2016 is almost over, and we here at The Meta are celebrating by paying tribute to the teams, players and vague concepts that made it worthwhile. Our MVP awards will be ongoing throughout the holiday season, so check in now and then to see who and what we decided to shower with praise.
Going into the Boston Major as an American, I wasn’t quite sure which team I was cheering for. It’s a common dilemma for NA observers, who were given the options of the classic TI5 champs Evil Geniuses, TI6 runner-up and mixed-nationality squad Digital Chaos, and Canadian anime meme dream team NP. Typically, when the NA teams have duked it out and narrowed down who will represent their region, the crowd finally assigns their chants.
But even once a single NA team emerged, Ad Finem, the underdog Greek squad, persuaded me to ditch my patriotic hype for a few days and root against DC. AF took the series and moved into the Grand Finals, which included what is regarded as one of the greatest games of Dota 2 ever played.
Even with player reaction cams lodged above the screens and cameras ready around the venue, it was nearly impossible for the production crew to capture every moment that their charisma created. Upon AF’s exit from the round of 16, team captain Giorgos “SsaSpartan” Giannakopoulos literally did a handstand after exiting his booth. The crowd replicated the classic action flick 300’s “aou” battle chants. In their Grand Finals in-booth group warm-up,they slammed the desks and shouted in unison to amp each other up.
Their combined charisma followed them into the battle, where their control over their opponents were terrifying and their teamfight combos unprecedented. In their first semifinal game, they unexpectedly brought in Enigma and utilized his Black Hole ult for a series of grand teamfights and gank turnarounds (not to discount their brilliant setups with Nyx and Lifestealer).
In the course of one event, Ad Finem gave the Dota 2 community a new story to tell: the underdogs from an underrepresented nation, with a grand show of brotherhood, hard work, adrenaline, and a unifying chant.