Road to TI 2018: Team Liquid

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Figuring out topdogs, underdogs... and other dogs while the main Dota 2 event is getting closer

The International, one of the biggest esports events of the year, is almost around the corner. While the qualifiers take place, Valve makes preparations for the main Dota 2 tournament in Vancouver. This year Canada will receive teams from all over the world that will fight for the trophy, millions of dollars and the right to be called “the best Dota 2 team” for at least a year.

As TI approaches, we try to predict main top-dogs and take a look back at the journey the teams had to go through in Pro Circuit. Of course, we start with the running champions – Team Liquid.



KuroKy and squad train has no breaks

According to the financial report, this “Liquid” roster earner $1,754,000 during this season, dropping behind Virtus.pro (who took the first place in the earnings) with $576,000 less. The team confidently earned a direct invite to TI 2018 by grabbing 9459 points.

Team Liquid they the season on a strong note: the first Minor event in Kyiv (SL i-League Invitational Season 3) went really well for guys as they had won over Mineski with 3:1 score in the finals. However, they decided to skip the second Minor tournament in Bucharest, even the qualifiers. Well, at that point it made sense because players needed rest. But Liquid understood that missing ESL One Hamburg 2017 would be a huge mistake. So in October they flew to Romania, reached semifinals and played against Team Secret. Guys got the first map and lost next two, getting the 3-4th place with Newbee.

Later in November and December, the team achieved victory in another Minor that took place in Split, Croatia (AMD SAPPHIRE Dota PIT League) and again lost to Team Secret in the Major finals at DreamLeague Season 8. An interesting fact: they did it twice. The first in the upper bracket finals and then in grand-final. The second game went worse than the previous one. Even though Team Liquid managed to reach late game in the first two maps, the third round ended at 32 minute mark.

Well, let’s not make it another statistic report and bore you out. I think it’s enough to say that Team Liquid showed steady results and got into top-3 teams of all Minor events of the season which they took part in. Plus, they won three tournaments in this category which none of the teams achieved so far.

As far as Team Liquid’s Major wins are concerned, that’s a whole another, maybe a bit sad, story. Guys won only one main event of the season at China Dota 2 Supermajor and once played in the DreamLeague Season 8 Finals – that’s it.

What does it mean, you might wonder? Nothing, to be frank. It’s all about stability and consistence which the squad demonstrated by getting into top-4s. So you can judge the level of their game play as a team. One might say they don’t live up to expectations in deciding matches? Sure, it happens. But Liquid definitely did their “homework” and outplayed Virtus.pro in an intense battle of the China Dota2 Supermajor grand-final.



Chances to win: a tiny tad lower than last year 

Betting services consider current “Aegis” owners to be the main favorite of the tournament. Bet coefficient is 3.8% that Team Liquid will win (Virtus.pro got a 0.2% higher rate). Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov – VP’s current coach – said pretty much the same thing:

"I think these two teams and our team are current TI topdogs. But again, everything can change, there’s still so much time ahead. Meta will evolve a few times, some rosters will definitely become stronger. Any of the three teams I mentioned might face a slight decline but I doubt that would be us. LGD or LiquidIn my opinion both teams are really strongLGD outshines Liquid in some aspects and vice versa”. 

Let’s take a look at the team’s performance versus PSG.LGD and VP. 

Team Liquid vs. VP (6 matches)

  • 3 wins (China Dota2 Supermajor, Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018, DreamLeague Season 8)
  • 2 losses (The Bucharest Major, ESL One Hamburg)
  • 1 draw (DreamLeague Season 8 group stage).

Team Liquid vs. PSG.LGD (9 matches)

  • 4 wins (China Dota2 Supermajor, EPICENTER XL group stage, SL i-League Invitational Season 4 in group stage and play-off)
  • 5 losses (two at EPICENTER XL play-offs, three at Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018)

We can see the same tendency when Kuroky faced his former teammate Clement “Puppey” Ivanov from Team Secret. Four losses, three wins and one draw.



But don’t forget that Team Liquid’s captain is one of the most experienced players in the professional scene, so he always knows the best ways and words to calm down and support his teammates. And that’s an extremely important talent in high-stress situations. These guys can always make it tough for opponents. They played enough high level events to become seasoned warriors. As for the pressure, well, they have to deal with it as soon as they join an org.

As a matter of fact, even matches versus top squads are to Team Liquid’s benefit than loss. Atmosphere and chemistry in the team are amazing, despite recent drama around Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Borislavov’s statements towards Russian people.

Will Team Liquid be able to make the impossible, do something that none of the teams could do in the history of The International – defend their title? We don’t know and no one does! Key factors to this victory might be meta changes, how and when they’ll approach fights with their main rivals such as Virtus.pro, etc.

Yes, the “bears” look better, especially when they demonstrate this mind-boggling, out-of-this-world level of Dota. The Chinese from PSG.LGD took the victory away from Team Liquid more often than not. Puppey with his Team Secret managed to find and use several weak spots of the champions which helped them steal some important matches. But Team Liquid became TI winners because they know how to deal with difficulties, improving themselves as each individual and a team, and delivering games like this:



That's it for today! How do you think Team Liquid will perform this year? Will "the Juggernaught" fall or stay strong? 

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