The International looms large over the Dota 2 season year-round, and with the event now just over the horizon it’s hard to talk about anything else in the world of Dota 2.
The competitive field for TI10 was finalized in July with no special “last chance qualifier” occurring since then. Instead, a number of tournaments have popped up offering both regional action and some international play between teams that have already relocated to Europe in preparation for The International 10.
So who is the favorite to take first place in the $40 million event at this point? Here’s everything you need to know.
Unsurprisingly, Chinese powerhouse PSG.LGD is the favorite to win The International 2021 according to bookmakers. The squad has been solid all year, winning the WePlay AniMajor and taking third place at the ONE Esports Singapore Major.
Following the WePlay AniMajor, PSG.LGD returned to China and looked strong in iLeague 2021 Season 1 en route to a fourth-place finish. From there, the team took first place in OGA Dota PIT Season 5 and finished second at ESL One Fall. That second-place finish at ESL One Fall is particularly impressive as it included a number of top internationals squads and PSG.LGD was handicapped by having to play coach Zhang “xiao8” Ning as its mid laner for the event.
The one big issue for PSG.LGD at the event is that mid lane vacancy. xiao8 played mid because of travel restrictions preventing starting mid Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang from traveling to Europe. If PSG.LGD is forced to start xiao8 at TI10, if the team is forced to use a short-notice substitute, or if NothingToSay can’t arrive in time to get proper practice in with the team, it will seriously impact the PSG.LGD’s chances.
PSG.LGD is the clear favorite at this time, but behind them are two strong contenders in Evil Geniuses and Team Secret.
Evil Geniuses has been strong all year but has had the misfortune of two disastrous grand finals losses at both majors. That doesn’t mean that EG isn’t one of the strongest teams in the event on paper. The squad could finally shake off its second-place curse at TI10.
Team Secret is in a similar boat, as it’s one of the best teams in the world on paper but has an ugly tradition of underperforming at The International. Despite entering as a favorite almost every year since forming, Team Secret hasn’t finished higher than fourth at the year’s biggest Dota 2 tournament. 2021 could be the year where that changes, but it’s hard to envision that happening.
Behind the three favorites are Virtus.pro, OG, Vici Gaming, and Elephant.
Elephant is something of a surprising outlier as the team’s incredibly talented roster hasn’t been able to post the results fans would expect. Virtus.pro hasn’t performed especially well on LAN but is a strong squad that could finally come through at The International. Vici Gaming performed fairly well at both majors, but has generally been the third-best team in China.
Finally, OG is in the same position it was for its first two The International championships. Check out our deep dive on the team’s chances.
The International often sees dark horse teams reach the grand finals. Though OG is technically the most notable, teams like 2016’s Digital Chaos, 2015’s CDEC Gaming, and 2014’s Vici Gaming have all made surprising runs to the grand finals. So who might end up joining them in 2021?
According to bookmakers, the teams facing the longest odds are the three South American teams alongside North America’s Undying. SG e-Sports in particular stands the least chance of winning, with the line standing at 251.0 as of this writing. Though pegging SG e-Sports as a significant underdog is reasonable, having beastcoast, Thunder Predator, and Undying so far back is strange.
beastcoast is wildly underappreciated as a team that placed top-eight at three straight major events, starting with The International 2019. Thunder Predator looked absolutely dominant at times during the ONE Esports Singapore Major and could be a serious challenger at The International. Undying has been one of the most underappreciated teams in Dota 2 this season, standing on even footing with the likes of Quincy Crew and Evil Geniuses in regional play while QC and EG have both proven to be international contenders.
Finally, Invictus Gaming is a team that’s somehow been forgotten about despite winning a major this year. Some of that can be chalked up to a weak performance in the WePlay AniMajor, and some can be chalked up to the depth of Chinese Dota 2. Regardless, the team stands a much better chance than the odds suggest.