Find out what went down at the biggest tournament in esports history.
The world-famous – ‘The International 2018’ that can be said to have kicked off the astronomical growth with its first iteration and the ensuing documentary, Free to Play, returned this year in August of 2018 to break record after record. In a minor break with tradition, the tournament was moved from Seattle, USA to Vancouver, Canada. Featuring a $25 532 177 USD prize pool, The International 2018 is the lifelong dream of many a Dota player, but to be crowned a champion among 18 other teams that are just as motivated and hungry for the title requires something special, which always makes the tournament a pleasure to watch.
Invites and Qualifiers
Following the conclusion of the Dota Pro Circuit season, the 8 teams with the highest DPC points were directly invited to the tournament, while the remaining teams were taken from the regional qualifiers, featuring between 1 and 3 slots for teams in China, South East Asia, North America, South America, Europe and CIS. The closed qualifiers featured some directly invited teams and other teams that battled it out through the brutal open qualifiers, leaving 10 standing once the dust settled at the end of June.
The teams were separated into two groups of 9, played from the 16th to the 19th of August, and showcased a round-robin format where every team played each other in their respective groups. However, not only did these groups determine the seeding, they also determined the first two teams to be eliminated, as the bottom-placed team in each group would be sent home before the main event even started. Unfortunately, Pain Gaming and Invictus Gaming were the ones going home, while the next 4 were seeded into the lower bracket, and the top 4 into the upper bracket.
The first day of group stages was the 21st of August and featured the first two upper bracket games and all 4 lower bracket games. Team Liquid and PSG.LGD came out on top, 2-0ing Optic Gaming and Virtus. Pro to the lower bracket, which caused no surprises. What was a surprise, however, was Team Serenity eliminating Fnatic, but even more so, Team Winstrike – a team that had formed mere months ago – had eliminated Newbee, the 7th-placed team over the DPC season. Mineski and Vici Gaming won their respective games, sending TNC Predator and VGJ.Thunder packing.
Day 2 saw another upset in the form of OG beating VGJ.Storm, as a team that had to drastically reshape their team and get their game up to TI-standard in a matter of months. Evil Geniuses sent Team Secret to the lower bracket, while Optic and VP eliminated Serenity and Mineski respectively.
Day 3 ended what was beginning to look like a fairytale run for Winstrike, being sent home by VGJ.Storm, while Secret eliminated VG. A highly contested series between LGD and Liquid saw Liquid coming off second- best as OG overcame one of the strongest teams in the tournament, EG, 2-1 in games that many were calling the best of all time.
It was on Day 5, however, that the chaos really descended. The day began with the unsurprising elimination of Secret by Liquid, followed by a heart-stopping 3 games of OG getting crushed by LGD, but somehow not losing, allowing them to turn around game 1 and 3, in games that questioned whether the series against EG really was the best so far (many thought it wasn’t after that series). Somehow, the team ranked dead last in the power rankings by Liquipedia had beaten every team that stood in its way on its way to the grand final, where it would await the winner of the lower bracket final. EG proceeded to deny Liquid’s desire for back-to-back championships and cemented an EG vs LGD lower bracket final.
The 6th and final day saw LGD eliminate EG convincingly as LGD carried their momentum into The International 2018 grand final. The favorite for many to win was facing off against the least likely team to win, providing a blockbuster series. OG managed to take game 1 as they looked in control, nullifying the early lead LGD would consistently manage to attain. However, they were destroyed in the next two games, being left in a position where 1 more loss would mean defeat.
The 4th game saw LGD convincingly take an early lead and manage to keep it, signaling the end for OG’s dream, but somehow, OG managed to hold on by a thread and slowly got back into the game, winning a few crucial fights and coming back from an impossible deficit in a 65-minute marathon. Tied 2-2, the final game would decide the victor, and while LGD once again got off to a great start with a draft that managed to counter OG’s, but OG was playing some of their most comfortable heroes, and simply outplayed LGD in every fight to take home the Aegis of Champions in what was undoubtedly the best grand final of all time, even overshadowing the infamous base races of TI3.
The tournament has gone down in history and as the excitement and surprise wear off, every eye is turned to the upcoming TI in Shanghai 2019.