Dota 2’s Manila Major has been raging on for more than a week and has already seen a whole ER room full of teams limping off the stage. Shanghai Major champions Secret took their first-round loser’s bracket elimination so hard they’ve experienced roster drama before the show's even over, with offlaner Universe returning to EG and EG's own Bulba replacing him on Secret. As a consequence of such a last-minute switcheroo, both teams—the International returning champion and one-time western Dota dreamteam—will both need to earn their place at TI6 through the open qualifier.
Even so, player drama hasn’t managed to overshadow the quality of the games at the Manila Major itself. Here are some of the hottest moments of the Spring Major so far.
When Fnatic got the vacuum-wall-boat just right
Nothing like a perfectly-timed wombo combo to start things off, and that’s just what Fnatic found in this Dark Seer X Kunkka fanfiction. Left alone to fend against the rest of the Liquid five-man by yet another gank on MidOne’s Ember Spirit, Ohaiyo, Mushi and DJ didn’t much like the thought of losing their bottom barracks. So they did something about it. Something special. The pings on the ground tell the story of this one: what a joy it must have been to see it work out just right.
When Alliance found a new way to rat in 2016
It’s a running joke that Alliance are the rattiest team in pro Dota, but when you have AdmiralBulldog on your side it’s hard not to be. This time, however, Bulldog wasn’t the only one chipping away at VG.Reborn’s towers as Loda and EGM also got in on the action. Using Shadow Demon’s Disruption to spawn two Centaur Warrunner illusions every time it was off cooldown, they just sieged up with the tanky doubles. Illusions don’t hit very hard, but the Centaur’s Return passive sure packs a punch when a tower is hitting it. Like a bully at school punching you with your own fist, the towers just couldn’t stop hitting themselves.
When MVP persuaded megacreeps to defend their ancient
Losing your tier four towers in Dota is usually a death knell. You’ve likely lost all your barracks beforehand so now the only thing between megacreeps and your pretty ancient is you, but you still have to go and punch their ancient to death. Well, MVP had a novel solution in their hour-long epic against Mineski: they put other megacreeps in the way. As money isn’t much of a problem once you’re stuck farming wave after wave in your own base, the South Korean side bought several Helm of the Dominators and grabbed megacreeps to station in front of the Ancient. Of course, they didn’t need the help because they then got megacreeps of their own and won the game. Good strat, though.
When DJ caused the collapse of the cosmos
There are few things more satisfying in Dota than a really, really good Black Hole, but there’s also nothing worse than a three minute cooldown spell sailing wide. Fnatic’s DJ on Enigma, in the last match of their BO3 against LGD, had his fair share of satisfying moments and they more than made up for the mid-game whiffs. Particularly noteworthy is the Roshan fight, and the game-winning Black Hole at LGD’s high ground. If you watch the minimap through the chaos, you can actually see him quickly run back to pick up a freshly bought Refresher Orb to win the fight. Incredible timing.
The El Classico of El Classicos
Everyone loves a good old TI3 rematch. Na’Vi versus Alliance is always an entertaining watch. This year’s version of Dota’s El Classico had some of the greatest, heart-pounding drama of them all as Na’Vi fought tooth and nail against their old rivals to keep their tournament hopes alive. The comeback is extra bittersweet because seeing either team go out is never a welcome sight for Dota veterans.
OG’s perfect game
This is some truly monstrous stuff. The Frankfurt Major champions are looking on top form this competition, and as if to prove it OG styled their way through a winner’s bracket engagement with MVP. Winning a BO3 2-0 is a good way to establish dominance, but the Green Machine took it a step further in their second game by not giving up a single kill. Even at the end, as Crit- looked on the edge of death, they took time away from objectives to keep their sheet clean. Speaking of clean sheets: this match marked the sixth day of the competition in a row that midlaner Miracle- hasn’t died. Terrifying.