By Radu Muresan
August 21, 2019
A total of 18 TI9 teams were present at the start of The International and only 10 of them are left in the race. In this article, I will take a close look at what happened during the first two days of the Main Event and provide an analysis of what is likely to happen next.
Prior to the Playoffs Stage of TI9, Chaos Esports Club and Ninjas in Pyjamas were eliminated as a result of finishing 9th in their respective groups. And since then, the tournament parted ways with six more competitors.
Alliance started in the Lower Bracket after placing 5th in Group A, just one point short of an Upper Bracket spot. In the first round of Lower Bracket matches they met RNG, a Chinese team that had almost failed to qualify for the tournament and finished 8th in Group B. Despite this, they played very well against the Europeans and, thanks in part to a superior hero composition, managed to beat them after a back and forth game.
In a Bo3, I’m sure the situation would have looked different, as Alliance only lost one match in the groups and proved to be a very hard team to beat. But the Bo1 format clearly didn’t allow them to show what they could do. If they decide to stay together for the next season, we will likely see them again at TI10.
Fnatic finished the Group Stage in 6th place in Group B, with a record that speaks louder than any analysis: 3 W – 1 D – 4 L. It was obvious that they either owned their opponent, just like in their first match against Evil Geniuses, or got completely crushed by it. Against Team Liquid, it was the latter. Fnatic showed no creativity and played a very static game against a team that had all the advantages going into the late game. They also itemized incorrectly, which resulted in them having no physical damage to speak of. And as soon as Liquid got BKBs, the match was practically over.
Keen Gaming had looked awful in the groups, finishing 8th in Group A with a record of 2 W – 1 D – 5 L. At the same time, their opponent, Infamous, had played well and almost got a top four finish in a very difficult group. Their record was 1 W – 5 D – 2 L. Their match against Keen Gaming was the fastest of the four in the first round of the Lower Bracket. In just 34 minutes, they dismantled the Chinese squad thanks to a draft advantage.
Just like Alliance, Na’Vi had come at The International 2019 after three years of absence (they missed the 2017 and 2018 editions) and showed some signs of strength during the groups, even beating Virtus.pro at one point. However, their strategies got countered rather quickly and the team started to lose again. In the end, they finished 7th in Group B with a record of 2 W – 3 D – 3 L.
Na’Vi’s first match at the Main Event of The International 2019 took place against Mineski and lasted for more than an hour. Ultimately, Na’Vi lost and had to say goodbye to their fans, who were no doubt happy to see them here. I mean, it was a miracle that they qualified in the first place given how poorly they had played during the regular season.
This elimination was completely unexpected. People hoped that despite being out of shape, Virtus.pro would at least get to the third round of Lower Bracket matches. But unfortunately for them, after losing to PSG.LGD in the Upper Bracket they faced another determined Chinese squad, Royal Never Give Up. And these guys completely dismantled them, needing only around 30 minutes in each of their games.
And finally, the 6th team that got eliminated during the Main Event of The International 2019 was TNC Predator. What made their confrontation with Team Liquid interesting to watch was the fact that TNC’s coach, Heen, used to coach Liquid until this past Spring and even won The International 2017 with them. In a way, people were eager to see who was going to win the duel of drafts, tactics and strategies between Liquid’s KuroKy and TNC’s Heen. And in the end, Kuro proved to be wiser. The first game was a complete out draft while the second one had Liquid stall the game until their Anti-Mage took over.
There are a few important conclusions that can be drawn after the taking a closer look at each of the performance of each of the TI 9 teams after the first two days of The International 2019 Main Event.
China started the tournament with five teams and four of them are still in the tournament. So, among the top 10 competitors at The International 2019, China will have four teams. And furthermore, they’re guaranteed a top three spot for either PSG.LGD or Vici Gaming, who will meet each other in the second round of the Upper Bracket.
The European region went into The International 2019 with no less than six teams, more than any other region. But they already lost three of them, and only one still stands in the Upper Bracket: OG. Team Liquid and Team Secret are struggling to survive in the Lower Bracket and only one of them at best will get a top three finish.
The CIS region only had two representatives: Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere. Unfortunately for their fans, both teams were eliminated in the first two days of The International 2019 Main Event.
In 2018, the second round of the Upper Bracket had the following four teams in it: Team Liquid, PSG.LGD, OG and Evil Geniuses. Replace Team Liquid with Vici Gaming and you have this year’s Upper Bracket. PSG.LGD easily defeated Virtus.pro, Vici Gaming won the marathon against TNC Predator, OG crushed Newbee and Evil Geniuses miraculously defeated the winner of the regular season, Team Secret.
After these results, PSG.LGD will have to win the great Chinese battle in the first match of the second round of the Upper Bracket while OG and Evil Geniuses will meet again, just like last year, at the exact same spot. Call it what you will, but we are about to see one of two things happen in this match: either N0tail will get an even greater revenge over his former teammate Fly, or Fly will get his revenge for what happened last year. It’s hard to say who will win, although on paper OG looks to be the stronger side.
If both OG and PSG.LGD win their matches, we will have the same Upper Bracket Finals as last year. I don’t remember any TI edition that had this kind of repeat scenario, but it would be fun to see it here.
Apart from the two Upper Bracket matches I’ve just mentioned, the Lower Bracket has five encounters scheduled for the next two days. Three of them are already known:
All things considered; this will be a very difficult match for both teams. Of course, Newbee is the stronger side in theory, but Infamous proved to be just as difficult to beat in the Group Stage. Both teams had five draws out of eight matches and it will be interesting to see this confrontation between a South American roster and a North American one, who’s currently playing under the Newbee banner.
Unless they got tilted after their loss against Evil Geniuses in the Upper Bracket, Secret should easily win this match against Mineski in two quick games. The skill difference between these two teams is enormous.
This will be RNG’s first true test. And that’s because Liquid is not an underachiever at The International. Against Virtus.pro, the Chinese squad succeeded partly because Solo and his teammates looked completely unprepared and because they were known to be chockers at TI. But with Liquid it’s the exact opposite. KuroKy simply knows how to handle the pressure and how to transfer his calm energy to his teammates. Even to w33, who looked very stressed in the match against Fnatic.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that Liquid defeated TNC Predator in the second round of Lower Bracket matches, which proves that they are now operating at full capacity. Because TNC is a very strong team that almost beat Vici Gaming in their first Upper Bracket match.
Thanks for joining us a closer look at the TI9 teams and their future! To stay up-to-date on the standings you can click here. Stay tuned for more coverage of The International 2019 throughout the event.