It takes a year, but eventually the Dota 2 calendar gets to the point people really care about, The International 9. This year we’re headed to China, in a move that seems to foreshadow the future of esports, and we already know 12 of the TI9 qualifiers, but there are six spots left. The TI9 closed qualifiers in Europe, North America and China are about to go live in their last-chance qualifiers, so let’s have a look at the big names still desperately trying to become part of the richest event in esports.
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The strongest region in Dota when it comes to depth, China has the sort of players in their closed qualifiers that you would have seen winning TI not too long ago. Just in terms of teams, EHOME, Newbee and CDEC have all been to a TI final, and Invictus obviously went one better by winning it in 2012. EHOME also come in with a few individual winners in the shape of Faith_bian and y, and there are others like Sccc who have recently been on TI contenders, so this is stacked.
You can find all the best odds and streams by heading over to matches, and there are some cracking matches to enjoy along the way. Day one sees EHOME and Royal Never Give Up face off with RNG favourites at 1.55, while Invictus are also expected to take on and beat CDEC on the first day of play. RNG are probably the strongest team here, but EHOME and Invictus are both threats, and even Aster could make an impression if they play well.
Where the China closed qualifiers are a minefield of ex-TI winners, Europe is the place where the Qualifiers look a little less tough, and there are probably a few in the CN scene wishing they could pull a fast one and enter this event instead. Alongside Chaos Esports, who are headlined by MISERY and MATUMBAMAN, you also have teams like the one featuring popular streamer Gorgc and syndereN’s Anti-MagE-, so it’s going to be a different look.
Chaos are favourites to make it out, and face second-favourites The Final Tribe in their first outing, with MATUMBAMAN’s side 1.45 over on matches to win the game and set themselves up for a decent run and potentially the last European ticket to China. A victory there would also set their minds at ease when it comes to the rest of the event as TFT are the main competition, and beyond that point there are a fair few teams that should be free for a professional team the level of Chaos.
Like China, the TI9 North American closed qualifier has some big organisations floating around in it, trying not to get flushed into non-TI obscurity, but like Europe there are a couple of teams made up of ‘stream’ players more than professionals here too. To be honest, orgs like J.Storm, compLexity and Forward should be strong favourites over the mixes, but this is Dota and anyone can lose to anyone.
Round one sees Forward and J.Storm face off in a game that could determine the overall outcome of the event, and it’s Forward who are favourites to win that game, and probably the event overall when you consider the players they have on their roster, but they are here for a reason. The likes of Yawar, CCnC and Sneyking will fancy this one, and combined with J.Storm and coL should be a step above the rest.
There you have it then, three regions that are hard to call, and a combination of old names and strong teams that could realistically make an impact in Shanghai too. Combined with SEA, they are sure to throw four sides up that could be more than just banana skins, and that makes them must-see events. Tune in and get hyped for TI9, as it’s coming… soon.
Picture: Copyright ESL | Timo Verdeil