The International (TI) is the ultimate competition in the Dota 2 scene and has produced some incredible storylines over the years, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. From Cinderella runs to heartbreaking defeats, the theatre of TI has produced some of the greatest narratives in esports. Here are just a few of our favourites.
Heroic run of the Chinese underdogs - TI5
CDEC’s run at TI5 was nothing short of heroic. Starting with qualifying as a wild card entry, the CDEC roster found themselves wiping out some of the top teams throughout the tournament.
After failing to qualify for TI through the main Chinese qualifiers, CDEC were forced to compete for a wild card entry, defeating Team Archon and MVP Phoenix in the process. They then found themselves in the arguably stronger group B at TI5, where they found a burst of form and finished second, only losing two series against the world’s best teams.
CDEC’s fast and aggressive playstyle confused the more methodical teams of the time and their great form lead them through the tournament's upper bracket playoffs. Without losing a single game, CDEC knocked Cloud9, LGD gaming and Evil Geniuses down to the lower bracket and were lifting the Aegis was right at their fingertips.
However Evil Geniuses were prepared for a rematch in the final with the pressure getting to the Chinese underdogs, concluding the heartbreaking run for CDEC.
Rise of the Swedes - TI3
The TI3 finals are burned into any fan’s mind who watched the match live as the greatest TI final series, with Navi and Alliance going blow for blow and taking the series all the way to a deciding game five. Previously known as No Tidehunter, the all-Swedish lineup had dominated western Dota throughout 2013.
This domination continued at The International 2013, where after receiving a direct invite, Alliance destroyed the group stages, claiming an undefeated top spot in group B with a 14-0 record. Going deep into the tournament, Alliance faced the top talent from China defeating LGD gaming and Team DK with ease, ultimately claiming the first spot in the finals against their close rivals Navi in a swift 2-0 series victory.
Previous champions of TI Navi would go on to beat Orange esports for their chance of a rematch in the grand finals. This time it was a much closer affair, with the series equalizing at 2-2, and one game could be the difference between greatness and disappointment.
With the final game beginning terribly for Alliance’s Carry ‘Loda’, they were always on the back foot and fought tooth and nail to regain an advantage. ‘AdmiralBulldog’s Nature’s Prophet play would gain them an advantage with their split push style, and ‘S4’s million dollar dream coil would ultimately win them the Aegis.
“Cinderella ain’t got nothing on this" - TI8
The OG victory at TI8 is one the greatest stories to come out of TI. OG was founded by ‘NoTail’ and ‘Fly’, and just 3 months before TI8 the lineup split, with ‘S4’ and ‘Fly’ leaving to join Evil Geniuses (EG).
This roster change required both OG and EG to qualify for TI through the open qualifiers. In hopes of qualifying, OG recruited rookie ‘Topson’ and brought their coach ‘7ckingMad’ to play the offlane role. This lineup was ultimately underestimated and wasn’t expected to make a deep run in the tournament.
It was in the upper bracket playoffs where OG truly put their foot on the gas. Going undefeated throughout the upper bracket, OG faced their rivals EG, knocking them down to the lower bracket and showing the world just who was the dominant team.
OG’s miracle win at TI8 was the greatest Cinderella story of competitive Dota and will live in the memory of anyone who watched it unfold live.
From Prodigy to Champion - TI5
Sumail’s journey to becoming the youngest TI winner took just nine months of professional competition, climbing from the top ranks of NEL to being crowned the TI5 champion. Despite a rocky start at his first LAN tournament, Evil Geniuses stuck with the young prodigy who eventually dominated at the Dota Asia Championships.
With great form coming into TI5, Sumail was already being considered one of the best in the world in the mid lane. With dominant performances on heroes like Storm Spirit, his unbridled aggression and over-confident playstyle won him a lot of fans as well as the greatest prize in competitive Dota.
Sumail’s story was highlighted at TI5 with a player profile produced by Valve exploring his family life and how he lived in a small apartment with eight family members. This humble beginning added to his story and climb to be the greatest player in Dota.
Kuroky finally lifting the Aegis – TI7
Kuroky is one of only two players to have attended every single International, with his ex-teammate ‘Puppey’ being the other. Kuroky’s TI journey began with GosuGamers at TI1 where he and his team failed to win a single match. His motivation was stunted after this performance until he was asked to stand in for mousesports at the next year’s TI competition.
He was eventually picked up by Puppey’s Navi, where they formed a fierce partnership that could compete with the best in the world. Despite this, the TI crown continued to escape Kuroky and he eventually left the team at the end of 2014 with Puppey to start the new project, Team Secret.
In August 2015, Kuroky formed another new team with the aims of lifting the Aegis of champions, and after winning just two tournaments his new team 5Jungz was signed by Team Liquid.
Kuroky’s new look Team Liquid would go on to become one of the greatest rosters to play Dota. Liquid’s run at TI7 would be the culmination of seven years of hard work and dedication not just from Kuroky but also his teammates.