The Group of Death lived up to its lethal moniker as the two frontrunning teams convincingly dispatched their opponents with two 2-0 series. In their series, tournament favourite Team Secret put on an expectedly dominant display against Keen Gaming.
In Game One Secret built an early lead and maintained it through constant advantageous fights which allowed Michał 'Nisha' Jankowski room to farm on his Phantom Assassin. After a particuarly strong teamfight at 21 minutes that resulted in Keen Gaming getting teamwiped, Secret broke the base and instantly went for the throne, securing the win 2 minutes later.
Game Two saw Keen fight back, jumping out to an early kill lead. However Secret played the disadvantage well, keeping the net worth defecit at only 3k. At 21 minutes the momentum shifted, with Yeik Nai 'MidOne' Zheng's 11-2-9 Viper putting in a lot of zoning and damage work in teamfights to propel his team to a huge lead. By the end, Keen Gaming was outplayed in every aspect of the game and had to call the GG at 35 minutes.
Team Liquid also had a commanding series against North American underdogs J.Storm.
Game One was all Liquid from beginning to end. The NA squad was held to only 10 kills in a 25 minute game while Liquid had 25 kills—one kill a for every minute played. While the net worth lead was only 2k for Team Liquid at 19 minutes, they never lost control of the map, and exploded after this point a de facto teamwipe which lead to barracks being taken and ultimately the game.
In Game Two J.Storm fought back, keeping it even for 24 mintues while the teams traded kills. Amer 'Miracle-' Al-Barkawi's Lifestealer was farming this entire time, however, and when his Radiance came online Liquid began pushing relentlessly against a J.Storm that could not stop the onslaught. Less than ten minutes later two lanes of barracks had been destroyed and J.Storm was forced to call GG. Miracle had a deathless second game in the series, finishing 12-0-8.
Good start of group stage with 2-0 against J.Storm! pic.twitter.com/a3Nk0YACOc— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) March 14, 2019
Secret and Liquid are set to play each other at 13:30 local time in Group A's Winners' Match tomorrow.
The second group also featured some intense Dota, especially in the first series where Peter 'ppd' Dager's Ninjas in Pyjamas squared off against Fnatic.
The first game was a 72 minute gauntlet which saw 79 kills and the teams Mega Creep each other. Despite NIP having a 22k net worth lead at 64 minutes, they were unable to take Fnatic's already broken base, thanks in large part to Pyo 'MP' Noa's disgustingly farmed Lone Druid. Fnatic was soon able to counter-barracks them, which lead to a defining fight where NIP made one last effort to take their opponents Ancient, but could not, and soon had to concede the game.
The other two games were far less intense and were also very one-sided toward NIP. Marcus 'Ace' Hoelgaard in particular had strong showings on Phantom Assassin, going 13-0-5 in the second game and 17-1-16 in the third. In both games NIP built a strong lead and played methodically to close the map on Fnatic while Ace farmed. Ultimately the Ninjas overpowered their adversary in both games, getting 32 and 35 minute GG calls respectively.
PSG.LGD's series against Infamous showed just how strong the Chinese side still is. They had an utterly dominant series against their South American opponents, with Wang Chun 'Ame' Yu in particular taking zero prisoners. In Game One PSG.LGD was a well-oiled machine, holding control the entire game and running through Infamous' towers; the match ended at 24 minutes.
Game Two was more of the same. Although it wasn't quite as one-sided as the first game, once Ame's Phantom Lancer purchased Heart of Tarrasque, he was unkillable. The second game ended at 32 minutes. PSG.LGD's stand-in Guo 'Xm' Hongcheng had a very strong showing in both games as well, finishing the second game 10-3-13 on Pugna.
NIP will play PSG.LGD in Group B's Winners' Match tomorrow.
The group featuring Virtus.pro is one many were curious about. Although the Bears have hit a speedbump lately, they were able take their series 2-1 against Forward Gaming.
The first game of the series saw Forward come out strong, holding the lead the entire game because of an outstanding 20-0-7 Timbersaw performance by Yawar 'YawaR' Hassan. They took the match in 36 minutes.
Despite the shaky start, the Bears did not give up, and were able to claw their way back after the loss. Game Two was entirely in the favour of VP as Roman 'RAMZES666' Kushnarev looked very strong on his 14-4-19 Ember Spirit. Game Three was more back and forth, with the teams trading kills and the lead all game; however VP were able to come together as a stronger team in the mid-to-lategame, holding off Forward's attacks and ultimately breaking the midlane and pushing for the win.
In Game One of the Mineski vs. EHOME series the SEA side put on an absolute clinic. The final kill score was 37-7 in favour of the Mineski, and although the game last an almost unbelievable 42 minutes, EHOME was never able to take the lead. Lai Jay 'Ah Jit' Son had a very strong showing with Sven, going 20-0-8, almost three times EHOME's entire kill score.
Game Two looked to be going in the same direction for much of the match. Mineski were on top and even were able to take a tier three base tower. However they could not truly break highground, and Yang 'NeverEnd' Pu's Luna was given enough space to build farm. Despite a few hectic lategame fights, EHOME was able to beat Mineski's networth advantage and quickly destroy their opponents base thanks to Luna's pushing power. The match ended at 43 minutes.
Teamfight goes in our favour and we look to close out the first game! pic.twitter.com/nXf9bZZhwV— Mineski Pro Team (@MineskiProTeam) March 14, 2019
In the deciding match, however, saw Mineski reclaim their dominance. It was a low-kill match, but Mineski's lead was never in doubt. They traded strategic towers and broke the base with a strong pushing lineup, ultimately finishing the game after a won teamfight in 34 minutes.
VP will play Mineski in Group C's Winners' Match tomorrow.
The final group in Stockholm featured two teams with some sizeable expectations on them in Vici Gaming and Evil Geniuses. Both teams, however, were able to finish the day with wins.
Game One of the Vici versus Chaos Esports Club series was chaotic. The teams were constantly fighting with the net worth lead peaking for Chaos at 5k. However, the MVP of the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Zhang 'Paparazi' Chengjun was getting consistent farm on Terrorblade, and at 37 minutes—when he truly entered the fray—Chaos had no answer. And despite a late effort by Chaos which broke Vici's midlane, it was all ultimately not enough. Paparazi and Vici were able to finish the game at 50 minutes.
Game Two was, conversely, a 22 minute beatdown. Vici looked dominant, holding Chaos to only 13 kills. Paparazi again had a strong showing on his 13-1-8 Morphling which helped his team run over Chaos Esports, who had zero response to the surging Chinese side.
#热血铸梦去征服# #VG数据王#— VICI Gaming (@ViCi_Gaming) March 14, 2019
#梦幻联赛S11# 首日#VG DOTA2# 2：0战胜Chaos，明天同一时间将对阵EG和NAVI的胜者，下面为大家带来今日数据——双酱油的胜利
+ Ruazi输出拉满的TB和水人带领团队走向胜利。 pic.twitter.com/WkkmBQactg
EG's series with Natus Vincere was somewhat odd, as EG played notably better in all three matches but still only took a 2-1.
Game One was even for 20 mintues until EG hit another gear and got out of control. A strong performance by Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan on his 15-0-12 Mirana helped galvanize the squad in snowballing over Na'Vi in the lategame, taking all outer towers and the majority of barracks before Na'Vi conceded. Game Two was largely in favour of EG through 32 minutes, save for one problem: Medusa. Na'Vi were able to repel EG's affronts to their base, ultimately getting Idan 'MagicaL' Vardanian's Medusa farmed. Not even Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev's Terrorblade was enough to defeat the Gorgon, and after a lost teamfight, Na'Vi were able to break base and claim the second game.
But even after the comeback, Game Three was back to EG. It was a dominant 23 minute game wherin Na'Vi were only allowed 5 kills. They truly never stood a chance, as EG systematically took fights, then objectives, until they were in the base and Na'Vi simply could not fight back.
EG will play Vici Gaming in Group D's Winners' Match tomorrow.
Who will win in the Team Secret versus Team Liquid showdown?
Photo Credit - DreamHack - Jennika Ojala