Favourites OG and Team Liquid fail to show
Ahead of The International 2016 you'd be forgiven for thinking that OG or Team Liquid were going to be the ones competing for that top place victory. That didn't happen. Team Liquid was the first to falter, failing to show its composure in the group stage and - ultimately - only managing to make it into the Lower Bracket of the finals. OG, on the other hand, managed to secure top spot in the group stage but was knocked out in the first game of the knockout stage by MVP Phoenix, another high-performing team that was presumably looking for revenge from the last time the two faced off. Most surprising was how OG was knocked out in its second match - this one being the first of the Lower Bracket - by TNC Gaming who, on paper, shouldn't have been too much of an issue for OG. Team Liquid managed to make it a little further into the Lower Bracket, admittedly, but was ultimately dispatched by Fnatic in the pair's third game of The International.
Evil Geniuses steps up as the new favourite...
Here's the name that many are claiming will recoup the title of 'favourites to win', with EG regained the form that they're so commonly associated with. EG's consistent performance so far makes them the obvious choice, but it was a match against wildcard team EHOME - who had previously taken out Alliance - that might have secured that significance. We'll have to talk about the play of EHOME at a later date, but EG's turnaround in the final minutes of the first game highlighted just how 'together' the team is. EG will face MVP Phoenix later today - a not insignificant challenge - but heightened by its clutch victory (the second match was a little easier for EG) the team may well be looking to dominate. That goal of being the first ever two-time TI champions will be tantalising for them.
Before we move on to the matches you can look forward to, here's a rundown of who is knocked out of The International already. VG.Reborn, Team Secret, Escape Gaming and Na'vi were all dropped in the first round of Lower Bracket matches, and there are some surprises there for certain. The following round saw OG - after dropping from the Upper Bracket - kicked from the competition. Digital Chaos, also from the UB, managed to continue in the tournament and took out LGD Gaming in the process. Fnatic defeated Alliance - a team that seems a shadow of itself, in truth - while Team Liquid won its game against Newbee. These two winners faced each other, but it was Fnatic that will continue through the Lower Bracket. That leaves EHOME, who was knocked out - despite an earnest run through The International - by Digital Chaos, a squad that is looking more and more hungry for that first-place position.
The International 2016 Finals
In the Upper Bracket semi-finals we've got a potentially intense match between Wings Gaming and Evil Geniuses. While EG has the provable performance, Wings' lack of meta-play might be enough to throw them. It really could go any way. Meanwhile in the Lower Bracket we've still to find out who will continue on to face Digital Chaos in the semi-finals. The first match today will be between MVP Phoenix and Fnatic, and - again - this really could go either way. Fnatic is well known for its persistence in most tournaments, and the clutch saves that often keep it pushing further into a competition. But MVP Phoenix isn't an insignificant threat, either, and has what it takes to come out on top. Either way, whoever wins will face Digital Chaos to decide which team will take on the winner of the Upper Bracket semi-final. It's a strange tournament already, with a number of results not many could have predicted. At this point it's a tough call for any strong potential victor, but that will just make The International all the more exciting as a result.