Find out everything you need to know about the tournament by checking out our extensive reference guide. Find all of our International coverage, including write-ups of previous days, on the tag page. You can find VOD links for today's games on the official International site, which is also where you'll find each team's current bracket standing.
Spoilers follow! The first Grand Finalist emerges and only two teams remain in the lower bracket at the close of day five of the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year. Surprise comebacks below, highlights in the sidebar.
Lower bracket: Virtus.Pro vs. LGD
I liked VP's draft a lot in game 1, with DkPhobos getting his Earthshaker back, G his Storm Spirit, and Illidan his Drow Ranger. LGD showed that they'd done their homework with a respect ban on lil's Visage, but he picked up Rubick—equally strong, arguably. Yet the strategy that beat Secret simply didn't work here. Despite a brilliant escape by DkPhobos that saw a dead-on first blood attempt turned against LGD, VP couldn't get their early game aggression rolling. LGD grouped up from the ten minute mark, utterly ruining Illidan's game by picking off Drow Ranger over and over—credit to xiao8 for his Clockwerk. A few clutch defenses kept VP's tier 3 towers alive for a while, but this was a rather one-sided victory for LGD.
A ripple of surprise spread through the crowd when LGD failed to ban Leshrac in the first round despite VP having first pick. For the first time in the tournament, the 100% banned, 100% overpowered magical horse saw play in a main stage game. Played by Illidan on the safelane, Leshrac helped VP pick up a run of early kills. It wasn’t until the 10 minute mark that LGD managed to slow down his farming with an on-point smoke gank, and VP scored a major teamfight victory 20 minutes in that swung the needle back the other way. But LGD had two things on their side: time, and Bounty Hunter. Relying on Track gold to stay just a little bit ahead, Maybe’s fearsome Templar Assassin and Sylar’s Phantom Lancer were soon a match for anything Virtus.Pro had. A disastrous teamfight for VP around the Roshan pit at 32 minutes resulted in a 4k gold swing towards LGD.
The Chinese team secured map control after that victory, and a pick-off kill on G’s Lina created the opportunity they needed to eliminate Virtus.Pro from the tournament. Incidentally, this means that Leshrac has a 100% pick/ban rate but a 0% winrate on the International main stage.
Upper bracket: Evil Geniuses vs. CDEC
EG looked strong in the first fifteen minutes of this game against the wildcard winners, particularly SumaiL. He managed to pick up a phenomenal gold lead very quickly, and EG seemed able to outmanoeuvre CDEC's signature aggression. But EG were relying on a very particular teamfight combo to win fights, and it simply didn't work out for them. They would use Song of the Siren to set up a SumaiL's Requiem of Souls, and follow up with an Epicenter from Universe's Sand King. But a run of incredible plays by CDEC, including a three-man Snowball save by Xz's Tusk, reset the match and set them up to take the lead. agressif's Ember Spirit was a monster, scoring an impressive ultra kill to end game 1.
Although he ended up dying, LGD.Yao’s treeline jukes during this crazy first blood dive caused VG’s trilane to get caught badly out of position, setting up a follow-up double kill for xiao8.
CDEC opened with Bounty Hunter and Lina, signifying a strategy that has been very common this tournament: early kills turning into snowballing power with Track gold, followed by a lot of teamfighting that the Bounty Hunter would generally ensure they'd come out on top of. EG countered with a clever draft revolving around tanky heroes and Treant Protector, designed to ensure that Bounty Hunter didn't get very much in the early game. CDEC then in turn countered this with a lane switch—running an old-school offlane Bounty Hunter with a Witch Doctor replacing him on support. Then, a run of poor fights for EG completely undid the plan that they'd laid out: agressif's Phantom Lancer had a great start, Bounty Hunter pulled ahead, and the Treant Protector pick didn't do anything for them. In a relatively unusual occurrence at the main event, EG tapped out after 20 minutes. They simply knew that they'd been outplayed. They drop to the lower bracket finals, which will be played tomorrow morning.
CDEC, meanwhile, become our first Grand Finalists—the first time a wildcard team has ever made it this far. What an incredible run.
The cliffs were rather idle today, though VP.fng’s Crystal Maiden was cliffed during this Roshan defense. He made the best of a bad situation by getting off a decent ult while he was up there, but it wasn’t enough to turn the fight.
Lower bracket: Vici Gaming vs. LGD
A crazy first blood dive by VG turned into a return double kill on xiao8's Undying, beginning a strong game 1 laning phase for LGD. VG were wise to LGD's habit of grouping up early, but couldn't quite stop it. When an early rotation by Sylar's Gyrocopter turned a fight in the Dire jungle, the match seemed comfortably in LGD's control. When their key heroes got some levels and items, however, Vici Gaming returned to the form we've seen them in throughout their entire undefeated run through the lower bracket. They quite simply outplayed LGD, from iceiceice's brilliant one-man defense of the Roshan pit to an extended teamfight that ended in a rampage going to Hao's Queen of Pain, the first of the main event. fy played a fantastic Sand King (he's good at Dota, who knew?) and closed out the game with an thundering Epicenter during the final siege.
VG entered game 2 confident, picking up Sniper for the second time in the main event along with powerful earlygame aggression in Undying. This time, however, they weren’t as able to control LGD’s early teamfighting. LGD.Yao played out of his mind on Tusk, and with LGD.xiao8’s Earthshaker formed a rolling defensive wall that was incredibly difficult for VG to crack. As one-sided as the first game was, this one went entirely the other way. xiao8 led LGD through successful rotation after successful rotation. Vici Gaming tried to split push out of desperation, but it wasn’t enough.
“TAKE THAT, YOU WANKER.”
David ‘LD’ Gorman, VG vs. LGD game 2
As Super brings Sniper to bear, LD channels TF2’s own Sniper—alarming every British person in the audience.
Game 3 saw VG.fy get Rubick but LGD once again managed to secure Tusk and Earthshaker. VG’s gameplan revolved a strong early teamfight lineup revolving around Lina, Dark Seer and Ancient Apparition, designed to beat LGD at their own game. They got off to a bad start, however, with iceiceice falling to an on-point Earthshaker initiation by xiao8 and then Super falling twice in midlane to exactly the same thing. LGD extended their kill lead until the 10 minute mark, when VG managed to get on the board with a kill on xiao8. By 20 minutes, the LGD gank machine and lost a little steam, with their entire team wandering the map without getting too much out of it. The game entered a slow period—typical of elimination games—until VG.Hao got caught out of position.
This opened the game back up and allowed LGD to extend their lead. After another run of pickoffs, Vici tried to go on the offensive—but their teamfight potential simply couldn’t keep up with how monstrous Maybe’s Shadow Fiend had become. They looked hesitant as LGD moved up into the highground, losing Super then fy then iceiceice in quick succession. After Hao fell without buyback, GG was called. Vici’s unbroken run ends, and LGD move on to face EG in the lower bracket finals.
On day six: a champion emerges as the International ends.