Evil Geniuses, VGJ.Storm and Team Liquid secure TI8 playoff berths

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

With Day 3 of the International 2018 group stages now complete, the competition for the upper bracket is in full force. In Group A, five teams remain within striking distance of securing the safety of the upper brackets. PSG.LGD, Fnatic, VGJ.Thunder, OG and Mineski are a few wins away from finishing in the top half of the group. Competition in Group B is even tighter, with Optic hanging on in last place, but still a capable qualifier.

OG comes back to life in Group A

The two titans of Group A, Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid, finally butted heads Friday. The two games were close, but the team with its name on the Aegis, Liquid, ended up taking the series 2-0. Both ended the day tied with an overall record of 11-3 and are guaranteed a spot in next week's main event. The rest of the bracket is much closer, especially after Fnatic's 1-1 draw vs Winstrike boosting OG into the top four.

After a disappointing Day 1 and an only somewhat better Day 2, OG has finally started to secure some convincing wins for itself. The future of this team after the departure of Tal "Fly" Azik and Gustav "s4" Magnusson to EG was very uncertain. Fortunately for fans of the former "Green Dream," OG has been rewarded for its gamble on high-ranked pub player Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen and the reunion with ex-OG carry Anathan "Ana" Pham. Ana played very well on Friday, almost single-handedly securing Game 2 of OG's series against Invictus Gaming with an amazing Phantom Lancer performance.

Battle for Group B reaches a breaking point

In Group B, VGJ.Storm secured its spot in the upper brackets of the main event with a 3-1 score on the day, going into the final round of group stage competition with a comfortable 10-2 record. On Saturday, the team faces perhaps its biggest test in the group, Virtus pro. Virtus pro dropped a single game on Friday to paiN Gaming, giving up a major upset and also finishing the day with a 3-1 record. Team Secret managed to sneak into the top half of the bracket, picking up a 2-0 win over Optic and giving itself a comfortable berth going into a double-header on Day 4.

For all the teams under VGJ.S and VP, competition is fierce. Team Secret, TNC, Newbee, Serenity, paiN and Vici are all at either five or six wins. All of the teams except Newbee will play two series on the final day of competition, so there is room for any squad to muscle their way into the top or even for tiebreakers to occur. The other North American favorite, Optic Gaming, has found its way to the bottom of the bracket after a disappointing 1-3, finishing 4-8 overall. Optic will play against Vici and paiN on the final day, and it's up to veteran captain Peter "ppd" Dager to guide his team to victory. There are three other teams just one win above Optic at 5-7 and a total of four games to play for all teams except Newbee, meaning Day 4 will be a tense one for Group B.

With only three teams guaranteed spots in the main event upper bracket, the fourth and final day of group stage competition will be a bloodbath. Teams in the middle will be looking to close out some final wins, while others will be battling to avoid elimination.