At day four of Valve's 2015 International Dota 2 Championships, the big story was a big upset.
The day opened with Korean team MVP.Phoenix advancing as far in the tournament as any Korean team ever has, but standing in their way to forward progress was Chinese team ViCi Gaming. MVP.Phoenix captain Park "March" Tae-won is widely considered to have led the team to their current moment, but TI5 will prove to be his last tournament, as Tae-won can no longer defer his compulsory service in the South Korean military, effectively ending his eSports career.
VG had struggled in TI5's group stages and found themselves in the tournament's lower bracket as the main event began. But they showed renewed strength in their elimination match earlier in the week against North American team Cloud9, sending that team home and pitting them against MVP on day four. While the Korean team displayed their characteristic aggression and made a better-than-expected showing against the Chinese organization, VG ultimately took the series in straight games and advanced to a second set on Thursday against fellow Chinese team eHome, which they also won in straight games.
Tae-won can no longer defer his compulsory service in the South Korean military, effectively ending his eSports career
The biggest match of the day was the unlikely lower bracket confrontation between Russian hold-outs Virtus Pro and TI5 and fan-favorites Team Secret. Secret suffered a surprise loss in the first round of upper bracket matches, but seemed to show a new sense of purpose and strength in their day two win against former TI champions Invictus Gaming. Meanwhile, Virtus Pro had struggled to demonstrate consistently strong play, squeaking out wins in their previous sets in the lower bracket after narrowly avoiding elimination in a best-of-one match on day one. Expectations established early on that VP would quickly fall to Secret, and game one did little to counteract that narrative as the tournament favorite handily defeated the Russian squad.
But, perhaps demonstrating how much like "real" sports eSports can be, VP found a second wind in the next game, delivering a surprising loss to Secret, and in one of the most tense games of the tournament, slowly wore them down to secure the match. Virtus Pro advances to day five, and Secret has been eliminated, prompting rampant speculation and questions about the future of Team Secret in professional Dota 2.
The evening closed with the annual all-star match, which debuted the addition of a new, custom 10v10 mode to Dota 2's Reborn beta client, as well as support for up to 24 players. However, earlier speculation and chatter about the possible introduction of a new hero to the game ultimately yielded no results, leading, of course, to additional speculation about what the rest of the week holds.
TI5 continues today, with the grand final set for Saturday afternoon. You can find more information about where to watch the 2015 International Dota 2 Championships here, and you can watch our video on how to watch Dota 2 tournament play below.