The ninth iteration of Dota 2's The International is about to get underway. Yesterday's revelation of groups and group stage matches brought a new level of excitement for fans around the world. The tournament is set to begin tonight, August 14.
The International's group stage presents two groups of nine teams that compete in a round robin format, meaning each team will eventually play all the teams in their group. This part of the tournament goes on for four days, the end of which sees each team fall into their rightful spot in the group. Going into the play-offs, the top four teams from both groups will move on to the upper bracket. The next four teams from each group make up the lower bracket. The bottom teams are eliminated.
Those familiar with the Dota pro scene will immediately notice the spiciest matches coming out of the group stage. In group A we see Team Liquid, one of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, and Chaos Esports Club, who qualified through the European qualifier. The history between these two runs deep, with a recent clash seeing Chaos knock Liquid out of DreamLeague Season 11 at a disappointing 13-16th place.This is by far the worst placing for Team Liquid in the 2018-19 Dota Pro Circuit.
The players themselves hold a history, as Finnish player Lasse Aukusti "MATUMBAMAN" Urplanainen made the move from Liquid to Chaos in June. The round robin group stage format requires the two teams to come head-to-head, a game that will take place tonight during the third round of matches.
Looking at the other hot match-ups fated to take place brings us over to group B, where we will see reigning TI champions OG take on their rivals, Evil Geniuses. Their rivalry began last year when former OG members Tal "fly" Aizik and Gustav "s4" Magnusson left the team in favor of Evil Geniuses. This happened just months before The International, leaving OG scrambling to find a full roster in time for the event.
Every cloud does have its silver lining, though, and OG managed to find the perfect mix to propel themselves to a TI victory in what is now considered to be one of the greatest TI runs of all time. These teams will face off on day 2 during the first round of matches.
This year's International is set to be the biggest eSports tournament of all time, with its prize pool reaching a staggering $32.9 million. The first place victors will take home just under $15 million, along with the coveted Aegis of Champions.