With The International 2018 kicking off in less than 48 hours, details on the tournament’s group stages have finally emerged.
Wykhrm Reddy made the reveal on Twitter, announcing the groups and format for the first leg of the event.
Similar to last year, TI8 will feature two groups of nine teams playing in a round robin format with best-of-two series play. Teams placing first through fourth in each group will start in the upper bracket while teams placing fifth through eighth will start in the lower bracket. The bottom ranked team in each group will be eliminated prior to the main event.
Unlike last year, however, the groups’ balance is not even close on paper.
This year’s competition features a stacked Group A compared to a weaker Group B. Two of the top picks to win the event, PSG.LGD and Team Liquid, are joined in Group A by another popular pick in Evil Geniuses. The weakest teams in Group A may be an OG that looked excellent in the European qualifiers and Fnatic, who are coming off a second-place finish at The Summit 9.
Group B, despite having the oddsmakers’ favorite to win in Virtus Pro, should see less step competition. Though squads such as Team Secret, Newbee, and Vici Gaming have all had great moments during this Dota Pro Circuit season, none have managed consistent success, particularly in recent months. What’s more, Group B also has the theoretical weakest team in PaiN Gaming, along with the largely unproven Team Serenity.
The International has never strictly followed anyone’s expectations. Big upsets and Cinderella runs are all but guaranteed to happen. But the Group A look to be facing an uphill climb right out of the gate.