TI 9 North American Qualifiers preview: who are the favorites?

The International 2019, the last tournament of the 2018-2019 competitive season, is quickly approaching. The event starts on August 15th and so far, only one North American team is on the list of participants. Another one will be decided this week via the NA Qualifiers, which are scheduled to start on July 11th.

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Participants

The North American Qualifiers for The International 2019 will have 8 participants. Four of them received direct invitations while the other four had to go through Open Qualifiers.

The competitors are the following:

  • Storm
  • Forward Gaming
  • Complexity Gaming
  • bestcoast
  • Team Xolotl
  • Kookaburra
  • Swaaag
  • Black Sheep

The first two of these participants are by far the strongest and there’s about a 99% probability that one of them will win the tournament and qualify for TI 9.

Favorites

The two teams mentioned previously are J.Storm and Forward Gaming. Here’s a brief analysis of each of them.

J.Storm

J.Storm has an entire roster made up of superstar players: Resolut1on as carry, Nine as midlaner, Moo on the offlane, Fear as the roamer and 1437 as position five support. Three of these players have either won a TI or played in a TI Final. The other two are not as decorated, but still very experienced, high MMR competitors.

In particular, Fear and 1437 are both amazing captains with a lot of drafting knowledge. And even though only one of them can be the captain of the team, I’m sure that it won’t hurt to have two people capable of fully understanding the game and calling shots instead of one.

J.Storm’s main weakness is their lack of experience in playing as a unit. Most of the players have joined over the last two months and the team will need to improvise to some degree because of that. On the other hand, Liquid has recently made a roster change and then two weeks later they played in a Major Grand Final. So you can never know for sure what’s going to happen in these cases. If the players are good enough, everything can click much faster than normal.

Forward Gaming

Forward Gaming is the second best team in this tournament and they have a superstar-filled roster of their own. YawaR (Sumail’s brother) plays carry, CCnC plays mid, Sneyking is the offlaner, MSS is the team’s roamer and pieliedie is the captain and position five support.

Forward’s roster is not as decorated at the individual level as Storm’s, but the players are still talented enough to be fully capable of winning a 1v1 match against their main rival at this event.

Compared to J.Storm, Forward Gaming has slightly more experience in playing as a unit. Two of their players have been part of the team for ten months while the other three have joined around three months ago. That gave them a decent amount of time to train and prepare for this final and most important competition before The International 2019.