Date: August 15-25

Place: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Shanghai, China

The biggest tournament in esports starts on August 15th. That’s right, I’m talking about The International, otherwise known as TI. This year marks the ninth annual edition of the tournament, and should be the biggest one yet. The prize pool is at about 26 and a half million dollars, which is a pretty staggering number.

If you aren’t familiar with the way the DotA 2 pro scene works, let me fill you in. It’s an open circuit called the “DotA Pro Circuit”, that feeds into The International. To qualify for TI, teams can compete at multiple different events in the DPC. For each placement at a DPC teams are awarded a corresponding amount of points. Those points are then totaled up across the totality of the DPC, and are used to determine the 12 teams that make it to The International.

The other way into TI is to qualify through regional qualifiers. These are smaller regional tournaments that start with open qualifiers, and lead all the way into a double elimination bracket. The winner of each of the six regional qualifiers earn a spot at The International. The six qualifiers are North America, South America, Europe, CIS, China, and South East Asia

The field at The International is exceptionally deep, which befits the stature of the event. With so many excellent teams attending, it might be hard to get a read on where the best esports bets might be. Well, if you’re in that predicament, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to highlight some of the most exciting teams in attendance and help give you the what’s what on TI.

“Trophy" How Does DotA Work?

DotA’s claim to fame as an esport is it’s extreme complexity. It has a real argument to being one of the most complex competitive disciplines human beings engage in, due to its extreme amount of possible scenarios. The game features 177 heroes, which all receive play at the highest level. That allows for a really large number of possibilities on both teams, which can make games fairly complex and difficult to predict. Most teams will favor certain heroes over others, but pretty much every hero see’s play at a high level. Last year at TI 8 ever hero in the game saw the main stage event at least once.

“Trophy" Pick Ban Stage

Teams in DotA are allowed six bans and five picks per team, which they do three bans, two picks, two bans, two picks, ban, pick. This can be one of the most important parts of a game of DotA, so it’s important to watch carefully. How do the two drafts match up? Does one team have a damage advantage? Are one of them at a clear range advantage? How much hard lockdown does each team have? What does the magic resistance look like?

Having a familiarity with the game is important if you want to get into DotA 2 esports betting.

“Trophy" Laning Stage

A good laning stage can make or break a game of DotA. For those of you that don’t know, the laning phase is what happens at the beginning of the game, where both teams play the wave and focus on leveling up and getting gold, with which to level up their skills and buy items. This stage of the game can vary a fair bit, as teams will play solo lanes, duo lanes, tri lanes, and occasionally dedicated junglers.

While picks in this stage are important, and can lead to big early game advantages, what you should be looking for is which players are doing well grabbing experience and pressuring their opponents out of lane. Like I said before, a good laning stage can make or break the game.

“Trophy" Team Fight Stage

After both teams feel like they’re leveled and equipped to their liking, they’ll start to leave lane and look for kills. Teams will group up and smoke (an item that makes players invisible), then roam the map looking for kills. This is the real meat of the game, and what makes it such an exciting game to watch. Look for teams that are playing well coordinated games, as those are the teams you want to be putting your money on.

“Trophy" Team Secret +300

Secret are the favorites at TI, and for good reason. They’ve been on a tear in 2019, winning two DPC events, along with a second place and a fourth place. Over the last three months they have a 71.93% win rate, dropping just four series out of a possible 27.

Their hero pool is one of their best assets. While they do tend to lean pretty heavily on their Rubick and Ember Spirit, the top of their hero pool is refreshingly deep.

After a disappointing performance at the EPICENTER Major, Secret are definitely looking to redeem themselves and make a run at winning TI.

“Trophy" Liquid +350

Liquid are one of the most interesting teams heading into The International, due to a recent roster move. Rather surprisingly, Liquid removed MATUMBAMAN late in the DPC season, replacing him with w33 from Chaos Esports Club.

This change in roster helped them snag a second place finish at the EPICENTER Major, outplacing the current TI favorites Team Secret. W33 had a solid run in Moscow, putting up some monster assist numbers and helping propel his team to a respectable finish. The question for them is, will they have enough time to gel the way they need to if they want to make waves at TI?

“Trophy" Virtus Pro +600

Virtus Pro have had an unremarkably excellent season thus far. A first place at the Kuala Lumpur Major put them in an early lead in the DPC rankings which held till recently, when they were finally passed up by Team Secret.

The Russian superteam has consistent top three placings pretty much all year, but when it comes to be TI time that might not be enough. They might be lacking in firepower, and could struggle on the big stage.

“Trophy" Evil Geniuses +700

EG has had an up and down year to say the least. They started the year off with a bang, netting a 3rd place finish at the Chongqing Major, to pair with a second place finish at ESL One Birmingham. Not a bad resume, if you ignore their abysmal placements at the EPICENTER Major and DreamLeague season 1.

One of EG’s biggest assets is their continuity. They’ve been rolling with the same roster since mid 2018, which is longer than most. This familiarity can be a big advantage, as long as teams know how to keep things fresh and can still perform at their peak.

“Trophy" NiP +1800

NiP have managed to squeak their way into TI on the backs of their consistency. Not consistency in results, but consistency in appearances. NiP have attended seven of the possible ten events in the DPC season, placing no better than fourth at any of the large events.

They are fronted by PPD, one of the more heel-esque characters in DotA, but an effective strategist nonetheless. Could this be the year he finally returns to hold the Aegis on the biggest stage in DotA?

DotA is an especially tough game to try and bet on, but that won’t stop me from trying. For The International 9, I’m going to take Team Liquid. That consistency and familiarity can be a bigger asset then you might think when teams are on the biggest stage imaginable. They’ve had a string of solid performances recently and have put themselves in a position to capitalize in Shanghai this year.

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