StarLadder 5 Finals, Day 2 - One falls, one finalist decided

posted by Blue_Knight,
Day two of the StarLadder Season 5 LAN Finals has just come to an end; the all-or-nothing, last chance Lower Bracket match between eu Fnatic.EU and ru Team Empire claimed the first victim of the Finals, with the Upper Bracket clash between ru Virtus.Pro and se No Tidehunter saw the first of Sunday's Grand Finalists decided. Read on for the recaps.

eu Fnatic.EU vs. ru Empire

Lower Bracket Final

Game 1

With five rarely picked heroes - Earthshaker, Warlock, Juggernaut, Treant Protector and Shadow Shaman - all featuring in the arguably unusual draft, Game 1 in this do-or-die encounter promised to be an interesting contest.

The early phase of the game was characterised by both teams looking to take the initiative without either getting much accomplished; blows were traded back and forth without many serious wounds being inflicted, mainly thanks to the nature of the line-ups. dk Johan 'n0tail' Sundstein’s Puck proved to be too elusive for ru Ivan 'Vigoss' Shinkarev to capitalise on with his Batrider’s Sticky Napalm stacks in the middle lane; fi Kalle 'Trixi' Saarinen managed to sustain himself with his highly unusual hard lane Warlock versus a three hero setup; and captain ua Artur 'Goblak' Kostenko regularly proved to be a lifesaver for his team and himself with the global reach of his Treant Protector’s Living Armor. Only seven kills were claimed in the first 15 minutes, but Fnatic were the ones edging it in the farming stakes.

However, it was only a few minutes later when things quickly escalated, with Fnatic using the synergy and sheer burst damage of their heroes crowd control abilities to claim a full team wipe of their Russian opponents as they gathered up to take down the middle Tier 1 tower. With such a big advantage gained and with the positional advantage of being on the Dire side in conjunction with map control, the European mix then moved to slay Roshan and take the Aegis of the Immortal for se Adrian 'Era' Kryeziu's burgeoning Gyrocopter.

Further fights between the two teams didn’t go so well for Empire, and they were the victims of another complete team wipe as they tried to defend their bottom Tier 2 tower at only 24 minutes into the game. Goblak made the ‘GG’ call there and then, with his team soundly outgunned by Fnatic by a kill score of 5 to 19.

Game 2

A more conventional choice of heroes were on display in the second game, and Empire managed to secure themselves a very early first blood on the top lane against n0tail’s Puck to give ru Vladislav Morozyuk 'blowyourbrain' an even easier time to farm on his Sven. Fnatic struggled on the middle lane especially, with Trixi’s Storm having no hope before he could reach level 6 versus the power of Vigoss’s signature Queen of Pain coupled with the backup of Scandal’s teleporting Nature’s Prophet. Fnatic managed to secure a few kills in return with il Tal 'Fly' Aizik on Leshrac and de Kai 'H4nn1' Hanbueckers on Earthshaker roaming the map, and even though was Era farming all the while on his Gyrocopter once again, it was the Empire squad that had the most gold and experience overall.

With the Russians controlling the map and the pace of the game with their superior mobility, and having taken out all of their opponents Tier 1 towers early on, it was they who moved to take Roshan first in the 17th minute, completely uncontested.

Empire continued to roam the map without truly being challenged, and they couldn’t resist helping themselves to the bonus gold of the Radiant’s stacked ancient creeps camp, originally meant for Era. However, Fnatic decided to engage them there despite being too late to defend the stack, and were caught by surprise when the Russians turned on them with completed Black King Bars on both Sven and Queen of Pain to help them net an easy four kills and move even further into the lead. All hope seemed lost for Fnatic

The first barracks fell after Empire slowly but surely split pushed across all the lanes, and when Fnatic pounced to pick off Scandal’s Nature’s Prophet on the top lane, the rest of his team used his death as a diversion to make the breakthrough on the bottom lane, and rack up a few more kills and the middle Tier 3 tower too.

Empire never let up on the pressure after that, despite Fnatic’s attempts to defend even when all hope seemed lost. In a familiarly desperate move, Fnatic went all-in the purchase of a Divine Rapier on Era’s Gyrocopter, but even that damage output from that paled in comparison to the raw power of blowyourbrain’s fully farmed Sven. With the middle barracks destroyed, the top soon to fall as well and most of their team dead, Fnatic conceded defeat in the 36th minute.

Game 3

Fnatic sprung another surprise with Outworld Destroyer Devourer as their final pick and giving him to Trixi to take to the hard lane alone, where he would once again face Vigoss’ Queen of Pain and actually managed to take the first blood on him too. This setup meant Scandal got to go back to his preferred solo middle role on his signature Templar Assassin, with a 3 against 3 battle on the top lane.

While Empire focused more on grouping up and trying to gank and push in the early game, Fnatic’s n0tail on Nature’s Prophet and more strangely Trixi on the hard lane Outworld Devourer, who rarely came under pressure, both found themselves with plenty of room to farm. Despite their attempts though, Empire only found a few kills thanks to Fnatic’s good defensive play, and the laning phase ended with the game finely balanced in all regards; 6 kills for Empire and 5 for Fnatic.

However, when the Russians attempted to contest Fnatic at the Roshan pit in the 18th minute, a huge team fight broke out, and it was quickly decided by the European’s crowd control and burst damage abilities. Empire suffered a disastrous four deaths with for only one kill in return, and Trixi claimed the Aegis. A more even fight occurred three minutes later as Fnatic took Empire’s middle Tier 1 tower, with 2 kills and the Aegis traded for 3, but Fnatic continued to increase their gold and experience advantage.

Shortly before Roshan revived, Empire took Fnatic’s bottom Tier 2 tower down after a misplay from H4nn1 saw him use his new Blink Dagger to jump backwards and waste his Echo Slam on nothing. However, that didn’t stop him and his team from mercilessly hunting down most of Empire in their own jungle before taking Roshan for themselves again after half an hour of play.

But Empire wouldn’t give in, and Fnatic became overconfident as they tried to push the Radiant’s bottom Tier 2 tower; the Russian’s fought back, taking the better trade in the fight and forcing Trixi to waste his Aegis too. And only a few minutes later, both teams hid themselves with Smoke of Deceit and went on the hunt for one another, unknowingly circling each other in the bottom half of the map until encountering each other in the Radiant jungle and almost wiping each other out in an epic 4 for 4 trade.

Things became even more fraught as n0tail began to split push, pressuring Empire’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 towers, and yet another Aegis and the Cheese went to his team in the 41st minute, as well as more kills as Empire valiantly tried and fail to contest it. After a few more pick offs, the crucial one came in the 46th minute as blowyourbrain was ganked without gold spare to buy back his life, and without his Gyrocopter, Empire couldn’t defend as Fnatic marched into their base and quickly decimated everything in sight just before the 50 minute mark.

Empire are the first to exit the finals and finish in 4th place, Fnatic advance to the next round.

ru Virtus.Pro vs. se No Tidehunter

Upper Bracket Final

Game 1

Virtus.Pro went straight for the jugular from the outset of the game by using a Smoke of Deceit to rush their whole team into enemy territory and attack the No Tidehunter squad from behind in their own jungle. se Jonathan 'Loda' Berg’s Chaos Knight was the first and only victim of the pre-creep spawn skirmish, but his team quickly secured a kill return on ru Oleg 'tmw Kolesnichenko's Brewmaster in the first minute on the middle lane.

A further fight took place on top lane in only a few minutes later when ru Sergey ARS-ART Revin on Nyx Assassin and ru Ilya 'Illidan' Pevcaev on Gyrocopter attempted to kill se Henrik 'AdmirialBulldog' Ahnberg, and they would have too if not for some quick thinking from the Swede to cut through some trees with a Tango and split his opponents with Power Cogs. Loda then arrived on the scene with an early but timely use of a Town Portal Scroll, and his roaming support duo of se Joakim 'Akke' Akterhall's Leshrac and se Jerry 'EGM Lundkvist's Wisp soon followed up to secure No Tidehunter two kills on the Nyx and Gyrocopter. Loda and his supports would from then on stay on the top lane to create and get the better of a 3 versus 3 situation against Virtus.Pro, with AdmirialBulldog switching to the bottom lane to face off against Lone Druid.

As the action packed game progressed, No Tidehunter’s gold and experience lead was becoming increasingly clear as they made the best trades fight after fight, including reversing a 5 man gank by the Russians on se Gustav 's4' Magnusson’s namesake hero (that would be Magnus!) to completely wipe the Virtus.Pro team in the 20th minute. 3 minutes later, No Tidehunter scored another 4 kills for themselves for only the loss of their Leshrac when they caught Virtus.Pro from behind as they attempted to push the Swedes top tower.

After then bringing down Roshan and taking the Aegis for Loda, No Tidehunter went down the top lane, anhilating everything in their path, taking the Tier 3 tower and barracks, and forcing the ‘GG’ call from Virtus.Pro captain ru Yaroslav 'NS' Kuznetsov in the 28th minute, with the final kill count being 8 to a whopping 30.

Game 2

No Tidehunter managed to draft the dreaded Phantom Lancer and Keeper of the Light combo for Loda and Akke in the second game, and with Nyx Assassin for EGM as a bonus, the trio pushed down the Dire bottom Tier 1 tower inside 4 minutes, while almost completely denying ua Sergey 'KSi' Kuzin’s Lone Druid any experience points and killing his unfortunate Spirit Bear twice in the same time frame. First blood came at around the same time when EGM dived a little too deep into Virtus.Pro territory, but with the Russians securing only another 4 kills and the Swedes none for the next 8 minutes, game two was a much more patient clash compared to the first.

No Tidehunter finally got on the score board with 3 kills, all on tmw’s Storm Spirit, before the 17th minute, and by this point the so-called “Cancer Lancer” was beginning to become to a truly fearsome prospect with an early Diffusal Blade allowing Loda to split push and pressure Virtus.Pro’s lanes. The scenario continued for another 10 minutes and the Russians took Roshan and the Aegis for their carry Gyrocopter, but there were no skirmishes of any note between the teams until Virtus.Pro took the No Tiderhunter’s bottom Tier 2 tower, with ARS-ART expertly utilising Bane’s spells to shut Loda out of the fight and get him killed before he truly had a chance to fight.

The Swedes held on however, and came out on top of each of the next three big clashes by larger margins each time, even though it meant forfeiting the second Roshan and Aegis to Virtus.Pro. With Loda’s Lancer reaching levels of farm far beyond anyone else, the first breakthrough went No Tidehunter’s way as the took Virtus. Pro’s middle melee barracks in the 36th minute. With 8000 gold in his pocket after that, the purchase of a full Butterfly for the Phantom Lancer seemed to signal defeat for the Russians, and with practically everything being used to bring him down once, another four barracks fell to leave Virtus.Pro teetering on the brink of defeat. When Loda revived, all it took was one more fight for his team to destroy the last barracks and to finally take the game in the 44th minute.

No Tidehunter advance to the Grand Final; Virtus.Pro to face Fnatic in the Consolation Final tomorrow, scheduled for 19:00 CET.