Galaxy Battles and Dota Summit 7, the events that will decide the International 7 direct invites
With The International 2017 invites expected to come in just a couple of days, Dota Summit 7 and Galaxy Battles are decisive tournaments for a handful of teams.
For the past seven years, Valve’s reasoning in deciding who is getting an invite to their most prestigious event has been impossible to figure out. Historically, all the teams that won or placed second at a premiere LAN event held relatively close to the invite period were blessed with a direct invite to The International, unless of course, they made roster changes outside the shuffle period.
Last year Valve cut the direct invite list from eight to six for the first time and without any announcement on numbers for 2017, nobody can be sure how many slots they have in mind for this year. However, looking back at what happened last year we discover that we are now quite in the same situation, where Valve have no defending Champions eligible for a direct invite. On the 9th of June 2016 Team Secret (Shanghai Major Champions) and Evil Geniuses (TI defending Champions at that time) made a roster change outside the shuffle window and were forced to fight for a TI 6 ticket via open qualifiers. This year we had the sad story of Wings Gaming (TI 6 Champions) disbanding due to intricate ACE rules and yet to be announced punishments for their decision of trying to go as an independent team.
Before looking at who might snatch a last minute direct invite via Galaxy Battles and Dota Summit 7 let’s go over the few safe teams so far, regardless of how many direct invites will be issued by Valve this year.
1. OG - should be no discussion here, Boston and Kiev Majors Champions, DAC 2017 runners up
2. Evil Geniuses - Manila Masters Champions, EPICENTER: Moscow 2017 runners up
3. Team Liquid - SL i-League StarSeries Season 3, SL i-League Invitational Season 2 and EPICENTER: Moscow 2017 Champions
Beyond these three teams, everything gets murky and we can only speculate. Two teams however, can be placed at the top of Valve’s list, namely Invictus Gaming - DAC 2017 Champions and Virtus Pro - Kiev Major runners up. But if there will be only six direct invites this year as well, should these two teams who haven’t achieved anything else besides those placements be favored ahead of others who have constantly placed top three at recent LAN events? Well, the answer is also debatable, and here are a few options to take into account.
I’ll start with the most delicate one, Planet Odd--TI 6 runners up under the Digital Chaos name.
picture courtesy of EPICENTER
Left without the TI 6 defending Champions, Valve might look at the second placed team in Seattle last year for a direct invite. The ex-Digital Chaos roster, turned Thunderbirds and now signed by Planet Odd, haven’t had a good year at all, except for a tournament title back in January 2017 at ESL One Genting. Since then, their results have been disastrous. They were eliminated in the first round of the main event bracket at the Kiev Major and the only two events for which they qualified this year were StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3, where they placed bottom two, and EPICENTER where they got eliminated in the group stage. Clearly, these results can be easily outshone by other teams and if Valve sticks to six direct invites for this year as well, then Planet’s Odd hopes for a direct should be minimal. Unless…
Unless of course, they take home the Galaxy Battles trophy. Galaxy Battles, although not a well-established tournament in the professional circuit is a $150,000 event happening this week in China with a few other teams that have all the reasons to think that they are worthy of a TI 7 direct invite.
Would the Galaxy Battles title place Planet Odd above VP and IG in the pecking order? I would dare to say no, but one can make a strong case for the Odd boys to be the sixth team invited to TI 7 and, if they win Galaxy Battles, Valve’s list should look like this:
But what if the Galaxy Battles grand finals is Planet Odd vs Newbee? Win or lose the series, both Newbee and Odd have a high chance to become Valve’s choices above VP and IG. Last years’ experience taught us that a grand finals spot secured with a few hours before the invites to be announced, can become instrumental in receiving an invite. Natus Vincere, who placed first only at SL i-League Invitational Season 1 in April 2016, received a TI 6 invite minutes after they lost the ESL One Frankfurt 2016 grand finals to OG.
So, with the boys from Planet Odd being the TI 6 runners up, ESL One Genting Champions and presumably Galaxy Battles grand finalists and with Newbee having already a second place at Manila Masters, first place at Zotac Cup and now grand finalists at Galaxy Battles, the TI7 direct invites could look like this:
Should Valve want to give more than one direct invite to the Chinese region, then things will get more complicated and it will come down to Virtus Pro’s performance at Dota Summit 7.
In theory, the second place finish at Kiev Major for VP should be more than enough for a TI 7 invite. However, the Russians failed badly in the tournaments after the Major. Another disastrous result at Dota Summit 7, while teams like Secret or NP would reach the grand finals at the Beyond the Summit event, had the potential to nullify VP’s Kiev Major run before it had even begun. And here is why:
NP haven’t even qualified for Kiev Major, but after the latest shuffle, when Johan 'pieliedie' Åström and Adrian 'FATA-' Trinks joined their ranks, the team registered constant improvements and placed third at Manila Masters and second at Zotac Cup. A tournament win in LA this weekend can put them above a few others who feel secure right now. The same goes for Team Secret who have been all over the place in the last year, from being eliminated by the Brazilian team SG - eSports in the first round of Kiev Major main event, to winning the Dream League EU qualifier division for DreamHack Atlanta, coming close to winning the EPICENTER group stage, to only finishing 3rd/4th last week in Moscow. So, this why I believe that just as NP, Team Secret can make their way into the direct invites list for TI 7 only if they win the Dota Summit 7, if Virtus Pro don’t make it into the grand finals this weekend in LA, they should expect to kiss their chance of a direct invite goodbye.
The International 7 direct invites possibilities based on Galaxy Battles and Dota Summit 7 virtual results only IF Virtus Pro doesn’t reach the grand finals.
IF team NP wins Dota Summit 7 and the Galaxy battles grand finals will be Newbee vs Odd
IF Team Secret wins Dota Summit 7 and the Galaxy Battles grand finals are Newbee vs Odd
However, IF Virtus Pro pull themselves together in the next few days and deliver a top notch performance at Dota Summit 7, winning the event or even reaching the grand finals, then the second placed team at Galaxy Battles might find themselves on the outside of the TI7 direct invites list regardless of how many second place tournaments they have under their belt so far.
Another unlikely but not impossible scenario has a chance of becoming real if TnC, Mousesports or even Infamous win the Galaxy Battles title. Now, I know most of you are already dismissing the idea, but let’s look into the matter before disregarding these three teams entirely.
image courtesy of Wykrhm Reddy
I will start with TnC who can become Valve’s choice for a direct invite if they win the Galaxy Battles title. However, I won’t go as far as thinking they have a chance if they place second in China this weekend. Why can TnC snatch a TI 7 direct invite? Simply because the Southeast region doesn’t have any other team right now to make a strong case. Faceless have been the more successful squad from SEA but only in qualifiers stages, and as we’ve seen in the past years, Valve only takes into account LAN results. While Faceless qualified for Kiev Major and finished in the top 8, and they also qualified to Manila Masters and finished top 4, TnC are runners up at SL i-League Invitational 2 (in May 2017) where they pushed Team Liquid into a decisive game five. The Galaxy Battles victory can become their free ticket to TI 7, just as ELS One Frankfurt 2016 was Na’Vi’s free passage to Seattle even without winning the grand finals.
But whose spot can TnC steal with a Galaxy Battles victory? The answer to this question is again tied to VP’s result at Dota Summit 7, as well as whom takes second in China. Again, if VP goes up to the grand finals in LA then they are more than likely to get invited to TI 7, but if they place bottom two once again then I tend to believe that their slot is open for either the Galaxy Battles or the Dota Summit 7 winners, or a second placed team at these two events, depending on which teams get those. To make it more clear, here are my predictions if TnC wins Galaxy Battles and VP places second or wins Dota Summit 7.
IF Virtus Pro places second at Dota Summit 7:
IF Virtus Pro become Dota Summit 7 Champions:
IF Virtus Pro doesn’t reach top 3/4 at Dota Summit 7
2. Evil Geniuses
3. Team Liquid
4. Invictus Gaming or the second placed team at Galaxy Battles, depending on who they are (ie. Newbee or Planet Odd)
6. Winners of Dota Summit, depending on who they are (ie. Team Secret or NP)
And now, to get to the bottom of the most unlikely yet somehow still possible scenario. Due to the many ways Valve has surprised us all in past years, the Boston Major runners up Mousesports, and the only South American team present at a LAN event post Kiev Major Infamous, have a chance of shaking things up in China and messing with many teams' expectations for a TI7 direct invite. At the same time, I believe that Mousesports and Infamous can become the season surprises only by winning the Galaxy Battles title.
Why does this only apply to these two teams of all those participating at Galaxy Battles or Dota Summit 7, you may ask. The answer is quite simple: looking at who will be playing this week in China and Los Angeles, we discover that few participating teams at these two events have any decent LAN performance this year, or attended a LAN at all until now. The only exception is IG Vitality, but they didn't have a full roster at Zotac Cup, placed 9/16th at Kiev Major and their top 4 achievement at DAC 2107 should not push them above other contenders for a TI 7 direct invite in any circumstances.
So, for Mousesports to claim a TI7 direct invite, two things need to happen: 1) them winning the Galaxy Battles title, 2) VP to not place top 2 at Dota Summit and in a perfect scenario for the Greeks, neither NP or Secret should reach the grand finals in LA.
As for Infamous, the same things need to happen as well in LA, and also they have to become the Galaxy Battles champions in order to make Valve consider them. For the Peruvian guys, this last event ahead of the TI 7 invites means everything, and not only for them but for the whole SA region. If they become champions this weekend, then Valve has all the reasons to continue what they started when they created the separate SA qualifiers for Kiev Major.
Despite being plagued with several unprofessional incidents, the Kiev Major qualifiers brought SG-eSports, who are responsible for the premature elimination of Team Secret in Kiev, into the spotlight. With that in mind, take a second and imagine how big of an incentive for the SA region to grow in the coming years it would be if Infamous could earn a direct invite via Galaxy Battles and another SA team could get to biggest event of the year via their own South American qualifiers.
If Mousesports or Infamous win the Galaxy Battles title, then a few teams can potentially get in trouble, and I’m pointing towards IG and Virtus Pro mainly. Then again, VP are in the end the latest Major runners up and unfortunately IG have only one trophy to showcase this year, and that was earned in early April, a performance that might get overlooked considering that they haven’t reached any other LAN grand finals since then.
To summarize all these scenarios for the direct invites to The International 2017, it is safe to say that both Galaxy Battles and Dota Summit 7 are crucial and worth watching. So, prepare yourself for a long weekend that will give you the lucky six, or who knows, perhaps eight teams that will receive an International 7 direct invite, and with it a chance at the biggest prize in esports.
Do you think that the International 7 direct invites will be decided only after Galaxy Battles and Dota Summit 7 will end?
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