After 24 hours, I’ve finally managed to calmly think about the absolutely spectacular The International 6’s conclusion. The event was truly a celebration to DotA 2, where professional DotA 2 teams from across the world came together to fight for the crown of ‘Best DotA team in the world’, where fans globally come to cheer these teams on and where Valve throws production levels through the roof to create a memorable experience for everyone.
Several teams have already been directly invited into the Main Event based on their results in the last few major tournaments. These include OG, Team Liquid, Newbee, LGD Gaming, MVP Phoenix and Natus Vincere. For the other teams, a long and arduous journey is ahead of them.
The entire event began with the Open Qualifiers, allowing teams from Europe, South-East Asia, America and China to fight amongst each other in regional matches. Hundreds of teams fought tooth and nail for the the spot at the Main Qualifiers. Despite being TI5 champions, Evil Geniuses and fan favorite Team Secret were not invited directly into TI6. The two teams however smashed their way through the Open Qualifiers and secured their position at the Main Qualifiers, alongside Void Boys, Vici Gaming, Newbee Young, Fantastic Five, White Fries, and TNC Gaming.
The quelling begins as each region starts narrowing down on which teams make the cut into the Main Event and which miss out on the opportunity. Although the winner of each regional Main Qualifiers will be sent through to TI6, second to fifth place are placed into one more bracket where they fight in a double elimination playoff. The third place team in each bracket are placed into the Wildcard round.
Evil Geniuses managed to blitz through the American Main Qualifiers stage almost flawlessly, losing only one game to compLexity Gaming, and as a result managed to get into the Main Event at TI5. Following them, Digital Chaos managed to break through the double-elimination playoff bracket by securing a close 3-2 win against compLexity Gaming.
Meanwhile, in the Chinese Main Qualifiers, Wings Gaming manages to tie with legendary Chinese DotA team EHOME, eventually beating them and securing their spot at TI6. Placed into the double elimination bracket, EHOME looked to be the winner as they smashed through Vici Gaming and Vici Gaming Reborn. The final match was between EHOME and Vici Gaming Reborn who fought back in the losers bracket. Unfortunately, EHOME couldn’t secure the win against VG Reborn with a 2-3 loss, and leaving their fate at TI with the Wildcard gods.
In Europe, a three-way tie breaker between Team Secret, Escape Gaming and Fantastic Five ensued with Team Secret managing a 2-0 win to secure their invite at TI6. In the double elimination bracket, despite just scrapping their way into the bracket, Alliance pulled together and thrashed the winners bracket to take the invitational spot with a 3-1 win against Escape Gaming.
South-East Asia saw an impressive display by Open Qualifier team TNC Gaming who tied with Fnatic and Execration. TNC Gaming took first place with a 2-0 win in the tiebreakers. Both Fnatic and Execration manages to fight against each other again at the end of the double elimination bracket with Fnatic proving their superiority by sending Execration to the Wild Card round.
There were two Wild Card positions up for grabs for the TI6 Main Event and only 4 teams had a chance to take them: EHOME, compLexity Gaming, Execration and Escape Gaming. All four teams were place into another double elimination bracket where the winner of the upper and lower bracket would be cordially invited to the big stage. EHOME took first place with a rocky start against Execration but ending with a commanding 2-0 against Escape Gaming. All was not lost for Escape Gaming as they take down Execration 2-0 and securing their spot at TI6.
All the actors are in place, and it’s time to play. The top 16 teams in the world have assembled and will obtain at the least, over $100,000 USD of the $20 million USD prize pool. The Group Stages will put each of these teams together to fight it out over the course of 3 days in order to work out their standings for the Main Event. The 16 teams are split into two groups where a series of round-robin matches will offer teams points which will secure their ranks.
At the end of the Group Stage, Group A saw two time Major winners OG taking a commanding lead with 11 points. Followed closely by Evil Geniuses, Wings Gaming and Alliance who will all be in the upper bracket. TNC Gaming, Natus Vincere, LGD and Escape Gaming unfortunately weren’t able to get themselves to the upper bracket.
In Group B, EHOME charges ahead with 12 points, followed by Digital Chaos, Newbee and MVP Phoenix. The lower bracket claims Fnatic, Team Secret, Team Liquid and VG Reborn.
The teams have been found, the match ups have been drawn and all that awaits is the fans to come rushing in to support both the invited teams and Valve on the biggest DotA 2 tournament officially begins. The teams were introduced in the opening ceremony followed by a few words by Gabe Newell and a surprise performance by YouTube violinist sensation, Lindsey Stirling.
From there it was all nail-biting DotA 2 action for all 5 days. Teams rose through challenges, some fell to the pressure. Many fan favorites quickly fell in the early stages of the Main Event including, Na’vi, OG, Team Secret and Newbee. In fact, it’s unfair to only call these teams as fan favorites. The fact of the matter is, every single team has proven that they have a shot at winning the tournament and every one of the teams have garnered some new fans. This is proven by the insane, edge-of-the-seat plays. Many of which deserve to be considered ‘Grand Final’ worthy games. Since this is a summary, it’s hard to talk about every single game, but if there was one that I highly suggest watching, it is Evil Geniuses vs EHOME round 1 (here is a condensed highlight of the entire match, courtesy of NoobFromUA). The match has forever been stapled to the history books as one of the greatest matches of DotA 2 in the professional scene.
Of course, there could only be one winner. With so many teams losing, the teams who had the most promise was surprisingly newcomers to TI Wings Gaming and Digital Chaos. Both defeated all odds in order to fight each other in a best of 5 matches for the Grand Final. Wings Gaming was able to trounce Digital Chaos and send them into the lower bracket. With a fire lit under them, Digital Chaos clawed their way through the lower bracket by defeating LGD, TNC Gaming, EHOME and even last year’s champions Evil Geniuses to take one more shot at Wings Gaming. Unfortunately, the dream was crushed as Wings Gaming showed why they were the team that sent DC into the lower bracket to begin with.
The journey has been a roller coaster for both players and fans alike. A massive congratulations to not just Wings Gaming who will receive over $9 million USD, but to DC for being able to show up some of the best players in the DotA 2 pro scene and earning themselves over $3 million and EG for some of the best DotA 2 action ever witnessed.
Special Events and New Heroes
When Underlord was announced during the annual All Stars match, I couldn’t help myself and had to make the announcement post. The All Star event is a special event which is suppose to encapsulate something more than a simple ‘collection of the best players in DotA 2’. It became more with the introduction of the 10 v 10 match presented at TI5 where fans were able to play with the pros, unifying DotA 2 players on a grand scale. As mentioned in the post earlier, the match was between Team Kaci and Team Slacks, both were TI6 hosts. In a planned freakout, Jake ‘SirActionSlacks’ Kanner forced OG‘s Johann ‘N0tail’ Sundstein to change from Sand King to the Underlord. With the final hero filling out the DotA 1 roster in DotA 2, any new hero from August 23 would be entirely new.
Not letting up, Valve showed off a neat Wushu performance after the Fnatic vs MVP Phoenix lower bracket match the day after the All Stars match. The performers danced in the traditional ‘Monkey King’ costume, a familiar character from Chinese lore. At first, bemused crowds were simply cheering for the talented men and women in the performance until the face of the Monkey King appeared. The audience erupted in a frenzy of applause when a cinematic trailer was shown, introducing the newest hero for DotA 2, Sun Wukong the Monkey King.
The Monkey King will be available with the ‘New Journey’ update coming this fall which best signifies the importance this TI has compared to previous tournaments. With Underlord being released, it is an end of an era for DotA 2 as the Valve will no longer be following in its predecessor’s footsteps. Instead, a new path will diverge that will hopefully lead the game to a continued level of success, far beyond its predecessor.
Now, I did say earlier that The International 2016 also celebrated the fans too. And the best way it has done so is with the various contests that have taken place. Prior to the All Stars game, a showcase of the event’s 15 best cosplayers were put on display and judged in a contest. The first place winner went to @lilisiph for her stunning Legion Commander costume which wowed the crowds, followed by @jilliancosplays with a beautiful Crystal Maiden arcana costume and finally @TheKittyPlays with an original Roshan costume. Furthermore, there was the short film contest which allowed content creators to create a short, creative video based on DotA 2. The winning submission is “Lanaya is mine” by @MaxOfS2D.
— DOTABUFF (@DOTABUFF) August 12, 2016
And that was The International 2016 in a long nutshell. Incredible games, incredible announcements and an incredible fan base that help contribute to one of my favorite gaming events each year. The entire event is archived via Twitch or YouTube where you can watch all of the Group Stage and Main Stage matches. It is an invigorating time to be a fan of DotA 2.