Welcome to the second part of our article previewing the 18 teams for The International 2019 in Shanghai in August. The richest esports tournament in history will see the qualifiers in line for a bumper payday, especially if they can go deep. There’s potentially over $12 million up for grabs for the winner.
Having looked at the 12 teams that qualified from the Dota Pro Circuit league in the first part of the article, in this second part we are going to look at the six teams that earned their spot, often in dramatic fashion, through the six regional qualifiers that took place recently. The last chance for teams to earn a spot in the big event.
Here’s how those six teams earned their place in Shanghai this August.
North America – Forward Gaming (66/1)
Having only formed in 2018, Forward Gaming will be making their first appearance at The International this year after having been the somewhat surprising winners of the North American qualifier. In that tournament, they beat more established sides J.Storm and compLexity Gaming to earn the top seed spot in the playoffs and they then produced equally consistent performances in the playoffs defeating Kookaburra, beastcoast and J.Storm in the Grand Final to earn a place in the tournament.
They may be outsiders in the tournament but they have played in the Chongqing Major, DreamLeague Season 11 and EPICENTER Major this year and while they have not progressed deep into either tournament, their improved form in the qualifiers means that their 66/1 price does look decent value for money. Wherever they finish in The International, their winnings from the tournament will dwarf their current biggest win, which is the $15,000 prizes won at the Kuala Lumpur Major in 2018 and EPICENTER and OGA Dota Pit Minor in 2019.
South America – Infamous (200/1)
Founded in Peru in late 2015, Infamous made their only appearance at The International in 2017, finishing 13th/16th in the tournament. They have mostly featured in Minor events this year, earning the vast majority of their money from their 9th/12th placed finish in DreamLeague Season 11 and their 13th/16th finish at the EPICENTER Major 2019.
They had a rollercoaster ride to victory in the South American qualifiers, being the top seed at the group stage but after beating EgoBoys in the first round, they then lost to paiN Gaming in the Upper Bracket Final. That sent them into a Lower Bracket Final with EgoBoys, who they beat again to reach the Grand Final and here they exacted revenge over paiN Gaming earning a comprehensive 3-0 victory to claim a spot in The International for the second time.
Europe – Chaos Esports Club (50/1)
Brazilian Chaos Esports Club have a truly international flavor and they came through the European qualifier in what was a very competitive event which could have seen any of at least five teams land the victory. Chaos finished as third seeds in the Group Stage, with just one victory separating the top seed from 5th in the table. Starting in the Lower Bracket, they defeated Aachen City Esports 2-0 before facing top seeds from the group stage Hippomaniacs, where they earned a fine 2-0 victory. A final against The Final Tribe lay in wait and once again Chaos hit top form clinching a 3-0 win to earn the qualifying spot.
This will be their third appearance in The International having finished second on their first appearance back in 2016, followed by a disappointing 9th/12th finish in 2017. They failed to make it through the qualifiers in 2018 but will return to Shanghai in August.
CIS – Natus Vincere (100/1)
One of the most famous names of the early versions of The International, Ukrainian-based Natus Vincere won the first-ever The International in 2011 and finished second in both 2012 and 2013 to establish themselves as one of the biggest names in the tournament’s history. A 7th/8th finish followed in 2014 and after disappointing performances in 2015 and 2016, finishing 13th/16th in each, the team failed to qualify for the next two years.
They will, however, be in attendance in 2019 after squeaking through the CIS qualifier. Coming through the group stage as the bottom of four seeds, they duly lost their Round 1 clash to Vega Squadron to drop into the Lower Bracket. Here, they earned a 2-1 win over Team Empire, before in the Lower Bracket Final, exacting revenge over Vega Squadron with a surprise 2-1 victory. In the Grand Final, they faced Winstrike Team but played superbly to claim a 3-0 win and what is likely to be a popular return to The International this year.
China – Royal Never Give Up (50/1)
Perhaps better known as a League of Legends squad, the Dota 2 Royal Never Give Up team will make their first appearance in The International in 2019 on home soil. The team began life in 2018 and has played in a number of minor events and qualifiers over the past two years. Their biggest performances being the 3rd place in DreamLeague Season 10 in 2018 and a 5th/6th spot at MDL Macau in February this year.
In what was a very tough Chinese qualifier, Royal Never Give Up qualified as the second seed behind the much-fancied Invictus Gaming, but then the top two seeds lost their Round 1 game, to drop into a tense Lower Bracket Round 1 matchup, which Royal Never Give Up surprisingly won 2-0. They then defeated EHOME in the Lower Bracket Final before earning a 3-2 win in a hugely exciting final with CDEC Gaming.
Southeast Asia – Mineski (100/1)
This joint Philippines and Malaysian team will return to The International this year for the second year in a row after finishing 9th/12th in 2018. A regular in Asian qualifying, Mineski are regular performers in major events but have found success hard to come by since their victory at the Dota 2 Asia Championships in April 2018.
They began the Asian qualifier as one of the favorites but only qualified as the third seed from the group stage, but in the playoffs they found their best form, defeating Team Jinesbrus 2-0 and then Team Adroit 2-1 in their Upper Bracket games before Team Jinesbrus qualified from the lower bracket to reach the Grand Final. Mineski trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in that final but won the last two games in dramatic style to clinch the final spot at The International 2019.
Who are our favorites to win The International 2019?
It is generally clear to see that the bookmakers think Team Secret are the team to beat this season, followed by Vici Gaming and then with Team Liquid and Virtus Pro some way ahead of the remainder of the teams.
It is hard, when you review the season’s performances of each team, to argue against that. For me Team Secret and Vici Gaming have been the outstanding performances this season in Dota 2 esports, Team Liquid have been consistent, as have Virtus.pro. but they have not turned that consistency into wins in the way Secret and Vici have.
For me, the team to watch outside this elect group is PSG.LGD. They are on home soil and have a talented team that has not shone this season, but as OG showed last year, past performance over the course of the season counts for nothing when the tournament begins and as such, I think at 8/1 PSG.LGD are a solid each way bet.
However, if I am backing the winner, I think being in China means Vici Gaming are just my choice.