Another day at the International, another former champion sent home.
Day three of the 2016 International Dota 2 Championships, or TI6, began as 2013 champs Alliance scrambled to avoid elimination in the lower bracket opposite Southeast Asian team Fnatic. Alliance dominated just a few years ago — some say too much, as their "rat" strategies and constant objective pressure was considered so effective that Valve and secretive Dota 2 head developer "icefrog" made major changes to the game in response. But since then, the Swedish team has had difficulty finding its groove. Despite some occasional tournament successes, Alliance have never found the same kind of win since TI3. Meanwhile, Fnatic has outperformed expectations, a part of a potentially burgeoning SEA renaissance in Dota 2’s competitive scene.
Unfortunately for European Dota 2 fans, Alliance couldn’t seem to find an effective strategy to overcome Fnatic, as the SEA team took the match in straight sets. Alliance is now eliminated from the competition as Fnatic advances in the lower bracket.
Fnatic’s opponents were to be determined by the outcome of the following match, which pitted TI4 champions Newbee from China against EU squad Liquid. Both teams were in a position they least expected. Newbee spent the earlier part of 2016 as a dominant force across competitive Dota 2, setting a new record of 29 consecutive competitive wins. Liquid came in second at every Dota 2 "Major" this year, and won the Russian Epicenter LAN just a few months ago, and were widely favored to place top two along with fellow EU team OG. But Liquid and Newbee collided with their own respective walls at TI6, forcing them into an elimination match against each other in the lower bracket.
It was one of the only matches at the tournament thus far to go the full three games, but ultimately, Liquid found something of their old selves and overcame the Chinese team. Liquid advanced in the lower bracket and will now face Fnatic and, once again, potential elimination.
One of the more widely anticipated matches came next as Chinese squad Wings, a surprise contender for the Grand Finals this week, took on Korean team MVP. MVP’s aggressive, brawling play style and surprisingly strong run at TI6 — including sending early tournament favorite OG to the lower bracket, where they were subsequently eliminated by SEA team TNC — has made MVP a hit with the crowd at Key Arena and the Dota 2 scene broadly. But MVP’s aggression and unconventional draft were a poor match for Wing’s precision and carry player Chu "Shadow" Zeyu’s disciplined play, and Wings sent MVP down to the lower bracket, though their opponent has yet to be determined.
The day concluded with the two strongest looking teams in the main event so far facing off, as North American team Evil Geniuses took on Chinese team EHOME. What followed was a brutal, epic 75-minute war that is already being talked about as one of the best pro Dota 2 matches since the game’s professional debut. I would suggest you watch it before I spoil it for you.
After an aggressive back and forth and multiple battles involving both teams exhausting their buybacks, EG took one final fight and pushed their advantage to overcome EHOME. The second match ended in a comparatively short 38 minutes as EG defeated an at-times demoralized-seeming EHOME to advance in the upper bracket. EHOME will continue in the lower bracket on day four, though the team’s opponent has yet to be determined.
Day four will continue the lower bracket of TI6, while the upper bracket final will happen on Friday. You can find more information about how to watch The International 2016 here, and you can learn more about watching Dota 2 as a normal, not-obsessed person with our guide.