The final day of group stages at The International 7 is over, and the brackets of the playoffs in Seattle have been decided. Two teams, Fnatic and Hellraisers, were eliminated Saturday, but 16 still remain to battle for a prize pool approaching $24 million.
Of the two eliminated teams, this comes as a much harsher fate for Fnatic. With a roster of some of the best players in the Southeast Asian region, a 2-14 game record falls far short of expectations. For Hellraisers, on the other hand, this was likely a very good experience in terms of building players' skills and on-stage time competing in major events. Hellraisers features a young roster of relatively new players. It managed to advance through the open qualifiers and then upset more established teams like mousesports and Alliance to qualify for the group stages, an impressive achievement on its own.
In Group A, Team Secret was sent to the lower bracket by Team Liquid in two lopsided Liquid victories. Leading up to TI7, Secret was one of the teams many speculated would receive a direct invite, but its performance so far has been lacking. Secret didn't secure a single 2-0 win against any group stage opponent other than Fnatic, and now its fate rests in a best-of-one elimination game on the first day of playoffs.
With the majority of the day's matches taking place in Group B, several teams were battling to stay in the top of the group, and some to even remain qualified. For Cloud9, it all came down to today's matches. Its match against American rival Digital Chaos was Cloud9's chance to avoid having its tournament fate come down to two games against Hellraisers. In classic Cloud9 fashion, Jackie "EternaLEnVy" Mao and his gang made each of their wins against Digital Chaos as close and heart-stopping for fans as possible, but they pulled it off. Cloud9 remains tentatively in the mix, but it will start the playoffs in the lower bracket with no room for error.
Four-time Valve Major champion OG will also start the main event in the lower bracket after a disappointing group stage. Of the six teams extended a direct invitation to TI7, OG is the only one that finished in the bottom four of its group. For the two founders of OG, Johan "n0tail" Sundstein and Tal "Fly" Aizik, an early elimination would be especially painful. At last year's International, OG was eliminated in 9th-12th place. This year, elimination could come even earlier.
Virtus.pro's spot in the top half of Group B was nearly forced into a tiebreaker against OG by Invictus Gaming, but VP managed to secure the single win it needed to remain. In the draft, iG went back for the pick that arguably won the Dota 2 Asia Championships for it in April of this year, Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibio's Monkey King. It was successful in Game 1 as a second-round pick, but when iG chose to take it first in Game 2, VP was ready. A massive Sven Dark Seer and Silencer teamfight combination lineup crushed iG when it counted in the late-game, securing VP's road into the upper bracket of the playoffs.
The International 7 resumes Monday, when the competition moves to the main stage at Key Arena in Seattle.