The International, Dota 2’s de facto world championship and the richest esports tournament in the world, kicks off its 2019 rendition on Thursday, August 15 and will crown a champion on Sunday, August 25.
Eighteen of the world’s best Dota 2 teams descend upon Shanghai, China to battle for their share of a prize pool that is nearing a record $33 million. At SafesBettingSites, we are thrilled to give you our expert betting preview of the teams and contenders.
Twelve of the field’s 18 teams qualified for TI9 via the Dota Pro Circuit, Dota 2’s premier competitive series. The other six teams earned bids via regional qualifiers in North America, South America, Europe, China, Southeast Asia, and CIS.
As of Tuesday, the event’s champion is set to take home $14,950,133, the largest prize sum in esports history. TI9’s prize pool was initially $1.6 million, but an additional 25% of all Dota 2 Battle Pass revenue has been added to the total since crowdfunding began.
The prize pool is expected to continue to grow until crowdfunding ends on August 25.
What is The International?
Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game similar to League of Legends (LoL). Made available to the public in 2011, Dota 2 has become one of the most popular esports titles in the world and, along with LoL, has reshaped the competitive gaming landscape.
Held annually since 2011, The International is Dota 2’s world championship and has, for several years running, broken its own esports prize pool records. Since 2016, the event has boasted prize pools of over $20 million with last year’s total reaching $25,532,177.
The event moved to an 18-team tournament from a 16-team competition in 2017. In total, 40 nationals worldwide have been represented at The International with China (201) garnering the most player appearances. No one team has ever won multiple The International titles in the tournament’s history.
Teams And Main Events Of DOTA 2 The International 2019
The format of TI9 is simple: the 18 teams are split into two groups of nine and play each team in their group twice during the round-robin portion of the tournament. The teams that finish in the top four of their group advance to the upper bracket of the Main Event, while the teams that finish 5th through 8th drop to the lower bracket.
The teams that finish last in each group are eliminated. In the Main Event, teams in the lower bracket are eliminated with one loss. Teams that start in the upper bracket are eliminated after their second loss. The last team standing is crowned champion.
Landing in Shanghai as Pro Circuit qualifiers are, in order of finish, Team Secret, Virtus.pro, Vici Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, PSG.LGD, Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, TNC Predator, defending champions OG, Alliance, and Keen Gaming.
Of the 12 auto-qualifiers, three teams (Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, and OG), are former TI champions.
NA qualifiers and The International 2014 champions Newbee join Infamous (South America) and Chaos (Europe) as TI9’s regional representatives of the west.
Natus Vincere, champions of the first-ever The International event in 2011, earn a 2019 bid in the CIS region while Royal Never Give Up and Mineski appear in Shanghai via China and Southeast Asia qualifiers, respectively.
Contenders And Betting Favorites Of DOTA 2 The International 2019
Bookmakers have scrambled the Pro Circuit final standings and seemingly haven’t put too much stock in how the teams finished the 2019 competitive season.
Though Team Secret (+230), who secured the top spot in the Pro Circuit standings, is still the odds-on favorite at Bovada to win TI9 outright, third-place Vici Gaming (+350) leapfrogged second-place Virtus.pro (+550) and currently has the second-best odds to win the title.
Also hitting above their weight is Team Liquid who, after a fifth-place Pro Circuit finish has the third-best odds (+450) at TI9. Virtus.pro slots in with the fourth-highest odds and Evil Geniuses (+700) rounds out the top five.
More Teams You Should Take Into Account
Team Secret and Vici are the only two teams to have won multiple Pro Circuit majors in 2019, so it’s not entirely surprising that oddsmakers are designating the pair as favorites.
Secret was victorious at The Chongqing Major in January and MDL Disneyland Paris Major in May, while VG was victorious at DreamLeague Season 11: The Stockholm Major in March and EPICENTER Major, 2019’s final Pro Circuit event held in June. VG also has the unique advantage of playing on home soil.
Team Liquid finished the year strong with second-place finishes at the final two Pro Circuit events: Disneyland Paris and EPICENTER.
After a rough start to the season, they appear to have steadied at the right time. Liquid were crowned TI champions in 2017 and finished fourth in 2018.
Despite losing out to Secret in the Pro Circuit standings, Virtus.pro was the more consistent team overall in 2019. The CIS powerhouse won the year’s first major, The Kuala Lumpur Major back in November, and is the only team to have placed in the top three at four majors this season.
The TI Curse has plagued tournament frontrunners in the past, but that doesn’t mean a long-shot will take the crown in Shanghai. That said, if you absolutely had to place a long-shot bet on an outright winner, Keen Gaming is intriguing at +6,600.
On home soil, the Chinese outfit could be primed for a surprise run, likely through the lower bracket. Keen’s best finish on the year was 5-6th at DreamLeague in March and it helped them clinch the 12th and final Pro Circuit berth.
Lacking in star-power, Keen is a well-balanced team with something to prove in front of their home crowd.
Secret is the favorite to win most specials bets, and that’s to be expected, but Liquid at +1,000 to post the tournament’s highest kill average are odds that should catch astute punters’ attention.
Keen at +3,300 to post the highest assist total in a single match is another fun long-shot gamble over at Bovada.
Who Ya Got?
Is it in the cards for Secret to break the TI Curse? On paper, yeah, it looks promising, but getting past Virtus, Vici, and Liquid is a big ask for any favorite. Virtus has been most consistent this season but they haven’t won a major since November, and could they even topple an in-form Liquid? Tough to say.
Vici, on the other hand, looks scary and is playing at home. Even though a team hasn’t won on home soil since EG in 2015, Vici is peaking at the right time and is in a good position to use the home turf advantage.
A disappointing EPICENTER performance from Secret may have paved the way for a Vici win in the final major of the year, but that shouldn’t soil Vici’s progress. They’ve proven they know how to win tournaments and will do so again in Shanghai in the biggest esports event in the history of the world.
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