The Rise of Indian Dota

Vignesh Raghuram

18o, Oct, 2016
The Indian Dota 2 scene paints quite an interesting picture. Although we are presumed to have the lowest average solo mmr in the world, our Esports scene is one of the fastest developing niche scenes in the world. Tournaments such as the SEA Kappa Season 2 and ROG Masters have started organising Indian qualifiers. Meanwhile closer to home, there has been an increase in the number of premier Indian LAN tournaments such as the ESL India Premiership and Mountain Dew India’s Dew Arena 2016.

With the rise of stellar teams like Beyond Infinity and Invisible Wings, we have left our mark in several International tournaments. Both teams have now consolidated into one powerful Entity and if all goes as envisioned Indian Esports may well be on its way toward international glory.

Let’s have a look at the past, present and future of tournaments from an Indian Dota 2 perspective.

The Rise of Beyond Infinity

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The year started off with a couple of well organised Indian tournaments,The Kaolin Cup and the ND2C. Both tournaments were highly competitive and the teams were very even, save one - ‘Beyond Infinity’. This team absolutely demolished their opponents  on the back of Swifty’s middle lane prowess coupled with No_Chance’s masterful strategies executed with near perfect team chemistry.

They cruised to victory over Team Piece of Cake in the ND2C followed by a 3-0 annihilation of Svaha (Invisible Wings) in the finals of the Kaolin Cup meant that Beyond Infinity had established themselves as the best Dota 2 team in the country and had given themselves enough momentum for the upcoming international tournaments.

The Joindota League Asia Season 9 was the first international tournament of the year for Beyond Infinity. They put in a stellar performance against G7 to grab a 2-0 Victory to progress in the upper brackets before facing Indonesian powerhouse Rex Regum Qeon. RRQ claimed a comfortable 2-0 victory versus Beyond Infinity thus sending them into the lower brackets where they managed to beat G1 (1-0). Their run was eventually cut short by none other than G7 – the team they 2-0’d in the upper brackets thus giving the latter some sweet revenge.

Post this, Beyond Infinity participated in the BTS Southeast Asia #4 Open Qualifier for a chance to qualify for the main tournament. Alas, they were eliminated by SEA superstar DDZ’s squad Power Gaming
Fun Fact: DDZ has, by far, the highest mmr in Sea. However, he is banned from participating in Valve tournaments due to a betting scandal.

In Feb / March, BI participated in and qualified through the SEA Open Qualifiers of ESL One Manila. This was the tournament which put Beyond Infinity’s name on the map as they were now set to go toe to toe versus the very best teams that South East Asia had to offer. Their journey looked promising after a 2-0 victory versus Wu Jie however their next opponent was to be none other than Fnatic.

Fnatic was arguably the best SEA team at that time and Beyond Infinity put on quite the fight. But in the end, the Malaysians were just too damn good. None the less, this was a much needed feather in the cap of Indian Dota. After all they had now earned the respect of Team Fnatic and the Reddit community.
Team Fnatic with a goodwill gesture: "Hey BI, Keep Going! Hope to see you more in tournaments. Love fnatic."

None of the Indian teams had much of a good showing in the Manila Major Open Qualifiers with BI losing to TNC Pro Team in the 1st open Qualifiers and Da Teletubbies in the 2nd. Invisible Wings crashed and burned versus Extremist Dota.

The ESL India Premiership :

May 6th was shaping up to be just a normal day for the Indian Dota 2 community but when ESL dropped this bomb; games were paused, team meetings were called, reddit threads were created and monitors were broken ; Hype was unleashed upon the Indian Dota 2 community. A ?42 Lakh prize pool for an Indian esports tournament was unheard of!

The announcement of the ESL India premiership has changed the face of Indian gaming. Pro gaming in the country is now one step closer to being a viable career option in the eyes of many.

Beyond Infinity hit their peak

Havoked, a Pune LAN with a ?50,000 prizepool organized by Mag Gaming saw both the tournament favorites Beyond Infinity and Invisible Wings go up against each other in the finals. Once again Beyond Infinity had bested their brethren 2-0, but the games were not as one-sided as the score line may depict. Invisible Wings put on a splendid performance courtesy Crowley’s sick Tiny and Queen of Pain as they went down fighting the good fight versus Beyond Infinity.
After Havoked, Beyond Infinity and Invisible wings both began boot camping for the upcoming TI Open Qualifiers and their efforts were clearly noticeable as both BI and IW put in solid performances as Indian teams in a Valve event. Beyond Infinity in particular were in the form of their lives as they stormed to the finals of the 2nd Open Qualifiers where they lost to TNC pro team – a squad that eventually went all the way to The International 2016 Main Event.
TNC eventually finished 7th to 8th  in TI6 beating out the likes of OG and VG reborn in the LB before being eliminated by Digital Chaos.

The performances of Beyond Infinity in the Open qualifiers got them invited to tournaments such as Sea Kappa Invitiational Season 2 and Mr. Cat Invitational.

Beyond Infinity surpassed all expectations in the Sea Kappa Invitational season 2. They stormed their way to the winner’s bracket finals while annihilating teams like Mineski, Rave and Signature trust in back to back games. They met their match in Orange.Taring who after a grueling series beat them 2-0. Rave beat Beyond Infinity 1-0 in a match that had no significance since the top 3 teams would battle it out against Fnatic in the playoffs. Fnatic 2-0’d BI in the playoffs eliminating them from the competition. Beyond Infinity placed a respectable 3rd to 4th position in this tournament.

BI’s Mettle Tested at a LAN

The 1st Challenger Cup on the road to ESL Masters India had arrivedwith two of India’s premier teams - Beyond Infinity and Invisible Wings aiming to cement their place in the ESL India Premiership Masters. Although the other teams in the event played extremely well (Aggressive 5 in particular), BI and IW stood head and shoulders above the rest and it came as no surprise that these two teams made it to the finals, a butt clenching series where both BlizzarD and Crowley shined. The series ended 2-1 in favor of BI who took home a cool ?1,50,000. Aggressive 5 finished in 3rd place joining BI and IW in qualifying for the Masters.
Beyond Infinity with their ESL Challenger cup #1 trophy

Decline of Beyond Infinity and a new Era in Indian Dota.

After what seemed like the form of their lives, Beyond Infinity suddenly started dropping game after game in the Mr.Cat Invitational and Mineski Pro-Gaming League Season 8. They finished dead last in both the tournaments while losing to the likes of Signature.Trust, s1 Lykos and G1- teams that they had beaten with ease in previous tournaments.
They seemed to have found their mojo with a 2nd place finish in the group stages of the Pro Dota Cup SEA Season 1. This eupohoria was short lived as they proceeded to lose 2-0 to Orange.taring in the winner bracket round 1 and were soon after eliminated from the competition courtesy RRQ.

Post TI6, the Fall shuffle was upon us. ZeDisBuGG announced his retirement and all eyes were on Beyond Infinity to announce the addition of a new support as his replacement. But to everyone’s astonishment Beyond Infinity and Invisible Wings had merged their squads to become Entity Esports - a team that holds a lot of potential for international success.

Skepticism was ripe about whether they will gel together as an all-star team or fall apart like Team Secret 4.0 (Rtz, EE, Universe, etc). All those doubts vanished when Entity Esports played in the ProDotA Cup Southeast Asia #2. They finished 3nd in their group behind The Mongolz and RRQ before being eliminated by Power Gaming in the lower bracket.

Both BI and IW were set to play two last LANs before uniting under the banner of Entity Esports. The first was the Taiwan Excellence Gaming Cup. The Finals was once again between the yin and yang of Indian Dota - BI vs IW. This time Invisible wings prevailed 2-1 over Beyond Infinity with Crowley’s spectacular performances in the Mid lane giving them the edge. 

Fun fact, Crowley is yet to lose a single edition of the TE Gaming Cup!

September gave us the Dew Arena Dota 2 tournament - an Indian Lan like none other with the finale happening at ‘The Kingdom of Dreams’, Gurgaon.

It was the last time we would see Beyond Infinity and Invisible Wings as separate squads. Both teams would meet in the finals after handily defeating Aggressive 5 and Roar Esports in the semifinals. Once again, Invisible wings clinched the finals with a 2-1 victory over Beyond Infinity.
As October rolled in, The ROG masters Rest of Asia Qualifiers had begun, And Entity Esports dominated from start to end with Crowley somehow ending up with an absolutely ridiculous KDA of 31.5. Also 3 of the top 4 most successful players of the tournament as of now are from Entity Esports. Alongside them, Aggressive 5 has also qualified for the LAN after putting on a display of dominance versus Dare2Dream in their final game.

The Future of Indian Dota 2

IeSC – The Indian Esports Championship 2016, a ?20,00,000 tournament which began earlier in September and will run throughout October culminating in a three day LAN final to be held in Mumbai this November. Ground Zero (the LAN phase of IeSC) is expected to include other festivities like a cosplay competition and entertainment activities for players, fans and attendees alike. With Entity Esports choosing to not participate in IESC because of their ROG MASTERS commitments, The race for the IeSC title is wide open for teams like Roar Esports, Serene Chaos, Dare2Dream, Oram Po and Surekh Gaming all of whom should be eager for a LAN win.
Indian Esports Championship being promoted by the crew of ‘Pink’
The ESL India Premiership Challenger Cup #2, is also set to take place alongside IeSC with Team Exthious, Oram Po, Roar Esports and Team MYM already securing their places for the tournament. Four slots are still open, two of which can be claimed via the ongoing Starter Cup #6. The top 4 teams will go on to take part in ESL India Premiership Masters.
And finally we move towards the ROG Masters Main Event – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A major LAN organized by Republic of Gamers with a $150,000 prize pool is a very exciting prospect for India as it is the first time ever that two Indian teams, Aggressive 5 and Entity Esports are attending an Overseas LAN. With Entity Esports displaying good form in the ProDota Cup #3, and with many SEA powerhouses like Fnatic and Execration still in their rebuilding phase, it might not be too much of a stretch to imagine a top 3 finish for one of the Indian squads at the main event!

Closing Thoughts

With extremely successful Indian LANS such as ESL India Premiership Challenger Cups, Dew Arena, Taiwan Excellence Gaming Cup and the Indian Esports Championship we have truly shown that we have the potential to nurture a reliable yet competitive indigenous Esports scene.

We have come a long way from this point last year when the best Indian teams were tier 3 at best. We have breached the 7k mmr mark thanks to No_Chanc3. We finished 2nd in the most competitive SEA Open Qualifiers till date, losing only to TNC – a team that took down TI6 favourites OG to go on and place among the top eight Dota 2 teams in the WORLD!

Beyond Infinity has shown us that our potential is indeed infinite (pun fully intended). With BI and IW now banding together to form Entity Esports our future is bright. I for one am looking forward to a great performance from both Indian teams at the ROG masters and at many more such events to come!