The stars and planets have officially aligned, signaling that the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year is ready to begin. Earlier today, Valve announced that all 18 participating teams at The International 7 arrived safely in Seattle, just in time for the start of the group stage.
Valve also published the group assignments for each team. The 18 teams will be split into two round robin groups of nine each. Each match will be a best-of-two, and will take on a points system to determine seeding in the main event playoff bracket.
Debates on which group is the “Group of Death” have already begun. Some have pointed to Group A, thanks to the presence of EG and Liquid—two teams that are projected to make the top three at the very least. TNC, Fnatic, Team Secret, and LGD Gaming are also notable Group A teams, making this group quite deep indeed.
On the other side, however, Group B has four direct invites in the mix. Invictus Gaming, Virtus Pro, Newbee, and Kiev Major champions OG all stand above the rest. Cloud 9, LGD.Forever Young, and Digital Chaos may unseat the “big four” of the group, though. Either way, there should be plenty of action before the main event arrives.
The group stage will be held at a currently undisclosed location. This venue will likely be the hotel Valve has booked for the players—where the group stages of past TIs were held. Since there are 18 teams this year as opposed to 16, the two teams who finish in last place of their respective groups will be eliminated from the tournament immediately. This means that they will not play any games in KeyArena, the site of the main event.
Fortunately, the prize pool distribution ensures that every participating team gets a share of the pot regardless of the final results.
The TI7 group stage begins Wednesday, Aug. 2. The first batch of games will start at 12:30pm ET. For the group stage, four matches will be broadcast simultaneously on Valve’s official Twitch channels for The International.