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The International 9 - Meet the teams

A more comprehensive look at the International 9 competitors.

Campbell Smart
Freelance Esports Writer
7th Aug, 2019·☕️☕️ 11 min read
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If you haven’t already, check the International 9 event recap here for information on the event.

Competition Information

The International 9 is fast approching and the prize pool continues to grow. The International has the biggest prize pool in all of esports and this year it is set to break records.

As the teams start to descend on China, let’s take a quick review of the attending teams and roughly where I am expecting them to finish.

The Current Season

The Favourites

Consistently the strongest teams at international showings, spelling doom for most teams. Expect an upper bracket run to a podium spot or a dominating push in lowers.

Team Secret

Secret DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

It doesn’t take a detective to see Secret's strength. Masterful execution and knowledge of consecutive patches have demonstrated that only VP can consistently hold a light to their conniving ways.

  • 1st place finish on the Dota Pro Circuit ladder.
  • Impressive major placings of 2nd, 1st, 4th, and 1st throughout the year.
  • Weak performance in the recent EPICENTRE major, cleaning the groups but falling short to VP and a renewed OG in the playoffs.
  • Unchanged team throughout the season while leading the scene, expecting a top 6 finish at the least.

Virtus.pro

VP DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

The bears of Russia have continued show why they are mainstay at the top of the food chain. Renewed strength throughout the year has seen them clash with Secret as apex predators.

  • Impressive displays at all DPC majors placing 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 7th, and 3rd.
  • Along with Secret, VP looked untouchable against even some of the tier 1 teams.
  • Some concerns over their EPICENTRE Major performance dropping a significant amount of games in the local qualifiers and then dropped a series to Alliance before getting wiped twice by Liquid.
  • VP is cursed at TI, severely underperforming every year.

Vici gaming

Vici DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

While by no means an inexperienced or weak team coming into the season, they’ve managed to surprise. With the strongest performances of any team within the last 4 months, VG have become China’s number 1 team and a favourite for The International.

  • Mediocre start to the season but had the strongest finish in the scene, winning 2 of the last 3 majors.
  • Only tier 1 team they dealt with in the recent EPICENTER Major was Liquid, making it difficult to properly universally judge them.
  • Have dropped more games in local qualifications than internationally. This may speak about the depth of the Chinese scene.

The Contenders

Expect them to seed into the upper bracket from groups. Could run through uppers if they show up, knocking favourites down a peg. More likely a strong lower bracket run.

Evil Geniuses

EG DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

EG continue to mastermind the North American scene. They’ve had a season of consistent performances but no titles to show for it. Struggled to convert star power to results.

  • Four 3rd places in the last 6 premier international competitions.
  • Very poor performance at the latest Major coming joint last. Less significant as it was a loss to OG in a best of 1.
  • I’d expect another strong performance at TI, but they may stumble against the likes of Secret/VP/LGD/Liquid.

PSG.LGD

PSGLGD DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

China’s premier team coming into the DPC season. They’ve taken a back seat to VG’s unreal season but are still a strong tier 1 team.

  • Unchanged team since their 2nd place finish at TI8.
  • Seems to have a similar issue as EG, a consistent season but haven’t been able to get on the podium for any majors.
  • Has issues consistently beating other tier 1 teams.

Team Liquid

Liquid DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

Very slow start of the season for Liquid, seeming to only perform when required to. Recent shakeup creates a large variance in expected results.

  • Recent kick of MATUMBAMAN is the team’s first roster change in almost 900 days, a player who was a part of the founding roster in 2015. This is the record for the longest lasting 5-man roster in Dota 2 history.
  • New roster had a strong performance in the recent major, beating EG, PSG.LGD, and VP in their 2nd place run.
  • Team shakeups coming into TI are often beneficial, especially to a team like Liquid who have been at the top for years and have become stagnant in their playstyle.

The Hopeful

The strongest tier 2 teams at TI. Also the most volatile group in terms of performance, consisting of teams able to beat tier 1 teams and dominate tier 2. I can see them finishing top 6 if games go their way but would take a small miracle for them to win.

Fnatic

Fnatic DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

Current kings of the SEA who have recently run into issues nearing TI9. A disappointing finish to the regular season that doesn’t inspire much hope for a strong TI run.

  • Great performances in early Majors, including a 3rd place at DreamLeague 11.
  • Finished dead last at both Disneyland and EPICENTRE. Falling to teams well below their weight class.
  • I’m hoping this is due to them already qualifying for TI and slacking, but I cannot justify them as a Tier 1 team anymore.

OG

OG DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

Defending Champions of the aegis. The team spent the first 3 majors bedridden with the TI winners’ flu. Australian player Ana’s return to the team has remedied their affliction. While the TI8 winning team has reunited, they’ve yet to find their stride.

  • Failed to qualify for the first 3 majors of the season. Floated around 6th at the last 2 majors.
  • Team struggles to consistently beat tier 1 teams but can show speckles of their past brilliance when needed.
  • OG seems undercooked coming into TI and I wouldn’t except them to defend their title.

TNC Predator

TNC Pred DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

SEA’s secondary team who have terrorised tier 2 teams from other regions.

  • Great results at the EPICENTRE major finishing 4th, beating the likes of LGD, OG, and NiP.
  • A 6th place finish at ESL One Birmingham inspires further hope, taking games off Secret, EG, Liquid, and VG.
  • Last series they lost to a non-tier 1 team was back in April against NaVi.
  • Have had more trouble against local SEA teams then other regions tier 2 teams.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

NiP DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

Have had an inconsistent season performing well below expectation for the rosters talent. Have been lost in the strong European scene.

  • Mediocre run at the EPICENTER major, the highlight being beating PSG.LGD in groups. Losses to TNC and Gambit sent them home in playoffs.
  • The majority of DPC points come from an early season performance, the 8th place DPC finish for the season might be deceiving.
  • I don’t really know where to place them. They take games off tier 1 teams like you’d expect from a strong tier 2 team, but struggle to consistently deal with other regions tier 2 teams.

The Darkhorses

Teams that have had mixed results against stronger tier 2 teams either locally or internationally. A strong run in lowers could see these teams place middle of the pack.

Keen Gaming

Keen DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

A product of the Strong Chinese scene. Keen hasn’t been outstanding locally, but the strength of the Chinese scene makes them dangeous internationally.

  • Qualified almost entirely through a 6th place at the DreamLeague major.
  • Only managed to qualify for two of the five majors due to a strong Chinese scene.
  • Got completely rolled in the Chinese qualifiers for EPICENTER.

Alliance

Alliance DPC Directly qualified via DPC ranking

Alliance have milled around in the EU region behind the backs of the giants, becoming a stable team in the volatile secondary scene.

  • Great result for them at EPICENTER coming in 6th. Did have an easy draw in the lower bracket and were thwarted by the first strong team they faced.
  • Recent win in the Summit 10 against teams that didn’t qualify for TI9.
  • I don’t seem them performing against any tier 1 teams but should fare ok against other tier 2/3 teams.

NaVi

Navi DPC Qualified via the CIS Qualifier

A quiet season for the CIS favourites who have been fighting in the brutal CIS scene for tournament spots. They’ve managed to claw their way through qualifications for TI9.

  • Haven’t had an international showing in 4 months but perform as a strong tier 2 team when they get the chance.
  • A lot of depth in the CIS scene, with other tier 2 CIS team having strong international performances.
  • While I don’t think they’re going to place near the medals, I can see a strong lower bracket run from NaVi.

Mineski

Mineski DPC Qualified via the Southeast Asia Qualifier

Home to Australian Kpii, Mineski is still a dangerous team even after roster shifts. Have had no measurable success against scene leaders but decent results against secondary teams.

  • Recent addition of untested Midlander Kikobaby for their TI9 run.
  • Mineski have had a rough season with multiple roster changes, struggling to qualify against TNC and Fnatic in the SEA region.
  • Historically have had great matchups against other tier 2 teams, including a 2nd place finish at ESL Mumbai.
  • Poor performance at the Starladder minor might suggest this has changed as of late.

Royal Never Give Up

RNG DPC Qualified via the China Qualifier

The qualifying Chinese team who haven’t had much of an impact since the start of the circuit. One of the weaker international performers from China.

  • Possess the talent of LaNm and Super, two Chinese superstars.
  • Haven’t had a decent international showing since MDL Macau in February.
  • Got Rolled in the Starladder minor.
  • Ok showing at OGA Dota Pit minor against other secondary teams, beating the likes of Gambit and NiP.
  • Weak EPICENTER performance, only able to beat Fnatic who finished last in EPICENTER and Disneyland.
  • No confidence that they’ll be able to consistently deal with other scenes tier 2 teams.

The Wildcards

Untested teams or those that aren’t currently strong enough to consistently compete with most teams. If they get out of groups, expect a very short-lived lower bracket run.

Infamous

INF DPC Qualified via the South America Qualifier

South Americas premier team after a rough season for the region.

  • After the disbanding of Chaos, this is South America’s only team at TI.
  • South American scene is currently very weak, especially after the departure of Chaos.
  • Both major showings have been weak, combined with the weak SA scene suggests they’ll need to surprise to have an impact.

Newbee

Newbee DPC Qualified via the North America Qualifier. DPC Points and Position based on the position of Forward Gaming as it is the same roster.

After the original Newbee roster bombed from the Chinese TI qualifiers, they’ve picked up the North American team Forward gaming for the event.

  • Forward was present in 4 of the 5 majors for the season and still couldn’t place top 12 in the circuit.
  • In these 4 majors, they won a total of 4 series. 2 were Bo1’s and the other 2 were been against tier 4 teams.
  • The team seems to be a product of the weak and shallow NA scene, getting a free qualification to international competition.

Chaos Esports

Chaos DPC Qualified via the Europe Qualifier

Organisation recently dropped their South American squad and followed captain Misery to a new European stack. The team possess talent but is still in its infancy as a pub stack.

  • TI winner MATUMBAMAN has recently joined the team for his TI9 run after being kicked from Liquid.
  • Their qualification might just be a product of 5 EU teams being invited to TI9.
  • Only showing as a team was at TI qualifiers, having a semi dominant run against other pub stacks. The only stable team in the qualifiers was The Final Tribe.