xNova was the real MVP of Dota 2 The International 2022 Playoffs Day 1. The longest-ever Main Stage Dota 2 game was just recorded yesterday, as Royal Never Give Up (RNG) took Entity Gaming to a 107-minute game, a grindy match for a Bo1 Elimination match that capped off the first day of the playoffs. In the midst of that was a man who played without his teammates by his side, playing with stand-in teddy bears with mock headsets and face masks put there to make him feel less alone. In front of all that, xNova stood tall and proud, holding the fort for his team as they engaged in what could be the grindiest pro Dota 2 match ever.

RNG and Entity Gaming faced off in the first round of the lower bracket of the Dota 2 The International 2022 playoffs. The first round is the deadliest – it's an elimination match played in a single-game series. It's a situation where one wrong move can get really costly – you're playing in a game that will take your prize winnings from $250,000 to $340,000. So a mistake would definitely be costly. Understandably, both teams played very passively, taking very little risks as they understand the gravity of their situation. Lose here and you're going to have to grind another year's worth of matches to make it back to the same position you are in now.

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That grindy mindset led to a game where at 90 minutes, there are still level 20 heroes. Roshan was killed eight times in the game, and there are a couple of Divine Rapiers traded back and forth throughout the 107-minute game. In the end, Entity Gaming prevailed. As is customary, the two teams meet at the middle of the main stage to shake hands after the game, but in this situation, it was just xNova who was shaking the hands of the entire Entity Gaming team. His teammates, who have been sick with COVID since the group stages, had to stay at their hotel rooms and play their games there.

I can't imagine what kind of emotions xNova was going through during that time. Losing a game on The International was bad enough, but having to go through that without your team beside you for emotional support must have been very shaking. Thankfully, the crowd was there to cheer on xNova, a room in the Suntec Convention Center full of people who appreciate xNova's valiant effort against a full stack of pros in the Grandest Stage of them all.

xNova says in a tweet:


Ziggy Chavez ·

Franz Christian Irorita ·

“It definitely felt difficult to play alone on the stage today but hearing the crowd shout my name for the first time made me emotional to another level and it’s a feeling I’ll never forget… Thank you everyone for your kind words, your support… I’m grateful beyond words.”

Playing in front of a crowd is definitely a different experience, and this instance is an example of a positive way crowds could affect the pros who are playing some of the best Dota 2 games ever.

With the first day of the Dota 2 The International 2022 Playoffs done, the second day of the playoffs continues today with only twelve of the twenty teams in Singapore remaining. In the upper bracket first round, OG will be taking on Tundra Esports, while Team Liquid faces off against Team Aster. In today's elimination matches, Evil Geniuses will be facing up against beastcoast, while PSG.LGD will face BOOM Esports.