The International 2016 Open Qualifiers

Do Pro Teams in Open Qualifiers Ruin Competition?

Jun 27, 2016


I had my doubts, but they pulled it off. Both teams had great runs through the Open Qualifiers and have clinched the first spot in their regions. They’re all headed to Seattle in August.

EG and Secret are still Tier 1 teams. Despite some rough results in the last two months, both teams have proven that they’re still leagues ahead of non-pros. Their presence in the Open Qualifiers generated a lot of discussion about the level of play and what the OQs actually mean for The International.

Open Qualifiers – the “minor leagues” for Dota?

When Valve added the Open Qualifier system, I imagined it as a way to funnel some non-pro talent to the front. It would give some pubstacks the chance to stand out and create an amazing underdog story for The International. Last year’s Open Qualifier winners only made it as far as the Main Qualifier event from all four regions. While they stood out among the general public, the skill difference between Open Qualifier teams and pros was apparent.

After EG and Secret announced their roster changes and subsequent participation in the NA and EU open qualifiers, I felt a little disappointed on behalf of all the other 5 stacks. To me, the Open Qualifiers are for the general high MMR player. They have a shot at making it to the biggest tournament of the year, but they have to go above and beyond. Winning matches against ten of the best Dota players in the world seemed an insurmountable challenge.

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The community reaction wasn’t as extreme as I expected. Some brought up the point that having EG and Secret in the qualifiers shows non-pros just how much better one has to be to play in the big leagues. Simply being 5K MMR won’t cut it for The International. PPD posted a vlog of their Open Qualifier journey. In almost all of the matches, players on the opposing team typed messages of excitement and encouragement into all chat after the GG call. A lot of them were just happy to have the opportunity to play with the likes of Fear and Universe. Playing with the pros helps improve one’s game, too. Teams who had the opportunity to play against Secret and EG can watch the replays and evaluate reactions and counter-reactions to events in game.

There are two spots in the Open Qualifiers for each region. At the moment, SEA Open Qualifier winners TnC have taken first place in the SEA Main Qualifiers to secure a trip to TI6. Go Jimmy. EG and Secret have been looking better and better every game. Playing so many “do or die” games in a row helped their team cohesion. Both teams are playing like Tier 1 once again. I’m hoping to see the Open Qualifier winners go farther this year… as in EG and Secret, Grand Finals, Game 5.*

*yes, I would like to see TnC place high as well. Everyone loves an underdog story.

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Kara Jacobacci
Kara has been following professional DotA2 since the TI4 qualifiers. When not watching matches on Twitch, she can be found working (or attempting to find work) as a geologist and enjoying nature.
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