With the Offline Qualifiers finally ending, the stage is set for the best Dota 2 teams in the world to fight for the coveted Aegis of Champions once again. For the first time Shanghai, China will be hosting The International.
Eighteen teams with players from 30 countries will head to the Mercedez-Benz Arena hoping to etch their name in history.
The International 2019 has already broken the record of having the biggest prize pool in Esports history. The TI9 Battle Pass, which is a purchasable object in the Dota 2 Game client, adds 25% of every purchase made to the prize pool of the tournament.
That includes the purchase of the Battle Pass, treasures and bonus levels. The tiered reward system which provides players with items as they level up has been one of the most important additions to any game in Esports history.
The current prize pool sits at over $29 Million with 40 days still left to add to it. The previous record held by The International 8's $25.53 Million was broken in record time. The current estimate of the final prize pool is just exceeding $31 Million with the winners expected to bag over 12 Million Dollars.
The International 2019 begins on 15th August with the Group Stages and will end on 28th August. The Main Event begins on 20th August with the Grand Finals taking place on 25th August. The games can be watched live from inside the Dota 2 game client or via Dota's official Twitch Channel.
Players will represent 30 countries in the tournament beating out The International 2017's record of 25 countries represented. Players from Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, and Norway will make their debut in The International.
The Participating Teams of TI9
The International 2019 will host 18 teams with players from 30 countries around the world. The first-ever TI in China surprisingly will see the least amount of Chinese players participate with only 18. Ironically, China's 18 is also the most represented country in TI9.
The 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit season saw five Minors followed by five Majors. Teams were given points relative to their performance in the aforementioned 10 tournaments.
The top 12 teams were then directly invited to TI9 while six more teams had to qualify through the Regional Qualifiers. Now let us take a look at the 18 teams participating in TI and asses their chances in the tournament.
With two Major wins and four Top 4 finishes in five Majors, Team Secret is ranked at No. 1 in the DPC Table. Although they finished in the last eight in the season's last Major, they are still considered the strongest contender to lift the Aegis of Champions in Shanghai.
Line-up - Puppey, Zai, MidOne, Nisha, and Yapzor.
Virtus Pro won the season's first Major and finished in the Top 3 in four out of five Majors. They have been dominating the Pro Circuit since the 2017-18 Season and much like TI8, they are favorites heading into the tournament.
Line-up - Solo, Ramzes, 9Pasha, No[o]ne and RodjeR.
Certainly this season's biggest surprise, Vici Gaming shocked the world by winning two Majors while finishing outside of the Top 4 in the other three.
The Chinese team will represent the home crowd and although they aren't the country's biggest hope, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Line-up - Paparazi, Ori, Yang, Fade, and DY.
EG finished third in three Majors and had uninspired finishes in the bottom 8 in the other two. The perennial powerhouses are one of the teams looking to become the first team to win two TIs although their competition is tough.
Line-up - Arteezy, Sumail, Fly, S4, and Cr1t.
Despite skipping the first Major and having two bottom 8 finishes in the next two, Liquid got their act together and finished second in both of the last Majors.
They made a roster change just before the last Major of the season and have looked stronger than they have this entire season.
Line-up - Kuroky, Miracle, Mind_Control, GH, and W33.
Remember when I said Vici wasn't China's biggest hope? That is because PSG.LGD is. This legendary roster is one of the greatest Chinese teams to ever touch Dota.
PSG.LGD finished second in last year's TI and although they have struggled to win they have remained on top.
They will undoubtedly be the favorite whenever they take the stage and we can hope them to perform as such.
Line-up - FY, Somnus丶Maybe, Ame, Chalice, and XNova.
South East Asia's best team of the season has been Fnatic. Although they finished out of the Top 8 in most majors, they did manage one third place finish.
The new Fnatic roster with talent from all over SEA have looked good but are unlikely to make much of an impact against the available competition.
Line-up - Jabz, Abed, Iceiceice, DJ and DuBu.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Any CSGO fan will be surprised seeing Fnatic and NiP back to back in Dota's premier tournament.
But NiP's newest Esport venture has paid off spectacularly as the team established themselves as one of the best teams in Europe.
Finishing fourth in one Major and winning two Minors, they were the fourth team to get an invite to TI9.
Line-up - Ppd, Ace, Fata, 33 and Saksa.
The controversial Philipino roster became the second team to make it to TI from the South East Asian region. But they have an almost impossible mountain to climb if they want to win TI.
Line-up - Armel, Kuku, Gabi, Tims, and Eyyou.
Defending TI Champions, OG, had to wait till the final Major to finally qualify for TI9. They missed the first three Majors but scraped through after back to back Top 8 finishes in the final two Majors.
They have proved anything is possible in TI and will look to repeat their miracle, although it will be much harder this time.
Line-up - Notail, Ana, Topson, Jerax, and Ceb.
Alliance also scraped through at the very last Major of the season. They qualified for the Major through the Minor and somehow managed a Top 8 finish to get their spot in TI.
They are a young and inexperienced team with a lot of potential and will be an exciting prospect at TI for sure.
Line-up - Micke, Qojqva, Insania, Boxi and Taiga.
Speaking of scraping through, Keen Gaming qualified solely based on the results of other teams. Keen failed to qualify for the last Major and as a result, their tournament life was placed in the hands of other teams. However, the stars aligned and Keen were through to TI at 12th place on the DPC table.
Line-up - Old chicken, eleven, Kaka, dark and 一.
Forward Gaming won the North American qualifier for TI9. They maintained a perfect record of 11-0 all the way to the grand finals where they won 3-1 making their qualifier record a staggering 14-1.
Line-up - Yawar, CCnC, Sneyking, pieliedie, and MSS.
The biggest unknowns in TI9 will certainly be this team. Infamous won the South American qualifiers to reach TI and the team hadn't participated in any top-level event before the qualifiers. They will be the biggest underdogs in TI history.
Line-up - K1, Chris Luck, Stinger, Scofield, and Wisper.
Chaos Esports Club
Chaos won the European Qualifiers to earn their spot in TI. They shook up their roster just before the qualifiers and with their new line-up barrelled through the qualifiers to reach TI.
Line-up - Matumbaman, vtFaded, Khezu, Misery and MiLan.
Royal Never Give Up
RNG qualified for TI via the Chinese Qualifiers. The team had shown potential throughout the season and needed just one big push to get them over the edge. They got that necessary push in the Chinese Qualifiers and made their way into TI.
Line-up - Monet, Setsu, Lanm, Ah fu, and FlyBy.
Mineski won the South East Asian qualifiers to get to TI9. With a stack of very experienced players, they steamrolled through the SEA qualifiers and made it to TI.
Line-up - Nikobaby, Bimbo, Kpii, Ninjaboogie and Moon.
After years of absence, Dota's most historic team have finally made back to TI. Na'Vi, the winners of TI1 made it through the CIS Qualifiers and cemented their long-awaited return to TI.
Line-up - Crystallize, Magical, Blizzy, Zayac, and Sonneiko.
The Tournament Format and More
The International takes place in two major phases. The first phase or the Group Stage will take place between 15th August and 18th August.
In the group stages, the 18 teams are divided into two groups of nine teams each. Every team in a group play each other in a round-robin format in Best-of-two series.
A 2-0 win gives the winning team two points and the losing team nothing while a 1-1 draw will see both teams share the points.
The Top 4 teams from each group are sorted into the Upper Brackets while the teams placed 5th-8th are placed in the Lower Brackets.
The bottom team from each group is eliminated from the tournament. If two teams are tied on points in such a way that they are in separate qualification zones, tiebreakers will be organized between them.
If two teams are tied, a Best-of-two tiebreaker will take place. If more than two teams are tied, round-robin Best-of-one games will take place.
The first phase will take place behind closed doors in a studio environment with no live crowd.
The Second Phase or the Main Event will be taking place in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai in front of a live crowd. The remaining 16 teams will be participating in a Double Elimination format.
Teams in the upper bracket will have an extra life as in if they lose a match they will get sent down to the lower bracket from where they can still get to the Grand Finals. But if a team loses in the Lower Brackets, it's all over for them.
The Lower Bracket Round 1 will have Best-of-one matches while all other rounds will have Best-of-three matches. The Grand Finals, however, will be a Best-of-five matches.
Miscellaneous Facts about TI9
The winning team will receive 44% of the entire prize pool and the coveted Aegis of Champions. 44% of the current prize pool amounts to nearly 12 Million Dollars and will certainly be life-changing for anyone who wins it.
A total of five organizations who have previously won TI will be participating in this tournament. Na'Vi (TI1), Alliance (TI3), Evil Geniuses (TI5), Team Liquid (TI7) and OG (TI8) will aim to become the first-ever organization to win the tournament twice.
As for the players, 14 previous TI winners out of 40 are participating in TI9. OG's winning roster from last year has remained intact and they are the only team entirely made up of former TI winners.
Team Liquid has retained four players from their TI7 win while their fifth, Matumbaman will participate in the tournament as part of Chaos Esports.
Evil Geniuses have two former TI winners in Sumail and S4 who won TI5 with EG and TI3 with Alliance respectively.
Team Secret and Ninjas in Pyjamas have one former TI winner each in Puppey and ppd respectively. All of them will aim to become the first-ever player to win multiple TIs.
With ddc and Faith failing to qualify and Universe being without a team, Puppey and Kuroky are the only two players who will have appeared in every TI following TI9.
The Mercedes-Benz Arena will also be the second largest Arena to host TI. The record was set by Rogers Arena, Vancouver last year when nearly 20,000 were in attendance to witness OG's miracle win.
The Mercedes-Benz Arena is expected to hold somewhere between 18,000 and 19,000 people beating out KeyArena, Seattle which hosted TI4-TI7 with a capacity of just over 15,000.