Another year of Dota 2 competitions has concluded with The International 2017 (TI7) serving as the game’s equivalent of the Superbowl, or more aptly the Stanley Cup playoffs. Each year teams vie to claim the Aegis of the Immortal, Dota 2’s highest prize, which this year came with a hefty $10.8 million dollar earning for the first place team. Team Liquid, a predominately European team featuring two players from the Middle East, claimed their first Aegis in the organization’s history. Captained by Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Takhasomi, the team defeated China’s Newbee 3-0 in the best-of-five grand final this past weekend. Their dominance in the grand finals set a record for the first clean sweep in the final series.
Despite the 3-0 win, nothing about Team Liquid’s run in the tournament came easy as the team initially looked like they might be headed home early after losing in their opening upper bracket game against Invictus Gaming. The drop to the lower bracket, however, saw Team Liquid defeat the likes of Team Secret, Team Empire, Virtus.pro, LGD Gaming, and LGD.Forever Young (LFY) to earn them a spot in the Grand Finals. This also served as Kuroky’s seventh appearance at The International, having competed in every single TI since its inception. Conversely, this was the first appearance at TI for arguably the MVP of the whole tournament, Maroun “GH” Merhej who only became a member of any professional team late last year.
This year’s TI also was the first, since it was created, to not have the returning champions attend. Wings.Gaming, who won The International 2016, parted ways with the players following last year’s event. Amidst accusations of not being paid for months, the players opted to leave the organization and rename themselves Team Random in April of this year. Because the players are assigned their direct invites to the event, not the organization, Team Random were expected to return to defend their team’s title. However, things became dire for the team when China’s Association for Chinese Esports (ACE), the country’s organizing body for events, issued lifetime bans on the members due to violating their contract with Wings.Gaming. The ban effectively forbade the team from signing with any organization, or even let them practice with teams within China, as well as being permitted to compete in Chinese events like Mars Dota League. The ban did not extend as far as prohibiting them from participating in TI7, as the event is run by Valve outside of China. This sadly, still resulted in the team effectively disbanding when two members chose to join other teams to evade their ban in China, splitting the TI6 champions up.
A New Game & The Dueling Fates
Valve over the years have treated The International as their own special event to reveal new things, announce new heroes, and showcase projects related to Dota 2 they’ve worked on for years. This year’s TI was no different as Valve made two huge reveals over the two-week long event.
The first reveal was a brand new game by Valve named Artifact. A teaser trailer was shown just before the final match on Day 2 of the playoffs.
Artifact, a game designed by Brad Muir formerly of Double Fine, will be a card game with a connection to the Dota 2 universe (a la Hearthstone & Gwent). However, as it was described but not shown, it will be unlike most other digital card games as the player will control a team of five heroes from Dota 2 focusing on a “three board” format (assumed to be designed as “lanes”). Players will also utilize modifiers via “improvement cards” that modify the lanes and upkeep for each turn. One example was that an extra barracks can send extra creeps down the lane towards the enemy.
The second announcement came in the form of this year’s new hero reveal. Traditionally each year for the past three TIs, Valve used the All Star match during the final weekend to showcase a new hero or new game changing design they’re close to releasing. However, with the All Star match no such announcement came, leaving Dota 2 players and fans relatively underwhelmed. Then, suddenly, at the end of that same day Valve chose to end their broadcast with their new trailer for an upcoming patch entitled The Dueling Fates.
With the upcoming Dueling Fates update, two new heroes will be released. Neither of whom have been officially named, but the prospect of a Pangolin variant of Puss in Boots or a Musketeer had many fans excitedly coming up with nicknames for the focal character in the trailer. The second character, a fairy, is believed to be the hero Sylph The Air Spirit, a hero discovered by Dota 2’s community via data mining but at present, this is just speculation. The Dueling Fates, much like Artifact, has no official release date assigned yet.