The first Dota 2 Major of 2017 was every bit as dramatic as we could’ve hoped.
Featuring 16 teams from all across the world, the $3 million Kiev Major saw several astounding games of Dota 2, as OG secured their fourth individual Valve Major victory. On the path to the grand finals, however, finalists Virtus Pro made short work out of the majority of Chinese competitors at the event—including tournament favorites Invictus Gaming in the semifinals.
In a setting with this many exciting results, we’ve compiled five storylines that stuck out to us in particular, and which help paint an interesting picture of the Dota 2 scene heading into the International 7.
1) OG are one of the greatest Dota 2 teams in history
Despite already winning three majors prior to Kiev, as well as entering the event as one of the favorites, there were doubts that OG could take home their fourth title. The team couldn’t secure a single LAN victory since winning the Boston Major on Dec. 10, and were destroyed by Invictus Gaming in the Dota 2 Asia Championship grand finals on April 4, just a month before the start of the Kiev Major.
But despite playing a number of close series through their entire playoff run, as well as looking all but finished in the deciding game of the grand finals against Virtus Pro, OG were still able to come out on top. No matter the setbacks the team seems to encounter, their teamwork almost always secures them a victory.
In the fifth game of the grand finals, Virtus Pro got off to the best possible start they could have asked for. Not only did support phenom Ilya “lil” Ilyuk secure his team a number of kills in the early stages, but carry player Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev’s Alchemist was left mostly undisturbed—giving him a tremendous lead early on.
Despite their horrible start in the most important game of the entire tournament, OG only needed one opening to turn the game completely around. Sure, OG’s teamfight execution is almost unparalleled. But the fact the team didn’t let the poor start stop them just shows how solid their foundation is.
They may have disappointed at the Shanghai Major, and the International 6—but following their victory in Kiev, OG are inarguably one of the best teams to have ever played Dota 2.
2) SG e-sports surprising run
As the first Brazilian team to ever attend a Valve Major, SG e-sports were widely expected to be one of the worst teams attending the Kiev Major. The notion wasn’t entirely unfounded, especially since the Kiev Major would also be the team’s international LAN debut.
After a poor start in the group stage, they were matched up against Team Secret—one of the highest seeds from the groups—in the first round of the playoffs. Secret has had their own share of recent problems, but were still the overwhelming favorites in the confrontation. And they proved it in the first game of the series.
Following the 29-minute stomp of the first game, however, SG thrashed the legendary European team in the two remaining games. In what can easily be considered one of the biggest upsets in competitive Dota 2 history, SG e-sports eliminated one of the most established teams in all of esports at their first international LAN.
The journey for the Brazilians ended in the following round against Evil Geniuses, who won a narrow 2-1 series. SG e-sports didn’t disappoint, however, as they pulled off several incredible plays throughout the second game of the series.
Despite all the ridicule they had been on the receiving end of prior to defeating Secret, SG e-sports left the Kiev Major as one of the biggest stories of the entire event.
3) China’s collapse
At the Dota 2 Asia Championship, OG were the only non-Chinese team to reach a top four placing. This time around, however, several of China’s top teams struggled to make an impact at the Kiev Major.
Aside from tournament favorites Invictus Gaming, both Newbee and reigning champions of the International, Team Random, couldn’t move past the first round of playoffs. The only other Chinese team aside from Invictus Gaming to reach more than a 9-16th finish, were VGJ, who were subsequently eliminated in the second round of playoffs by eventual finalists Virtus Pro.
Virtus Pro in particular seemed to have little to no issue against the Chinese rosters at the Kiev Major. The Russian squad defeated four of the five Chinese teams that attended the event. This included Dota 2 Asia Championship winners Invictus Gaming in the semifinals, who Virtus Pro eliminated in two straight maps.
Perhaps the biggest surprise out of any of the Chinese teams was the performance of Newbee. Despite competing for months against Invictus Gaming for the top seat in their home country, Newbee found little to no success in both stages at Kiev. An average performance in the group stage led to Newbee being matched up against a struggling Team Liquid in the playoffs—a match that ended with Liquid eliminating Newbee in last place.
Perhaps it was the Virtus Pro effect that lead to China’s lacklustre performance at the Kiev Major—ultimately, however, the outcome was certainly disappointing given the level of play these same teams showed at the Dota 2 Asia Championship just a month ago.
4) Team Random look done
Nine months ago, Team Random were regarded as one of the most inventive and dominant Dota 2 teams of 2016. Previously known as Wings Gaming, the team had just been crowned champions of the International 6—winning the largest prize pool in esports history at a staggering $9.1 million.
At Kiev, Random offered little to nothing of what once made them special. The team’s downward spiral since late last year appears to have only gotten worse. Aside from poor performances in game, the team appears to have had issues on the organizational front as well. The team only rebranded as Random a few days before heading to the Kiev Major, after the owner of Wings Gaming, allegedly, failed to compensate his players, and was looking for a cut of their winnings from the International 6.
Random’s campaign at the Kiev Major ended with a last-place finish, similar to the team’s run at the Boston Major. While they could take some comfort in being eliminated by eventual winners OG, there’s no mistaking a roster being on its last leg. It’s just such a shame to see it end in this disappointing a fashion.
5) Virtus Pro have been redeemed
While Virtus Pro couldn’t secure the Kiev Major in front of their home crowd, the fact they reached the grand finals at all must feel like redemption.
Virtus Pro were one of the favorites to win the previous Valve Major. Having dominated various online competitions, and securing spots at various LAN events leading up to the Boston Major, Virtus Pro were seen as Russia’s first big chance at actually taking home one of the Valve-sponsored events.
But despite a flawless group stage run, the team was eliminated after facing Evil Geniuses in the quarterfinals—as the tournament featured a single-elimination bracket. Since the disappointment in Boston, Virtus Pro’s 2017 looked a lot less convincing than their performances in late 2016.
At the Kiev Major, however, Virtus Pro played a perfect group stage, and followed up their performance by eliminating Invictus Gaming Vitality, VGJ, and Invictus Gaming before finally securing their spot in the grand finals. Facing up against OG in the grand finals, Virtus Pro were at the cusp of winning their first Valve Major, until OG staged a remarkable comeback in the fifth deciding game.
It may have been a disappointing outcome for the players, but it still showed that Virtus Pro are once again back at the top of Dota 2.