We all have games of Dota 2 that seem to go on forever, but for Royal Never Give Up and Elephant, their 107 minute game must have felt like purgatory.

In today’s (July 8th) Upper Bracket game in The International 10: China Qualifiers, the two teams battled it out for over an hour and three quarters, before Elephant finally picked up the win.

The culprit? Well apart from solid gameplay from both teams that allowed it to get to this super late-game state, two abilities were to blame. RNG, who were on the back foot from minute eight, were forced back into their base, only to put on a near impenetrable defence. Left with just their Throne and a few tier four towers, the team again and again pushed their opponent’s back, thanks to Mars and Arc Warden.

The combination of Su "Flyby" Lei’s Mars’ Bulwark and Zhong "圣子华炼" Liushuai’s Arc Warden’s Magnetic Field. Mars’ bulwark applies a flat damage reduction in a set direction, and as a result Flyby could block the majority of incoming attempts to damage the Throne. Meanwhile, Arc Warden’s Magnetic Field is almost exactly the same radius as the Ancient, giving the critical structure evasion against attacks. Commentator Dominik "Black^" Reitmeier explained the strat in more detail:

“It’s really how Arc Warden works; The bubble AOE is just as big as the throne AOE. So effectively, if you place your bubbles very well it will be almost 100% up time, which means the Throne is just invulnerable.”

These two abilities double-teamed to nullify any attempt of Elephant to push in for the win. As a result the game veered into record-breaking levels over the course of 107 minutes, becoming the longest game of TI qualifiers, and the 15th longest pro game of all time. 

Arc Warden Can't Clutch the Game

Ultimately, Elephant was able to break the stalemate and end the game, but only after mistakes were made by RNG's Arc Warden. The bigger mistake, perhaps, as Black^ pointed out, was Elephant letting the game go on for so long. Despite having the lead for 99 of those 107 minutes, the team couldn’t secure the win. But RNG were also trapped: They had literally no way to stage a comeback.

Dota 2 has built-in measures to prevent games going so long. Tier 5 Neutral items are supposed to end games. But the huge length of the game and how broken the Arc Warden/Mars strategy seemed led to some surprised reactions wild suggestions of how to stop games going so long.

After the super-long game, though, the biggest issue for teams will be staying mentally ready to continue. With the series having already gone on for over two hours if you include the picks and bans, both stacks must be exhausted. Analyst Benjamin "Bkop" Kopilow expanded on the issues the teams would face.

Still, it’s far from the end of the line for either of these teams, whoever prevails. Neither team faces elimination at the moment, and will likely at least a day after this match to recover from their brutal clash.