Eighteen teams will compete to raise the Aegis of Champions at the International 2017. I have chosen 3 of those as teams to look out for at this event; Team OG, Evil Geniuses & Cloud 9. Fans may better recognize Cloud 9 as the old Team NP lineup, they were signed to Cloud 9 shortly after they qualified for The International 2017. EternaLEnvy, FATA-, MSS, Aui_2000 & pieliedie are Cloud 9 and together they are a dark horse to win the International 2017.
In The Beginning
Before Cloud 9 there was Team NP. Team NP was born out of Jacky ‘EternaLEnvy’ Mao’s frustration in dealing with unruly organizations and prima donna teammates. After Team Secret imploded at TI6 that team underwent significant roster changes. EternaLEnvy decided that he wanted to create his own team and after a couple of weeks Team NP became a reality. After a few more roster and position changes Team NP have finally started to come together and finished third at the Manila Masters. Team NP went on to place first in the North American Qualifiers, going 8-1 in group play and winning the first place tiebreaker.
Throw Out the Script
Cloud 9 have a much shorter list of accomplishments than Team OG & Evil Geniuses. Cloud 9 will not even be among the most talented rosters at the International 2017. That being said, Cloud 9 have potential, in the short time this roster have competed together they’re already showing respectable synergy. This roster will become more than the sum of its parts and Cloud 9 must believe in them enough to sign them, which is saying a lot after what’s happened to the Cloud 9 organization when they invested in Dota 2. This team cannot be conventional in their approach to group stage play, playing the tournament meta will work in the favor of team’s that are quicker to adapt to the situation. Cloud 9 will not be one of those teams, it doesn’t make any sense to use the same game plan as every other team. Cloud 9 need have the self-awareness to recognize that they may not be the best team at the International. Fact is, it doesn’t matter who the best team is going into the International 2017, no one should ever forget Team Secret’s last place finish in 2016. I believe that C9 are consistent enough to survive the group stage; but if C9 want to head into the winners bracket I think they’ll need an unorthodox approach to the group stage. I’m not suggesting anything as outlandish like Techies but Cloud 9 will need to think outside the ordinary to catch some of their opponents off guard. If C9 can keep their opponents off balance I believe they can turn some of their group stage matches from 1-1 draws into 2-0 sweeps. The key will be securing every clean sweep they can realistically get.
If Cloud 9 can get past the group stage relatively unscathed then comes the difficult part, the upper and lower brackets. The ideal situation would find C9 in an upper bracket match against an evenly favored opponent which could allow C9 to avoid going into the lower bracket too early. In all likelihood C9 will have to begin their path to the championship in the lower bracket. Cloud 9 will have to show some mettle here if they want to win, every match in the lower bracket counts and if raising the Aegis is truly Cloud 9’s destiny than making a run through the lower bracket will be how they win it. All of this may sound completely insane to some people but if I had told you Wings Gaming would win the International 2016 you’d have probably thought I was insane then too.