The biggest Dota 2 tournament in history could continue the tradition of a dark horse champion.
The International 10 and its $40 million prize pool are just around the corner. Dota 2 teams from across the world have dissected patch 7.30 looking for the best strategies. Every International from 2014 to now has been won by an underdog, so no team should be counted out just yet. Here are three betting dark horses with a shot at The International 10’s grand prize.
Western fans mostly have eyes for 2021 major champions PSG.LGD and Invictus Gaming when considering the top teams in China, but Elephant shouldn’t be overlooked. The Chinese super team is composed of many of the best players in the region’s history. Captain and soft support Xu “fy” Linsen has come very close to an Aegis at past The International events. He returns with the core duo of Lu “Somnus” Yao and Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun, formerly known as “Maybe” and “Paparazi,” respectively.
Elephant failed to qualify for either major of the year, but still shook things up in China. The squad earned recent podium finishes at Dota PIT Season 5 and FMWH Championship Season 3. A successful regional qualifier run secured a last-minute trip to Bucharest. Most of this team has experience playing in The International playoffs. TI10 could finally be the year that fy wins his first Aegis trophy and the millions of dollars that come with it.
OG came within one series of lower division relegation and barely squeezed into The International 10 via the Western Europe qualifier. For the defending champions, this means everything is going according to plan.
OG is the biggest wildcard at TI10, which could work to its advantage. Captain Johan “N0tail” Sundstein has commanded his ragtag squad to victory twice already. One more championship would elevate him as the undisputed greatest Dota 2 captain of all time.
This OG roster is not the same group of players that found glory at past editions of The International. Soft support Martin “Saksa” Sazdov and mid laner Syed “SumaiL” Hassan have brought their talents to the storied squad, and both players had major roles in OG’s qualifier success. Even with a poor DPC season on the books, OG is still a major dark horse betting opportunity at The International 10.
Despite qualifying for both majors and for The International 10, Team Aster’s season can still be described as rough. The squad’s top playmaker Ye “Borax” Zhibiao, previously known as “BoBoKa,” ran into legal troubles just days before the Singapore Major. Coach Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng had to step in on short notice for the WePlay AniMajor, which resulted in a ninth-place finish for Team Aster.
Despite a poor record at Valve events, Aster is still one of the most feared teams in China. The roster won consecutive seasons of i-League and dominated Season 2 of the Chinese Dota Pro Circuit. China is arguably the strongest region as a whole going into The International 10, and Aster has been training hard against tough competition. Superstar carry Du “Monet” Peng has a chance to outdo his contemporaries on the world stage, and he likely won’t let that opportunity slip by.