Steven R. July 2, 2019
The International 2019 will feature 18 top Dota 2 teams.
12 of them were decided through the Dota Pro Circuit, with elites like Virtus.pro and Team Secret locking up spots early, while Keen Gaming and Alliance squeaked their way more recently. The remaining teams will be decided through qualifiers, with each of the six regions sending a single qualifying representative to Shanghai.
To raise awareness and to give fans an extra layer of intrigue, qualifier predictions have become a staple of The International compendium that is included in each year’s battle pass. Players have the chance to earn a few extra levels for their battle pass by picking out which teams will make the cut from each region.
That’s easier said than done. Dota 2 is always a tough game to predict, and when most of the best teams already have a spot locked up and the rest are constantly shuffling their rosters, it’s hard to parse the hierarchy without paying close attention to the goings on in the scene.
We at WIN.gg have put in the hours to watch film and look over tournament results to pick out the favorites from each region. Here are the picks to help you get the most out of your TI9 battle pass
North America: Forward Gaming finally arrives
North America has had a rough 2019 in Dota 2.
The region actually panned out to be fairly deep at TI8 thanks to strong showings from OpTic Gaming and VGJ.Storm and looked promising heading into this season with an interesting CompLexity Gaming lineup and new squads like Marchoutofarmy popping up. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before everything went off the rails with teams constantly changing rosters and rarely getting better as a result.
Evil Geniuses has earned their spot at TI9 already, but past that, the qualifiers are basically up for grabs.
Forward Gaming is the best bet. The lineup has struggled throughout the year and has failed to live up to the high expectations pinned on them early on, but has gotten the better of other contenders J.Storm and Complexity Gaming more often than not.
Other options: J.Storm, CompLexity Gaming
Europe: Chaos Esports Club grows new roots
Europe has been the most successful Dota 2 region throughout the year, and after the Epicenter Major it is set to send five different teams to The International. The trouble is that with Team Secret, Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, OG, and Alliance all earning direct invitations, all of the sure things are out of the qualifier running.
The Final Tribe has been a steady presence on the European scene throughout the season and has been competitive with the likes of NiP and Alliance in months past, but isn’t operating at a level where they should be looked at as the favorites to win. Because of that, we’re looking to the reformed Chaos Esports Club as the team to beat in Europe.
Chaos was a South American staple for much of the year, but went across the Atlantic to Europe after washing out of the MDL Disneyland Paris Major. In the weeks since, they’ve pulled together an interesting new roster that includes former Team Liquid star Lasse Aukusti "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen and former Team Secret offlaner Maurice "KheZu" Gutmann.
They haven’t yet had much opportunity to gel, but the talent and experience on the lineup has us favoring them over other teams.
Other options: The Final Tribe, Aachen City Esports
China: Royal Never Give Up perseveres
China is an incredibly difficult region to pick because it has a lot of teams that have shown flashes of greatness during the season but have struggled to stay on top for long. As such, China has a long list of contenders that have the tools to win a spot at TI9.
Precedent suggests that the two favorites are Royal Never Give Up and EHOME. The two teams have looked solid for most of the year and managed to qualify for the final two events of the season. Royal Never Give Up gets the nod based on a decent showing at the Epicenter Major, but they still have a big fight ahead of them.
Other Options: EHOME, Royal
South America: Team Anvorgesa and Infamous become kings of SA Dota 2
South America is a complete mess right now. Chaos Esports Club was the one constant in the region and since they left, no other team has even been able to stay together long enough to make a serious run.
The only South American team out there that has beaten pro competition from outside the region is Team Anvorgesa. The Peruvians managed to clear the group stage at the StarLadder Minor in June and eliminated Winstrike and EHOME in the process.
Their body of work is small because the team didn’t actually come together until the StarLadder Minor qualifiers, but they’re pretty much the only proven option here. Hopefully they will get an extra boost from being newly sponsored by South American organization Infamous.
Other Options: PaiN Gaming
CIS: Gambit Esports finally gets respect
The only region with a clear-cut favorite to win is CIS. That favorite is Gambit Esports.
Gambit has been a solid competitor throughout the year, and while they haven’t been able to consistently qualify for majors, they’ve proven themselves as a top team on a number of occasions with strong showings at tournaments like ESL One Katowice and WePlay! Dota 2 Valentine Madness.
They’ll still have quite a bit of competition on their hands with teams like Natus Vincere and Team Spirit, but Gambit is the safest pick in the qualifiers.
Other Options: Natus Vincere, Team Spirit
Southeast Asia: Mineski gets back on track
Fnatic and TNC Predator are both solid teams, but past that Southeast Asia has struggled with roster turnover throughout the year. That hasn’t slowed down with the TI9 qualifiers fast approaching and now it’s a matter of parsing past results with the pure talent on a team’s roster. The best blend in the region is Mineski.
While this has been a generally rough season for the team, they’ve still found a handful of successes and have hung around as the third best team in the region. The big X-factor is their recent release of Lai "Ahjit" Jay Son in favor of Bulgarian player Nikolay "Nikobaby" Nikolov. The team won’t have much opportunity to practice with him and it’s hard to feel especially confident in the side because of that. Still, they have enough of a resume to go with here over other talented teams like BOOM ID and Geek Fam.
Other Options: BOOM ID, Geek Fam