It’s expected that five of the teams at The International 7 will not be changing players.
The new Dota 2 season has kicked off with multiple tournament qualifiers already ongoing – and with it comes the new Majors/Minors system that Valve will be implementing for the rest of the season. With a new system, which will decide The International 8’s invitations based on points earned by individual players, and with the intricacies of the system yet to be fully announced, it seems logical for most of last season’s top performers to trade uncertain potential for stability. Their current rosters are known quantities, and most of those that have chosen to stick together have been playing with each other for months now – leaving team chemistry intact.
Perhaps both the announcement of the new system and the objective success of long-standing rosters at The International 7 has heralded the quietest post-TI shuffle season in a while when it comes to the top performing teams.
Though there’s yet to be an official announcement of the team sticking together, their invite to ESL Hamburg (the season’s first Major) has already been announced. For Team Liquid’s part, it seems like an obvious move to keep their roster – they’re officially the best team in the world, and if their behind-the-scenes content and interviews are to be believed, have insane amounts of chemistry. In Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi’s words on his write-up for The Players’ Tribune: “Winning The International was incredible. I knew it would be incredible. But winning it with these guys — that’s what made it truly special.”
Why change a winning formula, right?
Lots of roster-shuffle speculation abounded on their Chinese rival’s side however, what with Newbee becoming the first team to not win a game in the Grand Finals. Fingers were pointed left-and-right as to who was the roster’s weakest point and why they couldn’t show up when it counted the most – but their choice to stick it out for another season shouldn’t really come much of a surprise, as we’ve seen this particular iteration of Newbee together since the post-TI6 shuffle. They’ve been through some deep lows as well – what with last place finishes at both The Boston Major and The Kiev Major. Yet they persevered, and came into form at The International itself. When most people were expecting Gustav “s4” Magnusson, Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora and Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan as the most likely to take the Ageis of Champions again, it was Zheng “Faith” Hongda playing in the grand finals. Also, both of Newbee’s relatively newer players, Song “Sccc” Chun and Xu “Moogy” Han have managed to play a Grand Final in the largest tournament in Dota 2 after only their first year of Tier 1 play. When you look at Newbee from the standpoint of a team that seems yet to reach their peak potential, you probably wouldn’t question them keeping their roster either.
The International 7’s Top 3 team, LGD.Forever Young, which looked nigh-unstoppable by any other teams outside the top 3, will also be retaining their roster. In the past season they didn’t earn as much success as the other teams in the time leading into TI7, except at the tail-end of the pre-TI period, earning high spots at EPICENTER and MDL, but showed plenty of regional success. After a phenomenal TI performance however, it’s fair to expect a much more success-laden season for them.
Other notable rosters that will be keeping their TI7 squads are Virtus.Pro and our very own TNC Pro Team. Both are teams that have exhibited regional dominance in the previous season, and have also objectively placed the highest compared to their regional rivals. Both are also teams that have gone toe-to-toe with top contenders in tournament Grand Finals (Virtus.Pro versus OG at the Kiev Major; TNC versus Team Liquid at StarLadder).
And, perhaps as a surprise to many – even a full-roster reunion has come out of this shuffle period: 2016’s MVP.Phoenix roster, comprised of Kim “QO” Seon-yeob, Pyo “MP” No-a, Lee “Forev” Sang-don, Kim “Febby” Yong-min, and Kim “DuBu” Doo-young have come together once again under the Immortals banner. An interesting development as these players have gone their separate ways to play in teams of different regions. It will be interesting to see if they still play their old (and exciting) “caveman Dota” style, or see if their experience with other region’s and team’s playstyles has influenced their game.
With all the tumult and uncertainty regarding the upcoming season, and especially since the new point system will be rewarding consistent performance throughout the year, it looks like more and more teams are choosing to stick together – and as an avid spectator, this makes team’s storylines so much more interesting and compelling to follow.
I for one, can’t wait for the season’s first few LANs to finally come.
KaLeRei is currently enrolled as an engineering major. In her free time she likes going on quests to save the world with a party of interesting characters, building sprawling empires, or just going on adventures. Sometimes she also supports her friends when they feel like destroying ancients. She has a fascination for old pros trying to prove they’ve still got what it takes, and cats.
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