Weekend Gaming – The International 6, Grand Finals

The International 2016 has certainly captured our attention this past week. Dota2’s annual championship continues to be so captivating, so exciting, so distracting that the prospect of any other types of personal gaming or Twitch streaming on our part is simply a non-factor.

And with the finals coming up today, well… let’s just say that I am still sitting on this newly acquired mound of AGEOD games courtesy of BundleStars. I’ve got bigger business to attend to…

TI6 logo

As do Wings Gaming! Now nested comfortably in the final position, their progression through the upper bracket looks like it was an easy coast, easily crushing several old dogs of the professional Dota scene.

All that remains is for Digital Chaos and Evil Geniuses to face off. The winner of this series moves on to oppose Wings in the final. DC’s performance has been especially impressive when you consider the work they’ve done to get to where they are now. EG has likewise had quite the slog. The group stage was less than favorable, but their time in the upper bracket showed some redeeming qualities. This series does promise to be bombastic as both teams are still very strong and have scary midlaners.

Whichever of these two teams moves on, the Grand Final of TI6 will still be awesome, heightened by the fact that it is also a bitter rematch as both teams at one point were booted down to the lower bracket by Wings. Good stuff!

Personally, I don’t really give a rat’s patoot who wins between DC and EG. They both are directly responsible for eliminating EHOME. And since I root for EHOME, I therefore can only hope that Wings will shut down either one of these ‘Murican teams in the Grand Final.

But let us set aside petty squabbles and incessant pouting about my favorite team totally hitting a wall and playing like a bunch of scrubs after what was easily one of the greatest matches in the history Dota. Let us instead focus on some of the highlights of a competition that clearly year-after-year only improves in performances and production.

EHOME vs. EG

Collectively amongst the ButtonMashing group, we are all STILL coming down from game 1 of EHOME vs. EG. That was three days ago. This is an example of ‘real’ Dota. See, when casuals que up for a pub match, the tendency is to play selfishly, to break down the whole team aspect of the game. But, as illustrated by EG, when a team can keep their heads on straight, get creative with itemization, react accordingly, and coordinate, then some awesome Dota tends to blossom from that.

Fnatic’s climb through the brackets

Taking us all by surprise, Fnatic fought and scrapped their way through the muck. They went down swinging. Plus, midone’s persistent Juggernaut pick and eventual dominance takes Sir Tony ButtonMasher to his happy place.

Elder Titan and Shadow Demon and Sand King

I am absolutely tickled — TICKLED — by how often Elder Titan was drafted. The same goes for Shadow Demon. Sand King’s caustic finale was the bane of so many melee cores through the tournament. These heroes, when played competently, will do so much for the team. And often are the unsung heroes. Such is the life of an offlaner and support.

New Dota2 Heroes, Monkey King and Underlord

After the DC victory last night, all fans were treated with a striking live performance including Taiko drumming and cavorting sword-wielders. Indeed. Monkey King, wielding his very own MKB, made his presence known to an unsuspecting crowd. An excitement still riding high on the revealing of yet another hero, Underlord, only the day before. Dota is unstoppable.

The Production of TI6

Lastly, for what it is worth, I just want to give a quick commend to all the cast and crew responsible for broadcasting this year’s The International. I am not an esports advocate in any sense of the word, but the professionalism shown in the casting and production this year has been phenomenal – aside from the muppets segment on day one (wtf was that?), and, perhaps, @SirActionSlacks even allowed to be on the premises let alone hold a microphone and squawk into a camera. Purge’s play post-game analysis was always informative. ReDeYe, the true veteran he is, maintained a great pace at the panel. And commentators like Draskyl and OD, gave an extra dimension of excitement and immersion. This is far from a comprehensive list, all the more illustrating that The International is becoming quite the force of nature.

Good stuff, all around. And what’s better, the winner of the Grand Final walks away with a handsome $9 million. Well done, Dota community. Well done.

TI6, EHOME vs. EG: How EHOME Faltered, EG Staged a Comeback

In what can confidently be declared as one of the greatest matches of DOTA2 in the history of everything ever, game 1 of the EHOME vs. Evil Geniuses went to EG, having bided their time, staged a clutched throne rush and producing a thrilling last minute comeback. The fallout of the nerve-wrecking 75 minutes match witnessed EG moving on and EHOME dropping to the lower bracket.

Dagon

EHOME had all of the radiant T1 and T2 towers down by the 20-minute mark. They were ahead in farm, in kills, in XP. IceIceIce as Timbersaw kept the lanes pushed out and Old eLeVen as Beastmaster provided vision all over the radiant side of the river. EG were hesitant to do anything; PPD was picked off nearly any time he happened to leave base. All the while old chicken continued his free reign in the enemy jungle for farm and items for his Juggernaut. EHOME must have taken Roshan at least four times. Fenrir had a stash of that sweet, stinky cheese in his inventory.

There came a point where an EHOME victory was all but certain. So, what the devil happened? Why was Key Arena filled with thousands of EG fans ejaculating “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” Prompting PC Gamer’s Chris Thursten to Tweet:

Two factors led to EG’s victory: 1) Their ability to read the situation, and 2) EHOME’s mishandling of an early advantage.

Put simply — and as nicely and professionally as possible — EHOME’s early advantage went to their heads. Contrary to the more controlled and paced play style they generally favor, it seemed that this early aggro gave them a little too much confidence. To be fair, this dominance was rightfully earned; EG did not give this to them. EHOME just played smart…

… that is, until they started sieging radiant high ground. Old chicken specifically was overextending himself too often. Iceiceice seemed to forget that the DOTA2 user interface has a map in the lower corner, often getting ganked because of zero (0) awareness. The supports did the best they could to maintain dominance of the radiant side, but EHOME’s cores started getting too cocky and thus team composition started breaking apart.

Dagon

EG saw this. Even though they had less vision, they read how EHOME was behaving when besieging and capitalized on this. Using PPD as Ancient Apparition as bait, EG would stage counter ganks, relying on the head-strong EHOME cores to come in for the kill. With those threats removed Universe would then drop some damn effective chronospheres while SumaiL dropped the stars on remaining the remaining EHOME roster.

And so it went for nearly another 60 minutes. EG paced themselves, resetting fights and reacting to EHOME tactics. Iceiceice kept the lanes pushed. Juggernaut kept farming. Roshan was highly contested. Buybacks were commonplace. But it seemed with each passing minute EG somehow kept gaining ground back, and EHOME was consistently underestimating their opponents’ draft.

There came a point after the 60-minute mark when EG had to get creative and act fast. Iceiceice was become too tanky for rightclicks and old chicken’s six slots made it hard for Universe to trade punches with him. What to do… What to do…

THIS!

THIS!

SumaiL was the first to purchase a dagon. Then Zai. By the time they both had a level 5 dagon, PPD starting getting in on it. Evil Geniuses were having themselves a laser party. And that party came a’knockin on the dire’s front door.

Yes! EG chrono’d, brawled, and zapped their way back across the map, dodging golems and saw blades. They rushed mid, took out the barracks. In the last few minutes, both teams fought dirty right there in front of the dire ancient. Kills were had. Buybacks were bought. Both teams sent their carries on a Hail Mary mission to the opposing side, and the game quickly turned into a base race. EHOME had siege creeps flooding the radiant base.

The clutch moment was when we got the notification that Universe was now equipped with a Divine Rapier, giving him the edge in the race. He activated his Boots of Travel, plopped right in front of the dire ancient and demolished that sucker before EHOME had time to preemptively declare ‘gg’.

Commentators were speechless. The crowd was bezerk. I still can’t even. I think all the the Dota community still can’t even.

The fallout of that spectacular 75-minute match carried over into game 2 where EHOME was clearly deflated and tilted. In a rather unspectacular match, EG was the victor mere minutes before the 40-minute mark.

And this is only the semi-finals.

Props to both teams for giving us so damn good Dota.

The International 6, Day Three: Evil Geniuses Vs. EHOME

The schedule for The International tonight is quite the humdinger. This stage of the tournament is when the games get scrappy, dirty, increased in variance and tremendously fun to watch. Four teams will move on, two teams will be shown the door – and still quite a handsome consolation prize.

The tournament will open with the lower bracket matchups which consists of Alliance vs. Fnatic, and Newbee vs. Liquid. Alliance will most certainly wallop Fnatic. And, regardless of who emerges this victor between Newbee vs. Liquid, that team will most certainly wallop Alliance tomorrow.

After the deciding lower bracket match of who exactly is going to wallop Alliance tomorrow, we’ll move on to the upper bracket where the first matchup is between MVP Phoenix vs. Wings. Both teams have had a rather even-keel climb, winning some, losing some. MVP specifically have stuck to generally tried-and-true drafts, with QO performing competently in position 1 as predominantly either Juggernaut or Phantom Assassin.

The real battle tonight — the one I am already surging for and hate that I have to wait until the very end — is EHOME vs. Evil Geniuses. This one… hooo baby. This is going to be some serious Dota.

DOTA 2 ESPORTS TEAM EHOME

From the very beginning of TI6, EHOME has been solid. Starting as a wild card, they scrapped and fought their way into the upper bracket where they currently sit, pitted against EG. As a team, as a business entity, they aren’t nearly as conspicuous as EG. This unassuming presence also translates into their playstyle. They draft and play in an unorthodox way that, while may not be the most bombastic spectating experience, still yields results. They are all about the slow burn, flexibility, making versatile heroes do tremendous things.

This is why I love them. They skirt around the meta and thusly totally befuddles their opponents. Their position 4 is just as effective as their position 1. Take, for example, yesterday’s second match against Alliance. Team leader iceiceice as Sven seemed almost like a position 1 decoy alongside Fenrir as Shadow Deon, while old chicken as Mirana, old eLeVeN as Sand King, and old LaNm as Elder Titan constantly rotated lanes, chained stunned for miles, and took objectives with the ease and grace of a flock of swans. old LaNm on ET was especially fantastic, totally the unsung player for that match.

Evil Geniuses EG SumaiL DOTA2

Evil Geniuses on the other hand has had a successful, albeit rocky, series of engagements whose outcomes have placed them where they are now. The champions of TI5 seemed a little rattled from the group stage but still readily pounced Newbee last night.

What makes me most nervous for EHOME in this matchup is SumaiL. A versatile player, SumaiL alone could bleed EHOME dry. Where EHOME dodge the meta with unusual tactics, SumaiL can potentially be EG’s tip of the spear; all he needs is one crack in EHOMEs armor and the damage will be deep and irreversible.

If SumaiL goes with a Storm Spirit or Huskar pick I will be sweating bullets for EHOME. If he goes for position 3 or lower, then I’m going to pop some popcorn and watch these yankees go down.

EHOME vs. EG — East vs. West — Champions vs. Underdogs

GonBGud