The International 2016: everything you need to know

 WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GROUP STAGE?

Upsets, is what. If your Compendium predictions weren’t in tatters by day three of the group stage, you’re Nostradamus. Tournament favourite OG did as well as expected, winning group A. Noted Chinese outfits Wings and Newbee also did well—but that's where the expected results end. Wildcard team EHOME emerged as the shock winners of group B, while returning champions EG demonstrated a confident return to form that placed them second only to OG in their group. Underdogs Digital Chaos emerged as another surprise smash in group B, while Alliance and MVP Phoenix dodged the lower bracket by inches.

Wildcard second place finisher Escape Gaming was the clear loser of group A, while Vici Gaming Reborn's pre-tournament visa issues seem to have condmened them to same fate in group B. The surprisingly poor performance of hot tickets Secret, Liquid, and LGD put their place in the top-tier in question, while Na'Vi struggled to find wins consistently enough to make the cut. Through all of this, another underestimated team—TNC Pro Gaming—snuck ahead and only narrowly missed out on the upper bracket. 

Day one

RANDOM HIGHLIGHT

Watch on YouTube. During their game against Alliance, OG offlaner MoonMeander goes undercover as Axe to steal a Gem of True Sight from the enemy fountain. It's a clowny, high-risk play and the casters don't see it coming until the moment he goes for it. Stuff like this is why fans invaded the stage when OG won the Frankfurt Major. 

The first day began with an incredibly tense, hard-fought series between OG and LGD suggesting that the latter hadn't been held back too badly by the visa problems that necessitated a last-minute roster switch. Elsewhere, Wings got off to a shaky start against EG and Na'Vi and Escape both traded wins. Alliance cleaned up against TNC before being themselves wiped out by OG. EG and LGD picked up steam against Na'Vi and Escape respectively, but Wings fell short, surprisingly, against underdogs TNC before reclaiming some points against Escape as the remaining group A teams traded even.

In group B, Secret got off to a strong start against Vici Gaming while EHOME beat Fnatic and the rest of the group traded evenly. Secret would later trade wins with MVP Phoenix while Newbee and DC cleaned up. EG, LGD and OG emerged as the leaders of group A while Secret, EHOME, Newbee and DC shared the top spot in group B. 

Day two

RANDOM HIGHLIGHT

Watch on YouTube. A messy teamfight goes Liquid's way but Vici Gaming Reborn's Storm Spirit has an Aegis of the Immortal. While Storm is one of the slipperiest heroes in the game, Liquid support JerAx is able to hunt him down by stealing his own Ball Lightning spell—triggering an epic chase down Dire top lane. 

This was a great day for EG as they won their two sets 2-0 against Escape and TNC. The return of the classic Na'Vi-Alliance matchup went Alliance's way in both games but the Swedes later conceded two to Wings, curbing their momentum somewhat. Na'Vi bounced back with a 2-0 victory over LGD while OG beat Escape and traded evenly with Wings. Continuing on from day one, OG and EG emerged as the leaders of group A.

The real surprises of the day took place in group B, where Digital Chaos—a team often overshadowed by the likes of EG, OG and Liquid—cleaned up with 2-0 victories over both Secret and Newbee. Secret had a terrible day in general, losing out to both EHOME and Fnatic and plummeting down the standings. EHOME emerged as the biggest winners of the day, cleaning up in all of their sets, while MVP Phoenix, Vici Gaming Reborn, Fnatic and Liquid struggled for position in the middle. When the smoke cleared, EHOME—a wildcard team—was the clear leader in group B, with DC unexpectedly close behind. 

Day three

RANDOM HIGHLIGHT

Watch on YouTube. For whatever reason, crazy game endings follow Alliance around. By all accounts, they lost their first game against EG: with most of the team dead without buyback and an exposed Ancient, all EG needed to do was click the Alliance throne to death. But a clutch defence by Akke and Loda held the line long enough for Alliance to rally, wipe EG, and storm down midlane to a shock victory. Caster LD's cry of "DING DING DING, MOTHERFUCKER" as EGM's Ogre Magi lands a lucky quad stun is this International's first major contribution to Dota's long history of commentary memes. 

Several teams knew that their position in the upper bracket was safe going into day three, while others knew that they were going to be fighting elimination in the lower bracket. The day's real drama took place among the teams in the middle, whose hopes of survival in the main event—not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars—rode on a handful of games. Alliance were the big winners, here, inching close to disaster by trading 1-1 with Escape before scoring a surprise 2-0 victory over EG to earn a spot in the upper bracket.

Na'Vi were less fortunate. Their day started well with a 2-0 win over Wings, but they were outmaneuvered by OG and failed to get the points they needed to avoid the lower bracket. In group B, EHOME and DC continued to clean up, only ceding losses to each other. Meanwhile, Vici Gaming Reborn emerged as the group's clear loser, while Liquid, Secret and Fnatic all tied 5-9 overall: allowing MVP Phoenix to inch into the upper bracket despite having a negative 6-8 record. 

On the next page: a glance at the new meta.

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.