Ladies and gentlemen, grab your popcorn and settle down as the largest tournament in eSports history is officially under way. The first day of the group stage of The International 2016 has been packed with non-stop, top tier Dota 2 action!
An unadulterated meta has been forged during the Wildcards and is evolving as the group stage progresses. Huskar, Ogre Magi, and Sand King are witnessing resurgence and while the underlying theme of everyone’s draft has been similar, the occasional surprise Pudge pick (courtesy Wings Gaming) has not gone unnoticed.
Here’s a quick look at how each of the 16 contestants performed on Day 1.
Navi’s first day at the International went worse than expected as they dropped points to some of the weaker teams in the group. The yellow army will be more than disappointed as the fan favorites failed to impress at the end of the day’s play. Their first opponents were Wild Card runners up Escape Gaming. It wasn’t a walk in the park by any means as Synderen and co started out with a strong showing with Era’s Ursa finishing the game at 17/1/10. That coupled with Qojqva’s Lone Druid wreaked havoc on Navi as Sonneiko’s famed Bounty Hunter was shut down by Yapzor’s roaming Riki. Navi opted for aDrowstrat in game 2 and with 2 other ranged cores benefitting from the aura, it ended in an 18-minute annihilation by the boys in yellow.
Their second series was a complete farce as EG ran them ragged in both the games. Allowing EG to get their hands on the Elder Titan in both the games was a fatal mistake as Zai showed just how potent the hero can be. Both games were sub 30 minutes and for the second game in a day an Ursa decimated them, with Fear finishing with a score of 19/0/4 in the second game.Last up for them was TNC, a team widely considered as major underdogs. But Navi failed to capitalize on the situation playing out a draw yet again.
Navi VS Escape: 1-1
Navi VS EG: 0-2
Navi VS TNC: 1-1
Alliance were the first team to get a 2-0 on day one as they took down TNC in a fairly one-sided affair. S4’s Storm unleashed hell on TNC in game 1 ending at 17/0/12 in just under 23 minutes. Bulldog got his hands on Lone Druid in the second game and showed why he is still one of the best at running the hero. Alliance are one of the few teams to run a one position Slardar and it seemed to work this time with Loda opting for a tanky build allowing Bulldog to dish out the damage.
While they did concede 2 games to current table toppers OG, they pulled out some old Alliance magic to notch up a draw against Xiao8’s LGD. Their decision to take the game late backfired in game 1 as Agressif’s Phantom Lancer and Maybe’s Timbersaw brought the pain and despite S4’s Divine Rapier buy, they were unable to salvage the hour long game. They made a strong showing in the second game to tie up the series 1-1.
Alliance VS TNC: 2-0
Alliance VS OG: 2-0
Alliance VS LGD: 1-1
This team seemed to be the most unpredictable on paper and with some crazy strats up their sleeves and a strong showing leading up to the International. Many even dared to call them the favourites to take it all and some still stand by that prophecy.They showed just how wild they can be as iceice got his Pudge in the second game of their first series up against EG. But with Sumail’s Huskar going ham, they were unable to hold up as the series ended 1-1. A shock 2-0 loss to TNC followed suit but they somewhat redeemed themselves in the last series against Escape by picking up the full two points in a fairly easy 2-0.
Wings VS EG: 1-1
Wings VS TNC: 0-2
Wings VS Escape: 2-0
EG turned out to be the real winners on day 1 after picking up two draws against OG and Wings.Both of these were expected to have gone the other way. Particularly lackluster form leading up to TI6 meant that no one rated the defending champions highly but that should change after today’s performance. While both wins against OG and Wings were against somewhat trollish picks, at the end of the day it’s the points which will matter. But their biggest achievement was wiping Navi in a dominant 2-0 as they got some sweet revenge after being beaten by them atStarladder last month.
EG VS Wings: 1-1
EG VS Navi: 2-0
EG VS OG: 1-1
No one in their right minds expected a top 4 placement in the group stages for Escape and it showed why as they fell tamely to most of the other teams on day 1. With 1 win in 6 games, it’s going to be a hard-fought battle for escape on day 2 and 3 if they are to make it to the upper brackets for the main event.Synderen is known for his composure and analytical thought process and now is as good a time as any to put these skills on display!
ESC VS Navi: 1-1
ESC VS LGD: 0-2
ESC VS Wings: 0-2
TNC’s journey in the group stages got off to a good start as they exceeded expectations by thumping top dogs Wings 2-0. They caught Wings with their pants down in game 1 with a mass illusion strat based around PL and Naga. With virtually no AOE to show for, Wings were unable to contest and conceded at around 30 minutes. Raven was on fire in the second game on his Juggernaut as TNC secured the whitewash over Wings to pick up the crucial 2 points.
Having lost 2-0 to Alliance earlier they went up against Navi in their third series, and with the TI1 champs looking surprisingly weak, it seemed that TNC could walk away victors. But game 1 was a complete shutdown asNavi showed off some true aggressive in your face CIS Dota stomping TNC to take the win. TNC bounced back in game 2 however, pulling off a Drow+Vengestrat as General’s Void failed to make any big plays and conceding the game to TNC.
TNC VS Alliance: 0-2
TNC VS Wings: 2-0
TNC VS Navi: 1-1
LGD had already suffered a big blow with them having been forced to play with their coach Banana due to Sep failing to secure his visa. But with TI4 winner Xiao8 (jokingly known as The Director) at the helms, LGD proved their doubters wrong at the end of the days play. They secured a draw against tournament favorites OG and an easy 2-0 over Escape gaming before they started their last series of the day against Alliance. After beating them in their own game by taking it late in game 1, LGD fell in game two after a questionable build on TB by Agressif opting to go for a Radiance Octarine.
LGD VS OG: 1-1
LGD VS Escape: 2-0
LGD VS Alliance: 1-1
OG came into group A as clear favorites but were pushed to their limit by LGD in game 1 eventually walking away with a draw. They took down Swedish side alliance in a 2-0 before playing out a second draw with EG. However both their games were lost on the back off some pretty experimental picks in the form of a Legion Commander and a Troll Warlord. OG are a force to be reckoned with and their game versus LGD displayed some top tier Dota. Teams would be wise to fear them on day 2.
OG VS LGD: 1-1
OG VS Alliance: 2-0
OG VS EG: 1-1