Road to The International: European Qualifiers

The International 7's group stage is underway. To get you prepared, I'll be previewing each of the teams at the event. Next up are the 3 teams that qualified through the European Qualifiers. This year the qualifiers were split among 4 regions (Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia, and China) with both the Americas and Europe regions split into two sub-regions. Still with me? Good.

Western Europe Qualifier #1: Team Secret

Team Secret is at TI for the 3rd straight year and any discussion of the team has to start with their captain, Clement "Puppey" Ivanov. Puppey is one of the most successful players in Dota history. He captained Na'vi to 3 straight TI finals including a championship at the first TI. After a disappointing TI4, he left Na'vi to form Team Secret. The original roster was a "superteam" that was expected to be among the best teams in Dota. However, disappointing performances, roster changes, and rumors of players not getting paid have plagued Team Secret. Puppey's reputation in the scene has suffered as well with allegations of laziness and raging at teammates.

Secret seemed like they were on the verge of falling out of the top tier of competitive Dota after an awful performance at TI6. The post-TI roster shuffle did not bring any success either as they failed to qualify for the Boston major. They were able to find a brief moment of success in time for the Kiev Major, however. Secret rolled through the European qualifier to make it to Kiev where they dominated their group. That success was immediately wasted in the first round of the knockout stage when they were upset by SG E-Sports, a huge underdog. That early exit forced them into the European qualifier for TI where they were once again able to finish first in the round robin and clinch their spot at TI. The player to watch at TI for Secret is their newest player, Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat. In an era of greedy 4-positions, none are greedier than YapzOr who is often at a higher net worth than Secret's cores.

PlayerRoleCountrySignature HeroesBest TI Finish
Pyo "MP" No-aCarrySouth KoreaWeaver, Lifestealer, Juggernaut5th-6th (TI6 - MVP Phoenix)
Yeik "MidOne" Nai ZhengMidMalaysiaInvoker, Ember Spirit, TA4th (TI6 - Fnatic)
Maurice "KheZu" GutmannOfflaneGermanyDark Seer, Faceless Void, Enigma13th-16th (TI6 - Escape)
Yazied "YapzOr" JaradatSupportJordanRubick, Earthshaker, Clockwerk13th-16th (TI6 - Escape)
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov (C)SupportEstoniaChen, Enchantress, Crystal Maiden1st (TI1 - Navi)

Western Europe Qualifier #2: HellRaisers

Originally known as Planet Dog, the team was acquired by the HellRaisers organization after qualifying for TI. They come into this TI as the most surprising team to make the trip to Seattle. Keyser, 33, MiLAN, and j4 were all members of ProDota, a low-tier European team, until just before the qualifier. They were essentially let go by ProDota as the organization was convinced they would never accomplish anything. The 4 of them formed Planet Dog along with Swiftending to play in the Open Qualifier, a grueling 2-day marathon just to qualify for the main qualifier. They actually ended up losing in the finals of the first open qualifier and had to play through that marathon for a second time. After playing dozens of games over a 4-day period, they had to turn around and play in the main qualifier just a couple of days later.

It's fair to say that they were considered longshots to qualify. They were able to muster a 6-3 record in the round robin, good for 3rd place and a spot in the knockout round. They dropped their first round matchup against Mousesports, meaning that they would need to win 3 series in a row (all in one day) to qualify. They lost the first game in the BO3 against Singularity and were facing elimination when they went on an incredible 7-1 run to qualify, avenging their loss to Mousesports in the final. They may be longshots to succeed at TI but maybe that's where they're most comfortable.

PlayerRoleCountrySignature HeroesBest TI Finish
Uros "Swiftending" GalicCarrySerbiaSlark, Sven, RazorFirst TI
Greg "Keyser" KallianiotisMidGreeceQueen of Pain, Invoker, Shadow FiendFirst TI
Neta "33" ShapiraOfflaneIsraelBatrider, Dark Seer, ClockwerkFirst TI
Milan "MiLAN" KozomaraSupportBosnia and HerzegovinaDisruptor, Rubick, Night StalkerFirst TI
Alexei "j4" Lipai (C)SupportBelarusBane, Disruptor, Vengeful SpiritFirst TI

CIS Qualifier: Team Empire

This is the first year where the CIS region (made up of the former Soviet Union countries) had their own qualifier for TI. The round robin stage was tightly contested with Empire, Vega Squadron, M19, and Team Spirit all finishing with a 7-2 record. The knockout round was less competitive. Empire went 7-0 and earned the organization's 3rd trip to TI.

Empire has been in a seemingly-constant state of upheaval since TI5. Roster changes seemed to happen every other week. The captain Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov has been with the team since early 2016 but the rest of the roster was full of revolving doors. Over the course of the last year, the roster finally started to stabilize with the final change coming this past May. Perhaps this makes Empire the team best-suited to deal with the dreaded TI VISA problems. Every year, there always seems to be a few players who struggle to obtain VISA's to enter the United States to play in Seattle. This year it was Empire's carry, Vladimir "Chappie" Kuzmenko who ran into trouble. His VISA was actually approved but politics got in the way. Putin sent home a number of American diplomats which sent the American embassy in Russia into chaos and Chappie's passport was not returned in time for him to make the trip.

Empire was able to find a capable replacement for Chappie in Roman "Resolution" Fominok. Resolution had been playing for Planet Odd (formerly part of the Digital Chaos organization) and had helped take that team to the Grand Finals at TI6. Planet Odd struggled this past season and surprisingly failed to qualify for TI7. Empire is very fortunate that a player of Resolution's caliber was available to play for them on such short notice.

PlayerRoleCountrySignature HeroesBest TI Finish
Roman "Resolution" FominokCarryUkraineLuna, Lycan, Anti-Mage2nd (TI6 - DC)
Rostislav "fn" LozovoiMidUkraineStorm Spirit, Shadow Fiend, MorphlingFirst TI
Andrey "Ghostik" KadykOfflaneUkraineFaceless Void, Clockwerk, AxeFirst TI
Vladimir "RodjER" NikogosyanSupportRussiaChen, Earth Spirit, EnchantressFirst TI
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov (C)SupportRussiaEarth Spirit, Tusk, Ogre MagiFirst TI
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