The group stages are over and the brackets for the main event are set. The teams you'll find over the following pages represent the best of international Dota, and are testament to the breadth, competitiveness and dynamism of the scene. You’ll find many new names on the following pages, from players to the teams themselves. No one region or squad dominates this game, and this year’s massive prize pool—just shy of $20m at the time of writing—could go to almost anyone. There are certainly favourites for the top spot, but it’s a sign of a healthy scene when many of those favourites didn’t even exist a year ago.
Members: iceiceice, old chicken, eLeVeN, laNm, Fenrir
Origin: China and Singapore
Heroes to look out for: Ogre Magi, Mirana, Axe
EHOME qualified via the wildcard without dropping a series, which was in line with expectations for a team that wasn’t expected to have to fight their way in through the wildcard at all. Even so, their performance wasn’t flawless: they dropped a game to Execration and had to work hard for their victory against Escape. If they'd shaken the problems that dogged them since the Shanghai Major, it wasn't necessarily immediately obvious.
It is now, however. EHOME are one of the tournament's great success stories so far, following up on that wildcard performance with a stunning turn in the group stage. Winning their group 12-2, only DC and Liquid took games from them. After a humble start, EHOME could be on track to take it all.
Members: Era, qojqva, KheZu, YapzOr, syndereN
Origin: Sweden, Denmark, Jordan, Germany
Heroes to look out for: Invoker, Faceless Void, Lone Druid
Stop-start progress through the wildcard nonetheless carried new European team Escape through to the main event. This is a team comprised of a mix of veteran talent in qojqva, SyndereN and Era and talented newcomers in YapzOr and KheZu. KheZu in particular put in a star turn during the wildcard, keeping his team in the game with a run of fantastic initiations.
As expected, the group stage was tough on them. Finishing 2-12, they only managed to wrest wins away from Na'Vi and Alliance: teams that have also logged inconsistent performances so far. They will need to pull out something special to survive their lower bracket best-of-one against Fnatic. If they can pull together as a team and cut down on mistakes then they've got a shot, however: there's talent there, just not the polish to turn that talent into titles.
Members: Fly, MoonMeander, Miracle-, n0tail, Cr1t-
Origin: Denmark, Jordan, Israel, Sweden, Canada
Heroes to look out for: Invoker, Rubick, Slark
This has been OG’s year. Founded in 2015 as (monkey) Business, OG achieved a at the Frankfurt Major. This talented international squad has gone on to place consistently highly, winning the Manila Major a few months ago as well as ESL One Frankfurt and DreamLeague Season 5. Midlaner Miracle- has emerged from relative obscurity a year ago to become well known as one of the best players, if not the best player, in professional Dota. His virtuoso turns on heroes like Invoker and Shadow Fiend has won him and his team fans and titles.
OG are a safe bet to take it all this year, and their group stage performance backs that up: they were expected to do well, and did. In addition to their impressive track record, they’re also notable for their attitude and outlook. In a scene often typified by instability, OG have managed to avoid roster drama and stress the importance of positive relationships and teamwork. The fact that they’ve also translated this into success suggests that the Dota scene, in some ways, is starting to mature.
Members: KuroKy, JerAx, FATA-, MinD_ContRoL, MATUMBAMAN
Origin: Finland, Germany, Bulgaria
Heroes to look out for: Earth Spirit, Ember Spirit, Rubick
Formerly 5Jungz, the new Liquid is a European team with a strong track record leading up to the International. Former Na'Vi and Team Secret support KuroKy is the heart of a versatile and creative squad that has only just lagged behind OG in terms of success over the last year. A win at Epicenter 2015 broke up a run of second and third-place finishes: Liquid have proven that they can do it, it simply remains to be seen whether they are doing it.
The group stages were rough on Liquid, however: rougher than anybody expected going into the event. Their run was unusually inconsistent. Liquid managed to take a game off EHOME but stumbled against DC and Secret, bested Fnatic but fell to Vici Gaming Reborn. They're simply not showing the sort of consistent form that they have done in the past.