The biggest event of the Dota 2 competitive season is looming – the action starts in Shanghai on August 15 with 16 of the world’s best teams ready to battle it out.
While 10 of those teams were able to earn their position by earning Dota Pro Circuit points, the remaining six didn’t have it so easy – having to fight through gruelling regional qualifiers to make it into the main event.
Here’s a look at how those qualifiers unfolded.
With Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, OG and Alliance already in the top 10 of the Pro Circuit rankings, the European bracket was missing many of its best teams.
With a few relatively unknown teams participating, such as Anti-MagE-, Bald and six eight two, it seemed a tricky qualifier to predict.
When the group stage finished, two teams were left at the top with an impressive 5-2 record – Hippomaniacs and The Final Tribe. The winner looked likely to come from these two but during the play-offs there was a staggering comeback.
Chaos Esports Club, formerly known as Digital Chaos, were quickly sent down to the lower bracket by The Final Tribe, who triumphed 2-1.
From there, though, their ace in the hole began to pay off – as star player MATUMBAMAN, acquired only in June, proved his worth.
With an incredible prowess on Lone Druid and Dragon Knight, Chaos smashed their way to a victory without suffering any more losses at all, sweeping Aachen City Esports, Hippomaniacs and then their rematch with The Final Tribe in the final.
Chaos’ TI9 odds: 73.460
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
The CIS region boasted some more impressive names. While Virtus.pro had already made it to the top 10, Team Empire, Natus Vincere, Vega Squadron and more were left duking it out for a coveted spot at TI9.
Initially, Vega Squadron were the ones to beat as they posted a perfect 7-0 score in the group stage. However, their winning streak wasn’t to last, as they suffered defeats at the hands of Winstrike Team and Na’vi in the play-offs.
Similar to Europe, the CIS bracket had a comeback of its own. With only a 4-3 record in the group stage and suffering a loss to Vega Squadron at the start of the play-offs, Na’vi weren’t in good shape.
But they managed to crawl back from the edge of defeat to sweep the bracket, winning an incredibly tense rematch against Vega in the semi-finals and the crushing Winstrike Team 3-0 in the final. Some questioned Crystallize’s pick of Wraith King but the scarcely-seen hero was used to extreme effect.
Natus Vincere’s TI9 odds: 145.540
In the Chinese region, Newbee looked sure things at the start. The veteran team had a few contenders in the bracket, such as EHOME and Invictus Gaming, but it seemed the TI7 runners-up wouldn’t have too much trouble.
That was quickly proven to be false, though, as they were eliminated in the group stage, posting just a 3-4 win-loss record.
In the play-offs, CDEC Gaming seemed unstoppable – but once again, a comeback from the lower bracket swept the stage.
Royal Never Give Up suffered a 2-0 defeat to CDEC but battled their way past Invictus and EHOME to set up a rematch in the final – a nail-biting contest that the underdogs won 3-2.
In the final match, RNG’s Monet made a controversial Lifestealer pick, which seemed like it had lost them the game in the first 30 minutes. But once he picked up Abyssal Blade, it was CDEC who were running scared, eventually conceding the match, and that precious TI9 slot.
Royal Never Give Up’s TI9 odds: 25.420
There was no such Cinderella story in North America.
Forward Gaming stomped the competition from the word ‘go’, rampaging through the group stage with a 7-0 record.
From there, showing dominant form, they smashed aside Kookaburra, beastcoast and J.Storm, only suffering a single loss throughout the entire qualifiers – that to J.Storm in the final.
Their dominance came largely thanks to CCnC, the team’s mid-laner, who managed to steamroll the opponents’ mid in just about every match.
Just last month, however, the team’s roster was picked up by Newbee – giving them the spot that Forward had earned.
Newbee’s TI9 odds: 49.990
South East Asia (SEA)
Not unlike the Chinese qualifier, there was one team clearly favoured to win this event – Mineski.
Seemingly a cut above the competition, this prediction seemed to be on shaky foundations at first. Only scraping into the play-offs after going 4-3 in the group stage, Mineski didn’t seem on good form, having lost to Team Jinesbrus, BOOM ID and Team Adroit.
Once they hit the play-offs, though, that all changed. Mineski tore through the teams that beat them in the group stage, managing to defeat Jinesbrus twice – in the first round and the finals.
Their performance in the group stage was filled with mistakes and missed opportunities, but they recovered for the play-offs, earning that hard-fought spot in TI9.
Mineski’s TI9 odds: 145.540
The SA bracket seemed, from the start, to be between Infamous and paiN Gaming and that is how it played out.
In the group stage, Infamous seemed to have the upper hand, going 6-1 against paiN’s 5-2 and beating their rivals to boot.
It seemed these two teams were fated to butt heads in the play-offs and they clashed during the semi-finals, with paiN managing to win the rematch 2-1.
Infamous managed to crawl their way back by crushing EgoBoys 2-0 to set up a third-and-final showdown with paiN. This time they demolished their rivals 3-0 to book their trip to Shanghai.
Infamous’ TI9 odds: 289.610