The International (TI) is Dota 2’s most significant competition of the year, with 20 teams from different regions competing for a massive prize pool. Unfortunately, this year’s edition saw many favourites fall. Of the 20 that qualified for the tournament, only four teams – Team Aster, Tundra Esports, Team Liquid and Team Secret left to go head to head for the Aegis.
Being held for the first time in Southeast Asia, in Singapore, no less, we were in attendance as Tundra Esports lifted the Aegis after beating out Team Secret in the finals after two days of exhilarating matches.
Tons of people flocked to the venue, even those who weren’t watching the finals live. All wanted a chance to grab exclusive merch at the Secret Shop and freebies such as a Dota bag with Dota-themed merchandise.
But what else happened during the two days that finals weekend fever hit Singapore? Here is a recap.
Team Aster Vs Team Liquid
Inside the venue, we were greeted by a boisterous crowd, with everyone scrambling to find their seats and get ready for the start of the day’s first game – Team Aster vs Team Liquid.
But first came the pre-match ceremony, where all four teams were presented to the crowd, followed by a message from Steam’s founder, Gabe Newell, to say his famous line: “Welcome to The International”.
MATUMBAMAN of Team Liquid also announced that this TI would be his last. It would signify the end of his storied career, which spanned eight years. The crowd was sympathetic to this and followed the announcement with cheers and applause.
Having fallen at the hands of Team Aster prior, Liquid were out to get revenge, having needed to fight their way through the lower brackets to get to the final four. In the first best-of-three match, a spirited Liquid bested Aster with a score of 29 to 27, which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
After a short break, the two teams went at it again, where Aster took the game with a score of 32 to 10, sending the tie to a third game. But how Aster defeated Liquid was a cause for concern, as they were convincingly beaten.
But all the doubts were swiftly put to bed with the third game, with MATUMBAMAN, who was playing Night Stalker, pulling the strings to a Liquid victory and knocking Aster out of the competition, which meant that Liquid’s fabled run would continue.
Team Secret Vs Tundra Esports
Going into this matchup, these two heavyweights were considered favourites to lift the Aegis come Sunday, and the team who emerges victorious would have an excellent chance of doing so.
Dota 2 legend Puppey was looking to build on his sole TI win, which came in the first edition. On the other hand, Tundra Esports’ sneyking was looking for his first win, having never won The International in his ten years of playing.
The first match between the two was a tense, close-fought affair, with the match stretching beyond one hour. At the climax, both Puppey and Crystallis of Team Secret managed to stave off a Tundra push to stay in the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Team Secret, however, could not turn the tables and succumbed to a 35 to 47 loss against Tundra Esports.
Going into the second match, many expected Tundra Esports to win again, having constantly applied pressure on Team Secret in the first match. But a surprise Dawnbreaker pick from Resolut1on proved pivotal as they clawed their way into the tie with a win, setting the mood for a compelling final game.
All hope of a Team Secret turnaround was dashed in the third and final game; Tundra Esports battered Team Secret in just 35 minutes with a score of 36 to 13, booking them their place in the grand finals.
That brought the curtain down on an action-packed first day and set the bar for an exciting finals day.
Lower Bracket Finals: Team Liquid Vs Team Secret
Touted as the tournament match to watch, MATUMBAMAN and zai were facing their former team Team Secret in the Lower Bracket Finals to determine who would finish third and who would advance to the grand finals.
Everyone was excited about this game, with the stadium filling up one hour before the match’s start.
Secret overpowered their counterparts in the first match, winning by a score of 24 to 14. Team Secret’s Nisha grabbed the headlines with a stunning performance with a kills-to-death ratio of 13 to 0, which put them in control of the match.
Team Liquid, however, came roaring back in the second match, determined not to go down without a fight. MATUMBAMAN put up another brilliant performance, grabbing Team Liquid a 35-21 win, sending the tie to a third match.
With a spot in the grand finals on the line, both teams went at it in the third match, but it was Team Secret who emerged victorious, with a score of 32 to 23, meaning that Team Liquid would finish third, and there would be no fairytale ending for MATUMBAMAN.
The emotions were too much to bear, and tears started flowing. However, his teammates and those from Team Secret soon were around him, consoling and hugging him, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation and a hero send-off as he walked back down the tunnel.
Grand Finals: Team Secret Vs Tundra Esports
This set up a grandstand finale which would see Team Secret pitted against Tundra Esports again for the chance to lift the Aegis.
In the first match, Team Secret was out for revenge, but once again, fell to a crushing defeat at the hands of Tundra Esports yet again, with skiter putting in an extraordinary performance to put Team Secret to the sword and give them a mountain to climb.
Team Secret was undeterred, however, and put up an intense fight in the second match, pushing Tundra Esports all the way. Unfortunately, they fell short and succumbed to a narrow loss in the second game, which put Tundra firmly in the driving seat, going two up in a best-of-five.
Now left reeling from the latest loss, Team Secret went into the third match knowing that it was all-or-nothing, and really kept Tundra on their toes, but ran out of steam nearing the end of the game and eventually lost 41 to 22, which means that Tundra Esports were crowned TI Champions!
From us at DANAMIC, congratulations to Tundra Esports for winning The International, and we had a great time watching it live!
Photos by Kenneth Tan of the DANAMIC Team.