Player photo courtesy of PGL Esport. Background taken from 300 (2006), Zack Snyder.
Choosing an MVP for the Boston major proved to be difficult, with several players (and entire teams) playing out of their minds as they fought for this year's Eaglesong. Despite the standout performances by several players, we decided to choose as our MVP the captain of 2nd placers Ad Finem, the indomitable Giorgos SsaSpartan Giannakopoulos.
Champions of Greece
SsaSpartan first started to stand out when Ad Finem beat out Newbee in the first round of the playoffs. In a fit of excitement, the player cam caught the Greek captain banging on his desk and jumping around the booth after they won what was considered to be an uphill matchup. Since then, the story of Ad Finem grew into the tournament's greatest narrative: that of a mediocre Greek team climbing their way up and winning upset after upset. The best part was that each time, the players of Ad Finem seemed just as surprised as anyone by their victories. Their post-match celebrations were electric, emotional, and genuine.
By the time they were in the finals after defeating one of the tournament favorites in Digital Chaos, the crowd had been swayed by the heroic Ad Finem and both the Wang Theater and several homes streaming the games shook with the sounds of newfound fans chanting "AWOO! AWOO!" for SsaSpartan and his elites.
Many will cite Madara's game-ending godlike streaks and Maybe Next Time's fight-winning plays but behind all the flashy moments is the heart of the team: their captain SsaSpartan. Though in the support position, SsaSpartan played with the heart of a warrior often ending up in the front lines of fights. From his calculated 3-man black holes in game 1 against Digital Chaos, to a clutch Spell Stolen Omnislash in game 3 against OG, SsaSparten proved that he has just as much playmaking ability as Maybe Next Time.
What puts him at the top of our list is not just his mechanics however. The player cam often caught SsaSpartan energetically screaming in the booth, and we must assume that in those moments he was telling his team that they would "dine in hell". When behind, Ad Finem only seemed to get stronger as they fought, retreated, fought, retreated like a trained phalanx, slowly but surely stealing the momentum of the fight. In the epic 70-minute game against OG, Ad Finem fought back from a 10,000 gold deficit TWICE, even getting Mega Creeps off of a genius call to push top while no one in OG had TP scrolls.
SsaSpartan made strong teams suffer, rallied both teammates and crowd behind him, and in the end proved that even gods may bleed by bringing his team to the finals all the way from an undefeated playoffs run in the European qualifiers. When they finally lost to eventual champions OG, it was not without a long and bloody fight.
MVP Runners Up
Of course, we couldn't do without mentioning the other incredible players at the tournament.
Also from Ad Finem, Verros Maybe Next Time Apostolos is the team's Achilles, if Achilles ever played as a position 4. Maybe Next Time had his own mind-blowing Rubick plays, like how in game 1 against Digital Chaos he countered Saksa's Chaotic Offering counter to SsaSpartan's Black Hole with his own stolen Chaotic Offering. He was also the Earthshaker that not only turned consecutive fights around with perfect Fissures and Echo Slams, but also won the entire game by sneaking past the entirety of DC and landing the last hit on their ancient.
Omar Madara Dabachach was also a tournament superstar as Ad Finem's unkillable carry. Unlike many of the other games in the tournament where carrying the game meant an insufferably drawn-out chip-damage seige with Alchemist or Luna illusions, Madara preferred killer cores such as Morphling and even a carry Timbersaw. At the end of each Ad Finem victory, everyone was thinking the same thing: is there even a player that can touch, let along defeat Madara?
Apart from Ad Finem players, the rest of the great plays of the tournament were made by outstanding supports:
Zakari Zfreek Freedman was a major part of CompLexity's pseudo-upset against NA champions Evil Geniuses with his split-second Spell Steals.
Ludwig zai Wåhlberg from Evil Geniuses, also too often underrated, was the perfect support player with a constant global pressure on his ganking Io.
From the champion team OG is Jesse JerAx Vainikka, who reminded everyone at the tournament that he is the original Earth Spirit god, seemingly singlehandedly winning entire teamfights and even outplaying to solo-kill farmed carries.
Ultimately, as the last premier Dota 2 tournament of the year, and the first official Valve tournament of the new Dota 2 season, the Boston Major was an epic stage that saw every team and many players stepping up their game by leaps and bounds. The Dota 2 scene is vibrantly alive, and we are extremely hyped for what the Kiev Major will bring.