, holding net worth leads from the laning stage on in 3 of its 4 games. The only game in which the team needed to play from behind was Game 1 against Team Secret, and in that scenario the squad was able to turn things around in the late-game and establish near complete control over the pace of play to secure another win. VGJ.Storm’s 3 core players combined to create a balanced and incredibly dangerous 3 pronged attack that its opponents failed to fully counter. If the squad can continue to get consistent and solid showing from all of its cores, then its hard to see VGJ.Storm slipping from its spot in the top half of the standings. However, there is quite a lot of time and matches left in the Group Stage, and VGJ.Storm will have to show that it can maintain this impressive level of play moving forward. The North American team will play 2 series on Day 2 of the Group Stage, facing off against regional rival OpTic Gaming (0-2) and South American squad paiN Gaming (1-1).
Vici Gaming (0-4) (0-4): [Loss vs VGJ.Storm, Loss vs TNC Predator]:
Things went about as poorly as possible for Vici Gaming on Day 1 of the Group Stage, as the Chinese squad struggled significantly in its first matches at TI8. The team was playing from behind in all but 1 of its matches, and could never seem to build up any significant levels of momentum for itself. The Chinese squad appeared to have difficulties adjusting to early pressure and aggression from its opponent, which is a rather massive concern for it heading into the next few days of the Group Stage. Vici Gaming’s 0-4 record doesn’t bode well for it, but there’s still plenty of time to turn things around if the squad can rally from this unfortunate start to its campaign. Its Day 2 schedule won’t be any easier than its previous matches though, as Vici Gaming will begin the day with series against regional rivals Newbee (3-1) and Team Serenity (2-2), before facing off against Team Secret (1-3).
Virtus.pro (3-1) (3-1): [Win vs OpTic Gaming, Draw vs Team Serenity]:
Expectations were high for Virtus.pro heading into TI8, as the CIS squad was the top ranked team on the Pro Circuit and came to Vancouver as a favorite to claim the Aegis of Champions. The team didn’t fail to disappoint on Day 1 of the Group Stage, putting together a 3-1 record across its first 2 series that has it sitting near the top of the Group B standings. A late-game comeback in Game 1 combined with a bit of a stomp in Game 2 helped earn VP a 2-0 win against OpTic Gaming to begin the day, but the squad missed out on a perfect Day 1 record with a surprise 1-1 draw against Team Serenity in its second series. Much might be made about that loss to the Chinese squad, but as it stands right now there isn’t much to worry about for VP. Team Serenity pulled off an incredibly aggressive strategy against a slower VP draft, and from everything we’ve seen from the CIS squad so far this season, it seems unlikely that the team gets outmaneuvered like that enough times to present a legitimate weakness. The team’s Day 2 schedule will present its fair share of obstacles with series against both Team Secret (1-3) and TNC Predator (2-2), but those series will provide VP with a solid shot at laying claim to a commanding position int eh Group B standings heading into the second half of the Group Stage.
Day 2 Notable Matches
Of course, just about all of the matches at TI8 will likely be worth your time to watch, but I understand that many like to pay particular attention to matches that have a little more weight or star-power behind them. With that in mind, here is a list of some of the more prominent match ups on the Day 2 schedule, either because of a team’s position in the standings or the caliber of the teams/players involved.
Group B Series 3: Team Secret (1-3) vs Virtus.pro (3-1)
Originally, this series was slated as a match up of note due to the fact that it was a clash between 2 of the Top 4 ranked teams on the Pro Circuit. While that continues to be the case, the series has also taken on an additional level of importance due to Team Secret’s less than ideal start to the Group Stage on Day 1. The European squad will enter this match up with a 1-3 overall record, and a loss would potentially drop it into dangerous territory at 1-5 that would make wins in the team’s other 2 Day 2 series essentially required to avoid falling to the bottom of the Group B standings. Meanwhile, a win or tie for VP would allow it to either 4-2 or 5-1 with just 1 other series to play on Day 2, putting the CIS squad in an even more comfortable position in the standings.
Group B Series 3: VGJ.Storm (4-0) vs OpTic Gaming (0-2)
The VGJ.Storm vs OpTic Gaming match up is fast becoming one of the most exciting within the North American region, and the 2 squads are set to duke it out once again, this time at the biggest stage in the Dota 2 world. The teams have played each other 9 times with their current rosters, with VGJ.Storm having won the last 6 meetings. The standings also come into play here once again, as VGJ.Storm could improve its already impressive position at the top of Group B with a win or draw while OpTic Gaming is still looking for its first win after losing its only Day 1 series against Virtus.pro.
Group A Series 4: Evil Geniuses (5-1) vs OG (1-3)
Evil Geniuses and OG currently stand at near complete opposite ends of the Group A standings, with the North American squad holding down the 1st place position and the European team sitting in 8th overall. Right off the bat, there is a lot to play for for both teams. A win or tie for EG would help the squad maintain or even extend its lead within the Group A standings, while OG is in need of any amount of points to begin its own climb up the ranks. Also of particular note for this match up is that it will be the first time that S4 and Fly will play against their former team since the players’ highly publicized move to the EG organization back in May. Every game matters at TI, but the opportunities for players on both sides to potentially get a win against their former teammates may add another layer to this series that should make for some incredible Dota to watch.
Group B Series 4: Vici Gaming (0-4) vs Team Serenity (2-2)
By the time Vici Gaming enters this series, its record will not be the 0-4 one that it ended Day 1 with, as the team will have played Newbee in its first series of Day 2. Should Vici Gaming claim a win against its regional rival in that prior series, then this match up loses a bit of its drama value. However, given the squad’s struggles so far and Newbee’s relative strength to open up its Group Stage campaign, Vici Gaming seems likely to come out of that series with either a 1-5 or 0-6 record. Should that come to pass, then this series against Team Serenity becomes incredibly important for Vici Gaming in terms of its place in the standings, its sense of momentum, and the team’s morale as a whole. Team Serenity was widely considered to be one of the weaker teams in the field at TI8, and certainly the weakest among the 6 Chinese squads in attendance. If Vici Gaming can’t manage to put together a draw or win against this fellow Chinese squad, then things will certainly look grim for the squad moving forward. As for Team Serenity, anything other than a loss will keep the team at or above a .500 win rate heading into its own match up with Newbee to end its Day 2 schedule. The chance to keep itself even or positive in terms of its record and maintain a spot in the top half of the standings, all at the expense of a regional rival, will be a tantalizing opportunity for the squad.
Group A Series 5: Evil Geniuses (5-1) vs PSG.LGD (3-3)
A match up between the team currently at the top of the Group A standings and the 2nd ranked squad on the Pro Circuit is certainly the kind of high level action that Dota 2 fans clamor for during TI season, and the EG vs PSG.LGD series will certainly deliver on that. EG was on a tea on Day 1 of the Group Stage, dropping just a single game and looking remarkably confident and coordinated in the process. Meanwhile, PSG.LGD hit a few bumps in the road to start its TI journey with 3 straight 1-1 splits across its first 3 series. Of course, we say PSG.LGD pull itself back together after a meltdown exponentially more disastrous than this slightly disappointing start in Vancouver, and the Chinese squad and multiple Major Champion has shown us all what they are capable of when they are playing at their best. Of course, by the time these 2 squads ends up playing their series, both will have slightly different records, as EG plays OG and PSG.LGD plays Winstrike Team in the first series of the day in Group A. However, those changes to their records won’t have much of an effect on the level of play of the 2 squads as these 2 titans will clash in Vancouver. The question will be whether Evil Geniuses’ considerable momentum holds against the Chinese squad, or if PSG.LGD will be able to return to form in time to reclaim its place at the top and put and end to march of the North American team.
Group A Series 5: VGJ.Thunder (1-5) vs Winstrike Team (2-2)
No team can eliminate itself from the Group Stage on Day 1 of the event, but VGJ.Thunder seemed to get about as close as one could with its disastrous performance to open its TI8 run. While the squad salvaged 1 win across its 3 series, the team simply couldn’t get much done and struggled significantly. With this series against Winstrike Team being VGJ.Thunder’s only match up on Day 2, it will likely have an elevated impact on the team’s morale as it heads into the halfway point of the Group Stage. A loss would drop the team down to 1-7, and would cast a grim shadow over its remaining series on Days 3 and 4. However, a draw would keep the squad in a slightly less depressing position, and a win could move it out of 9th place entirely and would be far more effective at kindling hope for a surge in the back half of the team’s schedule. On the other side of the match up, Winstrike Team will come into this series after playing against PSG.LGD, and will likely be sitting with a record of either 3-3 or 2-4. In either scenario, a chance to play against a struggling VGJ.Thunder squad would give the CIS team an opportunity to bounce back and improve its position in Group B, and potentially even keep pace with some of the squads that will be fighting for the final spots in the top half of the standings.
Group B Series 5: Vici Gaming (0-4) vs Team Secret (1-3)
So, both of these squads have already been put on this list once before, and in those sections I described the relatively poor situations that both squads find themselves in. This match up at the very end of Day 2 has the potential to be wildly different in terms of its scope and stakes depending on how the rest of the day has gone, which makes it something of a wild card match that should be incredibly entertaining to watch. By the time this series begins, Team Secret could have anywhere between 1 and 5 wins, and Vici Gaming could sit between 0 and 4. If we assume that the 2 squads won all of their previous matches on Day 2, then this series becomes a clash between a 5-3 Team Secret and a 4-4 Vici Gaming, likely for a spot near the divide between the top and bottom halves of the Group B standings. If the teams both lose all of their prior games, then a 1-7 Team Secret and a 0-8 Vici Gaming will face off in what is essentially a must-win game for both squads if they want to avoid elimination in the Group Stage. Whether its 1 scenario, the other, or anything in between, this game will still be a match up between 2 Top 8 ranked squads on the Pro Circuit. No matter their records, these 2 teams have shown us displays of incredible skill and talent this season, and they’re likely to do so again on the biggest stage in the Dota 2 world.