The International 2016: And The Winners Are…!

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:

Wings Gaming!

The Chinese side scooped the top spot as well as the Aegis Of Champions trophy after a fantastically well executed four games of a best-of-5 set against mostly-North-American-but-also-European side, Digital Chaos.

Wings have been one of the hot favourite teams from early on but in a tournament so prone to upsets it’s generally a risky move to start bandying around predictions. I mean, just take a look at my predictions and the words OG written in the top spot. Add in the fact that Digital Chaos came to the grand finals off the back of a thrilling win in the lower bracket finals against last year’s champs, Evil Geniuses, and you can see why there was a genuine question over which way the set was going to play out.

Digital Chaos actually managed to take the first game which fueled the chants of fans rooting for the team. They then followed that up with a strong start in the second game but ultimately Wings regained momentum and scored their first win of the day. The third game was far more one-sided. DC did still manage to find pick-offs at various points and were clearly still fighting for the title but they were unable to put out enough damage to turn enough of the fights into kills in their favour. Wings had no such trouble and were averaging a kill per minute near the end of the game. Shadow’s Faceless Void was particularly impressive on that front, landing Chronosphere after Chronosphere (they’re the big bubbles that freeze time for everyone inside except Void) and scoring bash after bash which is the thing which deals a stun and some bonus damage (the latter perhaps being more by the good will of the random number generator gods than skill but, hey, if he’s got a hotline to RNGsus that’s a pretty next level strat).

The final game began with Faith_bian’s Axe bullying W33’s Slark in the mid lane but DC weren’t falling too far behind thanks to pick-off kills on iceice and Blink. DC felt like they were playing more fluidly and had a draft that was working for them far better than the previous games. The kill count was most definitely in DC’s favour but Wings were not going to be counted out so easily. A ward offered vision of DC coming to investigate a rather slow Rosh attempt by Wings and the latter managed to turn the tables on their would-be assailants. It’s a disaster AND Shadow’s Anti-Mage walks off with the Aegis. From then on (and I will also admit to being exhausted by the time zone difference at this point) it was mostly incredibly bright, fast-moving teamfights and a lot of members of DC being exploded by Anti-Mage. An overly aggressive play by W33 saw his Slark ripped apart while he was off hunting by the Dire secret shop and, without the ability to buy back into the game and with DC’s gold and experience graphs falling off a cliff and into an abyss Wings trounced what was left of their opponents’ base. Cue pyrotechnics!

I’ll likely write a more in-depth post about it early next week when the dawn chorus isn’t yammering outside my window but I also wanted to say that you should DEFINITELY check out the lower bracket final which was Evil Geniuses vs DC. For me that match actually felt more like a grand final simply because of the narratives involved. One side comprised four members of last year’s winning squad looking to become the first team ever to repeat a victory at The International. The other, a rag-tag crew which hadn’t even existed as a team this time last year, reluctantly captained by a man who had attended every single International and won none so far. They’re both narratives we’re used to attaching to and rooting for in pop culture so it was an easy match to hook into in terms of the emotions. It also helps that Misery – Digital Chaos’s captain – appears to wear every emotion on his sleeve. You get drawn into those moments of joy or despair when someone’s onscreen living them out, rather than when you’re watching some of the more restrained or measured players. Compare that with the fact Wings hadn’t been on stage at all that day, and certainly hadn’t just triumphed in a gruelling best-of-three that was fresh in the crowd’s mind.

But I also think it’s worth watching because you see how DC ended up going as far as they did and what sort of a team they became by the end of their run through the tournament. I’d say there’s a creativity to their play and their drafting which let them push out ahead of Evil Geniuses at crucial points. Game three, for example, ends up as a tense, unexpectedly creative piece of rat Dota which I loved. DC were split pushing the lanes in a way that utterly messed with Evil Geniuses’ flow and essentially left that side spreadeagled across the map.

I’m not saying any of that to undermine Wings’ achievement. I just wanted to make sure that a spectacular lower bracket final didn’t escape anyone’s attention amidst the fireworks!

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28 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    TehK says:

    This was all around a fantastic tournament. Amazing games, a lot of “the nominally weaker team beats the favourites” upsets, great (and steadily improving) production… it just had everything for it to be an excellent sports event.

    Additionally Valve recognized the strengths of certain casters and analysts and created nice features where they could really shine (e.g. Purge and Slacks). Also, I somehow feel, that they didn’t take themselves as seriously as the years before which just made everything nicer.

    The time difference though…. I need to sleep some more.

    • Horg says:

      Yeah, the production this year was superb. They seem to have found a nice balance between the formal presentation of previous TI’s and the more relaxed, grass roots LAN party environment of events like The Summit. It was a massive technical success as well, I think this is the first e-sports tournament i’ve watched without any significant delays, crashes or stream drops.

      It says a lot about the tournament that the biggest negative were the sections of the crowd trying to troll the event. The obnoxious ”wooooooo” chanting ruined the cast of a few games, and some of the signs people held up behind the draft panel on the final day were legitimately racist. The talent should be congratulated for calling that out, and I hope Valve takes steps to prevent a repeat of that behavior next year.

      • Slaadfax says:

        Ugh, the woos. It sounded just enough like the sound of my daughter tantrum-screaming that I worried she was having night terrors as she slept a few rooms away.

  2. brgillespie says:

    Little too busy watching that athletic mega-event full of nigh super-humans that comes around every four years. No time for watching dudes in front of computers moving their mouse and pressing hotkeys, sorry.

    • kwyjibo says:

      I’ve been doing the opposite. Even though I understand neither, Dota has just been a lot easier to stream live in the evenings. The Olympics has been relegated to highlights on BBC News.

    • teedle says:

      same

    • Jediben says:

      Agreed. Just another indication that people have their priorities and sense of value completely mixed up. Playing a video game is not something to be rewarded with levels of money that could easily fund a school for a year.

      • Assirra says:

        Who are you to talk about other their priorities? The fact you can type this means you either have a PC or a smartphone while that money could have gone to charity. Hypocrite.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Both are pointless. Neither will stave off the eventual entropic death of the universe.

    • disconnect says:

      But thank fuck, you managed to find time in your busy schedule to let us know this

      • brgillespie says:

        I figured you were waiting with bated breath to know what I was doing, my friend. ;)

    • Premium User Badge

      Quistie says:

      While e-sports doesn’t have obvious physical exertion it has loads of parallels with “traditional” sports which make it just as compelling to watch for many people. The team-work, decision making, ridiculous levels of mastery of the physical aspect of competition, visual acuity, dedication to improve and put in hours of practice, etc. is all there. Oh and strategy, unbelievable come-backs, watching people show off their incredible skills are what make every type of high level competition fun to watch.

      Finding time to watch both has been a challenge though!

      • temujin33 says:

        Yeah, I was splitting my time between a stream of the Dota matches and a stream of Sinquefield Cup Grand Chess Tour. While I love chess and am only casually interested in Dota, I’ve got to say that Dota is FAR more spectator worthy. For that matter, I would rather watch a Dota match than any sporting event as well.

    • Synesthesia says:

      I’ve been doing both, but thank you for enlightening us with your torrent of bile. Fuck off, man.

    • Slaadfax says:

      I might watch some of the Olympic events if I could do so without paying for the specific cable package that would give me the ability to stream or watch some of them on-demand whenever I have chunks of spare time. Convenient viewing takes a backseat to the anti-consumer, monopolistic, traditional delivery medium clung to by NBC and Comcast.

      Also the haughtiness about physical sports vs. competitive video gaming is rather droll.

    • Shinard says:

      Needless vitriol and condescension aside, you do have a point, even if you’re obviously trolling. I’ve found it kinda hard to watch the International and the Olympics this year, and if there’s ever a clash the Olympics has always won out for me, if only because that’s only on once every four years as opposed to once a year. I do think Valve could have timed it a bit better.

      That said, I’ve managed to fit in the most interesting matches (well, I missed the EG vs. EHOME spectacle, might look up the VOD), I watched the entire stream last night even though it meant sacrificing a good chunk of today, and I managed to do it without dismissing incredibly dedicated and talented people because they’re not like other incredibly talented and dedicated people! Crazy, huh?

      • brgillespie says:

        I was being condescending, yeah. Thanks for picking up on my point, though: what bad timing to hold these events while the Olympics are on.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Any chance you could explain why? I still don’t get why anyone would watch athletics, given that it amounts to an international multi-billion dollar My Dad Is Taller Than Your Dad competition rife with cheating.

  3. Zankman says:

    Well, EG vs DC was more fun to watch due to the “right team winning”.

    If DC was able to win G4 against Wings and then win an incredibly close G5 – oh boy, how perfect it would have been?

    Wings played great in terms of quality, they played great in terms of entertainment and they surely deserve to be Champions – and the crowd cheered for them throughout.

    However, let us not kid ourselves – DC winning would have been 10-times better when the narrative is concerned (and having a Game 5 would have been better regardless).

    • robotslave says:

      I’ve no idea where you’re getting this, Wings is a terrific narrative.

      A group of unknowns, together for less than a year, playing with aggression and amazing creativity to get in through qualifiers and then win the big dance? Yes please!

      And they were so clearly the far better team, giving up only gimmick draft games to DC and otherwise both playing and drafting circles around them.

      • Slaadfax says:

        Though I was cheering for DC (and was thus disappointed), I do agree with this. Wings displayed enormous growth over the previous year and showed (yet again) that you don’t need to continuously reshuffle your line-up with the highest-skilled players in order to win (cough, cough, Secret, cough). Teamwork, and as a consequence, basic personality and playstyle syngergy, will always be more important.

        The grand finals were kind of meh, however. Game 1 was a bit clowny, and then DC just kept trying the same thing even though it seemed like Wings had it figured out. It felt like a bit of a let down after an almost flawless rest of the tournament. Flawless, of course, aside from Na’Vi’s early elimination ;_;

  4. Gurrah says:

    It was a very enjoyable tournament and most important for me I think the current state of the game is more or less perfect – one of the panel members or draft-gurus said there is no meta and he’s right in my opinion. I’m anxious about the next patch because it might break that delicate balance that has been achieved.

    One thing I’d really like to know peoples opinions on is the post-win treatment of both Wings and DC on stage. Somehow it felt like they got herded around by the black clad ladies according to a badly thought out script, why couldn’t they give them a few minutes to express their joy on their own terms. It was really awkward and not deserving of a team that won 9 million.

    • Banyan says:

      Maybe my favorite hero, Tree, was one of the few heroes left out of TI picks. I’ve still got a 60% win percentage on him, but a buff would be much appreciated.

      • Slaadfax says:

        I wonder if those heroes need buffs, if they’re just a little weaker against the more meta-oriented heroes (while there isn’t much of a meta, there are still some very hot picks).

        It probably more requires players finding a niche for those heroes or simply having someone who plays it really well.

    • robotslave says:

      The post-game of every International has been anticlimactic at best, and often downright awful. Do you remember the E.G. interview? The forced-march “afterparties”?

      Valve (or whatever production company they use) still doesn’t understand the need to give teams a tiny bit of rest before interviewing them and presenting the trophy, nor the remote audience’s need for closure in the form of a touch more post-game analysis.

      • Horg says:

        Post match sports interviews are, in general, something the world would be better off without.

        • robotslave says:

          Well, there’s no shortage of evidence to support that point of view. But you can’t just cut straight to re-runs of Law and Order the moment time expires, either.

  5. vahnn says:

    $9 million? Those guys practically own half of China now.