‘Dota 2’ International: Every Team’s X-Factor

Nico Faraguna

The Dota 2 International 6 Championships kicks off today, and once again people are clamoring over the massive prize pool It currently sits at $19.5 million dollars, with 1st place taking home a “measly” $8.6 million. When you split $8.6 million dollars five ways, it’s just barely enough money for each player to buy their own Caribbean archipelago.

Ok, enough with the jokes — It’s game time. We’ve examined every team’s “x-factor” that’s qualified so far for TI6. Which player needs to perform like an MVP if their team wants to take home the Aegis?


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Ivan “ArtStyle” Antonov – Natus Vincere

The prodigal son makes his return to The International as Na’Vi’s captain once again. ArtStyle became a folklore hero as he captained the Na’Vi squad to a TI1 victory and took home the biggest prize pool in esports history at the time. He fell on hard times soon after, unable to maintain his position on top-tier teams after leaving Na’Vi. Artstyle was relegated to playing on tier 3 teams throughout the CIS region, which slowly chipped away at his stature over the years.

That being said, this Na’Vi squad has been looking strong lately. Placing second three times this year at various sizeable events, and winning Starladder i-League just two weeks ago.

Na’Vi are often bounced from tournaments after losing to OG or Liquid; two teams who are considered the best in europe.

If ArtStyle’s unique drafts and support hero selection can work for the TI meta, this team might be cinderella-story for the CIS region.

Sidenote: Na’Vi is the only team in TI this year with players from the CIS region, except for Resolution on Digital Chaos. Easily the lowest number of CIS players at a TI ever.

David “MoonMeander” Tan – OG

The only offlaner to make the list, MoonMeander is the key for OG to win in Seattle. While the obvious choice for this list is Miracle and his 9k MMR (Matchmaking Ranking) — MoonMeander has been a bit less consistent than his other teammates.

However, if given a favorable matchup in the offlane and can make consistent *smart* plays, OG will have an excellent chance of taking home the Aegis.

Clement “Puppey” Ivanov – Team Secret

Considered one of the greatest minds in western Dota, Puppey has been the quintessential captain for some of Dota’s most prestigious rosters.

During this International, he’ll have to wrangle two of DotA’s most outspoken and talented core players — EternaLEnVy and Arteezy. Both canadian players are touted as some of the best in their roles, however talent doesn’t always equal performance. Puppey will need to produce drafts that compliment his two best players and keep them confident for the entire tournament.

If EE and Arteezy get space and accumulate farm, the boys on Team Secret will be a force to be reckoned with.

Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi – Team Liquid

The soft-spoken DotA veteran KuroKy had been everybody’s favorite punching bag around this time last year after Arteezy’s comments sparked drama that the Dota community gobbled up.

However, KuroKy has quietly had the better year than Arteezy and Team Liquid has been a model of consistency over the course of 2016. If he can continue to form solid drafts and give stellar play from the 5-role (lowest farm priority support) — Team Liquid will be a shoo-in for a top 6 finish, if not much better.

Gustav “s4” Magnusson – Alliance

Last year’s International was not one to remember for s4. Team Secret were heavily favored heading into the record-setting event, but after a couple hiccups in the bracket stage, they found themselves out of the tournament.

One player in particular looked lost during TI5 and that was s4. Usually a top-tier mid player, he made frequent poor decisions and misplays, and his dominant laning stage was often lackluster.

However, since his reunion with Alliance, s4 seems to be back to his old self. The Alliance decided to get the band back together heading into TI6, going in with the same roster that won TI3.

One of the main reasons for their TI3 victory was s4’s stellar mid lane presence and transition into the late game. He was their tempo controller and often their rock. If Alliance wants to become the first team to win multiple International titles, they’ll need to make sure s4 is comfortable and cool.


chinese dota teams

Zhang “Mu” Pan – Newbee

After the Impressive run TongFu had at TI3, Mu was considered to be one of the best mid-laners in the world. If it hadn’t been for the Chen/Pudge combo ran by Na’Vi — TI3 results could have been very different.

His return with Newbee at TI4 saw him become a champion. But then his play took a turn for the worse. Leading up to TI5, Mu and the entire Newbee roster looked lost and unmotivated. It hasn’t been until recently that we’ve seen the return of Mu’s solid laning phase and mastery of multiple heroes, both of which Newbee will need going into the International. With the competitive meta’s emphasis consistently relying on Mid heroes, Newbee needs Mu to stand-up to the other top-tier mids.

Sun “Agressif” Zheng – LGD Gaming

China’s hottest carry in TI5, Aggressif was a master on the Phantom Lancer. However, his rise to fame didn’t have a fairy tale ending. The CDEC alumn still feels the sting of losing to EG 3-1 in the grand final.

Aggressif is now on LGD alongside the legendary Xiao8 and MMY!. No doubt the drafts and play calling from the two veterans will be solid, but what if Maybe gets focused too much during the early game? Can Agressif find a couple meta heroes like he did in TI5 to take over a game? We’ll soon find out.

Xu “fy” Linsen – Vici Gaming Reborn

Fy God. At one point fy was considered the most talented player in the world. The humble, handsome Chinese player hit some hard times after TI5. Vici placed a dismal bottom 3 at their hometown Shanghai major and decided to reshuffle the roster, moving Fy to Vici Gaming’s second squad, Vici Gaming Reborn.

During the TI6 qualifiers, Vici Gaming & Vici Gaming Reborn faced off against each other in the loser bracket finals — loser goes home and does not attend TI. After dropping the first map, Vici Gaming Reborn and Fy took down the favored veteran squad of Vici Gaming.

Last year, Fy gave the crowd at TI5 one of the most memorable performances ever by a Rubick, almost single handedly turning around a 15k gold deficit.

This year he is paired with the veteran Dota player DDC in the 5-role to try and take a team of fairly inexperienced players to the top of the DotA world.

Zhou “bLink” Yang – Wings Gaming

Wings Gaming feels like last year’s CDEC team. A team without big names and full of young talent that the western DotA world is unfamiliar with. They’ve proven themselves to be one of the strongest teams in China recently, winning the Summit 5 and winning ESL One in Manilla.

Their support duo has been a huge part of their success and seems to be their most consistent strength.However, bLink’s performance at TI6 will need to be above average if this team is going to want to place near the top. He will be facing a top tier mid player in every match and it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up and become the team’s go to playmaker for the duration of the tournament.

South-East Asia

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Kim “QO” Seon-yeop – MVP Phoenix

Perhaps one of the most fun mid-laners to watch, QO is a reckless player.

If you were to look up snowball in the DotA dictionary, there would be a picture of QO. Known for amassing a ridiculous amount of kills and playing unique heroes in the mid role, QO is boom or bust.

After last year’s surprising result in TI5, MVP Phoenix made some roster changes after March’s retirement, which left the captain slot open for DuBu. They’ve performed very well — placing 4th at the Shanghai Major and 5/6th at the Frankfurt Major.

With every TI comes a unique international meta and it will be interesting to see how it will fit into QO’s aggressive and gank oriented playstyle. If the meta does indeed suit him, MVP might be posed for a top 3 finish — a first for a Korean team in a major event.

Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho – TnC Gaming

Not gonna lie, I’m not the expert on the Southeast Asian Dota scene — nowadays, there are few who are. The scene has fallen from grace since it’s TI3 finish in the top 3, excluding Korean teams.

Like the rest of his SEA counterparts, DeMoN has also been struggling, changing rosters faster than anybody else in the scene. Known for his antics and YOLO plays, DeMoN has always had the talent but for whatever reason, has not found a stable roster since Evil Genuises — where he played three years ago.

Hating aside, he’s somebody you root for and you can’t help but feel happy for him after qualifying for TI6 with a team from the Phillipines. TNC gaming will have their hands full during this tournament and it’s a safe bet to place them finishing towards the bottom. However, with DeMoN’s LAN history, he might be able to harness the potential of his teammates and lead them down a path to glory.

Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung – Fnatic

The most iconic Dota player in South-east Asia, Mushi has been a Dota staple, making it to The International five times now.

Probably most famous for his stellar plays during Orange E-Sports 3rd place finish at TI3, Mushi has been a bit quiet lately, only placing 4th at TI4 with the Chinese all-star team DK.

His return to Malaysia has been less than ideal, but his current team, Fnatic, is proving they’re not to be taken lightly. If the support duo of DJ and 343 can make space and give Mushi the farm he needs, this squad might have a chance to sneak through the tournament to a respectable finish.

North America

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Peter “ppd” Dager – Evil Geniuses

Ah yes, the Salt King. PPD was the mastermind behind EG’s victory at TI5 last year — taking home an absurd prizepool and leading the first North American team to win a TI.

This year things haven’t gone according to plan for EG. Aui_2000 was kicked so Arteezy could return to EG. Then Arteezy and UNiVeRsE decided to leave for Team Secret. Aui_2000 is invited back along with BuLba, their previous coach, to replace the two dodging team members. However, UNiVeRsE then decided Team Secret wasn’t for him and decided to come back to EG. Zai, the support player from the TI4 EG roster decided to come out of retirement, which meant EG had to kick a player to make room… Aui_2000 was kicked once again.

Results for the ever-changing team have been mixed and the hype around SumaiL has begun to dissipate. However, if the team composition is to PPD’s liking and they’re comfortable with the meta, this team has a very good chance of repeating their TI5 victory.

Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen – Digital Chaos

Another Dota veteran that has seen his fair of roster shuffles, MiSeRy is now captaining an “American” squad heading into TI6. Being the captain/drafter is something that MiSeRy has not officially done in DotA 2, which is probably a good thing because only one other player on the DC roster has even been to a TI.

For DC to succeed, he’ll need to continue to be a formidable leader for the team. Digital Chaos is beyond talented, but their inexperience might hamper them. Hopefully MiSeRy will be able to take the reins and ride his team all the way to the Top 8.

For more articles about this year’s biggest DotA 2 tournament, visit Fandom.com!

Nico Faraguna
I enjoy playing PC games, watching motorcycle racing, and eating good grub
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