Dota 2 International 2015: Day 3

Sad EHOME is sad

And this is what we’ve been waiting for: high-stakes clashes with literal millions on the line, between teams who are giving everything they have and have so much talent and brains that their “everything” lifts Dota 2 to stratospheric heights.

Match of the Day: Team Secret vs. Invictus Gaming

Move over, Vici vs. Cloud9. We have a new “best game of TI5” and its name is Team Secret vs. Invictus Gaming Game 1.

At the start of this series, Team Secret appeared bound and determined to redeem themselves for Tuesday’s humiliation against EHOME, and dominated IG for the first half of the first game. Arteezy was a one-man army, and Vici couldn’t withstand the onslaught coming from Secret. They went on the defensive and just tried to hold their Tier 3s.

Well, most of them did. Somehow, IG’s Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei was able to get farmed-up while the rest of his team dealt with the pressure coming from Team Secret, until his Anti-Mage was ready to get back into the battle and start the greatest comeback win of the tournament.

Secret didn’t flinch, though. They rallied for the second game and took a decisive win before playing in a nail-biting ace match. Once again Secret got out to a lead, and once again it started to slip away as Invictus shut-down Arteezy and started mounting a counterattack.

The difference, this time, was the icy effectiveness of Ludwig “zai” Wahlberg, who stopped the comeback dead in its tracks. With IG teetering, Team Secret did a much better job of controlling the map and forcing IG to choose between sitting under their towers and waiting to be buried by Secret’s gold lead, or coming out on the map. IG picked up the gaunlet, and were punished for it as Secret showed why they are one of the most respected teams in the world right now.

State of Play:

LGD Gaming
CDEC Gaming
Evil Geniuses
Team Secret
MVP Phoenix
Vici Gaming
Invictus Gaming
Team Empire
MVP Hot6ix

Three Things:

  • CDEC Run

A reminder: CDEC are a wild card team at this tournament. They’ve been bested by LGD each time they’ve met in the last month. Yet CDEC are on their way to the upper-bracket final against EG after brushing aside their veteran opponents from LGD today.

And by the end, it wasn’t even close. CDEC controlled the series from the moment they wiped LGD 35 minutes into the first game, turning a close and hard-fought game into a rout. The second game was so smooth and seamless that LGD never even got a grip on it, and CDEC glided past them. They are undeniably a great team, and are now just a series away from the final.

  • CompLexity Die with Honor

CompLexity have exceeded expectations throughout this tournament, and they very nearly stunned in a wild three-game series. In fact, they did stun them in game 1 as they mounted not one but two improbable comebacks after a terrible start and eventually eked out a victory.

It was undeniably a fun series that absolutely anybody could have won, but it also served to illustrated why neither of these two team had ever been tipped to win. At times VP and CompLexity seemed to be competing to see who could lose the game more spectacularly, and the series as a whole felt more like a brawl than anything else we’ve seen at this International. But it was a hell of a show and a memorable exit for CompLexity.

  • Lawful Evil Genius

After EHOME surprised Team Secret at the start of the tournament, it was starting to look ominous for the early favorites from Europe and North America. China was cleaning house, and the vaunted Team Secret looked outclassed. So Evil Geniuses’ series against EHOME was fraught with tension, and at first it looked like EG were going to go the way of Team Secret as EHOME got out to an early lead.

But then EG got to bring out Techies for Game 2, a character that EG’s Kurtis “Aui” Ling has publicly derided as a broken, fun-destroying hero that should be removed from the game. If his plan was to demonstrate why the suicidal demolitions expert is unfair and exploitative, he made his case eloquently as he confounded EHOME and helped hand them a decisive defeat.

It was Game 3, however, where we saw Evil Geniuses’ real greatness, however. One of the themes of this tournament has been teams blowing their leads as they try to break the enemy’s high-ground. The Chinese teams in particular have evinced a defensive brilliance around their Tier 3s. So when EHOME fell behind and went into a defensive crouch, EG let them stay there.

It wasn’t the most inspiring or daring approach, but with $2 million guaranteed money on the line, Evil geniuses weren’t taking chances. They farmed, and farmed, and only went in on EHOME when they were good and ready to break them. As Evil Geniuses broke through the bottom lane, led by Syed “SumaiL” Hassan’s tremendous Windranger, EHOME called time and tapped-out GG.

Looking Ahead

You won’t want to miss the start of Thursday’s games at 6 PM UK / 1 PM Eastern, because that’s when two of The International’s most surprising and exciting teams, MVP Phoenix and Vici Gaming, do battle in an elimination best of three with a difference of almost $400,000 at stake.

It will be a bittersweet match, because nobody wants to see either of these teams go. Vici put on a hell of a show against Cloud9 on Tuesday. They played one of the tournament’s best games and stopping a surging Cloud9 team in the first set, and then made a statement in game 2 as they showcased an incredible level of play. MVP, meanwhile, I have surprised everyone at this tournament with their pluck and their tactical skill. But still, someone has to go home at the end of this series.

The winner faces EHOME at the end of the day, which will surely be a difficult matchup, especially as EHOME will have had the entire day to rest and prepare.

Before that happens, however, will take on a scary-looking Team Secret. Whatever proved Secret’s undoing against EHOME, they certainly lived up to their reputation in their series against Invictus. VP looked nowhere near as strong as they struggled to put away CompLexity in a series that was practically decided via coin-flip.