The International 2019 starts long before the doors open to the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
Valve has announced the dates for the qualifiers to TI9. The action begins with the open qualifiers, which kick off on July 3 and run through July 7. The regional qualifiers begin the next day on July 8 and close on July 15.
All six regions will follow the same schedule and each only has one slot available. The list of invitees to the regional qualifiers has not yet been announced.
Though past years have traditionally had fairly predictable qualifiers, TI9’s should be intensely competitive and completely up for grabs.
The 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season has seen regions vary wildly in terms of roster and organizational stability. Europe has shaken out to be the home of a number of elite teams and is looking stronger than it ever has before, courtesy of Team Secret, Team Liquid, and Ninjas in Pyjamas. China and CIS have both seen a slew of teams jockeying for position throughout the year while offering up some top squads of their own.
On the flipside, North and South America have both been rocked by instability. Potentially interesting teams have come together and fallen apart in the span of days while enduring organizations like CompLexity Gaming and Infamous have shuffled players frequently.
Eight teams have already earned direct invitations to The International 2019 and four more will be awarded at the Epicenter Major. Teams that don’t reach the top-12 of the Dota Pro Circuit leaderboard will be forced to work their way into the event through the qualifiers.
There are already a number of recognizable and successful teams that have been relegated there including Natus Vincere, Mineski, and J.Storm. Additionally, there is a glut of exceptional free agent players that could come together and make a run to TI9.
More information including a more definitive list of regional qualifier participants should come in the days following the Epicenter Major, which closes on June 30. The International 2019 officially begins with the start of the group stages on August 15.