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TI7 champ Liquid leads late Galaxy Battles direct invites; Secret headlines regional qualifiers

Liquid's road to back-to-back The International titles begins in the world's biggest indoor arena.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The champion of TI7 is heading to Bocaue!

Liquid, which reigned supreme in DOTA 2's biggest competition in Seattle last August, leads the cast of the last four direct invites to Galaxy Battles 2 at the Philippine Arena there on Jan. 15-21.

The star-studded European quintet of skipper Kuro Takhasomi, Lasse Urpalainen, Amer Al-Barqawi, Ivan Ivanov, and Maroun Merhej will use Galaxy Battles as a tuneup to its title defense.

Also given a direct invite is TI7 bronze medalist LGD Forever Young as well as reigning ESL One Hamburg champion Virtus Pro and EG.

Meanwhile, defending DreamLeague champion Secret enters Galaxy Battles as the European Qualifiers champion.

Secret actually swept Liquid in the DreamLeague Finals last month but had to go through the qualifying round to earn a spot in the Galaxy Battles, entering as an outright semifinalist.

Secret defeated fellow outright semifinalist Kinguin, 2-0, in the final round.

Also, the rivalry between Mineski and TNC will spill through the new year as the former reigned in the Southeast Asian Qualifiers.

Mineski, also earning a direct semifinal seeding in the qualifiers, turned back the other outright semifinalist Fnatic, featuring Filipino e-sports sensation Abed Yusop, in the finals, earning the right to join TNC, which was named among the first four direct invites.

Also earning spots to the Galaxy Battles main tournament are CIS champion Spirit, North American qualifier Optic, South American champ Pain, and China qualifying round winner VGJ.

The last two spots to the 16-club pool will be determined in the wildcard round that will take place just before the start of the closed-door group stages on Jan. 15.

Kinguin will join Filipino side Skyville, the reigning New Blood champion, Barracx, the runner-up of the said tournament, and Empire, the runner-up of the CIS Qualifiers, in the wildcard mini-tournament.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno