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On day one of The International 2017, Chinese teams dominate, and western teams go home

As the main event of the 2017 International Dota 2 Championships got underway, Chinese fans found much to cheer for — even as western fans found cause for concern.

The day began as EU-based squad Team Liquid, considered by many to be a tournament favorite, went up against the legendary Chinese team Invictus Gaming, an organization who claimed the Aegis of Champions in 2012 at the second International (albeit with a different player lineup).

Both teams performed well in last week’s TI7 group stages, though Liquid’s performance with 13 games won and 3 lost seemed to favor them over IG, who went 10-6. However, IG secured an early and ultimately insurmountable lead, due in large part to the aggressive roaming support play of player Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao. In game two, facing potential relegation to the more arduous lower bracket, Liquid retuned fire, taking the win with an aggressive draft oriented around counter-picking IG’s Alchemist mid pick. However, the EU team couldn’t keep the momentum going, and were rolled over in a commanding performance from IG in game three, dropping to the lower bracket.

The day’s second set would prove to be one of its loudest, as two International Champions clashed in the upper bracket. TI5 champs and local favorites Evil Geniuses took on Chinese TI4 champions Newbee. However, Evil Geniuses frequently strong play were undermined by key mistakes during teamfights that ultimately cost them the set, with Newbee taking the series 2-0.

Both EG and Liquid’s next opponents in the lower bracket were determined by nail-biting single elimination matches in the second half of day one, as the bottom eight squads from the group stages fought for their tournament survival. It was a series of underdog vs. underperforming favorites that, ultimately, proved anti-climactic. The popular EU squad Team Secret, who has found success with a recent lineup revamp, routed the Filipino team Execration. Fan-favorite underdogs Cloud9 and team captain Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao managed to hold off Russian legends Team Empire for over an hour, despite a massive economic disadvantage, but the North American team couldn’t find the win.

South American team Infamous were a favorite story of the tournament, with the expectations of regional fans placed on their shoulders, particularly on 16 year old Peruvian player Enzo "Timado" Gianoli. But Infamous’s lower bracket elimination match was set against Dota 2 titans OG, who have won four of five of Valve’s official Majors, despite underperforming thus far at International competitions at which they’ve appeared. OG seemed to crack their Interational curse for the time being, as they handily routed Infamous despite a difficult start.

Day one ended as TI6 runners-up Digital Chaos took on Chinese team IG-Vitality. The spin-off team from the main Invictus organization had been a strong shower throughout this year’s competitive Dota 2 season, but underperformed in the group stage along with DC, and, in the end, the Chinese team was eliminated.

Today begins with more upper bracket play, as Filipino team TNC Pro Team takes on the dominant LGD.Forever Young. The Chinese team has displayed an almost terrifying command of Dota 2’s current meta, losing only two games in the group stages. Next, fellow organization mates LGD-Gaming will play against Russian team Virtus.Pro. In the second half of the day in the lower bracket, Team Liquid will take on Team Secret, and finally, Evil Geniuses will play Empire. Lower bracket losers today will be eliminated from the tournament.

You can read more about how to watch and understand Dota 2 with our primer.

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