TI11 Regional Team Preview: Western & Eastern Europe
Here we are at last, the final piece in our series profiling the teams participating at The International 2022 (TI11). Western and Eastern Europe round out our three articles, with the latter receiving special mention as the region that houses the current defending champions.
Combined, WEU and EEU make up six out of the ten titles awarded at The International thus far. Two of those championships belong to the same team. It’s no secret that Europe as a whole is the biggest rival to China in terms of which region is the strongest coming into each International, and for very good reason.
As the games kick off on October 15th, let’s take a look at the last two regions and the teams representing them at TI11!
Western Europe: OG, Tundra Esports, Gaimin Gladiators, Entity, Team Secret, Team Liquid
Western Europe had a bit of a rough time last time out, with only Team Secret making it past the top eight spots. They eventually fell to Team Spirit in the lower bracket finals, which dashed the hopes of a third straight Aegis of Champions for WEU.
It’s worth noting, however, that there were only two representatives for the region at TI10. This time, they’ve got not one, not two, but six teams in the mix at TI11. If that’s not enough chances to get at least one of them into the Grand Finals, something will have gone horribly wrong performance-wise.
OG is the frontrunner for WEU, for like the third time in the last four years. While this roster is a hundred percent different from the one that won back-to-back titles between TI8 and TI9, their status as the second placers in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) standings means that they are still not to be trifled with.
It’s entirely possible to see them go all the way in Singapore, given their results this season. Winning ESL One Stockholm was a massive step for such a young squad, as was placing fourth at the Arlington Major. It’s honestly astounding how quickly this group has found its stride, but that’s what happens when you’ve got two-time International champions Sebastien “Ceb” Debs and Johan “n0tail” Sundstein backing you up.
Then there’s Tundra Esports and Gaimin Gladiators, the two other WEU teams that made it in by virtue of their DPC points. Tundra Esports deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as more popular names like OG and Team Secret, especially after considering how they had just missed out on attending TI10 thanks to OG qualifying through the WEU regionals in their place.
This year, though, Tundra have made a much better case for themselves going into TI11. 10 total placements within the top four at different events this season marked a great start to their DPC campaign, making them certainly deserving of the direct invite that they earned.
Unfortunately, their momentum didn’t quite carry over to the latter half of the season. Failing to get out of the group stage at the Riyadh Masters was bad enough, only for Tundra to follow it up with a poor 16th place result at the Arlington Major. Their play as of late has definitely not been representative of what they’re truly capable of. If they can get it together in Singapore, they are a top six threat. Otherwise, they might just see a disappointing end to their season.
Gaimin Gladiators, on the other hand, have put on cruise control. They don’t look like title contenders at all, only managing to hold onto 10th place thanks to the points they gathered earlier in the season. If they can somehow get their mojo back, they might just make the top eight — but it’s still a long shot at this point.
Entity actually stand a much better chance than Gaimin Gladiators, despite the fact that they had to go through the regional qualifiers to get here. Sixth place finishes at the Arlington Major and ESL One Malaysia put them much higher than the latter in overall strength. These guys are good, and better than most would have you believe. The addition of Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko at the carry position is what truly allowed them to unlock their potential, which they made good on at the two previously mentioned events.
Paired with Daniel “Stormstormer” Schoetzau, the two make for a serious force, even compared to some of the more well-known core players in the field. If you’re looking for someone other than OG or Team Secret to win the whole tournament, Entity is the best bet by a country mile.
Speaking of Team Secret, we have them pegged as the dark horse team from Western Europe. They looked like a shell of themselves in the first half of this DPC season, placing no higher than fifth in all three WEU regional league tours. Having to go through the last chance qualifier is seriously unbecoming of a team led by Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, but they seem to have regained some of their old confidence in the last two months.
Whether or not this will be another Team Secret failure at The International remains to be seen, but at least they will have their versatility to rely on in Singapore.
As for Team Liquid, they’re going to have to dig quite deep to succeed at TI11. They’re much in the same boat as Tundra — in the sense that they also missed out on qualifying for TI10. They’ve finally got their chance to prove that they’re ready for the big stage, but looking at the talent on this roster and their results this season, we’re not too confident that they’ll get very far here.
Eastern Europe: Team Spirit, BetBoom Team
This section will be rather cut and dry, given that there’s only two Eastern European teams to talk about in the first place.
Let’s get BetBoom Team out of the way first: they certainly have potential as they’ve shown previously at ESL One Stockholm, where they actually finished in eighth place — much higher than most would have predicted. The problem here is that ESL One Stockholm had no Chinese teams in attendance, due to the travel restrictions at the time.
This means they lack vital experience against what many would consider the strongest region right now. While Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan and Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev are already grizzled veterans, their guidance may not be quite enough for them to push past the Chinese delegation in Singapore, as well as everyone else they might come across. It will take a lot of skill and luck in equal measure for them to find success at TI11, that’s for sure.
But as for Team Spirit, well… they’ve got everything they could ever want going for them coming into the event. Winning the Arlington Major against their opponents from the TI10 Grand Finals was all they needed to boost their morale and momentum for their title defense this year, and it just looks like they’re firing on all cylinders as a title-winning squad should.
Everyone, and we mean everyone, should prepare for Team Spirit in Singapore. These young, talented players are obviously still hungry to compete, and will not back down to anyone in their path. It would therefore not be shocking in the least to see them successfully retain the Aegis of Champions.