The qualifiers are now finished for each region and six teams have secured their golden tickets to Shanghai
The International 2019 is still a month away, but the hype is in full swing. The qualifiers are now finished for each region and six teams have secured their golden tickets to Shanghai.
They’ll be headed to the biggest event in esports. The funding for this International has surpassed every previous year with more than a month to go before it begins. It currently stands just under $29,000,000. Talk about motivation!
The final three qualifier events are finally over, and each region has stories to tell. We saw a number of upsets in the playoffs and even some surprise winners. China, North America, and Europe are the most competitive areas for Dota 2, so of course, Valve saved them for last.
If you haven’t checked in with the CIS, SEA, or SA qualifiers, here’s a quick rundown:
With those out of the way, here are the teams from North America, China, and Europe heading to The International 2019.
North America is a troubled region. There’s really only one America representative at the top level of Dota, but Evil Geniuses have a Swede, a Dane, and an Israeli on their American team. Regardless, there’s a pretty big gap in talent for NA.
Four teams were invited to compete in the regional tournament, but there were two pretty clear favorites. CompLexity, fresh off their rebranding, was my first pick for the qualifier. They have very good recent results and performed well at multiple Minors this year. The other frontrunner, Forward Gaming, had just as good of an international track record but better results at home. CompLexity was my first guess for the tournament’s winner, but they didn’t even make it to playoffs. Their only group stage wins were over Team Axolotl and Old Suck Gaming.
Unlike their rivals, Forward hit the ground running. They topped the group stage with a clean 7-0 and only dropped one game in grand finals to J.Storm.
Forward was on the up even before getting pieliedie on the roster, and the Swede has really brought focus to the mechanically skilled team’s game. We saw his ability to play at the top level in 2014 until around 2017 when he started to fall off. Hopefully, we see his peaks again as Forward’s captain.
The Chinese scene always seems so distant from the western Dota 2 community. Their memes and Twitter fanart are all the gets through to us, though we have no way of knowing of the memes are any true. These qualifiers are one of the few looks western fans get into the second tier of Chinese Dota.
This was an incredible year for Chinese teams, with a total of three teams invited to TI9 and two Majors firmly in Chinese territory. A lot of talent was left at home, so this was the last chance Chinese teams had to play at the first Chinese International.
The talent level here was a step above most other regions; EHOME, Team Aster, Royal Never Give Up, Team Sirius, Invictus, CDEC. All of those teams could have won. Not only was this the highest level qualifier of TI9, but this was going to be the most heavily contested.
No true qualifier has a group stage without upsets. Aster and Sirius, who were both directly invited, fell out of contention before playoffs. In fact it was a open qualifier team topping the group stage; Invictus Gaming looked rock-solid with a 6-1 record. Their only loss was a fluke to CDEC. Nothing to worry about, right?
CDEC rocked the upper bracket hard despite coming third in groups. They knocked EHOME and Royal Never Give Up into loser’s to make it to grands. What followed with an epic 5-game series against Royal Never Give Up, who had clawed back from the brink.
In the end, it was black sheep RNGU that took gold after the closest qualifier yet. They will be the fourth and final team defending their home turf in Shanghai.
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It’s nice seeing teams from other continents do well at events, but there’s no escaping the universal truth; if you want to be the best Dota player in the world, living in Europe helps. The Old World has the longest history of competitive Dota and has the most TI victories.
Four teams from Europe were invited to TI, making up a full third of teams invited. There is still a lot of talent left in Europe though, and this qualifier is tied with China for the average skill of its competitors. These aren’t unsponsored stacks with grit and determination; these teams are established competitive teams, multiple with past TI winners.
The group stage was very tight. Unlike at other qualifiers, there were no 6-1 or 7-0 records. Everyone lost at least two games. Both invite teams managed to advance, with Final Tribe and Hippomaniacs leading the pack barely.
The bracket wouldn’t show that, though. The blue hippos fell during their second set and immediately exited the tournament. The grand final saw Final Tribe square off against the newly renovated Chaos Esport Club. The latter likely paid top dollar for Matumbaman’s contract, and this was their chance to make a return on their investment.
Final Tribe may have come from the upper bracket, but they were not the favorites. CEC rode the momentum all the way to TI9. The match was a swift 3-0, though Final Tribe occasionally showed flashes of brilliance. I’d love to see them more in 2020. For now, 2019 belongs to Chaos Esports Club.
Getting to compete in a $30,000,000 tournament is usually enough motivation for esport pros, but The International holds a special significance. Attending a TI takes a lifetime of dedication, and winning one automatically makes you one of the best players of all time.
The qualifier teams didn’t take the fast track to TI, but they’ll be dueling it out all the same. Check back in closer to the main event for our coverage of The International 2019.