The biggest prize in the history of esports has been claimed by a new champion.
Evil Geniuses triumphed in the final of The International Saturday, defeating CDEC Gaming by a margin of three games to one. The victory earned the American team a $6,630,109 share out of a prize pool topping $18 million.
The victory is the first for an American team at The International, but it wasn’t a surprising one. After placing third at least year’s International, Evil Geniuses set a solid claim to a spot near the top of the Dota 2 scene, most notably winning the Dota 2 Asia Championships earlier this year.
The squad’s performance at The International was consistent with their high expectations. EG topped the group stage without losing a single set, then beat Complexity and Ehome in the playoff bracket to set up an upper bracket final match with CDEC Gaming.
While many predicted EG to find such success at the event, CDEC was a literal wild card. The team was forced to play their way through a four-team wild card elimination round prior to the start of the event proper. After managing to do so successfully, they went on a tear, sweeping Cloud9, LGD Gaming, and even EG in the playoff round to qualify for the grand final.
EG wouldn’t be denied, however. After disposing of LGD Gaming in the lower bracket, EG set up a championship rematch with CDEC where the winner of the biggest cash prize in all of competitive gaming would be determined in a best-of-five series.
Peter “ppd” Dager’s side split the first two games of the series with CDEC before winning a wild third game that lasted for nearly an hour. The decisive fourth game featured the tournament’s biggest moment, with Dager and Saahil “Universe” Arora combining the ultimate abilities of heroes Ancient Apparition and Earthshaker to devastate a CDEC Gaming team that had committed to attempting a takedown of Roshan.
For CDEC, the loss will be a bitter pill to swallow. The Chinese team has now finished as runner-up in four consecutive events of note. Sun “Agressif” Zheng looked at times to be the most valuable player in the tournament, but ultimately even his stellar play wasn’t enough to stem the tide of a determined Evil Geniuses.
The win marks an important accomplishment for the North American region as a whole, as each previous edition of The International had been won by teams from either Europe or China. Fellow American team Complexity also had a fair showing in Seattle, coming within one game of beating Virtus Pro to qualify for the top eight.
The biggest disappointment of the event is likely Team Secret, who finished tied for seventh. The squad boasts two former Evil Geniuses players, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev and Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg, and was the popular choice to win it all. Secret were bested by Ehome in the upper bracket before being eliminated by Virtus Pro.