Missed day one of the year's biggest Dota tournament? Get up to speed with these quick match summaries, and find individual highlights in the sidebar. Spoilers follow, obviously.
Upper bracket: Empire vs. LGD
What an amazing start. On a very personal note, I got to see a commanding performance from yoky-'s Axe—snowballing into deep dunkin' dives, Empire's aggression machine in rumbling high gear. When that Culling Blade comes down, you feel it. I think I was picking up that movement speed buff myself. But they ceded every advantage they'd gained by failing to take towers or shut down Sylar's Phantom Lancer, and game one turned hard against Empire.
So many to choose from, but let’s go with this: in the final act of Vici vs. Na'Vi, Vici's fy steals Shallow Grave to save himself. Prolonging what should have been a quick kill, this incredible split-second decision splits NaVi’s defense crew up at a crucial moment.
Runner up: bOne7's Nature's Prophet assassinates CDEC's courier. Next level, clowny, crowd-pleasing, didn't help.
LGD patched up their midgame problems in game two and looked to convincingly take the series 2-0. But then, in a mirror of the first game, Silent emerged with an Anti-Mage who was simply too far ahead to handle—even after throwing himself into more than one unwinnable situation. Carries are vitally important in the current meta, and unless a team can end the game outright, being far ahead at 20 minutes doesn't mean very much.
Game three was long but one-sided in LGD's favour—in fact, it was long precisely because it was so one-sided. Both sides had lategame power if they could get to it, but Maybe's incredible mid Ember Spirit performance completely shut Empire out of the early and midgame. This created space for Sylar's Gyrocopter, and there's not much Silent's Phantom Lancer could do in response—as dominant as the hero can be, Ember and Gyro are both strong against him.
LGD extended their advantage steadily until the 45 minute mark, only fighting when they needed to, and then ended the game with a single devastating siege. They progress to the semi finals, and Empire drops to the lower bracket.
The right player on the right hero in the right game can make all the difference. Today, IG’s ChuaN made the strongest case for the former champion’s right to be here with a Rubick performance that consistently defied the hopes of MVP Hot6’s spell-happy lineup.
Upper bracket: Cloud9 vs. CDEC
Short version: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I was hoping for Cloud9 things and, well, I got Cloud9 things. bOne7's zero-minute courier snipe with Nature's Prophet was ballsy, silly, and took CDEC completely off-guard. Then CDEC outplayed Cloud9 utterly, taking advantage of Winter Wyvern and Agresif's rampant Gyrocopter to turn every single fight into either a victory or a favourable trade. Then the pick-off kills started: Xz's amazing Clockwerk landing hook after hook on out-of-position Cloud9 heroes. EternalEnvy decided to extend an aegis double-death by running headlong towards CDEC's base for some reason. They lost game one.
Game two lasted close to two hours thanks to an hour-long pause while Valve fixed KeyArena's internet woes, but the disruption clearly didn't effect CDEC. C9 had a great start, with a better draft and a solid laning phase. But it started to come apart after the technical issues were fixed, with CDEC's masterful timing continually getting the better of C9 in teamfights. Don't be surprised to see ShiKi's ganking Lina banned out in the semi-finals, and Xz's game-ending five-man Vacuum-Wall of Replica combo might be the main event's first perfect play. CDEC—who began their run in the wildcard—are now in the top 6.
MVP Phoenix's QO loses his pursuers in a tiny grove of trees outside the Roshan pit, preserving those precious souls.
Lower bracket: MVP Phoenix vs. Newbee
Here's your defending champions taking on the wildcard second place—the team furthest from even qualifying for the International—and losing. Losing dramatically. The match was agonisingly close for ages, but a series of bold plays by MVP Phoenix opened the game up from the 35 minute mark. This is a team that will walk straight into a fight and rely on skill to pull through, using March's Spirit Breaker as an expendable battering ram to open up fights for kpii's Juggernaut and QO's extraordinary Shadow Fiend. A good performance by Newbee's Mu on Templar Assassin couldn't hold his team together. MVP Phoenix advance, and another former champion departs the tournament.
A wild Spirit Breaker appears and bashes MVP Hot6’s Heen onto the cliffs around the Roshan pit. Good job, cliffs. Glad you’re here.
Lower bracket: Na'Vi vs. Vici Gaming
A heartbreaking ending to a long, tense game between two veteran teams. After a punchy start—including a 5-on-5 before the horn—and strong push on both sides, it came down to who could farm faster and more effectively. Na'Vi's XBOCT on Anti-Mage oscillated between big plays—solo killing iceiceice's Queen of Pain in his own base—and crushing deaths. Sonneiko played his heart out for Na'Vi on Io, while Vici's fy pulled out an astonishing Rubick. After one mistake too many opened up Roshan for Vici, a stolen Shallow Grave helped Vici expose Na'Vi's ancient. Then Na'Vi fought back, hard, and forced a full set of buybacks. XBOCT consumed a Moon Shard to get even the slightest advantage as Vici closed in on the ancient, but it wasn't enough. He fell. The ancient fell. Na'Vi log their worst-ever TI performance, and Vici's journey to recovery begins.
"What are you going to do when they crest him and he has butter."
Troels 'SyndereN' Nielsen, Empire vs. LGD game 3
The threat of stacked evasion items gives us the day's best caster quote. You've got to respect a slippery, buttery Gyrocopter.
"Shiki havin' a fish, but he pings the pit."
David 'LD' Gorman, CDEC vs. C9 game 2.
"Oh! Banana with the biggest finger of his life."
Owen 'ODPixel' Davies, Newbee vs. MVP Phoenix.
Lower bracket: Fnatic vs. Virtus.Pro
It started promising for Fnatic. A totally unexpected role swap between Mushi and Kecik Imba placed the veteran and his protege on opposite sides of their typical midlane arrangement, and they were successful in shutting out Virtus.Pro's G on Dragon Knight. Smartly dodging VP's signature aggression, the game was even and—strategically, at least—seemingly in Fnatic's favour. Then, two disastrous attempts to contest Roshan placed the game firmly in VP's control. Illidan's rampant Gyrocopter controlled teamfight after teamfight, and Fnatic's combo—Song of the Siren, Requiem of Souls, Wall of Replica—simply never worked. A final heavy push sealed the Malaysian team's fate after a one-sided mid and lategame.
Lower bracket: MVP Hot6 vs. Invictus Gaming
The type of punchy early game draft that got MVP Hot6 through the qualifiers did some work at the beginning of this match, but IG were simply too experienced to give Hot6 the fights they wanted to take. An early kill lead didn't stop IG's BurNing from farming up on Phantom Lancer, and Ferrari_430's Shadow Fiend quickly became too big to handle. As Xi and ChuaN opened up fights across the map, IG stormed through Hot6's mid barracks and demonstrated what a substantial gold lead can do. After an attempted comeback fight went south Hot6 called GG. Only one previous TI champion would be eliminated by a Korean team today, and it wouldn't be Invictus Gaming.
On day 2: the two halves of North American Dota work out their differences; Empire strikes back; Cloud9's last chance. Don't miss it!