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Day three of the main event at the Dota 2 International 2017 will start at 10 a.m. Pacific Time this morning. Already, six teams have been eliminated from contention, including yesterday's shocking knock out of Evil Geniuses who were one of the favorites heading into the tournament and after the group stage.
There are certainly several strong teams still remaining in the upper bracket, but if you love a real underdog story, you might be wondering who from the lower bracket still has a chance. Six teams still remain in the lower bracket - Team Liquid, Team Empire, TNC Pro Team, OG, LGD and Digital Chaos. Two of them will be eliminated today, and they won't start interacting with more upper bracket teams until the tomorrow. Here are our rankings for each of them, judging by their chances of winning it all.
This is a strange one, for sure. Do I like LGD's chances of winning their first match against Digital Chaos? Sure. I'd put them about even with DC, meaning the match can go either way. That said, do I like LGD's chances of going all the way after that? Not at all.
Even if they make it past DC, and then again defeat the winner of TNC vs. OG, I think they will lose in the next round, which will be against the loser of Invictus Gaming and Newbee, which have long proven themselves to be the superior Chinese Dota 2 teams.
It feels crazy doing this, slotting OG as the second most-likely to be eliminated, but in this shocking TI7, I feel like I have to expect the unexpected. Upset after upset is only going to make the favored teams more nervous, and, while OG has the pedigree and the talent, I can't put them higher than this.
What it comes down to is that OG is unproven at the International, and, when they had the opportunity to close out the Group Stage in the upper bracket, they couldn't do it. Meanwhile, their first match is against TNC, the very same team that eliminated them from last year's International tournament, and that has to be weighing on OG's players.
Their only win in this tournament was a best-of-one against Infamous, while OG's only 2-0 victories during the group stage came against teams that are now eliminated. Against everyone else, including one other team that has also been eliminated, they split the series 1-1 or lost 0-2 (against Virtus Pro).
4. Digital Chaos
Again, it seems like LGD and Digital Chaos is a wash: this matchup can go either way, but I actually like DC a bit more in this matchup. While there may have been some extenuating circumstances, DC was one of only two teams to take a game off LFY during the group stages, and they're very good against Chinese Dota 2 teams.
Without revealing their whole strategy, Digital Chaos player Forev did outline the ways in which they don't try to play by Chinese teams' rules and beat them at their game. We saw this same strategy on display against i.G Vitality, where DC won handily. If they stick to this philosophy, I like Digital Chaos to make a pretty good run, because they'll go on to face the loser of i.G and Newbee, two Chinese teams.
Their biggest hurdle will be the round after LGD, where they will face the winner of TNC vs. OG. If OG wins that matchup, Digital Chaos has already shown in the group stages that they can beat OG. If they can make it past that, I say Digital Chaos shocks everyone and secures Top 4 at least.
3. TNC Pro Team
TNC Pro Team has at least one edge going into today's matchup against OG, and that's confidence. They've been in this exact situation before and pulled it out, beating OG, a team that no one thought they could beat. After dropping two close games to LFY, TNC finds themselves back again (whether it was intentional or not).
If they should beat OG (and I think they will), TNC will then face Digital Chaos, a matchup for which I'm not sure Digital Chaos is quite prepared. The same gameplan DC used to beat those Chinese teams TNC can also do, arguably better.
And sure, they lost to LFY 0-2. But very few teams didn't lose to LFY 0-2, and, if this were an upper-bracket ranking list, LFY would very likely be at the top of it. Now TNC finds themselves in the lower bracket, and they won't have to face other top-tier teams in the lower bracket (besides OG) for another two rounds at least, so yeah, I like their chances a lot.
2. Team Empire
It would seem that Team Empire ranked at #2 of the lower bracket would be too high, but, judging by Team Empire's Tweets after knocking off Evil Geniuses in a huge upset, they would probably argue for the number one spot.
And honestly, it's hard not to oblige that. After a very shaky group stage performance, Team Empire made perhaps the strongest case for throwing the group stage results in the incinerator, taking it to EG 2-0, sending home one of the tournament favorites without a single win to their name. If that doesn't earn them a high spot on the rankings, what else do they have to do?
But, in order to be considered the true lower bracket favorite, they'll have to beat Team Liquid, and they'll have to do it in convincing fashion, because it only gets more difficult from there. The winner of tomorrow's game between Team Empire and Team Liquid will have to face either LFY or Virtus Pro, so Empire will need two more unbelievable upsets to put itself in the Top 4. But, if they pull that off, they could likely end up in the Grand Finals.
1. Team Liquid
There's definitely going to be a lot of doubt going around for Team Liquid. Yeah, they dropped into the lower bracket, and yeah, they got completely bodied in game one of yesterday's match with Team Secret. But, of the teams that dropped into the lower bracket from the upper bracket, Team Liquid was the only team that kept the match close. They were one missed i.G play away from winning game three and advancing.
But they have to take Team Empire seriously. It seemed like Evil Geniuses thought it would be an easy win, letting Team Empire have three of the tournament's best heroes and picking into obvious counters. If Team Liquid keeps their head on straight and gives Team Empire due respect, I don't see them losing.
And the next matchup after Team Empire, versus either LFY or Virtus Pro is a win for Team Liquid in my mind. Going back to the Dota 2 EPICENTER tournament, where Team Liquid took first place, guess which two teams Team Liquid eliminated on the way to the championship? Yup. Virtus Pro and LFY, and that was after LFY looked unstoppable in the group stage. After that, Team Liquid would only have to beat TNC, OG, LGD or Digital Chaos, which doesn't sound like too much of a stretch, in order to secure Top 3 at the International.
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