The International Dota 2 Championships were fraught with delays and frustration on Day 2 thanks to a DDoS attack that halted much of the best-of-three series between Evil Geniuses and compLexity Gaming early in the day. Initial belief of Internet errors was cast aside with announcers revealing the attack.
Thankfully things improved from there and we were given an amazing day of Dota.
Evil Geniuses defeats compLexity Gaming (2-0)
Huge cheers erupted for Evil Geniuses when they took the stage, but support for the USA-based team waned when numerous pauses struck the first series of the day. compLexity were in control for much of the first game and had EG on tilt before three pauses halted progress thanks to the DDoS attack. Evil Geniuses returned more prepared after each break, and following a long pause they returned and overtook compLexity. Perhaps it's unfair to credit the entire Game 1 result to the issues, but it's clear the time off allowed EG to calm themselves and perfect their strategy. An over-farmed Anti Mage on Fear proved to be the difference, and compLexity simply couldn't react.
Roles reversed in the draft of Game 2 with compLexity selecting Lina early, a hero that was played by SumaiL in Game 1. In response EG selected Tusk, giving their team more control. The Evil Genius lineup that included Naga Siren, Crystal Maiden and the aforementioned Tusk was paired with Razor and Ember Spirit as carries -- which proved to be too much for compLexity to overcome. SumaiL was the catalyst for EG's success in Game 2, playing a perfect mid-lane and capitalizing on the mistakes of compLexity.
UNiVeRsE deserves special credit. His play on Tusk was the best we've seen on that hero thus far in TI:5 and he was everywhere. His initiations with Snowball were perfect, his protection with Ice Shards was unreal -- it was a perfectly played game from a team that looks as dangerous as any in The International.
Thankfully, compLexity Gaming will have a chance to return in the Lower Bracket because it would be a shame to see this team eliminated based on the unfortunate actions of outside sources.
EHOME defeats Team Secret (2-0)
This was Team Secret's International to lose, right? That's what so many people believed entering TI:5, but in one series we now need to wonder whether all the hype was overblown. It wasn't just that they lost to EHOME, it's that they were DECIMATED by EHOME. The fourth most-popular Chinese team took the Team Secret All-Stars and made them look mortal with a strategy that dismantled Secret's usual tricks.
Game 1 was utter domination on the back of a single combo. Winter Wyvern was paired with Phoenix and gave EHOME a one-two punch of Winter's Curse and Supernova that dealt astounding AOE damage. A well-farmed Shadow Fiend from Arteezy couldn't stop the bleeding. There was simply nothing Team Secret could do.
The second game saw Team Secret ban Winter Wyvern to avoid the combo felling them for a second time -- but there were still surprises. A hyper-aggressive lineup of Gyrocopter, Templar Assassin and Nightstalker from EHOME put early pressure on Secret, which never really let off. EHOME asserted themselves with excellent warding, which prevented Arteezy's farm. From there it was an uncomplicated dismantling of Team Secret. They were on tilt all game and could never get comfortable.
MVP Phoenix defeats Team Empire (2-0)
The day of upsets continued with MVP Phoenix asserting their will over the favored Team Empire to eliminate the Russia team from The International.
Game 1 was the QO show, as a farmed Templar Assassin tore through the competition without much concern. Team Empire had no answer for the stellar play from MVP Phoenix and every push they attempted to make was rebuked and punished. Empire looked to be out of the comfort zone. Pressured at every turn and without adequate vision around the map. We'll let Vici Gaming tell you just how good QO was in Game 1:
The second game was, quite frankly, a blood bath. Empire attempted to bring a tankier lineup with Anti Mage, Tusk and Undying -- but it didn't even matter. Silent got good farm on AM, but it didn't matter. Briefly it felt like Empire would mount a comeback after a strong team fight win in the Rosh pit at the 20 minute mark, but there was simply too much farm on a combination of QO on Lina and kpii on Phantom Lancer to turn the tide.
It felt like Empire had every chance in Game 2. It was a solid back-and-forth affair that really could have gone to either team, but the first contest was such a strong showing from MVP that it felt like there was a hangover that carrier into the second for Empire.
Vici Gaming defeats Cloud 9
It appeared Vici Gaming was trying to use a pocket strat in the Game 1 against Cloud9. Their first two picks were Clockwerk and Lina, seconds within each other -- clearly showing the team had a plan. The same happened later in the draft when Ancient Apparition was added without thought. It was a draft that showed confidence and bravado, but this quickly crumbled in-game.
Vici did well in the early game, but started to fall behind. The game was close on kills and towers, but there was a chasm on farm. FATA and EternaL EnVy took Shadow Fiend and Gyrocopter and got astounding farm. It appeared the game was over until a stunningly-terrible team fight resulted in a Cloud9 team wipe just before the 40 minute mark thanks to terrible execution.
What followed was a complete collapse. fy played a picture-perfect game on Rubick, while Hao ran wild on Spectre once his farm caught up with Cloud9. That team fight at 40 minutes was a backbreaker. The end of Game 1 was the most exciting few minutes of Dota we've seen all International with both teams base racing and ultimately Vici cam away with the win.
There's only one way to characterize Game 2: Fun. Starting with the draft we saw a shock Sniper pick from Vici Gaming, while Cloud9 appeared to use an Undying/ Pugna pocket strat. It was the surprising Sniper pick that made the difference with Hao using it early to out-zone FATA on Shadow Fiend, and create space for ceaseless ganking of the mid lane. Sniper isn't in the meta largely because of survivability, but Vici Gaming found a way to protect him.
The second game never lived up the the excitement of the first. It was a stomp, pure and simple. Now Cloud9 will need to plan their next move away from The International after a disappointing year.