Geeked Out: American Squad Wins Top Honors The International 2015
Watch out, Super Bowl. DOTA 2 is moving in.
The International 5 wrapped up Aug. 8, and the American squad Evil Geniuses became DOTA 2 champions winning the final series 3 to 1. The International is the largest eSports event ever, as 16 teams from around the world fly into Seattle to battle it out in the game DOTA 2 – Defense of the Ancients, a multiplayer online battle arena video game – for a prize pool of $18 million. The International is for all intents and purposes my Super Bowl event of the year.
If you caught my article last year, I compared the previous year's prize pool ($10 million) to other sports to help give some rough comparisons as to why it's such a big deal. Well, the prize pool this year jumped up another $8 million, bringing it to a total of $18 million. With the increase in money, it was guaranteed that even the team that took 16th place was walking home with $55,000. The payouts jump up quickly after that resulting in first place getting more than $6 million, with second and third each sitting at over $2 million. That is bananas!
As I mentioned at the top, this year's champion was the American team Evil Geniuses, or EG as they are referred to by fans and podcasters. The EG DOTA 2 squad is comprised of five players: Clinton "Fear" Loomis, Syed Sumail Hassan, Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora, Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling, and Peter "ppd" Dager. At last year's International, they placed third, and coming into this event, many had them rated highly, but no one thought they would take it all. This was not so much a discredit to them as it was hype of other teams that seemed like titans in the event.
The competition this year was staggering. With 10 teams directly invited and a series of regional qualifiers held to allow for underdogs to fight their way in, it was a month-long exhibition of some of the best DOTA to date. Invited teams, like LGD China, Team Secret, and Vici Gaming, were favored to take the championship, but were eliminated via upsets. Where EG proved to be the most stable and disciplined team at the event, crowd favorite Secret, who was favored to win the whole thing, was knocked out early on in the main event.
The event itself was two weeks of DOTA. The first week was a blitzkrieg group stage, where teams played each other in a round-robin fashion for points to get seeded in a set of double elimination tournament brackets. The top four teams out of a pair of groups would seed into the winners' bracket, while the bottom four teams seeded into the losers' bracket, facing instant elimination.
EG ended up winning the entire event, but the most compelling story was the Cinderella story of a relatively low-rated Chinese team. CDEC Gaming is a feeder team for the Chinese powerhouse LGD. LGD is in many ways the tour de force of Chinese DOTA, and CDEC was established to help find talent that could transition to the "big leagues." CDEC wasn't directly invited; during the regional qualifiers, they only placed second, which didn't mean they were guaranteed to compete in the main event.
Right before the group stages began, there was a wild card series where all the teams who placed second would battle it out for the last two remaining slots. CDEC fought and won that spot, and surprised everyone during the group stages, as they tied with EG to be at the top of their group, a feat no one expected.
From there, CDEC destroyed everyone they encountered in the winners bracket. It was amazing to watch this young team, underrated by virtually everyone, wreck teams who were expected to win. They even beat out EG in the final round of the winner's bracket sending them down into losers, forcing them to fight back for a rematch.
So where CDEC Gaming is the spunky upstart surprising everyone, EG is the disciplined veteran where cool heads prevail. The story of the members on EG is pretty fascinating. The oldest member and carry position player (position one player leading the squad, determining its strategy) Fear is a DOTA 2 veteran who has been in the scene for more than a decade, well before there were millions of dollars flying around. The DOTA community refers to him as "Old Man Fear" since he has been around seemingly forever and is older than your average eSports player sitting at a 28. (I write that with tears falling down my face as I turn 30.)
Alongside Fear sits Universe, who is the offlane player, which means "play maker" in simple terms. The goal of the offlane player is to set the pace of the game and to find openings. PPD is the team's captain and expert drafter.
A key aspect of DOTA 2 is that there is a pool of more than 100 heroes that players can control, and at the start of each game, teams take turns banning and picking heroes for their team; this part of the game is called the draft and an expert drafter can win a game before the clock even starts. PPD is hailed as one of the best drafters.
Aui_2000 plays the role of support; the job of support is to protect the team and help ensure that your carry, (e.g. Fear) remains safe. Finally, there is your mid player, which is one of the hardest positions, as it is where players face off one-on-one and technical skill will often determine the effectiveness of that player. Luckily for EG, the team recruited spritely 16-year-old Sumail as their mid. Sumail is now being hailed as the best mid player in the world after his performance at The International. Simply put: It was amazing.
But if you missed this all, don't worry! All the games can be seen on the DOTA 2 website. And here are some interesting stats on this year's viewership. The event itself takes place in Seattle at the Key Arena, but most people watch the game via Internet streaming from sites like Twitch or YouTube. This year, Valve estimates that more than 20 million people tuned in to watch the event, with a peak of several million concurrent viewers. To put that in perspective, the Super Bowl gets a total of 111 million viewers. The final match of the event was also aired on ESPN.
With that, I want to wish EG congratulations for their incredible run at this year's International, and also shout out to CDEC, for showing us just how amazing this game can be and for proof that young blood will shake up the competition in the coming years.
John Lindvay can be contacted at jLindvay@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @Fightstrife.
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