A short while ago, the Dota Pro Circuit came to an end after more than 20 tournaments throughout the year. Eight teams from that qualification schedule earned direct invites to The International 2018.
Those teams are (in seed order):
- Team Liquid
- Team Secret
- Vici Gaming
A further 10 places were still up for grabs going into last week. These places were determined by a number of qualifying tournaments around the globe. Now that we know the results, let’s recap section by section.
European Qualifier – OG
It is fair to say that OG dominated the European Qualifier. Following the group stage, where the team did not lose any of their seven games, they were the clear favourites to claim the single spot.
They achieved that with a semifinal win over Team Kinguin. OG followed that with two further wins over Wind and Rain — 2-1 in the Winner’s Final and then a 3-1 victory in the Grand Final.
CIS Qualifier – Winstrike Team
As one of the invited teams to the CIS Qualifier, Winstrike Team (formerly Fly to Moon) was a rightful favorite. They topped the group stage with a 6-1 record from their seven games.
They then claimed a 2-0 win over Double Dimension in the semifinals, then defeated Espada 2-1 in the Winner’s Final to reach the Grand Final. There, they once again faced Espada and came through with the big 3-1 win.
China Qualifiers – Team Serenity, Invictus Gaming
The Chinese qualifying wasn’t quite so straightforward as in CIS or Europe. For a start, there were two qualifying spots up for grabs.
In the opening Group Stage, only For the Dream (6-1) and Team Serenity (5-2) outright earned places in the playoffs. LGD Forever Young and Invictus Gaming fought off Keen Gaming in a tiebreaker to claim the two remaining playoff spots. All three teams ended their seven-game group stage with 4-3 records.
However, in the playoffs, the form-book was turned on its head a little. Team Serenity continued their good form defeating LGD Forever Young and Invictus Gaming to claim the first qualifying spot through the Winner’s Bracket. Then, in the Loser’s Bracket, Invictus Gaming came through defeating LGD Forever Young in the Loser’s Final to land that second qualifying spot.
Southeast Asia Qualifiers – Fnatic, TNC Predator
TNC Predator, along with TNC Tigers, Fnatic, and Entity Gaming, earned a place in this section’s playoffs. Once again, the form book went out of the window when the competition reached this knockout phase.
It was Fnatic who prevailed in the Winner’s Bracket with solid 2-0 wins over TNC Tigers and TNC Predator. Then, Predator bounced back from their Winner’s Final defeat to earn the second spot available with a 2-1 win over TNC Tigers in the Loser’s Final.
North American Qualifiers – VGJ.Storm, Evil Geniuses, OpTic Gaming
With three places available for North American qualifiers, the eight teams competing had the best statistical chances of reaching The International 2018. In the end, two tie-breaker tournaments were required to decide the final positions in the Group Phase. A three-way tie for first place among VGJ.Storm, OpTic Gaming, and compLexity Gaming eventually saw the three teams seeded in that order. The final playoff spot was decided in another tie-breaker between Immortals and Team Baidu, with Immortals earning the spot.
By winning the group stage VGJ.Storm earned the first qualifying spot from North America. Then, Evil Geniuses came through the Winner’s Bracket, defeating OpTic Gaming and then Immortals to claim the second spot available.
Finally, OpTic Gaming produced a fine win over compLexity Gaming followed by another over Immortals to claim the final spot.
South American Qualifier – PaiN Gaming
The South American qualifier saw just six teams competing for the one available place. PaiN Gaming came through. After finishing second in the group stage with a 4-1 record (tied with SG e-sports), they faced Thunder Predator in the semifinal.
Thunder Predator won the match 2-1, but they used macros to aid them during play. This act disqualified them, and paiN Gaming progressed by default. They took full advantage, defeating SG-esports in the Winner’s Final 2-1 to claim a spot in the Grand Final. There, they would meet SG-esports once again after they came through the Loser’s Final 2-0 over Torus Gaming.
The final was one of the most keenly contested of all the qualifiers. Leveled at 2-2, the matchup went to a final decider. At that point, paiN Gaming won to claim the final spot at The International 2018.
How will The International 2018 play out?
The International 2018 begins Aug. 15 with the 18 teams split into two groups of nine for the opening group phase.
Each team will play the others in its group once to decide the top four teams from that group. Those squads enter the Upper Bracket of the main event. The teams ranked 5th to 8th will enter the Lower Bracket. The team finishing 9th in each table is eliminated from the tournament.
The main event for The International 2018 is scheduled to take place Aug. 2025. The 16 teams that qualified from the group stage will battle it out over a double-elimination format.
Round 1 matches in the Lower Bracket are best-of-one clashes, with all other matches (excluding the Grand Final) being best-of-three. The Grand Final is a best-of-five contest.
Currently, the prize pool for the tournament already stands at $15,516,477. That ensures The International 2018 will be at least the fourth-richest esports tournament ever. However, if sales of Battle Pass tickets continue at the rate they have in previous years, it is likely the 2018 tournament could well surpass the largest-ever prize pool in esports, which was the $24,687,919 on offer at The International 2017.