iG lays waste to the opposition in Frankfurt and are the champions of ESL One
In the past two days a crowd of close to 10,000 witnessed Dota being played in a world cup stadium. Not only is this one of the most impressive live audiences Western eSports has ever seen, but the sheer spectacle of it being in the Commerzbank Arena is enough to have garnered the attention of an incredible amount of people, and has also gone to prove how large the playerbase for Valve's Dota 2 truly is.
With the sheer scope of the event being as massive as it was, as well as the tales of all the attending teams being in the centerfold, I will divide this ESL One Frankfurt wrap-up into two separate parts that focus on the teams and the event separately.
In what might easily be considered the most one-sided game in professional Dota 2 history, the floor of the Commerzbank Arena erupted into thunderous applause as Invictus Gaming decimated Evil Geniuses with a score of 22-0. The Chinese heavyweights had already displayed dominant form throughout the entire event, but nothing even came close to what they displayed in the final game of the tournament, where EG were left with no answer whatsoever to the Chinese aggressors. It's finally confirmation for the team that struggled so fiercely just two months ago, where they barely broke into the top 4 in Ukraine to dominate both their domestic scene and now the world stage. Two years ago they claimed the aegis at TI2, going into TI4 it looks like they are currently in the form to claim another one.
Despite this, EG showed that they are the unequivocally best team the Western hemisphere has to offer at the moment. Their ability to stall and perform during the lategame brought them victory in their series against Na'Vi and Fnatic in situations that looked all but over. As they return to the US they should none the less be proud of their accomplishment, and if there's any team that will be expected to find a solution to the now patented iG aggression, it will be EG.
To not mention Fnatic's run at ESL One would be an injustice. After recent developments surrounding Fnatic and The International became public, no team was faced with as much pressure as the multi-national Fnatic roster, that they would then also be challenging Vici Gaming in the first round of the tournament made most assume that they would be packing their bags home at an early rate. But whether or not you choose to call it arrogance on Vici's part, or a display of balls of steel, the Europeans pulled out the upset by drafting their signature Io + Tiny combination in all three games of the series, earning their way into the semi-finals. That they lost to EG in an incredibly close Bo3 didn't matter by then, Fnatic showed that they remain a considerable force in competitive Dota when the weight of the entire world was on their shoulders.
Where the previous series Alliance and Cloud 9 played against each other at the DreamLeague Season 1 finals was a display of consistency and power from both sides, their encounter at ESL One assumed the form of a downward spiral into madness for the North American team. Alliance's Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg's play on Clockwerk in game 1 wreaked havoc, his signature Nature's Prophet in game 2 was literally soul crushing, as he nullified a 20,000 experience lead from Cloud 9 almost single-handedly by forcing his adversaries to defend their base instead of pushing their advantage.
It all culminated in a moment of frustration for C9, who ran into the base of Alliance in hopes of destroying their ancient, but it was too late. The bulldog's bite was too strong. Alliance continued run in the tournament was cut short by Invictus Gaming, who made sure to not let the Nature's Prophet through.
Continuing the animal analogies, the mouse showed that it too could bite. Down one game to iG, mousesports' Rasmus 'MiSeRy' Filipsen's roaming Bane crushed the hopes and dreams of the Chinese. With perfect positioning and consistently catching iG members off-guard, and despite the fact that mousesports' run ended after the next game, his service to the team was invaluable and clearly demonstrates that mouz can become more than mere "hopefuls" if they continue on their given path.
Finally, we reach Na'Vi. The poster-children for Dota 2 were eliminated in two straight games to Evil Geniuses, their fifth loss to the North American team in a single week, whilst this follows the tradition of the three-time TI finalists underperforming before the biggest tournament of the year. This time around however it doesn't look like it is Na'Vi playing bad, it looks like everyone else is playing better. Granted, EG does seem to have Na'Vi's number like no team previously in history seems to have had, but it still brings up signs that should concern the Ukrainian organisation. But in reality, there is only one tournament that seems to truly matter to this team, let's hope that the magic that is Na'Vi returns for that joyous occasion like it has three years previously.
The presentation ESL arranged at the Commerzbank Arena eclipsed nearly every other Western eSports event to-date. Just the fact that it managed to bring 10,000 people together to cheer for the world's best Dota teams is almost enough to say that it single-handedly became a bigger spectacle than anyone could have hoped for. But in addition to the amazing numbers the crowd displayed ESL assembled the strongest analyst-desk to date by utilizing the near untouchable hosting abilities of Paul 'ReDeYe' Chaloner. Chaloner's lack of knowledge surrounding the Dota franchise became a weapon for any new curious viewers who do not understand the intricacies of the game, as he could simply pitch his question to their extremely well-suited cast of analysts in Jacob 'Maelk' Toft-Andersen, Sébastien '7ckingMad' Debs, Bruno Carlucci, Ben 'Merlini' Wu as well as Troels 'syndereN' Nielsen. On top of this, the desk was planned out in a manner so that they handled all the pre-game discussion, as well as discussing the ongoing draft, rather than to pass it over to the commentators as soon as the draft commenced.
Despite all the positives, there was a major negative that left its presence on the event's final day. According to representatives from ESL, they had not applied for a permit to carry the show past midnight. Due to this, the final quarter-final, that was scheduled for the first day, had to be pushed to the following day, meaning that the winning team would be forced to play the semi and grand finals immediately after each other, leaving no room for rest in-between games.
i also dont understand how esl thinks they are going to fit in 4 bo3's 2morrow when they werent even close to getting that done today— Peter Dager (@ppdDota) June 28, 2014
The final was also reduced from a Bo5 to a Bo3. Whilst the victory of iG was undoubtedly well-deserved, and the grand final was extremely exciting, one can still only wonder what an equally rested EG roster could have accomplished in a Bo5, would the evening's outcome have become something completely different? It was obvious that the stadium was the major selling point for ESL One Frankfurt, the sheer scope of such an event was unheard of in eSports just two years ago, but the feeling of the spectacle coming before competitive integrity is always a sad outcome, and something one could've wished ESL had come prepared for.
With all of this said, the games and the storylines could not have been better for ESL One Frankfurt, and the professional exterior has set a new standard for how an event should be presented.
If you happened to miss out on the coverage provided by onGamer's very own Matthew 'Cyborgmatt' Bailey at the event, make sure to visit our coverage center to catch up on the content he provided throughout the weekend!
Photo Credit: ESL, Tobiwan