It’s been one week since regional qualifiers wrapped up for Valve’s sixth annual Dota 2 world championship, The International 6 (TI6), and with only a month to go until the tournament kicks off on August 3 in Seattle, Washington, TI6 is shaping up to be a real nail-biter. Sixteen teams will fight for a chance at glory and the coveted Aegis of Champions—not to mention a not-insignificant cash prize—in what promises to be the most exciting TI yet.

The following six direct invitees, curated from three of Dota 2‘s four official regions—North America (NA), Europe, China, and Southeast Asia (SEA)—were already assured a place at the event:

  • OG (Europe)
  • Team Liquid (Europe)
  • NewBee (China)
  • LGD Gaming (China)
  • MVP Phoenix (SEA)
  • Natus Vincere (Europe)

With 10 slots left, and 2 of those reserved as wildcards, the four-day regional qualifiers saw 37 teams vie for one of the 8 guaranteed slots. Notables included last year’s TI5 winner Evil Geniuses and fan favourite Team Secret, both having been disqualified for direct invites due to player shuffles made after the Valve-mandated roster lock date.

After a gruelling series of matches, the following regional winners and runners-up clawed their way to the top to secure a place at TI6:

  • Evil Geniuses (NA)
  • Digital Chaos (NA)
  • Team Secret (Europe)
  • Alliance (Europe)
  • Wings Gaming (China)
  • Vici Gaming Reborn (China)
  • TnC Gaming (SEA)
  • Fnatic (SEA)

Four teams—NA’s Complexity, Europe’s Escape Gaming, China’s EHOME, and SEA’s Execration—will duke it out at Seattle’s KeyArena for the remaining 2 slots, hoping perhaps to replicate the magic of last year’s wildcard-to-finalist CDEC (who are not competing in this year’s TI).  Complexity narrowly lost out on a guaranteed place at TI6 to Digital Chaos in the American Qualifiers, ceding the last game in a best-of-5 set after coming back from a two-game loss and threatening a reverse-sweep.

This year's Manila Major winners OG are favoured to take top prize at TI6.

This year’s Manila Major winners OG are favoured to take top prize at TI6.

With their recent win at this year’s Manila Majors, OG became the first two-time winners of any Valve-sponsored Dota 2 majors (having won Frankfurt in 2015), and are currently many fans’ pick for winner of TI6. However, as Dota 2 players and fans well know, nothing is as exciting as a well-executed comeback, and upsets have been known to occur on the strength of a single player or a lucky teamfight. All teams are sure to be scrimming hard until August to come up with new strategies and keep their skills in top shape.

Last year’s event boasted the largest prize pool of any TI and indeed of any single eSports tournament to date: fans raised US$16.4 million for a total of more than US$18 million, more than a third of which went to the winning team. TI5 also garnered the largest amount of media attention yet, including a segment on ESPN. This year’s TI6 prize pool currently sits at a cool US$16.8 million.

In the meantime, fans who have been inspired by all the Dota 2 action might try their hands at the upcoming Weekend Battle Cup tournament, provided they own a The International Battle Pass. 25% of Battle Pass-related sales go directly towards the TI6 prize pool.

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