Redeye's TI8 preview: History in the making

A preview you say? In statistical form? Of my favourite event of the year? Why certainly!

While The International (affectionately abbreviated to just TI) 2016 is my favourite event of all time, TI8 has the potential to beat it. We come in to the event with a lot of variables to consider, not least of which are the teams themselves.

A steady stream of high-quality major and minor winners from the regular season and handy sprinkling of qualifiers from all over the world, hungry to prove themselves on the biggest dota stage of all time, make up the 18-team field.

For those of you not aware, The International, now in its eighth year, is the single largest prize pool esports event in the world. Since 2014 the prize pool has risen from a whopping $10million to an astronomical (and scarcely believable) $24million last year.

Indeed, this year has already passed $23million and is set to become the largest esports prize pool for a single event, of all time.

A battle for the Aegis

While the prize pool often grabs all the headlines in the mainstream media, the money is only part of a much bigger picture, particularly to the players themselves.

Let us be honest, the players want the money and it’s surely part of why some of them play and continue to hunt for a big finish at TI. However, if you ask most of them, particularly those at the top, what drives them and they’ll tell you they want that Aegis (the winners' trophy) in their hand, they want to be recognised as one of the best - the best of all time, to become a legend in the game and be revered for ever more.

Even those who have already won The International come back year after year in the hope of being the first to win it twice.

Welcome to my glorious garden of stats

Let’s take a quick visit to Redeye's Glorious Garden of Stats (Shoot me. Come up with a better name, I dare you!). 61 different players have played in the final match of The International, while 35 of them have won the Aegis.

Those of a mathematical persuasion will have worked out that 35 different players winning the title across seven previous events means no player has ever managed to win it twice.

A Chinese team is due to win this year

In seven years! That’s like 28 human years or something. Imagine a team or player had never been able to win more than one Superbowl, or one FA Cup in nearly 30 years. That is bonkers!

So this is a storyline we will be following at TI8. Can someone finally win a second TI? It might just be 2018 that it finally happens.

Several players have come close, appearing in multiple finals, and in fact three players have reached the grand final three times (XBOCT, Dendi and Puppey), but still only have a single Aegis to their names.

Perhaps even more amazing is that no single organisation has won more than one International either. Though, some might argue a certain Mr Alex Garfield has won two due to the fact he once owned both Evil Geniuses (winners of TI5) and Alliance (winners of TI3).


Curse or streak?

The International would not be complete without its own curse, or as I prefer to look at it, streak. For whatever reason, it appears to be part of the legend of TI that Chinese teams only win TI when the year is an even number.

Previous winners from China include IG (2012), Newbee (2014) and Wings (2016), which means if the curse, sorry, streak continues, a Chinese team is due to win this year.

And to make the streak complete of course, Western teams only win in odd years, again confirmed by Navi (2011), Alliance (2013), Evil Geniuses (2015) and, almost against the odds Team Liquid (2017).

Ages and debuts

So what about some of the other facts of the teams and players attending?

Well, the oldest player attending is Lu “Fenrir” Chao aged at a positively youthful 29 years of age, while the youngest player attending is Heitor “Duster” Pereira, the Brazilian who turned 18 on the 8th August this year.

Of the 90 players attending, 28 of them will play at The International for the very first time. While the remainder have all played at least once before at TI, only three players have played at every single TI since it began, and are appearing in their eighth consecutive TI.

Former winners Kuro “Kuroky” Takhasomi and Clement “Puppey” Ivanov are also joined by Leong “DDC” Fat-meng, who has two 3rd place finishes in his Eight appearances.

As you’d expect, Kuroky appears quite a lot in our various statistical lists, not least due to his win with Team Liquid last year and his ever-present appearances at TI.

He’s also the highest prize money winner in Dota history with more than $3.7million earnings in his career, and could be the first esports player to surpass $5million career earnings if he wins again in 2018 with Team Liquid. He’s played more games than any other player at TI (146 of them) but is only one game ahead of Puppey and nine ahead of DDC, so these positions could change depending how far each of their respective teams go at TI8.

If you combine all the players attending TI this year, their career earnings are an insane $75.8million

It’s DDC who holds the all-time wins lead at TI with 82 games won, while Puppey has 81 and Kuroky has 79, but all of them are beaten when it comes to the best win rate at TI.

That honour goes to Aliwi “w33haa” Omar, who played in only one TI so far with Digital Chaos, finishing second in 2016 with a win rate of 75.86%, just ahead of GH.

If there is going to be a repeat winner of TI, only 11 previous champions qualified for this year’s TI, however they are split over six teams, which does provide a greater chance it might happen.

Obviously, we have last year’s Team Liquid line-up which hasn’t changed any of their five players. Then there is SumaiL and S4 at Evil Geniuses, PPD at Optic Gaming, Universe at fnatic, Puppey at Team Secret and Faith at Newbee.

An international, er, International

Fun stats you say? If you combine all the players attending TI this year, their career earnings are an insane $75.8million. And to show the opposite scales involved here, we already spoke about Kuroky with his $3.7million prize earnings, but spare a thought for first time qualifier from Team Serenity’s Pyw who has earned just $301 in his career so far.

For perspective, that’s less than I did, though he will of course surpass this without winning a single game at TI8!

There are 27 Chinese players attending, eight Filipino and seven Russians with a total of 23 different countries represented among the 90 players.

Sadly, not a single player is from the UK. However, in the talent list, there are four of us! That figure is dwarfed however by the USA, who have 15 representatives among the on screen talent. I think we’ve found what’s wrong with NA dota, and you know what they say. Those that can, do, those who can’t, talk about it.

My TI8 prediction

And finally, a prediction you say? OK.

One of the biggest names in Chinese and global Dota down the years has been LGD and they are in great form heading in to The International.

They also have five players who have never won TI, so if the streak continues properly (no player or team winning TI twice, China winning in even years), put all of your money, your crypto, your Lambo, your house and your memes on LGD winning!

That is, of course, if you don’t walk under ladders, believe the number 13 is unlucky and that commentators curse is a real thing. (The third one might be true).
Good luck, have box.

Now make your prediction

Luckbox are giving away free Dota 2 Arcanas - all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is correctly predict the champions of TI8.

Predict TI8 champions to win a free Arcana

Picture by NVIDIA