The International 2017: And the winners are…!

The International 2017


Dota 2’s International 2017 is over, and Team Liquid are its champions! The pan-European squad captained by Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Takhasomi swept China’s Newbee 3-0 in the best-of-five grand final, earning themselves more than $10.8 million in prize cash and by far the competitive scene’s highest honour, an inscription on the Aegis of Champions trophy.

Lovely KuroKy and the rest of Team Liquid lifting the Aegis

It’s a phenomenal result for a team that initially looked like they might be headed out early after losing the opening upper bracket game to Invictus Gaming. However, a lower bracket run that saw them best Team Secret, Empire,, LGD Gaming and LGD.Forever Young (LFY) led them all the way to this dominant grand final – the first 3-0 grand final in the International’s history. Even more impressively, it wasn’t their only match of the day – they’d had to play a stunning lower bracket final against LFY in the hours beforehand.

Let’s look at that intense MOBA amuse-bouche first, then.

The lower bracket final started off well for LFY, who employed an effective tactic of Du ‘Monet’ Peng (as the tanky Lifestealer) rushing Liquid while Xie ‘Super’ Junhao’s Sniper laid into them at range. A sneaky split-push by Lasse ‘Matumbaman’ Urpalainen bought Liquid some breathing room, but LFY maintained control, sealing the deal with a wonderfully chaotic teamfight within Liquid’s base. (The vid below should start with Matumbaman’s ratting but head to 12m19s for that teamfight!)

Game 2 saw even more action, with too many noteworthy individual plays to actually list here, but this time it was Liquid finding the favourable trades, allowing Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi’s Alchemist to get terrifyingly rich. LFY tapped out at only 31 minutes in, though the game felt over long before that.

Game 3 had another explosive start for Liquid, and even when LFY managed to get six kills out of a five-man team, they were still losing barracks to yet another split-push play. Hope crept back in for supporters of the Chinese side as LFY picked up another three kills at Roshan’s pit, despite a cheeky Aegis snatch from Ivan ‘Mind_Control’ Ivanov:

But an even better fight for Liquid just three minutes later was too much for the erstwhile tournament favourites and they simply couldn’t come back from that.

Thus, Newbee (who’d won Friday’s upper bracket final against LFY) faced off against Team Liquid in the most important Dota 2 match of the year. Game 1 began with another immaculate early game performance from Liquid, Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej’s Slardar and Mind_Control’s Nature’s Prophet always in the right place at the right time. Newbee had constructed a relatively delicate lineup for the game, centered around a Song ‘Sccc’ Chun mid Lina, and it just couldn’t stand up to the intense physical damage of Matumbaman’s Lifestealer and Miracle-‘s Troll Warlord.

There was a reversal of fortunes at the start of game 2, Newbee chaining successful ganks to build up a healthy lead in kills and gold – even with Miracle- running another greedy Alchemist. However, Liquid’s attempt to sneak a Roshan kill at around the 25 minute mark turned into the successful teamfight they so desperately needed, and with momentum back on their side, that Alchemist was soon able to sit hitting Newbee’s base buildings with near-impunity. A kill on Xu ‘Moogy’ Han’s buyback-less Anti-Mage secured Liquid the game, and match point.

Game 3 was even for ages, neither team carving out a big lead until a full-scale clash at – wouldn’t you know it – the Rosh pit:

Support duo GH and KuroKy’s ultimates tore through a bunched-up Newbee, who still managed to hold their base for a while longer. They even came close to a vital kill on Miracle-, who was playing Juggernaut, as he went for a Double Damage rune – but then, in the biggest turnaround play of the final, he managed to grab the rune, survive Newbee’s initiation with mere pixels of health on his health bar, Omnislash-bounce his way out of the melee, and kill three of his attackers while his teammates piled in to take care of the rest.

From there, it was a simple case of chopping down the Chinese team’s buildings. One last, heroic base defence by Newbee wasn’t enough to prevent the first 3-0 grand final in TI history. The full match highlights are below or you could enjoy a retrospective series of heart attacks via the full Twitch VOD.

While this result denies Newbee the distinction of being the first organisation to claim two TI wins (their captain Zeng ‘Faith’ Hongda would have been the first individual player to win it twice) it does feel particularly poignant for Liquid to come out on top. KuroKy is one of the longest-standing DotA and Dota 2 veterans, finally getting his name on the Aegis with a team he assembled and led himself. GH is now a world champion after not even playing on a top team until November last year, and Miracle-, the prodigious pubstar made good, found redemption after his shock exit from the 2016 International as part of OG. Not to forget about Matumbaman and Mind_Control, of course – one is the very model of a stable, reliable carry, and the other is a world-class offlaner who repeatedly proved instrumental in securing Liquid’s early game advantages, especially on Nature’s Prophet.

Congrats to all!

We now look towards the next season of professional Dota. There are big changes afoot, what with Valve’s ambitious new Majors and Minors system (which will apparently run on a monthly basis – hopefully leading to constant wizard fight thrills and not exhausted burnouts) and, more imminently, the traditional post-TI roster shuffle.

Until next time!


  1. BaronKreight says:

    I haven’t been following this. Partly because I prefer LoL, dota is a bit too hardcore for me. In LoL asians dominate, so I guess it’s good to hear things are different in dota.

    • lagiacrux says:

      there is a long standing traditions involving TI champions.

      TI1: NaVi (West)
      TI2: IG (East)
      TI3: Alliance (West)
      TI4: NewBee (East)
      TI5: EG (West)
      TI6: Wings Gaming (East)
      TI7: Team Liquid (West)

      and everyone is pretty happy that we kept up with this tradition :)

  2. mpk says:

    Reading this article, I think I now know how people who don’t know how to football feel when they’re inundated with football stories on the news. I understood many of the words used, in an individual sense, but quite a lot of the sentences were completely unintelligible.

  3. Synesthesia says:

    The LFY matches were absolutely nailbiting. Between that and the pga I had a full plate yesterday. Good shit!

  4. Godwhacker says:

    Seems like you need at least 50 hours invested to work out what the hell is going on, but hooray!

    • Provender says:

      I’ve never played any flavour of dota before, but thought I’d try watching a match earlier in the week and got completely hooked.
      It took a little while to understand the concepts but the newcomer twitch stream had loads of explanatory popups and the folks in chat were filling in the gaps.
      I stayed up to watch the final and thoroughly enjoyed it, highly recommended even for noobs.

      • dmoe says:

        Posts like this make me love the game even more. I don’t know if you knew but Valve also had a “Newcomer” stream that explained the game in further detail for new players or people who have never played.

        I’m glad you enjoyed it. I wasted my entire week + Saturday watching the series. It was great.

  5. shagen454 says:

    Haven’t played DOTA 2 since HOTS came out. But, I still love watching the TI every year – this one was not exception. Liquid did fantastic and I still consider DOTA a superior game to HOTS. After TI, a friend nearly forced me to play – I kept saying, “I haven’t played in years.” – “I’m going to have to play Drow *hint hint*.

    The game had changed much since the last time I had played, so after the picks were made a screen popped up – with an accumulation of experience or something like this about “towers”. Our team 337, the other team 2,789: the game went exactly the way I thought – after the brutality I went limping and crying back to HOTS… *turns brain off* – ah yes, this is where I belong.

    • Vandelay says:

      I wouldn’t put much stock in the tower level thing. That is just based on the Battle Pass levels of each player. The Battle Pass is something you can buy leading up to the TI (as well as the Majors,) that gives you access to quests like “Kill x number of heroes after using Black King Bar”, cosmetics, fantasy card, etc. Anyone who has a level about 50 or so has likely bought additional Battle Pass points. The higher the number, the more they have spent (for an idea, 25 levels costs $10.) It is no indication of how good they are.

      As you were facing against a team with such a high level of tower, I would assume that they had at least one person with at least 1,000 Battle Pass levels. Let’s say they bought the Battle Pass that starts you at level 75 ($37) and we can be generous and say that they managed to earn 100 levels from just playing the game. To reach level 1000 you would still need another 825 levels. You are looking at having to spend $330!

  6. Shinard says:

    Damn, that LB final game 3 was legendary. A tier 1 that early, and LFY still tied it up! They were so close to winning – for the last twenty minutes I honestly couldn’t call it, it could’ve gone either way. Liquid slowly but surely sieging down rax after rax, and LFY making them pay for every inch in blood. All credit to Monet, his Morphling was amazing. But the better team squeaked it out in the end.

    The final was a bit of a letdown after that, to be honest. It wasn’t TI4 level or anything, but it wasn’t TI3 level either (I’m an Alliance fan from back in the No Tidehunter days, so the TI3 final is officially the best Dota match of all time for me. With Game 5 being the best game). The games were close, but it’s a bit hard to get too enthused now about a 3-0 win. Game 3 was great though, and I did cheer at Miracle’s clutch Omni. Congrats to Liquid, they were worthy winners.

  7. L3TUC3 says:

    I watched the final in confusion when I stumbled on it on Steam broadcasts, but it was interesting and the casters did a great job trying to keep up with the action. I was very entertained with the pro-sports like setup.

    I was a little disappointed that the game still appears to attract mostly adolescent males judging by the audience. A near complete sausage-fest. This did not help the pregnant Team Liquid crowd correspondent lady who had a terrible time doing any sort of bonding with the audience. The team Newbee crowd guy on the other hand was really good at somehow getting a bunch of Chinese to do yells, but that may be a cultural thing instead of a misogynistic opinion of mine.

    What also did not impress me were the players after the match. Don’t get me wrong, they seemed to be great at DOTA, but as humans…not so much. I saw surprisingly little emotion and most of them had a visually hard time talking or even forming sentences. Some of the interviewed had rather inappropriate responses. Their body language practically screamed “I do not want to be here!” and there was a lot of fidgeting with their attire (putting hoodies on/off every other minute). I cringed so hard at the apparent trope of “International winners can’t open champagne bottles”. It also mystified me why this was in a closed room out of the arena (I’m pretty sure most of the team members weren’t even 21 yet, so this was a rather odd choice of beverage to supply). They sprayed the bottle a bit after figuring out how to open, and then there wasn’t even a toast or much of a celebration. As a team they appeared to be not that bonded to interact much outside of the game. Maybe it was just shock.

    Is this normal? Is this the new normal? As a football (soccer for the yanks) player, me and my team celebrated the 4th relegated Saturday amateur reserve division season championship win much more exuberant than these guys who just won 10 million dollars.

    Maybe it’s just me, but it just felt very forced and unhappy for these guys, which is not what you’d want to take away from an event like this.

    • corniel says:

      maybe theyre too shy to express themselves in front of large audiences,
      also they’ve played idk maybe 10 games straight in one day, through the upper bracket, lower bracket, then grand final, i think it would be exhausting

      • BooleanBob says:

        I think it was a combination of tiredness and poor planning by Valve. What really needed to happen was for Liquid to be given 20-30 minutes alone in a green room somewhere, to relax, let the enormity of everything sink in, and get some caffeine inside them. Then you can parade them about in front of cameras and crowd.

        They also should really have talked to both teams in advance about how they wanted to celebrate in the event of a win. Getting a team with two people from predominantly Muslim countries to do a champagne celebration isn’t exactly the most sensitive idea.

        And it they were cool with it, they should have maybe considered that gamer types are unlikely to have much experience with the ever-perilous task of uncorking.

        I remember when Alliance won TI3, they bought out whole remaining stock of Valve’s on-site merch shop and threw it to the crowd from the balconies. It made for an incredible tournament send-off shot, and it wasn’t even Valve’s idea.

        The whole thing could have been handled a lot better with a little more preparation. It’s a fairly minor dampener on what was a great tournament with some excellent dotes. I’m not even too disappointed by the 3-0 sweep in the Grand Finals, as we had such an incredible Lower Bracket Final just before them, and Liquid were able to carry the momentum from winning that bitterly-fought set from behind and use it to storm the winner’s podium.

    • Dirksolomon says:

      That was a lot of poor planning from PGL/Valve. They herded bunch of people who won almost 11 million after playing 6 hours of dotes to open champagne bottle which they have never before most likely done PLUS few of the team do not even seem to be too excited about alcohol. And I have to imagine playing 6 hours of dota2, and keeping yourself as focused as they were during finals must be extremely mentally exhausting. And you cannot say they were completely emotioneless, Kuroky for example shed some tears after having been played game for half of his life and winning this. Check out also their other series when they do not have as shocking win to be had, they really enjoy each other after each of them.

    • Ravel says:

      It was just poorly done, imo. In most sports, you give the winners (and the losers) at least a few minutes to get a hold of themselves, to let it sink in, before you start bombarding them with questions. I doubt I would have been able to say much more than them.

      Also, you have to consider the sheer magnitude of the event. TI is basically a 2-weeks-effort: You travel to Seattle and have to play group stage in week 1. Then in week 2 you go through upper and/or lower bracket. Team Liquid was top in group stages, but they dropped to the lower bracket on their very first match in the playoffs. So they had to fight for a whole week in the lower bracket, facing elimination from the tournament every. single. day. Only to win it all in the finals with a 3-0.

      And also consider (in addition to that) what this means for the different players: Kuroky has been to EVERY TI there was so far, without ultimately being able to win, despite him being considered one of the very best players since forever. He played his heart out in a TI final before, only to lose. And even before that, he was considered a legend in Dota Allstars (Dota 1, basically). This win for him was the ultimate victory, the validation of a career more than 10 years in the making. Kinda rough to sum this all up in two sentences when you just realize that you’ve actually won, I guess.

      Other players probably had a hard time realizing what the win means to them for other, but for no less valid reasons too: GH has never, ever won anything in Esports before 2015. And in 2015, his winnings amounted to a whopping 100$. Now, two years later, no player in the history of gaming has won more prizemoney than him, except for Kuroky (and except for being on par with his team mates). Just imagine that: Everything gamers have done before you in the last 10, 20, 30, 40 years has amounted to less prize money for them than what you just did in those two weeks.

      Or what about Miracle-, the guy who didn’t even watch a TI before TI5. Here’s a guy who just played Dota so much and with such intense focus on himself, that 3 years ago, he has never heard of the TI, he didn’t know who won it before him, who just didn’t care about that kind of stuff because he just enjoyed playing the game. And apparently he now has confirmation that he is so good, it didn’t matter. The guy was an absolute nobody 2 years ago and now he’s at the top.

      I get what you are saying, but I think it’s a little harsh to put this on the players and to call them shy and/or awkward. It’s not on them, it’s on the production not giving them time enough to process is it for a few minutes.

  8. TotallyUseless says:

    I lost faith! I thought the Chinese teams would face off on the finals. I was so wrong! Damn saw the whole thing on Twitch, and damn, Liquid was so good. All of the Chinese Teams simply doesn’t have an answer to Liquid’s more aggressive and push play style. Compare it to the Chinese to-not-lose play style.

    Cheers to Team Liquid!

  9. Zorgulon says:

    I ended up staying up to watch this, with a short break to try to see the Perseid meteor shower. It was great fun! The newcomer stream was a good approach, having the same video and commentary, with little tool tips to pop up and explain heroes, abilities and game concepts. I have limited experience with MOBAs but I could follow well enough. I thought Liquid were excellent, and the second two games were close enough that it was way more exciting than the 3-0 score line suggests. Although it sounds like I missed an even better game earlier in the day.

    I have to say I was glad they ended it after 3. A full five-setter would have had me up way too late! I don’t know how the players do it, and no wonder they weren’t more communicative after winning.