Final Call - The International 9

The worlds $32 million esports spectacle

Campbell Smart
Freelance Esports Writer
12th Aug, 19·☕️ 6 min read

As the Dota season draws to a close, the International 9 looms around the corner. There’s no greater spectacle to watch in esports, acting as the World Cup for Dota.

Competition Information

TI is everything, and the whole year-long DPC season is a qualifier for TI.

Official Valve sponsored minors and majors have hosted $6,500,000 total in prize money. TI9 will post 5 times this amount and carry the title of world champions, making it the be-all and end-all for any professional dota player.

Like most years, 25% of battle pass purchases contribute to the prize pool. It’s currently at a staggering $32 million USD and increasing, the largest prize pool in esports history. This is over 3 times larger than that of the Cricket world cup and double Fortnite’s solo World Cup Finals.

It’s being held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai China. Apart from TI1, this is the first time its been held outside of the US.

TI9 will be played on patch 7.22f, released on the 28th of July. Teams have roughly two weeks to become situated with the new patch. The patch contains minor tweaks to hero’s, allowing TI’s signature meta development during the event.

The Current Season

TI pic


The group stage start at around 11am AEST on the 15th of August. The final game of the day starts at 9pm AEST every day, except on the 18th, which starts at 4pm.

The group stage has the 18 teams divided in two. A round robin format is then used to determine lower and upper bracket seeding. The groups of 9 have the bottom team eliminated from the event, with top 4 proceeding to the upper bracket and the other 4 to the lower bracket.

Playoffs are from the 20th of August to the 25th. They follow the standard double elimination format, with first round lower bracket being Best-of-1’s. All other matches are Best-of-3, except for the finals which are Best-of-5.

Time (AEST)2pm-12am12pm-9pm12pm-9pm12pm-10pm12pm-10pm1pm-4pm
Special EventsOpening CeremonyFilm ContestArcana voteAll-star gameCosplay competitionFinals


The top 12 teams in the Dota Pro Circuit were directly invited, with 1 qualifier spot given to each region. This is a shift from last year’s 8 invited teams and subjective qualifier slots.

Regions were instead given dedicated major slots instead of direct invites throughout the season, directly facilitating the ability of teams to obtain DPC points.

TI8 →TI9 attendance DPC invites Major Slots Difference
Europe 3 → 6 5 3 2
China 6 → 4 3 3 0
North America 3 → 2 1 3 -2
South America 1 → 1 0 2 -2
CIS 2 → 2 1 2 -1
SEA 3 → 3 2 2 0

Regions with more slots than qualified teams have had lulls in regional strength and stability. Either the region scene is volatile, and teams cannot repeatedly qualify to majors, or the teams that qualify aren’t strong enough, inferring a weak region. NA for instance had had 3 slots throughout the season, but only EG qualified. Europe conversley managed to qualify 5 teams with only 3 slots.

This season, a 6th place finish at a major would put a team with no points 13th on the ladder. A single 4th place finish would qualify them for TI9.

This top-heavy ladder is caused by the weighting of major placings and minors. Teams lower than 6 on the ladder may have more sporadic performances.

A team like Fnatic had a decent start to the season but came dead last in the last two majors. Yet they’ve still finished 7th on the DPC ladder and earned a direct invitation despite performing terribly lately.

Quick guide to team rankings

Basic teams’ ratings are based on their strength coming into the event. The insular nature of TI means we see upsets often, demonstrated last year by OG.

Ti9 Team rankings

For a more in-depth look, check out our team breakdowns here.

Final Tips

The obvious choice to win would be VG (4.85). Strongest performance in the recent majors and are playing for a home crowd.

Secret (3.6) and VP (6.6) are both very solid choices, being the dynamic dominators throughout the season.

Liquid (5.3) are my wildcard, with recent changes to a world class line-up they could easily surprise or present something unexpected.


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