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! Day four of the Dota 2 International was the Red Wedding of dreams for a huge number of fans, with incredibly dramatic matches in the lower bracket. Tales of heartbreak and triumph below, highlights in the sidebar.
Lower bracket: MVP Phoenix vs. Vici Gaming
A stylish draft for both teams (Slark! Morphling!) gave way to a thrilling first game. QO's Slark was a great counterpick to Vici's vulnerable supports, and MVP Phoenix managed to fight all the way to the door of VG's base through sheer bravado. In one fight outside the Roshan pit, MVP.NutZ's Witch Doctor landed a million-dollar paralyzing cask, setting up VG's entire team for a stunning defeat—a run of incredibly lucky bashes by March's Spirit Breaker didn't hurt either. But MVP Phoenix got greedy, and—like C9—underestimated just how solid iceiceice, fy and Fenrir are. They're not just solid: they are rocksteady in their ability to control the pace of a fight. This was yet another amazing fy Rubick game, alongside an iceiceice Clockwerk performance that demonstrated the hero at its best. A huge gold swing led to victory for Vici Gaming.
EHOME.LanM's Rubick uses a stolen Snowball to turn a crucial teamfight. We'll cover whether or not this helped in the long run later, but this was a seriously impressive high-pressure play regardless.
Runner up: Secret.Zai turns inevitable death into a heroic 2-for-1.
Scary as they are in a close match, Vici are terrifying with momentum. As in their series against C9, they were a powerhouse in the second game. The difference here was that MVP Phoenix's draft wasn't terrible, but they didn't ban fy's Rubick (come on, guys) and they didn't anticipate an iceiceice Broodmother as a counter to a carry Naga Siren on kpii. QO's Queen of Pain really struggled in mid thanks to Fenrir's Earthshaker, and MVP's passive supports had to abandon the other lanes in order to protect him. Despite a decent Radiance timing on Naga Siren, Vici resisted all of MVP's attempts to push out of the base and find gold. Fy continued being fy, managing to solo kill Queen of Pain as Rubick. There really wasn't much MVP could do to stay in the International, here, but a comedy extended handshake after the match suggests that they don't feel too bad about it. Top 8 is still brilliant from a wildcard team, and they picked up a lot of fans at this event.
Lower bracket: Team Secret vs. Virtus.Pro
Allowing VP.lil to play Visage two games in a row was a mistake that will haunt Team Secret. I'm highlighting game two of Secret vs. VP here for the way in which he managed to write off Puppey's chance of a good Black Hole, but both games are top-class.
Team Secret are very good at Dota 2. Like, possibly-best-in-the-world good. This was a popular opinion right up until the beginning of the main event, but their loss to EHOME and the rise of underdogs like CDEC took the shine off a little. In their first game against Virtus.Pro, however, Team Secret reminded everybody that, yep, they're pretty good at this. VP drafted a mix of strong picks and favourites—Naga Siren, Silencer, Rubick, and an unusual Medusa—and were successful at slowing down Arteezy's mid Templar Assassin. But supreme individual play ensured that every single fight went Secret's way, often heavily—my notes include the words 'four for one' and 'four for zero' many times, always in Secret's favour. With a 20k lead, they could have held on and pushed that further—they chose not to. A few brilliant Vacuum-Echo Slam combos from Puppey and Zai set things up for S4 and Arteezy to punch VP out of the game.
Virtus.Pro are also very good at Dota 2. It's easy to forget that—the lower bracket finish, the fight to get this far. I remember watching them last year when they won MSI Beat It in Taipei, where the only option for press who wanted to watch Dota 2 when StarCraft was on the main stage was to stand behind the players themselves. They showed up, in that tournament, and obviously had massive potential. I thought they'd do better at ESL One Frankfurt than they did. I figured 2-0 for Secret even so. I mean, Secret, you know?
Their hopes on the line, VP drafted comfortable in game 2, with Silencer and—notably—VP.lil's Visage, a lesser-seen hero that he's notably talented with. His facility with the character, as well as DkPhobo's incredible skill with Earthshaker, would soon become a huge problem for Team Secret. Secret returned to Luna and Shadow Shaman, but this time they also picked up Puppey's Enigma. The crowd loved the pick, anticipating the kind of Black Hole turnarounds typical of Puppey's earlier career. But Puppey simply couldn't find the openings for them. The Enigma pick opened up the early game for VP, who identified that shutting down Arteezy was the key to having a shot against Secret. G's Storm Spirit in combination with Global Silence was an efficient killing machine, and Puppey often had to use Black Hole simply to control him through the fight. That's when Black Hole was even viable—DkPhobos and lil played the game of their lives, shutting Secret out of teamfight after teamfight. VP forced a third game.
Not technically a juke, but certainly an important escape: VP.Illidan gets caught trying to solo Roshan and nopes the hell out just in time.
They entered that third game with exactly the same plan. DkPhobos on Earthshaker, lil on Visage, G on Storm Spirit—this time with an fng Lina and Illidan on Drow Ranger. Secret doubled down on favourites—Arteezy's Shadow Fiend, Queen of Pain for S4 once again, Puppey's Dazzle, Kuroky's Rubick, Zai's Dark Seer. This was, arguably, the game of Zai's life, with an early solo first blood against a trilane and then a follow-up double kill against the same trilane in a situation where everybody expected him to simply die. But things went worse elsewhere. VP found the pickoffs they needed and a few unnecessary early deaths by S4 put G comfortably ahead. Secret didn't get enough out of their aggressive plays, often failing to lock down and kill Illidan's Shadow Blade Drow Ranger. In teamfights, once again, lil and DkPhobos were phenomenally destructive, with lil's Visage becoming a fy Rubick-shaped problem for the team once favoured for the grand final.
The long siege of Secret's base was the most agonisingly tense Dota I've ever seen. I felt shattered afterwards, as did everybody else in that arena. Despite VP's amazing lead, despite the shock of suddenly finding themselves facing elimination in a series they'd swaggered into expecting a win, Secret held the line. This is in a large part thanks to Zai, whose ability to land perfect Vacuum-Wall of Replica combos under pressure kept Secret alive. At one point, with most of VP dead, it looked like they might push back out—that a miracle might happen. But VP's farm lead was extending, and with it their ability to lock down S4 and Arteezy. Then, VP gained mega creeps when lil assassinated the remaining barracks with Visage Familiars. The end of Secret's tournament took place at the foot of the Dire ancient, Arteezy dead, S4 dead, Kuroky and Zai helpless.
VG.Hao is on a cliff for an entire teamfight for some reason and nobody (at the time) knew how he got there. He was cliffed by Rubick, for what it’s worth.
Virtus.Pro advance to face LGD.
Lower bracket: EHOME vs. Vici Gaming
Pulling out a Pugna, Disruptor and Zeus into EHOME's caster-happy roster, Vici established an early lead that translated into fast towers. A rough start for iceiceice's offlane Zeus gave way to a really commanding performance, and all the while Hao's Gyrocopter was picking up a lot of gold. But after taking a lane of barracks, Vici lost momentum. The game settled into a long and relatively passive period. This amount of big teamfight ults and a pair of Refresher Orbs made for some very entertaining teamfights, however, and the last fight was a cracker—a long siege of EHOME's middle barracks with big plays on both sides, ending with a crushing Echo Slam by VG.Fenrir that put the first game to bed.
I'd normally put a caster quote here, but nothing could top the All Star match for sheer silliness. From the build-up, which saw ten audience members drafted to join the pros in a 10 vs. 10 midlane throwdown, to the reveal of who was in that Pudge costume, this was a real joy. It was also, bizarrely, one of the most exciting games of the tournament with an incredible ending. All Star matches don't always work—TI4 was a bit of a dud—but this one really did.
Game 2 started well for Vici across the board, particularly on the safelane where EHOME.rOtk's Sand King wasn't able to stop VG.Hao's Anti-Mage from farming. He achieved a very fast timing for his Battlefury—12:58 with Power Treads and a Poor Man's Shield—and quickly established a substantial lead in gold. EHOME aren't pushovers, however, and they successfully extended the game and slowed Hao's farm down enough to stay in contention. A brilliant stolen Snowball by LanM's Rubick—reminding everyone that it's not just a fy hero—turned a teamfight that resolutely put EHOME back in the game. They followed up with another big win, and made their own progress towards Vici's base. But a fantastic run of teamfights and a few more crucial items on Hao made things much harder, and even Cty's ace Storm Spirit couldn't keep them in the International despite a series of daring zips. Hao was simply out of control by this point, and once again a too-farmed Anti-Mage closed out a team's tournament hopes. EHOME, the team that sent Team Secret to the lower bracket, followed them out of the International.
On day five: we find our Grand Finalists!