TI10: A Closer Look at The Main Cybersport Tournament in the World

Alisa Barladyan
04 Oct 2021
19:47
TI10: A Closer Look at The Main Cybersport Tournament in the World

The International is a major event in the world of cybersport. It is also the main tournament for any Dota players ready to try themself for real. The International was held nine times already, and it could've taken place once more in August 2020, but it didn't due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So it was delayed for a year, then for a couple of months, and so it will happen in October 2021. VALVE says it's the confirmed date, and there'll be no further delays, so we have to wait a little more. The International 10 will happen. Let's learn more about this event. 

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TI10 - Where and When?

As already mentioned before, after the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting delay, TI10 was scheduled to take place in the first days of August in Sweden. But in June VALVE released the information about some troubles the tournament providers faced when they tried to negotiate with Swedish officials who refused to recognize cybersport as an official sport. So, the players, along with providers, couldn't get the necessary sports visas for visiting the country.   

In other words, TI could have taken place in Sweden, but then all the players would have to cross the country's borders on their own. Not everyone is ready for such a trip. So, it wasn't a good idea to make TI happen under such circumstances. VALVE's negotiations with Sweden turned out to be a failure, so they decided to move TI someplace else.

There were many possible options, but VALVE decided TI10 should be moved to Bucharest. The main reason for such a decision was that PGL, a world-renowned tournament provider, is located there, so it could work for TI as well. The International 10 will take place in the capital of Romania - Bucharest, from 7 to 17 October 2021.

The Prize Pool

VALVE has invented a rather complicated system that allows them to make this international cybersport tournament happen every year almost for free. TI10 prize pool was about $1,6 million, but the sum got much bigger thanks to the players buying Battle Pass during the previous season. 25% of every purchase went straight to the prize fund, which grew up to $40 million. That's a complete record for a tournament prize pool, not only in Dota tournaments but in the history of cybersport as a whole.

The Tournament Format

Eighteen teams will take part in The International 10. Before the start of the tournament, they will be randomly divided into two groups, within which they will compete with each other. All matches will be played in the best-of-2 format. At the end of the TI10 group stage, two teams will leave, taking ninth place in their groups. The teams that took the first four places will advance to the upper playoff bracket, and the teams that took the rest will go to the lower playoff bracket.

The playoffs will be held according to the double-elimination system. The first round of the lower bracket will be played in best-of-1 format, while the rest of the games will be played in a best-of-3 format. As usual, the grand final will be held in the best-of-5 format.

The Participants

The Participants
The Participants

Eighteen teams will participate in The International. 12 of them qualified for the tournament with most points during the DPC cycle. It consisted of two seasons of regional leagues and two international majors. The remaining six teams went through regional qualifications: each region was given only one quota for a spot at TI10.

Recently we heard the names of 18 teams that will go to The International this year. Some of them, undoubtedly, are the strongest in the world, while others made it to the main tournament of the year by chance: due to a strange point distribution system, when a team received as many DPC points for the first place in their region as for winning a Major. This approach probably made The International 10 one of the weakest in terms of lineup, but it's too early to judge. Let's take a closer look.

Evil Geniuses (1700 DPC scores)

Evil Geniuses (1700 DPC scores)
Evil Geniuses (1700 DPC scores)

Before the start of the DPC cycle, Evil Geniuses weren't very popular. Nobody knew what to expect from this team, they played for over a year only in their region (with rare exceptions), where the level of play is relatively low. Therefore, it was impossible to estimate the power of Evil Geniuses before the start of the games in the international arena.

During the DPC, Evil Geniuses showed their true faces. In the first season, the team took first place in their league and second in ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021. In the second season, Evil Geniuses came second in the region and second in WePlay AnyMajor 2021. So, the team played in the finals of both majors, which is the best indicator among all other teams.

EG has shown excellent performance and great results. Other teams cannot boast of such an achievement. The minor problem is that Evil Geniuses never managed to win the Major. By the way, EG has never won such major tournaments, so the players must be disappointed with their two failures in a row.

Nevertheless, Evil Geniuses managed to score the most points in the DPC cycle - 1700. Their closest pursuers are 400 points behind. At the upcoming TI, EG will be one of the main favorites.

PSG.LGD (1300 DPC points)

PSG.LGD (1300 DPC points)
PSG.LGD (1300 DPC points)

Despite the incredible performance of Evil Geniuses, the Chinese team PSG.LGD is currently the main favorite of The International 10. The team has come a very long way to be considered the strongest team in the world. PSG.LGD has been hardened in the Chinese DPC League, where seven out of eight teams can surely be called very strong. There is a lot of competition now, which forces the teams to improve very quickly.

In the first season of DPC PSG.LGD was able to take only fourth place and go to Wild Card ONE Esports Singapore Major. It was there that the team began to open up, crash everyone in their path. As a result, PSG.LGD reached the Top 4, having played the most matches in the tournament. In the second season of the DPC, the team played more confidently and became the second in their region. After that, PSG.LGD showed an incredible performance at WePlay AnyMajor, defeating absolutely all opponents without losing a single game and thus taking first place.

PSG.LGD can play perfectly even in the most challenging game situations. At the same time, the team has creative players with unusual styles, which are challenging to prepare for. The mid-leader of the team - NothingToSay, who can be safely called the MVP of the entire past DPC cycle, deserves a special mention. The young Malaysian plays his role admirably and almost always makes a key impact in ending the game in his team's favor.

Virtus.pro (1200 DPC points)

Virtus.pro (1200 DPC points)
Virtus.pro (1200 DPC points)

Before the start of the DPC, during the online era, bears played very well and consistently ranked well in tournaments. The team's main problem was and is the lack of experience in playing at major international tournaments. This is not surprising because Virtus.pro is full of very young players who simply had nowhere to gain this experience. A good coach could have helped, but the Bears gave up mentoring in favor of the limitless potential of young players. Unfortunately, this approach turned out to be a failure.

During the first season of DPC Virtus.pro took first place in the CIS without any problems and received an invite to the playoffs of the Major. Therefore, it is easy for the bears to play a league in the CIS. But problems have already begun on LAN. At the Singapore Major, Virtus.pro was able to win only one match and take eighth place. The team said it was due to a lack of practice, but the reason was even more serious.

During the second season of DPC Virtus.pro again took first place in the CIS and went to the WePlay AnyMajor playoffs. This time the bears failed to win a single meeting and returned home with zero victories. At the same time, rumors said that the team needed a coach (or someone like that) to set up the players for important tournaments. Later, the organization itself and the players agreed.

According to rumors, a trainer for the bears has already appeared. And given the fact that The International has been postponed, he had a lot of time to work with the team. If they will show 100% of their strength, then they can calmly end up in the TI10 Top 4.

Quincy Crew (1100 DPC points)

Quincy Crew (1100 DPC points)
Quincy Crew (1100 DPC points)

The Quincy Crew had a perfect season and qualified for The International 10, thanks to the good spots in their region during the leagues. At the majors, the team looked far from being the strongest and imposed a fight on strong opponents a couple of times. However, when facing a powerful opponent, the Quincy Crew could do nothing to oppose it. Most likely, Quin and the company will not be able to go far at the upcoming tournament, but it will be interesting to watch them play. Whatever one may say, the team has shown stable growth over the past year, but whether this is enough to fight for a high place on TI remains unclear.

Invictus Gaming (1100 DPC points)

Invictus Gaming (1100 DPC points)
Invictus Gaming (1100 DPC points)

Invictus Gaming, like PSG.LGD, can be called one of the favorites of The International 10. They are just a crazy team that cannot be stopped if they play to their maximum. At the same time, before the start of the DPC cycle, Invictus Gaming was an absolute outsider who was not even invited to the first division of the DPC League in China - the team had to play qualifications. However, immediately after that, Invictus Gaming went off the chain and took first place in their region, which can be called a huge achievement. At that moment, the whole world realized how strong IG are, and that this team is worth reckoning with.

During the ONE Esports Singapore Major, Invictus Gaming also showed great Dota playing. The team easily beat the most vigorous opponents and left them behind. This was until the very grand finals, where IG fought EG. This can be called one of the most colorful battles over the past few years. Evil Geniuses were leading with a score of 2-0 and were close to winning on the third map, but Invictus Gaming, through an unrealistic comeback, were able to turn the meeting around and end it in their favor. The final score is 3-2 in favor of IG.

And the "?" from the mid-lancer of the team - Emo - to the general chat after winning the third map was just incredible. It's this kind of confidence that the current players lack. By the way, Emo can be called the MVP of the Singaporean Major, as he played great.

After the victory at ONE Esports Singapore, Invictus Gaming relaxed, and this is understandable. Thanks to their high results, the team qualified for The International 10 ahead of schedule, so there was no need to play in the second DPC season. IG did just that, skipping both the league and the Kyiv Major. We will be able to watch the former Invictus Gaming at TI10. And it will be a sight to behold.

T1 (1070 DPC points)

T1 (1070 DPC points)
T1 (1070 DPC points)

T1 is an extraordinary team whose strength is challenging to determine. They've played the first season of the DPC rather mediocre and took only third place, and then lost almost all the cards in the Wild Card of the Singapore Major, becoming the first team to leave the season. In the offseason, T1 managed to play together and later showed an excellent result, taking first place in the first season of the DPC (after replays). At the Major, the team was an outsider, but despite this, they managed to reach almost the very end and take third place. This result became a real sensation. Let's see if T1 can make the same sensation at TI10. So far, this is hard to believe.

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Vici Gaming (950 DPC points)

Vici Gaming (950 DPC points)
Vici Gaming (950 DPC points)

Vici Gaming is a team of die-hards who often show not the best game, but in the end, they take good places. The team played well within their region, and both times took third place, which again is not something extraordinary, but if you look at the region's strength, the result is objectively good. Vici Gaming took the top 8 at the Singapore Major, and the top 4 at the Kyiv Major. The team scored not so many DPC points, but in total, they allowed the team to get an invite to The International 10. At the main tournament of the year from Vici Gaming, everyone is expecting high results. Again, the team is unlikely to win (some problems with the game are still observed), but they have to take a high place. In the top 6, at least.

Team Secret (950 DPC points)

Team Secret (950 DPC points)
Team Secret (950 DPC points)

A year ago, Team Secret was considered the strongest team of our time. This title was fully deserved because, during the online era, the team was able to win eight tournaments in a row, setting a new world record. Moreover, all the finals with the participation of Team Secret ended with a score of 3-0. If not this can be called an indicator of the strength of the team, then what?

Before the first season, DPC Team Secret was the undisputed favorite of the European region and was counting exclusively on the first place. And so it happened. Team Secret ended the season with a score of 7-0, destroying all their opponents. During the Singapore Major, the team was also considered one of the main favorites, but in the end they were only able to take fourth place. Moreover, the result was not bad, but by that time only victory was expected from Team Secret.

Nevertheless, two high places allowed Clement and the company to invite TI10 and relax until the end of the DPC cycle. Although, as the players later said, they did not relax but tried to rebuild their game, adapting it to the playstyle of teams from other regions. This approach did not give a quick result. Still, now the Team Secret players have gained an unusual experience for themselves and will be able to demonstrate everything they have learned at The International 10. At the moment, Team Secret is also one of the favorites of this tournament. The team has already shown what it is capable of and will be able to show it again. Bucharest in October is the perfect place and time for this.

Team Aster (800 DPC Points)

Team Aster (800 DPC Points)
Team Aster (800 DPC Points)

Team Aster showed very cool and disciplined play during the first season of the DPC, but still turned out to be weaker than IG and ended up taking second place. At the Singapore Major, Team Aster was one of the main favorites of the tournament, but the team could not get there in full strength, which is why they showed an unsatisfactory result. Team Aster was fully revealed during the second season of the DPC. The team managed to beat almost all opponents and take first place in the league. Thanks to this, Team Aster qualified for TI ahead of schedule and frankly scored to play during the Kyiv Major. Team Aster can perform very well on TI, but they will need to get in shape for this.

Alliance (800 DPC Points)

Alliance (800 DPC Points)
Alliance (800 DPC Points)

Alliance have established themselves as a strong team with good potential, which in no way manages to show an excellent result in the international arena. Within their region, which has been dramatically weakened recently, Alliance looks good. But in battles with teams from other regions, they constantly lack something.

During the first season, the DPC Alliance finished second but failed to repeat the success in the Singapore Major. The team played terribly in the group, having lost almost all matches, and became the only team that could not make it to the playoffs. DPC Alliance showed a cool performance again in the second season, beating almost all opponents and taking first place. However, at the Kyiv Major, history repeated itself, and Alliance, which went directly to the playoffs, lost two out of two matches and left the tournament.

It can be seen that Alliance constantly has some kind of problems: either with drafts, or with in-game communication, or simply with pressing the buttons. In this form, the team is unlikely to qualify for something at The International 10. Alliance needs to change something. Fortunately, there is time for this.

Beastcoast (800 DPC Points)

Beastcoast (800 DPC Points)
Beastcoast (800 DPC Points)

Beastcoast is the most glaring example of the failure of the current DPC system. For two seasons, the team was unable to show any result but still went to TI. Virtus.pro, which can also be counted among such teams, at least managed to win twice within its region and then get into the top 8 of the Major. Beastcoast was unable to achieve even this result.

In the first season of DPC, Beastcoast won the regional league in South America. Still, later, the team's players contracted the coronavirus, which made them unable to come to Singapore for the Major. In the second season of the DPC, the team had problems in their region - they only managed to take second place. At the Major in Kyiv, Beastcoast was unable to overcome the group stage. The team won only three cards out of 14 possible, which is why they naturally went home.

The Beastcoast game was also not at all pleasing. The players just went ahead (as they usually play in South America), but they just couldn't realize their pressure. It can be seen that the team is sagging in skill and can hardly qualify for a good place at The International 10.

Thunder Predator (800 DPC Points)

Thunder Predator (800 DPC Points)
Thunder Predator (800 DPC Points)

Thunder Predator players showed not only aggressive but also disciplined play. It was a pleasure to watch this team in Singapore. Thunder Predator qualified for the group stage of that tournament, finishing second in their regional DPC league. The team simply destroyed the group stage, taking first place and progressing to the upper bracket of the playoffs. After that, Thunder Predator reached the top 6 of the tournament, which can be called a steep result for a team from South America.

During the second season of DPC, Thunder Predator lost a lot and could not even get through to WePlay AniMajor, which can be safely called a failure. However, the team still managed to take third place and, due to this, earned 200 DPC points. Add 300 DPC points here for the second place in the first DPC season and another 300 points for the 5-6 place of the Singapore Major. As a result of such a simple example, it turns out that Thunder Predator was directly selected for The International 10. By the way, from the last, twelfth, place. All other teams have already had to play qualifiers to get an invite to TI.

If Thunder Predator play on TI as in the second season of the DPC, then you don't even need to go to Bucharest. And if they play like at the ONE Esports Singapore Major, then we will definitely have some kind of sensation.

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OG (qualification in Europe)

OG (qualification in Europe)
OG (qualification in Europe)

It is not clear how OG - the two-time winners of The International again managed to approach the qualifiers for TI10 in this status. The team played poorly in both seasons in the DPC league and failed to advance to any major. Accordingly, OG could not earn points for a direct invite to Int either, so they had to play qualifiers. Before their start, it seemed that the team had no chance of anything since, before that, OG's game was not going well. However, the kings again managed to surprise everyone.

During the qualifiers, the team opened up and showed their true strength, which no one could cope with. The bottom line is logical: OG went to The International again and again through qualifications. As strange as it may sound, TI OG itself is also one of the favorites. This tournament always has its own meta and atmosphere. And no one feels them better than OG players. So, the guys have an excellent chance to make history again, although it won't be that interesting the third time.

Team Spirit (CIS qualification)

Team Spirit (CIS qualification)
Team Spirit (CIS qualification)

Team Spirit is played by real die-hards who have worked a lot for two seasons to end up on TI. And they did it. Even the Major managed to play. And not just to play, but to show a perfect game and self-confidence. Team Spirit is not the favorite of The International 10, but with a good alignment and good preparation, the dragons will perform well. That's for sure. In any case, the team's goal this year was simply to get to TI10, which they successfully did. If we manage to take a good place on TI, it will be great. Basically, in the top 8, Team Spirit can aim quite well. Let's wish our guys the best of luck.

Elephant (qualification in China)

Elephant (qualification in China)
Elephant (qualification in China)

Elephant were very lucky to make their way to The International 10. The team was fortunate that all the strong teams from their region received direct invites to TI. By the way, there are four of them. If any of them, for some reason, did not have enough DPC points to go to TI10, then it was this team that won the qualification, not Elephant. They play very unstable and scattered; they often make mistakes in macro, lose spades. The synergy between star players also suffers. Yes, Elephant still managed to win the qualification, but this can hardly be called an achievement. It is unlikely that the team will be able to take a good place at The International 10.

Fnatic (Southeast Asia Qualifier)

Fnatic (Southeast Asia Qualifier)
Fnatic (Southeast Asia Qualifier)

The team failed the first Major, losing two matches out of two, and could not qualify for the second Major. This is not a good result. And there are also serious complaints about the team's play. If the Keri (Raven) does not play, then it is autoloading. By and large, it is on him that the whole team is now being built. With this approach, there is nothing to catch at TI10.

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Undying (qualifying in North America)

Undying (qualifying in North America)
Undying (qualifying in North America)

Undying is the third strongest team in their region. When the two main rivals received direct invites to The International 10, it became obvious that Undying would take the qualifiers in North America. The team plays well for their region, but Undying is very weak in the overall picture of the world. The team has never played at major tournaments, never went to LANs. What to expect from such a team at TI10? Nothing. Undying will likely take the last place in the tournament if he does not jump two heads higher than himself. In this case, you can count on the top 16.

SG e-sports (qualifying in South America)

SG e-sports (qualifying in South America)
SG e-sports (qualifying in South America)

SG e-sports is rightfully considered the main outsider of The International 10. The arguments are the same as in the case of Undying. Only SG e-sports could even take a decent spot during the DPC seasons and has always been somewhere at the bottom of the list. There are no eminent players that I would like to follow in the team either. So, it is SG e-sports that can be called the most faceless team at TI10.

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