The International Conclusion
Well, yet another Dota 2 The International tournament comes to an end. It was full of exciting twists and turns. We even had some records set by the winners. I won’t spoil too much, though I can’t imagine anyone interested in the results doesn’t already know them.
Instead, I want to mention that the TI Curse is still in effect. It’s probably one of the things I really like about professional Dota 2. The Curse, of course, isn’t anything official. It’s just an observation on a continuing trend over the scene for the last seven years. Through a conflux of a number of factors, there has not been a single repeating TI champion. For the last seven years, a different team of five players have claimed the prestigious Aegis of the Immortals. Even more impressive, there hasn’t even been a repeat in teams.
Due to the nature of its competitive scene, Dota 2 teams are ephemeral things. They last long enough to compete in the tournament of tournaments and then evaporate in the wake of the closing ceremony like so much morning dew in the rising sun. This isn’t to say the players themselves disappear. In fact, there’s a rather large, consistent base composing the highest echelon of the game’s competition. And what would the competitive scene look like without BurNing or Puppey? It’s a competitive scene I’m not certain I would want to see. There are certainly new names that break through but it does allow fans to continue cheering for old favourites.
So what happens after TI is the great team shuffle where players are all seemingly tossed into a hat, shaken then spilled out in new groups of five. From this prestidigitation, the top sponsors will then slap their name on whoever they can. Thus, Invictus Gaming has attended pretty much every competition and has claimed a good chunk of the top Chinese players within its roster at some point or another. Surely through mere chance alone a sponsor will land upon two winning teams, especially since there aren’t a lot of major sponsors.
But that portion of the curse has still remained strong.
Finally, the most exciting part of the TI curse is that no region has won back to back.
Due to convenience and… well… geographical delineations, there are about six major scenes in Dota. These are: China, South East Asia, Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS aka Russia), Europe, North America and South America. Typically speaking, teams will scrimmage and compete against each other in their respective regions for most of the year. The only times these teams come together are for major tournaments and The International. Of these six regions, Europe, CIS and China have traditionally posted the strongest results throughout Dota 2’s history. However, North America was able to snag the championship for the first time two years ago and South East Asian has been improving year after year.
The reason I’m most excited that there are no back to back winning regions is that it demonstrates no real dominance at the highest level of play by anyone. Other esports often get taken over by one area and, as an area achieves more victories, they develop better infrastructure to keep international competitions in lockdown. You see this in most of the other major esports: Starcraft, League of Legends, Overwatch and probably a bunch of others that I don’t follow.
The closest one particular region can claim as dominance is China, I suppose, having qualified the most teams and taken the largest number of TI victories in total. Course, this ignores performance at Valve’s prior Majors and other large tournaments where European teams often have strong showings. But this bleeds down to the game itself and watching TI has never been more exciting as more and more teams are more capable of taking the grand prize.
In fact, 2017 is probably the first year where I was watching and feeling like the majority of participating teams could, reasonably, be winners. Prior tournaments usually had only a handful of stand out teams that looked poise to sweep the finals. But this year it really felt like anyone’s game. Even the weakest teams at the tournament were showing far greater skill than ever before.
I think it really speaks well to the health of the competitive scene. That so many people can play and play in often vastly different styles with distinct strategies while still being competitive with their peers across the globe is truly impressive. To lend to this, only four of the one hundred and thirteen heroes available went unpicked in the entire tournament!
You can truly sit down and watch a game of Dota and have just about anything happen. It’s fantastic and it leaves Kait and me excited for next year when hopefully the competition can be even greater!