The International 2014: Valve's SFM recreations of classic plays in webm form
Remember the International? Twenty million people watched it, so chances are you do. I wrote a couple of things about it, too. But we missed something: one of the best bits of fan service to emerge from the entire event, particularly for people who have followed the pro Dota 2 scene for the last couple of years.
As part of their series of team introduction videos, Valve produced Source Filmmaker recreations of each team's best moments. Similar to the clips produced for the Free To Play documentary, they take actual plays from the history of the competitive game and turn them into brief CGI movies. I'm not a huge fan of using CGI to promote games normally - particularly when it's utterly divorced from the reality of the game itself - but I like what Valve have done here. These are clips that communicate the feeling of a play rather than its reality, and that's a good way for newcomers to get a sense of why people get so excited about this isometric wizard battle game. Below, you'll find high quality versions of each of the clips plus an explanation of the moments that they're based on.
Match source: The International 2013, Grand Finals - Alliance vs. Na'Vi Game 5. Watch original version.
As returning champions, Alliance received the most substantial cinematic treatment. The sequence above covers the last few minutes of game five of last year's International final - the moments when Alliance finally tipped the scales against Na'Vi and claimed the Aegis of Champions. In the first instance, S4's Puck uses Dream Coil to cancel defensive teleportations by Puppey and, by chance, Dendi. Then, we see Loda's Chaos Knight smack Funn1k's Batrider out of the air for Bulldog's Nature's Prophet to finish the job (this is about as violent a depiction of split pushing as you're likely to see, incidentally.) Loda then uses Reality Rift to outmaneuver XBOCT's Alchemist before attacking the Radiant ancient to end the siege of all sieges.
I missed EGM's Io the first few times I watched this clip - he's in the background during the Batrider kill and flies past right at the end, just before the ancient explodes.
Match source: The International 2013, Lower Bracket Round 4 - DK vs. Orange Game 2. Watch original version.
This particular moment came after Burning's Weaver scored a triple kill on Orange in a teamfight around the Dire secret shop. Under the effect of Doom for almost the entire fight, Ohaiyo's Dark Seer was forced to flee with Burning hot on his heels. At the top of the stairs leading into the Radiant jungle, Mushi's Shadow Fiend perfectly timed Requiem of Souls to obliterate Burning as he approached unawares - the beginning of a run of turnarounds that would ultimately see DK eliminated from TI3. In an ironic turn, Mushi would eventually leave Malaysia to play for DK, contending at TI4 alongside the carry he blows up so spectacularly here.
This clip garnered additional attention because it's the first time Valve have shown off Shadow Fiend's new model. The hero has been due a redesign for a while - he looks like a gothic novelty shampoo bottle that has been left in the sun for too long - and rumour has it the new model will debut in-game in the same patch as Techies.
Match source: The International 2012, Upper Bracket Round 2 - IG vs. Na'Vi Game 2. Watch original version.
This teamfight has picked up legendary status in the last two years, and it's the obvious choice to show off Na'Vi at their best. It begins with a strong initiation by IG on Na'Vi's entire team, leading with Naga Siren's ultimate. It's IG's fight to lose, at that point - they have Tidehunter's Ravage to play as well as Puck's Waning Rift and Dream Coil, and there's nothing Na'Vi can do to stop them as they get set up. Then, as the Song of the Siren ends, Na'Vi turn it around. LightofHeaven's Enigma activates a Black King Bar and gets off a huge Black Hole; XBOCT's Juggernaut activates Blade Fury to shrug off the magic damage; Dendi's Rubick pushes himself out of the expanding radius of Ravage with Force Staff, turns, steals Ravage and turns it on IG. Na'Vi take a fight that they should lose and turn it into a 5-0 victory.
Match source: DreamLeague S1, Day 25 - EG vs. Alliance. Watch original version.
Given the way Dragon Knight moves in this clip, I see it as an abstract interpretation of EG's convincing 19-minute victory over Alliance at DreamLeague earlier this year rather than a recreation of a specific moment, but if I'm missing something, let me know in the comments. Notably, it's one of the few clips from the team introduction videos not to be interspersed with original game footage.
Update: as Brian Zhu points out in the comments, it does seem to match with Arteezy's push top at the 10:50 mark - I've updated the video link above.
Nonetheless, it shows off two important aspects of EG's playstyle: Arteezy's ability to find game-dominating gold and experience in the midlane on heroes like Dragon Knight, and Universe's best-in-class offlane play. Notably, it's AdmiralBulldog's Doom that gets burned to death by Universe's Batrider - a pretty pointed statement about the relative impact of the two offlaners in 2014.
Match source: The International 2013, Lower Bracket Round 4, IG vs TongFu Game 1. Watch original version.
Hao's Lifestealer is on the receiving end of a pickoff by Ferrari_430's Storm Spirit in this clip, which marked a turnaround during IG's first game against TongFu at TI3. I doubt Hao feels too bad about it in hindsight, however - he went on to become part of Newbee, and now he's an International champion.
I like the way the clip presents Storm Spirit's Static Remnant and Ball Lightning powers as fluid parts of the same ability - it speaks to Storm Spirit's speed and controlling presence when played well, which were both a big part of IG's victory.