Image by Valve on Flickr
Only three teams remain as TI 7 leads into its final day. Liquid made it to the top 3 in a tournament that has been dominated by Chinese teams, who will end the tournament with 4 out of the top 6 spots. Newbee has a chance to become TI's first two-time champions. Dota fans saw their hero, Dendi, fall to a bot. And Valve introduced two new heroes, Sylph and a Zorro Pangolin.
After dropping 0-2 against VP, LGD continued to look like a TI contender, as they cruised through opponent after opponent in the lower bracket. Their match against IG was no different. They dispatched IG also with a 2-0 sweep, in less than 50 minutes of in-game time.
LGD seals game 1 in 19 minutes
Facing elimination in game 2, iG mixed things up by swapping Q and BoBoka’s roles. Nyx was one of the most successful heroes during the group stages (79.5% win rate), but he has fallen flat on the main stage. LGD’s Bounty Hunter pick was pivotal in disrupting the farm of iG’s Alchemist in the early and mid game, while iG, with the far more aggressive lineup, failed to find ganks with their Infest Naix+Puck/Nyx combo.
LGD’s draft had far more synergy. AA and ES alone were able to repeatedly pick off heroes on the map. Meanwhile, Ame’s Anti-Mage farmed his way to carry LGD the rest of the way.
LGD went through their growing pains after getting swept by VP. In the post-game interview, they talked about how they were too focused on countering their opponents. Now, they’re playing “just to have fun” as their most important directive. They also happen to be winning in the process.
Super, usually on more objective-based mid heroes, finds his chance to tear through Newbee
In this Upper Bracket finals of China’s final two teams, the winner would secure themselves at least a $4 million dollar purse. With Newbee still in the conversation, it would also bring them one step closer to becoming TI’s first two-time champions.
Newbee, with their last pick, brought out the first Axe of the main stage, adding onto a draft that was already a nightmare for iG’s Weaver pick.
While Newbee drafted for the lanes, LFY drafted for the team fight, and that was the course of the game. Newbee dominated the lanes, shutting down Weaver, and helping Sccc’s Sniper net an early kill on Super’s Medusa.
LFY managed to stabilize and began to start taking over the mid game. Super’s Medusa became a tank, with the double evasion from Butterfly and Solar Crest. But their snowball came to an end with just two ill-advised fights. Whether it was posturing or just sheer confidence, both Inflame’s Nightstalker and Ahfu’s Earthshaker walked into their own, easily avoidable deaths while trying to chase Newbee. It happened again, just minutes later, while trying to fight against Newbee’s high ground advantage at their own shrine.
Newbee continued the rest of the series riding on the back of their Bloodseeker and Earth Spirit first phase picks, and in game 3, rounded their draft again with Axe. Because of Axe’s decline in the meta, he’s been rarely picked, even if he’s a solid counter to Dazzle’s Shallow Grave. But in this situation, he was essential in countering both Dazzle and Bristleback, and kpii’s late game Blademail contributed to several kills against Monet’s farmed Morphling.
Newbee dominated the early game, but LFY looked like they still had a window to come back, as Monet’s Morphling had enough space to his shotgun items. That window closed when LFY lost a Roshan fight at 30 minutes, with Newbee wiping out their team.
Both Liquid and LGD came into this series with the unflinching confidence of OpenAI’s Dota Bot, who just before destroyed Dendi in a 1v1 Shadow Fiend matchup (to be fair, the bot had also defeated Sumail, Arteezy, and Pajkatt). Reportedly, the next step for OpenAI’s team is to create bots that play 5v5.
Some early lane shuffling favored LGD in game 1, but it was only because they were trying to dodge a disadvantageous PA lane. They didn’t support Maybe’s Mirana enough in the early to mid game, who was getting pressured by a duo Morphling+Lich lane. Then Ame’s PA spent nearly two minutes dead, by dying two consecutive times to Matumbaman’s Reaper’s Scythe.
eLeVeN had a strong start on his Magnus, but was either never able to land a solid RP, or his team wasn’t able to capitalize on it. Gh was instantaneous with his counter-initiations, and eventually Miracle’s Morphling became too strong to be answered.
It also didn’t help that Team Liquid could just detonate any hero at will, with Morphling’s shotgun build and Matumbaman’s Dagon and Scythe. LGD may have picked what they were comfortable with and what was fun, but they drafted themselves into a corner with the last pick PA, who couldn’t do anything against Liquid’s lineup.
Liquid went full cheese in game 2, with a lineup that included a Huskar and Dazzle duo, and a last-pick Broodmother; the thinking being to pressure LGD in a must-win, elimination game.
Matumbaman cruised to a 9 minute Desolator on his Broodmother. And though he rotated and was more active in teamfights than the typical Brood player, he was still able to push objectives, eventually sneaking in an entire mid lane of barracks while his team threw their heroes into LGD.
LGD was more outplayed than outdrafted. They lost three heroes in three different occasions—Maybe once and Victoria twice—in the exact same spot on their side of the jungle. They all just haphazardly walked up the same hill.
Tomorrow, Team Liquid will face LFY in the lower bracket finals of TI7.