While the LoL World Championships is often spoken about as being the most successful esports tournament on the planet, few competitive gaming events match the spectacle of The International. Bringing together the best Dota 2 rosters from across the globe, The International remains a favorite with online audiences. In 2022, The International brought in peak viewing numbers of 1.7 million during the final of the tournament that saw Tundra Esports walking away victorious. These upper tiers of competition are known for their unpredictability. When you factor in some volatile player personalities, you have a recipe for success. Below, we take a look at some of the most powerful moments from The International archives.
OG Wins One for the Underdogs (2018)
In 2018, nobody had OG Esports pegged as serious contenders. To be honest, most people assumed this Danish squad would bow out of the competition early. However, OG surprised everyone with a stellar performance that saw the Danes make it all the way to the final. Pitted against the Chinese team, LGD Gaming (then known as PSG.LGD), it looked like this was the moment that OG’s luck would run out. However, OG pulled out all the stops to deliver a surprise win, toppling LGD and becoming tournament champions. They’d manage to hold onto the title in 2019, before placing third in the next International. Keen to find out how the OG roster is doing now? Click here to see how this legendary Danish squad is faring this year.
Never Underestimate Mineski (2019)
Team Secret is a staple squad at Dota 2’s biggest international competition. However, they’ve never managed to become champions. That being said, things looked promising for this European team, with many pundits predicting that this could be Secret’s year. Sadly, things quickly took a turn for the worse for Team Secret. They were relegated to the lower bracket after a punishing defeat by EG. Here at least, they stood a good chance of dusting themselves off and getting back on track. Well, that’s what they and everybody else watching thought would happen.
Instead, Team Secret found out the hard way why you should never underestimate the competition. Southeast Asian squad, Mineski, were the underdogs who taught them this lesson. Unpredictability has become Mineski’s signature style of play, which kept Secret on their toes, right up until the final seconds of play. While they managed to walk away with the win, Secret knew never to count on a sure thing again.
Digital Chaos Destroy Reining Champions Evil Geniuses (2016)
A prize pool worth more than $20 was up for grabs at The International’s sixth annual tournament, more than doubling the previous record. Despite many expecting a strong start from them, Evil Geniuses ended up in the lower bracket. At least here they could cut through the competition and advance forward. As with Team Secret, Evil Geniuses had severely underestimated their lower-bracket rivals.
It was Digital Chaos who dealt the blow to Evil Geniuses. At first, the aggressive style of play displayed by EG looked to be paying off, but few had taken notice of the clever strategy that Digital Chaos was deploying. Later, the South American squad was ready to take on the enemy head-on. Not only did they beat Evil Geniuses, but they later defeated the legendary T1 squad. In fact, they made it all the way to the 2016 grand final, losing out to Wings Gaming.
NaVi vs Alliance: One for the History Books (2013)
Let’s go back to the early days of The International. At the time, NaVi was thought of as one of the strongest teams in Dota 2 competition. However, another squad was considered the favorite to win at the 2013 edition of this celebrated tournament. We’re talking about the incredible Alliance.
These two lineups ended up against each other in the final and put on a show that Dota 2 fans still talk about to this day. While NaVi’s hold over Alliance was marginal, it looked enough to keep their rivals in check and secure the championship. However, Alliance turned the tables on NaVi, with their split-push strategy annihilating their more aggressive style of play. Alliance took the trophy and the lion’s share of a prize pool of more than $2.8 million.
Who’s Ruling the Roost Nowadays?
In recent years, a handful of teams have dominated The International. However, there have only been two repeat winners in the history of the tournament. Along with the previously mentioned OG and their successive victories in 2018 and 2019, Team Spirit took the top spot in 2021 and 2023.