"Oh, my god! That play!" "Fnatic plays rat Dota." "Dendi's hooks are OP." Bleep bloop boop blargh? If you're the only one of your friends who isn't a Dota 2 junkie, chances are the last week has probably been outright mystifying. While we can't reverse time and help turn you into a pundit, we can make it a little bit easier to pretend you understand why the Internet has gone berserk about the Swedes and what the Magikarp is going on.
Warning: There are spoilers. Lots of 'em.
Rat. Rice. Fight. What?
Once upon a time, the three major playstyles known to the game had different names, blunt monickers that spoke very precisely about certain ideas. These days, however, they go by 'rat, rice and fight.' Why? Well, because. How the terminology transitioned into its current state isn't terribly important, though. What they mean, on the other hand, is.
Rice Dota: You'll hear this phrase used in conjunction with the Chinese Dota 2 teams a lot. Players from the region are (in)famous for taking on a relatively passive approach and farming the map for gold and experience. Though not entirely interesting to watch, it's a technique that can be extremely rewarding. If practitioners of 'rice dota' survive long enough, chances are they'll be equipped with every item they want and a five-level advantage.
Rat Dota: There's a lot of talk about how the term 'rat dota' came to be. Some say the honor belongs to Fnatic. Others claim it's the result of a Thai team known as Mith. As the name implies, 'rat dota' involves a considerable amount of caution. Practitioners will not target a single lane exclusively. Instead, they prioritize hitting the enemy wherever and whenever possible while generally avoiding a direct confrontation.
Fight Dota: Western teams are probably best known for 'fight' dota. Yet again, the name is largely self-explanatory. 'Fight dota' involves bringing the, uh, fight to the opponent. Generally speaking, this involves a number of ganks during early and mid-game and is, by and large, a deeply aggressive method.
Alliance, the Kings of the North!
Everyone knows that the Scandinavians are attractive, blue-eyed buggers but did you know that they're really, really good at Dota 2 as well? During the group stage, the Swedish-based Alliance performed phenomenally during the Western Qualifiers. In fact, they're the second team in the game's short history to have gone completely unbeaten during that period. That's right. Alliance won every single encounter during the qualifiers and only lost three matches in the finals. It's completely bonkers in the best possible way. Needless to say, they eventually segued into being the champions of the International 3.
Speaking of which ..
Na'vi and Alliance's final game
There are plenty of firsts in a tournament that has only been around for three years. However, that doesn't dilute the magnitude of this game. In the last two years, the final match-ups have been considerably more decisive. Na'vi won 3-1 against EHOME in the first year. Invictus Gaming took the title from Na'vi in the second year with a 3-1 as well. This year, both Na'vi and Alliance fought viciously for the crown.
And this, as you might have divined from the sub-header already, is the game that decided it all.
Dendi is like the Chuck Norris of Dota 2
No discussion of the Dota 2 competitive scene is complete without mention of Dendi. According to E-sports Earnings, Dendi is the third highest paid eSports player in the world. The two guys in front of him? Fatal1ty and Starcraft II's Flash. Renown for his unorthodox behavior and gung-ho attitude, Dendi is a bit of a rock star in the scene. Last year, he helped orchestrate what is now known as 'The Play' to fans of the series: a phenomenal display of fast reflexes and sharp thinking that turned what would have been a fatal encounter for Na'vi into a glorious victory
Needless to say, Dendi did not disappoint this year. In a match-up against TongFu, Dendi took a rather controversial approach to the usage of Pudge's hook. With the help of his resident Chen, he successfully dragged multiple heroes back to Na'vi's base for a one-hit kill. Exploitation or ingenuity? No one seems to know. However, one thing's for sure: it's a lot of fun to stare at.
Neolution Orange makes Malaysia proud
No one, I think, Malaysians included, expected Orange to do so ridiculously well. Though they didn't find themselves playing against Grand Champions Alliance, the little team that could managed to take third place in the tournament. A tad too blood-thirsty in the beginning (there is never an excuse for tower-diving T4s, damnit), Orange eventually proved that they were capable of calm, competent play after being forced into the lower bracket. And, holy Magikarp did they do well.
(Fun fact: Mushi played over 18 heroes during the tournament. 18. Most of the time, we'll be lucky if a player specializes in more than three.)
Most Cringe-Inducing Moment of the International 3
To set the stage for those coming in relatively fresh, the Aegis is kind of like your 'get out of jail for free!' card. Should you die while holding onto the Aegis, you will be, after a few seconds, resurrected with full health and mana. Needless to say, this can turn the tide of battle and is one of the most powerful things a team can have in their arsenal. Even in a public game, the Aegis can be all but instrumental to a team's success. As such, you can imagine just how bloody important this little rock is.
And why the world cringed when Orange's kYxY accidentally destroyed the Aegis.
The longest game in The International.
Curious as to why everyone and their cousin seem to have a thing against DK and IG? Wonder no more. Chances are those people want 98 minutes of their lives back. For reasons unknown, IG and DK chose to settle into a frightening sedate rhythm. Instead of going at each other's throats, they farmed. And farmed. And farmed. And farmed.
And farmed some more.
(If you have nothing to do and are a stickler for punishment, you may want to watch the following clip.)
Korean casters can get really, really excited.
Watch this compilation. Seriously, go watch it. It even comes with translations. If you have ever found yourself thinking that no one can get more effusive than TobiWan, you've obviously not seen the Korean casters of the International. Who needs Morgan Freeman when you can have these guys narrating your life?
Did we get everything? We probably did not get everything. If there's a highlight from the International that you think should be here, do let us know in the comments. Smoke signals don't work quite as well.
Bonus material: Ellen McLain Confirms GLaDOS voice pack?
Video proof is everything, right?