After weeks of regional qualifiers, wild card matches, last week's group stages, and six days of main event play, the winner of TI5, the 2015 International Dota 2 Championships, is Evil Geniuses, who overcame CDEC in a tense, back and forth 3-1 victory in a best-of-five series.
Chinese team CDEC and North American team Evil Geniuses faced off in the upper bracket final on day four of the TI5 main event, sending the American squad to the lower bracket to face more stiff competition. Evil Geniuses odds were considered to be less than 50-50 against Chinese team LGD in the lower bracket final, but unexpected hero picks and drafting carried EG to a strong 2-0 finish. EG secured the the organization's first trip to The International's finals, and the first appearance in an International final from a North American team.
CDEC have proven to be one of the dark horse success stories of an International full of them. Formerly a "junior" team for Chinese eSports organization LGD, CDEC branched off on their own late last year. They were largely ignored over the unofficial 2015 season that kicked off around the Dota 2 Asia Championships early this year, and CDEC failed to secure their TI5 berth at the Chinese qualifiers, losing to EHOME 3-1.
However, CDEC clawed their way back into the competition in the wildcard qualifiers, and became virtually unstoppable, sitting at the top of the group stages and handily defeating everyone in the upper bracket, including EG, whom they sent to the lower bracket on day four of the main event.
Evil Geniuses is one of the most prominent eSports organizations in North America, and the team placed third at last year's International competition. However, they were considered to have underperformed in some circles; the team had to replace one of their most important members, Clinton "Fear" Loomis, due to injuries that many felt would end the older player's career. EG saw other major lineup changes after the event, including the departure of their most popular player, Artour "Arteezy" Babaev.
As Babaev left to join Dota 2 "dream team" Secret, Loomis reassumed his role on the team, and before the Dota Asia Championships in January of 2015, EG stumbled upon a then-unknown 15-year old Pakistani prodigy in Syed "Suma1l" Hassan, who went on to stun the Dota 2 community with his breakout performance, filling the void left in Babaev's departure. Evil Geniuses won the Dota Asia Championships, making Hassan the youngest player in the history of Dota 2 to exceed $500,000 in winnings.
Evil Geniuses would prove inconsistent as the year went on however, frequently finding number two finishes against Team Secret, and finishing below CDEC in the TI5 group stages. They seemed strong in the upper bracket but were handily outdrafted by CDEC in the upper bracket final; their surrender in game two of that match marked the fastest loss at TI5's main event.
In the lower bracket final on the last day of TI5, Evil Geniuses were forced to face strong Chinese team (and former stablemates to CDEC) LGD Gaming, a match Valve's TI5 analyst desk did not favor them to win. But EG team captain Peter "PPD" Dager assembled an unorthodox, aggressive hero draft, forcing LGD to respond to surprising picks that left the Chinese team unable to effectively respond. Evil Geniuses would go on to win the lower bracket final 2-0, which once again pitted them against CDEC.
As first place finishers of TI5, Evil Geniuses will take home more than $6.6 million in prize money from the overall prize pool of more than $18 million. CDEC will take home more than $2.8 million.