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The International 10 (TI10) is finally here. From 7 to 17 October, 18 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world will be battling in this year's iteration of the game's annual world championship tournament for the right to claim the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool and the coveted Aegis of Champions.
The Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia team (senior producer Kurt Lozano, video producer Jay Chan, and esports lead Bryan Huang) have given their predictions on which team will claim the championship, which team will have a breakout performance, which hero will define the meta, and more.
Which two teams do you think will meet in the grand finals and face off for the Aegis of Champions?
Kurt: The rivalry between two-time TI champions OG and North American juggernauts Evil Geniuses (EG) is one of the most storied in all of Dota. With that said, the two have never clashed in the grand finals before. I think this might be the year for that.
While both teams have significantly changed their rosters from their previous encounters, I imagine that there are still scores to be settled between Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen, and Tal "Fly" Aizik on EG and Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen, Sébastien "Ceb" Debs, and Johan "N0tail" Sundstein on the side of OG.
There's some added spice too now that Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan is on OG. Arteezy fans will hate me for this, but wouldn't it be poetic if after years of trying to win TI together, SumaiL will win his second by continuing to deny Artour his first? For me that's a setup for an even more dramatic rivalry in future TI's.
Jay: I think this will be the North America vs China finals we have all been waiting for, so I'm expecting EG and PSG.LGD to play in the finals again. Both EG and PSG.LGD have performed well in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), and have consistently finished among the Top 3 in the last 2 Majors (PSG.LGD won the last one too).
I highly doubt their consistency will just disappear because it's TI. EG will probably drop into the LB while I'm expecting PSG.LGD to go far this tournament like they have done the last few TIs, albeit with a different roster this time.
Bryan: I'm going to go with an OG - EG grand final. OG to the upper bracket and EG from the lower. I fancy EG will perform quite strongly as long as they don't trip up with the Chinese teams (as our colleague Aloysius Low put in his commentary), and OG are just... OG. I discounted them during the qualifiers but they seized that chance, and Ceb coming back from eye surgery will be a great boost to their morale.
What do you think will be the outcome of your grand final of choice?
Kurt: OG 3 - 2 EG
Jay: Probably PSG.LGD 3 - 1 EG
Bryan: OG 3 - 1 EG
Who are your top three teams and why?
Kurt: I've already said OG and EG are my Top 2. I'm pretty torn between PSG.LGD and Team Secret, but I'm gonna have to go with PSG.LGD on this one. They have just been too damn good in the lead-up to TI10. While I do have PSG.LGD in third place in my predictions, I have to admit that I can see any of my Top 3 picks to go all the way and raise the Aegis of Champions.
Jay: First, PSG.LGD. Have you all seen Wang "Ame" Chunyu and Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang's performances the last DPC? They were so good that at times it felt like they were in an entirely different league. Second will be EG. I think they have looked different and better with Daryl "iceiceice" Koh during this DPC. Last, Team Secret. The experience of Clement "Puppey" Ivanov can never be dismissed, the roster has still stayed consistent and strong. I expect them to make another valiant run for the grand finals.
Bryan: Well, like Kurt, my top 2 are OG and EG, so I think the third team to round out the top three will be PSG.LGD. I do fancy the strongest Chinese team to go quite far, and they were superbly on form at the WePlay AniMajor. I hope they can continue that in TI10.
Who do you think will be the defining hero of TI10?
Kurt: It has to be Dawnbreaker. She's the first-ever hero to be introduced to Captain's Mode shortly before a TI, so she'll be entering the meta as a wildcard. While I don't think she'll be in the top tier of picks and bans as other TI stalwarts like Io, I'm sure she'll make quite the impression once she starts slipping through drafts.
I'm also excited to see how neutral items will shake up the TI meta. While neutral items have been in the game for almost two years now, TI10 will be the first-ever TI to feature neutral items. While I'm sure the teams will be playing the same way they have always been since neutral items have been added, I'm interested to see how their RNG aspect will come into play once the stakes are at their highest.
Jay: Tinker actually. His new skills have brought back some life to this annoying hero and he's truly a pain in the butt to play into (if you have seen him in your pubs). Also, I want to watch NothingToSay play Tinker.
Bryan: I've got my eyes on Dawnbreaker, because this will be the hero's first TI. Who knows what strats might be unveiled during the tournament? She's been used either as an offlaner or position 4 support, but I'm itching to see a team do something crazy like a roaming strat with her.
Who do you think will be the breakout team/player of TI10?
Kurt: I think the player that will stand out the most during TI10 will be PSG.LGD's NothingToSay. He's been the biggest reason why his team was so good during the DPC and are considered heavy favorites coming into TI10.
As for a breakout team, my pick will have to go to Team Spirit. They're still a very young team, but they have shown so much promise during the DPC and I hope they can make a big splash in TI10 too.
Jay: I'm rooting for a breakout performance from T1. I want a Southeast Asian team to perform well in TI10. I hope they can go far and at least finish in the Top 6.
Bryan: I'm hoping we'll see some surprises from the South American teams, they're usually such a joy to watch. I might be a bit biased, but I am also hoping for an SEA player to make his mark, I think NothingToSay and Abed have had a good season. I'll also be pleased if T1 and Fnatic have a good showing at TI10.
The final day of every TI has always been special. Not only is it the day that TI champions are crowned, it is also when Dota 2 developer Valve Software also makes special announcements on what's to come to the game in the future. What do you think will be Valve’s special announcement on TI10's final day?
Kurt: While I'm sure it will be a new hero or two, I'd also like to see them address some of the problems that have arisen in the scene over the past couple of years. We're still in a pandemic that doesn't look like it'll be going away any time soon, so I think teams and the competitive scene overall could really use some assurance that they can keep competing without any worries of something going awry in the future.
Jay: Definitely new heroes. I would also like Valve to introduce a comprehensive esports plan for the next DPC that solves all the problems of the previous seasons. One can only dream.
Bryan: Another new hero? What I think they probably shouldn't announce is next year's location. You know, pandemic and all.
What is something that has already happened in previous TI's that will also happen again in TI10?
Kurt: I'd like to see an underdog team make a deep run like Infamous did back in TI9. With that said, I think we can all agree that OG will come out with something crazy like carry Io in TI9 that they'll ride all the way to a three-peat.
Jay: OG is probably going to figure some game-breaking meta again. Maybe SumaiL will play Mirana in the safe lane and OG makes that work? Who knows at this point.
Bryan: I do think OG will find something no one thought of again, and it could very well bring them the Aegis.