Just like that, a historic Dota 2 event was written in Bali: the most dominant Dota 2 team ever completed all the DPC Majors. No one did it before, and it’s very unlikely that anyone else will be able to do it.

Gaimin Gladiators took Team Liquid down in the Grand Finals of a Dota 2 Major again. And for the third time in a row, they took the championship away from Liquid. That’s Lima, Berlin, and Bali down for the books—a grand slam that will go down in history as the most dominant performance by a team in one DPC Season.

Gaimin Gladiators looked as dominant as they were in the two Major Grand Finals of the season. After a 3-0 sweep in Lima and a dominant 3-1 in Berlin, they proceed to outwit, outdraft, and outplay Team Liquid in Bali. 

Meanwhile, the Filipino stalwarts Blacklist Rivalry’s debut on the Majors as a team garnered a lot of hope not only for the Philippines, but for SEA. Together with Bleed Esports, both teams became the last two SEA teams standing in the group stage, and both had to endure a long Tiebreaker, too. Blacklist Rivalry was ever so close to making their own history, too, as they were literally one win away from being the first PH team to get to the playoffs this DPC Season.

The Bali Group Stage: A long road for Blacklist Rivalry

After four grueling days of Group Stages for the Bali Major, the Filipinos were in it for another heartbreak. Execration has just been confirmed to not have any chances to get into the playoffs, while Blacklist Rivalry and Bleed Esports were on a do-or-die scenario of a must-win series.

Blacklist Rivalry were facing Invictus Gaming in Day 5 of the group stages, with literally only viable outcome: they have to win 2-0 against iG, and anything less will mean the end of their Bali Major campaign. In true PH-telenovela fashion, Blacklist Rivalry faced titanic odds in Game 1, being down by as much as 49k net worth–yet still managed to snatch the victory against iG courtesy of heroics from each of the members of Blacklist. This is now the biggest comeback in the history of professional Dota 2.

Yet they weren’t easily safe. Even after scoring a comeback against iG in Game 1, they still need to win Game 2 to force a tiebreaker against Shopify Rebellion. However, it felt like Blacklist Rivalry have already broken the resolve of iG, decisively winning in a short 39-minute one-sided game to end the series 2-0, and prolong their stay at the Bali Major.

It was definitely a difficult road for the PH-based team, as they had to face veterans in the form of Shopify Rebellion. It went down the wire in games 1 and 2, where both teams scored a victory off of each other. Come Game 3, the storyline was clear: it will only be Abed or four other Pinoy players who will secure the playoff slot. 

Every Pinoy Dota 2 fan tuned in, as the last remaining PH-based team settled the draft for Game 3 with their late-game-heavy composition. Then again, it was still Shopify Rebellion that reigned supreme in the end, focusing on the early game and snowballing out of control. Blacklist Rivalry threw in the towel after just 34 minutes, and that concluded their Bali Major run.

Gaimin Gladiators’ dominant path to creating Dota 2 history

On the other side of the Major, where Gaimin Gladiators were just too dominant, it really felt like a cruise. Yes, they probably were the team that really felt the “leisure” vibe that Ayana Estate in Bali brought to the Dota 2 world.

GG Started in the Upper Bracket, passing through both Beastcoast and Quest Esports with a 2-1 record, then eventually faced the current TI champs in the UB Finals. Surprisingly, that Upper Bracket final seemed to be the easiest of GG’s series wins, as they 2-0d Tundra in back-to-back one-sided victories to claim their Grand Finals slot once again.

There definitely were patterns in what Gaimin did that made them successful: banning out the key heroes of Team Liquid in all of their Grand Finals meetings. In Lima, it was the Broodmother. In Berlin, it was the Medusa. This time, in the illusion-spell-dominated metagame, Gaimin just simply banned out Morphling each game and then Timbersaw in the last few games to secure their Grand Finals slot. Their heroes looked as Gaimin-esque as they could be, and there’s a common agreement by the fans in general about the gladiators: they’ve figured out Dota 2 in many ways than one, and they’ve figured out how to play with each other so well that they can finish each other’s sentences.

GG also showcased their mastery of the metagame in the competition, and the entirety of the Grand Finals. DyrachYO proved to be the true star of the competition, winning with Terrorblade, Medusa, and Slark in a convincing manner in the grand finals—yet it was the overall tempo of Gaimin Gladiators that allowed their carry to be comfortable in each game. There wasn’t any game where DyrachYO had to struggle, and there wasn’t any game (even from their game’s loss) where a win condition wasn’t within arm’s reach. 

The last game of the series proved to be the evidence of the mastery of Gaimin Gladiators in different phases of the game. During the Drafting Phase, they’ve forced Liquid in a tight spot, clearly getting the better heroes in the end and prompting Liquid to draft the Lone Druid. In the early game, where Team Liquid’s win condition relied heavily, GG had allocated enough efforts to win their lanes and establish a good farming zone for the Medusa. 

Eventually, the mid game was seemingly puppeteered by Gaimin Gladiators, forcing Team Liquid in teamfights that were unfavorable for their tempo-reliant composition around the Lone Druid. To top it all off, Gaimin Gladiators made sure that they constantly took out the Spirit Bear almost all the time, and this really messed up Liquid’s plans.

Gaimin Gladiators, as a result, secured their 5th Dota 2 championship this year, and their third Major chip in the entirety of the DPC. This feat is unprecedented, and very much unlikely to be repeated in the next few years. Gaimin has figured out Dota 2 and made it their own world, and we’re just livin’ in it.