The Shanghai Major will probably be remembered by Dota 2 [official site] fans as a master class in how not to run a tournament. But in the midst of the production omnishambles were some absolutely brilliant matches. Read on as we deliver you the highlights!
[Spoilers if you've not caught up, obv!]
Congrats are in order to Team Secret for taking first place at the Dota 2 Shanghai Major, handily outperforming Team Liquid to win $1,100,000 in a frantic 3-1 series.
And yet, the conclusion of this tournament – one of the three Valve-sponsored Majors intended to complement the year’s biggest Dota-fest, The International – will be met with many a relieved sigh. This has undoubtedly been the most egregious shambles of a Dota 2 tournament since 2015’s Gaming Paradise left teams stranded in Dubai, starting with event host James ‘2GD’ Harding being quickly sacked - and subsequently called "an ass" by Gabe Newell on Reddit - then moving on to ubiquitous sound issues, frequent delays, an opening ceremony where only one team was present, a director left without food and water and far too many more technical and organisation foul-ups to list here.
This is a colossal shame, as in terms of game results and team performances, the Shanghai Major was also the most interesting Dota event in months; powerhouses were demolished, underdogs had their day, and a slumping squad came back to win it all. The past few days have seen the esports industry at its worst; let’s take a minute to celebrate Dota 2 at its best with some tournament highlights.
OG vs LGD Gaming, Group C, Game 2
Chinese Dota in general suffered a crushing blow at Shanghai, with no home-grown teams making it into the top eight. In fact, of the five participating, only LGD made it into the upper bracket of the finals, and even then only after losing to Frankfurt Major champions OG in a back-and-forth series.
Game 2 was especially intense, with LGD valiantly defending their mostly-destroyed base for over 30 minutes before finally managing to take a decisive fight and turn the game around, ultimately winning the game - despite OG’s Miracle- hilariously halting an LGD push by sneaking into their undefended base.
Fnatic vs MVP Phoenix, lower bracket round 4
Perhaps the most heartwarming story of the Shanghai Major was the rise of Southeast Asia, a region that until recently has failed to yield any truly top-level teams. Now, it has two: Fnatic, who finished 6th, and MVP Phoenix, who took an amazing 4th. Teams considered favourites for the #1 spot found themselves overwhelmed by SEA hyper-aggression, including EHOME, OG (despite pulling off an outstanding comeback in one of their games against Fnatic) and eventual winners Team Secret, whom MVP.P obliterated in the group stages.
However, the brackets played out in such a way that meant that the two Southeast Asia sides would face each other in a lower bracket elimination series. MVP.P won both games on the back of QO’s Spectre, but even Fnatic captain Mushi had to remain upbeat about the maturation of a new regional power.
Evil Geniuses vs Team Secret, upper bracket round 2
The new El Clásico. There’s something about these two incredibly skilled teams that, whenever they meet, brings out the best in each other. Their clash at Shanghai was no exception.
Game 3 is a particularly thrilling watch. Despite a risky EG draft that put midlane wunderkind Suma1L on Pugna (a disruptive but dangerously immobile hero) numerous and baffling over-extensions by Secret carry EternaLEnVy allowed the North American team to repel their better-farmed rivals and even mount a counterattack into Secret’s base. A simple yet perfect play by Secret's MiSeRy on Nature's Prophet, however, left EG's Arteezy trapped helplessly in a ring of trees as he and his teammates were massacred. You can watch that bit from 18:30 on the video above.
Team Liquid vs Team Secret, grand finals
Like Fnatic and MVP.P, Liquid confounded fans and opponents in the best possible way, coming all the way from the European Qualifiers to outperform most of the direct invitees and earn a place in the grand finals. Here Liquid's captain KuroKy would face his opposite number Puppey, a longtime friend and former teammate on Ks.int, Na’Vi and even Team Secret itself.
Secret took game 1 without much fuss, but Liquid managed to apply much greater pressure in game 2, unexpectedly securing the game with a cheeky barracks push while Secret were off chasing pickoff kills. (Head to 14:27 in the video below)
Secret managed to re-assert themselves in games 3 and 4, though, with every individual player putting in solid performances to win the heftiest piece of a $3,000,000 prize pool.
Although it was to a lesser extent than the tournament’s other shock successes and failures, Secret’s victory was yet another surprise, as the team had been seriously underperforming for months. It’s deeply unfortunate that most will remember the Shanghai Major for its many and varied screw-ups, rather than the dramatic resurgences and emergences that took place there. If the former is a damning statement on the organisational side of professional Dota 2, the latter is surely a sign that at least the actual competitive side is in rude health.