The International 2018 Group Stage Recap – Day 2

Day 2 in Vancouver sees North America remains on top, TNC Predator, Vici Gaming surge in Group B at half way mark of Group Stage.

The action at TI8 rolled on as the second day of play brought even more excitement and high quality Dota, along with some changes to the standings in the Group Stage. Sitting at the halfway mark of the 4 day Group Stage, we’ve seen some surprising twists and turns in terms of where teams are positioned in the standings. The North American region continues to be dominant after the conclusion of Day 2, as both Evil Geniuses (9-1) and VGJ.Storm (7-1) still stand atop their respective groups. In Group A, the top half of the standings didn’t change much, with EG (9-1), Team Liquid (5-3), Fnatic (5-3), and PSG.LGD (5-5) still holding down the top 4 spots. However, the bottom half of the group certainly heated up on Day 2, with VGJ.Thunder (3-5) recovering slightly from its awful start on Day 1 while Winstrike Team (2-6) ran into some significant difficulties in its matches. Speaking of stumbles, Group B wasn’t without its own either, as paiN Gaming (3-5) found itself dropping into a 3 way tie for 7th place with Team Serenity (3-5) and OpTic Gaming (3-5). While those squads languished at the bottom of the standings, TNC Predator (6-4) and Vici Gaming (4-6) found themselves enjoying rather impressive jumps up those standings. Both squads posted 4-2 records, with TNC Predator moving up from a tie for 4th place into 2nd and Vici Gaming moving from 9th to a tie for 5th overall.

Squads ranked in the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit:
Against non-Top 8 ranked squads: 11-11 (Day 2); 25-29 (Cumulative)
Combined overall record: 17-17 (Day 2); 35-39 (Cumulative)

Squads ranked outside of the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit:
Against Top 8 ranked squads: 11-11 (Day 2); 29-25 (Cumulative)
Combined overall record: 23-23(Day 2); 45-41 (Cumulative)

 

Standings

Group A

Pos. Team Record
1st Evil Geniuses    Evil Geniuses 9-1
T-2nd Fnaticlogo    Fnatic 5-3
T-2nd 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017    Team Liquid 5-3
4th PSG LGD    PSG.LGD 5-5
T-5th 600px-Mineski-dota_logo    Mineski 4-6
T-5th 600px-Ig_logo    Invictus Gaming 4-6
T-7th 425px-OG_RB_Logo    OG 3-5
T-7th VGJ Thunder small VGJ.Thunder 3-5
9th Winstrike Team Winstrike Team 2-6

Group B

Pos. Team Record
1st VGJ Storm small     VGJ.Storm 7-1
2nd Tncproteam       TNC Predator 6-4
3rd Virtus Pro       Virtus.pro 5-3
4th Newbee_logo       Newbee 5-5
T-5th Vici Gaming small       Vici Gaming 4-6 
T-5th Secret_logo Team Secret 4-6
T-7th OpTic_Gaming    OpTic Gaming 3-5
T-7th paiN Gaming alt    paiN Gaming 3-5
T-7th Team Serenity  Team Serenity 3-5 

Team Performances

With the standings updated at the halfway mark of the Group Stage, we can take a short look at how each of the team’s stacked up on Day 2 of the action in Vancouver. 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 3.

Format: Team Name (Record for Day) (Record Overall): [Matches for Day]

Group A

Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses (4-0) (9-1): [Win vs OG, Win vs PSG.LGD]:

The run of dominance continued for Evil Geniuses in Day 2, as the squad put together back to back victories in its Day 2 series to improve its record to an incredible 9-1 at the halfway mark of the Group Stage. The squad has been absolutely insane in its play so far, consistently out performing its opponents and maintaining control over its matches. With 9 wins to its name and just 3 series remaining in the Group Stage, it appears highly unlikely that Evil Geniuses drops low enough to miss out on a spot in the top half of the Group A standings and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. It would take a meltdown of astronomical proportions to derail the North American squad now, and that kind of drop off is something that I wouldn’t necessarily count on in Vancouver. EG will play 2 series on Day 3 on the Group Stage, as it looks to lock down its position with matches against the struggling Winstrike Team (2-6) and the formidable Team Liquid (5-3).

Fnaticlogo Fnatic (2-2) (5-3): [Draw vs Mineski, Draw vs Invictus Gaming]:

After a solid 3-1 start to the Group Stage on Day 1, Fnatic following things up with a solid 2-2 record in its Day 2 series. The team’s performance wasn’t particularly outstanding against Mineski and Invictus Gaming, but with a team like Fnatic that is known for its inconsistent play, holding even in terms of its Day 2 record has to be seen as a positive. The Southeast Asian squad’s record is a positive in the Group A standings as well, as Fnatic’s 2 wins moved it up 1 spot from 3rd to a tie for 2nd behind Evil Geniuses. With 3 series scheduled for Day 3, Fnatic has a big opportunity to cement its place in the top half of the Group A standings, especially considering the records of its upcoming opponents. The squad is set to begin the day with a match up against a struggling OG (3-5), before taking on a somewhat under performing PSG.LGD (5-5) squad and finishing the day with a series against Winstrike Team (2-6).

600px-Ig_logo Invictus Gaming (2-2) (4-6): [Draw vs Team Liquid, Draw vs Fnatic]:

Invictus Gaming’s Day 2 performance was actually surprisingly strong considering the team’s that the Chinese squad had to fight against, as iG faced off against both Team Liquid and Fnatic. In the face of 2 of Group A’s leading teams, Invictus Gaming held its own and managed to pull of draws against both opponents to bring its overall record up to 4-6. The team’s cores led the way for iG, as both Xxs and Agressif pulled out impressive performances across its 4 games to guide the squad to its 2-2 record on Day 2. At 4-6 overall, Invictus Gaming sits in a tie for 5th place in Group A, and is still a potential threat for a spot in the top half of the standings at the halfway mark of the Group Stage. At this stage of the event, it appears that Invictus Gaming’s performance is more than just a simple fluke or a temporary surge, but the squad’s Day 3 schedule will truly determine if the squad can separate itself from the weaker teams in the group. Invictus Gaming will begin its Day 3 schedule against a duo of struggling squads in VGJ.Thunder (3-5) and OG (3-5), before closing out the day with a final series against PSG.LGD (5-5).

600px-Mineski-dota_logo Mineski (1-3) (4-6): [Draw vs Fnatic, Loss vs OG]:

Mineski’s 3-3 record to start Day 2 had the team sitting in a solid position in the Group A standings, but the Southeast Asian squad needed to keep its momentum going in order to maintain that position heading into the halfway point of the Group Stage. With 2 series to play on Day 2, the squad had an opportunity to make another jump up the standings and potentially push itself into one of the leading positions in Group A. Instead, Mineski put together a somewhat underwhelming performance in those series, splitting its matches against regional rival Fnatic before suffering a 0-2 loss to OG. The good news for Mineski is that its single win on the day still proved enough to keep it in a decent position, although the squad did fall one spot down to sit outside of the top half of the Group A standings. The team’s play on Day 2 certainly wasn’t as strong or consistent as some may have been hoping for, but things don’t appear to be turning against Mineski just yet. The squad will have an opportunity to turn things around with another 2 series on Day 3 against Team Liquid (5-3) and VGJ.Thunder (3-5).

425px-OG_RB_Logo OG (2-2) (3-5): [Loss vs Evil Geniuses, Win vs Mineski]:

Day 1 of the Group Stage had been a near disaster for OG, as the European squad ended the day near the bottom of the Group A standings with a 1-3 record. With 2 series on its schedule on Day 2, OG was presented with a solid opportunity to potentially bounce back from its rough start and make a move up the standings. Unfortunately, the squad began its day with a 0-2 loss to the Group A leader, Evil Geniuses, which seemed to cast something of a shadow over its efforts for the day. However, the European squad managed to turn things around with a surprising 2-0 win over Southeast Asian squad MIneski in its final series of the day. Between this win over Mineski and its 1-1 split against PSG.LGD on Day 1, OG are showing all of the signs of being capable of taking on some of the stronger teams in the field and are holding out hope for a surge over the second half of the Group Stage. However, 0-2 losses to both Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses display a level of inconsistency put a small constraint on those hopes and keep the expectations relatively modest for the squad moving forward. At 3-5, OG sit near the bottom of the Group A standings, but Day 3 presents an opportunity for the European squad to make its push for a more favorable position with 3 series on the schedule. The squad will start Day 3 with a tough match up against Fnatic (5-3), before facing 2 struggling squads in the form of Invictus Gaming (4-6) and VGJ.Thunder (3-5) to close out the day.

PSG LGD PSG.LGD (2-2) (5-5): [Win vs Winstrike Team, Loss vs Evil Geniuses]:

After posting a 3-3 record on the first day of play in Vancouver, Day 2 represented a chance for PSG.LGD to bounce back and return to the top of the standings in Group A. To a certain degree, the Chinese squad was successful in reaching that goal, as the team continues to sit in 4th place in the Group A standings. Unfortunately, its 2-2 record on the day still comes as something of a disappointment, though the results may not have been completely unexpected. PSG.LGD made relatively easy work of Winstrike Team in its first series for a 2-0 victory, but struggled against Evil Geniuses in its subsequent series and suffered a 0-2 defeat. Considering just how well the North American squad has played so far, that kind of result doesn’t look nearly as bad as it might have just a few weeks, or even days, ago. That being said, PSG.LGD still stands in the middle of the pack in Group A, which has to be considered slightly disappointing in light of the fact that many viewed the  Chinese squad as a favorite heading into TI8. It’s not quite time to panic yet though, as PSG.LGD still has time to put together a surge and finish strong with 2 days left in the Group Stage. The squad’s Day 3 schedule will see it play 2 series, beginning with a match up against Fnatic (5-3) and concluding with a fight against a regional rival in Invictus Gaming (4-6).

600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017 Team Liquid (1-1) (5-3): [Draw vs Invictus Gaming]:

After a strong start on Day 1, Team Liquid had a much more laid back schedule on Day 2 of the Group Stage, with just a single series against Chinese squad Invictus Gaming. Despite incredible performances from MinD_ConRoL in both matches, Team Liquid couldn’t quite pull off a win in the series and split its games against iG 1-1. With just 1 series on its schedule for the day, it was unlikely that Team Liquid moved significantly in either direction in terms of its position in the standings. That being said, picking up the 1 point from a draw is a solid result for the team that keeps it in the top half of the Group A standings. After its lighter Day 2 schedule, things are set to get busier for Team Liquid heading into Game 3, as the team will play 3 series against Mineski (4-6), Winstrike Team (2-6), and Evil Geniuses (9-1) tomorrow.

VGJ Thunder small VGJ.Thunder (2-0) (3-5): [Win vs Winstrike Team]:

Following what was one of the worst performances among the participating teams on Day 1, VGJ.Thunder was already in desperate need for a win as it entered Day 2 of the Group Stage. With just 1 series on its schedule for the day, the Chinese squad needed at least 1 win, both for the sake of its position in the Group A and for the team’s overall morale and mental state. Fortunately for the squad, it faced off against one of the weaker teams in the field in Winstrike Team, and managed to come away with a 2-0 win in that series. The team finally looked confident in its Day 2 matches, and that confidence translated into stronger play as the squad improved its previously abysmal 1-5 record into a slightly more respectable 3-5. That victory and the team’s improved record moved it out of the basement in the Group A standings, as the squad moved up into a tie for 7th place. The day went about as well as it possibly could have for VGJ.Thunder, but the Chinese squad will have to show that it can maintain its newfound momentum on Day 3 when the standings will begin to solidify. VGJ.Thunder will have a slate of 3 series once again on Day 3, with match ups against Fnatic (5-3), Mineski (4-6), and OG (3-5).

Winstrike Team Winstrike Team (0-4) (2-6): [Loss vs PSG.LGD, Loss vs VGJ.Thunder]:

Day 2 proved to be something of a disaster for Winstrike Team, as the squad dropped all 4 of its matches on the day and found itself sliding down the Group A standings. Opening its day against one of the strongest teams in the field in the form of PSG.LGD certainly wasn’t a favorable start for the CIS squad, and Winstrike Team found itself quickly outmatched and outplayed in back to back losses. That loss was fairly expected, but its subsequent 0-2 defeat to VGJ.Thunder came as something of a shock. The Chinese squad had stumbled through its Day 1 schedule, and appeared to be an easier opponent that Winstrike Team could take advantage of to advance its own cause. Unfortunately, VGJ.Thunder proved that no team in the field at TI8 is an “easy win”, and Winstrike Team’s play was not nearly strong enough to avoid 2 lopsided defeats. The team’s 0-4 slate on Day 2 tanks its overall record to 2-6, which puts it in last place in the Group A standings at the halfway mark of the Group Stage. This series of poor results comes at the worst possible time for Winstrike Team, as its Day 3 schedule is absolutely brutal in terms of the strength of its opponents. The CIS squad is set to play against the top 3 teams in the Group A standings in Evil Geniuses (9-1), Team Liquid (5-3), and Fnatic (5-3) on Day 3.

Group B

Newbee_logo Newbee (2-4) (5-5): [Loss vs Vici Gaming, Loss vs OpTic Gaming, Win vs Team Serenity]:

Things did not go fantastically for Newbee on Day 2, as the Chinese squad lost its opening series against Vici Gaming and lost to OpTic Gaming as well. The only thing that managed to salvage Newbee’s day and avoid a complete catastrophe was a win against regional rival Team Serenity to finish of its schedule. Newbee simply did not look good on Day 2, playing from behind in most of its matches and even losing its grasp on multiple net worth leads in the loss to Vici Gaming. Playing 3 series in a day often causes some squads to lose focus and cohesion due to fatigue, but Newbee’s problems manifested at the start of the day and only seemed to fade away in the squad’s final series against Team Serenity. Perhaps the team didn’t sleep well, or simply don’t like playing games around the morning, or a whole slew of other possible explanations or excuses. In the end, the only way to tell if Newbee can shake off this disappointing Day 2 performance is to see how the team carries itself tomorrow. The Day 3 schedule will be shorter for Newbee, but incredibly more difficult as the Chiense squad will face off against both Virtus.pro (5-3) and VGJ.Storm (7-1).

OpTic_Gaming OpTic Gaming (3-3) (3-5): [Draw vs VGJ.Storm, Win vs Newbee, Loss vs TNC Predator]:

After playing just 1 series on Day 1 of the Group Stage, OpTic Gaming had the chance to finally dive head first into the action in Group B with 3 series on Day 2. The results were very encouraging for the North American squad, as it handed VGJ.Storm its first (and only) loss of the Group Stage for a 1-1 split and defeated Newbee 2-0 as well to bring itself to an even 3-3 overall record. Unfortunately, a loss to TNC Predator in its final series of the day bumped it back down to 3-5, but the squad still has reason to feel optimistic heading into the second half of the Group Stage. All 5 of the team’s losses have come against teams currently sitting in the top 3 in the Group B standings (VGJ.Storm, TNC Predator, and Virtus.pro), which means that its remaining series in the Group Stage will all come against teams sitting in the middle or near the bottom of the standings as they currently stand. OpTic Gaming will look to spark a surge with its 2 series on Day 3, as the North American squad will face off against Team Serenity (3-5) and Team Secret (4-6) tomorrow.

paiN Gaming alt paiN Gaming (2-4) (3-5): [Draw vs TNC Predator, Draw vs Team Secret, Loss vs VGJ.Storm]:

It wasn’t the strongest of performance for paiN Gaming on Day 2 of the Group Stage, but things could have gone significantly worse for the South American squad, all things considered. The team played 2 squads in the top half of the Group B standings in VGJ.Storm and TNC Predator, and managed to come away from those 2 series with 1 win, adding 1 more with its 1-1 split against Team Secret. The Brazilian squad was about as far from a favorite as possible heading into TI8, and its current position in a 3 way tie for 7th isn’t exactly a stunning triumph. However, the silver lining for the squad is that it is still just 1 good day or even 1 good series away from moving up significantly, as only 2 wins separate the team from a spot in the top half of the Group B standings. Day 3 will present both opportunities and significant challenges for pain Gaming, as the team will begin its day with a match up against a under performing Vici Gaming (4-6), finishing with a tough series against Virtus.pro (5-3).

Secret_logo Team Secret (3-3) (4-6): [Draw vs Virtus.pro, Draw vs paiN Gaming, Draw vs Vici Gaming]:

A 3-3 record is certainly better than its Day 1 performance, but Team Secret is still struggling so far in its Group Stage matches. A team that was ranked 4th on the Pro Circuit currently sits in a tie for 5th in the Group B standings with an underwhelming 4-6 overall record. While the squad’s 3 draws on Day 2 were far from the worst possible outcome, things are made slightly less impressive considering who the European squad played against. Its 1-1 tie against Virtus.pro was a strong result to be sure, but splitting series against paiN Gaming and Vici Gaming can’t feel good considering the fact that both squads were sitting in the bottom half of the standings to begin the day. At 4-6, Team Secret is still in the hunt for a spot in the top half of the standings and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, but the team is going to have to put on a more impressive display in the second half of the Group Stage. The team will have just 1 opponent to focus on tomorrow, as Team Secret will face OpTic Gaming (3-5) in its lone series of Day 3.

Team Serenity Team Serenity (1-3) (3-5): [Draw vs Vici Gaming, Loss vs Newbee]:

Team Serenity had a slightly less impressive follow up to its solid Day 1 performance, as the Chinese squad posted a 1-3 record in its series on Day 2. The team experimented with some unorthodox drafts across its 2 series, and for the most part those strategies didn’t appear to pan out well for it as its lost 3 of its 4 matches. The team’s risky drafting decisions were certainly entertaining, but the lack of success to go along with them means that Team Serenity may be done experimenting for the time being. At 3-5, the Chinese squad sits in a 3 way tie for 7th place, and runs the risk of being eliminated if it can’t create some separation from the teams that it is currently tied with (OpTic Gaming and paiN Gaming). Day 3 will be an important and potentially deciding one for Team Serenity, as the squad will begin its day with what is essentially a tie breaker series against OpTic Gaming (3-5) before finishing with a match up against 2nd ranked TNC Predator (6-4).

Tncproteam TNC Predator (4-2) (6-4): [Draw vs paiN Gaming, Draw vs Virtus.pro, Win vs OpTic Gaming]:

Everything seemed to come up positive for TNC Predator on Day 2 of the Group Stage, as the Southeast Asian squad was able to rally from a solid but unimpressive Day 1 performance to catapult itself up the Group B standings. The squad put together 4 wins on the day, and currently sits in the 2nd place position in its group at the half way mark of the Group Stage. Following a somewhat inconsistent 1-1 split against paiN Gaming, things were looking a little murky for TNC Predator in terms of its play moving through the rest of the Day 2 schedule. However, the Southeast Asian squad was able to recover and put together an incredible series of performances against both Virtus.pro and OpTic Gaming, claiming 3 wins in 4 matches. At 6-4, the team stands as one of the leaders in Group B and is presenting a far more formidable challenge for its opponents than many might have been expecting. With just 6 games remaining in its Group Stage run, the Southeast Asian squad stands a strong chance of claiming a spot in the top half of the Group B standings and a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event, but it will need to avoid any major setbacks over the final 2 days of the Group Stage. The team’s Day 3 schedule will begin with a tough match up against Group B leader VGJ.Storm (7-1), before transitioning into a slightly less intimidating match up against Team Serenity (3-5).

VGJ Storm small VGJ.Storm (3-1) (7-1): [Draw vs OpTic Gaming, Win vs paiN Gaming]:

Just as we had all anticipated prior to the start of TI8, VGJ.Storm stands at the top of the Group B standings with just a single loss to its name after 2 days of play in the Group Stage. Jokes aside, the North American squad has exploded so far in its matches and presented a simply dominant style of play that no one has been able to adapt to yet. The squad is showing a level of confidence and coordination that has been incredible to watch so far, and it doesn’t appear that its momentum is diminishing in any way as the team prepares for the second half of its Group Stage matches. At 7-1, the squad is already closing in locking down a position in the top half of the Group B standings and securing itself a place in the Upper Bracket of the Main Event. While a setback or stumble is still a possibility for the squad, it would take some unbelievably rough losses for the squad to fall out of the top half of the standings now, but that doesn’t mean that the North American squad can afford to rest easy. Day 3 will see the squad face off against 2 other teams in the top 4 of the standings in TNC Predator (6-4) and Newbee (5-5).

Vici Gaming small Vici Gaming (4-2) (4-6): [Win vs Newbee, Draw vs Team Serenity, Draw vs Team Secret]:

Vici Gaming is officially back from the dead, folks. After a simply abysmal 0-4 performance on Day 1 of the Group Stage, the Chinese squad manged to rally on Day 2 with 4 wins in 6 matches to keep itself out of the bottom slot in the Group B standings. Perhaps it was the chance to play against regional rivals that finally did the trick, but Vici Gaming was able to turn things around and begin looking more like the squad that earned itself a Top 8 ranking on the Pro Circuit just a few months ago. At 4-6, the squad is sitting in a tie for 5th place right now in the Group B standings, and has just 1 series scheduled for Day 3. Because of that, the squad is likely to either stay put or fall just based on playing fewer games than the other squads in its group, but a win or tie in that 1 series would but Vici Gaming in a solid position to compete for a spot in the top half of the standings on the final day of play in Vancouver. The team’s opponent in that lone Day 3 series will be one of the weaker squads in the group in the form of paiN Gaming (3-5).

Virtus Pro Virtus.pro (2-2) (5-3): [Draw vs Team Secret, Draw vs TNC Predator]:

Virtus.pro started the day sitting near the top of the standings in Group B, and at the end of its Day 2 schedule, the CIS squad hasn’t moved much. A 2-2 record across its 2 series isn’t the most impressive performance that we’ve seen from the team, but it is still more than serviceable considering the fact that VP was already in a favorable position coming into those matches. Based on its performance in the Group Stage so far, VP doesn’t appear to have many major concerns moving forward so long as it can keep itself at or above a .500 win rate as it has through 2 days of matches. For now, the team splitting its series keeps it in a solid position in the Group B standings. However, a surge from one of the other squads in the group could potentially cause VP to drift towards the divide between the top and bottom half of the standings. That scenario would put a bit more pressure on the CIS squad to produce more wins over the 2nd half of the Group Stage, but VP has shown no signs of being unable to find those victories as of yet. The team’s Day 3 schedule will see it play 2 more series, with VP facing off against Newbee (5-5) and paiN Gaming (3-5).

Day 3 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 3 schedule, either because of a team’s position in the standings or the caliber of the teams/players involved.

Group A Series 6: 600px-Ig_logo Invictus Gaming (4-6) vs VGJ Thunder small VGJ.Thunder (3-5)

These 2 squads both ended Day 1 near the bottom of the Group A standings, but after some encouraging performances on Day 2, they both sit in slightly better positions. With this series serving as the first for both teams on Day 3, it becomes a rather important match up as it could very well set the tone for both squads through the rest of the day and impact their trajectory over the final half of the Group Stage schedule. A draw will keep both teams in the bottom half of the standings, but would still potentially keep both of them within striking distance of the top half depending on how the rest of their days go. However, a win for either squad would help push them into a far more competitive position and even a spot in the top half of the standings outright. While the team that wins in that scenario would move up the standings, the loser would invariably be sent down to a place at or near the bottom of the group, and would need a significant turnaround in its final 2 series of the day to avoid risking elimination heading into the final day of play in Vancouver.

Group A Series 6: 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017 Team Liquid (5-3) vs 600px-Mineski-dota_logo Mineski (4-6)

Another clash of Top 8 ranked Pro Circuit squads is cause for some excitement, but this match up between Team Liquid and Mineski also has some significant implications for the Group A standings. As it stands, Team Liquid sits in a tie for 2nd place in the group, while Mineski is tied for 5th, and those positions will remained unchanged up until this series as it is the first of the day for both squads. A draw would keep the status quo, with both teams likely either remaining in their positions or moving down by 1 or 2 spots. However, should Team Liquid win this match up, then it could potentially hold sole control over 2nd place, and would not be easily dislodged from its position in the top half of the standings with a 7-3 record. This outcome would also drop Mineski down to a 4-8 record, which would leave the Southeast Asian squad fighting an uphill battle over its final series of the Group Stage as it would need a surge of wins to threaten for a spot in the top half of the standings. On the other hand, a win for Mineski would push its record to 6-6 and could put the squad into the top half of the standings above Team Liquid, setting up an even more crowded section of teams around the divide between the top and bottom halves.

Group B Series 6: Tncproteam TNC Predator (6-4) vs VGJ Storm small VGJ.Storm (7-1)

A match up between the 2 top ranked teams in Group B is exactly the kind of high level Dota that The International is known for producing, and this series is sure to be an entertaining one to watch. While neither side will fall very far should they lose, the pride of holding down the 1st place position in the Group Standings will be on the line. In addition to that, there is also the factor of having piece of mind to consider for this match up, as both teams will be looking to create even more distance between themselves and the other teams in the group in order to avoid any late slumps or slides down the standings. At this stage in the Group Stage, the team that wins this series seems like the most likely squad to win the group, a rather odd scenario considering the fact that the group contains 4 Top 8 ranked Pro Circuit teams.

Group B Series 6: OpTic_Gaming OpTic Gaming (3-5) vs Team Serenity Team Serenity (3-5)

Many might be wondering why there is a match up between 2 of the weakest teams in the group, at least in terms of record, on this list. The answer is exactly because of the fact that both OpTic Gaming and Team Serenity stand at the bottom of the Group B standings. While a match like VP vs Newbee will surely be entertaining to watch, the impact of that series on the standings is not particularly high unless is comes down to potential tiebreaker scenarios. This match, on the other hand, is already set to break a 3 way tie for 7th place in Group B, with OpTic Gaming and Team Serenity being tied with paiN Gaming at 3-5. If the 2 teams split their series, then the stalemate at the bottom will likely continue into the next few series or even the final day of the Group Stage entirely. However, should 1 of these teams pull off a win, it would immediately be lifted up to a 5-5 overall record. The 2 teams in 3rd (Virtus.pro) and 4th (Newbee) place each only have 5 wins to their name, meaning the potential winner of this series would be back into the mix for a spot in the top half of the standings. Meanwhile, the loser would fall to 3-7 and take sole position of the dreaded 9th place position, putting that squad in danger of being eliminated and missing the Main Event altogether. Those kinds of stakes often make for fantastic Dota, and it will be incredibly entertaining to see if either of these squads can get their day off to a strong start and salvage what has been a slightly slower start to the Group Stage.

Group A Series 7: Virtus Pro Virtus.pro (5-3) vs paiN Gaming alt paiN Gaming (3-5)

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you on this one: this match up isn’t exactly on the list because both teams are equally skilled or accomplished. In fact, the series between VP and paiN Gaming is here for almost the exact opposite reason, as the 2 teams stand on alternate ends of the Group B standings. Of course, the match up between South America and CIS is one that is very rarely seen on the professional level, and that clash alone will likely lead to some incredibly interesting Dota to watch. However, this series could also have an elevated impact on the Group B standings. Virtus.pro currently sits in 3rd place in Group B, though that position may have changed by the time this series begins. On the other hand, paiN Gaming sits in a 3 way tie for 7th in the standings with OpTic Gaming and Team Serenity, though that tie could also be changed depending on the outcome of previous matches. Long story short, paiN Gaming will likely need a draw or win here to avoid falling into last place and risking elimination, while Virtus.pro is likely to need a draw or win to keep its hold on a position in the top half of the standings. VP will enter this match up as a significant favorite, but underdog stories have often defined team’s runs on the TI stage, and the threat of falling into an elimination scenario will surely bring out the best in the Brazilian squad.

Group A Series 7: Fnaticlogo Fnatic (5-3) vs PSG LGD PSG.LGD (5-5)

This series will see a match up between 2 squads in the top half of the Group A standings, although by the time the teams play each other those positions may have changed. PSG.LGD will be playing its first series of the day, while Fnatic will be coming off of a series against European squad OG. Either way, the 2 teams will likely be playing to keep or return to their positions in the top half of the standings. PSG.LGD has been somewhat disappointing in its matches so far in Vancouver, as the squad entered TI8 as a favorite to win only to post a solid but unimpressive 5-5 record across 2 days of competition. Meanwhile, Fnatic has been surging and surprising many with its strong start in the Group Stage, putting up a 5-3 record that includes a 4-2 mark against teams ranked in the Top 8 on the Pro Circuit. Should the 2 teams split their series, then they will both likely hold their positions heading into their last series of the day. However, a win for either team would help solidify its position near the top, all while dropping the loser back into the middle of the pack to attempt to fight its way back up. The difference between the Upper and Lower Bracket can be huge for a team on the TI stage, and the chance to force a prominent rival into that sort of position is an incredible incentive for both squads in this match up.

Group B Series 7: Newbee_logo Newbee (5-5) vs VGJ Storm small VGJ.Storm (7-1)

Not only does this match up feature 2 squads in the top half of the standings in Group B, it could potentially serve as the decider for which team wins Group B as a whole. Now, I know that I already attached that title to the VGJ.Storm vs TNC Predator series, but this one could very well have just as big of an impact on the top half of the standings. Depending on how the teams’ previous match ups go, Newbee will enter with somewhere between 5 and 7 wins, with VGJ.Storm coming in between 7 and 9. If VGJ.Storm have a 9-1 record heading into this match up, then a victory would all but guarantee the North American squad a spot in the top half of the standings and the Upper Brackey of the Main Event. However, a VGJ.Storm squad with 7 or 8 wins would still potentially be vulnerable, and could lose out on its 1st place position with a loss to Newbee. In what may be the most interesting scenario, a 7-5 Newbee could end up playing a 7-3 VGJ.Storm, with the winner likely to claim the top spot in the Group B standings outright. Regardless of their respective positions at the start of the series, VGJ.Storm and Newbee have been putting on some of the more enjoyable displays of Dota so far in the Group Stage, and will likely continue to do so against each other.

Group A Series 8: Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses (9-1) vs 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017 Team Liquid (5-3)

The last series of Day 3 will bring one of the most highly anticipated match ups of the Group Stage so far, as Group A leader Evil Geniuses will clash with 2nd place squad Team Liquid in a battle of titans that could determine which team ends Day 3 at the top of the Group A standings. Team Liquid will have played 2 prior series against Mineski and Winstrike Team coming into this match up, while Evil Geniuses will have played just 1 against Winstrike Team as well. In addition to featuring 2 of the leading teams in Group A, the match up will bring together 2 of the biggest organizations in western esports as a whole, with enough star power to give the All-Star match a run for its money. At every position, there will be a match up between some of the best in the game: Arteezy vs MATUMBAMAN, Suma1L taking on Miracle-, S4 competing with MinD_ContRoL, Crit- and GH trying to outperform each other, and captains Kuroky and Fly trying to out draft and out think their opponent. It’s a match up that will hopefully end Day 3 on a high note and display some of the highest quality of Dota heading into the final, decisive day of the Group Stage.

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