Steven R. July 15, 2019
The qualifiers to The International 2019 have wrapped up and with that, fans now know the 18 teams set to compete at the biggest Dota 2 event of the year.
Infamous, Mineski, Royal Never Give Up, Natus Vincere, Chaos Esports Club, and Forward Gaming are the winners of the six regional qualifiers. They join the top 12 teams from this year’s Dota Pro Circuit, including major winners Team Secret, Vici Gaming, and Virtus.pro, as well as former champions like Alliance, Evil Geniuses, and Team Liquid.
The qualifiers for TI this year were something of a mess.
The rules of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit allowed top teams to qualify for The International 2019 very early while giving no real penalties to other teams for roster moves. This allowed top squads to thrive while almost everyone else was rocked by instability, creating a massive gap between the Dota 2 elites and the rest of the scene. Even serious contenders like J.Storm and Mineski were making moves just days before the qualifiers began.
Though there were ultimately no serious surprises in terms of who qualified, a number of unknown teams, like the Hippomaniacs and the hastily thrown together Team Jinesbrus, came very close to punching a ticket to TI9.
Who is going to win The International 2019?
Because almost every successful team this season had already earned a spot in TI9 through the Dota Pro Circuit, it is hard to parse which qualifier winners stand a real chance of making a lengthy run in Shanghai. But odds are that someone will do it.
Since 2014, every installment of The International has seen a surprise underdog make a strong run through the tournament. Even reigning champions OG were essentially an afterthought at The International 2018, slapping together a roster that included an unknown pub star and their longtime coach after the sudden departure of Gustav "s4" Magnusson and Tal "Fly" Aizik.
The qualifier winner best positioned to make a long run is either Royal Never Give Up or Chaos Esports Club. RNG doesn’t have any particularly strong tournament placements to hang their hats on but have still looked very strong at different points in the year. Meanwhile, the new Chaos team is loaded with talent that could gel into a serious threat if given enough time.
That said, they still face very long odds as Team Secret, Vici Gaming, and Virtus.pro are the on-paper favorites to win TI9.
The International 2019 group stage begins on August 15.