The biggest annual DOTA 2 tournament has come to an end. The International 2013 (Ti3) has concluded with Alliance winning 3-2 against Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) in the best-of-five grand finals. In my previous post, I talked about the eight Asian teams to watch out for in The International 2013, and offered an analysis of the Asian teams’ group stage hero picks. Now that TI3 has concluded, let’s take a look back at the important events that the Asian DOTA 2 teams went through on the grandest DOTA 2 stage of them all.
RattleSnake went in as underdogs, beat Quantic
Before the wild card match between China’s RattleSnake and Russia’s Quantic, most in the community deemed RattleSnake to be the underdog. Most people were expecting the formidable Quantic to take the final spot for this year’s tournament. What happened, however, was the opposite. RattleSnake won 3-1 against Quantic in a best-of-five, even overcoming a draft with Io, a hero that the Chinese first thought weak, but then learned to fear and ban. Although there were certain questionable plays coming from Quantic, it is also undeniable that RattleSnake brought their best game to the table, which eventually allowed them to win and take their rightful spot in this year’s The International. Results, video-on-demand and replays of the series between Quantic and RattleSnake are available here.
Expectations for Chinese domination
Among many things, and even after Alliance winning the G-1 League and Na’Vi winning the Alienware Cup, the expectations for Chinese domination in the tournament were still quite high. This is probably because they have showed steady improvement during the previous two Internationals.
Although doubts started to form during the group stages where Ukraine’s Na’Vi and Sweden’s Alliance dominated both of their groups, said teams were followed by DK and TongFu respectively. Last year’s powerhouses Invictus Gaming (iG) and LGD.cn also joined them in the upper bracket. It must be noted, however, that LGD.cn had to fight and win against Dignitas in a tiebreaker match to determine who was seeded fourth in the upper bracket. All-in-all, there were five Asian teams in the upper bracket: iG, LGD.cn, DK and TongFu from China, and Orange from Malaysia. Partially thanks to the belief that teams don’t reveal strategies in the group stages, there was still hope that the Chinese would bounce back and dominate the main event.
The powerhouse teams shaken, domination shifts
Last year, LGD.cn topped their groups unscathed, while iG was also top of their group with just one loss, but won the tournament in the grand finals nonetheless. This year, aside from being seeded third and fourth, both iG and LGD.cn dropped to the lower bracket after losing to Team DK and Alliance respectively in their first matches in theupper bracket. The match between Team DK and iG currently holds the record for being the longest DOTA 2 match in history.
Following their win against iG, Team DK then loses to Alliance. After Na’Vi beat Orange, TongFu also lost 2-1 against Na’Vi in a rather controversial best-of-three match, which we’ll be getting to later. Anyway, these wins allowed Alliance and Na’Vi to secure themselves not only in the upper bracket grand finals, but also spots for the top three, leaving only one spot for the Chinese teams to fight over. Once again, this is totally the opposite of The International 2012 where the top three spots consisted of two Chinese teams iG and LGD.cn and the European team Na’Vi.
Na’Vi, TongFu and the controversial Fountain Hooks/Faith Hooks
Depending on who you are talking to, the Fountain Hook may either be a strategy or a bug. Basically, it’s a trick done with a Chen and a Pudge in one team. Pudge hooks an enemy and Chen sends him back to base using Test of Faith, thus its alternate name Faith Hook. If timed right and the hook is in mid-air when Pudge is teleported back, the hooked unit, whether a creep or a hero will fly across the map and land right in front of the enemy fountain. Unless you find a way to survive the wrath of the enemy fountain that’s shooting high speed projectiles at you, you are definitely dead. Let me re-iterate that this trick does not work by simply having a Chen and a Pudge in one team. You have to time everything right. Otherwise, it’s going to be a regular Test of Faith on a Pudge to send him back to the base.
In Game 3 of the Bo3 series between Na’Vi and TongFu in the upper bracket semi-finals, Na’Vi was way behind TongFu and was clearly going to lose. However, they were able to gain the advantage thanks to Fountain Hooks care of Danil “Dendi” Ishutin’s Pudge and Clement “Puppey” Ivanov’s Chen. They were able to pick off important heroes Zhi Hao “Hao” Chen’s Gyrocopter and wasting his Aegis of the Immortal in the process. Because of this, Na’Vi was able to wage psychological warfare against TongFu, who were now too anxious to push, which then allowed Alexander “XBOCT” Dashkevich’s Alchemist to farm and eventually dominate and win the match Na’Vi may have lost earlier. This even has led to several discussions regarding if and why it was allowed.
In this interview with Mousesports’ Troels “SyndereN” Nielsen, he mentions that such tricks were allowed by Valve and that all the players, managers and staff were aware of this during the orientation before the tournament. Therefore, Na’Vi was playing within the rules. He also mentions how the Fountain Hook has been around for a long time, but only now has it been used to actually win a competitive match. At the end of the day, Na’Vi tooks their win and knocked TongFu down to the lower bracket.
Last year’s top Chinese teams fall
After losing to Alliance in the upper bracket, LGD.cn fell to the lower bracket where they played against USA’s Team Liquid who won the match and knocked LGD.cn out of the tournament in one of the greatest upsets in the history of The International. In their next match, Team Liquid lost to iG, who then lost to another Chinese team TongFu the next day. In the same day, Team DK ended up losing to Orange, leaving only two Asian teams — Malaysia’s Orange and China’s TongFu — to compete for the last spot in the top 3. From being last year’s worst performing Chinese team, TongFu had become China’s last hope to bring the championship home.
Malaysia, Team Orange and the legend that is Mushi
Time zones make it hard for Asian fans to watch the games live. The days for the playoffs of The International 2013 begin at 12:00NN PDT. In SGT, that is 3:00AM the next day. Normally, it would be very difficult to wake up at this ungodly hour, but Malaysians supported Orange nonetheless. The Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia Datuk Khairy Jamaluddin and Malaysian opposition youth leader Rafizi Ramli also expressed their support for Orange.
With determination, Orange pushed forward and beat TongFu 2-1 in a best-of-three series. After eliminating the last Chinese team, Orange then became the last hope for Asia to win the championship. Their next opponent was Na’Vi, who were not only the crowd favorites, but have also been on the grand stage of The International each year.
During Game 1, the attention of the crowd was turned towards the mid lane where Chai Yee “Mushi” Fung’s Queen of Pain (QoP) was going head-to-head with Dendi’s Shadow Fiend (SF). As talented as Dendi was, Mushi dominated the mid-lane and the Ukrainian superstar was not even able to get decent last hits and denies against the legendary Malaysian player during the first few creep waves. With great ganks and rotations as well as well-executed team fights, Orange was able to take game 1, which was unfortunately their last. Na’Vi would later win the next two games and proceed to have a rematch with Alliance in the grand finals. One of the most unforgettable moments would be the shocking accidental denial of the Aegis of the Immortal by Yang Kang “KyXy” Lee. In the end, although Orange was out of the tournament, Mushi did set the record for the most number of heroes used in the tournament by using 19 different heroes in total.
Aside from captaining one of the teams in the longest game in the history of DOTA 2, Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei also set the record for being the ultimate farmer by farming the most gold by a single player in the history of DOTA 2. His Lone Druid in said record-breaking match had a stunning 60,422 net worth. He also managed to achieve the highest single gold per minute (GPM) in the tournament with his 948 GPM Alchemist. And as if that was not enough, his team was the first and only one to take a game off Alliance before the grand finals.
After DK lost their game against Orange and got knocked out of the competition, this video came out on Youku and then on YouTube. It shows the members of Team DK such as Xie “Super!” Junhao and Bai “rOtk” Fan after the loss, but more significantly, it shows BuRNing who looked like he was on the verge of tears, but fighting them back multiple times. BuRNing had previously expressed his intention to retire. While the community waited for his decision, there were discussions about BuRNing being offended by a Chinese caster and about the Chinese community cheering for him to play a year more for vengeance at The International 2014. Lately, in an interview, the Chinese legend said that he will not be leaving the DOTA 2 scene, but implied that he may take on other roles in the scene such as casting or coaching.
What is next for Asian DOTA?
Since The International 2013 has just ended, it is impossible to make sure predictions. If it’s anything like last year, we can expect player shuffling, roster changes and possible disbands. We must keep in mind that the Asian teams in this tournament are not the only Asian teams that exist. We must not forget other teams such as Vici Gaming, Mith.Trust, First Departure, For Love, and Flash eSports to name a few. They may not be in TI3, but who’s to say they cannot grow strong enough to qualify for next year’s tournament? Also, with the introduction of DOTA 2 in Korea, there is a possibility teams from another Asian country will join the fray. And if their dedication is anything like what they have for StarCraft II, then things should get interesting and the West should really watch out.
For the rest of the results, replays and VoD’s, you can head over to the official website of The International 2013.
Images: DOTA The International on Flickr
(Editing By Charlie Custer)