It’s elimination time today, and just like yesterday there’ll be some disappointing exits and sad goodbyes, but there’ll also be excitement and anticipation for the coming days. Let’s get into the upsets, and there are upsets a plenty.
OG came into this tournament looking like the strongest team around, after almost a full year of stability, winning two Valve Majors and adapting to each meta shift with apparent ease. TNC came through the SEA Open Qualifiers #2 and has had no major successes under their belt before this TI Cinderella-esque run. They can bow out gracefully at any point past their victory over Vici_Gaming Reborn yesterday and exceed expectations. In fact, if they were to lose the series and end in 9th/12th place, they would tie the previous best Philipino team placing at an International, which was Mineski back in 2011 at TI1. This best of three had an expected outcome, is what all that means. It had a script. OG was supposed to go through on their Loser’s Bracket barnstorming tour and steal the Aegis of Champions out from under whatever Chinese team made it there.
For game one, Fly drafted a classic OG strat with N0tail on Drow Ranger, Miracle- on Medusa, and Moon on Faceless Void. TNC last picked a Phantom Lancer for Kuku mid, ensuring they had a natural Diffusal Blade carrier to make Miracle-‘s Mana Shield look like wet paper. It was their second hard carry, as Raven was already on Lifestealer, but Sam H was playing Axe which meant that TNC had plenty of room for greed to counter the power spikes from OG. The first half hour of play went in OG’s favour: TNC’s all-out aggression was getting them more kills but less farm, and it appeared the pre-game panel was right in saying OG could handle the assaults. That notion was firmly upended after thirty-one minutes, when TNC brought Kuku’s new Manta Style and Raven’s new Blink Dagger out to a team fight around the Roshan Pit. Five deaths, including the Aegis and two for N0tail, were picked up by the SEA squad who only gave away one on Sam H. It took a total of 54 minutes, but Kuku’s war of attrition on the high ground of OG cost too much too often, and they had to concede after he had secured mega creeps. The final score was 34-14, and the analysts were shocked OG had dropped the first game.
They went on to say that OG should be able to make the adjustments necessary to keep themselves alive, as it was now an elimination match for the European team and they really did have to make some changes. Instead, Fly allowed DeMoN to follow up his first phase Drow Ranger and second phase Dazzle picks with a last pick Huskar, giving the most aggressive team in the tournament, who had just won a huge upset on the back of their aggressive plays, an incredibly aggressive line-up that his team was ill-equipped to counter. Moon was on his comfort pick Dark Seer, and even some brilliant Wall of Replicas couldn’t provide the team fight damage that N0tail’s Tiny and Miracle-‘s Ember Spirit struggled to dish out. Raven had an excellent game on Drow Ranger, and capitalized on the psychological space Kuku made with Huskar to provide the second core in fights, tearing up Cr1t on Io and Fly on Ogre Magi while OG was busy trying to take out the flaming troll. Even with all of that focus, Kuku only died six times over the 59 minutes of play, thanks to DeMoN on Dazzle and Eyyou on Vengeful Spirit making clutch Shallow Graves and Nether Swaps left and right. Ultimately, the absolute man of the match was Sam H on Faceless Void. He didn’t net a single kill and died four times, but his twenty four assists gave him the highest kill participations for his side, and he didn’t miss a single team fight winning Chronosphere all game long. OG had to scramble to stay in the game, and even though they led the final score 31-24, they just couldn’t translate pickoffs and team fight victories into meaningful objectives, and even a lane of barracks didn’t stop the all out pushing power of Drow Ranger-Huskar-Vengeful Spirit from barrelling down mid-lane and throning OG while behind almost 20,000 Gold in net worth. TNC tore up the script they had been given and decided to improvise their new ending, and OG was not ready for what DeMoN et al was capable of. OG leave the tournament in 9th/12th place, probably the best team to be eliminated so early. TNC get to fight for one more day this Thursday, against the winner of DC and LGD.
Speaking of DC and LGD, Digital Chaos has often been mocked for being the second or third best team in the NA Dota scene, and LGD have enough individual skill in their players that they perennially rank among the best in China, a notoriously strong region. LGD, however, had come out of the Group Stage here in the bottom half, while Digital Chaos had pulled some deep level of grit out and placed second in Group B, eventually dropping to the Loser’s Bracket after taking only one game off of the wings gaming, another Chinese team with lots of skill, if not name recognition. LGD was all set up to turn themselves around after scraping out an easy victory over celebrities in the 13th/16th Round, and Digital Chaos, it was said, were showing the weaknesses inherent to American Dota and couldn’t be expected to continue their own expectation-defying run.
The first game was very low scoring, which played into Resolut1on’s plans on Naga Siren. He was more than content to farm up the map and let his illusions push down buildings, while w33 played an out-of-style Quas-Exort Invoker to great effect. Maybe and xiao8 had hard times with Templar Assassin and Batrider, as they struggled to clear out the illusions Resolut1on could spam out, and even though Agressif had a better overall game he was still playing the single-target Lifestealer. LGD had similar Radiance illusion problems yesterday, when Arteezy was pumping them out using Manta Style on Alchemist, and it appears MISERY noticed their weakness. Even with a very comfortable, very in-meta lineup, xiao8’s team couldn’t force the team fights they needed to. Moo used his Nyx Assassin to scout out the majority of rotations and give his cores plenty of time to dodge the battles. After perhaps a frustrating 39 minutes, LGD conceded after the first lane of barracks fell, with only 14-10 on the scoreboard.
Game two should have gone better than it did for Director 8, who picked Maybe a Dragon Knight for the mid-lane and Agressif a Necrophos in the safe lane carry role. Combined with Banana’s Elder Titan for the damage amplifying Natural Order and MMY!’s Disruptor for the crowd control and additional magic damage, as well as xiao8 himself on Beastmaster to add in a zoo of DPS, LGD looked to be set up for a good time. Instead, they spent almost the entire game being outplayed by everyone on Digital Chaos. MISERY’s Bounty Hunter kept his team safe and with plenty of vision and Saksa used Winter Wyvern to drop Winter’s Curse and Cold Embrace in almost every battle to keep his team alive and his opponents hurt. Moo, w33, and Resolut1on played a Timbersaw-Mirana-Gyrocopter deathball of AoE damage that proved to be too much, and the limited reliability and availability of LGD’s control meant they often had to use big team fight ultimates just to save Maybe or Agressif and not get a kill back in return. It was all too much for the Chinese team, who called “GG” at the 56th minute, with the final score at 25-18. LGD had to settle for a 9th/12th place finish, one step ahead of last, and Digital Chaos will play TNC on Thursday to decide whose fairy tale streak gets to continue, and who has to accept they were only surprisingly good.
Tomorrow will have Alliance versus Fnatic and Newbee versus Team Liquid in the second half of the Loser’s Bracket 9th/12th Round, followed by the Winner’s Bracket Semi-Finals with MVP Phoenix playing the wings gaming followed by EHOME versus Evil Geniuses.