The International 11 regional qualifiers predictions: Who will make it to Singapore?
The regional qualifiers for The International 11 (TI11), this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual multimillion-dollar world championship tournament, are now underway.
From 3 to 17 September, teams from all across the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) will be fighting to be among the 30 teams flying to Singapore to join the battle for the Aegis of Champions.
With 12 teams already directly invited to TI11, there are 28 spots up for grabs in the regional qualifiers. The winners of the six regional qualifiers will advance directly to the Group Stage while the second and third-placed teams from each qualifier will start in the new Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ).
The competition in the qualifiers is sure to be intense, so we're giving you our predictions.
Read on to know which teams the Yahoo Esports SEA Dota 2 team — Senior Esports Producer Kurt Lozano and Contributor Ahmad "Otomo" Alazawi — plus our resident expert, Nigma Galaxy SEA coach Nicholas "xFreedom" Kelvin Ileto Lim (@xfreedom on Twitter), predict will be flying to Singapore for TI11.
Kurt: Western Europe is going to be a bloodbath. The top spot is a toss-up between Team Secret and Nigma Galaxy (NGX) for me, but I'm giving the edge to NGX. Secret have been really strong lately, but it's hard to go against the core of NGX plus Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan.
The third spot is also a toss-up between Entity and Team Liquid, but I'm giving Entity the edge based on recent performances for both teams. With that said, I'm going to feel really bad if Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen misses out on TI11 now that he's set to retire.
Otomo: Out of Secret, Entity, Liquid and NGX, it's Secret that I think would win it. The team have looked much stronger ever since Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok joined the squad. It's a tough journey but Clement "Puppey" Ivanov has never failed to make it to TI and it's unlikely he will start now.
Second is NGX. The team is still a bit of a wildcard as they didn't compete in Division 1 in the last Tour. It's unthinkable that a team containing Miracle, Sumail, and Kuroky fails to attend TI.
Which leaves Entity and Liquid vying for the third place in the regionals and while Liquid fumbles during LANs, they have been beasts at online tournaments. It's a close call but I believe Liquid will make it to the LCQ.
Xfreedom: Definitely NGX, but the Top 3 for Western Europe is kind of tricky actually. I'll give four, first is definitely NGX, then Team Secret, Entity, and Team Liquid.
I can't really say which one won't make it, because Liquid perform really well online, but the patch favours Entity and Secret are good at creative drafts, it's too close to call.
Kurt: Nigma Galaxy, Team Secret, Entity
Otomo: Team Secret, Nigma Galaxy. Team Liquid
Xfreedom: Nigma Galaxy, Team Secret, Entity
Kurt: While China will be another bloodbath, I think it's safe to say that Royal Never Give Up (RNG) will win the qualifier. I believe Lu "Somnus" Yao and Hu "Kaka" Liangzhi have been two of the best players in China for years now and they will carry the team to TI11.
The two LCQ spots will up for grabs between Xtreme Gaming (XG), Invictus Gaming (IG), and Aster.Aries.
I predict XG will take that second spot because they're the strongest of those three teams. While I think third place between IG and Aster.Aries is too close to call, I'm leaning towards IG because of Xu "fy" Linsen, he deserves to be in TI11.
Otomo: RNG dominated China's Summer Tour regional league but didn't live up to the hype at the PGL Arlington Major, but that was due to them missing their carry.
With Daniel "Ghost" Chan Kok Hong back with the team and a TI invite on the line, RNG would be the safest bet to win the regional qualifier
Another team that got shafted at Arlington was Xtreme Gaming, who chose to miss the Major entirely due to missing their carry. They won't have that handicap at the regional qualifiers, so I see them taking second place.
Third place is a tough one.
It's either Aster.Aries or EHOME. Aster.Aries spent two Tours in Division 2 but impressed when they finally qualified to Division 1, while EHOME had meddling results throughout the year. With that said, I'm gonna go with EHOME in the end.
Xfreedom: For China, I'd say it's RNG, IG, and XG, maybe Aster.Aries can pull an upset.
In any case, my Top 3 for is between those four teams but the competition will be very close.
Kurt: Royal Never Give Up, Xtreme Gaming, Invictus Gaming
Otomo: Royal Never Give Up, Xtreme Gaming, EHOME
Xfreedom: Royal Never Give Up, Invictus Gaming, Xtreme Gaming
Kurt: Outsiders, hands-down, will win the Eastern European qualifier.
Losing out on a direct invite to TI11 because of a Valve ruling hurts, which I believe will light a fire in the team. Look for Outsiders to dominate the qualifier, I bet they'll only lose a couple of games at most.
The two LCQ spots will be for Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) and BetBoom Team, I don't think there's another team that can sneak into the Top 3. I'll give Na'Vi the edge in a match versus BetBoom, and thus second place.
Otomo: Outsiders have to win in Eastern Europe, they were one point away from qualifying directly and I believe they will be ruthless as they make their way to TI11.
Na'Vi are the most likely team in my eyes to come in second. Alik "V-Tune" Vorobey, Volodymyr "Noone" Minenko, and Alexey "Solo" Berezin are all veterans and it's about time V-Tune makes it to TI.
BetBoom came out of nowhere this year with some pretty crazy drafts, like carry Visage. I am expecting them to take third and the second spot for Eastern Europe in the LCQ.
Xfreedom: My Top 3 for Eastern Europe would be Outsiders, BetBoom, and Na'Vi.
Kurt: Outsiders, Natus Vincere, BetBoom Team
Otomo: Outsiders, Natus Vincere, BetBoom Team
Xfreedom: Outsiders, BetBoom Team, Natus Vincere
Kurt: I think T1 has a very good chance to win the SEA qualifier, just because they now have Anathan "ana" Pham and Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen on the roster.
Even if those two have been away from pro play for a while now, I still think their calibre as two-time TI champions will be enough to carry T1 to TI11.
Plus, it will be great to see T1 with ana and Topson take on the new OG squad.
For second place, I'm gonna have to go with Talon Esports. Their recent performances haven't been inspiring, but I think fighting for a spot at TI will be enough to get them back into form.
As for the second spot in the LCQ, I think it's a toss-up between Polaris Esports and Lilgun. I think many underrate Polaris and they will cause an upset or two while Lilgun is always the dark horse in SEA, but I'm leaning more towards Polaris this time.
Otomo: SEA has been ultra competitive this year but I am hopeful that T1 will come out on top in the qualifiers as they have Topson and ana.
While ana has been hit or miss in the tournaments he played as a stand-in, I believe Topson is enough of a buff for T1 to make it through the qualifiers.
Talon Esports has had a tumultuous year, with roster changes and a slow start. But I think it's a close call between T1 and Talon on who wins the regionals.
Lastly, I think Polaris will surprise us and take third in the qualifier. Polaris didn't end the season well but they really bounced back by the time ESL One Malaysia 2022 rolled around.
Polaris would be my dark horse to take third place in the region
Xfreedom: For SEA, it's probably T1, I think ana and Topson had their training arc in pub games. Ana is playing a lot of ranked games. I don't think they will be surprised by SEA games, they have already adapted to it.
Talon had their highs but now they are experiencing their lows. I think they are going through something and it is the phase of the team where you make or break it.
I have experience with that sort of thing before, you go up then you go down, it's what happened with my team, Nigma Galaxy SEA. Regardless, I think they'll still make the Top 3.
Lilgun is the dark horse for SEA's second LCQ spot just because, on paper, their heroes are super favoured right now.
Kurt: T1, Talon Esports, Polaris Esports
Otomo: T1, Talon Esports, Polaris Esports
Xfreedom: T1, Talon Esports, Lilgun
Kurt: With TSM and Evil Geniuses (EG) getting direct invites, the door to TI11 is wide open for Soniqs Esports. They've been vying to become North America's top dogs for years now and I don't see them losing against any other team in the qualifier if they're up to par.
The two LCQ spots will be for Nouns Esports and Wildcard Gaming. I think Nouns are a lock for second place, and may even have a chance to upset Soniqs. Wildcard have shown flashes this season and I believe that's enough for them to get to the LCQ.
Otomo: It has to be Soniqs, they are part of the Big 3 in NA along with EG and TSM. Soniqs had always placed Top 3 in each Tour this season and even won the first. No other team has their experience in the regionals.
Second place will likely go to Nouns, as they have skilled veterans like Zakari "Zfreek" Freedman, Nicolas "Gunnar" Lopez, and David "Moo" Hull. Nouns tied with EG and Soniqs in the last Tour, and if anyone has a chance of beating Soniqs, it's Nouns.
Third place goes to Wildcard. I don't expect them to place any higher than third since Soniqs and Nouns have performed better throughout the year.
Xfreedom: For NA, Soniqs definitely, and probably Nouns and Wildcard.
Wildcard upset EG back in the Winter Tour, hopefully that confidence they showed against stronger teams carries them in the qualifier.
Kurt: Soniqs Esports, Nouns Esports, Wildcard Gaming
Otomo: Soniqs Esports, Nouns Esports, Wildcard Gaming
Xfreedom: Soniqs Esports, Nouns Esports, Wildcard Gaming
Kurt: Many South American teams have dwelt under the shadows of Thunder Awaken and Beastcoast this season. With those two getting direct invites, I think teams like Infamous will finally get their chance to shine. So yeah, my pick to win the South American qualifier will be Infamous.
As for the two LCQ spots, I'm going with Tempest and Hokori. They've been the next best teams after Infamous and I think that will continue in the qualifier.
Otomo: In South America I think Infamous is the most likely to win in the region. South America has been dominated by Beastcoast and Thunder Awaken all year, yet Infamous was the only team to take a series off of Thunder Awaken in all three Tours, so I'd say they are my bet to win the regionals.
Second place will most likely go to Tempest, the reformed Lava squad has looked pretty strong throughout the year. SG Esports will likely make a podium finish and represent the region at the Last Chance Qualifiers
Xfreedom: If I had to look at their games, I'd have to go with Infamous, the other two are Hokori and Tempest.
Kurt: Infamous, Tempest, Hokori
Otomo: Infamous, Tempest, SG Esports
Xfreedom: Infamous, Hokori, Tempest
For the full list of participating teams and updated results for the TI11 regional qualifers, check here.
For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.
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