There are only so many more LANs before The International 6. Every day, teams are boot camping, training and preparing for the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year. The upcoming Summit 5 offers competitors not just a chance at some more prize pool money, but for some highly anticipated matches against their biggest rivals.
Held in Los Angeles and spearheaded by production studio Beyond the Summit, The Summit 5 will feature some of the best teams going into the tournament playing a friendly series of matches for a prize pool of over $100,000. Between the directly invited and the teams that had to fight through qualifiers, six of the eight teams attending The Summit will be competing again later in Seattle in The International 6, making this tournament a good indicator of where teams will stand.
Rematch of the titans
The most anticipated matchup is easily a potential clash between OG and Team Liquid. Both could easily be considered the best team in Dota 2 right now, as seen in their recent performance at the Manila Major and ESL One Frankfurt.
OG will be looking to retain its place at the top. The two-time Major victors are at the top of their game -- from 9,000 MMR core Amer "Miracle-" Barqawi to the support play of Andreas "Cr1t-" Franck Nielsen -- with the drafts of Tal "Fly" Aizik. A recent surprise has been the stellar showing from Johann "N0tail" Sundstein. While often overlooked, Sundstein has been stepping up when Barqawi struggles or is targeted by teams, and has shouldered the carry burden for this team. This OG team doesn't just look confident, but plays like it has already taken the title.
Team Liquid, however, may be out for revenge. This team has been stopped short several times against OG, and a victory over its rival at The Summit 5 would bode well for its run at The International. Look to Jesse "JerAx" Vainkka to set the pace for Team Liquid in each match. His roaming play, whether on hot meta picks like Elder Titan or his signature Earth Spirit, is usually what establishes the pace and cadence of Team Liquid's play.
Good play from Vainkka often buys time for hard carry Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen to get the farm and space he needs to get the final boulder rolling against opponents, and this team will need some big boulders to finally take a title from OG.
Proving their mettle
For other teams, however, The Summit 5 will offer a chance to get acclimated to the competition you would expect at a major LAN, and to prove their worth against their upcoming competitors. Teams like Natus Vincere drew many second glances with a direct invite to TI6. A good performance would justify that invite, while an early drop in the tournament would bring around a second chorus of Na'Vi naysayers.
Wings Gaming also has much to prove in Los Angeles, as its recent LAN results were anything but consistent. A commanding run through the Chinese qualifiers for TI6 contrasts against a completely lackluster appearance at the Manila Majors. This Wings squad can create incredibly compelling, meta-breaking Dota games but a strong performance at The Summit 5 would go a long way in building confidence.
Other teams -- like Digital Chaos and Fnatic -- will be looking for the same burst of confidence. A tournament held in North America means a somewhat home team advantage for DC, who could use the boost after being one-upped by Evil Geniuses in the NA qualifiers. The lineup of Digital Chaos is still an intimidating one, with captain Rasmus "Misery" Filipsen leading a five-stack of talented, dangerous players.
Fnatic could make use of some good showings at The Summit as well, getting out some of the jet lag before heading to Seattle and perhaps building some stability. While it can certainly make runs at the title, this will likely depend on smart calls and play from core and captain Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung.
Sadly, there are two teams in attendance who won't be competing in Seattle come August: the Greek team Ad Finem, and American team Friendship, Dedication, Love. Both placed fourth in their respective qualifiers for TI6, leaving them one spot shy of a Wild Card run.
For these two teams, The Summit 5 will likely be more about a shot at some prize money. Though this is a fairly stacked LAN, teams like Na'Vi and Fnatic could be susceptible to an upset.
Both Ad Finem and FDL will be looking to make that day happen. It would be a shame to see either squad disband or shift around after coming so close to a ticket to Seattle, and some upsets at The Summit might help stave off those fears.