During the main qualifiers, teams altogether played 246 matches to compete for the 10 qualifying spots for TI8. With a prize pool projected to reach above $20 million, even a last place finish at the event can net a mid-five figure prize.
The qualifiers offered few upsets, but had large stakes for teams like EG and OG, who opted to change their rosters, forfeiting their DPC points, and requiring them to fight through the gauntlet of the open and regional qualifiers. While success wasn't guaranteed, they were favorites entering the qualifiers. OG swept through the group stages, while EG swept through the playoff bracket.
With the end of the inaugural Pro Circuit season, this crop of TI8 teams looks to be one of the most competitive groups in recent years. And in previous years, we had a few teams surprise us, ones that were projected to finish lower in the standings. Wildcard teams like CDEC rocketed to a 2nd place finish. TI6's Digital Chaos wasn't even a team until weeks before the event.
In the aftermath of the qualifiers, Valve released patch 7.18, doling out a sweep of buffs and nerfs. One of the largest changes includes one of the most contested heroes of this meta, Io, whose Relocate now has a channeling duration rather than a cast delay. We'll be following up with a closer look at these changes and their effects on the meta later this week.
The robots are learning. Last year at TI7, Open AI's bot took out quite a few of Dota's top players in a 1v1 mid matchup. Now, the research group has announced plans to pit their bot in a 5v5 matchup against humans. The AI has already beaten amateur teams--an impressive feat, and the Open AI team has written out the challenges in constructing their AI in a blog post. As of now, the bot vs. human matchup will have certain restrictions, such as a mirror match of only five, specific heroes (Necrophos, Sniper, Viper, Lich, and Crystal Maiden), no wards allowed, no Roshan, and no invisibility.