In the last round bans before their game in the lower bracket of The International 2019, the European squad timed out before selecting their final ban. This was followed by an instantaneous Gyrocopter pick as their last hero.
This immediately had fans speculating that the team had accidentally last-picked Gyro, something which was later confirmed by team captain Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi. He opened up on it during the post-game interview.
“I don’t know if there’s footage from the booth but you could see it on our faces, mine especially, I was so surprised when the Gyro icon popped up as our pick,” he said. “It sucks to go out in a best-of-one this way. I feel like we played pretty well at moments but we definitely had no idea what the hell we were doing at other times so that kind of showed.”
It’s a rough end to what was one of Dota 2’s best late surges.
The team sneaked its way into a direct invitation to TI9 by beating Gambit Esports in a do-or-die series at the Epicenter Major. From there the team made the surprise decision to compete at Dota Summit 10, a move that paid off as they took first place.
When TI9 finally came, Alliance performed well in the group stage. Despite being somewhat under the radar, they amassed an 8-8 record that included wins over strong contenders such as Team Liquid and PSG.LGD. They fell a game shy of starting the main event in the upper bracket but seemed to be positioned for a run as they took on the unheralded Royal Never Give Up.
Though Alliance did not intentionally select Gyrocopter, it was not an especially bad pick for the team. Their last pick was reserved for a safe lane carry and Gyro had a bit of synergy with offlane hero Faceless Void. The trouble is that the hero has a fair number of counters as well, something RNG exploited with a last-pick Anti-Mage for carry player Du “Monet” Peng.
The game itself was hardfought, with the lead shifting every few minutes. A clumsy engagement around the Roshan pit saw Alliance invest all its key spells into killing Monet, only to have the rest of RNG chase them down with their incredibly mobile lineup. Monet bought back and RNG was able to seal the win shortly thereafter.
With their season now over, it is unclear what comes next for Alliance.
Unlike most other organizations, Alliance has not been quick to make roster moves. This has seen their lineup remain largely untouched since 2017, with the last change coming in June 2018 when they added mid laner Max “qojqva” Bröcker.
It’s never a surprise when teams disband following The International, but Alliance has shown that allowing a group of players to gel over time can lead to big things.