After five days of the most grueling competition in Dota 2, The International 7 at last came to a close at Key Arena in Seattle, with Team Liquid the last team standing.
For players and fans alike, The International is the pinnacle of Dota, and everyone's goal is to end up here either as a competitor or spectator. Of the 90 players who began the month in the running, only 15 remained at the beginning of this final day, and only the five players of Team Liquid would get to hoist the Aegis of Champions and claim the spectacular $10,805,832 prize.
A year's worth of hard work and dedication for both teams all came down to a single best-of-five series in front of a sold-out Key Arena crowd. For most of the players in the booth, this was a competition to lift the Aegis of Champions for the first time. For Newbee's Zeng "Faith" Hongda, this was a chance to be the first-ever player to hoist the Aegis twice.
The atmosphere in the arena was electric as the two teams entered the booths to begin the series. Chants of "Let's go Liquid!" and "Newbee!" drowned out all other sound, even the commentary of Troels "syndereN" Nielsen and Toby "TobiWan" Dawson.
Liquid looked to be in rare form, taking an early series lead with two decisive wins coming out the gate. Liquid's first strategy was an intense pushing lineup with Troll Warlord and Nature's Prophet. Liquid took an early lead in the lane phase and proceeded to roll over Newbee in under half an hour to snatch Game 1. Newbee, not content to give up so easily, struck back in the second game with an early lead and the power of Xu "Moogy" Han's Anti-Mage to fall back on, but Liquid had other plans. Despite falling desperately behind in kills, Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi kept Liquid in the game with his Alchemist. Around 25 minutes in, Liquid flipped the switch and went on the offensive. With no answer to Miracle-'s super-farmed Alchemist, Newbee was forced to concede the second game. Liquid showed no signs of slowing down in Game 3, while Newbee was playing like a team with broken spirits. Even with a massive section of Chinese fans behind them, Newbee couldn't stand up to Liquid's teamwork and coordination and fell in the third game and final game of the series.
For fans of Newbee, this was a sad match, as Faith will not get to lift that second Aegis. This was the conclusion of a very impressive year of Dota for Newbee, however, and it will surely be a top competitor in the next season of Dota 2. The second-place finish earned Newbee $3,929,394.
Earlier, the final day at The International began with the lower bracket final between Team Liquid and LGD.Forever Young to decide who would face Newbee in the grand finals. In a manner befitting of the biggest Dota 2 competition of the year, the first game of the series was a tense 58-minute contest that came down to the last seconds. Liquid nearly managed to rat its way back into the game, but LFY broke the Liquid base to wrap up the Game 1. It would have been a disappointment if Liquid bowed out in just two games, so to please the crowd, Liquid came roaring back to even up the series 1-1. Liquid edged out LFY in the deciding final game, securing their place in the grand finals of The International 7 against Newbee. LFY secured a respectable third-place finish, and a prize of $2,578,665.
Liquid's run through the lower bracket rallied not only fans of the team, but all fans of Western Dota. After dropping to the lower bracket, Liquid only lost three games on its journey all the way to the grand finals. This was the first 3-0 sweep in the grand finals of an International, and truly massive feat and display of skill for Team Liquid.