The regional qualifiers are upon us, so it is worth taking a look at every region to discuss favorites and black sheep.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for many was that South-East Asia received 3 direct qualifier spots. The region has not been able to perform as well internationally as last year, when MVP.Phoenix and Fnatic would consistently place among the top 6-8 at even Majors. That said, both Faceless and TnC have proven that they can be threats internationally. TnC had a dominating group stage performance at Kiev and convincing results post-Kiev (2nd at SL I-League Invitational #2 and 3rd at Galaxy Battles) and Faceless’ recent role swap (Black^ to mid, Jabz to support, xy to carry) has proven to be quite the success, resulting in a 4th place at the Manila Masters.
With Mushi’s Mineski, the all-star line-up of Fnatic and the recent troublemakers in form of Clutch Gamers, the SEA qualifier could be the most competitive out of any region yet again. Whether or not they deserve these 3 direct slots though, they’ll ultimately have to prove on LAN.
China is the only other regional qualifier to offer 3 direct qualifier spots. While China may have issues to iron out, the recent results of LFY and LGD are undeniable proof that the region can perform when it matters. There are also potential sleeping giants in EHOME and Vici Gaming. EHOME has recently acquired former Wings players Faith_Bian and y, adding to the already talented pool with Cty, garder and old chicken. The team may have yet to play an official, which is difficult considering their ACE exit, but on paper that team can cause an upset.
In the same vein, Vici Gaming has all the potential to be a force to be reckoned with. Their squad is decorated with talent and experience, and under Hao’s leadership and LaNm’s coaching, VG may just have what it takes to qualify.
The real sleeping giant though may be CDEC. The team beat LGD to qualify for the Summit, only to be denied participation because of visas. Full of talented and success hungry youngsters, CDEC may just follow the footsteps of the TI5 squad, at least when it comes to qualifying for the event.
Team Secret had a stellar performance in the Kiev Major group stage, but placed last due to a single bo3 loss in the playoffs. Since then, the team has made a roster change and with YapzOr as a new support, Secret has performed quite well on LAN; a 3rd/4th place at Epicenter was followed by a 2nd place at the recent Summit. While this wasn’t enough to warrant a direct invite, Secret should be considered a top team worldwide and is the clear favorite going into the European qualifier, though the latter isn’t a particularly difficult accomplishment.
In the European qualifier, only 3 teams have any notable LAN experience together. Mousesports is an obvious favorite for the 2nd EU slot, considering how long the squad has been together and their run through the Boston Major qualifiers and the event itself. Even if the team has struggled since then, they have more experience than any other team in this qualifier, aside from Secret.
Another team with loads of experience is Danish Bears, formerly known as Cloud 9. The squad may have lost Babyknight, but they still look like a solid contestant–at least for the second EU slot. Even before losing Babyknight, Cloud9/Danish Bears dropped off significantly in terms of performances and results and nothing right now indicates that that would change. In general, none of the EU teams have had any big results or performances worth speaking of. Crescendo is a newly formed team with bad performances so far and neither Penta nor 4PF have even played against any of the notable top teams to measure their strength. The upset potential in Europe seems rather low for now.
There is one potential competitor that could make a splash: Alliance. The Swedes, however, recently replaced Loda with Era and thus had to go through the Champions Cup. Alliance, with Loda and EGM, did look quite competitive during the Kiev Major qualifiers, though they have dropped off significantly since, hence the roster changes. Whether this new squad will be able to contest for these two qualifier slots remains to be seen though.
Team NP came close to a LAN trophy twice in recent times, with a 2nd place at Zotac and a 3rd place at Manila Masters. The squad has shown to be a capable contestant and they are likely among the favorites for the two qualifier slots. The other heavy favorite is Planet Odd, formerly known as Thunderbirds or Digital Chaos. After a 2nd place at TI6, the team has not played a lot of events in the past year. They followed a 3rd/4th place at the Boston Major with a a victory at ESL One Genting, but Planet Odd has not chosen their participation quite carefully or failed to qualify for several events. A recent 2nd place finish at Galaxy Battles is the confidence boost the team needed and shows that they are still a force to be reckoned with. They certainly will be for the NA qualifiers.
Digital Chaos is another contestant worth taking a look at. The team has consistently been able to compete for qualifier slots in recent times, and despite poor results at the recent LAN events they have attended, the performances were promising enough to warrant highlighting this team going into the qualifier.
While compLexity would usually be a team worth looking out for as well, the team is shrouded in question marks, as they have yet to play a significant amount of games with their new roster. They also recently acquired a coach, which could vastly change the way they approach the game.
Without Virtus.pro, the CIS regional qualifier feels significantly weaker, though that doesn’t mean that it still won’t be competitive. Despite horrendous LAN performances and results, Natus Vincere has shown that online, they can compete with anyone in their region. Several other teams, such as Vega Squadron or Team Empire, have also proven that they are no pushovers, with the latter team attending a few LANs in recent times as well, such as DAC or The Summit.
Gambit Esports is a team worth looking out for. The team is equipped with a healthy mix of young and old, with experienced players such as ALWAYSWANNAFLY, bignum and chshrct, and new, talented players such as daxak and Cooman. Recent results suggest that the team is capable of keeping up with other teams of the same caliber, and while it may not be enough for the actual slot, they can certainly give any team in this qualifier a run for their money.
The South-American qualifier is once again plagued by a lack of eligible teams, hence 7 slots are directed towards the open qualifiers. Regardless, the 3 teams that are directly invited to the regional qualifiers have all shown how potent they are. Kiev Major underdogs SG-Esports have unfortunately been unable to live up to expectations since, but teams such as Elite Wolves or Infamous have done well online to make for an interesting qualifier. Though whoever may qualify through open qualifiers will have it rough. It would not be surprising to see these three invited teams in the playoffs as well.
Format & Schedule
The International 2017 Regional Qualifiers Format. #TI7 pic.twitter.com/Xhg3cC4IM4
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) June 21, 2017
Similar to previous qualifiers, there will be a large round-robin group stage and double elimination play-offs. Aside from South-America and CIS, every other regional qualifier will see the first place team of the Bo1 round-robin group stage qualify directly for The International 2017. The other slots will be distributed in the Bo3 play-offs.
These are the starting times for every regional qualifier each day:
SEA 10.00 SGT / 04.00 CEST / 19.00 PDT
CN 10.00 SGT / 04.00 CEST / 19.00 PDT (starts on July 27th)
EU & CIS 16.00 SGT / 10.00 CEST / 01.00 PDT
NA 01.00 SGT / 19.00 CEST / 10.00 PDT
SA 00.00 SGT / 18.00 CEST / 09.00 PDT
Coverage will be provided by BeyondTheSummit, MoonduckTV and several freelance casters.
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