For many gamers and esports enthusiasts, The International signifies the most wonderful time of the year. The International, or TI as it is most commonly abbreviated to, is the biggest and most prestigious DOTA 2 tournament in the world. This is where the very best of the best in the esport compete in for supremacy, glory and a hefy prize pool worth millions and million of dollars.
It should come as no surprise that, as a huge DOTA-loving country, the Philippines has managed to become a part of The International’s rich history in a handful of ways. From participating in the very first The International in Germany; to Filipino trailblazers in the sport; to The TNC Miracle, the greatest upset in TI History; the Philippines has made its mark and held its banner high at TI.
Today, we revisit some of those times in support of the Philippine contingent in TI8 which is happening right now! So without further ado, Here’s a quick look back at the Filipino story within The International
Mineski at TI 1
Back in 2011, Valve, the company responsible for the Half-life franchise and Steam, organized the very first The International during GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. With it they unveiled DOTA 2 to the world, a sequel and reboot to the massively popular Warcraft: The Frozen Throne mod, Defense of the Ancients.
Valve invited 16 of the best DOTA teams from across the globe to participate in the inaugural tournament. The would compete for the total prize pool of 1.6 million USD, the highest prize pool ever awarded at the time. Among the teams were eventual champion and perennial powerhouse Natus Vincere or Na’ Vi; one of the oldest and recognizable esports franchises, the Germany-based, Meet Your Makers; and of course, our very own, Mineski from the Philippines.
The Mineski Team managed a win over the portugal-based Online Kingdom squad, before succumbing in the next round to Moscow Five wrapping up the team’s run in the first ever TI. The team’s 5 man line-up was composed of Wootz, Julz, John, Owa, and VASH.
DJ Rocks the House
With the successful launch DOTA 2, many DOTA players began to shift to the newer, more streamlined game. And with The International dedicating its clout, appeal and popularity to legitimizing esports, many Filipino players began to dream of playing the game professionally on a worldwide stage. Djardel Jicko Mampusti, better known to the esports community as DJ, is one of those players.
DJ first learned DOTA back when in high school, first picking up the Dwarven Sniper Kardel because the character bore a similarity with his own name. Today, DJ is widely considered the best filipino DOTA 2 player. There are some that would even argue, DJ is the best player in Southeast Asia.
From his humble roots in Marikina playing the game for the love of it or for the occasional bet match, DJ is now a marquee player for Fnatic, a European esports team composed of mostly South-east asian players. DJ has contributed to Fnatic’s success from the support role, most notably contributing during the big turnaround against favorites Team Liquid in The International 6 earning a 4th place finish overall.
Back home in the Philippines, DJ invests his earnings to acquire a franchise from local PC shop The Net.Com, home to another esports organization in TNC Pro Team.
The TNC Miracle
Speaking of TNC, the internet cafe chain/esports team has made its mark in The International history as well. The all-filipino TNC Predator sweeped european juggernaut OG in TI6 in what is now known as the TNC Miracle, the greatest upset in The International history.
Heading into TI6 was not an easy journey for TNC. The path was littered with visa problems and last minute roster changes. On top of that, the team found themselves facing up against one of the heavy favorites to win the entire tournament, two-time Major winners, OG. Many thought the match was already a foregone conclusion before it had even started.
Sure enough, as the first game began, the experience of OG gave the team the early lead with their Medusa and Drow Ranger duo front and center. However, with TNC opting for a more aggressive, skirmish-focused, line-up with Axe, Vengeful Spirit and Lifestealer, and their team fighting prowess and coordination, they started to win team fight after team fight in the mid-game.
TNC started to out-maneuver OG at every turn, including a critical Roshan fight and a huge team wipe at the OG base. The latter forced the GG from OG giving TNC the win in what was described by caster Tobiwan as “A methodical, surgical killing of OG”
The next game saw OG once again jump out to a big lead, picking off TNC’s heroes and towers with a safer more mid-game centered lineup with IO, Tiny and Ogre Magi. It would seem like the favorites were back to their dominating ways as TNC struggled to gain ground in the match. However, after adapting to their opponents aggressive tactics, and some stellar Faceless Void play from Sam_H, TNC managed to scrounge together some crucial team fight victories that got them right back into the match.
Late in the game, OG was on the ropes and TNC was knocking right at their door. Opting for the “GG Push” into the last remaining towers and the OG Ancient, another clutch Chronosphere from Sam_H on Faceless Void catches 3 OG players allowing Kuku’s humongous Huskar to tear through them. This signaled the end for OG as not even Miracle’s Ember Spirit was able to save the game for the european titans. With the last lines of defense for OG gone, 2 players down for the count, their Ancient was defenseless and was destroyed in seconds to the roar of the Key Arena crowd and the thousands of filipino fans back home.
Current Crop of Heroes
If you don’t already know, The International 2018 is happening right now!
Catch the Philippine representatives looking to make history once again! All the teams mentioned above, Mineski, TNC and Fnatic, are once again participating in The International.
TNC is ranked pretty decently despite being hit or miss recently. They’ve been playing fairly inconsistent, ranging from a stellar 4th place finish at the DOTA 2 Asia Championships to a sordid 7-8 place at China Dota2 Supermajor. Will they pull off a miracle of some sort once again?
Mineski has been on quite a tear as of late, stringing together some strong placing finishes and of course, winning this years DOTA 2 Asia Championships. Will the group made of old talent and new blood continue their winning ways at the big show? maybe even win it all?
And finally, Djardel Jicko “DJ” Mampusti and Fnatic are just as dangerous as ever against even the best of teams in The International. Will the Philippine’s best DOTA 2 player and his cohorts make their play for the crown this year?
We’re just about as excited as you to find out.
UPDATE: Mineski is the only SEA team left standing in The International 2018! Click here for the full story