China’s Wings Gaming defeated Digital Chaos in a 3-1 series to become The International 2016 champions.
This tournament will be remembered as one of the most upset-filled events in eSports, with one of the biggest underdogs making it to the grand final. No one expected to see Digital Chaos in the final but they managed to pull off an incredible tournament run.
The European-American roster impressed during the group stage, where they placed second, and earned a spot in the upper bracket. But in their first match at the main event they faced Wings and were knocked down to the lower bracket. After that they made an amazing run with five straight wins on their path to the grand final. As a result Digital Chaos played the most games of all teams in the entire tournament. Their achievement culminated in 2-1 victory against TI5 champions Evil Geniuses. And just one hour after their match with EG, Digital Chaos entered the stage alongside Wings to battle for the grand total prize of $9.1 million dollars.
Their opponents, Wings Gaming, were considered as one of the top teams this year, but were unable to keep up a stable level of performance. They went from winning ESL One Manila to finishing last at the Manila Major, and then winning The Summit 5. But during TI6 their run was almost perfect. After a somewhat rocky group stage they showed little to no difficulty in completely dismantling their opponents in the upper bracket. Wings defeated teams like Digital Chaos, MVP Phoenix, and Evil Geniuses, and then once again faced Digital Chaos in the grand finals.
The first game of the series showed that the two teams had come prepared for their opponents. Wings picked a niche strategy with Pudge and Silencer, while Digital Chaos countered with a mid-lane Skywrath mage. The teams fought constantly, but Digital Chaos seemed to have the upper hand and emerged victorious in the first game of the series.
Similar situation occurred in their previous encounter in the upper bracket. Wings’ Pudge pick had almost zero effect and allowed the game go to the Digital Chaos’ side. Apart from games where Wings experimented with their drafts, no teams were able to withstand them, and this was what we saw happen in the grand finals.
Wings seemed to always find a right draft in their next games. Thanks to incredible coordination and positioning in team fights, the Chinese team was always one step ahead of Digital Chaos. While the North American’s didn’t simply roll over in the remaining games, they were unable to find an answer for Wings. It was all over in game four.
Heading into the event, not many predicted that Wings will win the grand finals. It would have been the reasonable call to name OG or Team Liquid as most likely winners, given their good results this year. But thanks to their incredible playstyle Wings Gaming became The International 6 champions and took home a total of $9.1 million dollars.
With $20,770,460 on the line, this year’s The International marked the biggest prize pool in the history of eSports.