The International 2019 Playoffs Preview
The International 2019 is about to enter the Playoffs Stage. The Group Stage is finally over and in this article, I will present an analysis of what happened in the first stage of the tournament and then offer my predictions for stage two. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into our preview of The International 2019 Playoffs!
The International 2019 Group Stage Results
The Group Stage of The International 2019 went according to plan for the most part. Although, like any edition of The International, upsets and surprises inevitably occurred. Dark horses appeared, just like at previous editions, although not all of them were among the ones that the community had predicted. In particular, OG was phenomenal in their group and managed to earn the highest number of points of any of the 18 competitors. They got 14 out of 16, after six victories and two draws. And even those draws were not at all matches they couldn’t have won. They simply tried weird drafts and got punished for it.
Before we get into discussing The International 2019 Playoffs, let’s take a look at the Group Stage results separated into three categories: underachievers, dark horses and the rest of the participants.
Among the teams that did worse than everyone expected I would definitely name Team Liquid and Ninjas in Pyjamas. KuroKy and his squad had an absolutely disappointing performance while NiP somehow managed to get themselves eliminated. It’s actually the first time we’ve seen ppd crash and burn at The International. Of course, he’s been here before and it’s not the first time when he fails to be in the top three, but still: getting eliminated before the Main Event? Really?
An event like this is very difficult to analyze and it’s the kind of thing that could make even the most rational person start believing in karma or something. It’s well-known that NiP as an organization went through some serious problems lately, with a massive scandal unfolding and being related to events going back more than five years. This clearly had an impact on ppd and his team, as they just lost match after match and didn’t manage to win a single time. Overall, they got three points out of 16 and finished 9th in Group B.
If you look at ppd’s past appearances at The International, you will notice that he won the tournament in 2015, was two more times on the podium finishing 3rd and got a 7th – 8th place last year with OpTic Gaming, a team that was much weaker than his current roster from NiP. In the 2018-2019 competitive season, NiP ended the Dota Pro Circuit in 8th place with 2620 points. So there was absolutely no chance for them to get eliminated like this and to fail so miserably in a tournament with 18 participants. Think about it: at least 10 of those teams were statistically weaker than them. And yet, as soon as The International 2019 began, it was clear that NiP’s roster did not feel well at all. Something had affected them to their core and they just played like they had their hands tied to their chairs. No creativity, no self-correcting, no attempt to adjust the strategy to what the opponent was doing. Just plain and predictable drafts and the results were just as predictable. NiP lost five times and drew in three of their matches.
The under underachiever, Team Liquid, struggled in part because they kept giving w33 unfamiliar heroes to play. KuroKy wanted to stay in the meta but that wasn’t a good approach given w33’s difficulty in playing certain mid heroes. He did his best but the team’s overall playstyle wasn’t fluid enough and the opponent often managed to read exactly what they were going to do. In four of their eight matches, Liquid lost. In the other four, they got two draws and two victories. Overall, the results were poor for a team that won The International 2017 and placed 4th last year.
At the other extreme of the TI9 Group Stage, we had the dark horses. These are the teams that performed much better than everyone had expected. I’ll start with OG. They won The International 2018 but then collapsed into nothing. They manage to regroup and bring back ana during the second half of the season and with his help, they secured just enough points to get a direct invite to The International 2019. It was a poor season overall for the former TI champions but as soon as TI9 began, they looked like the best team in the world again.
In the Group Stage of TI9, OG got 14 out of a maximum of 16 points by winning six games and drawing twice. However, even those two matches in which they didn’t win were for the most part a result of their willingness to experiment with risky drafts. Against Vici Gaming for instance, they picked Techies and lost with it, even though JerAx did make some impressive plays during the game. The other loss came against Na’Vi, a team that looked to be extremely strong for one or two days, but then eventually got read like a book and started to lose again.
The second most important dark horse at The International 2019 turned out to be TNC Predator. To some degree, their success was predictable, as they had already placed 4th at the last DPC Major of the season. They also have one of the best coaches in the world, Heen, who used to train Team Liquid back when KuroKy’s team managed to win The International 2017.
In the Group Stage of The International 2019, TNC Predator lost only once, against their regional rivals from Mineski, drew five times and won twice. The opponents they drew against are mostly strong competitors, so that’s a clear sign of strength for TNC. Going 1-1 in matches against Team Secret and PSG.LGD is promising to say the least.
A third dark horse was Newbee, a team that didn’t look so strong at the start of the tournament but proved to be incredibly strong along the way. Like TNC Predator, they only lost one match, drew five and won two. Their nemesis was Team Secret but everyone else struggled against them. Even PSG.LGD (1 – 1) and TNC Predator (0 – 2).
Another potential dark horse is Alliance. They came very close to securing an Upper Bracket spot in Group A but were one point short of this achievement. Of all the 18 competitors at The International 2019, Alliance drew the highest number of matches during the Group Stage. Their final score was 1 W – 6 D – 1 L. Apart from Team Liquid, everyone struggled against them. And as a result, they are now regarded as a scary opponent to face in the Lower Bracket.
Overall, the Group Stage saw PSG.LGD, Team Secret, Newbee and TNC Predator dominate Group A, while Group B was dominated by OG, Vici Gaming, Evil Geniuses and Virtus.pro. There weren’t that many surprises and I’m eager to see what the International 2019 Playoffs Stage will bring.
These are the full lists of results for both of the groups:
- 1st place team: PSG.LGD: 5 V – 3 D – 0 L: 13 pts.
- 2nd place team: Team Secret: 4 V – 3D – 1 L: 11 pts.
- 3rd place team: Newbee: 2 V – 5 D – 1 L: 9 pts.
- 4th place team: TNC Predator: 2 V – 5 D – 1 L: 9 pts.
- 5th place team: Alliance: 1 V – 6 D – 1 L: 8 pts.
- 6th place team: Mineski: 2 V – 4 D – 2 L: 8 pts.
- 7th place team: Team Liquid: 2 V – 2 D – 4 L: 6 pts.
- 8th place team: Keen Gaming: 2 V – 1 D – 5 L: 5 pts.
- 9th place team: Chaos Esports Club: 0 V – 3 D – 5 L: 3 pts.
- 1st place team: OG: 6 V – 2 D – 0 L: 14 pts.
- 2nd place team: Vici Gaming: 4 V – 3D – 1 L: 11 pts.
- 3rd place team: Evil Geniuses: 3 V – 3 D – 2 L: 9 pts.
- 4th place team: Virtus.pro: 3 V – 2 D – 3 L: 8 pts.
- 5th place team: Infamous: 1 V – 5 D – 2 L: 7 pts.
- 6th place team: Fnatic: 3 V – 1 D – 4 L: 7 pts.
- 7th place team: Natus Vincere: 2 V – 3 D – 3 L: 7 pts.
- 8th place team: Royal Never Give Up: 2 V – 2 D – 4 L: 6 pts.
- 9th place team: Ninjas in Pyjamas: 0 V – 3 D – 5 L: 3 pts.
The International 2019 Main Event Predictions
By the looks of things, the stage looks set for a repeat of the 2018 Grand Final between PSG.LGD and OG. Of course, there’s a long way to go until we get there and there are multiple teams that could get in the way: Team Secret, Newbee, TNC Predator, Vici Gaming and even Evil Geniuses. At this point it’s still too early to say how these giants will perform when forced to play against each other, as the skill difference is small in most cases and we can’t know yet how much is left to be revealed. In previous years, the competitors didn’t always show all of their best strategies in the Group Stage. And that may have happened again.
Of course, looking at OG’s matches, it’s hard to imagine how they could have possibly disguised their hand when they already showed us so many brilliant strategies, including their patented IO carry one, which turned out to be deadly. But it’s still perfectly possible that they have a lot more aces up their sleeve. If everything goes according to plan, PSG.LGD will beat Virtus.pro, Vici Gaming will beat TNC Predator, OG will beat Newbee and Team Secret will beat Evil Geniuses in the first round of Upper Bracket matches. But at this level, things could change very quickly. And since it’s already a tradition to have upsets at The International, I think we should expect at least one of these matches to end with a surprising result.
In the Lower Bracket, RNG, Fnatic, Keen Gaming and Na’Vi seem doomed to get eliminated in their first match, but then again, a Bo1 can lead to absolutely anything. One drafting error or a simply misjudgment during the game and the favorite may get eliminated.
Thanks for joining us for a quick look at The International 2019 Playoffs! Stay tuned for more coverage of TI9 as the event continues.