Prelude for a Champion 2019: A TI9 Team Profile – Alliance

A New Generation: Alliance and its roster of young talent look to live up to and build upon the legacy of its predecessor as the team takes its shot at becoming the first organization to ever win multiple TI titles

With the conclusion of the second even Dota 2 Pro Circuit campaign, the attention of the Dota 2 world now shifts to the game’s biggest and most prestigious of stages: The International. The 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season set the stage, but now the time has come for 18 of the world’s best teams to take their shot at earning immortality as they look to cement their place in Dota 2 history with a victorious run at The International 2019 in Shanghai, China. For the first time in its history, TI moves away from the western world into the waiting arms of the Chinese scene, with TI9 set to be hosted in the Mercedes-Benz Arena as the venue will transform into the crucible from which one squad will emerge with the Aegis of Champions in hand. With the even itself fast approaching, this series will serve to highlight each of the 18 participating squads that will be making their way to Shanghai in the hopes of becoming TI9 Champion. Each post will focus upon a specific team in the field for this event, with a small overview of the organization’s history, a review of its 2018-2019 season, a run down of the members of its roster, keys to success entering TI9, and expectations for the squad at the event itself. Whether one is a newcomer to the pro scene or an avid Pro Circuit spectator, these posts will hopefully serve as a useful source of information or a refresher course on the teams that will be battling it out in Shanghai in August. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at a previous TI winning organization and 1 of the 6 squads set to represent the European region in Shanghai: TI3 Champion Alliance.

 

Alliance Alliance

Region: Europe

Pro Circuit Rank: 11th (1,179 Pro Circuit Points)

Qualification Method: Direct Invite (Pro Circuit Top 12)

2018-2019 Pro Circuit Event Appearances: 5 (2 Top 4 Finishes)

Previous TI Appearances: TI3 (1st), TI4 (11th-12th), TI6 (9th-12th)

 

2018-2019 Season Notable Achievements:

Pro Circuit Majors:
5th-6th – EPICENTER Major
13th-16th – The Chongqing Major

Pro Circuit Minors:
2nd – StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2
3rd – OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019

Pro Circuit Qualifiers:
2nd – StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Europe Qualifier
2nd – OGA Dota PIT Minor 2018 Europe Qualifier
2nd – StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 Europe Qualifier
3rd – The Kuala Lumpur Major Europe Qualifier
3rd – The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier
4th – EPICENTER Major 2019 Europe Closed Qualifier
5th-6th – MDL Disneyland Paris Major Europe Closed Qualifier
7th-8th – DreamLeague Season 11 Europe Qualifier

Non-Pro Circuit Events:
International:
5th-6th – World Showdown of Esports #1
9th-10th – ESL One Hamburg 2018
11th-12th – ESL One Katowice 2019
11th-12th – ESL One Birmingham 2019
Regional:
1st – Reshuffle Madness
1st – MegaFon Champions League Season 2
1st – GG.Bet Birmingham Invitational
2nd – LOOT.BET Winter Madness
3rd-4th – GG.Bet Invitational Season 1
4th – I Can’t Believe It’s Not Summit!
4th – WePlay! Dota 2 Valentine Madness
5th-8th – WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness

 

Team History

Very few people talk about the history of Alliance prior to their breakthrough victory at TI3, and that’s largely due to the fact that there isn’t much history to discuss, as the Alliance organization was founded just 4 months before the start of said event in April of 2013. The organization signed the all-Swedish roster of No Tidehunter to form its first Dota 2 roster, and by the end of the year, Alliance had forever cemented itself in the history and lore of the game. For nearly a year after that, Alliance rode the high of its ultimate victory as it stood as the strongest team in the Dota 2 world and continued to put up impressive performances both within the European region and on the international level. Unfortunately, the squad’s defense of its TI title went rather poorly, with Alliance finishing in the 11th-12th place position at TI4 only to lose the duo of s4 and EGM in the roster shuffle that followed. Throughout the rest of 2014, the team’s results declined to a significant degree, as Alliance ran through multiple stand-ins and temporary players in the hopes of quickly rebuilding its roster. The changes to the team’s lineup continued into 2015, though Alliance’s performances as a whole seemed to bounce back a little bit over that time. However, an unsuccessful run in the TI5 European Qualifiers made it abundantly clear that Alliance’s time on the mountaintop in the Dota 2 world had come to an end.

Alliance may not have been the top tier powerhouse that it had been in previous times, but that didn’t mean that the squad had dropped off of the professional scene entirely. The squad remained a contender within the European region, and its continued strength at home combined with the reputation and previous success of the organization kept Alliance in the mix as Valve introduced the first Major Championships. Alliance attended all 3 of the first set of Majors (The Frankfurt Major 2015, The Shanghai Major 2016, and the Manila Major 2016), though the squad never finished any higher than the 7th-8th place position across any of the events. A large part of that semi-revival for Alliance stemmed from the fact that the organization had gotten the band back together, with the squad reforming its TI3 winning lineup in December of 2015. Together, the TI3 Champions managed to fight their way back to the TI stage with an appearance at TI6, but a 9th-12th place performance at the event marked the second death for the legendary lineup. Just 2 weeks after the end of TI6, three of the team’s members parted ways with the organization, leaving Alliance to rebuild the majority of its roster. Throughout most of 2016 and 2017, Alliance experimented with a couple of different lineups, finding some success both at home and on the international level but failing to qualify for either of the 2 Majors in that time period and failing to earn a place at TI7 as well. With that final disappointing performance, the organization opted for a complete rebuild, releasing the entirety of its former lineup to start over.

In November of 2017, the organization announced the formation of its new roster, with TI3 Champion Loda making his return to the lineup alongside the relatively inexperienced quartet of miCKe, Boxi, iNSaNiA, and Taiga. Technically speaking, the team didn’t actually become active until around February of 2018, and once the team began playing official matches it was clear that the inexperience of its new players would serve as a sizable obstacle for the squad. The team’s play across the back half of the 2017-2018 Pro Circuit season was relatively inconsistent, though the team’s new roster did show flashes of potential with some solid qualifier performances. Some of those flashes likely had to due with the squad’s mid-season roster change, as Alliance sought to bring in a bit more experience by adding Midlaner qojqva to the lineup while shifting Loda into a coaching position. Even with the addition of qojqva, Alliance wasn’t quite able to out pace its growing pains, as the team fell short with a 5th-8th place showing in the TI8 Europe Qualifier that brought its season to a close. However, the relatively inexperienced roster for Alliance appeared to have a sizable degree of talent and potential in it, and the 2018-2019 season was set to provide the team with an opportunity to build up the necessary experience to better utilize those assets.

 

Season in Review

Prior to the start of the 2018-2019 season, Alliance was expected to have some difficulties finding opportunities for itself on the home front, as the European region was considered to be one of the most crowded in the current professional scene. However, the squad proved itself to be much stronger than many had been anticipating, earning Top 4 finishes across its first 7 regional appearances while winning the ESL One Hamburg 2018 Europe Qualifier, Reshuffle Madness, and the MegaFon Champions League Season 2 before the end of the calendar year. With prominent regional rivals like Team Liquid and OG off to somewhat slow starts, Alliance wasted no time in establishing its own place within the European hierarchy. Unfortunately for Alliance, its strong showings within the European region didn’t carry over into the squad’s handful of appearances on the international level, as the team finished in the lower half of the event standings across all 3 of its international events in the 2018 section of the season. That being said, the squad’s impressive start to the season within its home region certainly had hopes high for the squad as it moved into 2019.

The start of the new year saw the first small stumbles for Alliance within its home region, as the return of squads like Team Liquid and OG to the top of the regional hierarchy introduces some added difficulty for the team. That being said, Alliance still managed to represent itself well within the European region, with the team earning Top 4 finishes in 3 of its 5 regional appearances through February. Unfortunately, the squad continued to struggle on the international level during this period, with the team finishing at the bottom of the event standings at both The Chongqing Major in January and ESL One Katowice 2019 in February. When March rolled around, Alliance was forced to deal with a new obstacle, as the injury bug hit the squad in the form of a aggravated arm injury for miCKe that led to a 1 month hiatus for the team’s Carry. With Madara sliding into the roster as a long-term stand-in though, Alliance was able to retain much of its momentum within its home region, finishing 2nd in the OGA Dota PIT MInor 2019 Europe Qualifier while winning the GG.Bet Birmingham Invitational. At the end of April, Madara helped Alliance earn its first bit of success on the international level, as the squad was able to put together a 3rd place finish at the OGA Dota PIT Minor 2019 to earn its first ever Top 4 finish on the Pro Circuit stage. When miCKe returned to the team’s active lineup in May, Alliance was able to light a fire underneath itself to make one final push up the Pro Circuit Rankings in the final days of the 2018-2019 campaign. The squad turned in back to back Top 4 finishes in regional qualifiers, and followed those performances up with a 2nd place finish at the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Season 2 and a 5th-6th place run at the EPICENTER Major. Between those final 2 performances, Alliance had successfully pushed its way into the Top 12 of the Pro Circuit Rankings, claiming a direct invite for TI9 in what had been the squad’s last opportunity on the Pro Circuit stage.

 

Roster

Michael “miCKe” Vu (Carry)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 7.53 kills, 9.18 assists, 3.90 deaths per game (100 matches)

miCKe has established himself as a key piece within this Alliance roster, which is fairly impressive considering the fact that he and most of his teammates haven’t been in the professional Dota 2 scene for all that long. After a time as a professional Heroes of Newerth player, miCke made the switch to Dota 2 back in 2016 as a member of Team Doge alongside teammate iNSaNiA (then stylized as iNsania). Over the course of the next year or so, miCKe would spend time on the roster of several minor squads in the European region, though he never stayed with a particular squad for more than 2 or 3 months over that span. However, those brief stints did serve to show off a bit of miCKe’s potential, and in November of 2017 he was picked up as part of the new Alliance lineup. Throughout the 2018-2019 campaign, miCKe proved himself able to hold his own with most of the more popular heroes at the Carry position, with heroes like Morphling, Juggernaut, and Troll Warlord sitting among his top played. What has set miCKe apart from many of his peers though was his ability to also utilize more elusive and maneuverable heroes as well, with miCKe holding a win rate of at least 50% with Weaver, Phantom Lancer, and Mirana. His familiarity with multiple play styles has allowed given Alliance an impressive degree of freedom and versatility in terms of its drafting and strategies, and hopefully those aspects will continue to serve the squad well on the TI stage.

 

Max “qojqva” Bröcker (Mid)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 6.02 kills, 10.14 assists, 3.43 deaths per game (109 matches)

qojqva comes into TI9 as the elder statesman of this Alliance roster, as the German Midlaner is actually the only member of the team to have have been playing Dota 2 professionally before 2016. His professional career began in 2012 with a trio of 1 month long stints with HelloMoto, Meet Your Makers, and We haz Asian. In 2013, qojqva was picked up by European organization mousesports, and helped the squad earn itself a place at TI3. Unfortunately, the team did not perform overly well at that event, and by the end of September, qojqva had moved on to join Team Liquid, with whom he would make another TI appearance in 2014 at TI4. After nearly a year with the squad, Team Liquid went inactive, leaving qojqva to join the Team Tinker roster that would later be signed by mousesports in 2015. When his run his mousesports came to an end in June of 2015, qojqva took a short break from the professional scene, returning in February of 2016 as a member of the No Diggity/Escape Gaming roster. After parting ways with Escapte Gaming at the start of 2017, qojqva briefly spent time with Ninjas in Pyjamas, before closing out the year with stints on the rosters of Tuho and Digital Chaos. After spending around 4 months with Mad Lads in the latter part of the 2017-2018 season, qojqva was picked up by Alliance in June of 2018 just before the squad’s unsuccessful run in the TI8 Europe Qualifiers. Ever since then, qojqva had been contributing his skill and experience to the rapid development of his new Alliance roster, serving as the veteran anchor for a lineup of less experienced players. Like fellow cores miCKe and Boxi, qojqva has excelled in adjusting to multiple play styles in this 2018-2019 campaign. On the one hand, he has proven himself more than capable of handling highly maneuverable, hard hitting heroes along the liens of Storm Spirit, Mirana, and Queen of Pain (combined 70.45% win rate in 44 matches with those heroes). On the other hand, qojqva had also been able to step into a role as a more fighting and frontline oriented player, with heroes like Lone Druid, Razor, Broodmother, and Dragon Knight fitting quite nicely into his hero pool. With his experience and versatility on Alliance’s side, the squad stands as a formidable opponent heading into TI9.

 

Samuel “Boxi” Svahn (Offlane)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 5.78 kills, 11.15 assists, 5.68 deaths per game (109 matches)

Despite not having been in the professional Dota 2 scene for all that long, Boxi has already begun making a name for himself as a skilled and entertaining play maker for this Alliance roster. Boxi’s career began back in 2016 as a member of Evil Corporation, one of the smaller squads within the European region that frequently pops up in minor regional events and qualifiers. In November of 2017 though, Alliance opted to take a chance on the somewhat unproven Offlaner, picking up the young Swede as part of its new lineup under Loda’s guidance. One of the strengths that we’ve seen from Alliance in this 2018-2019 season is its ability to rely upon all three of its cores for high level performances, with the squad often presenting a balanced attack from its 3 core players that opponents end up unable to keep pace with. Boxi plays and incredibly large part of that strategy, as his ability to switch between the more traditional play making, team fight oriented offlane role and the hard farming, true third core role has proven invaluable to the team’s efforts. Team fight and single target initiators like Centaur Warrunner, Batrider, Brewmaster, and Earthshaker have been some of Boxi’s most played heroes in this 2018-2019 campaign. However, Boxi has also put together impressive performances with heroes like Monkey King, Pangolier, Tiny, and Weaver when the squad has felt that it needs extra damage and firepower. Whether he’s called upon for single target lockdown, team fight control, or heavy damage, Boxi has managed to step up for Alliance in ways that make it nearly impossible for an opponent to attempt to focus upon a single member of the team’s lineup.

 

Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi (Support, Captain)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 2.74 kills, 12.43 assists, 6.17 deaths per game (109 matches)

While the Support duo of iNSaNiA and Taiga are listed as hybrid 4/5 more often than not, the play style of Alliance’s Captain in recent times has drifted more towards the Hard Support, Position 5 role. That transition actually comes as a bit of a surprise, as iNSaNiA has spent the majority of his career so far in the 4 position. After switching over from Heroes of Newerth to Dota 2 in 2016, iNSaNiA spent the first few months of his career on the roster of the Swedish Team Doge/SOLIDUDES squad with current teammate miCKe. At the beginning of 2017 though, the duo opted to join the roster of ProDota Gaming, though he would remain with the team for a period of just under 3 months before being picked up by Ninjas in Pyjamas. Unfortunately, iNSaNiA’s time with NiP was cut short, as the organization folded its Dota 2 dividion just 2 months after adding him to the lineup. After that, iNSaNiA found himself joining forces with miCKe once again on the roster of Tuho, where he spent a period of around 3 months before being picked up alongside miCKe to join the newly formed Alliance roster in November of 2017. In this 2018-2019 campaign, iNSaNiA has largely taken on the role of lane supporter and team fight controller, with his most played heroes being Keeper of the Light, Oracle, and Grimstroke. The rest of the Alliance roster has relied upon him to be in the right place at the right time, both for defensive purposes and to potentially shift the balance of team fights in Alliance’s favor. Considering the fact that iNSaNiA is sitting at a season win rate of at least 56% on all 3 of his aforementioned most played heroes, it’s safe to say that he has excelled in his role heading into this event.

 

Tommy “Taiga” Le (Support)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 3.41 kills, 13.25 assists, 6.77 deaths per game (109 matches)

While iNSaNiA’s play style has drifted more towards lane supporting, defensive picks, Taiga has moved towards a more aggressive, frequently rotating style. The shift in style has come fairly easily for Taiga, due in some part to the fact that he has not been around in the professional scene for very long. Taiga’s career began less than 2 years ago as a member of SFTe-sports, where he played on a roster that included veteran player Illidan as well as the up-and-coming talent Topson. When SFTe-sports and its successor squad No Rats both went under around October of 2017, Alliance opted to pick him up as part of its newly formed roster. In this 2018-2019 campaign, Taiga has shown an affinity for aggressive plays, often being put on heroes with initiating power and team fight strength. Heroes like Earth Spirit, Earthshaker, Sand King, and Tusk are Taiga’s most played of the season, and with an average of 13.25 assists per game in Pro Circuit matches (13.85 assists per game across all appearances in 2018-2019), he has certainly proven himself capable of setting both himself and his teammates up for success.

 

Jonathan “Loda” Berg (Coach)

Loda stands as one of the most experienced and decorated players in the entire history of Dota 2, and his guidance for this new generation of Alliance players has appeared to be a valuable asset in the development of the team’s new roster. As a player, Loda holds legendary status, being one of the few European players to spent significant time in the Southeast Asian region and going down as one of the founding members of Alliance as a team and organization. He has earned a ridiculous number of event wins and LAN titles, and stands among the elite club of players to have earned the right to call themselves TI Champions. Even through the decline of Alliance in the post-TI3 days, Loda has remained the face of the organization that he helped build into an icon of the Dota 2 world, and though he no longer plays for Alliance, he remains a large part of the team in his role as its coach. The rapid improvement of this current Alliance roster has been one of the more interesting stories of this 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season, and it’s hard to imagine that Loda’s sizable levels of insight and previous experience didn’t play at least some small part of that development.  The problem for Alliance coming into this event though, is that the team has struggled to find success on the international level during Loda’s tenure as coach. The veteran’s prior experience may be a valuable asset for this Alliance roster, but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to help the squad overcome some of the toughest competition that the Dota 2 world has to offer in Shanghai.

 

Keys to Success at TI9

Coming into this event, the term “success” has a number different meanings depending on which team one is discussing. Obviously, the ultimate measure of success for any of the squads attending this event would be to walk away from Shanghai with the Aegis of Champions in hand and the title of TI9 Champion. Considering the fact that only 1 of the 18 participants at TI9 will be able to do that though, and also considering that not all of these teams are regarded as being on an equal footing in terms of skill and experience, a “TI Champions or bust” mentality won’t fit for every squad in the field. With that in mind, this section is not a “do these things and win TI” sort of list in terms of keys to success. Instead, success in this section will be marked in a team’s ability to play its best level of Dota and put itself in the best possible position to push as far up the event standings as it reasonably can.

Make use of your 3 core capabilities

As mentioned previously in this post, one of the greatest strengths of this current Alliance lineup has been the team’s ability to present a balanced attack from its trio of core players. While miCKe serves as the team’s Carry and usually bears the biggest weight in terms of expected performance, all three of the team’s cores have proven themselves capable of taking over matches and leading the team with solid performances. Of the team’s 109 matches in Pro Circuit events or qualifiers (not including open qualifiers), the trio of miCKe, qojqva, and Boxi have put together 106 combined performances with 10 or more kills. It likely won’t come as much of a surprise to know that miCKe leads the team in 10+ kill matches, but the interesting part of the that statistic is just how evenly those 106 instances are spread out. miCKe himself accounts for 43 of those performances, with qojqva coming in at 37 while Boxi earned 26 over the course of the season. Of course, kill count in an of itself is not the only determinate of a player’s contribution to a particular match, but it is somewhat rare to have a player earn double digit kills without it at least helping to put the team in a favorable position. The fact that Alliance has been in so many situations in which it has been able to rely upon any of its three cores to provide that kind of production rather than forcing a single player to bear that burden alone is something that makes the squad relatively difficult to plan against.

Don’t draft too greedily

This one probably seems like a fairly general and obvious point for all of the teams in the field for TI9, and just for any Dota 2 team at all, and that’s because it is. No squad should make a habit of drafting too greedy too often, but Alliance has to pay particular attention to avoid that specific pitfall. The reason why that is hearkens back to the previously mentioned key to success: the team’s ability to frequently balance its emphasis among all 3 of its core players in miCKe, qojqva, and Boxi. The team has been able to rely upon all 3 of them for some impressive, game changing performances in this 2018-2019 season, but that strength has also been a point of weakness for the squad at times. In the team’s efforts to make maximum use of its tri-core versatility, Alliance has on occasion found itself in a position in which it has too many mouths to feed in a particular match. The team picks up three core heroes who all need sizable levels of farm to be effective, and if the early stages of the match don’t yield immediate results for the squad, it ends up lacking the space and safety to properly make use of those heroes. Of course, every squad falls into this kind of situation at one point or another, but the fact that Alliance very often gets away with somewhat greedier drafting thanks to the way in which it spreads out wealth and play making responsibilities among its cores makes its a bit more inclined to push the limits, and thus more likely to push too far for its own good. If the squad can maintain that balanced attack from miCKe, qojqva, and Boxi without pushing things too far with its drafting, then Alliance will be able to get the most from its impressive play style while hopefully avoiding some of its bigger weaknesses.

Rely upon experience

Much has been made about the rapid improvements that this Alliance roster has been able to make in a period of just under 2 years, but coming into the biggest event in the Dota 2 world, there is some cause for concern with Alliance’s relatively inexperienced lineup. The trio of miCKe, Boxi, and iNSaNiA have only been playing Dota 2 professionally since late 2016, while Taiga’s career began even more recently in 2017. The talent and potential that we’ve seen the squad realize in this 2018-2019 has been incredible, but the fact remains that this younger Alliance roster is set to contend with some of the strongest and most experienced players and squads in the entire world at TI9. Many less experienced players have lost their nerve or made mistakes on the big stage in the Dota 2 world, and The International is the biggest stage of them all. How will this Alliance roster cope with the pressure of playing at TI9 in what will be the biggest event of their careers so far? Perhaps it won’t be a complete solution, but the best thing that the less experienced members of Alliance can do at TI9 is to look to the veteran leadership of the team in qojqva and Loda. Nothing can fully prepares someone quite like personally experiencing events, but in the duo of qojqva and Loda, Alliance has a wealth of insight from players that have performed and found success in these kinds of situations. Much is always made about a squad having a player, coach, or manager that has previously won TI, and those points aren’t made for no reason. To have performed on the TI stage before, and to have claimed the Aegis of Champions, means that you have proven yourself capable of dealing with the highest level of pressure that the game has to offer, and still emerged victorious. If qojqva and Loda can serve as grounding, veteran presences for the rest of the Alliance roster, then hopefully the squad can do away with talk of nervousness or pressure and focus in on playing the best Dota that it possibly can.

 

Expectations at TI9

A season ago, Alliance stood as a legendary organization that was taking its first steps into a complete rebuild of its roster, with no clear timeline for a return to prominence within the wider Dota 2 world. After an impressive 2018-2019 campaign and an incredible level of improvement from its younger players though, the squad has the opportunity to take a massive step forward as it prepares to face off against the Dota 2 world’s best on the TI stage in Shanghai. The team’s development over the course of this season has been staggering, but the question for Alliance coming into this event is whether that development puts the squad in a strong enough position to be a real contender at TI9. The fact that the squad was able to make a name for itself this season in a European region that was considered to be particularly crowded near the top of the regional hierarchy is certainly an impressive feat, with the team being 1 of 6 European squad to earn a place in the field for this event. While the team has been impressive and fairly consistent on the home front, the biggest concern for Alliance coming into TI9 will be the fact that the team struggled to a somewhat alarming degree on the international level in this 2018-2019 campaign.

Alliance represented itself well within the European region, but when the squad stepped out into international competition, it seemed to lack much of the confidence and cohesion that it had at home. Across the entirety of the 2018-2019 season, Alliance attended 9 international events, with an international event in this case being defined as an event that included teams from at least 3 different regions (thus removing mixed EU/CIS events from this list). Of those 9 international appearances, Alliance earned Top 4 finishes in just 2 of them, and finished at the bottom of the event standings in 5 of them. If there is a silver lining for the squad in terms of its international play, it would come in two parts. The first part is the fact that the team’s 2 Top 4 finishes on the international level came on the back end of its 2018-2019 campaign, and as such are more likely to be an accurate indicator of where the squad stands today compared to where it was earlier in the season. The other part is the team’s 84-69 record against non-European squads, which is not overly impressive compared to some of the other teams in the field for this event but at least indicates a potential for Alliance to find success against squads from outside of its home region.

The real issue for Alliance though is the fact that it simply hasn’t been able to stack up well against the elite teams of the Dota 2 world, which is a problem considering the fact that the field for TI9 is basically made up exclusively of elite opposition. The question for Alliance coming into this event isn’t whether the squad is capable of taking down the top teams in the Dota 2 world. Every team in the field is at least capable of finding success in Shanghai, otherwise there wouldn’t be much point in playing out any of the matches in the first place. The real question for Alliance comes down to whether or not the squad can be reasonably expected to find success against the best teams in the Dota 2 world in Shanghai. The answer to that question, as of right now, appears to be no. Alliance’s record this season against the 17 other squads in the field for TI9 sits at 35-81, which really doesn’t instill a particularly high level of confidence in the squad coming into the event. Of course, a decent portion of those matches came in the earlier stages of the season, and there is a decent chance that the Alliance that enters TI9 will be playing at a higher level that what we saw across many of those matches. However, until we see that the squad’s late-season surge is something that it can actually sustain on the TI stage itself, the expectations will have to set fairly low for the squad as it makes its way to Shanghai. Prior to the start of TI9, Alliance seems to be in line for a finish in the lower half of the event standings with the potential to push somewhere into the middle of the pack if it can prove that it has truly taken that next step into the elite company of the Dota 2 world.

 

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