posted by Olucaron,
It’s been a strange tournament so far, in that there’s no one team which is really taking The International 2018 by the scruff of the neck. Evil Geniuses are leading the charge with a 3-1-0 record, but are they really that far ahead of the pack?

Big names fail to show up

Before the tournament, all talk was of just three teams – Team Liquid, the defending champions,, the DPC’s strongest, and PSG.LGD, the great Chinese hope. Although this is just the Group Stage, and the real meat of the tournament begins on Monday, neither of these three teams have really shown us anything to convince us of their ‘favourites’ tags.

Team Liquid have shown us the best and worst of their ability — all in the same game, as they took down Fnatic and then were obliterated in return. Since that opener, they’ve also dropped games against PSG.LGD in the big-name showdown and Invictus Gaming, who themselves aren’t up to much. Their sole series win has been against OG, who are loitering around the bottom of the group., on the other hand, are looking slightly stronger, but nowhere near as dominant as they have been this season. An opening win over OpTic Gaming was followed by ties against Team Serenity, Team Secret and TNC Predator, leading them to trail early group leaders Forward Gaming. One has to think these are games they should be winning, if their seasonal form is to be believed, but somehow they just haven’t been able to convert.

Meanwhile, PSG.LGD are looking to be the tie specialists, with three of their four matches ending even. Of course, one could expect that the Liquid match could easily end a tie, showing both teams to be evenly matched, but ties against OG and VGJ.Thunder could just as easily worry fans who are backing them to go all the way in what is supposed to be an ‘even year’ Chinese win.

No real shocks, but no pedestrian results either

It’s still early days, of course, but despite the odd freak result – such as Liquid’s brutal Game 2 loss to Fnatic – there hasn’t really been any major series upsets. Perhaps Evil Geniuses leading the way was unexpected, but they’re also a side that had the potential to ‘come good’, with seasoned performers such as Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev and Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan making the step up on the big stage.

Perhaps one could say that Chinese qualifiers Serenity are having a good run, given few knew much about them beforehand. Taking games off both Secret and VP is a big deal – but with China a traditionally strong region, is this really such a shock? Throw in a tie with Vici Gaming and their tournament so far is perhaps impressive given the tough start they were handed.

What about the ‘little guys’, those propping up our power rankings? TNC Predator are doing well with a 1-2-1 record at time of writing, leaving them sitting pretty in third in the group. paiN Gaming* are undefeated in series with three ties, including against Newbee. Newcomers Winstrike have a win and two losses (the win versus Invictus), while Invictus themselves are sitting on three ties for just one loss – also not too bad a week so far.

All in all, there’s still a long way to go, as we’re not even halfway through the Group Stage. The ‘big three’ remain undefeated in series — and it’s all these ties that have characterised proceedings so far. Is this a sign of teams being evenly matched? Or can this be put down to sheer inconsistency as teams find their footing in the most important event of the year? The next two days will reveal all.

Who are your picks for Upper Bracket finishes, based on what you’ve seen so far?

Header image © Adela Sznajder | ESL

  • Olucaron


    David W. Duffy
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