Ready your battle gear and bid your loved ones farewell. This week inspires that vitamin D deficiency your mother always warned you about, or if you are familiar with the works of Darren Shan, “the hunger inside us must be fed to be controlled”. HOWEVER! This is not why you have come is it? You are not here to witness the ramblings of a madman who may or may not be suffering from caffeine intoxication. You want The International results, so that your mind is at ease when falling asleep in your boss’ office. So let’s begin.
This Saturday, 8 August, will see the grand finals of The International 2015 taking place. Three days of play have already been completed, with upper bracket teams facing off in a Best of 3 format and falling to the lower bracket upon losing. lower bracket competitors compete in a Best of 1, the losers leaving the tournament.
If you haven’t watched any of the last three days’ games, I would recommend that you do. Also remember that there is a noobie stream, called the Newcomer Show, which features special match commentary that makes watching a Dota 2 game easier to understand and follow if you’re new to the game.
Day 1 recap
LGD Gaming vs. Team Empire (upper bracket)
Coming into this game, 85% of viewers predicted LGD to take the series since Team Empire squeezed in just above Virtus.pro in Group B to compete for the upper bracket. Game 1 saw a stalemate heading into the mid-game but Sylar helped LGD take the lead as Empire didn’t have enough pushing power to fend off the Phantom Lancer illusions. An amazing late game by Maybe’s Storm Spirit led to LGD taking an early 1-0 lead.
Game 2 again saw LGD playing a strong early game with Sylar as Lycan. That was amazing to see as the Chinese teams normally go for a more meta-focused approach to gameplay. Empire wasn’t about to let LGD roll over them a second time, with Empire winning amazing team fights with excellent contributions from Silent’s Anti-Mage and Resolu1ion’s Queen of Pain giving Empire game 2. In game 3 it was all over for the Empire comeback as LGD steamrolled them to victory and a spot in the semi-finals and a guaranteed $1 million.
CDEC Gaming vs. Cloud9 (upper bracket)
I love watching Cloud9 play, as their playstyle is one I would adopt if I ever had a Dota 2 team. They take the current metagame and throw it out the window – keeping the seatbelt unbuckled if you will. This strategy failed this time, however, as the wild card team CDEC Gaming surprised many a fan with excellent laning phases and farming resulting in a 2-0 win. There was an excellent performance from Agressif on Gyrocopter in game 1 and Phantom Lancer in game 2.
Vici Gaming vs. Natus Vincere (lower bracket)
MVP Phoenix vs. NewBee (lower bracket)
For the lower bracket just one game is played. Former TI champions NewBee looked to retain their title with Korean team MVP Phoenix standing in their way. NewBee are somewhat overshadowed by their former selves and were not able to overcome the amazing team fight capability of QO’s Shadow Fiend and NutZ’s Witch Doctor. NewBee saw an amazing performance by Mu playing Templar Assassin, but it was just not enough to carry the team to victory. It’s unfortunate for former champions to get kicked out so early but credit goes to MVP Phoenix as they stride onward in their TI5 campaign.
This is the game I was looking forward to the most. A powerful Vici Gaming against the team that 99.9% of people adore, Na’Vi. Since the departures of Puppey and Kuroky, Na’Vi hasn’t been the same. The synergy between their players lacks quite drastically at times resulting in drawn-out team fights that could have gone in a very different direction. It’s infuriating because I want them to do well, and I want them to win. To reminisce a bit, the way Puppey supported the aggressive play of Dendi is what made the team successful, their “I don’t care if I die, I’m so far ahead” approach. That’s why they previously performed so well.
That’s now gone, however, and Vici Gaming entered this game as favourites. Na’Vi had a good draft with Dendi taking Lina mid, and Vici responded well with strong hero picks such as Queen of Pain and Shadow Fiend. As the game progressed, Vici took more of an offensive approach while Na’Vi excelled in the team fights. After that, Na’Vi made many careless mistakes, losing players due to positioning errors, and a few misclicks here and there resulted in Vici taking the game. It’s sad to lose Na’Vi this early in the tournament as they are incredibly talented and focused.
Virtus Pro vs. Fnatic (lower bracket)
This game surprised me. Why was Kecik Imba on Shadow Fiend? I’ll be asking that question every time you mention Fnatic. Isn’t Mushi your mid hero? Why is he not playing the mid role then? This cost Fnatic the game as Kecik Imba didn’t look comfortable on Shadow Fiend and neither did Mushi as Naga Siren. You can’t take it away from Virtus Pro though: great draft, great farm, and players playing their roles (I’m not getting over this anytime soon) saw Virtus Pro dominate and advance.
Invictus Gaming vs. MVP Hot6ix (lower bracket)
If I ever doubted Rubick as a support, I take it back. ChauN as Rubick produced phenomenal play. MVP.Hot6ix countered Phantom Lancer with Earthshaker but JerAx didn’t have the impact I thought he would which resulted in Hot6ix losing team fights and more importantly the game.
Day 2 recap
Evil Geniuses vs. CompLexity Gaming (upper bracket)
Game 1: Lots and lots of pauses is all I can say. I feel CompLexity had the upper hand in the laning stages due to excellent rotations from Tusk causing all sorts of problems for Sumail on mid Lina. With Sumail under pressure, Queen of Pain raced to the top of the farming chart, even taking an early Roshan. The pauses then began and from that point on, CompLexity slipped in momentum and lost important team fights resulting in a loss.
Game 2: A few early kills from the CompLexity side but that’s all they could really write home about. Sumail dominated on Ember Spirit as EG rolled over CompLexity in the mid-game to take the second game and win 2-0.
Team Secret vs. EHOME (upper bracket)
Game 1: Wonderful draft from Team Secret, picking up Radiant Shadow Fiend. Arteezy’s win percentage on Shadow Fiend in professional Dota is 77%, a whole 9% greater than his closest competitor. The EHOME draft was a little confusing to be honest; I didn’t think Storm Spirit was the counter they were looking for, especially against a Secret team full of tanky heroes including Spirit Breaker and Viper (boy, did CTY prove me wrong). After an early setback on Storm, CTY proved why he is one of the best players in the world, composing his team as they took team fight after team fight (don’t forget a few courier snipes here and there). Secret might have been too relaxed with their early lead, causing that stutter near the end and handing the comeback victory to EHOME. Great game.
Game 2: Why Secret? Why? I’m just letting out some fanboy frustration, which happens from time to time depending on results. The game saw Gyrocopter picked again by the side of EHOME, a hero that is near the top of picks so far this tournament. It proved to be an excellent pick as Secret took too many early engagements resulting in the Anti-Mage getting little to no farm. With a weak Anti-Mage and an under-farmed Shadow Fiend, Secret unfortunately got outplayed and surprisingly lost the series 2-0. Team Secret will now move to the lower bracket.
MVP Phoenix vs. Team Empire (lower bracket)
Game 1: MVP Phoenix went with quite an interesting drafting strat in picking Bristleback and IO, something we witnessed a lot in the previous patch. It didn’t seem to matter, since QO’s Templar Assassin had other ideas, taking the game into his own hands. No answer came from the Empire side as they went down in game 1.
Game 2: Empire had the comeback opportunity with this game: they led in team kills, and they had an extremely good fight in the Roshan pit. Following the Rosh scene, many close fights ensued which could have gone either way. A great game nonetheless from a neutrals point of view and the game’s momentum turned on multiple occasions. A farmed Phantom Lancer at the end of the day was too much for Empire to handle and MVP Phoenix took it home. Great game from both sides.
Vici Gaming vs. Cloud9 (lower bracket)
Game 1: This game was the first this tournament to extend past the 60-minute mark and who better to watch for that amount of time than Vici Gaming. You could see that they had an action plan, picking heroes in quick intervals ending with Spectre, a beloved carry that seemed a bit outdated and weak. Cloud9 picked up two strong heroes of their own and had an amazing early game with Gyro and Shadow Fiend raking up the farm, which initially pushed VG back on both gold and experience. The game was Cloud9’s to lose and after some sloppy play, they did just that. A huge team fight went against them late game and with a now-farmed Spectre, VG couldn’t be stopped.
Game 2: Sniper, hmmmm? Interesting. Vici did well to protect their Sniper early which is the main reason he isn’t picked much anymore. Cloud9 used Undying extremely well but Sniper caused Shadow Fiend a lot of problems. The rest of the game was a steamroll for Vici as Cloud9 didn’t stand a chance.
Day 3 recap
Virtus Pro vs. compLexity Gaming (lower bracket)
Game 1: An amazing game to start day three as compLexity decided on a Bristleback/IO duo for their draft while Virtus went for an interesting Phoenix pickup. It was an incredible early game from G on Queen of Pain, combining well with Bane and Naga Siren and leaving compLexity’s Storm Spirit with extremely little farm. Twenty minutes later Virtus managed to build up a huge lead in gold on their opponents but Virtus Pro usually tend to get extremely defensive late game even when they have built up a massive advantage. compLexity took major team fights and slowly started gaining momentum. With the loss of critical fights, Virtus became unstable and it led to compLexity making one of the biggest comebacks so far this tournament..
Game 2: compLexity had the better draft for game 2 with a Broodmother pickup to counter Virtus’ Silencer. There were too many defensive heroes on the side of Virtus, however, which seemed to halt all progress made by Broodmother. Lina and Silencer became too much to handle for compLexity late game as they failed to take the series. Virtus Pro drew the series 1-1.
Game 3: The first matchup in the tournament to extend to a three-game decider. compLexity made terrible mistakes as they were completely overrun. Virtus Pro had the advantage of Phantom Lancer, Broodmother and Queen of Pain all on one side while the Storm and Ember Spirit combo never really stood strong enough. Virtus stood victorious by the end.
IG vs. Team Secret (lower bracket)
Game 1: This was a match that truly exemplifies Dota in so many ways: the farming, the support gameplay and of course, the drive to never give up. The start from Secret was astounding: their gold lead was immense due to Arteezy’s Shadow Fiend. We finally got to see a Puppey Chen, something I was waiting for. Secret did make one mistake though: they didn’t shut down the IG Anti-Mage as much as they should have because once he got a few items BurNing became a real force to be reckoned with by constantly wiping out heroes with his ultimates in important team fights. The compLexity comeback in the previous game was amazing, but this one forced me out of the house (being a Team Secret fan and all). IG came back from a 20k deficit to win the first game.
Game 2: I’ll admit that I watched this game with only half an eye open, fearing Secret would be eliminated from the tournament. Fear turned to joy as Secret dominated with Arteezy playing Luna and amazing roaming support by KuroKy on Bounty Hunter. IG didn’t have much time to make a comeback, as Secret won the game around the 26-minute mark.
Game 3: The decider between two giants of the professional Dota world saw Secret going with a Luna / Bounty Hunter strategy again as IG drafted Shadow Fiend and Clockwerk. As Luna built up her farm, IG just couldn’t manage team fights correctly and lost a few too many heroes. IG tried building up more farm, but Secret got very aggressive which ultimately lost IG the game. IG unfortunately is now out of the International while Secret journey on.
LGD Gaming vs. CDEC Gaming (upper bracket)
Game 1: An excellent draft from CDEC picking up Phantom Lancer and Dark Seer. CDEC shut down the supports of LGD with Xz playing an amazing Dark Seer. LGD’s Luna and Shadow Fiend weren’t able to handle it. A great result for CDEC, who took game 1.
Game 2: Another short Dota game as CDEC again picked Phantom Lancer, a hero that has seemed un-countered thus far in the tournament. Again the support of LGD lacked impetus as they lost their lives way too much giving CDEC a valuable early lead. Unfortunately for LGD, that is where the lead stayed with CDEC taking the series 2-0. This was an amazing result for CDEC, because LGD is one of the best teams in China. Definitely a result nobody was expecting.
Evil Geniuses vs. EHOME (upper bracket)
Game 1: The most chanting I have heard for a game so far this tournament with EG certainly having many fans at the KeyArena. That didn’t last too long, however, with EG failing to gain any sort of momentum in game 1. EHOME pressed their advantage with great play from Luna and Storm Spirit as the Chinese team finished the game in just over 30 minutes.
Game 2: What a beautiful game. It saw a Techies pick, which many thought would fail EG in their deciding game. And did it? Certainly not. Aui_2000 played an amazing game with Techies, pushing EHOME way out of their comfort zone with something they weren’t ready for. EG took advantage of that uncertainty as they took the second game.
Game 3: Was this going to be another Winter’s Curse / Supernova combo for EHOME? They used the exact same strategy that bagged them victory over Team Secret earlier in the tournament. EG had an amazing time with Sumail’s Windranger and UNiVeRsE’s Dark Seer, so much so that EHOME struggled to get any of their combos off. This resulted in terrible positioning and weak team fights, and EG won the series 2-1.
So far it’s been three days of interesting and mixed results, with a combination of dramatic upsets, guaranteed wins and a few strange hero selections. Nonetheless, exciting games to watch overall, and the standings after day 3 look very interesting indeed.