The Dota 2 scene has had a hell of a weekend. The game's third Valve-sponsored $3m Major tournament came to an end in Manila on Sunday with a historic grand final between OG and Team Liquid—relatively new rosters that have taken the international scene by storm in the last nine months. OG's victory makes them the first team in Dota 2's history to win two Valve events: an extraordinary first year record that only stands to improve at The International in August.
Meanwhile, the world's longest game of musical chairs continues between International 2015 winner Evil Geniuses and their foil, the would-be Dota supergroup Secret. EG's star offlaner Universe—he of the $6m Echo Slam—left the NA team in March to join Secret, his role being filled in on EG by their former coach, Bulba. With me so far? Well, mid-way through Manila—after both EG and Secret turned in sub-par performances—Secret announced that Universe had 'abandoned' them to return to EG, and that his role on Secret would be filled... by Bulba. Again.
Then, EG created a website explaining the entire transfer drama through an extended Frozen metaphor. Also, talented Swedish support player Zai—formerly of Secret—is now joining EG, replacing Aui_2000. This is the second time in the last year that Aui_2000 has been kicked out of EG.
It's a roster drama with more contrived betrayals than Game of Thrones, and while you try to untangle it consider this: both of the Manila Major finalists were teams that have stuck together even when tournaments haven't gone their way.
To cap things off, a surprise post-Manila balance update arrived this morning to upturn the pro metagame ahead of the International. Icefrog has turned Oprah this time—you get a buff! And you! And you! And you!
Not you, Beastmaster. Nor Slardar, Phoenix, Lifestealer, Slark, Invoker, Bounty Hunter and a handful of others. But these are the oft-picked, oft-banned outliers in a patch defined by widespread buffs to almost everybody. Cooldowns are getting shorter, damage and stats are scaling better, and Hurricane Pike is quietly becoming Dota 2's most absurd item.
You can find the full patch notes here. Fans of Phantom Assassin—the most-picked hero in Dota 2 pubs—will be happy to note that she can now Phantom Strike magic immune targets. Could the game's most popular character now... actually... be viable in pro games? I guess we'll find out in the International open qualifiers.
Which Secret and EG will have to enter, because they changed their rosters after the cutoff. What a time to be alive.