Thousands of enthusiastic fans gathered at the Rodgers Arena, Vancouver over the last few days. The event, The International 2018 is the biggest prize pool in esports. Every year, The International breaks its own records of the highest prize pool in esports history.
This is the first time that a team has qualified through the open qualifiers and actually proceeded to win The International. However, OG’s success should be taken as a big surprise. This team has dominated the Dota 2 scene in the past. They have won more Dota 2 Majors than any other team in Dota 2 history. However, for such a dominant team, they were simply unable to win The International.
The International is the biggest tournament in esports. Its importance in the Dota 2 calendar should not be underestimated. After all, the entire DPC season is spent as a means of qualifying for The International. Held around August every year, this event has produced teen millionaires and elevated esports in the eyes of the general public.
Over the past years, we have seen the favourites to win TI often bow out well before the finals. This year too, Virtus Pro was eliminated a few days prior. They were simply unable to put forth the same level of performance as they had been throughout the year. The Virtus Pro roster is known for their flamboyant playstyle. They are aggressive with their in-game performances as well as their usage of the Dota 2 Chat-Wheel.
No one expected OG Gaming to potentially even make it to the top 8 teams. The past year has been a very difficult and trying time for the organisation with multiple roster changes and a lack of stability. Coming into TI8, they have two really under-experienced players in 7ckingMad and Topson. Their individual skill was obviously too good to ignore and Notail ensured that his team remains a strong contender to the best.
— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) August 26, 2018
The International is known to be one the most competitive tournaments in the world. The format provides a chance for every team to prove their worth and not be bogged down by surprise upsets. However, every year the International finals are mostly a very one-sided affair.
Check out the scores of TI finals through the years below.
There has been only one other International where the final score was a 3-2. Despite it being 3-2, the individual games in that series were mostly one-sided affairs. It had to with the meta at the time, which was very push oriented. Watching Nature’s Prophet and the Wisp moving through the map, this meta was about ensuring objectives throughout the map.
The two Grand finalists had already met once before in the Upper bracket of the event. The series was one of the best series at the time in TI8. All the three games were extremely close and Tobi Wan’s casting only hyped it up more.
In the end, LGD made some hasty decisions and several members were caught without buybacks. A straight push to the end ensured that OG was able to send LGD packing to the lower bracket.
But LGD were strong enough to easily tide over EG in the lower bracket. They booked a rematch with OG in the grand finals. The Grand finals could not have been a better stage for the two teams. Having already played each other before in a truly close series, this BO5 series promised even more.
The first game of the Grand finals saw a very defensive pick focus from OG. They secured two really unconventional heroes for Notail and 7ckingMad in the form of Winter Wyvern and Treant Protector. These two support characters have very defensive abilities and can help save their cores on a regular basis.
And they did just that. Notail was clutch with his Cold Embrace especially when Ame’s Bloodseeker or Chalice’s Enchantress were focussing Spectre. These ability usages helped save their cores and ensured that they could farm up their necessary items. There were many occasions when a core could simply Teleport away from the enemies due to the Living armour provided by 7ckingmad.
The team knew their objective as soon as the draft was done. They had a timing and all they needed to do till then was to survive. The supports focussed on ensuring the survival while the cores continued to get more and more items. Indeed Treant Protector was instrumental in ensuring that OG still had multiple Tier one towers standing long into the game. The lack of objective money did set LGD back. The resources invested into trying to push a lane were negated by Treant Protector’s Meteor Hammer build. OG secured Game 1 with considerable ease in the end, especially since LGD had a decent start to the game.
LGD started Game 2 with a very strong draft. One of their themes through TI8 has been ensuring the Enchantress always remains a mystery pick on their lineup. This game, Chalice decided to play Enchantress as a core. Helped by the ‘Untouchable’ spell and the early Hood of defiance, Chalice was almost unkillable at one point in the game. Indeed by the end of the game, he had just 2 deaths to show for his 14 kills and 13 assists. Chalice’s strong offlane performance proved to be much superior to his counterpart 7ckingmad’s Underlord. Underlord was forced to cut creeps in an attempt to get some farm and level, which was the right approach at the time.
However, due to Chalice exerting his dominance in the top lane, OG was forced to make the necessary rotations. They had to devote resources to attempt to kill Chalice, but even then they had a pay a heavy price. OG’s inability to deal with Chalice, however, allowed the free space for Maybe and Ame. There were constant ganks by Earthshaker and Bane setup on the mid lane. Topson’s Invoker definitely suffered a lot as he was constantly under pressure from their LGD Supports helping Kunka to set up his combination of skills.
In the end, PL just seemed too tanky and had too much damage for Gyrocopter(ana) to deal with. LGD struck back with a strong Game 2 showing. The series tied up at 1-1 as we head into Game 3.
OG went for a very greedy lineup for Game 3. They picked PL and Morphling on the same team. Both the heroes do require some time to get going. They need the farm and the XP in order to be strong in the late game. Either hero would have been capable of being the sole carry on the team on its own. But Notail wanted to be greedy. It did seem to work wonders for the team, despite their greed.
The two agility heroes coupled with Lina were meant to be easily able to break Fy’s Phoenix ultimate. The ultimate requires a fixed number of hits in order to kill it. But Fy’s positioning with his ultimate and the timing could not have been better. The veteran player was single-handedly responsible for several won team fights. His ability to perfect his Phoenix ultimate placement resulted in crucial damage and team stuns.
Despite having Alchemist on their roster, Chalice went for the Aghanim’s sceptre. A very rare first item pickup on Brewmaster it was a very nice choice for the team. The Clap slow, as well as the Drunken Haze, ensured that Phoenix egg remained unbroken throughout its duration. The team played together and around the egg wonderfully displaying their synergy and coordination.
If anyone should receive the MVP for LGD winning this game, it has to be FY for his Phoenix skills.
The penultimate game of the Grand finals was a potential tournament game for PSG.LGD. If they were to win this match, they would go on to win TI8 and the biggest prize pool in esports history.
The draft put Phantom Lancer on the side of OG while LGD chose to pick Morphling and Enchantress. This time, the Enchantress was not a core Chalice pick, instead, it was xNova playing the hero. It was a deft attempt at throwing off their opponents in the draft phase. As the game progressed it became apparent that the outcome of the game would depend on a few things only.
Tuskar was picked as a counter to Axe’s Blink & Call. As soon as Axe would blink call someone, Tuskar would blink and roll him into a snowball. It essentially made Tusk and his allies invulnerable for a short period of time. It is a very direct counter, however, timing is important in such matches.
This game was filled with illusions. We would see Morphling replicate the Phantom Lancer, use his skills to create even more illusions. They also had the Enchantress to dominate one of the Phantom Lancer Illusions and potentially create his own army with it. There were so many illusions on the map that it would often get quite confusing for the spectator and the viewer.
The Buyback management was something that has been permeating throughout TI8. The team with the better buyback management is often the team that wins the match and the series. We saw this theme repeat during the Grand finals as well. There were times when a team was able to push only because the enemy did not have buyback [ even if they had the money needed to do it].
In the end, a brilliant call by 7ckingMad was able to ensure an OG push into the throne and them winning the game. This time, there was no Tusk alive to save Ame’s Morphling. OG won the game-tying up the Grand Finals 2-2. The Grand finals were already the most exciting TI finals ever and there was still one more game to go.
The fifth game started very similar to how some of the previous games have gone through for LGD Gaming. The team was really strong setting up Kunkka Torrent and Ship combinations with the help of Fy’s Earthshaker. The early game was dominated by the Chinese veteran who helped set up kills throughout the map. LGD was dominating the early game and they were ahead by almost 15 kills at one point in time.
But as any Dota 2 enthusiast will tell you, kills don’t matter. Every team and hero composition has a peak time where they are the strongest. OG knew their strong timings and with the help of some crucial items on the lineup, OG was able to render LGD’s skills a waste.
A special mention has to go to two OG players for the Grand final performance. OG’s Ana was definitely the MVP of the finals as his Ember spirit was crucial with timely buybacks and amazing usage of the Eul’s Scepter. He was able to avoid crucial skills on the part of LGD and hence provide a big advantage to his team. The Rubick played by JerAx was equally good with steals from Kunkka ( Ship ) or Earthshaker’s Fissure. Rubick’s positioning and his timing on his skills were crucial for the rest of the team to follow up.
OG won the International and with it a prize money of $11,234,067. This was the first International LAN event ( on such a big stage) for Topson. The player has a meagre $3000 in winnings prior to TI8. As they bask in the glory of winning TI8, OG still has to prepare for the upcoming seasons.
After all, there is no dearth of highly skilled teams in play. The likes of Virtus Pro and Team Liquid will be raring to go for the next season of DPC.