The Riyadh Masters is just around the corner, with twenty teams fighting over a US$5 million prize pool. Many of the top teams will be going from Riyadh to a boot camp for The International, so it serves as their last public preparation before they fight over the Aegis. Some teams will, however, be attending the Elite League Season 2.

Teams have qualified either given their performance over the competitive season (via EPT points) or via regional qualifiers — and based on how they’ve qualified, they’ll start off in different parts of the competition.  

The twelve Regional Qualifier teams will start in the Play-In Stage, a two-group round-robin where the top three in each group advance. The fourth and fifth teams have a do-or-die match against a team from the other group. Groups haven’t been drawn yet, but there are some favorites.

Noxville’s Riyadh Masters 2024 predictions

Very Very Likely To Qualify Play-In Teams:  

  • G2 x IG have been a good but not great team for most of the season. They were unlucky not to qualify directly on EPT points (9th place) and gained most of their points on LAN events.  
  • Entity Gaming has been quietly simmering for most of the year, failing to qualify out of a tough Western Europe region. They’ve picked up a few good results in smaller events but had great WEU Qualifier runs for both Riyadh Masters and The International.  

Very Likely To Qualify Play-In Teams:  

  • Aurora: One of the only SEA teams to perform well this year, although they did get knocked down by Talon in the TI Qualifiers (However, they qualified via the lower bracket).
  • Azure Ray went through a shuffle after winning ESL Kuala Lumpur at the end of 2023, their only good result since being a top 3 in Elite League Season 1 and a top 6 in DreamLeague Season 23.  
  • PSG Quest has extensive cross-regional experience since they consistently qualify through MENA (Falcons has been an invited team given their EPT dominance). They’ve had mediocre results, but given how stratified the top tiers of teams are in professional Dota, it’s hard for any team to break through.  
  • LGD Gaming took a break for a few months but easily qualified via the Chinese qualifiers (they beat Spiky Gaming and Azure Ray). Azure Ray got their revenge in the TI Qualifiers, knocking down LGD (and then TEAM TURTLE knocked them out!). Given that Riyadh is LGD’s last hurrah of the season, you’d expect them to put much effort into the event.  

Given how the teams are allocated across the groups, it could create opportunities for HEROIC, Virtus Pro, or nouns to step up and grab a spot. Given the lack of cross-regional play on the new patch, it’s very hard to judge some teams.  

The Group Stage and Beyond 

As I said above, there’s a clear stratification at the top of pro Dota – only a few teams have consistently done well throughout the season, and it’s been rare for other teams to break into the top four for any significant events.  

Given how EPT points were earned over such a long period of time, not all teams that qualified via this method are in the same match form—some were great at the start of the season but ended poorly, some were poor at the start but ended well, and some were just inconsistent the entire time (with enough good patches to accrue points).  

Here’s my tiering of the Group Stage Invite teams. This is the context of the team’s chance to win the event, which isn’t exactly the same as where I imagine the teams will place.  


Team Falcons pose with their trophy after winning the ESL One Birmingham 2024
Credit: ESL
  • It’s just Team Falcons at the top. In 2024, they’ve won every event they’ve been in, except Elite League Season 1 (lost to Xtreme Gaming in the finals) and PGL Wallachia Season (lost to Xtreme Gaming in the Winner’s Bracket Final, and then against Team Spirit in the Loser’s Bracket Finals). They’re in exceptional form but also seem like a team that can adapt to a changing game.  


  • Somewhere between S-tier and A-tier are Xtreme Gaming. They are one of the few teams to win a playoff series against Team Falcons and have placed well in events throughout the year. They’ve had a few disappointing events, but remain consistently good. I’m torn between putting them in S-tier or A-tier so I feel they’re in this quantum tier. 


  • Gaimin Gladiators were a dominant powerhouse last season and have been consistently good but not great this season. They’ve not won an event since BetBoom Dacha in September 2023. They’ve made six top-6 finishes this season, so they’re just a few series victories away from a trophy should they get that final “click.” 
  • Tundra Esports have had a decent few results in their last few events (3rd at ESL One Birmingham, a top 6 in DreamLeague S23) but also looked good in the TI Qualifiers (in a tough region).  
  • BetBoom Team: In 2024 they made four podium finishes in their six tier 1 events. Three of those four finishes saw them eliminated by Team Falcons – so BetBoom certainly have the skill to get very deep in tournaments, they just need to be able to eliminate (or bypass) their arch-rivals, the Falcons.  


Team Spirit's Yatoro and Larl hugging at Riyadh Masters 2023
Credit: Gamers8
  • Team Liquid had a great start to the season with third in ESL Kuala Lumpur and second in BetBoom Dacha, but since then they’ve failed to make the podium of a tier 1 event.  
  • With 9 TI trophies between them, Team Spirit is a terrifying team. They’ve had a very quiet year up until they won PGL Wallachia. Although a power ranking within the B-tier seems unfair given the recent event win, the reality is that they could be S/A-tier just as likely as they could be C-tier – it depends on which version of their team arrives in Riyadh. 


  • OG Esports have been rather quiet this season, their best result being a fourth-place finish at ESL One Birmingham. They’ve also had a grueling TI Qualifier run. Historically, this type of rough situation is exactly the environment in which prior OG squads have performed well, but it’s going to be difficult with the pedigree of the teams above them.  

Where do the Play-in teams slot in? Well, there’s a lot more guesswork as we’ve not seen any performances against teams from other regions on the new patch (and many of the teams above were invited to The International, so we didn’t even see them in the qualifiers).  

  • G2 x IG and Entity, I’ll put in C-tier, but if they’re performing well, they could be moved up to B-tier (it’s a hard call—Entity, especially, has been playing very well recently).  
  • I think Aurora and Azure Ray would probably fill out the C-tier.  
  • PSG Quest and LGD Gaming would form the top end of a D-tier, with Heroic and VP in the middle and nouns at the bottom of the D-tier.  
  • Blacklist, beastcoast, and MOUZ would be the E-tier.  

Overall, we have a lot to learn from the teams: how they’ve adapted to the new patch, how they’re adjusting their playstyles to handle a shifting metagame, and (especially for less experienced players) how they can handle the pressure of a massive LAN event.  

Unfortunately, I think it will be a tough event for SEA, NA, and SA to do well in—there’s just a traffic jam of Western European teams at the top, with a few Eastern European and Chinese teams and one very big target in the form of Team Falcons.

READ MORE: All teams qualified for TI13: Full list of teams attending The International 2024