The International 2018 will begin in a few hours, and you’ve all probably caught up with SirActionSlack’s “The International Lowdown” video series, or countless articles recounting each of the 18 team’s histories and performances throughout the 2017-2018 DPC by now.
What doesn’t get discussed often enough, however, are the men behind the squads themselves – the coaches. Providing everything from emotional support, advice, and sometimes even hand-picking heroes for their teams themselves, the coach can be an invaluable part of every team gunning for the Aegis of Champions. Especially now that coaches have been allowed to be in the booth during the draft.
paiN Gaming: Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen
Six-time TI attendee, MISERY has been a staple of the Dota 2 scene since its early days, earning his career-high placement at TI6 with Digital Chaos, where they performed a phenomenal underdog run until the Grand Finals. He has recently joined paiN Gaming as their coach, teaming up once again with Aliwi “w33” Omar, hoping to guide the South American squad with his wealth of experience.
Evil Geniuses: Sam “Bulba” Sosale
Another veteran of the scene, and regarded by fellow pros as one of the greatest minds in Dota 2, Bulba has played for some of the most recognizable North American orgs in the scene – Digital Chaos, Team Liquid, and even Evil Geniuses themselves. This year, he reunites with The Boys in Blue as coach – perhaps trying to re-capture some of the magic of their TI5 run.
VG.J Storm: Aaron “Clairvoyance” Kim and Illya “Illidan” Pivcaev
Compared to the other names here, Clairvoyance has had a relatively quieter career as a pro player, but has notably coached EG and Cloud9 for a time before coaching VGJ.Storm earlier in the year. The team’s other coach, however, is one of the CIS scene’s most well-known players – Illidan has been playing on notable squads such as Team Spirit and Virtus.Pro since 2012.
TNC Predator: Theeban “1437” Siva
Once a Phoenix, always a Phoenix, as the saying goes. 1437 reunites with the boys this year as their coach for The International. Before playing for TNC last season, he’s played for a number of notable rosters, such as mousesports, Dignitas, Cloud9, NP and Digital Chaos. One of the scene’s veterans brimming with experience both as a player and as a coach, 1437 is sure to keep our boys in top form for this year’s TI.
Fnatic: Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling
Aui_2000 is one of the three coaches this TI that have won an Aegis of their own. Aui has been playing professionally since 2012, and has been a staple of the North American scene since then, playing for teams like Dignitas, Speed Gaming, Cloud9, Digital Chaos, and of course, won TI5 with Evil Geniuses. A highly versatile player and renowned theory-crafter, he’ll be rejoining his old teammates EternaLEnVy and pieliedie in their bid for the Aegis this year.
Invictus Gaming: Luo “Lpc” Puchao and Zhu “BurNIng” Zhilei
IG is bringing in two coaches to The International this year – Lpc perhaps, is not as well known a name as his coaching partner, but has been active in the Chinese pro scene since 2014, and has played for TongFu and LFY. BurNIng, however, is one of the illustrious old guard of the Chinese scene, having played for IG himself from 2011 to 2014, and of course, the phenomenal Team DK roster of 2014. BurNIng’s Anti-Mage is the stuff of legend, and he is perhaps one of the best players to not have won a TI – this time, he’ll be molding the young bloods, and helping IG in their quest for the Aegis.
Winstrike Team: Eugeniy “Sh4dowehh” Alekseev
Sh4dowehh has been an active Dota 2 professional player since 2013, playing on mostly tier-2 squads such as ScaryFaceZ and SFTe-sports. Not much else is known about him, but he has been coaching this Winstrike roster since early this year, and helped take them to a 5-6th place finish at StarLadder Invitational Season 5 and their phenomenal underdog run to 3rd place at EPICENTER XL.
OG: Cristian “ppasarel” Banaseanu
With former coach 7ckingMad now taking the offlane as a player, Romanian ppasarel has taken on the coaching role. Most of his experience has been as a coach, notably for Cloud9 and Team Romania, most notably taking Cloud9 to their 9th-12th finish at The International 2015.
VGJ.Thunder: Bai “rOtK” Fan
Another of the legendary Chinese old guard is here at TI this year as coach – rOtK, who has been a staple of the Chinese scene since 2011, and was part of the TI4 runner-up squad fielded by Vici Gaming. Known for his superb offlane play, but even more for his skills as a leader and captain, rOtK is sure to put his breadth of experience to good use at this year’s International. He’s also one of the most hands-on coaches in the pro scene today, and is often seen picking his team’s heroes himself during the draft.
Newbee: Wang “SanSheng” Zhaohui
SanSheng has been a staple of the Chinese Dota 2 scene since 2012, boasting long stints on both TongFu and Newbee – and is one of the three coaches this year that have already won TI. Hoping to bring a second Aegis to his legendary organization, SanSheng recently also publicly released a guide to counter Virtus.Pro’s warding, showing he takes China’s chances very seriously.
Vici Gaming: Tong “Mikasa” Junjie
One of the most tenured coaches out of all of them this TI is Mikasa, who was one of the members of the first Vici Gaming roster, and has been coaching for the team since 2016. Notably, he was also Newbee’s coach when they won TI4, and was the coach for TongFu’s 4th place finish at TI3.
Mineski: Tang “71” Wenyi
Perhaps the most revered of the coaches when it comes to the role coming into TI this year, 71 has been coaching teams since before Dota 2 – and was the coach of the nigh-untouchable, legendary EHOME roster of 2010 that eventually became the runners-up of the very first International. He was also the coach of the phenomenal 2014 Team DK roster that saw some of Asia’s biggest superstars come together – now, he has reunited with two of his former players under the Mineski banner, hoping to guide them to the Aegis that was previously denied from them.
Team Secret: Lee “SunBhie” Jeong-jae
SunBhie has been a player in the Korean Dota 2 scene since 2013, notably playing for MVP.Hot6ix and a few other NA squads throughout his career as a player – he was also, of course, TNC Pro Team’s coach during our extraordinary underdog run at The International 6. He’s been coaching Team Secret since last year however, and aims to bring the squad ever closer to the Aegis.
PSG.LGD: Yao “QQQ” Yi
Another veteran of the Chinese scene, QQQ had notable stints on EHOME and Team DK, but has been coaching since his retirement as a player in 2013. He has coached for notable teams such as Vici Gaming, LGD.FY and LGD gaming’s main squad since early last year, managing a 4th place finish at TI7.
Team Liquid: Lee “Heen” Seung Gon
Another player-turned-coach from South Korea is Team Liquid’s Heen, who came in from his stint on MVP.Hot6ix and MVP.Phoenix to coach Team Liquid in 2016 – he’s been with the team since, remarkably guiding them through their long period of dominance, and, of course, their win at The International 7 last year.
Virtus.Pro: Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov
One of the oldest names in CIS Dota, ArtStyle is most known for his stint on the legendary DTS 2010 roster that put western Dota on the map versus China, and of course, the Na’Vi 2011 roster that once again bested EHOME in the Grand Finals of the first International. A tumultuous career followed before he returned to Na’Vi in time for TI5, and captained them through their relatively good season in 2016. The weathered veteran joined Virtus.Pro as their coach early last year, and has seen them through two remarkable seasons already, even standing-in for Solo at MDL Macau and the Dota Summit 8 – winning the latter, and becoming the only coach to take home a tournament win this season as a player.