The International 2018 looks like the hardest one to predict and that’s because most teams competing this year in Vancouver have a real chance to achieve a historical run.
VGJ. Storm are one of those teams that although are hard to be regarded as a favorite to win TI8, you still hope to see them there, in one of the finals, be it losers or winners finals. Their Dota Pro Circuit records can be misleading. Theoretically, VGJ.Storm cannot be the TI8 dark horse, neither the underdog, and they certainly can’t be regarded as a pushover. With that in mind, we can only ask ourselves where they are in terms of expectations at this TI. VGJ Storm are exactly what their name says. A bundle of emotions, tense expectations, the electricity in the air just before the storm is about to come.
They struggled badly at the start of the season. The entire roster was dropped three days before the last shuffle deadline. From the old team, only Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu made a comeback with the new roster. VGJ Storm signed four new players at the end of February with the target aimed at the TI8 open qualifiers. However, they continued to struggle for the first few months and decided to make one more change. Enzo “Timado” Gianoli was replaced on the 12th of April with the TI mercenary Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok. This was the exact moment when VGJ Storm began to rise.
VGJ. Storm roster:
– Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok
– Yawar “YawaR” Hassan
– Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu
– Arif “MSS” Anwar
– Avery “SVG” Silverman
Immediately after Reso joined, the team qualified for the Supermajor and took home the GESC: Thailand Minor trophy. A month after the Ukrainian carry player set foot in the team house, VGJ. Storm were the revelation of MDL Changsha Major after they defeated PSG.LGD in the tournament group stage and then took down OG, Team Secret and Vici Gaming to make it to the Major grand finals straight from the upper bracket series. They finished second in Changsha as PSG.LGD took full revenge for what happened in the group stage. Nonetheless, from the NA region underdogs, VGJ Storm suddenly raised to the top contender status. At the Supermajor it became clear that everyone started to do their homework against VGJ. Storm. They got figured out, countered and eliminated in the opening round of the main event lower bracket. Then, the TI8 open qualifiers came and the newly reshuffled Evil Geniuses wiped the floor with them in the semifinals, forcing VGJ. Storm to try again in the second leg of opens. They made it into the closed regional after all to take the entire region by surprise once again. Eight victories and just one game dropped allowed VG.J Storm to claim the first tickets to The International 2018, ahead of EG and OpTic Gaming who had to fight in the playoffs for the second and third place.
VGJ. Storm by numbers after April 12
- Games played: 84
- As Dire: 33
- As Radiant: 51
- Win rate: 65,48%
- Wins: 55
- Losses: 29
VGJ. Storm is a team formed from NA players who fought for years to make it into the spotlight. They all got to play with the best players in the competitive scene, but never really made a break for top tier. The team captain, Avery “SVG” Silverman was Evil Geniuses’ Coach in 2016 when PPD was so close to write history by claiming a second Aegis. SVG and EG finished third at that TI edition and continued to be their coach at TI7 as well. In between these two Internationals, he was recruited by EternaLEnVy at Team NP, where he played alongside his current teammate Arif “MSS” Anwar.
MSS grinded his way into a top tier team for several years now. In an interview with Hot_Bid at TI5 he told the story of how he actually ran away from home in 2014 to participate at TI4. He didn’t have the family support at all to pursue his calling, but he never gave up on his dream either. He is playing Dota2 on a professional level since 2013 and he made a name for himself in the offlane, but switched to position 4 support once he joined VGJ. Storm. “I do miss position 3, the offlane, on occasion because I still like playing the heroes that are in the pool right now, but I think I’m way better on support 4 at this moment. It just feels way more natural and smoother for me,” he said very recently when he and SVG held a joint AMA session on the team’s Discord channel. MSS was always regarded as a bright offlaner, with constant performances and a wide hero pool. Although he is playing support for about six months, he boasts a total of 34 different heroes used in this period. His most played are Tusk, Io, and Sand King but, due to his offlane experience, MSS is also very good with Clockwerk, Night Stalker, Slardar or Nature’s Prophet, heroes that are more suited for the offlane, but with which he can create a lot of chaos from his position four.
In the offlane, Storm have Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu, a veteran of the NA scene who has been waiting to make his return to TI since 2014. Much like OpTic who are giving their offlaner a lot of farm and do play around him sometimes, Storm are using Sneyking in the same way. He is an aggressive offlaner, whose mission is to “carry” the early-mid game stage until Resolut1on and/or YawaR are ready to join the team fights. Along with MSS, Sneyking creates a dynamic duo for Storm which allows the team to have a fast tempo game most of the times. Sneyking is often playing heroes that can push towers fast and have a great impact in the team fights. Beastmaster, Underlord, and Omniknight are his most played heroes, however, if the team chooses to have more of a five-man oriented draft, he will often be playing Tidehunter, Enigma, Sand King or Dark Seer.
What sets this team apart and makes the drafting against them a bit difficult is the versatility of their players. Resolut1on added a lot to this chapter as he and YawaR are comfortable to switch roles. If their opponents show their choice for the mid lane hero first, Storm can react from the drafting phase and send Resolut1on mid on a Medusa, Phantom lancer, Outworld Devourer or Templar Assassin while YawaR can play a safe lane Luna, Gyrocopter, Death Prophet or even Terror Blade.
With Resolut1on’s arrival, VGJ. Storm found their identity and were able to build a lot of game plans around him, YawaR and Sneyking while remaining somewhat unpredictable. Their first phase of the draft can always be misleading. Storm have in their pool plethora of heroes that can be played in any of the core positions. With their recent Summit 9 run where they finished third, they were the only team to play Techies. More than that, they tested it three times, both of their supports trying different approaches. It’s hard to tell if Techies will really have an impact on the TI8 meta, but there are a lot of heroes in Storm’s pool who are more likely to become hot picks in Vancouver.
VGJ. Storm’s most successful hero combos
|Heroes||Total Count||Wins||Losses||Win Rate|
|Gyrocopter + Disruptor||10||7||3||70,00%|
|Gyrocopter + Tusk||7||6||1||85,71%|
|Gyrocopter + Sand King||6||5||1||83,33%|
|Gyrocopter + Omniknight||6||5||1||83,33%|
|Gyrocopter + Medusa||5||5||0||100%|
Gyrocopter is their most played hero through the entire season as both Resolut1on and YawaR play it. Storm have a total of 30 Gyro games and YawaR boasts an impressive 81,82 % win rate with it from 22 games played. However, through the entire TI8 qualifiers run YawaR played gyro just once, and he never touched the hero at the recently ended Dota Summit 9. During the last two months he focused on Shadow Fiend, Dragon Knight, Death Prophet and Ember Spirit. At the Summit 9, where Ursa was featured in 11 games through the entire tournament, YawaR played it as well, but just once.
Perhaps VGJ Storm didn’t want to reveal too many of the new heroes they are practicing ahead of TI8, perhaps Gyrocopter will not be their most played hero, but one thing should be on everyone’s mind at TI8: VGJ. Storm is not a team to be ignored. This is Resolut1on’s fifth TI and the in the last two years he always managed to upset the top contenders. He did once at TI6 when he placed second with Digital Chaos, he did it again last year when despite jumping from the analysts desk into Team Empire’s carry role in the last minute, he made it into the top eight. He is not the player to mess with and what VGJ Storm created around him can lead them to a historical run.
More TI8 team profiles:
– OG Learning to Fight Through Adversity
– Virtus.pro – The CIS Team’s Final Frontier
– When Patience Pays Off: Mineski
– Beware of paiN Gaming
– China’s Best Hope: PSG.LGD Gaming
– Rise and Fall of a Chinese Giant: Newbee
– On the Verge of Making History: Team Liquid