What is the TI curse and will anyone defeat it?

posted by EskayDota,
Why has no player ever won TI twice? What is this phenomenon, and how close has anyone come to defeating it? Winning TI is the greatest accolade a Dota player can achieve in their profession. Winning multiple Internationals is a feat that nobody has yet accomplished. With over 40 unique TI winners, why has nobody been able to do the double, and who are those to have come close?

Who came closest?

Few of you need reminding that Natus Vincere took the first International. They made it to the final for the next two years, and remained strong regardless of their opponents. Eventually after a poor performance at TI4, their players went their separate ways.

This means that arguably Na'Vi have come as close as anyone to breaking the TI curse. They came within an inch, but why is it the case that taking the title twice is an impossible task?

Who still stands a chance?

Of the 39 players or coaches who have claimed the title between TI1-TI7, only 17 ended up making it to TI8. With 108 players or coaches attending TI8, if only 16% of them have ever won a TI, the likelihood of this happening again is seemingly small.

To look even further into the statistics of this, if the turnover of players remains the same and is indiscriminate to whether a player has won a TI or not, the percentage of TI winners at any given TI will never increase beyond a certain point. Players age and retire, so if the turnover stays somewhat consistent, it will always remain unlikely that a player or coach can win TI twice.

An ever changing landscape

The scene is so fluid and consistently close that given a month of Dota, the 'best' team in the world could easily change. If TI qualifiers had happened just a month earlier than they did this year, OG wouldn’t even have necessarily formed.

The nature of this quickly changing landscape means the title of 'top dog' can be fickle, and for a team to remain in that spot for the span of a year or more is going to be quite unlikely. On top of that, each year on average 34% of the players attending TI are new (accurate between TI3-TI8).

With such a frequently changing scene, this means out of the 329 unique players and coaches that have attended TI (according to Liquipedia entries of TI rosters), just over 13% of them have won TI.

What the fans expect

Expectations are an important factor when considering the TI curse. When a team wins TI, they are expected to remain the best and outright top team in the world. This sets expectations almost as high as can be. Any less than top spots for the team viewed as the best means they are underperforming.

Despite a high standard for TI winners being set, some teams do end up performing consistently well year-on-year. Team Liquid had a solid season in the last DPC, and came fourth at TI. For any team, that would be a pretty satisfactory accomplishment. However, that didn’t live up to the expectations of the fans and potentially the players themselves.

This sets a difficult task; players can only live up to their previous performances by once again proving themselves as the best.

Who will be the first?

There are only a handful of players who have been to every TI — Theeban '1437' Siva, Leong 'ddc' Fatmeng, Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi, Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov and Saahil 'Universe' Arora. From these, only Kuroky, Puppey and Universe have been on a TI-winning team.

If we use this to determine that these players are amongst the greatest and most consistent, it would be easy to suggest that one of these three will be the first to win two TIs, which will be much to the pleasure of their dedicated fans.

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