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The International 2019 Qualifiers Part 1

Find out which teams are coming out of their regions and who will taking the final spots for The International later this year.

Kenneth "Brightside" Williams
Freelance Esports Writer
15th Jul, 2019·☕️ 5 min read
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The International 2019 will be the biggest event in esports history. How do I know? Because it’s already crowdfunded the largest prize pool in the history of competitive video gaming, that’s how. No other event brings the hype for The International. The insane prize pools, cutting edge production values, and international competition put it in a class of its own.

If you’re lenient with the definition, this year’s International has already begun. As of today, the Open Qualifiers for the tournament are in their final stretch. Three of them have concluded, and three very happy teams will be headed to Shanghai.

Unlike in the past, The International invites are given out on a strictly objective basis. Teams earn points through the year on the Dota Pro Circuit and the top 12 teams are automatically entered into TI.

But that’s not the only way to get in. Teams can claw their way through the most brutal qualification process in the history of gaming. Anyone, from actual pro teams to seasoned veterans to bored Archons, can enter. Thousands of teams compete in the Open Qualifiers, but only six will earn their golden ticket.

In order to preserve The International’s name, each region gets its own dedicated bracket. The three that have concluded already are South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.

The successful teams might not be who you’d expect, though. Let’s go through each region and see who will be representing them at The International 2019.

South America

While South America’s Dota scene is usually on the backburner, 2019 was a very competitive year. Thunder Predator, Infamous, and paiN Gaming all had success throughout this DPC season. All three got to skip straight to the closed qualifier final.

While their intraregional tournaments often came down to the wire, their DPC rankings don’t show it. No South American teams qualified directly to TI9, so the pressure was on for these teams. Whoever won would be representing not only their country but their entire continent. That also meant that the qualifier featured the very best teams in the region, as none got to skip the line.

No team looked infallible during the group stage. Infamous and Thunder Predator led the pack, though the former was definitely the favorite. Despite expectations, TP took their group stage game against Infamous. Infamous fans were probably reeling after that one.

Those fans were once again shook when paiN Gaming sent them to the lower bracket as well. paiN had it in the bag, right?

Wrong, because Infamous brought it back in shocking fashion. Despite losing to paiN earlier in the day, Infamous stomped them 3-0 in the finals.

With an absolute nailbiter of a finish, Infamous has been declared the sole representative of South America. I can’t wait to hear Tobiwan screaming about Chris Brown in the middle of a teamfight.

Infamous

Player Position
K1 Carry
Chris Brown Solo Mid
Wisper Offlane
Scofield Semi-Support
Stinger Full Support

Eastern Europe

While South America had quite a few teams that could take it, the CIS region’s looked a little more predictable. Gambit landed 13th on the Dota Pro Circuit leaderboards, putting them just out of invite range. The nail in their coffin was one of the most entertaining, albeit strangest matches of this year; their thriller-cum-thrashing from Alliance at Epicenter put Alliance at 12th, knocking the red stars out of contention.

If a team is ranked just below juggernauts like Ninjas in Pyjamas, PSG.LGD, and OG, they should be able to breeze through the finals, right?

Wrong again! Not only is Gambit not making it to The International, but they also didn’t make it past the group stage. They somehow went 3-4, so their TI9 run was over before it even began.

What’s just as shocking as the team that landed first seed; Vega Squadron, with three loaned players, swept up the preliminaries 7-0. Okay, so they’re supposed to be the ones that win it, right?

Once again, something weird happened. Vega beat Natus Vincere, then lost to Winstrike. It’s worth noting that their group stage game went to almost 70 minutes so that last one isn’t too much of a shocker.

Navi then knocked Vega out of contention and smashed Winstrike with another 3-0 grand finals. It was a massive comeback that came out of seemingly nowhere.

SoNNeikO will be heading to his third TI fresh off one of the strangest qualifiers I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what to expect out of them at the main event, but I’ll be disappointed if they don’t play Alliance in bracket. No matter the rosters, it’s still El Classico to me.

Natus Vincere

Player Position
Crystallize Carry
MagicaL Solo Mid
Blizzy Offlane
Zayac Semi-Support
SoNNeikO Full Support

Southeast Asia

While South America and CIS were both hotly contested regions, there’s definitely a pecking order in SEA. Fnatic usually runs the roost, but they get to skip the line this year. TNC Predator usually plays second banana, but they too are on the fast track to $30,000,000.

You’d think that the two most dominant teams in the region being absent would mean the competition would be fierce, but this is the only region so far where common sense seems to apply.

Mineski has been on the up throughout the entire year, but I wouldn’t blame you for not noticing. Between the upset machine that is TNC to Fnatic’s iceiceice being the best offlaner in the world, there’s just not enough attention to go around.

I’m not going to list them all here, but look up the teams in the closed qualifier. Get their rosters too. Recognize anyone? Maybe some of the old MVP Phoenix players if you’ve been around a while. Despite a mess of missteps in the group stage, Mineski took the qualifier handily. The only real roadblock they faced was in the grand finals against Team Jinesbrus, which is where those aforementioned Korean players ended up.

Southeast Asia is more competitive than most fans realize, but with both TNC and Fnatic out of the equation, it was 2 EZ 4 Mineski.

Mineski

Player Position
Nikobaby Carry
Moon Solo Mid
kpii Offlane
Bimbo Semi-Support
ninjaboogie Full Support

The Best is Yet to Come

These qualifiers have been some of the most entertaining in years, but believe it or not, those aren’t even the competitive regions! The North American, European, and Chinese qualifiers are still underway. Those areas all play host to several top teams, and many of them are master-class in their own right. Check in next week where we’ll sum up the rest of the teams that make it to The International 2019.