The five group stage matches you NEED to watch on Day One

The first day of the TI group stages is Monday the 27th, but with three games running simultaneously in five blocks across the day it's getting awfully difficult to choose what to watch. Don't worry: jD will be your groupstage sherpa to guide you through the tortuous peaks and demanding valleys of these group stages. What games should you watch day one? Which ones have the best backstories? Let's find out.
Cloud9 vs LGD Gaming
The first clash between the two since LGD's roster changes adding xiao8 and Maybe

[h2]Casted by Tobiwan and Waga at 9:00 PDT

A clash between these closely ranked teams is the perfect example of what The International is all about. Because they are separated by region most of the year, LGD and Cloud 9 rarely meet each other in tournament play with no games against each other since the Dota 2 Asia Championship.

This will be the first time these teams face each other since the addition of Lu “Maybe” Yao and Chinese legend Zhang “xiao8” Ning (LGD’s new captain) to LGD back in March, meaning this will be a true test for LGD.

Cloud 9 LGD’s biggest opponent for second seed in Group A (iG is the other major contender, but on 6.84 iG has an unimpressive 2:5 record against LGD).

If either team takes this series undefeated it will be an amazingly strong step toward an upper-bracket seed

with a course charted to land in top six in the overall tournament.

Invictus Gaming vs Team Secret

[h2]Casted by Tobiwan and Waga at approximately 11:00 PDT

No pairing from either group has played more tournament games on this patch than iG against Secret. Historically, Secret has faired very well with a 9:2 record… however,

if Invictus Gaming do manage to overcome their disadvantage it will put them on a chart for second seed, otherwise they are looking as a likely third or fourth seed.

Secret will likely end up in first either way… unless they start this tournament much less prepared than has been expected.

Since iG’s play history against LGD is not much better than their history against Secret and LGD also has a greater advantage against almost every lower-ranked opponent,

it looks like iG may have to topple the giant early if they want to climb into that top two seeding.

NewBee vs Virtus Pro

[h2]Casted by Kotlguy and Purge at approximately 13:00 PDT

Most of you just asked why this is even on this list. You may even think it's laughable. Every viewer knows Virtus.Pro comes into this match expected to win; against the recently floundering defending champions, Virtus.Pro’s first series of the tournament seems like a home run. But think about the fact that Empire, EHOME, and Vici Gaming all have perfect win-loss records against Newbee on 6.84 while Virtus.Pro has never met them in battle.

It’s reasonable to expect every one of Virtus.Pro’s seeding competition to take Newbee 2:0—any team which fails this test will come into the seeding contest at a full two point disadvantage. Whether or not Virtus.Pro can take not ONE but BOTH games in this series could be the single most significant factor influencing if they move forward in the upper bracket

or the lower one. This match, even though it may be one-sided, has BIG implications for Virtus.Pro. A full sweep here puts them in a strong position to take a top four seed and puts the burden of execution on EHOME, which is probably the team competing for that same slot.

Team Empire vs Vici Gaming

[h2]Casted by Capitalist and Blitz at approximately 15:00 PDT

Nine out of ten all-time matches between these teams have been in the last two months, with Vici Gaming losing two-thirds of those matchups. Iceiceice recently said in an interview that VG isn’t hiding anything… they’re just bad. But remember that for the bulk of the time between last year’s TI and now, VG was trading closely with EG and Secret as the #1 team in the world.

Two months after trading Black^ for Hao, VG had reached their all-time peak in performance, but by mid-May they completely crashed and burned. They’ve been struggling to keep their heads above water for months now.

If this game goes 2-0 for Empire, it sets them up to be the favorite for second seed. If it goes 1-1, it shows that VG is stronger than they were in recent tournaments like ESL and Mars TV.

But if VG does manage to take this against their recent play history, it’s a sign that they’ve found their life again and are a team to watch closely moving into the main event.

This match also has serious implications for every team in the bracket: if it splits even, EHOME and Virtus.Pro are in a good position to take a top seed, but if one team pulls a major victory the competition will become much fiercer for third and fourth place between three of the four teams.

Empire vs EHOME

[h2]Casted by Capitalist and Blitz at approximately 17:00 PDT

Why is this so key?

Empire is unlikely to lose many (if any) games to teams like Newbee, MVP, or any wildcard selection and is most likely to trade even or better with their closer rivals like Virtus Pro or Vici Gaming. EHOME wants to be on the list of close rivals, not the list of lower-seed fodder, but EHOME is unlikely to have many opportunities to gain points on Empire by beating up on lower teams.

If EHOME doesn’t match Empire in this match, then they need Empire to screw the pooch in an easier match later on if they have a chance at surpassing the twitter team. If EHOME don't win this match, then whatever Empire does against other teams like VG EHOME has to match.

Of course, REMEMBER THAT ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! What we really would love to see is an underdog shine through these group stages in a completely unexpected way... but by the nature of "unexpected underdog" we can't really predict if this will happen or for which team(s). As such, make sure you tune back to joinDOTA for updates regarding how all the matches are occurring and the implications for the main event!

[i]joinDOTA's TI5 coverage is brought to you by ASUS, our official partner for the event.