The Major That Almost WasOne of Valve’s motivations to create the Majors system was to give a more regional flavor to the 'season' that begins after each crowning of a TI champion. Although at first the Majors did not include new qualifier zones, it was evident that on the European side, the competition was too fierce and good teams were left behind. In the case of North America, the region always had difficulties with creating teams of the caliber of EG or even Thunderbirds; whereas the lesser teams had evident issues when dealing with their neighbors from the South that were constantly making it to late stages of the qualifiers. These two problems triggered a controversial decision: to create the CIS and South America qualifiers.
The Kiev Major showed us that the new regions could compete at the highest level, just as Boston showed us that abandoning the double-elimination format would bring great upsets. Obviously, the creation of the CIS region is not really controversial; we have always known that this area produces some of the best talent in Dota. It was the South American region that brought more doubts about the level of anyone that came out of it.
But what a success it turned out to be; although a South American team had already eliminated another team in the playoffs at Frankfurt, the victory of SG e-sports was much different to the one Unknown had over Newbee. The Chinese team was in rapid decline then, unlike Team Secret, who managed to be the best team in the group stage of Kiev by winning absolutely all their matches. The story was already written; Secret was going to advance to the next round. But fate, ever-whimsical, chose David yet again, and Secret was eliminated by the worst team in the group stage. We may never know about the guys at SG e-sports again, but their triumph over Secret - not counting their tremendous performance against EG - made it clear that the new regions have come to stay. And that’s without telling VP’s story.
Overwhelming GamersWe have rarely seen a team as consistent as OG. Although they are still waiting on a title at the International, we can surely say that since its creation, OG has been the best team of Dota 2. With these credentials, it was not surprising that OG was the favorite of many at the time of placing their predictions in the compendium, or when ranking them in a power rank.
The reason for OG's success is not so simple to point out; after the departure of Cr1t and Miracle, who are probably missing that constant success, ana, s4 and Jerax joined OG’s ranks. Gustav and Jesse already had a certificate of the highest quality under their arms; all the incredulous looks fell on ana, a promising talent who had the titanic task of replacing Miracle.
To say that OG’s bet worked is an understatement: OG has managed to win the only two Majors before the International and participated in the DAC 2017 final. Jessie, Gustav and Anathan couldn’t have asked for a better team to join; a machine perfectly oiled and cared for by one of the most iconic duos in the history of Dota 2.
From Russia, With LoveCoincidentally, the two regions that were created for this Major are the object of mockery and memes: either it is the Russian that never shuts up or the Peruvian feeder that makes you lose precious MMR. Although SG e-sports' performance will not be enough to change the opinion of skeptics, Virtus.pro's remarkable showing is a good reminder that the Mecca of 'European' Dota is ironically closer to the East than to the West.
If Boston was a monumental stumble for Virtus.pro, especially after destroying OG in the final of The Summit, Kiev was an almost perfect vindication for this team and the entire CIS community, that was looking forward to holding an official Valve event to show their identity. Part of Virtus.pro's identity is their infamous ability to lose games that seem to be over; and in a play as fleeting as their combos, OG managed to turn a game that only they could have won.
Unfortunately for the fans the trophy did not stay at home, but it was undoubtedly the time that it was closest to happening. This final will be kept in the memory of many, not only because it was so close to being the first defeat of OG in a Major grand final, but also because it is the one that reminded us of the TI3 finale, in which two European teams played five games, in which one is from the CIS region, and where s4 triumphed once again.
When Burning was not EnoughThere’s no reason to believe that Kiev was a bad tournament for iG, although Burning and all of China hoped to finally win a Major. It seemed that as the flame of Wings dissipated, Burning's back became bigger, achieving feats that few others can. With a respectable third place after the surprises that Secret and Virtus.pro were in the group stage, iG’s route was apparently easier compared to the other favorites.
mousesports and Team Liquid did put some fight, but iG prevailed and managed to secure a spot among the top four. Their opponent for the semi-final was the home team, who came from eliminating two Chinese teams back-to-back before arriving to this match. Burning and company were unable to stop Virtus.pro and succumbed to the Russian / Ukrainian team, just as their countrymen did. It was just not their time.
China's position before TI7 is similar to the one the scene had before TI6. As Seattle approaches, we will have to wait and see if the Chinese teams will rise to the challenge once again.