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For the past 10 years, Dota 2 has time and again been able to deliver some of the most memorable and exciting matches esports has to offer. There’s just something palpable about the excitement in a good game of Dota 2. In these matches, which often exceed an hour, a single misstep can end up costing a team everything.
The game’s world finals, The International, offers the largest prize pools in esports. Due to the prize distribution of the tournament, a player’s entire life could be transformed in just one series—or they could go home thinking only of what could’ve been.
In an environment with stakes as high as this, incredible and memorable games are bound to happen. We’re talking about games that Dota 2 fans can remember by the casters’ lines and make them get goosebumps.
Get ready for a trip down memory lane. Here are 10 of the greatest games in Dota 2 history.
Team Secret vs. Mineski, game two, The International 2019, round two of lower bracket
Every year, Secret walk into The International with the highest hopes. On paper, the team usually has everything it needs for success.
It surely seemed like 2019 was their year to shine after they had a fantastic group stage and secured an upper bracket spot. Things didn’t go as planned, however, and they ended up getting knocked down to the lower bracket.
A morally down Secret went up against the pioneers of SEA Dota 2, Mineski. The SEA meta is known for being unpredictable. After a rather by-the-book game, Secret also seemed like they were in charge of the second game. They were quite close to ending it as well until Mineski stopped their attempt with a legendary three-man hold.
Team Liquid vs. PSG.LGD, game two, The International 2019, lower bracket finals
As The International 2019 advanced through its final phases, it started looking like The International 2018. OG knocked PSG.LGD down to the lower bracket with the same score from last year.
At The International 2018, PSG.LGD advanced to the grand finals from the lower bracket without dropping a game.
Even though they were on the edge of getting tilted, PSG.LGD managed to take the first game of the series. Naturally, everyone started expecting a rematch of the previous year’s grand finals.
To some extent, it seemed like it was about to happen as well. PSG.LGD were quite ahead and looked like they were just biding their time to assure their victory. Then, out of nowhere, Liquid successfully defended their barracks in two epic fights.
PSG.LGD, now on the back foot, decided to take a fight around the Roshan area and completely lost control of the game with premature buybacks.
OG vs. Evil Geniuses, game three, The International 2018, round two of upper bracket
This was possibly the most anticipated match of 2018. The final chapter of Fly who killed the Flower ended with a nail-biter game. OG secured the first game in a rather fast fashion and looked quite strong while doing so.
With a more teamfight oriented lineup, EG managed to draw the series and granted the fans an epic conclusion to one of the biggest rivalries in Dota history.
EG walked into the third game with a similar lineup while OG busted out Ana’s Spectre. Though OG were down in kills throughout the game, they managed to shut down Arteezy’s farm and dragged out the game until Sumail’s Tiny started falling off.
OG vs. PSG.LGD, game four, The International 2018, grand finals
Before The International 2018 began, OG weren’t even expected to make it to the tournament. They were the underdogs in every series they played throughout The International and their Cinderella run was a single game away from being resolved.
This was the second time that these two teams went head-to-head in the tournament. Their first meeting sent PSG.LGD to the lower bracket. The lower bracket finals and grand finals are played on the same day, so the team advancing from the lower bracket is usually a bit more tired.
This definitely showed in the first game. OG took it home in just 34 minutes. But after that, the tables turned. PSG.LGD woke up and secured two games in a row without giving OG any chance.
Game four was the moment of truth for OG. Losing meant they would be settling for second place. After a long back and forth, OG finally took the heat to PSG.LGD by picking a fight in the middle of the map.
Things didn’t go as planned and it suddenly turned into a one-vs-four situation for OG. Then, one of the most epic plays in Dota 2 history happened: Ceb caught three LGD players with a Berserker’s Call and kept OG’s hopes alive.
Evil Geniuses vs. Wings, game one, DAC 2017, lower bracket round one
Two of the hottest teams of the previous year were going head to head again in a format that neither of them imagined seeing themselves in. Anything can happen in a best-of-one. Both teams did their best not to lose.
With teamfight oriented lineups on both sides, the game naturally featured some of the most hectic fights in Dota 2 history. Some fights even broke out into sub-fights, while two to three independent battles took place simultaneously.
Since both teams showed a lot of respect for each other, all fights ended up going back to farm or taking small objectives and neither team seemed like they were ready to push the high ground and end the game. Around the one-hour mark, EG finally caught the wall of Wings, Centaur Warrunner, without buyback and successfully took down the Ancient.
Evil Geniuses vs. EHOME, game one, The International 2016, upper bracket semifinals
Before The International 7, EG achieved three straight top-three placements at Dota 2’s flagship events. But the team’s victory in the upper bracket semifinals of The International 6 is definitely one of their most memorable and impressive wins of 2016.
In a back-and-forth game, EG appeared to be on the verge of conceding the first game of the series to Chinese opponents EHOME. Having brought down all of the North American team’s barracks and with waves of mega creeps moving toward their opponent’s base, a last-minute defense by EG bought them a brief moment of respite.
With only a few seconds of breathing room, EG put their dagons to work and made a last-ditch effort to end the game. The final fight broke out close to EHOME’s base and, miraculously, the North Americans wiped all of EHOME’s heroes off the map, including old chicken, who tried to end the game by splitpushing.
With the Dire Ancient exposed, EG exited the first game of the series as victors in one of the most memorable comeback victories in Dota 2 history. They proceeded to win the series in two straight games.
Evil Geniuses vs. Digital Chaos, game three, The International 2016, lower bracket finals
The North American clash of the year featured the two teams that both got knocked down to the lower bracket by Wings Gaming.
The previous year’s champion, EG, looked promising and everyone thought Digital Chaos were at the end of their lower bracket sprint. Nothing went as expected, though, and DC secured the first game quite decisively.
The second game could be described as a slugfest—one that EG ultimately took home in the final game.
EG knew that if they weren’t fast with the trigger, DC would eventually wear them down and claim victory. So they started hitting on the door of DC’s base as soon as they could while DC were splitpushing and taking tower after tower.
The splitpush started paying off around the 30-minute mark when DC also started to win fights. EG slowly began to lose control and cracked as a team while DC took the final game and moved on to the grand finals.
Vici Gaming vs. Team Secret, game one, DAC 2015, upper bracket round one
Secret have always been a force to be reckoned with thanks to their stacked lineups. Around 2015, the team featured Arteezy and s4 alongside the legendary captains KuroKy and Puppey. But almost every iteration of Secret had trouble landing that final punch.
On paper, Secret looked quite strong with their early-game oriented lineup featuring a Tiny-IO combo to secure the late game. Though things didn’t go as they planned and they were significantly behind in kills, the power of splitpushing started showing itself.
Secret destroyed all of Vici Gaming’s barracks and started spawning mega creeps. All seemed lost for Vici until they pulled out one of the most iconic pickups in Dota history to defend their base.
Alliance vs. Cloud9, game two, ESL One Frankfurt 2014, quarterfinals
Although Cloud9 were never able to take home a major tournament victory during their most successful period in 2014, the roster remained one of the most popular in the game’s competitive circuit.
Led by Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao, the team either won or lost games in the most spectacular of fashions—and C9’s game against Alliance in the ESL One Frankfurt 2014 quarterfinals is no exception.
C9 were consistently denied from enjoying any of the success they accrued throughout the game. Alliance’s Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg pulled off one of his most impressive performances on Nature’s Prophet in his entire career. Unable to deal with the off-laner’s splitpushing, C9 attempted a counter-attack against Alliance’s base. But that ultimately proved unsuccessful and ended with Alliance eliminating them from the event.
Alliance vs. Na’Vi, game five, The International 3, grand finals
This is a game that most long-term Dota fans know by the second—and for good reason. The entire grand final set is the only final in the tournament’s history to go to a decisive fifth game.
The tournament-favorite Alliance were struggling for the first time against a team considered to be the best of all time. Right off the bat, the urge to seal the game as soon as possible by both teams could be felt with constant tower dives.
As Na’Vi started pushing the high ground with their teamfight oriented lineup, Alliance were slowly chipping away at their base. Everything was actually going well for Na’Vi as they just needed to teleport back to base after getting objectives. Then the teleport cancellations started.
Every time that Na’Vi were getting ready to teleport back to base, Akke and S4 canceled at least two of their channels. After successfully doing this for the third time, Na’Vi eventually fell down and watched their base get swarmed. The game went down in the history books of Dota as the definition of splitpushing, or as some would like to refer to it, “Rat Dota.”