The top 10 most memorable moments from The International

By William Davis


Jun 6, 2021

Reading time: 5 min

The International is one of the biggest tournaments in esports and has seen more than its fair share of fantastic moments. Here are the top 10 best moments from the tournament’s history.

One – Hooked to Death

One of the weirdest, most skillful, and definitely most controversial moments in The International’s history came in 2013 when Natus Vincere was up against TongFu. With the scores even, TongFu built up a commanding position and seemed set to win. 

In a bid for a comeback, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov began teleporting Danil “Dendi” Ishutin to the fountain as he threw out a hook, with the idea being to hook an enemy hero and drag them to certain death in the fountain. At first, TongFu were unconcerned given their huge lead, but before long, panic set in as it worked again, and again until, against all odds, Na’Vi won. The tactic famously drew criticism over whether it was fair or balanced, and the game was updated to prevent it from being used again 

Two – The Echo Slam Finisher

The International 2015 featured a tumultuous final match between the Evil Geniuses and CDEC Gaming, with over $6 million in prize money awaiting the winner. CDEC was very much an underdog but defied expectations to reach the finals. Despite this, CDEC was poised to drag the series out the full distance after slaying Syed “SumaiL” Hassan. 

An Ice Blast from Peter “ppd” Dager’s Ancient Apparition caught the whole of CDEC in the Roshan pit which was followed by an Echo Slam from Saahil “Universe” Aurora’s Earthshaker spelling the end for the plucky underdogs. Evil Geniuses lived up to their name and took the prize money, and the glory.

Three – Victory Denied

Most of the shock moments on this list are about impressive wins, surprise comebacks, and cunning strategies. But sometimes the biggest upset comes from a blatant screw-up. In 2013, a memorable tournament for other reasons detailed elsewhere, Na’Vi was in serious trouble versus Orange esports. 

Due to a bizarre instance of Lee “kYxY” Kong Yang denying the Aegis from his own team. Na’Vi survived and eventually won the match thanks to the misclick blunder.

Four – The Ultimate Comeback

In 2012 The International featured a classic moment in the match between Na’Vi and Invictus Gaming. IG used Naga’s ultimate to put their enemies to sleep to set up a Tidehunter Ravage. But that wasn’t enough, because, amazingly, Na’Vi bounced back with Puppey and Dendi activating Black King Bar and having their Rubik turn the situation around against the odds.

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Five – EHOME versus Evil Geniuses

In 2016 The International witnessed one of the most brutal contests in its history when EHOME went toe-to-toe with Evil Geniuses. Slugging it out minute-by-minute, the teams were almost precisely matched, making it impossible to tell who was going to end up on top and keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. 

EHOME ground their foes down and claimed Mega Creeps. Yet somehow, Evil Geniuses found a way to fight back when nobody expected it, going on the offensive 75 minutes into the game to stage arguably the greatest Dota 2 comeback The International has ever seen.

Six – Clockwerk Heroics

The International 2013 showed the difference a single player can make. Sam “BuLba” Sosale, a player for Team Liquid, helped ensure one of the unlikeliest of wins in Dota 2 history. 

Liquid was playing against LGD Gaming, one of the top teams in the game. BuLba, as Clockwerk, wielded his hook with aplomb and proved to be the bane of LGD’s existence. His teammates took the chance provided by BuLba to close out the win, which was a shock NA victory against a Chinese powerhouse.

Seven – The 2013 Grand Final

Na’Vi’s hook tactic may have been a major talking point, but it was also critical in their path to the finals of The International that year, where they faced Alliance. The teams were evenly matched, taking the grand final to a deciding fifth game. 

This game was just as tight, and it turned on a singular moment of brilliance when Gustav “s4” Magnusson came across Puppey. Dendi tried to assist but this simply enabled s4 to land a two-man Dream Coil, delaying their return to base and enabling Alliance to overrun it for the win.

Eight – Mushi’s Escape

In 2014, The International witnessed one of the greatest escape acts when Evil Geniuses competed against Team DK. 

Mushi had moved to a safe spot in the top lane. Only it turned out not to be safe after all, with a trio of Evil Geniuses players hiding in Mirana’s Moonlight Shadow. Against all odds, Mushi managed to slip through the net, and a last-minute TP saw him live to fight another day.

Nine – Genesis of The International

Today, esports is big business. Just a decade ago, no tournament offered a million-dollar prize pool and the idea of playing video games for a living remained a fantasy rather than an actual career path. 

That all changed in 2011 when Valve announced The International for Dota 2, which hadn’t even been released yet, with a prize pool of $1.6 million. It became one of the keystones in the foundation of esports as a whole, and forever changed the possibilities for pro gamers.

Ten – OG’s Two Time Triumph

OG became the first team in Dota 2 history to <a href=””>win The International twice</a> and did so in impressive style. They were forced to squirm their way through qualifiers with a patchwork roster in 2018, before going on to meet Chinese powerhouse PSG.LGD in the final. Despite falling behind, they managed to come back and claim an epic underdog win.

But more was to come. In 2019, the team was back with the same lineup as the year before. Due to a prolonged absence at the start of the year, OG just barely qualified for the tournament in which they were defending champions, and went in as both incumbents and underdogs. Dominant in the early games, OG had serious competition in the final against 2017 winners Team Liquid, but repeated the previous year’s trick of falling behind and then coming back to win the tournament all over again.

Those were 10 of the best moments The International has ever seen, from epic wins to great comebacks, and the occasional major mistake.


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