On Monday, group stage assignments and wild-card matchups were finalized for The International 6 in Seattle, Washington. The 16 teams that made the cut will be split into two groups of eight, and the top four will progress to the upper bracket. The bottom four will be put in the lower bracket and will enter the double-elimination bracket one loss down.
Group A might have some dark horses, but Group B is the closest to being the "group of death" in Dota 2. Former TI and Major victors meet teams known for upsets and strong LAN appearances. Let's take a look at the stiff competition in Group B.
Vici Gaming Reborn
The winners of The International 4, Newbee, are certainly a team to watch here. This team has mostly stuck to its region after a third place finish at the Manila Major, but a recent 3-2 win over Wings Gaming in the Nanyang Championships speaks volumes. Newbee is still an intimidating opponent, having taken series from nearly every team in Seattle with no intention of slowing down.
Landing second at two Majors in a row, this Liquid squad will certainly be looking for some vindication this week. Off the back of some exceptional talent and teamwork, Liquid could easily make a run for three major grand finals in a row. Next to Newbee, Liquid is the second team to beat in the group, but there's more than a few teams that could stop both squads from seizing an easy berth to the winner's bracket.
The undisputed rule of Dota 2 LANs is that MVP.Phoenix will always show up, and TI6 will likely be no different. What was once a Cinderella story team is now a heavy competitor, and the champions of South Korean Dota are going to be making a statement at TI6. Coordinated aggression is the name of the game for MVP, and that plays well in group stages, where teams don't have full series to adjust to their opponent's tempo. Look for MVP.Phoenix to put unsuspecting opponents on their back foot.
After a strong run through the European qualifier gauntlet and a second-place finish at the StarSeries Season 2 finals, many have changed their tune. The roster swap that put Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale in the offlane might seem minute, but it's opened up the map for Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, who cemented himself as an explosive, playmaking core during the StarSeries finals. It might be premature to call Secret the dark horse of Group B, but the level of play these five will bring to TI6 might be severely overlooked.
Though these five would probably love to be coming into TI6 with a better resume, the talent here can't be ignored. David "Moo" Hull has had breakout performances in the offlane, and the other two cores of DC have individual skill on their side. The breaking point will be if this team can band together and look more cohesive, more organized and more prepared. Two fifth/sixth place finishes coming into TI6 doesn't build confidence, but it does build a drive to silence the haters. If DC comes in with that level of motivation, it could easily unseat a few favorites.
Vici Gaming Reborn
Vici Gaming Reborn could have been a stronger competitor in the group, but it'll be hard to say where Reborn will end up in the tournament. Some unfortunate visa issues led to offlaner Zhou "Yang" Haiyang being left behind, moving former mid lane sub Tong "Mikasa" Junjie to the three-role. That's not the kind of move you want to deal with, especially prior to the biggest tournament in Dota 2. There's no doubt that all of Vici Reborn is talented, but Yang was a consistently standout player, and Group B will test this modified lineup.
Fnatic rounds out the seven known teams, a team that would normally look like a potential squad to cause upsets and make the winner's bracket. It's still possible, but the teams in Group B have played Fnatic before, and will likely know what to look out for. If Fnatic makes a solid run in the group, it will be off the play of Yeik "MidOne" Zheng Nai, who has been a standout for this SEA squad in recent weeks.