Evil Geniuses on top, VGJ.Storm gathers strength at the International

The International 2018 main event takes place in Vancouver, Canada, to crown this year's Dota 2 champion and a share of over $24 million. Courtesy of Valve

Day 2 of the International 2018 Group Stages has drawn to a close, painting a clearer picture of which teams risk elimination and who will emerge as favorites going into next week's main event. Many analysts predicted this second day of the tournament would be the most difficult for all of the teams involved, which was reflected in the increased number of draws. There were, however, some unexpected twists along the way.

Evil Geniuses expands Group A lead

Evil Geniuses widened its lead over the competition in Group A with an impressive 9-1, finishing the second day of competition without dropping a game. In two quick series, EG secured 2-0 wins vs. OG and preliminary favorites PSG.LGD. EG has played excellent Dota so far at TI8 after a year of ups, downs and roster changes, adding Tal 'Fly' Azik and Gustav 's4' Magnusson late in the season. The team's win at The Summit 9 along with its performance so far are enough to give fans some real hope after a difficult year.

Despite a rocky start to the group stages, PSG.LGD's record of victories this season against both Virtus.pro and Team Liquid still makes it a likely favorite once the playoffs begin. Team Liquid also got off to a shaky start in Group A, taking a 1-1 draw vs. Invictus Gaming and finishing the day 5-3 overall. Thursday was exceptionally harsh to both Mineski and Winstrike Team, who finished 1-3 and 0-4, respectively. Day 2 firmly cemented Winstrike in last place with a 2-6 overall record, and with EG, Liquid and Fnatic left to play, Winstrike's tournament future is looking grim. For the seven teams in the middle of the group, only three wins separate them and there is still a full day-and-a-half of group stage competition to come. With EG sitting pretty at 9-1, the battle for the remaining three top spots will be fierce.

A VGJ.Storm on the horizon in Group B

VGJ.Storm had limited experience on a global stage before the International began and was often dismissed as an inexperienced team in a historically weak region. Perhaps the naysayers forgot the performance put up by Roman "Resolut1on" Fomynok at the International last year while standing in for Team Empire, but that was the Resolut1on that showed up to play in Group B. VGJ.Storm finished Day 1 with an unblemished record, having beaten Team Secret from Europe and Vici Gaming from China, proving that region is no problem. However, on Thursday OpTic marred that perfect record by fighting VGJ.Storm to a draw, leaving many to wonder if OpTic captain Peter "PPD" Dager had finally cracked the code to besting VGJ.Storm.

Game 1 was a strong performance by VGJ.Storm, as its patiented surgical style led to a slow and suffocating victory. VGJ.Storm's Game 1 victory was largely due to an outstanding performance by mid laner Yawar 'Yawar' Hassan on Mirana, who racked up an impressive 21 kills while conceding only three deaths despite a contentious laning stage. OpTic's victory in Game 2 is credited to PPD for a complete outdraft which gave his team a large enough advantage in the laning stage to run roughshod over the undefeated VGJ.Storm. Making the win better was the fact that PPD outdrafted his former coach from Evil Geniuses, now captain for VGJ.Storm, Avery ' SVG' Silverman.

With two more days of Dota left in the group stages, OpTic currently sits just inside the top 4 which would slot it in the final spot in Group B, while VGJ.Storm still sits alone at the top.