TI8 group stage off to a bizarre but highly exciting start

Though marred by technical issues, the first day of preliminaries had some unexpected twists.

Photo via Valve

The first day of preliminaries at The International 8 started off with thrills and drama that made it seem like the main event had already begun.

As soon as the stream went online in the morning, the production team encountered much in the way of technical difficulties. Games without caster audio, channels going on and off, and other issues plagued the broadcast—though fortunately most were solved before things got too out of hand.

For the most part, the rest of the games were played out without further issues. And boy, were there some exciting matches held throughout the entire day.

The opening set between Fnatic and the defending International champions Team Liquid saw the former coast to an early lead in their first game, only to completely drop the ball later on. It was a classic Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao game of the highest level, with Fnatic basically losing to themselves as expected.

They did, however, pick themselves right back up in the next game, holding Liquid to just a single kill compared to their 39. Not even Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi’s Huskar pick could stand up to Fnatic, thanks to Abed Yusop shutting him down in lane. Liquid would go on to score 4-2 by the end of the day, while Fnatic finished with three wins and one loss.

Later on in the day, fan favorites Evil Geniuses played a mind-boggling first game against Chinese club Invictus Gaming. Due to a misclick on the draft screen, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev and Tal “Fly” Aizik were forced to switch roles giving Phoenix to Arteezy and Clinkz to Fly. Regardless of the accident though, they still took it straight to iG, ending the game in less than 35 minutes. The Chinese squad struck back in the next, however, forcing a split of the series.

But the true highlight of the day was the series between Liquid and PSG-LGD Gaming, which could be considered a preview of the possible grand final matchup on Aug. 25. The two juggernauts clashed beautifully in their first game, racking up a total of 91 kills across 54 minutes and 40 seconds of in-game time. It was without a doubt the most exhilarating match of the day, leaving us salivating at the prospect of a full five-game series between these two teams.

Overall it was an auspicious start for North America in particular, thanks to both EG and Vici Gaming J Storm placing first in their respective groups. The latter cruised through their games, notching a perfect 4-0 record to begin the tournament with. Dota 2 Pro Circuit leaders Virtus Pro, meanwhile, scored 3-1 in their group. On the other hand it was a surprisingly difficult day for Vici Gaming, who lost all four of their games against squads weaker than them on paper.

The action continues later today, starting with paiN Gaming vs TNC Predator, Vici Gaming vs Newbee, Team Secret vs Virtus Pro, and OpTic vs VGJ Storm. The first set of matches begins at 11am CT.