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Breaking the Habits: Which The International records might be broken at TI12?

The International is the pinnacle of Dota esports — it’s so iconic that even non-Dota fans respect it for the insane prize pools and intense competition. Over the years the required skill level to compete at TI has been pushed higher and higher, it’s been repeatedly said that TI winning teams from a few years ago would struggle to even qualify for TI today. 

With ~1890 matches in total being played at the various Internationals’ over the years (including Wildcards, Groups, and Playoffs, but excluding the Last Chance Regional Qualifiers) there have been some truly chaotic and wild games played. Some of these will always be remembered: TI3 Grand Finals with the “Million Dollar Dream Coil”, the “Call of His Life” Sébastien “Ceb” Debs Axe plays from TI8, “Patience from Zhou / The Play” from TI2 — the list goes on. The records set during these games are also legendary, so we’re going to investigate a few of them and evaluate how likely they will be broken at The International 2023.

The International records: Which ones might be at risk of being broken in October?

Shortest Game

TI4 had one of the strangest formats, and during the Phase Three playoffs DK were up against Cloud9 in a best-of-three. The first game saw Cloud9 holding a substantial advantage, but eventually (after 70 minutes) DK were able to flip the tables and win.

The second game was a much briefer affair as Cloud9, clearly tilted, tapped out at just 11m22s the fastest ever game in TI history (overtaking DK’s 13m46s win over Dignitas from TI3). There’s only been 4 LAN games which have been shorter than this, so this TI record seems VERY SAFE.

Longest Game

TI7’s Group Stage saw Invictus Gaming Vitality (IG.V) meet Team Empire. Coming into their match, Empire were 5-7, and IG.V were 5-5; meaning this matchup could have huge future implications for Upper and Lower Bracket placements for the teams.

Whilst the first game of the match was tightly contested, Empire closed it out in 45 minutes and 31 seconds. The second game of the series (as in the prior category) was the troublemaker — it went on for a whopping 128 minutes and 8 seconds.

Just four pro games ever have lasted longer (including the Cloud9 vs Scaryfacezzz 3 hour fiesta), and just one of those has been on LAN (Quest beating Gaimin Gladiators in the Bali Major, which went on for 136m39s). Extremely long games take just the right conditions to occur, however more recently there have been a few that could’ve gone the distance so this record is PROBABLY SAFE.

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Gold Per Minute

Credit: Valve

You’d be right in thinking that Alchemist is very dominant in this overall TI record category, hogging 19 of the top 20 GPMs ever recorded – including the #1 spot (Marcus “Ace” Christensen’s 1176 GPM for NiP against Fnatic at TI9). Given that Alchemist is only picked or banned in ~5.9% of games so far in 7.34 (and if this rate remains constant we’ll only see ~7 Alchemist picks at TI), this seems like a very safe record.

However, more recently, other heroes (Medusa, Templar Assassin, Terrorblade) have been posting pretty high GPMs. It’s also possible that Alchemist starts trending upwards during TI and with more volume, there are more rolls of the dice to break this record. This puts the record somewhere around PROBABLY SAFE.

Kills

Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan’s 31-kill Tiny game was an instant classic from TI8. It was game 3 of a match vs OG where the winner would advance into the Upper Bracket Finals (and a guaranteed ~$2.7M prize pool) and the lower would have to fight through a few more rounds of the Loser’s Bracket.

OG had a global strategy involving Spectre, Zeus, and Io – and were able to make pickoffs; whilst Evil Geniuses had more of a grand teamfight plan with sustained damage that wanted to fight in a more contained environment. Since OG were playing keepaway as their ultimate’s cooled down, SumaiL had to really be everywhere to make ganks and pickoffs alongside his supports – eventually racking up 31 kills (and 8 assists) before OG overpowered them. In terms of LAN games, only three have had more kills than him (and two tied), so I think this one is VERY SAFE.

Deaths

Credit: Valve

Brayan “Gardick” Cárdenas and Johan “N0tail” Sundstein have both put up 20 death games at The International. When considering non-TI LAN games, there’s been nine player performances with 20-death games; and seven player performances with 21+ death games. Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi appears twice in the 21+ death category, and Solo appears once – both will be at TI12.

Alexey “Solo” Berezinn also had a 21-death game recently during DreamLeague S20 (online) against Team Spirit. Any longish game could see their position five feeding enough to match or break this record, so category is going to be AT RISK.

Building Damage

Credit: ONE Esports, Talon Esports

At TI10, Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon’s Tiny did an absolutely insane 40709 building damage. For context, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev’s Troll Warlord is in second place with 31119, just ~76.4% of 23savage’s record.

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In patches 7.33/7.34 (~2624 games) there’ve been just two close games, both in the 35-36k range. The conditions are too specific for a single hero to get so much building damage by themselves: 

A team being crushed in the laning stage and then a comeback during which one hero does most of the damage 

One hero is inactive or dodging fights to constantly split-push

Tree or Lich are constantly healing buildings and there are prolonged sieges in which the pushing team is able to rack up loads of building damage.

I think this one is VERY SAFE.

Assists

In the longest TI game (IG.V vs Empire), Su “super” Peng managed to get 44 assists on his Oracle. Considering just LAN games, four players have beaten that (Omar “OmaR” Moughrabi’s 49 assists is the overall LAN record) and two of those this year.

Intuitively, you’d expect that certain heroes might seem way more adept at challenging this record category — but the top 50 list is actually quite diverse. Provided that the game length distribution doesn’t change drastically (due to some deathball metagame that evolves) and that there are a few long games – this category could be AT RISK

The Maelk Award

In the early days of competitive Dota 2, Jacob “Maelk” Toft-Andersen went 0/20/21 in a pro match and won – the rule is 0 kills and as many deaths as possible. Nobody has ever tied or broken Maelk’s performance, although syndereN has come close with 19 deaths. When it comes to The International there’ve also been some impressive performances: Andreas “eatenfish” Windahl with 17 deaths (TI1), Steven “StingeR” Vargaswith 16 (TI9), and N0tail with 15 (TI10). Certain heroes are way more suited to this – supports who are either initiators (such as Clockwerk or Batrider), or just naturally susceptible to feeding due to a lack of escape (e.g. Lich, Disruptor, Lion). The overall Maelk Award is VERY SAFE, however eatenfish’s TI Maelk Award record is only PROBABLY SAFE.

Here’s hoping that these, or perhaps some other records are broken during this wonderful, chaotic, and nailbiting few weeks of The International.