posted by kipspul,
The Starladder LAN finals might have started with weather-related delays and set-up hiccups, but once it got rolling things got heated fast. Evil Geniuses is already done for today, having won both their matches in convincing fashion. Natus Vincere is down two after a loss against EG one against and an impressively sharp-looking Fnatic.
Over in Group B the action has only just started. On paper the matchup of Virtus.Pro* and Team Secret, both direct Major invitees, looked like it was going to be a good watch. In practice it turned out to be a showstopper.
New meta, new heroes, new lanes
Since neither team had played since the start of 6.86, this match saw both field new and unexpected heroes. Virtus.Pro went with an offlane dual lane Faceless Void + Lina and safelaned their Nyx Assassin. Secret answered by dusting off LAN mainstay hero Naga Siren and giving Johan 'pieliedie' Åström the opportunity to show his Earth Spirit skills.
A classic push-vs-lategame line-up.
The central matchup of the game was the midlane clash between Omar 'w33haa' Aliwi's Zeus and Sergey 'God' Bragin's Death Prophet. W33 was at a disadvantage after getting firstblooded at the bounty rune, and his Russian opponent took control of the lane. Secret's line-up was already more suited to lategame. The rocky earlygame cemented their decision--they were going to go late or go home. Jacky 'EternaLEnVy' Mao finished his radiance in 20 minutes and on the offlane, Rasmus 'MiSeRy' Fillipsen's Dark Seer opted to go for a Hand of Midas.
The G Factor
This decision meant that they had to let the Death Prophet run rampant for now, however. And G is not the kind of player to say no to such an offer. VP pushed on the back of his ultimates, decimating Secret's towers with ease, and allowing G to finish a 30-minute Octarine Core.
While the game had been tough for Secret before, they were now in a real danger of straight-up losing their base. Their mid barracks were demolished during two back-to-back Exorcism pushes.
It's an understatement to say that Death Prophet doesn't die easily.
Still, the clock was ticking for VP. Secret's Naga Siren had finished an Octarine Core of her own, and now VP's uphill pushes became an arduous excercise in illusion-clearing. All of their heroes, except maybe for their underfarmed Faceless Void, had hit the peak of their power. Secret was still gearing up.
The Russian squad pushed top rax next, once more relying on the Death Prophet ultimate. But they chose a bad time: Naga had just finished her Manta Style, and they had to push into more illusions and Zeus lightning spam than ever. Secret, sensing VP's weakness, struck. The clash lasted for nearly five minutes, but by the end Secret had killed all of VP's heroes (some of them twice) and kept their buildings alive.
If you're VP, you're not happy with how this one shaped up to be. Credit goes to Dotabuff Plus.
The Hour Grows Late
VP geared back up for their next assault, but their potential was now limited. They went all-in on their next push, forcing a buyback on the Zeus and Naga but diebacking on the Death Prophet in return. There was simply not enough damage to force Secret to their knees. Now Secret went on the offensive, taking down VP's barracks in the middle. At 60 minutes, the game was even in both networth and buildings.
Secret had prepared for this moment in the match for the entire game. VP had been trying not to get there. Nonetheless the Russians killed Roshan, taking Aegis and Cheese, and throwing themselves against the Secret base again like waves against a cliff. And like waves they failed to make the rocks fall. Secret repelled them and 5 minutes later went for an unstoppable push of their own. They had played the patience game and won.
A special mention here goes to PieLieDie, who died only once during the entire game. He managed to get the highest assists of his team too, getting involved in 21 of the 34 kills.