Get Giddy, The International’s Playoff Bracket Is Set
Dota 2's The International is the biggest tournament in esports for a reason. Its prize pool is massive, a gargantuan amount of money available for its competitors, and a grand prize that could set the winners up for life overnight. Just one final placing could be the difference between a team and a million dollars in prize money, and because of that, it gives TI the highest stakes around.
The group stage is that decider, the round-robin that determines the upper and lower bracket, and which two teams are the first to get eliminated. It’s a crucial moment at TI, the literal difference between a top 12 guaranteed finish and a second chance at life in the tournament, and the deadly plank walk of the lower bracket, where teams begin a long and arduous journey to the end of the road. No team has ever won The International starting from the lower bracket, and only one team has completed a full run through to the Grand Finals, Team Liquid in 2019. It cannot be understated how important it is to do well in the group stage in order to find likely success in the tournament.
As the final day of the group stage takes fold, here are the guaranteed lineups for the upcoming bracket.
Most notably, for the first time since TI7, at least three Chinese teams will make an appearance in the upper bracket, a huge win for the region, after PSG.LGD being really the only Chinese representative to make an impact on the tournament within the past few years. Here, we see VG, IG, and PSG.LGD, all showcase some very dominant performances over the group stage, whether it be through solid and executable game plans or just sheer team outplay, these three Chinese teams have showcased themselves to be the top dogs of the tournament.
China as a region should be incredibly hungry for a win at the International. It’s been five years since the region has claimed an aegis, not since Wings Gaming at TI6. Since then, it’s been three TIs of heartbreak. Newbee were decimated in the finals of TI7, PSG.LGD fell to OG’s miracle run at TI8, and for the first time since TI3, a Chinese team were unable to find themselves in the grand finals of TI9.
The dynamic of this upper bracket is mesmerising. On one side, IG, VG, and PSG.LGD, all players looking to claim the aegis for themselves after years of China falling short. This is their moment to prove they have what it takes, that this is the time for their region to return as a serious threat to international competition. Then, on the other hand, you have this weird assortment of other teams with a spot in the upper bracket.
OG, obviously, they’re the two-time defending champions, but they’re looking as motivated as ever. Nothing can undersell Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan’s contribution to this team, his performances in the group stages has been nothing short of crisp, and takes your breath away to see how good the “King” is even after a role switch and years of playing Dota. Can they do it here? It remains to be seen, but OG are poised to put the pedal to the metal once again at TI.
Team Secret is another team that was expected to do well here at the tournament. After all, they dominated their region for the many months of online play in the hiatus during the DPC season. After some shaky performances, they seem to have found their footing in Bucharest, and stuck to that punishing playstyle they’ve become known for. Can Secret keep up the momentum? Or is this just another failed TI attempt after months of being the world’s best team.
The two CIS teams, VP and Team Spirit, are pleasant surprises to the upper bracket, as they both field rosters full of TI rookies. For such young and fresh new faces, their ability to rally in the group stage has given them the opportunity to find a very serious payday in their young careers. In the case of VP, they’re quite simply an organization who hasn’t performed well at all historically at TI, and with the roster change to this lineup, are these the players that can give VP a title?
Nonetheless, this TI has been WILD. A lot of upsets, a lot of fluid dynamics from the biggest international competition in Dota 2 in a long time. Nothing is more exciting than TI, nothing is more exciting than seeing what the future holds. The group stage is done, now onto the main event...