We are less than two weeks out from the biggest esports tournament of the year—The International. Now in its 12th iteration, the tournament returns to its roots in Seattle, where it was held from 2012 to 2017 before visiting cities all over the globe.
We take a look at the 20 teams fighting for glory and gold—the coveted Aegis and millions of dollars in prize money—and how they got to the promised land after a year of competitive Dota.
Despite edging out Gaimin Gladiators in terms of DPC Points (by just 10), Team Liquid have been playing catchup to Gaimin. Finishing 2nd in the three Majors, Liquid are still looking for their first big win this year. The biggest stage in esports will be the ultimate testing ground to see if they can overcome their WEU rivals bring the Aegis of the Immortals back home after their 2017 win.
The breakout team of the year, Gaimin Gladiators came from left field and dominated the scene. They swept the Majors, winning Lima in March, Berlin in May, and Bali in July. They won both DreamLeague tournaments, as well as the recently-concluded BetBoom Dacha. Even in the tournaments they didn’t win, they still placed high like the Riyadh Masters where they finished 4th, and BetBoom Universe earlier in the year, finishing 3rd. Could we see this unprecedented dominance continue to The International? Only time will tell if 2023 is Gaimin Gladiators’ Golden Year.
Yet another powerhouse team coming from WEU, Tundra’s dominant TI11 run was a sight to behold, and now they’re back with a vengeance. With two-time TI winner Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen beinh announced as joining the team, their roster looks a bit different than their winning squad, but some would argue to be stronger. Will the reigning Dota champions of the world be able to defend their title and become the second back-to-back winners?
The HellRaisers/9Pandas squad constantly made podium finishes in the DPC EEU Tours across the year, racking up enough points to land in a comfortable place headed into The International. Despite having only a couple of their players with TI experience, the squad looks like they’re in tip-top shape and could make a deep run this year, the only question is if the Pandas are hungry enough to get it.
Evil Geniuses’ departure from North America was polarizing for the Dota community, but looking back, a good decision for the organization. After a disappointing finish in TI 2022 with a star-studded roster, the move to SA and a pick-up of an all-South American roster proved beneficial. Finishing 2nd in Tours 1 and 2 and winning Tour 3 all in Division 1, EG looked competitive once more. If they are able to keep up with the other teams, we could be looking at the first org to win The International competing in two different regions.
Second place in '18 and '21. Third place in '15 and '19. Fourth place in '17. The big one has been eluding the Chinese org on many an occasion, and LGD are done playing runner-ups. As arguably the top team from China, LGD look to put their name alongside the region’s greats and bring the Aegis back to the East.
Another breakout organzation this year, Shopify picked up the old EG core of Arteezy, Abed, Cr1t, and Fly, and picked up SabeRLight- from TSM. Although they had high highs, finishing 1st in Tour 3 and winning the BTS Pro Series Season 14, finishing 2nd in Tour 1 and 2 and getting to the Grand Finals of DreamLeague Season 21, they also had some low lows, failing to make it out of the group stage of DreamLeague Season 20 and Riyadh Masters, and a Lower Bracket First Round exit at Berlin Major. If the squad can stay consistent and avoid a coin flip at TI, they could look to make a deep run this year.
This year’s pride of Southeast Asia, Talon looked good both domestically and internationally. Finishing 3rd, 1st, and 4th in the three SEA Tours respectively, and getting 3rd in the Lima Major and Riyadh Masters and 4th in DreamLeague Season 20, 23savage and co. have been looking like one of the best SEA teams of recent memory.
The Peruvian squad of beastcoast dominated the South American league, slowly building their chemistry and playstyle over the past couple of years. With impressive showings domestically, and a relatively high TI 2022 placement, beastcoast is definitely on an upward trend, and could look to make an even deeper run this year.
The 2021 world champions are back with a vengeance. Despite losing TORONTOTOKYO after a disappointing finish at last year’s event, Team Spirit still looked like contenders. They finished 2nd in Tours 1 and 2 and 1st in Tour 3 of the EEU DPC, and despite not finding much luck in this year's Majors, they managed to win the recently held Riyadh Masters and DreamLeague S21.
Despite being one of the oldest esports organizations, TSM only recently joined the Dota 2 scene last year. Despite their short time in the scene, they made waves in the North American scene and consistently placed high in their DPC Tours. Their most recent performance, a 2nd-place finish at BetBoom Dacha, could be a sign of good things to come for the prestigious organization.
Another newcomer to the scene, BetBoom's current roster has made some moves in the year that they've been together. Headed into the biggest stage of the year, they could finally unlock their full potential and make a surprise run, especially with TI winner TORONTOTOKYO at the helm.
The Brazilian org returned to the Dota scene after leaving in 2016. Now, their roster of Costabile, 4nalog, fcr, Kingrd, and KJ are set to fight and make a name for themselves at The International 2023.
The second team from the SA Qualifiers were bested by Keyd Stars, but were able to trudge through the Lower Bracket to punch a ticket to The International. With a whole new roster from their 2022 run, the young guns of Thunder Awaken are ready ang hungry to take on The International.
One of the longer-tenured rosters, save for the addition of Gabbi earlier this year, Entity are in solid form headed to TI. They beat out Ceb's OG and Puppey's Team Secret on their way to win the WEU LCQs, and look to continue the trend of WEU teams being powerhouses.
The fifth team representing WEU at The International, Quest proves the region’s depth and power. They also were able to beat OG and Team Secret, as well as Luna Galaxy, who sent them to the Lower Bracket of their regional LCQ. Their ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome will prove handy in their TI 2023 campaign.
One of the most consistent orgs in Dota 2 history, Virtus.Pro has always been in discussions as some of the best rosters. During their height in 2017-2018, they won multiple majors, but TI has always been out of their reach every time, always finishing 5th-6th. However, they saw a resurgence in recent years, performing well in the past couple DPC seasons. Could 2023 finally be their year?
Formed from the core of Ybb Gaming after their split into Zero Gaming, they picked up Chinese vets Somnus, Chalice, and fy. With a revamped roster, they beat out their sister team Xtreme Gaming and CN Dota mainstays invictus Gaming to punch their ticket to TI.
Employing the help of Ukrainian carry No[o]ne in a surprise announcement, Malaysia's Team SMG were able to best other SEA teams like Blacklist Rivalry, Execration, and Geek Fam to become SEA's second representatives to this year's TI.
With all this talent at this year’s The International, we can expect some very spicy matches and games, and the storylines surrounding each of these players and teams are plentiful. Only time will tell who will lift the Aegis of the Immortals in 2023.