The biggest tournament in esports history was dominated by Chinese teams, and a lot of people naturally feared that might become a trend.
But the fear of Chinese prominence in Dota 2 came crashing to an end in the game’s first major international tournament since The International 4. Two Chinese teams played in the final of that tournament on American soil in July. Two Western teams, one based in American and one in Europe, battled in the final of the World E-Sports Championships in China this weekend.
Evil Geniuses took the WEC title and nearly $100,000 in prize money, surviving a lengthy run in the lower bracket to beat Cloud9 in the final.
The result is a welcome salve to a scene suffering at least a little worry that the growing Chinese presence in Dota 2 may grow into an unstoppable behemoth similar to Korean dominance in League of Legends and StarCraft 2. Five of the top eight teams at The International were from China.
But at WEC, the Western teams showed that would not become a trend. Cloud9, who placed top six at TI4, swept through the upper bracket, beating LGD Gaming, Natus Vincere, and International finalists Vici Gaming to reach the final.
Evil Geniuses had an even tougher road. After losing to Vici Gaming in the opening round, the team that eliminated them at The International, they had to win six straight best-of-three series to take WEC. They beat two International champions in a row, Natus Vincere and Newbee, before facing off against Vici Gaming and taking their revenge. Then, in the finals, Evil Geniuses won two straight best-of-threes against Cloud9, using superior drafts in a match showcasing a wide variety of styles to power to a surprisingly dominant victory.
It was an amazing run for the team, showcasing what they are capable of with their full lineup.
The Evil Geniuses team placed third at The International, but was without veteran star player Clinton “Fear” Loomis, who was sidelined due to a wrist injury. His return and their subsequent victory leaves fans wondering what might have been had Loomis been able to play in Seattle last month.
Loomis’ first major live tournament back in the lineup was certainly succesful. He posted a 5.14 KDA, tops on the team, backed by a 497 GPM and 480 XPPM.
WEC featured five Chinese teams and three teams invited from the Western scene, all fighting for a $167,000 prize pool at the Yellow Dragon Stadium in Hangzhou. Five Chinese teams, including TI4 finalists Newbee and Vici Gaming, joined three Western teams—Evil Geniuses, Cloud9, and Natus Vincere—invited to the event. Evil Geniuses and Cloud9 outpacing the TI4 finalists was certainly an impressive result.
That said, both Newbee and Vici Gaming fielded rosters weakened by post-TI retirements. The captains of both teams, Bai “rOtk” Fan for Vici and Zhang “Xiao8” Ning for Newbee, retired after raking in huge prize purses in Seattle.
“I really don’t like how Xiao8 retired,” Cloud9 player Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao said in an interview with Team Liquid at the start of the event. “Like when you’re the best I think you play a little bit more, like go for a second [International]. You want to look forward to playing against Newbee. Like if we beat Newbee in this tournament, people are going to blame [Xiao9’s replacement Zhang “Rabbit” Wang] or something. It’s not going to be as fun.”
Cloud9 did not face Newbee, but they beat Vici Gaming, a team in a similar situation. Evil Geniuses beat both Newbee and Vici Gaming. While that win may not have been as fun as it could have for Mao, it certainly was for fans of the team—and fans of international Dota competition.
While we will never know what would have happened if the the International versions of the two Chinese squads showed up in China, or if Evil Geniuses had a full strength Loomis in Seattle, the results of WEC at least prove one thing. Fans of Dota have nothing to fear. International competition isn’t dying. Far from it. The next International is anyone’s game.