How Dota 2 stability helped new blood succeed at The International 2017

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Enlarge / Liquid captain “KuroKy” hoists the Aegis of Champions for the first time. (credit: Valve)

2017 was a year of firsts for The International Dota 2 Championships (TI). It was the first time a defending champion didn’t participate. It was the first time fan-favorite team Na’Vi failed to qualify or garner a direct invitation from Valve. By the end, it was also the first International with a clean, 3-0 victory across the best-of-five grand finals.

It is said that Dota 2‘s “meta”—the call-and-response tactics that govern how players react to each other, especially at the pro level—has never been more stable. But it’s clear that the expectations regarding who wins, who loses, and which players you’d even recognize on The International main stage are very much in flux. With that instability, however, there was plenty of room for new teams and players to carve paths at this year’s event, and it has been a good year for that new blood.

This year’s victor, for example, was Team Liquid. Once a mostly North American brand, the team transitioned into a truly “international” lineup in 2015. Captained by Na’Vi alum Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi, Liquid was something of a dark horse (appropriate, given that that’s their logo) in a year that seemed ready to be dominated by China.

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