photo by ESL
With the MDL Disneyland® Paris Major all wrapped up and Team Secret claiming another amazing Major victory in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit this season, now is a great time to look at all the new teams that have secured themselves a spot at The International 2019 as well as which teams may be lucky enough to claim the remaining four spots available through DPC points.
The four that came before
Prior to the Disneyland® Major there were a total of four teams only that had booked their spot at TI9 – three were the obvious victors of Majors through the season; Vici Gaming, Virtus.pro and Team Secret, while the fourth is Evil Geniuses, who had enough third place finishes to make a bronze suit for each member of their squad. That said, they were still set for Shanghai, China in August 2019 and it was also clear that many more would be secured in Paris.
The four that Disney®created
In total four more teams secured their passage to TI9 – some due to outstanding performances at the Major, others due to the required DPC points required dropping as more teams made it in. So let’s begin with the excellent performances and work our way down.
After barely making an impact on the DPC scene this season, Team Liquid came into the recent Major with a clear point to prove. While they managed to enter the upper bracket of the playoffs, EG were there to send them down to the lower bracket – but this turned out to be no problem for the TI7 winning team. Eliminating a host of teams such as Vici Gaming, PSG.LGD, OG and EG, Liquid proved that they are still a massive force in the Dota 2 world and that they still deserve recognition. Even though the grand finals saw them losing to Secret, the squad gave us all an amazing show of just what TI-champions look like – which was enough to send them to TI9.
In classic Liquid style, they left their qualification to the end – although this time there’s still another Minor and Major to go before TI9, but they are definitely going to be in contention for the Aegis of Champions if they continue to play with this form.
It was almost a certainty that last year’s TI-runners up, PSG.LGD, would make it into TI9 at the recent Major. After a very tough group stage, the Chinese squad saw themselves manage to enter the upper bracket of the playoffs – but Secret were too much for them and a lower bracket run awaited. LGD fought hard through the lower bracket, sending home both VP and Ninjas in Pyjamas but it was Liquid that were their downfall at the end of the day. While this early fourth place exit was not ideal, it did secure the team their TI9 place and maybe a short break before the event kicks off on their home ground.
From what I can tell, PSG.LGD are high contenders for the Aegis once again this year – but with so many massive teams playing such amazing Dota 2 at the moment, it is going to be a very tough road for all involved.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Peter ‘ppd’ Dager has once before lifted the Aegis of Champions, back at TI5 when he helped EG take the first place prize. Since then, he has moved on to a few teams, but none quite like the currently assembled NiP squad. After winning the Dota PIT Minor, NiP secured their spot at the Major but nobody really expected too much from them in the heated battles with fierce competition. However, they were ready to challenge all and while they were eliminated in the fifth/sixth position, this does not speak for the work that they put in. Their upper ranking finish was enough to secure the squad a spot at TI9 and hopefully some success once their too.
With only a single Major left for the season, I definitely think that NiP could be a team to watch – and if they rise up the ranks a bit more, they’re going to be challenging everyone in Shanghai too.
This Southeast Asian squad has always been one of my absolute favourites to watch, especially since they filled their squad with the likes of Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang and Anucha ‘Jabz’ Jirawong (and got rid of Jacky ‘EternalEnVy’ Mao). However, MDL Disneyland® was NOT what I’ve expected from this team – mainly because they performed so well at DreamLeague Season 11. The squad finished dead-last in their group, without even facing the likes of EG and then went on to be instantly eliminated due to what I can only call poor drafting. Luckily for Fnatic, they were a few hundred points short of TI9 acceptance and with the other teams racking up the numbers, Fnatic were pushed into a qualification spot.
This is not to say that the team were actually playing for this result – maybe they were looking to take things easy and give themselves a brief rest before the qualifiers for the next Major kick off. I am hoping this is the case, because as far as SEA teams go, this is one that I truly believe can and should be challenging the top echelons of Dota 2 talent for the Aegis.
The four that could be
Now that we have a total of eight teams confirmed for TI9, only four spots remain for teams to enter through the DPC points system. So, with only a single Major left to go – I’m going to give my opinions on who will make it through.
Looking at the current rankings, the final four spots for TI9 are held by Keen Gaming, OG, TNC Predator and EHOME – all of whom have a long way to go if they want to secure their top 12 finish in the DPC.
With Anathan ‘ana’ Pham back on the squad after a brief hiatus, OG secured a spot at their first Major of the season with MDL Disneyland® and they showed up strong. The TI8 victors managed a rather impressive fifth/sixth place finish – and although it was not enough to secure their invite, their sub-20-minute destruction of VP was probably one of the best games I’ve ever seen them play. With EPICENTER quickly coming our way, OG definitely have a shoe-in to secure their spot at TI9 should they continue to play at that level and I don’t doubt that they will for a moment.
KG’s lineup is filled with veteran Dota 2 players as well as an absolutely amazing mid-laner to watch, Zhai ‘yi’ Jingkal and I assumed that the brilliance they showed to win at ESL One Mumbai would translate to a fantastic Major too – but a tough group stage dropped them into an even tougher lower bracket where Vici Gaming sent them packing. I have very little doubt that this team could claim a spot at TI9 via DPC points, but with the high tier competition constantly at Majors, KG are going to have to double their efforts.
EHOME have had a rather rough DPC season, having won a Minor and progressing well in Chongqing, they suffered the unfortunate event of Zhang ‘Faith_bian’ Ruida’s fractured arm. The setback has seen the team change their squad a fair amount but has also included the return of Luo ‘Ferrari_430’ Feichi to a top-flight team. Their second place finish at Dota PIT Minor proved that the team still has the ability to perform at a high level and they are going to need it if they want to secure a spot at TI9 through DPC points.
The 2018/19 DPC season has been an odd and mixed bag of results for the Southeast Asian squad that is TNC Predator. With a fairly strong start they seemed to fade away into obscurity – barely even touching an event that would guide them to TI9. But then the team go to the World Electronic Sports Games and claim first place before, once again, failing to enter any DPC events. However, with ex-Liquid coach Lee ‘Heen’ Seung Gon behind them, maybe the final Major will give TNC some hope or they’re going to fade away once more.
These are not the only teams with a chance, of course, just the most likely to move forward in my humble opinion. The likes of Mineski and Alliance both have a shot – but they definitely need to figure out a way through the best-of-the-best first.
If nothing changes at the upcoming Minor and Major, then the 12 teams heading to The International 2019 will be an extremely strong pack – but there will still be regional qualifiers for those who miss out. EPICENTER as well as the preceding Minor are going to be extremely closely contested and, without a doubt, we’re sure to see teams throw every bit of power they have into them as the DPC season nears its end.
For now, don’t forget to check out our Battle Pass Giveaway – you’ve only got a few days left to enter, so that you can start working your way up to all those fantastic rewards!