The International 2016Main Qualifiers
The Hornet's Nest
How far they've come
Decimated by their own hand
EU & CIS
Strong as ever
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The 6th International is just around the corner. Only six teams have been directly invited as many others changed their rosters and forfeited their chance at an invite in doing so. OG, Liquid, Newbee, LGD, MVP Phoenix, and Na’Vi are the fortunate few with the final ten slots up for grabs in the qualifiers. Each region will capture two spots in the International. The third place teams will also get their tickets punched for Seattle as they make the trip to participate in the Wildcard matches where two will also win their place in the main event. With such a qualifier heavy TI we might see some very interesting results and while it is unlikely we might not see the defending champions for the first time, it is possible. With so many qualifier spots available the pressure to perform well will be higher than ever. For us viewers however; sit down, strap in, and enjoy the ride.
VG. Reborn, EHOME, CDEC, and Wings are all in the Main Qualifier for the chinese region. Joining them are TongFu, IG, CDEC Youth, IG. Vitality, and two more open qualifier teams. Once again Vici Gaming had to make the trek through the open qualifiers to have a shot at reaching The International. At this point it seems as if CTY might actually be cursed to forever toil away in qualifiers on VG without making it to TI no matter who is on the team with him or how well he plays individually. That aside, the fact that the Chinese Qualifiers have not just one recent tournament winner but two in VG.R and Wings is incredible. A scene we saw so weakened mere months ago during the Shanghai Major now fields some of the strongest competition once again when the direct invites of Newbee and LGD are included.
The teams invited to the qualifier should feel somewhat relieved this time as during the Manila Major qualifiers they were pitted against Newbee with only one qualifier spot allowed for their region. With two direct invites and a wildcard slot available, we will see the best of China come out at TI6. VG.R and the other favourites should not rest on their laurels however as CDEC.Youth player Inflame has already upset China’s TI qualifiers before while playing for CIS. Likewise, while EHOME has had some personal issues interfering with Eleven and their sub Fan, they are all championship caliber players who will take advantage of any lapse in judgement their opponents may make. We also saw the rise of IG.Vitality during the Manila Major qualifiers as they along with CDEC.Y made it out of their groups and have the potential to upset the favourites.
Many well recognized names from TI’s past will compete during the Chinese Qualifiers and one must remember how well they performed at previous events. It is almost unthinkable that many of these big names will not be joining the rest of the teams at TI. At the same time it is a sign of how the Chinese scene and Dota in general has developed over the course of the last year with many new talented players rising to the top teams. If they hope to not become distant memories the old guard will need to perform at their best in the present day to overcome the new generation and show that they can still lead the charge. With such fierce competition awaiting them at TI it is hard to say how these qualifier teams will do after clearing their first hurdle.
Rising Tide. SEA Monsters. SEA, how far they’ve come. (that last one is mine! You’re welcome.) The South East Asian Qualifiers feature Fnatic, a top 6 finisher at The Manila and Shanghai Majors. A bit of a head scratcher, this resume was not enough to secure them an invite to TI6. With how they’ve been performing recently it’s no real surprise that we favor them heavily to make it through the qualifiers and compete at TI. Mineski also have another great chance to play at a Valve Event and while many, including us, do not see them as a serious contender we should remember they’ve managed to surprise us before, nearly bringing down Alliance in the first round in Manila. Compared to their counterparts they are also favored to make it out of the qualifiers although Signature Trust, Warriors Gaming, and Orange.Taring are all nipping at their heels. These five teams make up the group we expect to do the best but counting out Rave, Execration, or The Mongolz could be a mistake as the SEA scene has constantly lead to upsets. Only four days ago Warriors defeated Mineski and Execration beat MVP Phoenix in the Nanyang qualifiers with Warriors Gaming topping Execration in the finals.
We believe Fnatic will remain above all of the uncertainty as Mushi seems to have a grasp on exactly how to control the craziness of his scene and the players inside of it. However if Fnatic is sucked into the unrelenting pace of the other teams we could see them drop a game or two in their attempt to get to TI. The real fight should be for the 2nd and wildcard spots as even the teams that make it through the open qualifier may be able to ride their momentum to Seattle. One team we wouldn’t mind seeing make it is Rave with Jeyo, Ryoyr, and Ninjaboogie back together again. It would be a great repeat of their DAC miracle run. That might be all they need considering how quickly everything can turn during these qualifiers and just how powerful momentum can be.
kYxY along with hyhy, Chisbug, Poloson, and 290 are the first players to make it through the SEA Open Qualifier and will be joining the other invited teams. They’ll have a tough road ahead of them but they have all the experience necessary to potentially upset the favourites and claim one of the 3 coveted spots to Seattle. Lastly, I’m sure we will all be following TnC’s attempt to make their way through the open qualifier with their recent addition of Demon as he replaces teehee. The SEA qualifiers will likely be a tangled mess of teams desperately fighting to survive long enough to make top 3.
The North American and South American scenes have been decimated by roster swapping violations. Only six instead of the usual eight teams were invited to the regional qualifiers including unfamiliar names like Drinking Boys and Vultur Gaming. The Open Qualifier many actually have more recognizable teams in it than the main qualifier for the region and it leaves many asking for Valve to take a closer look at the roster lock and rework their rule set. The teams fighting through the open qualifiers include EG, Shazam, Team Freedom, Dragneel, Infamous, Enemy, VoidBoys, Pain Gaming and Kingdom Dota. Only two remaining spots will be earned through a best-of-one bloodbath. The bright side for these teams is that the teams that do make it will have earned some serious experience with their new rosters.
Whichever teams make it out of the opens must then cross an even more difficult bridge by facing off against Digital Chaos, Complexity, FDL, Not Today, and the two previously mentioned Drinking Boys and Vultur Gaming. DC and Complexity will be looked to as heavy favourites to make top 3 and with EG most likely joining the fray it will be a tall order to break the top 3. We have seen upsets previously though, as Archon made it to Shanghai and NAR beat Mouz during TI5. The NA region has a history of underdogs and undervalued players in their scene surprising people during Valve’s qualifiers.
Complexity missed out on a direct invite after multiple 6th place finishes since The Frankfurt Major and but failed to really break into the upper echelon. Their group stage finish at ESL One Frankfurt likely cemented them a qualifier spot instead of an invite to TI. DC will look to build off their performance at the Manila Major where they made it into the upper bracket and managed to take a game off both Newbee and VG.Reborn, two of the strongest teams in China. TI6 will be their proving ground should they make it. An interesting quirk of the NA qualifier is simply that there are less teams improving the odds for each of them. Due to how many teams reshuffled after the roster lock Valve decided to cut the America’s short by two spots and so the teams simply don’t have as much competition to deal with as the other regions. This also makes any mistakes much more costly however as there will be virtually no room to recover.
This region is an amazing mix of diverse styles, players, and globe trotters that have changed the way we currently look at DotA. OG has taken a firm grasp on the reigns with Liquid right behind them leaving many others in their dust. This has left the qualifiers full of teams that have the potential to stand beside the best and have, at multiple points during this year, proven themselves in some way. Vega Squadron comes off a top 4 finish at ESL One Frankfurt and has had two other top-2 finishes in recent months. Alliance has shown great improvement likely would have earned the invite over Na’Vi had they flipped the 2-1 score in their match at ESL One Frankfurt. Empire and No Diggity are relatively new kids on the block and while No Diggity was initially seen as a joke about Synderen, their performance thus far is no laughing matter. Empire, on the other hand, is consistently gaining experience and has won multiple qualifiers inside of Europe. VP, Ad Finem, PR, and Flipside also have the potential to take games if not full series off the other teams in the qualifier and this is all before we factor in whoever makes it through the open qualifiers.
Europe & CIS
This might be the most contested qualifier of TI6 and the hardest to properly call. Luckily for these teams three of them will have the chance to compete at TI. Alliance, Empire, and recently Vega Squadron have separated themselves from the pack and are most likely the favourites to advance. With so much on the line, this might favor Alliance’s experience in high pressure situations. Empire also seem unfazed by pressure as they have won qualifiers previously. Though they seem to suffer more from a lack of direction and experience at times the Russians have been doing everything in their power to rectify that problem. Vega Squadron have been relatively consistent with some stand out performances lately from Solo and Noone. If it wasn’t for their run at ESL One Frankfurt we may have counted them out due to lack of knowledge about their current state. A team that thrives as the underdog, their great finish might have come a bit early as other teams should now recognize them as more of a threat and prepare more to face them. Regardless of who comes out on top in the EU Qualifier we believe they can put up a fight at The International and might just add another name to the list of EU powerhouses.
Lastly, we must talk about Team Secret who will be going through the open qualifiers due to breaking the roster lock rules. if they get through the open qualifiers, which we believe is likely, they have the capabilities to grind their way to a TI invite. Given how Secret have been performing lately on top of how little we know about how these recent changes will affect them it is not clear whether this former giant will make it to the event. As seems to always be the case, the EU qualifier is definitely going to be worth watching.