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Preview of the EU TI10 Qualifiers

By Matt DixonJuly 6, 2021
The qualifiers for The International 10 have been running wild across the globe over the past few weeks, with four of the six remaining spots at TI locked in. Just two remain, one for China and one for Western Europe. Before the qualifiers began, I’d have easily said the EU region would be the one to watch, but so far the 100-minute nail biters of the SEA region and the double dose of grudge matches centered around Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao in the NA region have put up strong competition.
So what does the EU region have to be so excited about? Well, the legacy of several of the scene’s most decorated veterans for starters. Nigma’s Kuro “Kuroky” Salehi Takhasomi has attended every single TI to ever be held — a record he shares only with Clement “Puppey” Ivanov. If Nigma don’t make it, Kuro’s historic record will be shattered, alongside the chance for Nigma to join an elite group of two-time TI winners. Having just revamped their roster for season two, Nigma looked much stronger, qualifying for the AniMajor and landing a respectable 5th place. With the most experience at international events recently, Nigma are the favorites to take the EU qualifier spot, but that’s far from a certain outcome.
Nigma aren’t the only premier names fighting for this single qualifier spot and Kuro’s 100% attendance isn’t the only point of pride at stake here — OG must earn the right to defend their title as reigning champions of TI8 and TI9. Winning both TIs back to back was an immense part of Dota history, but three Tis in a row would surely be a record that could never be matched again. After a truly pitiful season riddled with controversy, the OG doubters and the haters are vindicated more than ever. But these are the conditions that allowed OG to write history at TI8.
The recent departure of Ana “Anathan” Pham was a blow to the team’s chances, having previously played a huge role in carrying the team to their championships. However, Ana’s place is filled by Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan – who is easily the strongest replacement available. The refreshed squad are one that can never be counted out, and likely one to be fighting to the bitter end, be it at the qualifiers or a TI grand final.
The iconic names have plenty of company in the qualifiers. Though most of their competitors are smaller names from the lower division of the region, there are two upper division teams with the potential to cause some disruption. Tundra Esports have quietly hovered around the middle of the EU upper division for both seasons. Never quite performing enough to make it to a major yet holding their own enough to remain in the upper division. It would be quite a surprise to see Tundra take the TI spot, but don’t forget they were the ones to finally put an end to Team Secret's relentless winning spree which spanned most of 2020. While I wouldn’t bank on them winning, the chance of Tundra reprising their role as king-slayers is very plausible, and a big threat to the likes of Nigma and OG.
It seems wrong to overlook Team Liquid here, but their recent performance has done anything but inspire confidence. Season two initially looked impressive for them, thanks in part to their help of their stand-in: EU’s favorite mercenary, Sumail. A strong season carried them to second place in the EU league and a group stage spot at the major. However, the team crumbled hard and was eliminated immediately from the AniMajor.
The following event, ESL One Summer 2021 could have been a chance for the team to bring things back with their full roster intact, but the team played without carry player Michael “Micke” Vu. They were immediately eliminated once more after back-to-back 2-0 defeats from OG and Tundra. Sure, we’ve yet to see the full roster in action in some time, but what we have seen doesn’t look like TI attendee material.
The real dark horse contenders are in fact a lower division team. At the start of this year, we had Vikin.gg pinned to become a serious competitor in the EU region, capable of standing amongst the top dogs even when the region was at its peak. However, they failed to meet the high expectations of their fans and fell to the lower division after season one, removing any chance of them making it to either of the two majors and experiencing international competition. A quick roster shuffle later saw them dominate the lower division in season two, looking much more like the breakout team we had seen previously. But were Vikin.gg just a big fish in the small pond of the lower division? When facing up to the tougher contenders again, can they deliver against the likes of Nigma and OG when these teams are playing to defend their very legacies? It’s a big ask, but TI qualifiers are the place to make it happen.
The qualifiers kick off on July 10. Don’t miss a moment and find out who will take one of the final tickets to TI10.
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