The start of this post is almost anti-news but it made me happy to hear it confirmed nonetheless. Virtus.Pro will keep their current roster. Despite the organisation having been around in Dota 2 for many years, they’ve had a distinctly poor record where The International is concerned, despite always being considered a fairly competitive team with good facilities. In 2012 they failed to qualify and the next year, after being directly invited, they had a terrible group stage and came 13th-16th, knocked out in the first round. Then in 2014, they got to the wildcard playoffs but lost to MVP.Phoenix 2-0 in a Bo3, ending their run at TI4 prematurely without placing. So it fell to Illidan, DKPhobos, God, fng and Lil to break the curse that has followed Virtus.Pro to past Internationals. After a slightly rocky group stage, losing a few matches they should have won, in my opinion, they lost 2-1 in a tiebreak against a Team Empire who displayed unparalleled form unlike anything they showed in the tournament before or after that match. However, Virtus.Pro aren’t one to be kept down and, after a tense Bo1 against Fnatic, they stormed out of the gates, first of all beating Complexity 2-1, a team who, like CDEC, had surpassed anyones expectations despite stating that they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything but 1st. Then, of course, the match which everyone knows about; their victory over Team Secret. The most nail-biting few hours of TI5. I expected them to lose but knew they could win, and with that victory they secured themselves 5th-6th, an incredible achievement which they should be proud of, and evidently their employers are proud of them too.
Next we look to the Chinese scene as CIS teams seem to be keeping fairly quiet on roster shuffles. DK and EHOME are rumoured, and LGD are confirmed, to have an interest in creating an International team, not just keeping their Chinese one. The Chinese team seems, to me, to be very stale as it keeps the same players and same few teams playing each other all year round. I’ve talked about this before but the big organisations are clearly trying to combat this by creating youth squads and, now, creating International teams which, no doubt, will be mentored or at least somewhat connected to their Chinese counterparts. It’s worth speculating as to what free-agents will join these teams, and my best guess is that Black^ will make a return to China after his hasty partition from ViCi Gaming. Then we go to iG, a team that had a disappointing run at TI5 considering the talent they have on their team, finishing 9th-12th. It was said that Chaun might retire if he doesn’t get to play with Ferrari_430 and Burning. Burning is already confirmed to stay at iG and 430 has been in iG all of his Dota 2 career and I doubt he is going anywhere as iG, if he wants to leave, will just pay him more money to stay as he is a part of their brand now.
Now to teams that weren’t in TI5. London Conspiracy, who confusingly had an all-Greek team under their belt who were met with a smattering of successes, have parted ways with their Dota 2 team after the players decided not to renew their contracts with the organisation and have gone on to form Golden Boys. Next to [A]lliance, where news hints to the previously discussed S4 transfer; Pajkatt has left the organisation. V1lat, the popular Russian commentator, has also mentioned that S4 will return to Alliance. However, on the other hand it has been stated that Team Secret have finalised their roster, but have not given specifics yet. With [A]lliance’s record slowly diminishing, undoing much of their past success, they are under pressure to revive the glory days of TI3, and perhaps the insights S4 brings from Secret might do it for them.
Now onto more predictions. EE is teamless and it has widely been rumoured that he will pair with Puppey in the new Team Secret. I am both glad and saddened that Secret is sticking around. Sad because I found their style to be dreadfully boring (sorry to keep saying so) but glad because, with the departure of Arteezy and, hopefully, S4, we will maybe see a more aggressive, entertaining team than the one which previously dominated the whole world, more in line with how Zai played the offlane role. Also, I would like to see Dendi join them, though I highly doubt it. I think him and Puppey play really well together and I think the measured, planned approach they have to the game means they compliment each other. However, I don’t think Na’Vi will want to let the person who is the face of professional Dota 2 go anytime soon, especially since he was their star player in TI5 along with Sonneiko.
The two MVP teams will probably mix and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few people from Korea and China join the previously all-Malaysian Fnatic. However, I can’t really give specifics on that as I don’t know the scene that well. I can only guess that Fnatic won’t want to stick with only Malaysian players.
Team Empire is also one organisation that is yet to announce what they are planning to with their roster. It could be argued that they underperformed but I think that it might have been the pressure of performing or simply just bad luck. After all, they lost to two Asian teams; LGD Gaming and MVP.Phoenix. If they have played against a team from Europe or America things may have been very different for them. However, if they must shuffle then I predict some intermingling with either Na’Vi or Vega Squadron.