[click_to_tweet tweet=”Team Liquid shows the world that they are still as solid as they were when they won the Aegis last year, defeating the juggernaut that has dominated the season, Virtus.pro.” quote=”Team Liquid shows the world that they are still as solid as they were when they won the Aegis last year, defeating the juggernaut that has dominated the season, Virtus.pro.”]
Team Liquid was a force of nature all throughout the China Supermajor. They held an incredible 13-3 win-loss ratio in the whole tournament, with two of those losses coming only in the hands of Virtus.pro, their opponents in the Grand Finals. They were undefeated in the playoffs until the finals, and was able to send to the lower bracket the likes of TNC Pro Team, Team Secret and PSG.LGD.
A grueling, exhausting road to the Finals
Meanwhile, their opponents in the Finals, Virtus.pro had a shakier road getting there. They had a 14-8 record. VP had a 4-1 score in the group stages, same as Liquid, but they’ve had trouble in the playoffs with a 10-7 record. They were sent to the lower bracket by LGD via a clean sweep. In the lower bracket, they helped VGJ.Thunder secure their slot in TI by defeating the hopeful OpTic Gaming. They would later on beat LGD in a rematch at the lower bracket finals, after LGD lost in the upper bracket to Team Liquid.
A showcase of talent in the Grand Finals
Team Liquid and Virtus.pro are the undisputed top dogs of the Dota2 world right now, and the Grand Finals was a showcase of what the two teams could do. Part of the reasons why Liquid has become so dominating in this tournament has been their captain Kuroky‘s deep understanding of the current meta. Kuro’s drafting of heroes during the Grand Finals helped them secure victories. However, VP didn’t make it easy for them. Even when they are outdrafted, VP would play so well as to stretch games farther than they should.
It’s not to say that VP drafted weakly. In fact, they were lauded by the panel for making the best tenth picks in the tournament. They were able to trade wins with Liquid and stretched the Grand Finals to a rare full series. VP remained confident all throughout the tournament, and their carefree attitude that allows them to just play and enjoy their games contributed a lot to their success in the Supermajor. However, after their fifth game against Liquid, the laughter and auspicious mood all disappeared. Liquid has shown them who was superior, at least for now.
The curse was broken, will they break the Curse?
In the whole history of professional Dota, no TI champion has ever defended their title successfully. Another curse has emerged recently, with TI champions failing to win a single Valve Major during their reign. And finally, it is very well known that the West and East trade championships every year. Following this trend, 2018 is China’s year. However, Liquid has been exceptional that they retained their whole roster for the whole year between TI’s. They scored a clean sweep against Newbee in last year’s finals. They’ve also beaten the Majors Curse with their win in the Supermajor. They’ve retained their form, something that we haven’t seen since Natus Vincere‘s run from 2011-2013.
However, even Na` Vi wasn’t able to stop Invictus Gaming and Alliance from taking away their title. No question that there’s some pressure for Team Liquid, as they are on the brink of making history and shattering records. But as Kuroky has so wisely said during their run last year, “Don’t give a f-ck. The less f-cks we give, the better we will play.” Kuroky’s been in this place before, back when he was part of the Na` Vi roster that lost in the TI3 Finals and failed miserably in TI4. He has the most experience in this kind of situation, and it’ll be interesting to see if his experience will help Liquid win The International again for the second time.
Onward to TI8
In conclusion of the Dota Pro Circuit season, eight teams have assured slots at TI. Only two of these teams have retained their rosters from last year: the finalists from last year, Newbee and Team Liquid. However, it is VP that leads the pack, boasting above all else their three Major Championships. Team Secret follows Liquid and VP closely, being one of the strongest forces early on in the season. Three other Chinese teams join Newbee in the list, namely LGD, Vici Gaming and VGJ.Thunder. And finally, Mineski once again joins The International for the first time since 2011. All eight teams will have two months to prepare for the biggest tournament in esports, while waiting for all the other ten teams they’ll eventually face.
The Open Qualifiers start on June 14, and will allow up to six teams for each region to challenge the regional gatekeepers. One to three slots for TI are given for each region, with one to two teams receiving a direct invite to the regional qualifiers. TNC Pro Team and Fnatic will be protecting 2 slots in the Southeast Asian region, while South America’s singular slot will all be up for the Open Qualifiers. The CIS Region has also just a single slot, with Vega Squadron and FlyToMoon topping the list of hopefuls. Three slots were given to North America, one slot to China, and one slot for Europe. All these teams have a very long way to the Grand Finals of TI. They need tenacity and endurance, and a heavy amount of luck.