It’s been six years since The International first debuted as an event at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany with a prize pool of $1.6 million dollars. Since then, the event has carried to the ornate theater of Benaroya Hall then to the 17,000 seat stadium of Key Arena, where players competed for $20.7 million dollars. Over this time there have been quite a few seminal stories, from fans to casters to players from across the globe, that have defined Dota and TI’s history. Before TI7 adds onto this, let’s take a look back at some of these moments.
You don’t have to understand Dota to know something pivotal is happening when it causes Tobi’s voice to screeches into the falsetto register. Tobi screaming “It’s A Disaster” became his trademark line, one that punctuated the moment but also added to its excitement. At this time Dota was still young as a viewing experience, and it was this fresh interplay between the live audience, the casters, and the gamers that started to define Dota as a spectator sport.
Since Valve introduced crowdfunding, allowing for 25% of revenue generated by the Compendium ($2.50 of $10.00) to be redirected to the prize pool, fans have contributed, over the past 4 years, a sum of $46.6 million dollars to TI winnings ($19.1 million alone last year). That’s $186.4 million spent by fans to watch Dota and a few extra cosmetic knick knacks. This kind of money puts Dota players into their own salary bracket among other esports players. The top 27 highest prize money earners of all time are Dota players.
Sumail’s legendary comeback game against VG during DAC
While other Dota stars have found the spotlight in their post-TI afterglow, Sumail’s story was the parable of the American dream. He was an immigrant who found opportunity in America and succeeded. The ethos also carries with it ideals of hard work, determination, and pulling oneself by his bootstraps (or in Sumail’s case, piggybacking on the back of his cousin’s bike because he sold his for internet cafe hours). He became a star in China after DAC, and after TI5 he launched an era of Storm Spirit fever. He landed on Time Magazine’s list of the most influential teens of 2016. Sumail’s success at TI5 was another milestone in Dota 2’s history that organization Evil Geniuses continues to write. EG.Fear was the core of Valve’s documentary for TI1, and PPD was featured in a NYTimes story about the ascent of Dota 2.
It’s a shame that kyxy was meme’d into infamy when he denied his team’s own Aegis, but he also deserves some praise. DK vs. Orange is one of the best series in TI history, and kyxy had a large role in his team’s win for his 4 man and 5 man RPs against team DK, which is why that clip is here instead. Team Orange finishing at 3rd place makes them the most successful SEA team at a TI.
Na’Vi vs. Alliance was the original El Clasico before the rosters of both teams fractured. This series was the only TI grand finals that came down to the last game. Alliance proved to be a sheer unstoppable Juggernaut at TI3, but it was Na'Vi that challenged them and pushed them to the final game. Regardless, the Swedes outmaneuvered Na’Vi, relentlessly pecking at their buildings. In the final push, with both teams on opposite sides of the map, S4 cancelled the TP’s of Na’Vi’s heroes, multiple times, with crucial Dream Coils.
Nearly every match has a pivotal moment that defines the win, but EG made history when that moment sealed their championship and a record breaking $6.6 million dollar prize. Whether it was bait or not, CDEC thought they had a window to take Roshan after taking down Sumail. But then Universe blinked in, max distance, with a perfect 5-man Echoslam (cue Tobi’s “It’s A Disaster!”) and further establishing that he’s one of the best players in Dota today.
NBA has “The Shot,” when Michael Jordan hit his iconic game winning shot, and Dota has its own “The Play,” from TI 2012, when Na’Vi turned around what seemed to be a devastating wraparound from iG. During the draft, Na’Vi allowed iG to pick both Naga Siren and Dark Seer, which spelled doom for them because this was when Vacuum could still be used on sleeping heroes. It was such a broken mechanic that it was later fixed, but Na’Vi let IG play into their hands. An instant BKB+Black Hole by LighTofHeaveN countered the play, along with Dendi Forcestaffing out of the Ravage and stealing it for himself. And much like Jordan’s Bulls, Na’Vi also did not end up winning the championship that year, but the play was too spectacular to be forgotten.
Cheating or fair game? Pudge’s Hook and Chen’s Test of Faith was a commonly known exploit, but the strategy wasn’t viable because Pudge wasn’t viable, at least in the hands of most players. Still, in this game Tongfu steamrolled Na’Vi for the first fifteen minutes and was poised to knock on Na’Vi’s high ground. That was until Na’Vi essentially teleported Tongfu’s heroes into the fountain at will. Na’Vi repeated the tactic over and over and eventually won. It was entertaining, but bittersweet. Tongfu, or at least the players, would find redemption the following year by winning TI4.
Valve debuted a new game mode for the allstar game and was picking volunteers from the crowd to play alongside pros. Kaci innocently plucked a Pudge cosplayer, in full gear, who later was revealed himself to be Dendi. He had been wearing that costume since he entered the arena, and by the time he took the mask off he was completely drenched in sweat. Give credit to Dendi, who risked heat stroke to please the crowd.
Dendi was, and may still be, the face of Dota 2, but he was still fairly popular back in Dota 1, when he was recording instructional videos on how to play the midlane. He went through the nuances of creep blocking, lane equilibrium, and capitalizing on skill timings. Today, this kind of knowledge is publicly available, but in Dota 1, before public replays, before Twitch, it was secret to a limited group of people. Dendi was one of the first professional Dota players to reach out to the community and give back, long before most of the people playing the game today.