The first day of The International 8's main event reminded us just how brutal the game is.
The line between winning and losing can be so thin that it only takes one mistake to turn the game around.
A fresh look
This is our first The International outside of Seattle in seven years, and Roger's Arena did not disappoint. It's every bit a spectacle and as breathtaking as previous years.
The weather for day 1 was excellent, which is lucky as thousands of people lined up early for the event. A significant buildup could be felt outside the entrance - not only were people queueing to go inside but they linked their Steam accounts and claimed their swag bags.
Inside the venue, everyone was drawn to take a peek at the setup. Drapes covered a portion of the stage, but massive screens in the middle of the stadium can be seen, ready to broadcast the event. Gabe Newell himself highlighted a small opening ceremony in which he started with the traditional "Welcome to The International". The participating teams also showed up in a roll call – a first in TI history.
Starting the day were two upper bracket matches, both best-of-three, with the winner of each series scoring guaranteed top 6 places in the tournament. First up was Liquid vs Optic, followed by LGD vs VP.
Liquid has always been a fan-favorite, and they were very well-received in the arena. Their opponents, however, led by NA star PPD and his team Optic Gaming also attracted a lot of cheers from the Vancouver crowd. As far as actual games are concerned though, it was a mismatch - two quick wins for Liquid placed them right on track for their TI Championship run.
The second series was a heavyweight - DPC rank 1 Virtus.Pro was set to play the big Chinese hope PSG.LGD. As always, the Chinese crowd showed up loud and proud of their affiliation. VP's fans rose to the challenge, matching up the sound. The Russian team started strong, but it only took them one mistake to lose the first game. From there, they lost their grip on the series and didn't play their best in the next game.
Following the upper bracket matches were four best-of-one lower bracket matches. This part is always heartbreaking – seeing the dreams of players being crushed is not a happy sight. But this is the nature of the competition, and this is what makes winning feel so great.
Fnatic was the first team to go today. They were the favorite heading into the match, but they had a seemingly horrible draft and were losing from the get-go. The SEA team was able to claw back towards the end, only to fall short and their season ended with a disappointing finish.
Another SEA team was about to fall as the second elimination match was between TNC and Mineski. The latter seemed to be that team, but Mineski's mid player Moonn executed a fantastic wrap-around that reversed the game in an instant. One moment they were losing, after that they were celebrating.
Following through is CIS team Winstrike, a team who barely scraped through in the group stage. Last year's runner-up Newbee is a favorite, but that remained all that was as Winstrike took a commanding lead and never looked back.
The final team to book a ticket to the top 12 was Vici Gaming. It was a highly contested all-Chinese game, but in the end, VG was able to pull through against their sister team with big pickoffs and solid play. VGJ.T tried to valiantly hold off, but they finally crumbled in the 48th minute. Unfortunately, a good part of the crowd had already gone home by then.
As usual, The International 8 is filled with excellent broadcast content and activities. The best today is arguably Mineski's:
There were people doing cosplays around the venue, and the freedom wall was also interesting, with wonderful lines such as "Remove Techies" and prominent ones like "Lakad Matatag".
All event goers received a goodie bag today. Meanwhile, the Secret Shop felt very underwhelming this year as there were barely any new items. The only bright side was that the queues weren't as long as normal!
We'll have some TI8 merch to giveaway – stay tuned this week and we will let you know how you can win!
Live in TI8
Overall, it's been a great first-day experience that will only get better from here. We're looking forward to the rest of the event.
The International is an annual Dota 2 tournament held by Valve. This year's installment will be the eighth one, and the main event will be played at Roger's Arena in Vancouver, Canada. Currently, the prize pool of the tournament stands at more than US$25M.
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