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Weeks of preparation led 16 teams to the Mercedes-Benz Arena for the opportunity to take home their share of $3 million and be the first team to engrave their names on the Shanghai Major trophy. The tournament was an incredible journey, but as with all introductory ventures, slip-ups were bound to happen, and the Shanghai Major was no exception.

Let’s begin with the bad news and slowly make our way over to how Team Secret surpassed all expectations to lift the trophy.

Tensions were already soaring prior to the start of the group stage, with teams entering their practice rooms to find that 60Hz monitors were installed rather than the preferred 120Hz counterparts. I use a 60Hz monitor so I can’t fully appreciate the dilemma, but then again, if I’d gotten used to playing baseball with a cricket bat, I wouldn’t exactly be comfortable suddenly switching to a golf club. The situation was quickly rectified by Valve and players were supplied the correct monitors.

At the start of the main event, James “2gd” Harding, host of the Shanghai Major, was fired after just two days of broadcasting. Not only did Valve fire James, they fired the whole underperforming production team for the lack of, well, “production”. Sound problems and incorrect stats analysis helped lead to the dismissal of the production team. Valve’s Gabe Newell issued his own statement on the issue, called Harding an “ass” and vowed to no longer work with him in the future.

Harding responded with a 17-page Google document to explain his side of events, and I wonder if Gaben took the time to read it. If you’re interested in the day-by-day developments in the life and times of James Harding at the Shanghai Major, you can read it here.

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The Harding episode was quickly forgotten as the games started becoming extremely interesting. The group stages were dominated by the main candidates for the Shanghai trophy, which included OG, EG and Alliance. MVP Phoenix didn’t fold despite the difficulty of their group and emerged 4-0 victors, launching them into the upper bracket of the main event.

The main event was a rollercoaster: MVP Phoenix and compLexity both kept pace with the top-tier teams to make it into the top 8, the Chinese teams dropped out in the round of 16, and OG and Alliance both failed to enter the top 8.

MVP and compLexity continued their ascent for a while, but unfortunately the time came for them to depart after EG, Team Liquid and Team Secret took centre stage to light the Mercedes-Benz arena on fire. Team Liquid overcame EG in the lower-bracket finals to face off against the resilient Team Secret in the Bo5 grand finals.

The road for Team Secret at the Shanghai Major was not an easy one. A recent roster shuffle was one Secret was now comfortable with, but they’d still not garnered any achievements since their victory at the Nanyang Championships late last year. They started rather sketchily with narrow victories against Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses in the first two rounds, winning both 2-1. They seemed to become more confident as the tournament continued, facing Team Liquid again in round 3, coming away 2-0 victors.

After beating EG 2-0 in the lower-bracket final, Liquid moved on to meet Team Secret a third time, this time for the most important prize: the trophy. The first two games of the grand finals were as close as they come, highly action-packed with many swings in momentum from side to side. Game one saw Secret victorious, with Team Liquid coming back in game two, drawing the series 1-1 with a possible three games left to play. Team Secret didn’t need all three games, however, as they adapted to Team Liquid’s play style and composed themselves to win an amazing last two games. They were the team that showed up on the day and won the Shanghai Major, beating Team Liquid 3-1.

The Shanghai Major was certainly no smooth operation, but while production was lacking, the Dota was excellent. If you missed any of the Major’s action, head over to your Dota client to witness the games that made this tournament so great.

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