Photo: Hosted by Valve for the seventh year running, The International offers the largest prize pool money in eSports. — Valve
For Dota 2 fans, The International is THE tournament to look out for every year.
While this year’s event might be over, there were plenty of moments to look back at and a number of records being set at the seventh iteration of The International.
So near yet so far
Since its inception in 2011, no teams or players have managed to achieve the feat of repeating their success in taking the Aegis trophy home twice.
This year, all eyes were on Newbee as the team defeated tournament favourite and Chinese rival LFY (LGD.Forever Young) in the upper bracket final to book a place in the grand finals.
However, Newbee fell short as it lost three games to none (3-0) to European-based Team Liquid.
Newbee last won the title in 2014 under a different lineup.
The same case goes for Newbee’s captain “Faith” Zeng Hongda. “Faith” won the second The International tournament in 2012 with Chinese team Invictus Gaming.
The International 2017 is also the first time where a winning team will not be defending its title.
The defending champion Wings Gaming disbanded its lineup in April following disagreements between players and the team management.
Record breaking prize pool
The International Dota 2 tournament, hosted by its developer Valve Corporation has been grabbing headlines around the world for its enormous prize money offered.
This year, the tournament offered a massive US$24.7mil, which is also the largest in eSports history.
Looking back just short of a decade earlier, a professional career in eSports was almost unthinkable.
However, the US$1.6mil offered by Valve in the inaugural The International tournament in 2011 was one of the main catalysts for the rise of the global eSports ecosystem into the mainstream.
The tournament was immortalised in Valve’s documentary Free to Play, where Ukranian-based team Natus Vincere (Na’vi) emerged top, taking home US$1mil.
Some might argue that StarCraft: Brood War tournaments were huge in South Korea, and so goes tournaments for Counter-Strike and FIFA (the football game) around the world, nothing came close to the bounty offered by Valve.
With the conclusion of the seventh edition of the tournament, only three players can claim to have featured in every iteration of The International since its inception.
The captain of Team Liquid, “KuroKy” Kuro Salehi Takhasomi is one of the trio alongside “Puppey” Clement Ivanov (Team Secret), and “ddc” Leong Fat-meng (LFY).
More incoming heroes
A year ago, Valve surprised everyone by unveiling a new hero, Monkey King, based on the mythical figure Sun Wukong from the Chinese classic Journey to the West.
Monkey King was also the first original hero made for Dota 2. At that point, all heroes available in the game were from the original DotA game, which was a mod-based on Warcraft III.
This year, Valve teased two new additional heroes which are set to be released in the upcoming The Dueling Fates update.
Both remained unnamed but the first hero sports a swashbuckling musketeer-look while the second resembles a pink fairy with the ability to summon a flying creature to its aide.
Expect more details to come soon from Valve in the coming months.
Inclusive region format
In the recent years, teams at The International were divided into four main region – North America, Europe, China and Southeast Asia.
As the popularity of the game grows further around the world, there seems to be shift in the region format from Valve.
This year’s qualifiers are divided into six regions namely North America, Europe West, China, Southeast Asia, South America and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). CIS represents the former Soviet nations such as Russia, Ukraine and Estonia.
This year’s tournament saw the participation of five Chinese teams – Invictus Gaming, iG.Vitality, LFY and LGD Gaming and Newbee, the most from any country. China itself is a region on its own in Dota 2.
This also means that the Chinese contingent were the largest with 22 players taking part in Seattle.
In fact, out of the top four teams in the tournament, three were from China. Newbee ended up runners up while LFY and LGD Gaming finished third and fourth respectively.
Former champion Invictus Gaming tied with Russian team Virtus.pro for a 5th/6th placing.
Despite the dominance, the Chinese teams lost out the opportunity to take home a back-to-back title for China.
The rise of Philippines
Southeast Asia has always been one of the most interesting region in Dota 2 due to the regional division adopted by Valve.
Teams from South Korea are parked under SEA. For instance, MVP Phoenix and MVP HOT6ix both qualified through SEA in 2015. Both teams have since disbanded.
The last time an all-Malaysian team participated was in 2015 under Fnatic. Fnatic has since reshuffled and now features a mixed team lineup.
With both South Korea and Malaysia on the decline, Philippines is now the torchbearer for the region with two teams – TNC Pro Team and Execration – this year.
In fact, Philippines had the second largest contingent in Seattle with 11 players in total.
In contrast, Malaysia only had four players representing spread across different teams.