I confess, I haven’t always seen the appeal of eSports. The passion and excitement – I just didn’t get it. I could appreciate skills, and I could understand certain people’s love of the game, but I just didn’t share in it… until The International 3 (TI3). In case you’re worried, this article will not spoil the Grand Finals in the event that you still want to watch it.
Starting at 16 teams, TI3 was filled with upsets. Last year’s champion’s, Invictus Gaming (IG), and favorites such as LGD-Gaming were knocked out of the Upper Bracket early on in the tournament. When TongFu was defeated in the Lower Bracket (aka Loser Bracket), the top spots were secured for Orange Neolution, Alliance and Natus Vincere (Na’vi).
Orange is one of the top eSports teams in South East Asia with all its players hailing from Malaysia. This tournament secured Chai Yee Fung, aka Mushi, and Chong Xin Khoo, aka Ohaiyo, as top contenders in Dota 2. Both pros are capable with a wide variety of heroes, helping to lead their team to victory. They dominated throughout the Lower Bracket with a range of playing styles and tactics; they certainly earned their spot in the top three.
Previously known as No Tidehunter, Alliance is a Swedish team growing in popularity in Dota 2. They are known for adopting unorthodox strategies and drafting unusual heroes. Loda was a favorite pro at TI3, and was integral to the team’s success. They swept the Upper Bracket, beating out LGD-Gaming, DK and finally Na’vi to secure their place in the finals.
Na’vi was a fan favorite in the tournament. Having won the first International and taken second in last year’s competition, they were determined to make it to the finals. Hailing from Estonia, Germany and the Ukraine, Na’vi is known for their aggressive play and incredible team fights. Danil Ishutin, aka Dendi, and Clement Ivanov, aka Puppey, are incredible partners on the team, pulling off some amazing feats. When they lost against Alliance in the final game of the Upper Bracket, they were forced to play Orange again (having knocked them out of the Upper Bracket in the first round) in order to earn their spot in the Grand Finals.
The Final Showdown
When Na’vi and Orange faced off at the beginning of TI3, Orange owned Na’vi in the first game. However, fired up and motivated, Na’vi proceeded to annihilate Orange in the next two games. When it came time for the semi-finals, everyone was wondering if Na’vi would repeat that performance, or if Orange’s versatility would lead them to victory.
In fact, history repeated itself. Orange shut down Dendi in the early game of the first game, securing great map control. In fact, this was the only game in TI3 when Na’vi did not manage to destroy a single tower. However, in the second game, Na’vi struck back early and hard, killing two of Orange’s heroes before creeps spawned. Following this momentum, Na’vi secured a clear victory. The third game was a real nail-biter. After an early lead by Na’vi, it seemed that Orange claimed control of the game and were going to win it.
Yet Na’vi was able to come from behind after some incredible team fights, including one particularly impressive one where they were able to claim the Rosh. Orange was forced to concede victory to Na’vi, going home with 3rd place and $287 441. Na’vi showed they were the comeback kids and advanced to the Grand Final against Alliance.
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Alliance came out hard and strong, dominating the game and winning the first match in 15 minutes. It appeared that the finals might be concluded after three games. However, Na’vi hit back strong, drafting Io, Batrider, Alchemist and Bounty Hunter to annihilate Alliance in the second game in 20 minutes. Going into the third game, Na’vi and Alliance took much longer to battle it out (47 minutes), but eventually Na’vi triumphed with their level 20 Alchemist and powerful Io played by Dendi.
This brought us to game four, and this time Alliance dominated. The game lasted 36 minutes and ensured that we would see a fifth game in the Grand Final. Alliance managed to shut down Na’vi’s Bane, Puck and Rubick with their team of Night Stalker, Crystal Maiden, Gyrocopter, Io and Nature’s Prophet. The fifth game of the finals was Na’vi’s eighth game of the day. I’m honestly not sure how they were still so energized and capable! However, their team of Enigma, Alchemist, Templar Assassin, Rubick and Batrider simply were not enough against Alliance’s Puck, Crystal Maiden, Chaos Knight, Io and Nature’s Prophet. After 43 minutes, Alliance emerged victorious, becoming champions of TI3.
The prize money was enormous. The second place team took home $632 370 with the champions winning a whopping $1 437 204! Most tournaments would love to have the second or third place prizes as total prize pools, let alone the almost $1.5 million of the top spot. If we include sponsorship deals, I’m sure those guys are making a very pretty penny. So, no one’s mother can tell them this is all a waste of time anymore!
My favourite match
There were some incredible matches over the course of TI3. With such top notch players, of course there were epic battles, heartbreaking defeats, and so much drama. However, my favorite game of the entire tournament was the All Star game. This match saw pros from opposing teams grouped together for a highly entertaining showdown. Designated as a practice game, it did not count for or against lifetime statistics of the players, and showed just how much fun these guys could have.
Team A was composed of Puppey from Na’vi, Akke of Alliance, Orange’s Mushi, Burning from DK and Ferrari of IG. Team B was made up of Loda of Alliance, Dendi from Na’vi, Virtus.Pro’s AA, TungFu’s Hao and IG’s Chuan. They are clearly good friends who know each other’s play styles very well. Plus, for this event, they removed the sound-proof pods; they could hear the commentators throughout the game. Between the commentators getting involved, and the clear trolling of each other throughout the game, I couldn’t stop laughing. Early on, Puppey and Dendi tried to kill each other – when one was successful, he paused the game in order to taunt the other with the cliche “delete dota” trolling. Classic!
It can be a difficult game to find through TI3’s interface, but I highly recommend that you watch it. You can find it with match ID 266896041, or below. For the uninitiated, please be advised: Shoutcasters are not like normal sports casters – they use foul language with impunity.
All in all it was an emotional roller coaster of a tournament. So many ups and downs! Plus, most of the games ran late into the night and morning. I confess I had to catch up on replays of most games because I was simply not prepared to stay up so late during the week. However, the matches were well worth the physical and emotional exhaustion. I just hope that Na’vi makes it next year – I love watching them play and they are definitely my favorites! Dendi! Dendi! Dendi!
Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!