The International 2015: the best of day three

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Need to Know

Find out everything you need to know about the tournament by checking out our extensive reference guide. We’ve got summaries of day one and day two as well. 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 three of the Dota 2 International saw legends clash in nail-biting elimination matches and the explosive arrival of three goblins pushing a minecart full of bombs. Here's how it went down.

Lower bracket: compLexity vs. Virtus.Pro

I'm going to be honest—game 1 was the first game I had to miss. And what a game to miss. At 10 minutes, when I had to leave to attend an important interview with Valve, it was very one-sided. VP had punished coL's aggressive trilane hard and a brilliant Phoenix play by DKPhobos at 8 minutes had put them firmly ahead; I expected to return to see the teams drafting for game 2. Instead, I returned to see coL sieging VP's base having turned a 10k gold disadvantage into a 15k advantage—the biggest swing of the International so far. They achieved this with sheer nerve, taking crucial teamfights, and winning them, despite the disadvantage. This is a team that often wants to take games on skill and execution alone, and I've seen this get them into trouble. Here, it clearly didn't—it became an asset that proved their place at the top of competitive Dota.

Play of the Day

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In their final elimination match against IG, Secret.Puppey faces down Burning’s Shadow Fiend with a Shadow Shaman and wins. Holding him in a Serpent Ward trap in the middle of a teamfight, this was an extraordinary upset—a character with no farm beating one with all of it. Puppey is often thought of as Dota’s premiere tactician and one of its best captains, but this moment proved why you shouldn’t underestimate him as a player.

coL's draft going into game 2 was evocative of their time as Heroes of Newerth players, outmaneuvering VP with constant lane rotations. MoonMeander's mid Broodmother was a presence that demanded constant countering, while Zfreek's Chen scored kill after kill across the board. They had what they needed to ultimately win, establishing a lead in terms of momentum and pressure that looked very convincing. Then, illness on the part of VP's G necessitated pausing the game while both teams took a break. As in their match against EG yesterday, coL lost all of their impetus after returning to the booth. VP's Silencer-Naga Siren-Earthshaker teamfight combo came online hard, particularly when combined with a ganking Lina, and coL lost every fight they took after the midgame.

coL would never regain the pace they'd found in game 2. Broodmother went to VP in game 3, and coL instantly countered with Ember Spirit. This they ran in the offlane, creating a strange laning situation that worked out very well for Virtus.Pro. Not only did they win the earlygame handily, they did so with Phantom Lancer and Broodmother, two of the best slow-sieging characters in the game. compLexity were under siege, and it's a testament to their grit that they held it together for so long. They even managed a run of miraculous defenses, winning fights 4-0 or 4-1 against VP and pushing back out into the map. Then: disaster. coL.swindlemelonzz on Storm Spirit dropped his Eul's Scepter while pushing in order to maximise the return on his bottle. At that moment he was jumped by VP.fng's Earthshaker, who chain stunned him long enough to destroy the item. Already struggling, the loss of thousands of net worth marked a renewed struggle for coL. After getting caught out in the enemy jungle their defenses finally collapsed, and with it their International hopes. This was an amazing run for a new team, regardless.

TOp Performance

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Watching Burning carry IG to victory in game 1 against Secret was one of the best experiences I’ve had following pro Dota. This was a god of the scene operating at 110% capacity at a crucial moment, and a masterclass in how Anti-Mage is played. All of the best carries have played this hero at the International, but there is only one Burning Anti-Mage.
Runners up: CDEC.agressif’s Phantom Lancer, Cty’s Storm Spirit, Aui_2000’s Techies.

Lower bracket: Team Secret vs. Invictus Gaming

I'm amazed that this wasn't a grand finals matchup. These players are legends, longtime rivals—but Secret have won their last ten engagements. And they looked to win game one, too. A brilliant strategy had Puppey's Chen buy bottles for both S4's Storm Spirit and Arteezy's Shadow Fiend, opening them up to control 75% of the map—including both jungles—by the 15 minute mark. They settled into a slow siege, with IG so far behind that it seemed inevitable. Only Burning's Anti-Mage could leave the base to farm. But only Burning needed to. Once thought to be the world's best carry player and the world's best Anti-Mage, the legend of B-God sparked back to life has he led IG's last-ditch defense. Then, their reclamation of the map. Then, with a devastating Mana Void that annihilated both S4 and Arteezy, the game. He bought a Rapier. He went for the ancient, cresting a 25k gold swing. Extraordinary Dota.

Secret needed to show up in game two and they did. A slightly unusual draft—'huh, Luna?' being words on many lips—masked a really solid game plan. KuroKy demonstrated why Bounty Hunter is so feared in this patch and Zai's Clockwerk did a great job of shutting out Burning's Phantom Lancer. Somehow Puppey managed a 22 minute Eul's and Aghanim's on a support Lina, and combined with Zeus this provided a huge amount of magic burst damage that IG simply couldn't deal with. This time, Secret wasted no time getting inside IG's base and pulling it apart—Luna is far better siege hero than Shadow Fiend, and this gave them they edge they needed to force a game 3.

It was that third game that confirmed this as one of the best series—if not the series—of the tournament so far. Secret went in with much the same strategy as game 2, swapping Lina onto S4 and picking up Shadow Shaman on Puppey. On the other side, IG mirrored Secret's first game, with a mid Shadow Fiend and safelane Storm Spirit. They denied KuroKy's Bounty Hunter quite the amount of earlygame momentum he picked up in game 2 and maintained equal gold and experience. Then, the game tore open. Arteezy picked up a double kill by himself. Ferrari_430 dived in to contest Roshan, stole the aegis, but paid for it terribly. A teamfight gone wrong for Secret was turned by a massive Vacuum-Wall of Replica by Zai (on his birthday!) and, in a brilliant moment of revenge for game 1, Puppey's position 5 Shadow Shaman soloed Burning in the middle of a raging teamfight. No reason to not to watch this entire set. Secret are back on the road to the final, and we say goodbye to a fantastic team in IG.

Hottest Juke

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EHOME.Cty’s Storm Spirit has emerged as a hero to be feared, and here’s why. A split-second Laguna Blade dodge demonstrates some of the fastest reactions seen at the International.

Upper bracket: CDEC vs. LGD

I know I've said this before, but CDEC are a wildcard team—and yet in game 1 they showed themselves to be the clear equal, and ultimately the answer to, the highest-seeded Chinese team. LGD respected CDEC's aggression and kept it even for long stretches of the early game. But there was no outhinking CDEC's sheer talent in teamfights, nor agressif's unexpected willingness to commit his hard carry Phantom Lancer to teamfights. Well, I say 'unexpected'. His name is literally 'agressif'. Worth watching for the two separate instances in which LGD ended up on the cliffs next to Roshan thanks to on-point Dark Seer play.

A surprise Silencer by CDEC took LGD completely off-guard in game 2, combining with established picks like agressif's Phantom Lancer and Xz's Dark Seer to secure one of the most one-sided games of the International. This was, simply put, a shut out. Whenever it looked like LGD might finally pick off agressif, Global Silence. Whenever it looked like they might contest Roshan, Global Silence. Whenever it looked like they might try to defend their base, Global Silence. This victory took real coordination from CDEC, and the result—sending LGD to the lower bracket—is one of the tournament's biggest upsets so far (and that's saying something.)

Weirdest Cliff Interaction

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Dota 2’s capricious cliffs took favour on LGD in their first game against CDEC as agressif’s Doppelganger somehow spawned his illusions on the Dire highground and left him behind to die. Xz wasn’t having any of it, however, forcing the cliffs to play CDEC’s game moments later by using Vacuum to strand LGD’s entire team on the ledge next to Roshan.

Upper bracket: Evil Geniuses vs. EHOME

SumaiL's Queen of Pain opened game 1 strong for EG with a hair's breadth first blood on Cty's Storm Spirit, trading his own life for what would become a 2-1 victory for EG. It's doubtful he expected that it would be one of the few kills EG would secure in what turned into a complete stomp by EHOME. The team that sent Secret to the lower bracket demonstrated the same form here—Cty's Storm Spirit outplaying every player he encountered, ddc's Winter Wyvern reliably saving his allies and locking down Fear's helpless Anti-Mage. After a run of universally successful early rotations placed the game in EHOME's court, there were simply no weak links for EG to exploit. No IG-style turnaround to be found here.

Then, Techies happened. EG's last pick going into game 2 seemed like a silly all-in in some ways, but it worked. Even though EHOME were diligent about looking for the mines spread by Aui_2000 throughout the river and their jungle, that diligence came at a price. The game is actually fairly short on actual mine detonations, but it was the psychological impact of the Techies pick that mattered: forcing Cty's beleaguered Razor away from mid early, and ultimately pushing EHOME right back into their base. Aui also created opportunities for gank-heavy heroes like Bloodseeker, Spirit Breaker and SumaiL on Ember Spirit to get a lot done. EG closed game 2 out as convincingly as EHOME did game 1.

Best Dota Nonsense

“You overextend with your zip and Burning’s waiting in the rear.”
William ‘Blitz’ Lee, Team Secret vs. IG game 1
Discussing the finer points of Storm Spirit (did you hear it’s the only hero he plays?) Blitz makes a painful-sounding analogy.
Runner up:
“Just because you’ve got that wall, there, we too have the egg.”
Austin ‘Capitalist’ Walsh, EG vs. EHOME game 3

Techies was banned in game 3, creating space for EG to pick up Dark Seer—Universe's best hero, arguably—and Bounty Hunter. Nonetheless, EHOME managed to get Storm Spirit, Winter Wyvern, and Phantom Lancer, proven powerhouses for them. EG went with a surprise Windranger pick for SumaiL, and the choice paid off big. This was a long and uneventful game in some senses, but that was because the threat of SumaiL's blink-Shackle Shot-Focus Fire combo was so pronounced that EHOME became cagey and EG only took the fights they absolutely needed to. Steadily demolishing their way towards EHOME's ancient without giving up much in return, a brilliant initiation by Universe paved the way for an ultra kill by SumaiL inside EHOME's base. It's obviously important that EG took the series, but it's equally so that they effectively countered Cty on Storm Spirit—a character/player combo that had already devastated two top-tier teams.

On day four: European Dota throws down; MVP Phoenix keeps fighting; EHOME's last stand!

Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.