The International 7 power rankings - Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid on top

Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora plays for Evil Geniuses during his team’s winning bout against Newbee at Dota 2's The International 6. Michael Hanson for ESPN

On Wednesday, eighteen teams will begin a quest for the lion's share of a $23,249,026 prize pool (at the time of this writing) at Dota 2's The International 7. Not every team is created equal, and some come in with more firepower than others, so we've power ranked the contenders.

The cream of the crop

1. Evil Geniuses

The powerhouse from North American tops the list of rankings as the favorite for the tournament. The experienced lineup boasts two former TI winners in Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan and Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora and some of the best individual skill on the planet. Its strengths are numerous, but lane dominance and a strong hero pool are the team's signature traits.

2. Team Liquid

Will Team Liquid finally take the biggest step in professional Dota 2 and raise the Aegis? This is the most consistent top-placing team in the world, but the victories are lacking. The talent is certainly there; the addition, and growing pains, of Maroun "GH" Merhej was worth the transition. It's up to the team's performance to finish the prediction.

3. LGD-Gaming

The strongest Chinese team in the field is also one of the best threats to take the championship. It is one of the best teams in terms of map control and extending to the late game through stellar defense and team fight execution. With such a strong identity, it will be tough for other teams to deter this well-oiled lineup.

4. Virtus.pro

The best from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will look to make plenty of noise at TI. Behind some of the best individual mechanical skill in the world from its star players Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk and Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev, and a penchant for difficult team fighting execution, this is a team that can never be counted out regardless of situation.

5. OG

The book is out on OG, and every team already read the chapters. The green team will not surprise anyone with a deep tournament finish, but it will not surprise any team either. OG is a lane-dominant, rotation-heavy, and well-coordinated team. It does every little thing in Dota 2 well, but not at an elite level -- that may spell trouble for a run at a championship title.

The middle of the pack

6. Newbee

Newbee is the dark horse to take it all down. From top-to-bottom, this is a frightening lineup to face. Whether it's the core duo of Xu "Moogy" Han and Song "Sccc" Chun and their ability to absolutely take over a game with any semblance of resource, or the reliable backbone of the team, Zeng "Faith" Hongda, this team can run through the entire tournament.

7. Invictus Gaming

It's the yearly, 'will Xu "BurNIng" Zhilei finally take a TI?' question. Invictus Gaming is a team with inconsistent showings at major tournaments, but immense talent and star power that rivals even the top of this list. This is the team with all the narratives without all the tournament pressures that come from being an elite lineup.

8. Team Secret

Team Secret are the masters of flex-picking and drafting unique lineups to complement its all-star roster. Mostly the team revolves around its incredible duo of Pyo "MP" No-a and Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng. If both of the stars get any momentum, the victory is all but a guarantee.

9. LGD.Forever Young

The game plan for LGD.Forever Young is very simple -- snowball lane advantage with two strong scaling cores into a five-man death ball march into victory. It's basic DOTA at its finest and few do it better than the lineup of LGD.Forever Young. The issue with linear
game plans is whether or not a team can execute its lane presence better or if the opposing draft is better.

10. Cloud 9

Many will pin Cloud 9 as the true dark horse of the tournament due to the lineup's volatile nature to either run through the competition in blitzkrieg manner or implode and lose immediately. Even with the solid foundation of Kurtis "AUI_2000" Ling and Adrian "FATA-" Trinks, this may be a team that will run into plenty of issues in terms of consistency.

The bottom of the barrel

11. Invictus Gaming Vitality

12. Team Empire

13. TNC Pro Team

14. Digital Chaos

15. Fnatic

16. Execration

17. Hellraisers

18. Infamous