July 15, 2024

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5 moments in Dota 2 esports that defined 2022

5 moments in Dota 2 esports that defined 2022

2022 is coming to a close, and what an eventful year it was for everyone everywhere. In Dota 2, this year was an absolute rollercoaster, to say the least.

The scene had some great moments, mostly in-game, and some not-so-great ones, mostly out of the game.

To cap off the year, let’s look back at all the biggest moments that defined the year 2022 in Dota 2:

The International 11 was a delightfully chaotic spectacle

Tundra Esports went on one of the most dominant championship runs in Dota 2 history when they raised the Aegis of Champions at The International 11. (Photo: Valve Software)

Tundra Esports went on one of the most dominant championship runs in Dota 2 history when they raised the Aegis of Champions at The International 11. (Photo: Valve Software)

The highlight of the Dota 2 year is, as always, The International (TI).

In 2022, TI was hosted in Singapore, marking the first time that the game’s annual world championship tournament was held in Southeast Asia.

TI11 also featured a revamped format, as it included a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) and featured a longer schedule with a five-day break during the Main Event.

While production issues plagued the event, the Dota itself was nothing short of spectacular.

For one, TI11 featured a ton of upsets. TI10 champions Team Spirit were knocked out by BOOM Esports in the first round of the lower bracket, Evil Geniuses (EG) were kicked out by South America, and PSG.LGD only managed a Top 6 finish after falling to Team Aster, among others.

COVID-19 caused a bit of chaos too. Almost every member of Royal Never Give Up (RNG) tested positive, forcing them to play their lower bracket match versus Entity with only Yap “xNova” Jian Wei on the stage. Already hamstrung by the virus, RNG had to struggle through a 107-minute slugfest before ultimately getting knocked out.

Beastcoast also suffered the same fate, with Jean “Chris Luck” Gonzales playing alone on the stage as they were eliminated by PSG.LGD.

Royal Never Give Up's xNova was forced to play alone on the Main Event stage of The International 11  as his teammates had to play from isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. (Photo: Valve Software)

Royal Never Give Up’s xNova was forced to play alone on the Main Event stage of The International 11 as his teammates had to play from isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. (Photo: Valve Software)

Four teams emerged out of the chaos to make it to TI11’s Finals Weekend: Tundra Esports, Team Secret, Team Liquid, and Team Aster.

Team Liquid knocked out Team Aster in fourth place before losing to Team Secret in the lower bracket finals, giving Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen a worthy third place finish as he capped off his legendary career.

While Clement “Puppey” Ivanov managed to lead Team Secret on an incredible run all the way from the LCQ to the TI11 Grand Finals, a nigh-unstoppable Tundra Esports claimed the Aegis of Champions after only the second 3-0 TI finals sweep in Dota 2’s history.

With Tundra’s victory, carry player Oliver “skiter” Lepko and midlaner Leon “Nine” Kirilin joined the illustrious group of players to have taken the TI Royal Road by winning Dota 2’s world championship tournament their first time playing in it.

Tundra coach Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling also became the next two-time TI champion after the legendary OG squad that won TI8 and TI9. Aui_2000 won his first championship with EG back in TI5, and is now also the first to win TI as both a player and a coach.

The Tundra-Fata saga

While Tundra will end 2022 as the reigning Dota 2 world champions, it wasn’t apparent they would rise to the top when the year started.

Tundra began the year with Adrian “Fata” Trinks on the roster as captain, but he would be kicked from the team in February. Martin “Saksa” Sazdov would later join the lineup, with Jingjun “Sneyking” Wu taking over as team captain.

OG’s Sébastien “Ceb” Debs famously tweeted that the move “will be remembered as one of the worst in Dota 2 history.”

While Tundra ended up claiming the Aegis at TI11, Fata finished the tournament in 17th-18th place with Soniqs Esports.

Following Tundra’s victory, Ceb owned up to his earlier tweet and clowned himself for doubting the team’s controversial roster change.

The Tundra-Fata saga just goes to show how so many things can happen within the span of a year. You can go from leading an up-and-coming team to getting kicked then watching the team that kicked you go on to win TI while you bomb out on your new team.

While Fata was already an accomplished player even before he joined Tundra, you still gotta feel for him. Here’s to hoping 2023 will be better for Fata.

Fnatic and Virtus.pro vie for TI11 direct invites

Fnatic will be the 12th team to receive a direct invite to Dota 2's The International 11, not Outsiders, according to the official rankings by developer Valve Software. Pictured: Fnatic DJ, Outsiders DM. (Photos: Fnatic, Virtus.pro, Valve Software)

Fnatic will be the 12th team to receive a direct invite to Dota 2’s The International 11, not Outsiders, according to the official rankings by developer Valve Software. Pictured: Fnatic DJ, Outsiders DM. (Photos: Fnatic, Virtus.pro, Valve Software)

Dota 2 developer Valve Software stirred controversy back in August when they announced that the 12th and final direct invite to TI11 would go to Fnatic instead of Virtus.pro (VP).

Fnatic taking that last direct invite was a point of contention among the Dota 2 community, with many believing that it was VP (then playing as Outsiders) that had already claimed the last direct invite. Their basis was the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) rankings on Liquipedia, a comprehensive wiki for the esports scenes for Dota 2 and other titles.

In Liquipedia’s rankings, VP had 1020.05 DPC points while Fnatic had 1020. But according to Valve’s system, VP only had 1,019 points while Fnatic had 1,020.

In essence, what ended up deciding which team would get that last direct invite was Valve rounding down decimal points. VP accrued multiple DPC point penalties as a result of roster changes during the season, with Valve rounding down their points and not awarding them partial points from the penalties.

Valve addressed the discrepancy between the official DPC and Liquipedia rankings by saying in a statement on the official Dota 2 Twitter account that “the DPC website reflects the official standings for the 2021-2022 season” and “not unofficial sources”.

After losing out on a direct invite to TI11, VP ended up not making it to the tournament. They lost in the Eastern European qualifier and failed to make it out of the LCQ, losing to both Team Secret and Team Liquid in the two chances they had to qualify for TI11.

One can say that, if VP truly deserved that direct invite to TI11, that they should have won either in the Eastern European qualifer or in the LCQ. They had multiple chances to qualify even after losing out on the direct invite, they just failed to do so.

That’s a fair point, of course, but one can also say that losing out on that direct invite in the first place affected VP’s performance and factored into their subsequent failures to qualify.

Either way, it was an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided if Valve had clearer lines of communication.

Maybe that will change in 2023? Let’s be real, that’s very unlikely.

Ukraine invasion disrupts Eastern European DPC, Pure draws a ‘Z’ in official match

One of the most defining events of 2022 was the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on 24 February and continues to this very day.

The invasion had far-reaching effects outside of Ukraine itself, including in the Dota 2 scene in Eastern Europe.

Valve suspended the 2021 DPC season’s Spring Tour in Eastern Europe shortly after the invasion began. For a time, it seemed that there would be no competition in the region for the foreseeable future as a result of the conflict.

Esports organisations in Ukraine were quick to sever ties with their Russian counterparts over the invasion. Among these Russian organisations was VP, whose holding company expressed support for the invasion.

But after roughly two months in hiatus, Valve resumed competition in Eastern Europe in the form of online qualifiers for the ESL One Stockholm Major.

During that qualifier, Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko, then playing for VP, was seen drawing the letter ‘Z’, a symbol seen as support for the invasion. As a result of the incident, VP were disqualified from the qualifier.

VP later terminated its contract with Pure, but the damage was already done. The incident ultimately contributed to VP missing out on a direct invite to TI11, which we already touched upon above.

Pure would later join Entity and qualify for TI11, finishing in 9th-12th place.

Man, VP just could not catch a break in 2022.

Team SMG kicks ninjaboogie because his mother died, fails to register for TI11 qualifiers


Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross said he was kicked from Team SMG because the team thought his mother’s recent passing would have affected his performance. (Photo: Team SMG)

VP were not the only Dota 2 organisation that made headlines multiple times in 2022. Another org that gained a lot of notoriety this year was Malaysia-based Team SMG.

In May, Team SMG parted ways with Filipino player Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross, who claimed he was kicked by the team because of an assumption that his mother’s recent passing would affect his performance.

In Team SMG’s Twitter announcement of ninjaboogie’s departure from the team, he posted a reply telling the organisation that they should state “the real reason” he was kicked. Ninjaboogie then said in a post on his personal Twitter account that he was kicked “because my mom was on her last days and [Team SMG] assumed it would affect my performance”.

“I already knew for some time that this day will come since she had stage 4 cancer. She passed away on Monday,” said ninjaboogie. “Imagine being fired from a job because you are about to lose a loved one.”

In an interview with content creator Jake Lucky in June, ninjaboogie said the kick was “f***ing brutal” and had nonsensical reasons. These allegedly included the team interpreting as “red flags” an incident of ninjaboogie shouting in anger while alone in a room after he lost his wallet, as well as him striking up conversations with a female staff member.

“It made me even sadder because it wasn’t even anything Dota-related. I didn’t fight with anyone, I didn’t know everything you did was being monitored,” said ninjaboogie in the interview.

While the uproar resulting from Team SMG’s treatment of ninjaboogie eventually died down, the team caught flak once again when they failed to register for Southeast Asian qualifier for TI11.

The organisation claimed that a “communication breakdown between the team manager and players” was among “several reasons” that led to them failing to register their roster in time for the qualifiers.

Team SMG also apologised to their players, “who put their trust in us as an organisation”, especially to Singaporean players Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang and Wilson “poloson” Koh, who joined the team a month before TI in an effort to play in front of their home crowd.

While iceiceice still managed to appear in TI11 as part of the All-Star Game, it was a massive loss for Singapore’s esports scene that he could not play in the country’s biggest esports event yet.

Iceiceice failing to qualify for TI11 is one thing, and is an acceptable result, but him not even getting the chance to qualify due to Team SMG’s incompetence was, to be frank, insulting.

Understandably, iceiceice left Team SMG just a day after TI11 concluded.

2022 had a lot of big moments for Dota 2, both good and bad. Here’s to hoping that 2023 will be kinder for the game and its community.

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