RECAP: PH team TNC upsets powerhouse OG in Dota 2 championships

MANILA, Philippines – These boys are on a roll. 

Fresh off a victory against China's Vici Gaming Reborn, the Philippines' representative to the biggest annual Dota 2 tournament, The International 6 (TI6), pulled off an even more stunning win today, August 10. That team is TNC, comprised of Jimmy "Demon" Ho, Marco “Raven” Fausto, Carlo “Kuku” Palad, Samson “Sam_H” Hidalgo and Nico “eyyou” Barcelon. They defeated OG in their best-of-three match, sweeping the powerhouse team, 2-0.

OG was considered a big favorite in TI6, having won two of the three "Major" tournaments since Valve introduced the pro tennis-like tournament cycle in November 2015. In fact, OG won the first ever Major held in Frankfurt, Germany. They repeated at the Manila Major held in June this year. To make matters worse, OG had beaten TNC in a preliminary tournament leading up to TI6. They seemed to have these guys' number. 

But sports have a way of surprising viewers. TNC went off-script and rewrote their fate as they dispatched the series favorite – and remain in contention for the grand prize that's currently at US $8.8 million. The prize may grow as the pool is crowdfunded: a portion of the sales from Dota 2's virtual content go to it. 

When the tournament debuted in 2011, the pool was $1.6 million, straight from the pocket of Dota 2 developer, Valve. Now on its 6th year, the company still puts in that amount. It's the crowdfunding that has allowed the tournament's promised riches to balloon to a staggering $20 million – the biggest ever in e-sport history.

And TNC is taking part in it. At this point, their worst finish would net them around $500,000 or P23.3 million. A common joke seen in social networks among Filipino netizens: it's TNC vs BIR in the grand finals. 

Not a joke: beating OG. As if their victories in the Majors weren't affirmation enough, the team has a superstar in Amer "Miracle" Barqawi. Miracle is the number one player in the world based on his matchmaking rating of 9,011 – currently the only player to have broken past 9,000. This, among other factors, was why few Dota 2 fans gave TNC a chance. Apparently, #Puso works in other sports, too.

Rounding out team OG are Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, David “MoonMeander” Tan, Andreas “Cr1t” Nielsen and Tal “Fly” Aizik. 

This is a retelling of how TNC flipped the script: 

GAME 1:

TNC: Vengeful Spirit (Demon), Phantom Lancer (Kuku), Lifestealer (Raven), Axe (Sam H), Elder Titan (Eyyou)

OG: Medusa (Miracle), Drow Ranger (n0tail), Faceless Void (Moon), Enchantress (Cr1t), Witch Doctor (Fly)

OG drafted one of their signature lineups; n0tail's Drow Ranger aura with Miracle helming Medusa ensuring that they have enough damage-per-second (DPS) to last them until the late game. Moon’s Void controlled the tempo with his Chronospheres.

TNC went with Elder Titan and Sam H’s Axe to try to rip OG to shreds with the initiation from the Blink Dagger Call and the Elder Titan Ult plus Raven’s Lifestealer being their main source of damage. The surprise Phantom Lancer pick was for controlling the midlane and burning through Medusa’s Mana Shield with the Diffusal Blade pick-up.

Pivotal team fight as Moonu2019s Chronosphere catches Kuku. Screenshot from live stream

Pivotal team fight as Moonu2019s Chronosphere catches Kuku.

Screenshot from live stream

The early game was fairly even with TNC taking the slight advantage with the first blood kill on Moon. It was back and forth action until the pivotal midgame where TNC took over with Sam H’s perfect Blink Calls and the Infest Bomb from Lifestealer. The Elder Titan pick worked wonders for TNC as it synergized well with Lifestealer’s DPS to set up perfect stomps. Even then, net worth was still fairly even as Miracle’s Medusa was farming well along with n0tail’s Drow Ranger.

OG tried to take the map advantage soon by taking Roshan, but a game-changing teamfight initiation from Axe combined with Raven’s Lifestealer bomb completely shifted the momentum to TNC. Another wraparound Smoke initiation from TNC sealed the game – and TNC never looked back from there. Absolutely brilliant Axe play from Sam H and Kuku’s 6-slotted Phantom Lancer eventually shredding the OG base.

Winner: TNC

GAME 2:

TNC: Dazzle (Demon), Drow Ranger (Raven) , Huskar (Kuku), Faceless Void (Sam H), Vengeful Spirit (Eyyou)

OG: Ember Spirit (Miracle), Dark Seer (Moon), Tiny (n0tail), Io (Cr1t), Ogre Magi (Fly)

Game 2 was full of surprises as TNC drafted their pocket Huskar plus Dazzle strategy much to the delight of the Seattle crowd with Drow Ranger providing the damage aura for his team. OG also had surprises of their own with Cr1t’s Io and n0tail’s signature Tiny, forming one of the most feared two-man combinations in Dota. Miracle was on Ember Spirit, a rival for Kuku’s Huskar.

It was a completely different story from Game 1. Despite Kuku taking first blood against Miracle, OG took over the early game. Soon, TNC found themselves up against a huge 15,000-gold deficit. TNC tried to fight back with some well placed Chronospheres from Sam H, but they were still overrun by OG’s synergy and Miracle’s brilliant play. Things looked absolutely grim for TNC until a midlane Radiant Tier 2 Tower teamfight evened out things. OG overextended and Miracle was caught by Drow’s Gust, thus taking down both of their carries. 

Miracleu2019s Ember Spirit dies and drops his Rapier u2013 and with it, OGu2019s hopes and dreams. Screenshot from live stream.

Miracleu2019s Ember Spirit dies and drops his Rapier u2013 and with it, OGu2019s hopes and dreams. Screenshot from live stream.

TNC soon caught OG’s supports, which suddenly led to a clear path to OG’s base. This forced OG to buy back for a successful defense. The game suddenly turned tense with back-and-forth engagements and kiting from both teams as TNC's Dazzle plus Huskar combination and a 6-slotted Drow Ranger kept the team in fighting shape despite being down a lane of rax.

A brilliant play from TNC opened up the game as Sam H’s Void caught a 5-man Chronosphere while Eyyou swapped Tiny out of the sphere to isolate him from the fight. TNC attempted to take the high ground as Miracle bought a Divine Rapier for his Ember Spirit for the final stand-off. But yet another successful Chronosphere along with Huskar and Drow’s high damage output eliminated OG for the huge upset victory!

TNC pushes on as OG bows out of TI6. They face Digital Chaos on Friday, August 12. 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.

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