Since 2011 when the first The International took place, Dota 2 has provided some of the greatest moments in esports history.
This is thanks to the best players, developer Valve, and all the other tournament organizers and casters. To celebrate this amazing esports title, we take a look at the five most memorable Dota 2 esports moments ever.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer.
1. Against All Odds
At the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, OG made Dota 2 esports history. OG became the first two-time TI champions, and they did it without any roster changes. Even more impressive is that OG did it back-to-back, against all possible odds.
Back in 2018, OG had to restructure their team after Tal "Fly" Aizik and Gustav "s4" Magnusson left for Evil Geniuses (EG). Instead of qualifying directly for The International 2018, OG had to make their way through the gruelling, volatile qualifiers.
Even after they managed to qualify, they were the underdogs. To stack the odds even further against this team, it was a Chinese team's turn to win.
You see, every year since 2011, TI winners rotated in terms of the region the winner comes from. One year it was a Chinese team, and the next it was a Western team.
OG met the Chinese juggernauts, PSG.LGD in the grand final of The International 2018. After falling behind, OG just kept playing mind games, spammed memes and played fantastic Dota 2.
To put it mildly, the clawed their way back in style. They won the final two games in a row, and claimed the Aegis of Champions against all odds.
After the win, Anathan “Ana” Pham took an extended break. When the next DPC season kicked off, OG was nowhere to be found.
However, they managed to narrowly get enough DPC points in the last few DPC tournaments, thanks to their 7th to 8th place finish at the EPICENTER Major. This was done with a stand-in, while their captain, Johan "N0tail" Sundstein was in the hospital.
With Ana returning late in the DPC season, and OG barely qualifying for The International 2019, they were two things. The defending champions, and the underdogs.
However, the team surprised everyone when they ended at the top of their group and went on an absolute rampage through the playoffs. They beat Newbee, took revenge on EG, and slapped down PSG.LGD in the winner's final, all while playing on PSG.LGD's home turf, Shanghai.
OG faced Team Liquid (TI2017 winners) in the grand final of The International 2019. Liquid took a convincing game one but then, magic happened. OG, filled with memes, "monkey business", chat spam and a deep understanding of how damage (and damage mitigation) works in Dota 2, fought back.
They won their next three games in a row, finishing it off with Ana on IO as the PO1 carry.
When OG lifted their second Aegis of Champions, and claimed $15.6 million in prize money, it wasn't just about that one match or the last game. It was about their journey, and the moment they claimed the Aegis on 25th August 2019, is the greatest moment in Dota 2 esports history.
2. Six Million Dollar Echo Slam
Sometimes, one split-second decision, one moment of brilliance, can change everything. This is where the "six million Dollar Echo Slam" comes in and if you watched The International 2015, you might still hear Toby "TobiWan" Dawson screaming "It's a disaster!”.
Let's backtrack a little. At The International 2015, the total prize pool was $16.8 million, with over $6 million going to the winner. Evil Geniuses played against the dark horses of the tournament, CDEC Gaming in the grand finals. EG had a 2-1 lead in the grand finals, but CDEC continued to fight back in game four.
In the fourth game, CDED killed off Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan. It looked like the Chinese squad was mounting a comeback, heading into Roshan with confidence. Peter "ppd" Dager threw out his ultimate as Ancient Apparition, landing on the entire CDEC squad.
Then came Saahil "Universe" Arora with his Earthshaker, blinking in and hitting the absolute perfect Echo Slam at the exact right moment.
This moment signalled the end of CDEC, as they couldn't recover from being wiped in the Roshan pit. EG closed out game four shortly afterwards.
With the win, EG claimed the Aegis of Champions, and $6.6 million in prize money. Watch this iconic Dota 2 esports moment captured by NoobFromAU below.
3. Fountain Hook
At The International 2013, there were two of the greatest moments in Dota 2 esports history. We are going to start with a controversial moment. That's right, the rage-inducing, iconic and bizarre Fountain Hook tactic.
Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) played against Tongfu in the winner's semi-final of The International 2013 and pulled out tactic that shocked viewers.
In the third game (it was 1-1 at this point), TongFu took an early lead and just became stronger as the time passed. At this point, it felt as if nothing could change the outcome.
It is at this point that Clement “Puppey” Ivanov on Chen started TP'ing Danil "Dendi" Ishutin on Pudge to the fountain after Dendi threw out a hook. If a hook landed and a hero got pulled in (but didn't reach Pudge), at the same moment Pudge got sent to the fountain, the enemy hero would come along for the ride, dying a horrible, unavoidable death at the fountain.
The Fountain Hook tactic was wiped from Dota 2 with an update shortly after The International 2013. It was deemed a clever use of game mechanics.
While cheesy, one has to remember what type of skill it took to pull off, with utter precision between Puppey and Dendi, under immense pressure against one of the best teams in the world.
4. A Million Dollar Dream Coil
As we mentioned in the Fountain Hook section, The International 2013 had not one, but two of the greatest moments in Dota 2 esports history.
This Dota 2 esports moment is a thing of dreams, as one player changed the course of history. Gustav "s4" Magnusson, at the time, played for Alliance.
Alliance met Na'Vi in the grand final of The International 2013. Na'Vi could have become the first two-time champions. The grand final was a nail-biter, with teams tied at 2-2, pushing the grand final to a fifth, deciding game. It is in the fifth and final game where s4 on Puck made the incredible million Dollar Dream Coil play.
The fifth game was too tight to call, with Alliance pushing into the Na'Vi base. Then, s4 found Puppey in the river, cancelling his TP. Dendi came to help Puppey out, but s4 landed a perfect, two-man Dream Coil.
This wasn't to kill the Na'Vi players, but instead, it was just to delay them getting back to base. With both Dendi and Puppey forced to run back, Alliance pushed the base, killed off their teammates and ultimately, destroyed Na'Vi's throne.
With this play, s4 secured the Aegis of Champions for Alliance, and the first-place prize of $1.4 million.
Watch the plays from s4, as well as the crowd and player reactions to the million Dollar Dream Coil below, as captured by DotaCinema.
5. The Very First The International
In 2011, when Dota 2 wasn't even released to the public yet, Valve shocked the esports world.
Before the very first The International, a prize pool for an esports tournament of $1.6 million was unheard of. To be clear, even $500,000 for an esports tournament was a pipe dream before the first TI.
At the time, very few esports players could ever dream of making a living out of playing games competitively.
With the announcement of The International in 2011, Valve changed everything. An esports revolution began, more and more sponsors took interest in esports, and everything just escalated from there. It is not unreasonable to say that without The International, esports wouldn't be where it is today.
The tournament took place at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle, US. 14 teams were invited to participate, while two teams qualified. After a thrilling ride, Na'Vi claimed the title and became the first-ever Dota 2 The International champions, beating EHOME in the finals.
If you are fortunate enough to watch some or even all of the most memorable Dota 2 esports moments, then good job! It has been a wild ride for the past nine years. These Dota 2 esports moments will forever be stuck in our memory.
Honourable mentions go out to every The International grand finals, every time Gabe "GabeN" Newell waddles onto the stage to kick things off, and all the fantastic plays of professional Dota 2 players throughout the years.