Day 1 was all about the upper bracket teams duking it out to be, as one commentator aptly put it, the “final boss” of the series. In order to advance up the bracket, both teams competing have to win a best of three. And the first set of games was between Newbee and VG, the two teams who ended up 1st and 2nd in the group stages, respectively.
Before the games, a little presentation is shown that fleshes out the background of both teams. In this case, Newbee are an Asian team that formed 3 to 4 months ago solely for The International. They are comprised of real life friends whilst VG are a more ‘professional’ team, also Asian, who have been playing DOTA 2 together for a long time and are more of a ‘team’ than a group of friends. What made them especially interesting is that for both teams is when they briefly discussed their lives outside of DOTA 2. Newbee in particular had a lot of conflict with their parents on the road to becoming professional DOTA 2 players. And it was very touching to see them proudly talk about how they proved their parents wrong and became successes.
The first game started TI4 with a bang. After each team chose their heroes, Newbee were on the offensive. They killed a VG hero before the horn sounded and the game properly began and in fact won the game in 14 minutes with VG calling “gg” and finishing the match early. To put that in some perspective, a game of DOTA 2 typically lasts from 30 to 45 minutes and frequently lasts over an hour, especially in professional games. The second game of the best of 3 was far more traditional, there were no first bloods before the game began and it didn’t last an obscenely short length. VG came back from an entire team wipe in under 10 minutes to win the game, all thanks to a particularly excellent performance by their Ancient Apparition. He is a hero whose final ability launches an ice ball anywhere on the map and stops, if it hits someone, the enemy from healing and instantly kills them if they go under a certain amount of health-points. Needless to say it was deadly during team-fights and Newbee just couldn’t survive long enough. The third and final game was another more conventional game, lasting just over half an hour. Newbee suffered a team wipe in the 12th minute but came back to win. VG couldn’t handle the building killing potential from Newbee’s Shadow Shaman, a hero whose ultimate ability summons a group of fire spitting snake wards that are especially effective against buildings and that cost them the game. So Newbee advanced in the upper bracket.
The next lot of games was between the American team EG verses the Chinese DK. Again, the introductions for both teams were fascinating. EG had very supportive families who let them compete, even their 16 year old player, without much fuss. DK however sacrificed marriage and education to play DOTA 2, at least for the moment. Plus, DK had added pressure to perform well because, unlike EG, all but 2 of their players are DOTA 2 and International veterans as they played in last year’s event alongside the fact that their name simply stands for “Dota Kings.” They had a lot to live up to.
Their first game was one hell of a match. It lasted just shy of an hour long and ended in an actual base race, where both teams are attacking each other’s base and not defending. It went down to the wire but ultimately, EG won probably thanks to their Ursa, a giant bear creature who can attack incredibly fast in short bursts. The second game was more rudimentary, with the only atypical thing was an Abaddon, a hero not normally seen in competitive DOTA 2 because he is so specific in his abilities and doesn’t fit well into many roles. However, EG still won despite the odd hero choice thanks, in part, to more gold and experience across their heroes alongside being able to take towers much quicker. So they move up the bracket and face Newbee for a place in the final.
This best of three was awesome on so many levels. Newbee were the slight underdogs when compared to EG, mainly because they didn’t perform as well in the run up to TI4 so it was generally assumed to be EG’s to lose and…lose they did! The first match was an epic 50 minute brawl which was most notable for the 10 kills on the Naga Siren on the side of EG. This is because the Naga Siren is a hero who can make copies of herself, so pinning her down and killing her is rather difficult, plus the longer a game goes on for, the more powerful she becomes because she is killing so many things in a very quick fashion. Newbee shut her down so completely that EG just couldn’t reply with anything and just lost.
The second game was ludicrous. Newbee gave EG their perfect team and they still won 25 kills to 8 in 35 minutes. It was so odd because in the previous match, when EG played against DK, the game lasted roughly the same length, EG won with 20 hero kills to 13. To not be in double digits in half an hour is highly unusual and cost them the game. The other team got too much experience and gold from their heroes and just obliterated them. So Newbee got to the final. And so ended Day 1. A day that started fantastically and ended the exact same, both thanks to Newbee.
If you want you watch these matches, check out the DOTA 2 twitch channel: Here
Continued in part 3…