DOTA 2‘s The International 2018’s (TI8) group stage is done and dusted, and out of eighteen, two teams (Invictus Gaming and paiN Gaming) have gone home. The sixteen best teams are left, each having one goal in mind: to be the team to lift the Aegis. While TI8 takes a breather, it’s time for DOTA fans to furiously speculate on the strength and prowess of each team. Related: Here’s What You Need to Know About The International 2018! After one of the most competitive group stages in TI history, your usual favourites have made it safely into the upper bracket. However, there are a few surprises tucked away in both brackets. Here is a comprehensive overview of Day 1’s matchups, each team’s playstyle and aptitude, and their chances of progressing to the next round of competition. In the Upper Bracket we have: Team Liquid (13-3) v.s. OpTic Gaming (8-8) Team Liquid demolished Group A as expected, losing one game apiece to PSG.LGD, Fnatic, and Invictus Gaming. Besides a shaky Day 1 start, and losing one game one Day 2, Liquid has literally won every other series 2-0, even their biggest rivals in Group A, Evil Geniuses. The defending champions look to be on top form, with star player Miracle- pulling out hero after hero to destroy his opponents, including the rarely seen Riki. Liquid has not lost their drive to be champions once again, and the chance of a repeat seems high. OpTic Gaming finally woke up from their slumber on the very last day of group stages, demolishing all four matches to secure an upper bracket slot. Originally slated to be eliminated even before the main event started, captain ppd needs his team whipped back in shape if he wants another feather in his TI cap. Team Liquid simply outclasses OpTic in almost evey conceivable way, except for two X factors. OpTic’s captain ppd, and their shining offlane star, 33. Liquid is domineering, but I feel like OpTic will at most be able to take one game purely off ppd’s genius drafting. However, Liquid will still take the series, 2-1. Related: The Teams to Watch This TI! Virtus.pro (10-6) v.s. PSG.LGD (11-5) Virtus.pro is the highest scoring DPC team for a reason, so much so that each member could qualify to TI by himself. A mercurial mix of youthful talent and experienced heads, VP is plagued by overconfidence when the stakes are low. Prone to experimentation and more than a few questionable plays, a cursory glance at their trophy ccabinet will show that VP is at its best when in the limelight. Now, at the biggest stage of all, and eager to better their 5th/6th showing from last year, VP will hope that an additional year of experience will prove to be what they needed. PSG.LGD ignited only in at the start of the new year, taking the world by storm at EPICENTER XL, beating VP and Liquid twice to claim the championship. The young team of pubstars hve gone from strength to strength, and stands tall as the best Chinese team in the tournament. Due to their young age and the relatively short amount of time spent together, they seem prone to tilt. However, their raw skill can never be underestimated. This is possibly the closest matchup in the upper bracket, with these teams having met each other five times in the DPC circuit., with PSG.LGD winning four, but VP taking the most recent one. All eyes will look towards the midlane matchup, with LGD’s Somnus and VP’s no[o]ne both capable of winning matches by themselves. Also, both position 4s (LGD’s fy and VP’s RodjER) are both regarded as top five caliber players. A difficult matchup to call, VP’s penchance to perform takes precedence for me, but PSG.LGD will not make it easy. 2-1 to VP.