We are just a few days away from EPICENTER, the last Major of the Dota 2 DPC season, and that can mean only one thing. In just a couple of weeks we’ll have almost all of the information as to who will be at The International 9, held in Shanghai, and who still needs to go through the last chance saloon and face off in an all-or-nothing battle to the death with other groups in similar situations.
Ahead of the EPICENTER Major there are eight TI9 qualifiers, including Team Secret, Virtus.pro, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD and NIP, but there are some big names who still haven’t bagged themselves a spot at TI9.
Catch the action: EPICENTER Major schedule and bracket details
Let’s have a look at what some of them need to happen, or not happen, if they want to qualify for the only Dota 2 tournament that matters…
The reigning TI champions were not guaranteed a chance to defend their title, and while this makes a bit of sense it also could deprive the fans of a genuinely satisfying storyline. We respect Valve’s decision to make each team earn their spot, but it would make more sense to say that if the defending champions keep at least 60% of their team, they should be invited back, if for no other reason than the completeness that comes with seeing them deposed.
If OG finish better than 13th, they should be OK to get to China, but there is a world where they lose their 10th spot in the DPC rankings and have to go to the wall again. If TNC make it to 7-8th or better OG are in trouble, and the same is true if any of Alliance, Forward, paiN or Gambit make the top six. Royal Never Give Up can also give them grief, but that needs the Royal ones to make it all the way to fourth in Moscow.
Like OG, the Chinese giants need Alliance and Gambit to fail to make top eight at this event to not be overtaken, as they aren’t in Moscow and can’t really influence their own fate. If Forward, paiN, RNG or Infamous makes top six EHOME are also going to be sweating, but the season they’ve had doesn’t deserve any more than they currently hold in fairness.
Keen are ninth in the DPC, but failed to qualify for this event and have to sit at home with their fingers crossed instead. They’ll qualify for TI9 if a number of conditions are met at this event, but if OG or TNC make top eight they will overtake Keen, and the same goes for Alliance if they make top six. Gambit, Forward, paiN, RNG and Infamous all need a top four finish to get ahead of keen, which isn’t realistic for all those teams, but could definitely happen for one or two.
Like a few of those in danger, a lot depends on what TNC do themselves in Moscow, and they need to do better than 13th to help themselves, something they know they can do after making top six at Kuala Lumpur and winning WESG recently. If they don’t go better than top 16, Alliance can put the pressure on with a top eight, and the others (Gambit, Forward, paiN, RNG and Infamous) need top six to mess with them.
Essentially, it all comes down to a single test of nerve and skill, as none of the teams are ‘too bad’ to play at TI. We also know from last year that not all winners have a Team Secret-like run to TI, as OG proved, so the likes of Forward, paiN, Royal Never Give Up and Infamous cannot be ignored. A top-six finish for any would see them vault into 12th on the DPC standings, the last safe spot, while top four would get them ahead of ninth placed Keen Gaming.
For Alliance and Gambit, things are a tiny bit simpler if you ignore the form that has got them into this mess. Both could make it into 12th if they finish top eight, while Alliance can go ninth with a top six, and Gambit a top four finish. All in all, things are as tight as it gets, as you would expect at this point in the season, and a lot of big names have their heads on the block, so tune in and see who drops out of the DPC race ahead of TI9 in Shanghai.
Hat tip to u/CorruptDropbear for the EPICENTER Major permutations on Reddit
Pictures: Copyright Adela Sznajder, Bart Oerbekke, Helena Kristiansson | ESL