When you first start trying to understand Mobas, many people look to kills as a sign of how a game is going. It's a lot like sports: goals, or kills, should give you an idea of how well each team is doing. After all, why else would both League of Legends and Dota 2 put them front and center in their spectator clients?
Unfortunately, kills are not really the best indicator of which team is ahead at any given moment. Gold and map advantage are usually a lot better for that, but those numbers aren't as exciting as kills. Sometimes though, kills can say a lot. Especially when you have 44 of them.
Yeah, that's right. 44 kills.
Dota 2 is a bloodier game than some other Mobas. For one, the ability to buy back your life after dying with gold means dying is slightly less risky. Also, games tend to go on longer, which means more teamfights, which means more death. But 44 kills isn't something that happens often. In fact, it's only happened once.
In 2014, and Cloud9 and Virtus.pro Polar were set to face off in the European and CIS group stage for StarLadder StarSeries Season 11. VP.p had already played two games that day, neither too long by Dota 2 standards. One was a brisk 35-minute affair against xGame, the other was just over an hour and ten minutes against 4 Anchors & Sea Captain. But Cloud9, through either skill or lack thereof, pushed VP.p a lot further than either of the other two teams.
At least for one, unbelievable game.
Cloud9 got off to an insane start. After half an hour, they had taken down every external structure and were ready to take the base. At 36 minutes, after VP.p lost a team fight at Roshan and Jacky "EE" Mao picked up Aegis, one of the casters said that VP.p didn't have the net worth to fight it out. He said "gg should be coming in just a moment."
C9 threw, but more importantly, VP.p persevered. C9 couldn't close it out, and Vp.p kept taking the fight to them. The teams ended up duking it out for just over two hours, with VP.p taking back every advantage C9 took in the first part of the game. Mega creeps spawned for C9 halfway through the game. It didn't matter.
The two teams fought at every chance they could, but VP.p funneled most of their kills onto Ilya "Illidan" Pivcaev and his Anti-Mage. Illidan averaged averaged 0.35 kills a minute, he also broke the record for most last hits in a single game (it has since been broken). Illidan was here to carry his team through the most brutal game they had ever played.
Illidan picked up a record-breaking 44 kills. No one else on his team even got close, with Alexander "DkPhobos" Kucheria's Bremaster bringing up second with 17 kills. The team enabled him, with Lil and Mag picking up 50 assists between them just for setting it up and letting the rest of the team (mostly Illidan) knock it down.
The game felt endless, even for people involved, but Illidan kept picking. His net worth was so crazy by the end of the game, he bought some TP scrolls for Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk, just because. Then he bought him some Sentry Wards. He had so much gold, he didn't know what to do with it anymore. Well, other than keep killing C9, but that didn't take much.
By the time the game ended, C9 was exhausted. The final kill count was 90-65 for VP.p. Again, kills don't tell the whole story. They don't tell you that Illidan was responsible for more than a quarter of all kills in the game. They don't tell you that C9 crushed VP.p for 30 straight minutes before kicking off the hardest throw they could have managed in that situation. They don't tell you that Cloud9 went on to forfeit the rest of their games in the tournament after their epic throw.
It was a record-breaking game, but it also broke Cloud9, and it was all thanks to Illidan, perhaps the hardest working carry in history.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.