The International (TI) is always a spectacle of drive, drama and persistence! It’s also a celebration of this amazing game for players and fans from around the world!
Over the years, The International did not disappoint, we were treated with meteoric underdog stories of Wings Gaming in TI6 and Team Spirit in TI10, to the total domination by OG during TI8 and TI9.
TI is definitely the biggest esports competition for the past 10 years! 🔥🔥
With plenty of local Malaysian Dota fans in 24local, our media team have watched The International religiously almost every year.
However, much of our viewing experience includes watching pre-recorded matches on Twitch or Youtube due to the time-zone difference between Malaysia and previous host countries (NA/Europe), where matches are usually played while we are asleep.
This year is different as the TI was held in Singapore (the first in Southeast Asia) and we have gotten the Press Passes from Valve. Huge thanks to Valve for granting us this opportunity 🙂
Attending TI is no longer a pipe dream.
TI Finals Weekend Day 1
Fast forward to Finals Weekend on 28th October, the group of 4 of us arrived in Singapore and ready to embark on this unreal experience. Some of us attended the Kuala Lumpur Major and ESL One Malaysia, but none of us was prepared for the scale of this event.
We reached the entrance of the venue and were greeted by an expanse of booths, enthusiastic fans, cosplayers and more.
Bags of merchandise, figurines and apparel hung on people’s arms. Waiting lines were everywhere; fans were excited to snap pictures with Lina and Crystal Maiden in front of the SteelSeries booth.
We noticed there was a longer queue for pictures with Marci, where we could also pose and wield with the Aghanim’s Scepter and the legendary Rapier. Fans even had the chance to lift the Aegis (though just a replica)!
Overtime, we clearly saw there were progressively more people ascending up the steps to enter the stadium, we looked at our phones and jointly agreed that it’s time, and donned our Attendee Pin (one of many items from our goodie bag), and strapped ourselves for the ride of a lifetime.
The opening ceremony for Finals Weekend commenced with introductions of the remaining 4 competing teams and the infamous Welcome to The International greetings from Gabe Newell, President of Valve.
The massive 4-sided screen hung in the middle of the stadium showed brief close-ups of each player, coupled by the announcer’s booming introductions for each of them. As the camera panned towards the players, It was evident through the electrifying cheers that Puppey, Resolut1on, Zai and MATUMBAMAN were favourites!
Lower Bracket (Bo3)
Time for the first series, Team Liquid versus Team Aster. [Team Aster] Monet’s Sniper life-steal was super satisfying to watch as he constantly stays alive with a sliver of HP. The crowd goes wild whenever Monet defies all odds to survive.
It’s difficult to explain in words how amazing the atmosphere is; cheers after every outplay, chants reverberating in every corner of the stadium:
LETS GO LIQUID LETS GO! LETS GO LIQUID LETS GO! ~
At this point, It was obvious which team the crowd favoured more 👀
Both teams have now come to terms over the hero Marci’s utility, in which any player who laned against Marci 100% gets jumped on and killed in the early game. Each team had won 1 game each with Marci, so it was eventually banned in game 3.
The last game proceeded pretty evenly until [Team Liquid] miCKE’s Lina and MATUMBAMAN’s Night Stalker steamrolled Team Aster after the mid game.
Victory: Liquid eventually takes the game, wipes out Team Aster from the competition, and proceeds to the Lower Bracket Final.
Upper Bracket Final (Bo3)
The last series of Day 1 sees Team Secret versus Tundra Esports. The step-up over gameplay, quality and teamwork from the previous series was very evident in this Upper Bracket Final.
Thus far, Tundra Esports has never lost a single match in the TI Group Stages or Main Event, they have been dominating this tournament with their zoo build, i.e. the summoner-deathball strat.
We have a soft spot for heroes with big flashy plays, so [Team Secret] Resolut1on’s Magnus pick was a treat to watch, but unfortunately, Tundra ESports takes the first game with Nine’s Outworld Destroyer imprisoning the entire Team Secret into oblivion.
Secret wins game 2 by constantly disabling Tundra’s Terrorblade, and I especially loved it when Dawnbreaker whirled and thunked Tundra for the win.
In game 3, Secret couldn’t pop off during the mid-game with their heroes, and called GG at minute 35. Tundra won the game with CLEAR DOMINANCE and they are our first TI Grand Finalist.
Dinner and sleep
After the event, we had dinner and headed to an internet café to play a game of Dota.
Since we’re in Singapore, we would be playing in the same Southeast Asia server in Malaysia, so in typical fashion, we had 2 carries and no support heroes, and as expected, the opponent team had 5 carries! 🤣🤣
On a side note, we also jokingly had a suspicion of what seems like a curse resulting from Crystal Maiden picks in TI Finals Weekend.
Out of the 6 games played in Day 1 of the Finals Weekend, Crystal Maiden was picked 5 out of 6 times, where each of the four qualifying teams ended up picking that hero at least once. 5 out of 6 games that picked Crystal Maiden ended in losses:
TI Finals Weekend Day 2
Day 2 had some additional cosplayers, a Windranger with the arcana skin, and a Mirana (which seems to have left her mount back home!).
The atmosphere for Day 2 was different, you could feel the intensity in the air, everybody wished their favourite team to win, but they also wanted great Dota. We all wanted the matches to be stretched out to a final decider game for additional drama.
Lower Bracket Final (Bo3)
The day started with the Lower Bracket Final between Team Secret and Team Liquid, where both teams qualified via Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ). Team Secret and Team Liquid got those 2 final slots, beating teams from China, North America, South America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
It’s a miracle that these 2 teams matched up against each other, more so during the Lower Bracket Final of TI. Emotions filled, with MATUMBAMAN stating that this would be his final professional tournament before he retires, we’re in for a treat.
First game went towards Team Secret with Nisha’s Morphling’s dominance in the mid game. In the second game, Team Liquid bounced back with MATUMBAMAN’s Sniper outplays and lifestealing his way to the win. Zai’s Broodmother was causing utter chaos, melting down towers across the map.
Time for game 3 baby!
The crowd cheered loudly over Team Secret’s Invoker and Team Liquid’s Brewmaster picks. Unfortunately, all of Team Liquid’s core melee heroes were out manoeuvred by Team Secret’s Invoker, Drow Ranger and Puppey’s Enchantress who even ended up having an Assault Cuirass as pos 5!
Team Liquid eventually was slowly picked off and tears were shed as the ancient fell. Team Secret wins the match and now face Tundra Esports in the Grand Finals.
Grand Final (Bo5)
The Grand Finals: Team Secret versus Tundra Esports. The game we have all been waiting for.
Tundra took game 1 where they played extremely calculative and methodical. Secret tried very hard to find a crack in Tundra but were unsuccessful.
Not only is Tundra an unstoppable force, they are also an impenetrable wall. [Tundra ESports] skiter’s Naga Siren outfarms Team Secret by a mile.
Secret decides to ban Naga Siren early in game 2, Tundra’s response: mimic Naga Siren illusions with Chaos Knight, Arc Warden and Visage’s familiars.
Unfortunately, [Team Secret] Nisha’s Morphling wasn’t able to establish as much of a presence as the earlier game with Liquid. It was impossible to ambush Tundra’s Arc Warden, where he scraped the map of its gold and resources. Eventually, Secret was overwhelmed by illusions and familiars and lost game 2.
Secret was down 2-0 and It was all or nothing for them in game 3.
Secret chose Naga Siren for Crystallis, but this seemed unconventional compared to his hard hitters. It was a nail-biting game; Gold and net-worth were equal for the most part, however, Secret was not able to pick off Tundra’s cores where Medusa and Beastmaster had too much momentum.
Unfazed or fueled by the pressure, Nisha’s Ember Spirit skillfully sniped Tundra’s supports, but that wasn’t enough.
It was minute 43 and the crowd felt the heavy blow when Nisha got tossed and killed. Moments later Resolut1on’s Leshrac dies. Secret’s 2 cores with no buyback.
Tundra rushed into Secret’s base and demolished their Tier 3, then Tier 4. Crystallis goes for a last hurrah but we knew it was over. The Dire’s ancient quickly chipped and imploded. Tundra wins 3-0 they are our TI11 Champions!
Wrapping The International 2022
We all wanted a game 5, however Tundra seemed like an unstoppable force for Secret and it was a well-deserved victory 👏👏
The stadium was full house, with passionate crowds cheering their favourite teams, making it a real eye-opener for us to watch the game live in person!
We left the stadium after the closing ceremony with the train station full of fellow Dota fans still discussing about the game non-stop. Amazing isn’t it?
The following day when we were flying back from Changi airport, we saw Topson (2-time TI winner with OG) in the same flight as us 🤩
After coming back home to Malaysia, we now had the TI itch that needs to be scratched again.
TI 2023, we hope to see you soon! 🙌