The International 2017 was a tournament for the ages. Between heavy favourites getting knocked out early and certain teams doing better than they were expected to, the event was truly unpredictable and had fans guessing outcomes at every turn. The Chinese teams also showed up big time at the tournament, despite only around two or three of them being considered particularly strong prior to the event. Squads such as LGD.Forever Young and Newbee performed admirably, giving the Chinese scene some well-needed revitalization despite falling short of the championship itself. Eventual winners Team Liquid had to go through the gauntlet in order to land in the grand finals, thus recording the deepest lower bracket run in the history of the game and the International series. Their road to to the grand finals was truly inspiring, and showcased their incredible composure and poise under pressure. There were several storylines formed at key moments throughout the tournament, captured on camera for all the world to see. Here are our top 7 moments at TI7:
Evil Geniuses eliminated early by Team Empire
Team Evil Geniuses was invited directly into the tournament by Valve, thanks to their overall consistency throughout the season and their victories at LANs prior to TI7. A superstar-filled roster also meant that they were pegged as one of the likely grand finalists, but instead they crashed and burned spectacularly. The boys in blue finished the group stage with a record of 11 wins and five losses, but failed to win a single game on the main stage. With the “kings of the lower bracket” out of the event on the second day, the road to the grand finals became somewhat easier for Liquid.
OG get their revenge on TNC for last year
One of the most hype-filled moments of TI6 was OG’s defeat at the hands of underdog Filipino team TNC. The defending Major champions were supposed to win it all at TI6 given their momentum and sheer strength, but instead they were knocked out of the tournament without even putting up a fight. This year, however, they exacted their revenge upon TNC, evening up the score between them at one series apiece. It was all OG throughout their lower bracket best of 3, with TNC barely hanging on during their games.
Sccc’s Shadow Fiend, Moogy’s Bloodseeker and kpii’s Axe catapult Newbee into the finals
It was China versus China in the finals of the upper bracket, as Newbee faced off against LFY in a best-of-3 worth a cool 3.9 million dollars. The series went the extra mile, with both teams trading blows up until the third and final game. What helped Newbee secure their slot in the grand finals was their highly effective draft, which revolved around Shadow Fiend, Bloodseeker, and Axe as the cores. Their draft countered LFY’s lineup quite well, allowing them to shut down Xie “Super” Junhao’s Bristleback early and often. Damien “kpii” Chok’s Axe also proved to be instrumental in disabling Monet’s Morphling in several teamfights, thus nullifying the hero’s natural tankiness and damage output in the late game. As Ioannis “Fogged” Loucas mentioned while casting the game, kpii’s Blade Mail pickup helped swing the game firmly in Newbee’s favor. This moment was one of the very few that showed how LFY wasn’t completely invincible, despite their incredible group stage performance and flawless upper bracket run up until that point.
GH’s Keeper of the Light keeps Liquid alive in the lower bracket
At this point, it’s no secret that one of Team Liquid’s greatest weapons is Maroun “GH” Merhej’s Keeper of the Light. In fact, GH is so good with the hero that KotL is an automatic first phase ban against Liquid, with only Team Secret and LFY having won against it. Perhaps the most amazing KotL performance GH had on the main stage was in game 1 of their series against Team Empire. The Russians got off to a huge early lead in that game, thanks to Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok’s Weaver racking up kill after kill while also being accelerated by Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosian’s Bounty Hunter. From there, it looked like Empire had the first game of the series secured, but GH’s incredible play made sure that Liquid would not have to concede. His Illuminate healing and positioning were absolutely immaculate, and without him Liquid might not have survived the series — let alone the entire tournament.
MinD_ControL styles all over LFY with Nature’s Prophet
But even though GH was the trump card for Liquid, Ivan “MinD_ControL” Ivanov was the player of the match for them in the grand finals. His contributions to the team’s aggressive approach against Newbee with Nature’s Prophet were crucial to their success. Just look at this great Treant micro. His unit control throughout the series prevented most his targets from escaping his ganks, allowing Liquid to secure early leads in each game.
Ten million dollar Omnislash
The tournament’s winning moment. After being hounded by Newbee throughout the entire game, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi’s Juggernaut finally comes online, and begins to carry Liquid towards the Aegis of Champions. This final play of the tournament began with Miracle- nearly dying to the chain disables and damage output of Newbee’s lineup, but he miraculously (pun absolutely intended) survives through everything. He then activates Black King Bar to shrug off any further attempts at his life, then proceeds to cut Newbee’s heroes to ribbons with Omnislash. The Chinese simply could not recover from the play. With no buybacks available on their side, they could do naught to stop Liquid’s advance into their base.
KuroKy sheds tears during the victory ceremony
Kuro Salehi “KuroKy” Takhasomi has been playing Dota for nearly a decade now, and is a legend in the community’s eyes. From his time in Na’Vi to the immense success he tasted during his run with Team Secret, KuroKy has seen plenty of action during his career. However, the big one — The International — had always eluded him. The closest he ever got to raising the Aegis was at TI3, where he fell just short of the championship thanks to the now-legendary clutch performance by Alliance in the grand finals. This time around, though, the man who has been paying his dues over the last eight or so years has finally done it. It is thus understandable for him to be overcome with emotion after winning it all, which is shown in this clip of the moments right after game 3 of the grand finals: After all, he and his team had just made history. The first clean sweep of a TI grand finals, and the first ever International title for all five Liquid members. Certainly, all of them deserve the glory.