The last Major before The International has just finished after garnering significant attention due to the fact that five of the six teams participating are set to head to Vancouver in just over two weeks’ time.
Rather than distributing the $100,000 prize pool solely based on final placings, $30,000 was set aside to encourage good performances in the Group Stage, with each team netting $1,000 per game win. This meant the other $70,000 was based on how each team ranked overall.
Five teams were invited – Evil Geniuses (EG), VGJ.Storm, paiN Gaming, OpTic Gaming and Fnatic – and they were joined by a final qualifier team; the winners of the BTS Summer Cup, Let’s Do It (LDI).
Even though no team would be eliminated before the play-offs, the cash sum for winning games was a powerful incentive to play well in the Group Stage. This provided additional motivation alongside the chance of finishing inside the top two, which meant a place in the Upper Bracket and thus being just one series win away from the Grand Finals.
Even with the extra prize pool available for wins, a lot of unusual picks were brought out, with Broodmother, Pudge, Meepo, Arc Warden and even Techies all making appearances.
EG, 9.420 to win TI8, topped the group and started off as they meant to go on. They went 3-1 on Day 1, took down paiN 2-0 on Day 2 and finished Day 3 with a 2-0 win over OpTic before falling to Fnatic by the same scoreline.
Second-placed VGJ.Storm (26.790) didn’t start as well, going 2-2 on the first day, but after a 4-0 Day 2 they looked like a shoo-in for a top-2 place. With their final game of the Group Stage a 1-1 draw against LDI, they managed to secure their Upper Bracket place alongside EG, with both sides securing 7-3 overall records.
paiN (87.080) and OpTic (26.790) both only played one series each on Day 1, with paiN losing 0-2 and OpTic drawing 1-1. However, they both went 2-2 on Day 2, cementing themselves in the middle of the pack. While OpTic did look better, they faltered at the last hurdle, going 1-3 on the final day while paiN went 3-1. This allowed the latter to slide into 3rd with a 5-5 record while OpTic ended up 4th on 4-6.
Both Fnatic (18.900) and Let’s Do It started slowly, drawing both of their games on Day 1 and, on Day 2, going 0-4 and 0-2 respectively. However, while LDI continued to falter, going 1-3 on the final day, Fnatic were able to turn their form around with a 2-0 victory against Evil Geniuses, putting them one game ahead of LDI at 4-6 in the overall standings, leaving LDI last with a 3-7 score.
Play-offs – Losers’ Round 1
The first play-off game was paiN Gaming versus Let’s Do It and, while paiN were expected to win quite handily given their 2-0 victory during the Group Stage, LDI seemed determined to do well. Indeed, LDI took Game 1 with a near-unkillable Necrophos thanks to Oracle, which paiN were forced to ban out in Game 2. Here, thanks to w33 going 13/0/10 on Ursa, they were able to even the score. Game 3 was a struggle though and after 26 minutes of back and forth, one fight was enough for LDI to snowball the game and take an upset win after 53 minutes.
Fnatic v OpTic was expected to be a lot more even, with the two sides going 1-1 in the Group Stage. Game 1 looked to be going OpTic’s way as they had a consistent gold lead for most of the encounter thanks to tower kills. However, even after destroying most of Fnatic’s base, they found themselves unable to win fights and eventually Fnatic kept them down long enough to push in and take the game. Game 2 was much more even, with the gold difference staying under 4000 until a good fight for Fnatic resulted in a pick-off on CCnC and they started to push into their base. It took over an hour, but eventually Fnatic brought down the Ancient and took the series 2-0.
Play-offs – Winners’ Finals, Losers’ Round 2 and Losers’ Finals
EG v VGJ.Storm in the Winners’ Finals was expected to be close thanks to their identical Group Stage record, but it was anything but. Game 1 was nearly perfect for EG – they only conceded three kills as they won every single lane and quickly took the Tier 1 towers. It was at this point that VGJ.Storm realised there was little chance of winning and tapped out at 16 minutes before any Tier 2 towers were destroyed. Game 2 may have been longer, but it was still incredibly slanted in favour of EG, who once again took the lead and pressed VGJ.Storm into an unwinnable position, taking mega creeps and forcing out the GG. This saw EG secure a clean 2-0 victory and a place in the Grand Finals.
Fnatic are known for their long games and this was certainly the case against LDI in the Losers’ Round 2 battle. The first game was quite close despite LDI securing a modest early advantage as Fnatic simply needed time to get items so they could split-push. Eventually, Fnatic became too much to handle, with LDI tapping out on 48 minutes. Game 2 was also even although Fnatic enjoyed the slight early lead this time. Despite Fnatic losing their net worth advantage later on, with LDI taking their final outer towers after a bad fight, the Polish squad couldn’t hold out against the onslaught of Abed’s Arc Warden and eventually they lost their base and the series.
Fnatic’s next match was against VGJ.Storm in the Losers’ Finals and it started in exactly the same manner as Game 1 against LDI, with Fnatic beginning with a small deficit and then building up items before UNiVeRsE and EternaLEnVy became so much of a split-pushing threat that VGJ could offer no resistance. Game 2 was a much stranger affair though, given VGJ’s Techies pick. While Fnatic had the early lead, it was slowly taken away by VGJ, who enjoyed a very long period of minimal kills, with Fnatic unable to push into the Techies mines. Eventually though, a few bad fights in a row for VGJ resulted in Fnatic getting the opportunity to finally push in and they set up a meeting with EG in the Grand Finals inside 50 minutes.
The Grand Finals
Fnatic’s impressive run expired in the showpiece encounter. EG quickly proved themselves to be the best team in the tournament as in every single game, no matter the length, they were able to secure an early advantage, shut down EternaLEnVy, then carry that lead into a victory, taking tower after tower. All five of EG’s players stood out, but Arteezy and s4 were exemplary in all three games, absolutely destroying Fnatic and making sure there was no chance for them to recover from their early setbacks. After 53 minutes, 25 minutes, and 40 minutes respectively, Fnatic called the GG in all three games, leaving EG as the deserved winners of the Dota Summit 9.
Going into The International, EG are looking much more impressive than they did during the qualifiers, only losing three games throughout the tournament and securing most of their wins in a decisive manner.
OpTic, on the other hand, look more lost, whether through indecision or just shoddy play.
Meanwhile, Fnatic, paiN and VGJ.Storm all showed some strengths, but all three have noticeable weaknesses that they will need to resolve ahead of TI8 in a fortnight.