The Road To Benaroya Hall

Group Stage ended the same way it began, a playoff.

The playoff today between LGD and Dignitas decided who moved into the upper bracket and who fell into the lower. It was one game, winner take all.

With LGD’s win and Dignitas's loss, this means, as with all members of the lower bracket - Dignitas is now in the land of single elimination matches. Lose a match and you are gone from the Tournament.

LGD gets the safety of the upper bracket. Lose one here and you go down to the lower bracket where you are one loss away from being eliminated but you are still in it. Last year, IG came charging back out of the lower bracket to win it all - so no one is out of it until they are eliminated.

We also finished our earlier one-v-one matches and this Thursday you will be able to see the final - Mushi vs iceiceice.

Compendium owners playing in the International Fantasy Challenge have a few days to mull over their choices. You have until noon Wednesday to lock in your picks.

Our coverage will begin again Wednesday morning around 11am from Benaroya Hall. Until then, so we don’t grow apart... maybe we should keep in touch, join us over on Twitter for a few days of behind the scenes coverage and let’s talk fantasy teams.

Make sure to join us Wednesday.

There is something magical about the main stage at Benaroya Hall. It transforms the tournament from quiet conference rooms with just a referee observer, to an electric atmosphere with thousands of screaming fans and hundreds of thousands of viewers. It can change a team, energize them, give them new life. It is still everyone’s tournament to win.
Two Times?

IG insists they feel no pressure entering this year’s International as the returning champs. They know there is a target on their back, but they are confident.

Maybe it is nerves or maybe it really is just proof of how tough the competition has gotten but they have not started this International playing as champions.

When asked what they would like to do this International - the answer is quick - be the first two time International champs.

It isn’t too late, they have pulled it together enough to get into the upper brackets. From there, they can launch their assault on winning it all.

The answer was equally quick when ChuaN was asked what he did with his prize money from last year - He gave half of it to his mom.

They can choose their reasons why this year, first two time champs or so ChuaN’s mom can get the other half of the prize money, but either way you can’t count IG out.
Day 2 Is Over!

As day 2 draws to a close, Alliance goes into the final day of group stage undefeated. The rest of the field shows as many surprises as expected results. But it isn't over for anyone. We should all remember Na’Vi’s showing last year that had them leaving group stage just barely avoiding the lower bracket yet still pulling it together and making it to the finals.

As we get closer to the main stage event this Wednesday August 7th, those unable to make it to Benaroya Hall continue to find friends and other Dota 2 fans in local PubStomp events. Currently there are over 18,000 people signed up for 144 events spanning 48 countries - truly an International Event! Monday will be the last day you can register your event on the site but you can continue to signup for a local PubStomp after that.

Compendium owners, you have another night where you can make moves with your roster in the International Fantasy Challenge. Let us know how your fantasy team is doing by sharing your results with us on Twitter.

Monday has short schedule with only one match for each team but we will also be finishing some of the one-v-one matches after the team games. First up will be Mu vs Ferrari 430 with the winner playing iceiceice. The winner of that match will face Mushi Thursday August 8th for the Solo Championship Grand Finals at Benaroya Hall.
Yesterday's Fantasies
Compendium owners had a busy day yesterday tracking their picks during the day and making adjustments to their rosters last night.

While Alliance went undefeated yesterday, if you had an all Alliance team - you did not come out on top. They had a combined score of 119.7 but if you took all the top high scores for the various positions, you end up with only 2 Alliance members and a score of 128.5.

Alliance is missing the highest rated fantasy player for Saturday - Dendi from Na’Vi who scored an incredible 29.7 and the second highest support player Banana from TongFu who scored 22.2 and the second carry Era from Fnatic who weighed in with 25.9 points.
The top fantasy players by position:

With Alliance still strong but other individual players trending upwards - what moves do you make? Remember you can make lineup changes every night after the last game and keep changing all the way up to the next day’s games.

Not an Underdog

Na’Vi became an instant Dota 2 community favorite by winning The First International.

Last year they returned as the heavy favorite but proceeded to have a rough group stage.

That ended up not making a difference, they came charging back and went on to the finals. There they lost to Invictus Gaming.

As they enter this year, you would think the pressure would be off. They aren’t returning champions, they’re just another team - but they aren’t. They are Na’Vi.

As Dendi points out, each year, each tournament, each game is more and more pressure. All the teams are getting better, any team can win any game or tournament.

But they are still many people’s pick to win it all. Dendi wishes they weren't. He wishes they were an underdog, an unknown, but if they are going to have that pressure - bring it on - they will crush them all.
Day One Is Over

The first day of The International’s group stage is over. So what are you going to do for the next 10 hours? Don’t worry, we have some suggestions.

With the first day over, Compendium owners can check their teams for The International Fantasy Challenge and see how they are doing. Remember, you can change up your teams. Decide who is hot and who is getting benched. Move them around to your heart's content until 9am PST tomorrow morning.

You can also help us decide what to cover tomorrow. Besides the last two team profiles - Na’Vi and IG, we will be covering all the action. What would you like to see covered? What pictures are we missing? What questions do you have? Tweet your suggestions with the hashtag #TI3Q and we will go through them in the morning.

Other than that, rest up. We have a full day of games Sunday.
Sometimes It Is Fate

NS is self-conscious as he talks. He seems embarrassed by his name choice - NightSniper shortened to NS.

He doesn’t want to call the storied Virtus.Pro his team, but it is.

It isn’t fake modesty. It was reformed around him.

And for his part, he tried to open the team up, not be the team captain and let kSi take the helm - but that was short lived.

He couldn’t run from his destiny.

When it came down to it, he knew he had to be the captain, he had the most experience, the most history having played on teams such as DTS and Moscow 5. So he is back in charge.

And Virtus.Pro? They play like their history, bursts of wild brilliance and rough slumps. For The International the question is, can NS keep them on the side of wild brilliance?

As we spoke with teams this week, there was an almost universal answer to one question.

What team do you fear the most?


They were the most feared, but not the favorite among their peers.

How does that work? Is it because they haven’t been strong of late? That some teams are gaining momentum?

Maybe there’s another answer.  With 16 teams so evenly matched it doesn't matter what you won yesterday. Alliance’s sweep in China doesn’t matter today. All these teams have been bootcamping, it is a new season starting today.

If that is the case, Alliance is even more confident. They are ready. Ready to be more than just feared but to become everyone’s favorite as well.
Hard and Fast

Liquid held their bootcamp in Las Vegas, sharing a house with some poker pros.

They needed that retreat to sin city to find themselves.

Their early season performance was simply not who they were. They played well at the G-1 Championship League but still came in 5th. They flayed against teams they believed they were better than.

As they struggled they learned something about themselves, something we see other teams realizing this year. They need to play their game at their pace.

They come out of their bootcamp with their identity.

They're ready and they know what they are going to do. Win in the early game so they don’t have to worry about the late game. If they can do that, they'll find themselves on top.
The Final Goal

Dignitas was sure they belonged at TI2. When they didn’t make it, they took that disappointment and focused it on a goal - getting into The 2013 International.

They made that goal but they know that is just one step on the real final goal - winning The International.

Their bootcamp mirrored their history. The first half was was frustrating, with their Internet connection failing them, they were unable to get in the practice they wanted.

But they took the final two weeks and did it their way, moving out of their house, they played from home and Internet Cafes. They weren’t going to let anything stop them.

As this is being written, they just dropped two straight to DK to start their International. That’s okay, they are used to being the underdogs, having to prove everyone wrong as they chase that final goal.