The idea of fairness frequently arises in the discussions about the TI6 invite and qualifiers system. The reason for it is especially clear when comparing the Chinese and SEA qualifiers: the former was stacked with battle-hardened veterans and proven young talent, while the latter was generally looked on as Fnatic and nine “other” teams. Nevertheless, the stage is almost set and it might be a good idea to freshen the memory or get acquainted with the Eastern teams.
The big headline for the majority of the past year has been the decline of the Chinese Dota scene. The issue was further exacerbated by the poor showing of the Chinese teams on their home turf during the infamous Shanghai Major. Yet, surprisingly, it is the Chinese region which produces a strong TI contender consisting of mostly young talent for the second year in a row.
The story of Wings Gaming is very different to the one of CDEC. They do not come into this tournament as underdogs. In fact, they are one of the tournament's favourites. Their big break was the ESL One Manila 2016 not so long ago, which has put them on the map and since then the team has been dominant in the online tournaments and group stages.
The secret to their success is probably their efficient training routine. It certainly shows both in their in-game decision-making and drafting. Not only is this team packed with mechanically talented players, but they also always seem one step ahead of the meta. They are disciplined, but by no means conservative—dedicating so much time to studying Dota definitely pays off and it is not uncommon for the team to draft unconventional yet intimidatingly efficient lineups.
The biggest problem the team is currently facing is themselves. Under normal conditions of a regular online tournament they thrive, yet their performance in the LAN format have been lacklustre. The 13-16th place in the Manila Major certainly shows the lack of experience and general shakiness of the roster. If the team manages to overcome whatever psychological barriers they may be facing, there is a high chance we will crown yet another TI champion from China.
Vici Gaming Reborn (VG.R) was formed after the lacklustre performance of the main squad during the Shanghai Major. The team was built around the Vici Gaming’s star player—LGD.fy with the addition of another experienced support—VGJ.T.ddc.
The rest of the roster was filled with younger players coming from the secondary squads of Vici Gaming and CDEC. Once again the magic formula of Chinese roster reshuffles has proven to be highly effective: under the supervision of the Dota veterans and TI winning coach mikasa, the young talent has bloomed and it wasn’t long before the team has started showing great results. Following the SLTV | i-League 1st place the team has been promoted to become Vici Gaming’s main squad.
The team’s latest result do not look too impressive, but they still managed to qualify for the International 2016, despite heavy competition. Unlike many other teams, VG.R thrives in the offline format, frequently gaining momentum throughout the tournament. Unless they get eliminated early-on, they have very high chances of placing high in the tournament—a trend usually associated with teams fully consisting of battle-hardened veterans.
A major problem the team is currently facing is the loss of their main playmaker and offlaner due to Visa issues. The squad has proved on several occasions that they can adequately adjust to the changes in their roster and LGD.fy is undeniably a very experienced player, but their performance in the tournament is going to be highly unpredictable.
Very little can be said about the current TnC roster. It took its current form slightly over a month ago with the addition of an NA legionnaire—DC.DeMoN, and has not participated in any major tournaments yet. However they managed to confidently beat the region’s favourites, Fnatic, during both the TI6 qualifiers group stage and the tiebreaker match that followed.
Whether it is the infamous Fnatic instability or indeed the superior skill of the team which lead them to the TI, they still look like underdogs, only marginally more promising than the last year’s unknown#####. However, we should never forget the upsets the mentioned team has created during the Frankfurt Major, even eliminating the former TI champions—NewBee.
Perhaps the magical Chinese formula will work for an SEA team, with former somewhat experienced Mineski players and Demon leading the young and the bold. Perhaps it won’t, but one thing is certain—the potential for surprise is very high with this team, since the underdog position definitely gives an advantage, especially against younger, less experienced teams.
Team Fnatic consists of extremely dedicated players. Most of them had to sacrifice a great deal for their passion for Dota and that on its own is worthy of highest respect for both the team as a whole and its individual players.
The roster is often viewed as the strongest team in the SEA, constantly battling for this title with directly invited MVP Phoenix. However, the team is coming to TI6 as the runner-up of the SEA main qualifiers, possibly indicating some instability.
In fact, instability can be considered one of the main characteristics of the team—on a good day it easily goes toe-to-toe with the biggest names in Dota, on a bad one they can lose a random series in “Professional” tier tournaments. The map awareness, mechanical talent and team coordination sometimes just seem to vanish completely, leaving the fans baffled. The opposite is also true—almost as frequently team shows amazing prowess and when this roster clicks it clicks big time. The question, however, remains: is Fnatic a good team that sometimes falls short, or is it a weak team, sometimes capable of amazing feats?
Despite or because of this instability the team often finishes in the top half of the tournaments, but rarely takes the first place. Regardless, the team is always extremely entertaining to watch and will surely keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.
Both China and the SEA qualifiers have been extremely tense, probably for completely different reasons, however the qualified teams undoubtedly deserve their spots in the tournament.
Some teams also add a nice variety to the usual mix of teams and will definitely come with their own ideas and play styles, celebrating the diversity of the current patch. Surprises in the big tournaments are always entertaining and it seems TI6 is going to be full of them.