From Fnatic to Team Liquid and many more in between, read about who has been invited to the greatest eSports show on Earth
As ever with major eSports tournaments, the drama starts long before the competition kicks off. There were only six direct invitations available for this year’s The International, and we can’t say we’re too put out by it; greater opportunity in the regional qualifiers is surely a good thing.
Anyway, our six invitees are OG, Team Liquid, Na’Vi, MVP Phoenix, Newbee and LDG, but there are two notable absentees: Team Secret and Evil Geniuses. These two, of DOTA 2 royalty, had to get their hands dirty in the qualifiers.
How did this happen? They effectively missed out on their invites due to a technicality. Both teams violated Valve’s strict roster lock conditions with some swaps, meaning that an invitation could not be extended.
Interestingly, EG won the International last year, meaning this will be the first time in the tournament’s history that the reigning champions do not receive an automatic invite.
Of course, being titans, both EG and Secret topped their regions and are both through to Seattle. More controversial is that Na’Vi was invited… and Alliance and Fnatic were not.
Na’Vi’s invite does make sense. They have been in exceptional form leading up to the summer, finishing in second place at ESL One Frankfurt, while Fnatic’s dismal performance at the same event may well have cost them their invite.
Alliance also had a strong case to receive an invite, having finished first at WCA 2015 and SL i-League StarSeries Season 1.
But all this poses the question; how are the invites calculated?
You’d assume it’s worked out based on the year’s accomplishments, rather than just the lead up to TI.
But then where’s Fnatic’s invite? Was Frankfurt their undoing? And despite recent strength, Na’Vi have only played in one Major this year, and haven’t won a single tournament for two years.
Of course, conspiracy theories abound. Could Valve have left out deserving teams such as Fnatic and Alliance to pander to fans by inviting LGD and Na’Vi? Did the disqualification of Secret and EG lead to Valve cutting the number of invites down to just six? Either way, Fnatic and Alliance successfully made it through – leaving the wondering to the forums.
The teams that have made it through the main qualifiers are EG, Wings Gaming, Team Secret, TnC Gaming, Fnatic, Alliance and Digital Chaos.
From the NA region, it was no surprise to see Digital Chaos make it through – they proved to be a force to be reckoned with at Manila. It is hoped that w33, Resolut1on and Moo will be ready to once again show their worth.
And CompLexity? They’ll be competing as NA’s Wild Card team. Let’s see if Captain Kyle can rally up his team to claim one of the last two slots at the main event.
The EU region was the most interesting. With teams like Virtus.pro, Team Empire, Secret and Alliance, the talent was stacked.
Secret and Alliance put up decent performances, and it was refreshing to see Alliance back on track. This was especially evident in their last game against Escape – they showed great map awareness and coordination in engagements, as well as in Betway’s exclusive Fight Night – where they edged out Na’Vi in style.
It was a good balance of items, though, that essentially landed them in their TI spot.
As for the Chinese region, so far Wings Gaming have shown strength after the roster reshuffle post-Shanghai Major, taking the title at ESL One Manila.
They secured a spot at TI after a tiebreaker with EHOME in the qualifiers, partly thanks to an excellent game by Shadow and Blink.
EHOME are likely to go through and, if Zyf and Nono can fire up the momentum, the team will be a hard force to push back. The Chinese continue to be the most intimidating and ferocious going into The International.
The South East Asia qualifiers threw up a few surprises. The expectation was for Fnatic to breeze through the first phase of the qualifiers and receive their invite.
However, the round robins ended with TNC Gaming, Fnatic and Execration tied at the top, which led to TNC beating off the competition in a tiebreaker to snatch the invitation.
It was more closely fought than anyone imagined. Fnatic will be relieved that they won in the resulting playoffs, but their inability to qualify in phase one throws doubt on the claim that they should have received an invitation from the get go.
The length of their matches also hints that they may struggle against the tournament’s best teams, and many are losing faith in players such as Mushi and Ohaiyo.
As for Execration, they have shown remarkable promise in the qualifying stages, so will go into the Wild Card as contenders.
But who is going to win The International? The smart money should be on OG. The team is on form at the moment, having recently won both the Manila Major and ESL One Frankfurt.
At the time of writing OG are on a 9-win streak, mostly against their main rivals for the title. And 2nd place? Team Liquid should take that.
Tell us your predictions @betwayesports for TI6!