Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

It’s taken three years but Valve have now brought the full DotA hero lineup into Dota 2 [official site]. Underlord (formerly known as Pitlord) was the final hero, arriving in an update last night. He’s a four-legged fella loosely styled after Mannoroth from Warcraft 3 (shh! no one tell Blizzard’s lawyers), a strength hero with some nasty area of effect spells and the ability to teleport his whole dang team. Enjoy these few days when Underlord is picked in every game but no one knows how to play him or play against him. Next up for Dota 2, all-new heroes!

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

The Dark Rift has opened, and Vrogros the Underlord, the support hero who was revealed to the world earlier this month at The International 2016, has taken his place in the Dota 2 lineup.

Conjure waves of abyssal flame to immolate enemies held paralyzed in your spiteful grip. Feast upon the carnage of battle, gaining strength as foes perish around you, their attacks diminished by your very presence, the Dark Rift update page says. Tear a rift in reality to teleport yourself and your teammates across the map, delivering bloody retribution to any who would defy the will of Vrogros the Underlord.

I guess that's one way to put it. Described a bit more prosaically, the Underlord's abilities include Firestorm, an area-of-effect fire spell; Pit of Malice, which traps and damages enemy units; Atrophy Aura, which weakens nearby enemies and grants bonus damage to the Underlord; and his ultimate, Dark Rift, a teleport that carries the Underlord and all nearby friendly heroes to a selected friendly unit's position.

The update also brings a new post-game summary to Dota 2 that will provide detailed reports on different aspects of player and team performance that will help break down game flow and visualize critical turning points. Scoreboards, graphs, teammate stats, and other relevant information will all be at your fingertips and because statistics aren't much good if they can't be viewed over time, summaries of past matches will be saved for later viewing.

Community Announcements - Ward


The ethereal rift has opened, and the new hero Underlord is now playable in Dota 2. Bringing with him a new Post-Game Summary feature filled with detailed match info, and the addition of Teammate Stats to your profile, the leader of the Abyssal Horde stomps his way into the lanes in today's update to complete the roster of established heroes. Head over to The Dark Rift Update page to learn more.
Community Announcements - Ward


The online Dota 2 Secret Shop is open for business. Featuring merchandise launched at The International 2016, as well as a host of other original and community-created designs, the Valve Store powered by WeLoveFine is now taking orders for shipments of this year's Dota 2 collection to fans almost anywhere in the world.

To celebrate the shop launch and the release of our Anti-Mage and Windranger Dota 2 figurines produced in cooperation with Good Smile Company, we've also worked with Good Smile to create a manga-style comic featuring both heroes as their journeys intersect on the trail of the necromancer Balimar Oakrot.

Find out more in: A DARK PURPOSE SERVED
Community Announcements - Ward


As the dust settles on The International, and thoughts turn towards the next cycle of the competitive Dota 2 season, it's time for teams and players to select their battle companions for the next Dota 2 Major. With that in mind, we've updated the Dota 2 Major Registration process to adjust several aspects of the roster lock system.

We'll introduce a few of the main points below, but be sure to check out the full Dota 2 Majors Registration FAQ for more information.

This year, players are not automatically dropped from teams as they were in the past. This means existing teams will remain intact until managers or players actively make changes.

The first phase of roster locks—the drop period—will allow a team admin to drop a player, or allow a player to leave a team, and will be open until September 4, 2016. After this first phase is complete, any players that remain on a team's roster are bound to that team. Because players are not automatically dropped from rosters, teams and players who do not wish to continue with their current rosters will need to actively change roster status before the drop period concludes.

The second phase of roster locks—the invitation period—allows teams to issue Primary Member invites to players they wish to add to their rosters, and will remain open from September 4 - 18, 2016. Team admins can issue invites to any players not locked to another team's roster, including new players or players that were previously dropped from the team. One thing to note is that teams will no longer need to issue Substitute Player invites during the invitation period. Any team that qualifies for a Major event will be able to issue a Substitute Player invite to any player not participating in the Major once the qualifiers for that event are done.

We've included an "Updated" tag on revised sections of the Dota 2 Majors Registration FAQ, so head over there to see the full list of revisions.
Product Update - Valve
6.88c
====

* Disruption illusion damage taken increased from 150% to 200%
* Echo Stomped units no longer get targeted by towers or creeps (like nightmare)
* Echo Stomp damage decreased from 85/110/135/160 to 70/100/130/160
* Starstorm Aghanim upgrade no longer releases a second meteor
* Reactive Armor duration decreased from 14/16/18/20 to 10/13/16/19
* Gust cooldown increased from 13 to 16/15/14/13
* Chronosphere cooldown increased from 130/115/100 to 140/125/110
* False Promise cooldown increased from 90/60/30 to 100/65/30
* Lina's Base Attack Time improved from 1.7 to 1.6
* Rupture damage increased from 26/42/60% to 30/45/60%
* Leshrac's movement speed increased from 320 to 325
* Living Armor regeneration bonus increased from 4/7/10/13 to 4/8/12/16
* Stone Form stun delay reduced from 0.85 to 0.55
* Lane creeps now give 35% of experience when denied by neutrals rather than 20% (normal player denies give 50% experience).
Community Announcements - Ward


Congratulations to Wings Gaming, Grand Champions at The International 2016.

A team that earned their tournament berth after surviving the proving grounds of the Chinese Qualifiers, the young Wings squad scuffled somewhat in the Group Stage, taking 2-0 wins against Escape, Alliance, and LGD; drawing 1-1 ties vs EG and OG; and dropping 0-2 sets to both TNC and Na'Vi, eventually riding an 8-6 record into the Upper Bracket of the Main Event.

From there, Wings never looked back, losing only two matches on the main stage of The International en route to raising the Aegis of Champions in front of a packed KeyArena. In the process, they would defeat the upstart DC squad captained by a veteran who has battled on the biggest stages in Dota history; dominate the rising stars of MVP with their own in-your-face playstyle; and drop the defending champions Evil Geniuses into the Lower Bracket with a 2-0 victory that stirred echoes of last year's Upper Bracket Finals.

But this year it would be a different team battling back to face their Upper Bracket tormentors. After falling 2-1 to Wings in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals, a refocused DC lineup made an impressive run of their own, eliminating five teams—including the defending champions—to storm their way into the Grand Finals for a chance to avenge the loss that had banished them to the Lower Bracket in the first place.

Ultimately, while DC remained the only team to take matches from Wings on the main stage, the diverse drafts and unrelenting playstyle of the Chinese newcomers resulted in a 3-1 series victory for Wings Gaming as they claimed the mantle of world's best, forever inscribing these names upon the Aegis of Champions:


2016
Wings Gaming
Chu "Shadow" Zeyu
Zhou "跳刀跳刀丶Blink" Yang
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
Zhang "y丶" Yiping
Li "iceice" Peng


If you missed any of the tournament, or just want to relive some of the incredible moments and breathtaking plays, head over to The International site, where you can find replays for every match. There are also loads of photos and videos from the event over on the Media page and the Dota 2 Flickr page.

We would like to thank all of the teams and everyone in the Dota community for the continued dedication and support in bringing this tournament to life. The International is a celebration of all your efforts throughout the year in cultivating and growing such a vibrant and creative community. Without you, none of this would be possible. We hope you enjoyed this year's tournament as much as we did.
PC Gamer

GET CAUGHT UP

Find all of our coverage of The International, including accessible summaries of each day of play, right here.

Image via the official Dota 2 Twitter account.

The International 2016 is over and Dota 2 has its sixth world champion. This phenomenal tournament showcased some of the most impressive technical skill in the history of the game, along with an unprecedented degree of balance that saw 95% of the hero pool picked or banned. Every day held surprises, and if your bracket predictions weren t in tatters by the end then congratulations: you re actually Oracle.

The International is always exciting as a fan of Dota 2, but TI6 was exceptional. The game is in an extraordinary place at the moment, from the metagame to its international competitiveness. Where else would you see every region represented in the top 4 on the world stage? Where else can young unknown talent emerge to challenge the title within the space of eleven months? Dota 2 remains unsolved after this International, a strategic puzzle with no correct solution. Watching teams try, watching many fail and one succeed, has been the highlight of my gaming year so far.

Here s what happened on the final day.

Lower bracket final: Evil Geniuses vs. Digital Chaos

Click here to see the stream.

Scrim partners and rivals, these two teams know each other inside-out and both walked a long road to reach this point. The defending champions, EG s story at TI6 is one of recovery: after a disappointing year and a late roster switch that made them ineligible for a direct invite, their composure, creativity and execution all shone through when it mattered most.

Digital Chaos arrived in the lower bracket final after the most impressive underdog run in the history of the game. They are a team of rejects and rookies: Misery and w33 from Team Secret, Resolut1on from Empire, with Saksa and Moo arriving from the lower tiers of the international scene. With players from Macedonia, Ukraine, Denmark, Romania and the USA, DC represent the span of western Dota. Almost anyone could claim them EU players, NA ownership, a CIS carry and almost everyone did, but regional flag-waving is less important than what DC achieved. Underestimated and sometimes mocked, these players bound together by circumstance, players who had to ask for teams to play with on Twitter after they got booted from their former squads, pulled out the tournament run of their lives.

But only one of them would earn a spot in the grand final. EG arguably got the better part of the draft in the first game, with meta favourite Shadow Demon and Universe s legendary Faceless Void. Their strategy was built around heroes with loads of playmaking potential, which suits EG and the way they like to play Dota. Perhaps taking some hints from Wings 2-0 defeat of EG the day before, however, DC picked up a roster with a lot of sustain: Oracle, Tidehunter, Naga Siren, and Razor with sustained magic damage from Mirana.

BEST DOTA NONSENSE

After a spine-tingling live performance of the Dota 2 score, the Taiko drummers who were also part of the Monkey King reveal earlier in the week stuck around to soundtrack the pick-ban phase for each game in the grand final. There s nothing more Dota than live drumming for a character select screen.

After a good start for EG, DC successfully exploited EG s dependence on long-cooldown ultimates and pushed fights when the defending champions couldn t reliably defend. EG looked a little shaky in places, too ceding kills they didn t need to and occasionally misplaying with those vital ultimates. Establishing a lead, DC were ultimately able to force the issue and close out the game.The second draft proceeded along familiar lines until right at the end. Facing a durable and heavily-armoured lineup from EG and without a heavy magic damage dealer, DC drafted the twin-headed dragon, Jakiro one of the six remaining heroes neither picked nor banned by this point at the International. Not only that, but they gave the hero to w33 to be played in the midlane. This was a bold decision, bordering on a running joke just look at Misery s face the moment he picks it. Even the referee is laughing.

Mid Jakiro isn t entirely without precedent, but it s definitely not part of the current metagame. The pushing power that the dragon provides paid off early for DC, stripping EG of their outer towers by the 26 minute mark. But a series of crucial pickoffs on DC heroes prevented them from closing out the game in the narrow window of time they were afforded to do so. DC had one amazing teamfight in the Dire jungle where everything went their way: EG walked in a straight line into Jakiro s phenomenal magic damage output which, coupled with a clutch Chronosphere, resulted in a teamwipe in DC s favour. But DC hadn t done enough to curtail EG.Fear on one of his signature heroes, Sven.

DC had pulled something out from deep in their pockets for this second game and it simply didn t work out. EG, however, found new confidence: particularly Fear, whose Roshan and Aegis steal with Sven around the 43 minute mark demonstrated why the hero is so closely associated with him. This was the play that broke the match open for EG, as they strode confidently through DC s defenses to force a third game.

And what a third game. I don t think anybody thought we d see a game top EG vs. EHOME, but, well expectations don t have a particularly long lifespan at this year s International.

PLAY OF THE DAY

DC.Moo is the right man in the right place at the dramatic conclusion of the EG vs. DC series. His judgement here is just incredible. As EG storm DC s defenses, he destroys two lanes of barracks by himself in the EG base. He teleports home just in time to help out in the teamfight with Beastmaster s Savage Roar, then returns to the fountain, buys a Refresher Orb, and ults again to ensure that EG lose this vital fight. In a day of great play, this stood out.

DC picked an aggressive, melee-heavy lineup in Beastmaster, Shadow Demon, Ursa, Kunkka and Slark while EG adapted their playstyle with a five-man-push draft comprised of Elder titan, Tidehunter, Dazzle, Terrorblade and Brewmaster. DC s brawling draft scored first blood and did well in the lanes, with Sumail s Brewmaster struggling against w33 s mid Ursa.

EG refused to give any further ground to DC s aggression, however, gathering up around Terrorblade s vital Metamorphosis cooldown to push towers and take teamfights. A series of risky overextensions by DC put them further behind and placed the game in EG s hands. In order to keep their tournament hopes alive, DC resorted to rat Dota splitting the map and applying constant pressure in lanes that EG weren t defending in order to deny their opponent the ability to fully commit to a push.

It was one of the best demonstrations of macro-level strategy seen at this year s International and, more impressively, it was executed with heroes that aren t traditionally associated with the style. EG could commit big spells for kills here and there, but they struggled to hold on to map control and vision against DC s guerilla approach.

EG scored a run of successful Roshan attempts in the midgame but DC managed to prevent them from turning this into a serious advantage. Teamfights started to even out towards the late game, and DC proved able to splitpush and siege quickly as Misery s support Kunkka developed into an extra core hero. EG reassembled the deathball and stormed down mid, determined to end this series one way or another. Meanwhile, DC.Moo laid siege to the EG base alone.

The defense of DC s ancient at the 46 minute marks was one of the highlights of this entire event, with both teams throwing everything they had into one teamfight with everything on the line. Repelled once, Fear picked up a Divine Rapier on Terrorblade and prepared to hold the line in his own base. DC s split push earlier in the game gave them the advantage here, however, and Fear s own farm could be turned against him with Shadow Demon illusions joining the siege.

Avoiding heroes and going straight for the ancient, DC pulled it off: the defending champion fell, and the underdog advanced to the grand final. This was, in some ways, the most dramatic moment of the day the finals were fantastic, but two successive base races with Divine Rapiers in play are hard to beat.

TOP PERFORMANCE

There so much to pick out from Wings collective performance over the course of the day, particularly iceice in a tournament full of god-tier support talent, he still managed to stand out. Innocence emerged again as the best draft strategist in the scene. On the final day, though, it all came down to shadow. A run of absolutely stunning carry performances including a 20/0/16 K/D/A on Faceless Void puts him ahead of a competitive field, and deservedly so.

The grand final: Digital Chaos vs. Wings

Wings had the shortest route to the grand final of any team, only ceding a single game in the upper bracket (to DC, in fact). Even so, they only lost that game because they pulled out a Pudge-Techies pocket strat it was more Wings loss than DC s win. Plus, this kind of creativity in the draft is exactly what got them this far. Founded in August last year, Wings made a name for themselves by having apparently no limit to their hero pool: they transcend the meta, able to play multiple styles of Dota equally well and adapt their approach to their important.

The great thing about this final is that DC had come to demonstrate similar creativity too. Mid Jakiro might not have worked, but DC are a fun team to watch because they re willing to have fun and try new ideas even when the stakes are this staggeringly high. The fact that we got a final with two teams like this is another testament to the health of the Dota scene: this was no TI4, where one strat trumped everything. This was a battle of creativity and wits to the end.

This was apparent in the first draft, as both teams threw the meta out of the window and drew from the whole pool. Wings grabbed Io and Storm Spirit early while DC went for established favourites in Timbersaw and Keeper of the Light. Wings countered with Silencer and, when DC took Faceless Void, they picked up their fan-pleasing support Pudge as a counter. DC last-picked Skywrath Mage for w33, running a traditional support as a midlaner for the second time in the day.

This time, it went much better. A very fast first blood got w33 off to a great start in lane, and this translated into DC control all over the map. Even when Wings grouped up to take w33 down, he managed to snipe Blink s Storm Spirit with his ult before conceding the kill. Wings fought back hard, however, focusing on shutting down Moo s Timbersaw a hero he was undefeated with at this point in the event. This became a skirmish match into the midgame, with a run of clutch pickoffs for both teams set up by an ongoing war for vision between the supports.

Over time, however, Pudge failed to have the impact that the hero needs to be worth picking over a more reliable Void counter like Naga Siren. Once again, weak links in the draft put Wings at a disadvantage as the game progressed, and DC itemised well against the threat of Wings other control options, particularly Global Silence. A clutch pickoff on Storm Spirit and Io opened up Wings base at the half hour mark, and DC took the lead in the first game of the best of five.

DC ceded Faceless Void to Wings in game two but picked up counters that they re very comfortable with: Mirana, Naga Siren, Shadow Demon, Razor. The surprise pick of this draft was Doom, one of Moo s favourite heroes who was chosen as a counterpick to Blink s potent Invoker. It was the supports for Wings that really came into their own in this game, however, particularly Innocence s Oracle with an aggressive skill build, he made this defensive support work as an offensive roamer.

DC.Saksa put in a strong showing on Shadow Demon and the two teams traded relatively evenly going into the midgame, but Blink recovered from a shaky first game to deliver a stunning performance as Invoker here. Snowballing into a substantial gold lead, a run of clutch Sun Strikes including one snipe on Saksa as he returned to the fountain put Wings substantially ahead. From a close-fought midgame, Wings utterly rolled DC late to take the series to a 1-1 tie.

The underperformance of Doom in game two encouraged DC to go back to Timbersaw for the third game, along with Mirana, Winter Wyvern, Sand King and Clinkz as their pocket pick. It was Wings that got the better part of the deal here, however, getting Oracle and Void again as well as Death Prophet, Kunkka, and Nyx Assassin.

HOTTEST JUKE

This play was only partially caught on the main stream, so you might want to load up the replay in-game and fast forward to the 8 minute mark to see it properly. Jumped on by EG.Sumail s Queen of Pain at the bottom rune, DC.Misery s support Naga Siren manages to break line of sight behind the only tree available. The fraction of a second of extra time this grants him is enough for Razor s Static Link to drain Queen of Pain s damage, allowing Misery to score a momentum-building kill for himself.

This was another close laning phase, but Wings were able to exploit the pickoff power of the Nyx Assassin to slow down Resolut1on on Clinkz. This was a game of near-constant fighting, but unlike the second game the trades were much more one sided. Wings.Shadow lived the dream as Faceless Void, going on an unstoppable tear with a run of perfect Chronospheres and miracle bashes. DC managed to regain some ground late as Clinkz picked up the damage items he desperately needed, but they looked frustrated and played like their nerves were fraying as fight after fight slid in Wings direction. By the 20 minute mark, they were getting flattened.

DC fought hard as the game went late but there was no overcoming Wings gold lead as the young Chinese team simply refused to make the kinds of mistakes that would let DC back into the match. One last perfect Chronosphere at the edge of DC s base caught Resolut1on without buyback, and DC called GG.

Wings only needed one more game to win the International. DC took Mirana and Timber again despite having lost with it twice in a row, but the choice made sense: these are some of the best heroes in the game, and picks that they re particularly comfortable with. If they were going to win the series, they needed to prove that Wings hadn t entirely figured them out. DC also took Slark one of Resolut1on s best heroes as well as Night Stalker to counter Wings Keeper of the Light and Vengeful Spirit to counter Batrider.

Wings were one step ahead of them, however, recognising that DC didn t have what it takes to control Anti-Mage and grabbing him for shadow. They also picked up Axe for Faith_bian and made the surprising call to run it mid in response to DC s decision to give Slark to w33 instead of Resolut1on. Faith_bian won his lane handily, forcing awkward rotations as DC tried to find a secure position to farm from.

Early trades went DC s way despite w33 s bad start, taking advantage of Night Stalker s nocturnal presence to build map control going into the midgame. But it wasn t quite enough to control shadow s farm, and Anti-Mage steadily built a substantial gold lead. Wings might be content to play outside the meta most of the time, but making space for Anti-Mage is one of the oldest strategies in the Dota playbook: and it paid off here.

DC started to make mistakes in their haste to capitalise on their early advantage and Wings took advantage of every one. The underdogs put in one last fantastic teamfight performance at the half-hour mark, but Wings were better: iceice demonstrated once again why teams that beat Wings don t let him get Elder Titan. And when it came to it, with everything on the line, shadow delivered a game-ending, International-winning teamfight performance with Anti-Mage. Riding a 25k gold swing, Wings marched through DC s outer defenses and into a historic International victory.

Less than a year after forming their team, these young unknowns had just won more than $9m. Their victory may fit International tradition every even-numbered world championship has been won by a Chinese team but nobody saw this coming. KeyArena exploded in light, confetti, fire and applause as Wings lifted the Aegis of Champions.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

After a week packed with phenomenal Dota 2 [official site] plays, combacks and upsets the winners of The International 2016 (and a casual NINE MILLION DOLLARS?????!!!!) are:

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

NEED TO KNOW

Get up to speed on the players, metagame, and results going into the International with our extensive guide to the tournament and teams. You can find all of our ongoing coverage of the tournament on this page. The fastest place to find VODs for each game is on Reddit, but you can also find them in the game client. Check out the current bracket standings on the official site.

Grand finals day is here. Starting at 10:00 PDT (18:00 BST/19:00 CEST), the three best Dota 2 teams in the world will go to war for the top spot. This means everything to these players, regardless of the $9m first place prize. Whoever wins, Dota history is going to be made today. Will young talent emerge from China to sweep the title away from established teams? Will the defending champions recover from a shaky year to become the first team to win two back-to-back Internationals? Or will a team that everybody overlooked for months prove their doubters wrong on the one stage that really matters? It s time to find out.

Header image via the official Dota 2 Twitter account. Spoilers below.

IF YOU WATCH ONE MATCH…

...watch DC vs. Fnatic, particularly game two.

THE MATCHES

Lower bracket: MVP Phoenix vs. Fnatic

META BUSINESS

Wings cracked open the meta today, proving that anything can work when the current top-tier aren t in the pool. Their teamfight-oriented push strategy in game one against EG is old-school Dota, and it seemed to take EG completely off guard. Although certain heroes will remain crucial going into the final day particularly Shadow Demon and Mirana there s still vast strategic space left to explore.

MVP Phoenix have had another fantastic year at the International, upsetting champions and proving that teams can still bring their own style of Dota 2 and win at the highest level. Nonetheless, that limited playstyle as entertaining as MVP s all-in aggression can be holds them back from the top spot. Wings exploited it yesterday, and Fnatic exploited it today.

MVP Phoenix went all-in on aggression in the first draft, as you d expect, but Fnatic outfought them in the early game. Fnatic.Ohaiyo on Sand King had a phenomenal early game with little opposition in lane, and a series of fights went Fnatic s way as MVP struggled to get key fighting items like Mekansm online. When they did, MVP managed to claw back some space on the map: but not enough to overcome the huge gold lead that Fnatic had established.

With the help of 343 s Bounty Hunter, Fnatic just kept building that lead. When DJ s Crystal Maiden had greater net worth than QO s Slardar, MVP must have known that they were in trouble. It proved so: they fought hard but so did Fnatic, and Dota is simply a numbers game sometimes. Here, the numbers went Fnatic s way.

MVP Phoenix withdrew from their house style in the second game, drafting on-meta picks like Mirana and Faceless Void. They got first blood, too, but had their momentum curtailed by an early courier snipe from Fnatic s Riki that a MVP Phoenix should have seen coming. A double kill for Fnatic.MidOne s safelane Juggernaut under MVP s tower demonstrated just how hard Fnatic were winning these lanes, and Oracle a hero that MVP seem to overvalue both in picks and bans couldn t provide enough of a defensive boost to keep the Koreans in this match.

Even so, a great teamfight performance at the 20 minute mark kept MVP in the game as they were given the opportunity to go HAM and demonstrate the kind of form that knocked OG out of the upper bracket. MVP struggled to turn these wins into objectives, but they did extend the game. MVP picked up Roshan later in the game but were immediately punished for it, giving Fnatic the opportunity they needed to start sieging. At this point, MVP looked like they were crumbling: a run of misplays and deaths after buyback played hard into Fnatic s hands. Mushi s midlane Medusa became a battering ram that secured Fnatic a place in the top four.

Upper bracket: Wings vs. Evil Geniuses

PLAY OF THE DAY

The standard of play at the International is now so high that virtuoso outplays are actually becoming less common: players are simply too good to get styled on. Yesterday, however, DC.w33 demonstrated that it can still be done. That mid-fight Sun Strike on Mushi s Huskar is one of the plays of the tournament, let alone the day and the presence of mind required to Cold Snap Elder Titan before the Echo Stomp can stop him is incredible.

This was a fascinating series. In a flashback to last year, a seemingly unstoppable EG came up against a hot young Chinese team and stumbled. Last year that Chinese team was CDEC: this year, it s Wings. The difference, however, is Wings startling versatility and their creativity in the draft. EG s master strategist ppd seemed utterly outmaneuvered by Wings willingness to reach outside the meta.

Wings entered the booth with a plan a really old plan. Building a teamfight lineup around Tidehunter and the main event s first Enigma is old-school Dota 2, with pushing power supported by Razor, Rubick and Timbersaw. This was experimental in terms of this event but relatively traditional in a broader sense. EG s draft suggested experimentation of a different sort: Universe not on an initiator but on Weaver; SumaiL on a mid Sand King; Zai on Io with none of the traditional Io partners. Fear on Anti-Mage suggested the EG wanted a way to split-push, but this seemed like a reactive rather than active choice.

A confident start for EG built up good momentum, with early levels on SumaiL providing good pick-off power when coupled with Zai. Yet levels and farm on Wings lineup translated directly into tankiness, and as time went on EG s ability to teamfight became less and less effective. Wings proved to be capable gankers too, willing to commit ultimates to score vital, well-coordinated kills on Fear s Anti-Mage. This was crucial because Fear represented EG s way back into the game, able to cut off creep waves and sap the momentum from Wing s lethal pushing power.

This worked for a time but it only took one mistake to collapse EG s fragile resistance. Seemingly underestimating the Tidehunter s Refresher Orb, EG were caught by a fantastic Black Hole in their base followed by a second Ravage that effectively ended the game.

TOP PERFORMANCE

Wings.iceice s Elder Titan in game two against EG was fantastic, delivering a series of clutch Echo Stomps that denied his opponents vital momentum. His team as a whole deserves credit, too particularly captain Innocence. Comfortably outdrafting EG two games in a row is no mean feat and bodes very well for Wings prospects on the final day.

Wings pivoted to the meta in the second game, picking up Elder Titan, Beastmaster, Shadow Demon, Medusa, Huskar a rogue s gallery of top picks, demonstrating what can happen when your opponent doesn t know what to expect. A late Alchemist pick by EG suggested that they planned on building an early lead and closing the game fast, and early kills from EG s aggressive trilane got them off to a good start.

Wings vision game was on point, however, with wards ensuring that Universe s Night Stalker couldn t establish the kind of global threat that he needs to in order to be effective. Wings.iceice was the star, here, proving once again why Elder Titan is such a threat against aggressive. Every Echo Stomp and Earth Splitter was on point, or so it seemed.

SumaiL s Alchemist couldn t establish the kind of lead that the hero specialises in as Wings evened out their early kill deficit. Wings teamfight coordination was phenomenal in the midgame, flirting with the edge of disaster but always coming out on top with clutch saves from Innocence s Shadow Demon ensuring that EG couldn t find the kills they needed. Comfortably sieging EG s highground at the 30 minute mark, Wings secured a 2-0 victory over the defending champions and a place in the grand final.

Lower bracket: DC vs. Fnatic

HOTTEST JUKE

Fnatic.Ohaiyo s Sand King runs into MVP Phoenix at the edge of the Radiant jungle, disrupting their smoke attempt: but fast blink reactions gets Ohaiyo to safety. Then, even faster Force Staff reactions propel him away from QO s attempted follow-up.

The lower bracket underdog melee reached its climax as DC and Fnatic fought for the right to face EG for that final spot in the grand final. Fnatic got creative in the first draft, drawing the main event s first Legion Commander but DC outplayed them with a Slardar pick (typically an offlaner or carry) that ended up being run as a support with a Dark Seer. This fantastic strategic decision put huge pressure on Fnatic s safelane Phantom Lancer and contributed to a quick lead for DC.

A run of clutch Mirana arrows got Fnatic back into the game, chipping away at DC s kill advantage. Then, dodging DC s aggression allowed Fnatic to pull back a bit of control over the game and it became a very close contest. They couldn t dodge the fights forever, however, and DC s draft which included Ursa, Slark and Keeper of the Light had huge potential in both skirmishes and teamfights. Smart itemisation proved vital here too, with DC building items to counter the single-target lockdown that Fnatic relied on to control snowballing heroes like Ursa.

DC s deadly frontline received fantastic support from Saksa and a series of clutch Vacuum-Wall of Replica combos from Moo s Dark Seer compounded DC s massive gold and experience lead going into the lategame. Fnatic found themselves on the receiving end of the same sort of treatment they gave MVP: they fought back hard, but were simply too far behind to close out this first game.This was Fnatic s first loss on the main stage, and with their aura of invulnerability shattered the second game presented a stiff challenge. The teams once again traded top meta picks, with Fnatic getting the deadly combination of Huskar and Io through the draft. DC responded with the main event s first Chaos Knight, a lesser-seen carry who is nonetheless considered a solid answer to Huskar.

Early aggression from DC scored first blood on Io, but a misplay led to a death on Resolut1on s Chaos Knight too. The laning phase went much better for Fnatic generally, but they gave up some of this momentum with a wasted rotation from Faceless Void and their mid Ember Spirit. Nonetheless, this was close for a long time.

BEST DOTA NONSENSE

As game three ends, Taiko drummers and martial artists take over the stage for the reveal of Monkey King and the New Journey update. He sounds a lot like McCree from Overwatch, for some reason.

Around the 17 minute mark, however, the DC teamfight machine came online and gave them the confidence to keep taking advantageous fights. The decision to give midlaner w33 Invoker paid off as he delivered one of the most impressive performances I ve ever seen on this high skill cap hero. Star power doesn t always shine when every player is this good, but w33 outplayed Fnatic comfortably in a number of crucial midgame teamfights.

He even repeated this legendary trick from the Frankfurt Major, using Invoker s Forge Spirit summons to detect an incoming smoke attack from Fnatic. Committing their Chronosphere to catch w33 was the best move Fnatic could have made at this point, but it was a desperation play that DC were able to take advantage of. Buying back the Invoker, DC punished Fnatic and rolled down mid to take a lane of barracks.

From this point the combination of Forge Spirits, Chaos Knight illusions, Shadow Demon illusions, and Beastmaster pets gave DC lots of slow-siege power. It was their teamfight prowess that gave them the midgame, but playing the meta paid off late. Fnatic were forced to try to take the fight to DC, but couldn t take enough in the trade to stop DC from pushing. Offlaner Moo died while taking down Fnatic s final barracks, and simply leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head until he respawned. He knew they d won: there was no coming back from mega creeps when Fnatic was this far behind. And he was right. Surging in to deliver the killing blow, Digital Chaos this team of misfits, rejects and relative unknowns won a place in the top three at the International.

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