Shades of TI5
Two years have passed since Evil Geniuses’ triumph at The International 2015, and in that time, Dota has undergone massive shifts both as a game and as an esport. Their win this past weekend in Manila gives the impression that in some ways, Dota has now come full circle. The similarities between the two tournaments stretch beyond the team that took home gold - there are larger trends emerging worth looking at.
It’s worth noting that EG’s return to the top has been aided by the recent 7.06 patch changes, especially in regards to mid lane. The extra melee creep, the deny XP, and the Shrine change gives a new importance to mechanical laning skill, and Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan is easily the best in the world in this area. His dominance in Manila is perhaps his highest peak as a player since his defining moments at TI5, when the focus on the mid lane was at its zenith.
The texture of EG’s bracket run in Manila is similarly reminiscent of their journey through TI5. Invictus Gaming and Newbee are reasonable analogues for EHOME and CDEC, although Newbee are not quite the cinderella story that CDEC were at the time. Even without Peter “PPD” Dager, EG hold on to their reputation as China slayers with their bounceback grand finals win, completing the parallel storyline to TI5 almost down to a T.
In the same vein, Manila also featured a dominant European team falling on its face a la Secret in 2015. OG are among the frontrunners to be called the best team in the world, in the process of staking their claim to one of the best teams of all time, but their failure in Manila is almost perplexing. Secret’s flatline is assuredly a bigger falter, but it has to be somewhere in the back of Gustav “s4” Magnusson’s mind not to let history repeat itself.
The one outlier of Manila is Team NP’s performance. Cloud9 at TI5 was an unmitigated disaster, becoming highlight reel fodder for the likes of Xu “fy” Linsen, but the reincarnated version seems to have found a more successful formula. They were inches away from facing Newbee in the Grand Finals themselves, a series they might have been favored in. No one predicted this team to have such a showing, but if there’s anything this collection of players is good at, it is defying all conventional logic.
For the rest of the field, the chances at having a defining performance are dwindling. Invites for The International are quickly approaching; while teams like EG and OG have almost assuredly secured their place at the tournament, once shoe-ins like Invictus Gaming could see their stock falling due to their performance here. Few tournaments are able to concentrate this many top teams. If any of the underperforming teams are to right the ship, every game must count from here on out.