SophoS’ NA Sphere: TI8 NA Power Rankings

Evil Geniuses won TI5. Digital Chaos finished runner-up at TI6. Which team from the NA region will be top contender at TI8?

Fans of NA Dota will be blessed with not one, not two but three teams representing the region. Evil Geniuses, OpTic Gaming and VGJ.Storm have a rigorous path awaiting them. Collectively, all three of these teams have a message to send: the NA region may not have received a direct invite resulting from the DPC season, but they all deserve to be there. Individually, there is only one goal; winning The International 2018.

These rankings will include all time from the beginning of the DPC season or a roster’s inception through TI8 qualifiers. Due to the traditionally lax nature of The Summit prior to all Internationals, these rankings will exclude the event from consideration.

#3 Evil Geniuses

The current iteration of Evil Geniuses was formed on May 28. Their first test was at the China Dota 2 Supermajor. After failing to win a single game in the group stage, the team managed to limp by Team Spirit in the lower bracket. This would represent the sole series win of the tournament as OpTic Gaming subsequently showed them the door. Many did not expect much as the roster was in its infancy, but the results were quite lackluster for a star-studded lineup.

At TI8 qualifiers Evil Geniuses fell to compLexity, VGJ.Storm and OpTic Gaming in the group stage but bounced back to secure the first slot in the playoff stage. Not without a caveat. Immortals upset OpTic Gaming thus providing Evil Geniuses a favorable match up to secure that slot. Because VGJ.Storm secured the first slot issued at the conclusion of group play, Evil Geniuses managed to successfully evade both regional rivals in the playoffs.

Without a doubt, there is huge upside for the boys in blue. They’ve continued to improve since their formation and have a myriad of resources to aid their preparation. However, there are some reservations. We’ve witnessed star-studded rosters fail time and time again due to lack of team cohesion. Their success depends predominantly on their ability to come together as a team. To be on the same page with one another. This is an issue that has plagued Evil Geniuses for some time now. Their placement in this ranking is primarily because of this question mark hovering over them.

#2 VGJ.Storm

VGJ.Storm’s current roster was finalized late in the season with the addition of Roman ‘Resolut1on’ Fominok on April 12. The dividends of the decision were realized instantaneously. The team qualified for a few events and placed first at GESC: Thailand Minor and second at The MDL Changsha Major. Thus far, the culmination of their season was securing the first available slot at the TI8 NA qualifiers.

Do not be shocked if this team has a Team Empire (TI7) esque run or an equivalent to that of Digital Chaos (TI6). Most look at VGJ.Storm and see just Resolut1on, but they’re one of the most well-rounded teams in the game. They know exactly how they want to play and execute it at a high level.

An observation of VGJ.Storm is they are one dimensional. Everyone knows what they’re hoping to achieve. Secure Resolut1ion’s farm and let him run rampant over the enemy. This is their greatest strength and do it better than almost every team in the world. Does predictability matter when you are among the best at doing it? That said, being multidimensional in terms of how to win provides a warm blanket during the draft. That takes us to number one in the rankings.

#1 OpTic Gaming

When you possess one of the best drafters in the world and a slew of players with the ability to play “cheese” heroes, odds of winning certainly increases. Picking these game breaking heroes isn’t even required. The simple fear of the possibility sways the draft in your favor and those of absent mind get punished. Peter ‘ppd’ Dager led Evil Geniuses to International glory in 2015 and has tapped into that same brilliance for OpTic Gaming.

OpTic Gaming’s current roster finalized with the highly underrated acquisition of Neta ‘33’ Shapira on December 21. The sluggish pace came to an end and the team’s accomplishments kicked into high gear. By the season’s concluding event, OpTic Gaming was one series away from earning a direct invite to TI8 but fell short.

While most players on OpTic Gaming received proper commendations for performances leading to their success, Quinn ‘CCnC’ Callahan has been the tool of criticism for many in the community. The fact is that CCnC has improved dramatically as the season has progressed. This is evident in the later portion of the season when OpTic Gaming drafted heroes to put the game entirely on his shoulders.

Admittedly, deciding which team takes first and second between OpTic Gaming and VGJ.Storm was somewhat based on a gut decision. They are two solid teams and have experienced similar struggles. Both have the occasional issue with consistency and fall shy of winning series against tier one teams. They are on the brink of greatness.

The International 2018 is scheduled to begin on August 15 running through August 25. The prize pool sits at just over $23.5 million.

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