Everything is set for the concluding tournament of Dota Pro Circuit and the biggest esports event in the world to take place at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China. Just like the previous instalment, The International 2019 will feature 18 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, who will compete for the title and world record prize pool of over $32 million.
The 2019 International will kick off on Thursday, August 15th with the group stage fixtures, which will run up until Sunday, August 18th.
During the group stage, a round-robin format with best of two (Bo2) series will be used to determine which teams will earn their spot in the main event. As revealed, top four teams will advance straight into the upper bracket of playoffs, the fifth-eight team will advance into the lower bracket, whereas the last-place team in each group gets eliminated from the tournament. The playoffs will begin after a short two-day break, on Tuesday, August 20, and run for six days.
In the playoffs, a double-elimination format will be used with best of three (Bo3) series used throughout, with the only exception being the round one fixtures in lower bracket (Bo1) and the grand finals which will use a best of five (Bo5) series to determine which team will be crowned the champion and walk away with over $14 million in prize money.
By featuring 18 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, predicting which team will come out on top and earn the title of the best in the world is always tricky. Nonetheless, there are a few teams who have proved themselves throughout the season and earned a status of favourite ahead of The International.
Now let's check out which those teams are and which out of them do we believe have what it takes to come out victorious.
Team Secret won the Dota Pro circuit with 900 points to spare ahead of Virtus.pro, which earned them the title of favourites to win the International in August. They are priced at $3.60 at Skrilla, which is fair, considering how dominant they were in the 2018/19 DPC.
The European powerhouse won two Majors (Chongqing and MLD Disneyland) on top of finishing second at Kuala Lumpur and fourth at the Stockholm Major. By showcasing such dominance and consistency in all but one Major (9th-12th finish at EPICENTER) it's hard to ignore Team Secret and their chances to win their first IT or at very least earn a top-six finish.
Another team that did not shy away from showcasing their strength are Virtus.pro, who finished second on DPC Leader board (13500 points). The Russian team won the opening major of the season (Kuala Lumpur) and even finished second at Chongqing and Stockholm on top of reaching third place at EPICENTER. Despite their remarkable results, Virtus.pro found themselves as the fourth favourites ($6.70 at Skrilla) to win their first-ever International, which is quite high as they seem to be very underrated.
When we talk about favourites, we cannot forget to mention ViCi Gaming ($4.85), Team Liquid ($5.40) and Evil Geniuses ($9.00).
ViCi finished third at DPC standings with 11250 points to their name, which they achieved with two Major titles in both Stockholm and EPICENTER. It's worth mentioning ViCI had a slow start but managed to improve as the season approached August. With ViCi seemingly finding their stride at the right time, they are understandably the second favourites, despite their unfortunate history at TI, where they never finished in the top eight.
That leaves us with Team liquid ($5.40) and Evil Geniuses ($9.00) who played well throughout the season, however, only playing well won't cut it here. Neither teams won a Major this season, however still managed to reach top three multiple times. EG won the bronze medal on three occasions, whereas Team Liquid finished second in the last two Majors of the season.
Top three finished indicate they are good teams who can out up a solid fight, but when it comes to high-pressure situations e.g. final four, they tend to underperform, which is why we will steer clear from backing them up to win here.
For our prediction, we will side with Virtus.pro, who are generously priced at $6.70 at Skrilla to go all the way. The high odds come due to failed attempts to win the International last two years when they finished fifth-sixth on both occasions. This would suggest Virtus.pro don't fare well in high-pressure situations, however, they look much better and more organized this year, especially considering they have defeated the favourites (Team Secret) multiple times throughout the season. All in all, Virtus.pro are much stronger as the odds might suggest, and while they had their moments of weakness, we believe backing the CIS powerhouse ahead of IT9 is a solid bet.
Another bet worth checking out is ViCI. As mentioned they did not have the best start of the season but considering their improved form towards the end of Dota Pro Circuit, they come off as a serious threat for top spots. Priced very generously at $4.85 at Skrilla, we believe they are worth a punt.
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