Last week marked the beginning of the Frankfurt Major, the first ever Dota, seasonal, major tournament.When the tournament began, sixteen teams came to compete for the $3 million prize pool, but nine days and nearly 100 games of Dota later, one team came out on top: Tal “Fly” Aizik and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein’s Team OG.
Team OG’s victory comes as a big surprise, especially since they bested both favorites of the tournament, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov’s Team Secret and Peter “ppd” Dager’s Evil Geniuses. What’s more surprising is OG’s path to victory: they started at the bottom of the lower bracket, in the treacherous best-of-one round that knocks out four teams on the first day, and managed to push through all the way to a victory versus Team Secret for the whole tournament.
Many of the event’s best matches have come from the upper bracket. Team Evil Geniuses was able to defeat CDEC in two exciting games, mirroring their victory in the International 2015 Grand Finals. This unfortunately led to CDEC’s drop to the lower bracket and subsequent elimination. In addition, Secret had an eventful series against Vici Gaming, with the epic hour-plus-long first game in the best-of-three round. The match was hailed as the highlight of the tournament, at least until the upper-bracket finals between Team Secret and Evil Geniuses.
Though Team OG’s victory certainly has an underdog flavor to it,Not everyone was able to beat the odds. Mineski, a Filipino team led by Ryan Jay “Bimbo” Qui, surprised everyone by defeating EHOME in the tournament’s group stage and securing a spot in the upper bracket. They were unable to hold their own against either Secret or OG, and were ultimately sent home. In another deferred underdog story, the Peruvian Team Unknown, led by Jesus “Ztok” Carhuaricra, who managed to enter the tournament through an Open Qualifier bid, escaped elimination in the first round of the lower bracket by beating Newbee, the champions of The International 2014. They ultimately lost to LGD Gaming the next day, but their series was entertaining due to their unusually goofy playstyle and unorthodox strategies.
Other eliminated teams include the once-unstoppable champions of The International 2013, Alliance, whose recent return led to cheers of “Alliance is back!” from their diehard fanbase before they were knocked out in the second round of the lower bracket by Russian juggernaut Virtus.pro. Virtus.pro, however, was eliminated in the very next round by Team OG. That said, Artsiom “fng” Barshak, Virtus.pro’s distinctively long-haired captain, didn’t seem bitter about it. Another Russian team, Vega Squadron, who secured a direct invite to Frankfurt off of their victory at ESL One New York early last month, fell to EHOME along with LGD Gaming, a team made of up many of the oldest and most-respected Chinese players.
Speaking of Chinese Dota, this tournament has urged something of a panic among the members of the Dota community. In previous Valve-sponsored tournaments, Chinese teams have always been strong contenders for the top prize, and have always composed at least two of the top four places (for example, at The International 2015 the American champions Evil Geniuses were followed by the Chinese CDEC, LGD, and Vici Gaming). Upon knocking out Vici and securing their own top four berth as the only remaining Chinese team, EHOME’s Wang “old chicken” Zhiyong ominously said in an interview, “Chinese Dota is doomed.” His team was knocked out by OG in their very next series, leaving Chinese fans to despair about how they “only” managed to capture fourth place.
This tournament has been noted for the very exciting and consistently innovative play on display in almost every game. From Unknown’s Juan “Atun” Ochoa’s nearly constant taunting (apparently an earnest psychological strategy) to David “MoonMeander” Tan’s surprisingly active offlane play for OG, Frankfurt saw a wide range of players performing at the top of their game. In addition, Team Secret’s Aliwi “w33” Omar’s amazed spectators with legitimately never-before-seen use of illusions, though ultimately that didn’t help him in his matchup against OG’s Amer “Miracle-” al-Barqawi, who was known for his high-level performance in public games before his move to professional play earlier this year.
As this inaugural Dota Major tournament draws to a close, approval has been wide-spread. The event has largely been seen as a successful first run for Valve, and has left anticipation high for the upcoming Winter Major, to be held in Shanghai next March. Some questions still remain – will these tournaments choke out other smaller tournaments? For now, it appears to be a bright new direction for Dota.