This year Team Liquid are seen as one of the favorites to win The International, a feat that would make them the first organization to have won the event twice. Many have said that they're the first to avoid the TI winner's curse, but that's not true. The people saying that forget the Evil Geniuses team of The International 2016.
After their win in 2015, EG came in to TI6 looking so-so. They didn't seem especially strong but they definitely weren't bad. However, once the tournament got going, they elevated themself to the next level. They finished 2nd in their group, and after knocking Newbee down to the lower bracket, they were to face off against EHOME.
While EHOME as an organization may have fallen off after the tournament, their TI6 team featured a scary lineup:
— Daryl "iceiceice" Koh
— Wang "old chicken" Zhiyong
— Ren "ELeVeN" Yangwei
— Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng
— Lu "Fenrir" Chao
The series was predicted to be a close affair, but no one could have anticipated just how close the very first game would be. EHOME dominated the early game and never really let go. 20 minutes into the game their gold lead was roughly 10k. 45 minutes in it almost reached 20k. They pressured EG constantly and claimed mega creeps.
Still, EG managed to keep their heads cool and identified the one way they could win: through Etheral Blade and massive amounts of magic damage. Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg, Peter "ppd" Dager, and Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan rushed for Dagon's and the bet paid off. Fight after fight, they managed to pick off key heroes, and they all played out of their minds. One of the moments that best tells you how sharp SumaiL was during this game was his arrow on Old Chicken's Juggernaut, as he came out of Omnislash. It didn't result in a kill but just hitting that arrow is an insane play.
All these big plays from EG allowed them to turn the game around without ever having the gold lead. Not even in the last few moments of the game — as they were hitting the throne — did the gold graph swing in their favour. But with players of the caliber EG had on the team, who needs a lead to win?
Those lucky enough to watch the game in person got to experience Key Arena exploding. The twists and turns during the game had US fans battle Chinese fans in chants, making the game feel more like the finals of a football tournament than a video game tournament. As the GG fell all this was released in an discharge of emotions from both sides.
This was backed up by the electrifying casting of Austin "Capitalist" Walsh and William "Blitz" Lee. They had to give it their all in this 72-minute behemoth of a game. The action was close to non-stop, and so was the hype in their voices. It's doubtful if any other casting duo could've done this game justice in the way these two did.
Yesterday evening the game was shown again on the Dota2TI Twitch channel and a lot of viewers were able to re-live the hype even though the outcome was known and most had seen it before. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and go watch the whole thing again. It's 1h 15min and 35 seconds you'll be happy to spend watching one of the best Dota games ever played at The International.