The International 2019's Group Stage Was Insane

The entire Dota Pro Circuit has led up to The International 2019, and teams are making the most of their journey

Kenneth "Brightside" Williams
Freelance Esports Writer
21st Aug, 2019·☕️ 7 min read

The entire Dota Pro Circuit has led up to The International 2019, and teams are making the most of their journey. The event finally kicked off in Shanghai last week with 18 teams in attendance. They’re fighting for the biggest prize purse in the history of esports. It’s currently set at $33,500,000 and is still growing.

But some teams have already collected their checks. Of the 18 teams, only 16 move on the main event. The dead-last team in each group is already on the plane ride home. Despite their poor performance, they’re taking over $80,000 USD home with them. That’s how much money is at stake here.

The group stage itself featured some of the most incredible Dota we’ve seen in a while, with matchups you can’t see anywhere else. Let’s go through both groups and see how things shaked up.

Group A


Group Stage Record: 5/3/0

Unsurprisingly, the de facto Chinese national team did well at the first Chinese TI. They didn’t drop a single set in the Best of 2 group stage. Their losses were almost suspicious, though. Newbee, Alliance, and TNC all matched them one for one, who were not the teams I expected to take games off LGD. They were the only team to 2-0 Secret, showing that they’re still a top tier threat.

Team Secret

Group Stage Record: 4/3/1

Despite being the frontrunners heading into TI, Team Secret took quite a few Ls in the group stage. They struck even with TNC, Chaos, and Mineski while losing handily to LGD. Overall, they still had a strong showing with Nisha and MidOne regularly outplaying their foes. Despite placing second in the groups, this is still an underperformance by Secret.


Group Stage Record: 2/5/1

The first surprise for the upper bracket is Newbee. Despite only having two 2-0s, their large amount of ties puts them just below two heavyweights. The American team wasn’t expected to perform well, and many thought they’d even take the dreaded 9th place in the group of death. I look forward to seeing them in the upper bracket, though I worry they won’t stay there for long.

TNC Predator

Group Stage Record: 2/5/1

With the same record as Newbee, TNC has also secured a spot in the upper bracket. The Southeast Asian team was expected to do well, and they have a history of phenomenal TI upsets (OG at TI6 anyone?) Their play largely hinged around Kuku. The offlaner has pushed the role to its limits, simultaneously applying pressure and controlling the tempo of the game.


Group Stage Record: 1/6/1

Alliance has become the poster child of tier two Dota over the past few months. The team has stuck together for over a year now in an era where rosters are rarely stable. However, they still aren’t up to the task of taking down giants like Secret and LGD. Their only 2-0 victory was over Keen Gaming. The team looked much fresher with Madara standing in. Maybe they just haven’t adjusted to having a full roster again.


Group Stage Record: 2/4/2

Qualifier teams always have a rough time in the group stage, and Mineski was no exception to that rule. TNC and Fnatic overshadowed them entirely. Still, they got good wins over Chaos and, surprisingly, TNC. Maybe they have their countrymen figured out better than the rest of the planet. Mineski performed exactly to expectation.

Team Liquid

Group Stage Record: 2/2/4

While Vici and Secret were the favorites for this TI, Liquid was also expected to perform well. Their grand final run at The Epicenter Major showed that w33 can play at the top level despite his two hero repertoire. Alas, he just didn’t show up at TI9. He wasn’t the only disappointment, with KuRoKy making questionable draft choices, but I really expected better of Team Liquid.

Keen Gaming

Group Stage Record: 2/1/5

The dark horse of China didn’t have a lot of pressure on them from their countrymen going into this event. Even if Keen fell early, China still had plenty of representation. However, no one expected Keen to fall this low in groups. This is the same team that destroyed Evil Geniuses at DreamLeague Season 11, but I wouldn’t blame you for thinking otherwise.

Chaos Esports Club

Group Stage Record: 0/3/5

CEC’s owners have nerves of steel for buying out Matumbaman. The idea is that he would make that money back at TI, and sure enough, he led his team all the way to the event. Once they got there, they fell flat on their face. 7.22 is filled with amazing comebacks, but Chaos just can’t play from behind. That’d be fine if they could get early advantages, but they just got plain outplayed at every opportunity. Better luck next year.

Group B


Group Stage Record: 6/2/0

As last year’s TI champions, OG had a huge target on their backs going into this event. Their lackluster recent performance also meant that an upset was likely. Not only did they avoid getting upset, but they also avoided losing a single match. ana’s break did wonders for his performance and N0tail’s drafts were top notch. They seem to have the best understanding of the TI9 meta.

Vici Gaming

Group Stage Record: 4/3/1

Aside from a not-so-surprising loss to Evil Geniuses, Vici showed dominance throughout the group stage. They traded even with OG, Infamous, and Ninjas in Pyjamas, but I’d write off INF and NiP as flukes. Dy’s godlike positioning and Ori’s creativity landed them a place in the upper bracket, and they’ll likely stay there for a while.

Evil Geniuses

Group Stage Record: 3/3/2

EG had a rocky start to their group stage run, but they managed to bring it back on the last two days. SumaiL and Arteezy are both gods of the lategame and the longer game length of 7.22 is definitely working in their favor. Their upset against Vici shows that they’re still the China Slayers. The audience as dead silent during their matches. Their loss to Fnatic has me worried, but it ain’t EG if they don’t get upset in groups.

Group Stage Record: 3/2/3

At the beginning of the season, were considered a dominant threat. For a while, they were the only team that could stand up to Team Secret. Now, they’re on the very edge of the top tier. RAMZES666 doesn’t have access to many of his signature heroes and RodJEr and Solo both looked lost. The meta just isn’t suited to them, but their raw skill still landed them a spot in the upper bracket.


Group Stage Record: 1/5/2

There were tons of cool teams to watch in Group B, but my eyes were glued to Infamous throughout the first stage of TI9. Hector is one of the few carries that prioritizes GPM in 7.2, and seeing him use Infest off cooldown to take Ancient camps was both inspiring and hilarious. They’ve been relegated to the lower bracket, but their five ties show that they’re unafraid of any team.


Group Stage Record: 3/1/4

Iceiceice is one of the most explosives offlaners in Dota, but he really looked out of his element all throughout the group stage. It seemed he was either getting trilaned against or forced to play in the safelane every game. Their odd hero picks were entertaining, but their lategame mistakes were just too damning for an upper bracket finish.

Natus Vincere

Group Stage Record: 2/3/3

Other than a Day 2 upset over, Natus Vincere just didn’t show up. They’re famous for their expressive midgame play revolving around MagicaL and Zayac, but they just got plain outclassed by the Asian teams. Rough losses against RNGU and Fnatic on Day 3 deflated their momentum, but I really want to see more of Navi in the lower bracket.

Royal Never Give Up

Group Stage Record: 2/2/4

Seeing their record now is surprising. RNG looked dominant in their games with both Monet and Setsu showing up big. Despite their lategame potential, teams with higher tempos just rolled over them. They’re one of the scariest teams past the 40-minute mark, but games aren’t quite that long in 7.22. They managed to avoid going home early, but just barely.

Ninjas In Pyjamas

Group Stage Record: 0/3/5

I often say that ppd is one of the brightest minds in Dota, but some of his drafting choices had me second-guessing that stance. This TI’s metagame features tons of cheesy picks like Broodmother and Alchemist, but the Ninjas insisted on playing a fair game. As a result, they’re getting sent home early.

More Than $32,000,000 Is On The Line

There were quite a few surprises throughout the group stage, with OG topping their group, Liquid heading to the lower bracket, and NiP taking the fast track home. If the main stage is as unpredictable as the groups, this will be the craziest TI yet.

The main event will definitely be worth ruining your sleep schedule. To help you on your sleepless path, take a look at the itinerary for the main event and keep an eye out for our wrap-up when the millions are finally doled out.

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