Na'vi vs the Alliance: Why This DOTA 2 Rivalry Is One Of The Best in eSports
Na'vi is one of the most storied teams in DOTA history. Winners of the first International tournament, and runners up in the second and third International, Na'vi has always been in the discussion for best DOTA 2 team in the world since the game was in extremely closed beta. With living legends such as Ars Art and LightofHeaven as former members and DOTA prodigies like Dendi on the current roster, Na'vi's history in the short existence of DOTA 2 is already storied and filled with some of the best players the game has known. So it's no wonder that a team like Na'vi is a constant fan favorite, being a DOTA 2 team that has seen the coming and going of dozens of top level DOTA teams and staying strong throughout all of it.
The current Na'vi roster of Xboct, Funn1k, Kuroky, Dendi and captain Puppey
Who could stand against one of the strongest and longest lasting organizations in DOTA 2?
Enter the [A]lliance, a team who seemingly appeared out of nowhere in early 2013 to simply come into the scene with the force of 1000 Sunstrikes. An entirely Swedish team, the Alliance quickly established themselves as a powerhouse by defeating many of the top tier Chinese DOTA 2 teams in the G-1 Champion's League, a tournament that included International attendees DK, Liquid, and Orange. After proving themselves at these early tournaments and generating a lot of attention and hype with their now infamous "boot camp" before TI3, the Alliance lived up to their perceived potential and won the International 3 in convincing fashion.
The [A]lliance from left to right: Loda, Akke, captain s4, EGM, and Admiral Bulldog
It's debatable that Na'vi and the Alliance are the top 2 teams in the world at the moment, and they never fail to take the opportunity to prove this. Constantly playing each other in Grand Finals or Winner's brackets of tournaments, these two powerhouses clash often and their match-ups are always a spectacle to watch. With their sets often going the distance, be it 3 or 5 matches, their play against each other is, in all senses of the phrase, a back and forth slug-fest. Be it for a circuit tournament, or the title of "Best Team in the World" these teams always give it their all against each other.
You'd think after meeting each other so often in such high stakes scenarios, with literally over one million dollars on the line one time, there would be a bitter hatred and rivalry between these two teams, akin to a Hattsfield/McCoy or Yankees/Red Sox blood feud. Even their playstyles, with Na'Vi's classic teamfight compositions vs. Alliance's infamous "rat DOTA" split pushing tactics, the teams are polar opposites and their attitudes toward each other must be abrasive, right?
If you think that, you would be so very, very wrong. The comradeship from these two teams, and the DOTA 2 competitive scene in general, is quite different than what you would expect. Admiral Bulldog himself owes a true debt to Dendi, who gave him the opportunity to play DOTA 2 competitively by having him play as a Na'Vi stand-in after playing with him in some pub games. Additionally, the two players share humorous banter on their Twitters often.
Between their skill levels, the stakes they play for, and the genuine friendship that these two teams appear to share, this rivalry proves to be, at least to me, the best one in all of eSports right now and is a great thing for it. The legitimate sportsmanship that these two teams have toward each other could convince even the most staunch believers of "eSports aren't real" that there may be some merit in the concept of eSports. As time and DOTA 2 itself progresses, it was be interesting, even exciting, to watch these two teams advance their play and for their rivalry to grow.