Just as it seemed like Evil Geniuses would sweep Invictus Gaming in the Singapore Major Grand Finals, the Chinese Contenders turned the tables in a spectacular comeback to claim the title.
After a tight semi-finals that could've gone either way, Invictus Gaming eliminated their Chinese counterparts PSG.LGD to advance to the finals of the ONE Esports Singapore Major.
Waiting for them from the upper bracket was Evil Geniuses (EG) - who had already beaten them 2-0 earlier in the tournament. From IG's shaky showing in the semi-finals, EG looked poised to repeat their dominance.
The North American powerhouse looked untouchable in the first two games and IG could do little to stop their opponents, as each game looked more convincing for EG than the last. As the third game rolled around, the result seemed already written.
On the brink of being swept out of the major, Invictus Gaming finally punched back. With Zhou "Emo" Yi at the helm, and a fateful "?" in all-chat after their game 3 comeback, IG completed a stunning reverse sweep to hoist the Singapore Major championship belt.
IG walks away with the grand prize of US$200,000. More importantly though, the 500 DPC points earned puts them at a total of 1000 points to end Season 1. This all but secures their slot in the upcoming TI, which is every team's goal.
Here's a full recap of the finals that no one had seen coming:
Game 1 - Abed zips past IG on Storm Spirit
The Grand Finals opened up with an explosive game from the side of Evil Geniuses. In response to an insanely greedy draft from the side of IG, the NA representatives opted for heroes that could apply early game pressure.
Abed "Abed" Yusop's signature Storm Spirit tore through the front-line of Invictus Gaming, who could do nothing but run in the early to midgame. What resistance they could muster was immediately halted by disgusting arrows from Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen's Mirana.
Kills turned into objectives, as Artour "Arteezy" Babaev's Leshrac and Daryl "iceiceice" Koh Pei Xiang's Beastmaster took IG's towers with ease. The map rapidly grew smaller and smaller for IG, and both Emo and Jin "flyfly" Zhiyi's Naga Siren just could not find space to farm With their cores too weak to put up a fight, IG were forced to call GG at the 31 minute mark.
Game 2 - An unconvincing and surprising hero pick
The second match of the series looked grim for IG from as early as the draft. Seemingly out of ideas, they last picked a Faceless Void for flyfly that even EG were confused by.
Their confusion was well-founded as flyfly struggled to take off. EG heavily punished IG's draft, once again with Storm and Beastmaster. This time though, Cr1t-'s notorious Earth Spirit was the one to watch, as he slapped IG throughout the early game.
Despite 2 Aghanim's Scepters farmed by Thiay "JT-" Jun Wen's Alchemist offlane, EG continued wrecking havoc on the Chinese squad. All this proved too much for IG, as they tapped out after a final whiffed chrono at 28 minutes.
Game 3: Emo - "?"
With their backs against the wall, IG finally decided to change things up in the draft. In response to Abed's Storm yet again, they drafted Nyx Assassin for Hu "kaka" Liangzhi and an Underlord for JT. With these adjustments, IG were able to match up to EG's mid-game oriented line-up and secured an early lead.
This advantage would not last for long though. On the back of a clean performance from Cr1t's Earth Spirit yet again, they team-wipe IG at the 16 minute mark and turn the game around.
EG carried that momentum forward, and continued to dominate the subsequent fights. By the 35 minute mark, they had secured mid barracks, and held a 15k gold lead over IG. The game looked all but over as EG pushed forward to try and close out the series.
As the NA top seed approached their base, IG rallied together and held strong, repelling push after push. Despite EG's best efforts, the Chinese challengers gave no ground.
IG managed to delay the game past 40 minutes, and by that point - flyfly on his Sven had finally come online. It was clear that EG's mid game power spike had ended, and they simply could not scale as well as IG.
On the back of their newfound momentum, IG surged forward, securing a few key pickoffs and broke into EG's base. After being constantly focused throughout the past 2 games, and tipped relentlessly by EG, Emo had enough. He cut down the Evil Geniuses, and cemented his place in Dota 2 history with an iconic "?" in all chat, right before EG tapped out.
It was a glorious show of defiance, and a clear warning to the side of EG. Invictus Gaming would not get stepped over so easily.
Game 4 - IG cracked the EG formula
At this point of the series, IG seemed to figure out EG's plan in the draft. They were able to secure favorable lanes. With EG's line-up of Phantom Assassin, Storm Spirit, Death Prophet, Pangolier and Enchantress, they simply did not have the same early fighting power they did in the previous 3 games. IG took advantage of this, and were able to go blow for blow.
In a crucial fight for Roshan, Cr1t- once again put EG on his back with a monstrous Rolling Thunder. Keeping IG locked down, Arteezy was able to steal the Aegis and claim a few important kills to boot.
Despite the unfortunate Roshan attempt, IG still managed to dominate the subsequent engagements. This time, it looked like EG simply couldn't match up to IG's overwhelming team fight prowess.
Even a desperation Divine Rapier did little to stop IG as they steamed through EG's base, forcing a game 5.
Game 5 - IG complete the reverse sweep. EG's dreams of winning a Dota 2 Major remain unfulfilled
With the series heading to its final match, the momentum was evidently in IG's favor. IG locked in their comfort heroes, with kaka's Lion, JT-'s Mars, Oli's Phoenix and of course - Emo on Void Spirit.
On the flipside, EG tried to make Storm work for the 5th Game in a row, and paired it with the classic Lifestealer combo.
Iceiceice's Enigma started the game out strong, denying over 30 creeps from flyfly's Spectre. While the game remained relatively even overall, EG managed to secure an early Roshan and started taking over the map.
Thanks to a world class performance from kaka's Lion, IG managed to claw back an advantage by securing pick-offs on Abed's Storm.
In a fashion similar to Game 3, it seemed that flyfly's Spectre had scaled past EG. Even with solid Black Holes from iceiceice, flyfly just would not die.
EG fought till the very end, but the game had slipped out of their grasp. EG were forced to relent after 42 minutes of fighting, and IG completed the reverse-sweep to win the Singapore Major.
While EG finishes out in 2nd place, they still walk away with US$100,000 in prize money and 450 DPC point. However, Arteezy is yet to win a Dota Pro Circuit Major, despite his long and illustrious career.
With Season 1 of the DPC 2021 coming to a close in such a spectacular fashion, we can be excited for more high-caliber Dota 2 action in the upcoming DPC Season 2.