Today only has a Loser’s Bracket series, with both 7th/8th Round match-ups and the first 5th/6th one. TNC Pro Team and Digital Chaos started off the day, followed up by Team Liquid and Fnatic. Then, MVP Phoenix played the winner of TNC and DC (spoilers!). Rounding out the evening was the All Star Match, which was a big ol’ bundle of excitement.
TNC and DC are the underdogs of the tournament who have outperformed all expectations to make it this far, and it’s truly unfortunate that one of their runs has to end here. For the first game, TNC drafted an aggressive Drow Ranger-Morphling-Vengeful Spirit for Raven, Kuku, and Eyyou. DC went slightly later and opted to give Resolut1on Naga Siren and w33 Dragon Knight, aiming to weather the mid-game storm and secure their victory with better scaling. Unfortunately, w33 and Resolut1on had trouble transitioning into their power window after an early game of getting completely run over. Kuku’s over-the-top aggression and Sam H’s brilliance with Batrider pushed TNC into the advantage they would need to end the game before DC’s cores recovered, and “GG” was called in the 39th minute, 27-13.
Game two had Raven on Alchemist and Kuku on Timbersaw, up against Resolut1on’s Ember Spirit and w33’s Magnus. This time around, Saksa and MISERY had a much better time not feeding away deaths and racking up assists as Ancient Apparition and Elder Titan. Raven posted 1,000 Gold Per Minute this match, but even though he hit relatively good item timings it wasn’t enough to make up for Kuku’s seeming fascination with dying this match, ending with twelve deaths, two of which came before five minutes and another four that arrived before twenty. The match swung wildly back and forth, but even when they were winning TNC had problems staying alive, and nine times out of ten, the team that gets more kills is the victor. TNC called “GG” after losing all three sets of barracks, in the 47th minute and at 37-19.
With the series tied at 1-1 and both teams staring down the barrel of elimination, DC went for a slippery carry in Slark and a defensive support in Winter Wyvern, played by Resolut1on and Saksa, respectively. Their goal was to slip the aggression and punish over extension, something that TNC might be a little bit known for. TNC, for their part, put all their marbles on an extremely greedy triple-core lineup of Alchemist-Terrorblade-Faceless Void for Kuku, Raven, and Sam H. If all three of them got lots of levels and items, DC would have certainly lost the match. The problem for TNC was, all three of those heroes like to farm stacked jungle camps and ancients, generally hoovering up all available gold in an area as quickly and selfishly as possible. Adding to the (ha) misery, the worst possible outcome happened, as each player missed their power windows by several steps, leaving DC and Moo as Dark Seer to run rampant across the map, shutting out TNC from much needed farming spaces. It was only 28 minutes and 27-6 when TNC had to concede in the face of mega creeps, ending a truly magical fight where they punched significantly outside their weight class for far longer than anyone thought possible. It’s a backhanded kind of consolation, but TNC shocked the world on their first trip to an International stage, and did it with a style of Dota that the established experts said just couldn’t work. This wasn’t their year, but the next one could very well be. DC, for their part, moved on to face EHOME and have another fight for survival today.
First, though, Fnatic and Team Liquid had to finish off the 7th/8th Round of Loser’s Bracket. Game one was all about MuShi-‘s Luna, riding her to a 40 minute victory and 11-1-19 record. Liquid attempted a Naga Siren-Death Prophet pushing strategy that heavily relied on MATUMBAMAN’s radiance illusions to split push while FATA-‘s ghosts led the rest of the team down another lane. Split pushing with illusions doesn’t work against teams that can clear them and the surrounding creep waves out easily, like, say, a Luna and an Ember Spirit courtesy of MidOne. Two catastrophic team fights and all five buybacks later, Liquid called it quits, 37-12.
The death-a-minute second game was chaotic, to say the least. Liquid took a big early lead off of their Sven-Oracle-Ancient Apparition aggressive tri-lane with MATUMBAMAN, JerAx, and KuroKy finding five kills in the first seven minutes. MuShi-, Dj, and 343’s tri-lane of Drow Ranger, Shadow Shaman, and Undying, struggled to find their early game footing. It was Liquid who lost theirs, however, as three team fights from the twenty second to the thirty second minute fed away over 7,000, 4,500, and 3,000 gold. Their net worth advantage was in free fall, diving from 20,000 to -8,000 in a collapse that looked like NaVi was behind it. Liquid tried to swing the graph back into their favour, but a team wipe sealed their fate. MidOne’s Queen of Pain participated in all but one of Fnatic’s kills and dealt over 20,500 damage to enemy heroes, culminating in a 13-5-18 record, a victory, and a 2-0 series to take them to the next round. Liquid bowed out here, in the 7th/8th place, and Fnatic will face off MVP Phoenix tomorrow in the Loser’s Bracket 5th/6th Round.
DC had to face MVP Phoenix in their second series of the day, in yet another elimination match to decide who would exit in the 5th/6th place and who would keep up the good fight. EHOME brought out iceiceice’s Anti-Mage and a Razor for old chicken, while DC put Resolut1on on a carry Vengeful Spirit, with w33 as his superhuman Invoker and Moo returning to his ever successful Timbersaw. DC’s players generally don’t have a lot of kills at the end of games, preferring to chase objectives rather than heroes thanks to the discipline of MISERY and his teammates’ respect, while EHOME take a slightly more aggressive, higher risk higher reward type strategy. In other sports, it’s the team who acts first that gains an advantage, but in Dota it can really go either way. This time, DC had no trouble reacting to EHOME’s plans and tactics, holding iceiceice to a twenty one minute Battlefury and preventing old chicken from ever turning his Yasha into something more useful. By 31 minutes, DC had secured mega creeps, so EHOME called the one-sided dominance at 24-7.
The second game looked to be going better for EHOME, with some first half skirmishes going the way of iceiceice’s Lifestealer and old chicken’s Death Prophet. LaNm struggled to make good with Kunkka, and just in time for some Blink Daggers and a Desolator to be added to EHOME’s arsenal, they lost two team fights and four pick offs in less than eight minutes, leading to a huge surge for DC that catapulted them to victory. Moo’s Timbersaw and Saksa’s Skywrath Mage made some clutch plays throughout the game, but MISERY’s Ogre Magi stood out above the rest, with highly skilled play after highly skilled play dancing out of the fingers of DC’s captain. After one last stand by EHOME at 37 minutes, and the game was over, 26-11. EHOME would have to be satisfied with a Top 6 finish while DC are guaranteed at least a Top 4 result, dependent on their series tomorrow against the winner of Fnatic and MVP Phoenix.
Then the All-Star Match took place, with ten audience members picked out of the crowd by Dota personalities Kaci and SirActionSlacks. After being divvied up into two five person teams, each audience member drafted a pro to play with them in a 10v10 match. The whole thing fell a little flat compared to the last two years, for a number of different reasons. While getting to play with and against the pros is surely an awesome experience, watching someone else get to have it is slightly less so. The pros, for their part, didn’t take the game seriously — and why should they? They’ve either been eliminated from contention or have more important things to deal with, bigger fish to fry. The 10v10 format wasn’t a good choice this year, because too much was happening and the casters and observer struggled to keep up with everything. It worked last year because it was the debut of the format: ten players on each team? Everyone was too excited by the prospects of getting to do that themselves in a few short weeks to notice the absolute banana factory on stage. Kaci and Slacks as rival team leaders and microphone holders was played out fairly early in the day, and by the time of the ASM they were just screeching “Fellow Kids” memes at each other and their players in desperate attempts to keep the clearly flagging energy levels high. The new hero reveal (Pit Lord became Underlord but it’s cool, he looks amazing and has an exciting skill set), while exciting, was extremely telecasted and overly scripted, diffusing any excitement that a “shocking newcomer” could have brought across a long, awkward half hour. It also turns out that “being good at Dota” or “attending The International” doesn’t automatically translate to “having good stage presence” or “being entertaining to watch”. Overall, it just felt like a tired rehash of previously working elements, jumbled together in the hopes that either lightning will strike in the same place twice or no one will notice the tired, old man behind the curtain. Hopefully next year it’ll go better, and it definitely doesn’t detract from the amazing Dota and engaging storylines we’re still in for.
This article was written by a past writer, Daniel Giroday.