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An e-sports underdog story: How an American victory redeemed The International

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This is unprecedented.

You know an e-sports event has made it when a crowd's patriotic chants swell into the tens of thousands. But the bigger surprise at this week's The International, currently the largest annual Dota 2 gaming tournament, was that those cries weren't loudest for the usual e-sports titans like Korea or China. This week, capacity crowds celebrated an American squad.

On Wednesday night of The International 2015’s main event, I was squeezed into the giant Key Arena crowd watching EHOME—a Chinese legacy team—duke it out with Evil Geniuses—the only North American squad ever to crack the top three at this Dota 2 championship. I was surrounded by streamers, team community managers, members of the press, and a few rowdy friends. A Chinese Dota 2 reporter sat beside me, cheering on each EHOME play with heavily accented English expletives.


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