posted by SuperCletis,
us Zephyr vs. kr 5inQ pitted Americans vs. Koreans this weekend in the NSL Season 3 Lower Bracket Match. After being knocked down to lower bracket after a 3-2 defeat by EoT Hammer, victory over 5inQ would qualify Zephyr for the Grand Finals.

Game One

Game one had Zephyr on the Radiant side, with the home team taking up the Dire side. Both teams went passive early in the game, and neither side lost a single hero until over seven minutes into the match. That first death would eventually happen in the top lane, with Zephyr taking first blood and a bonus 2nd kill shortly after the 7-minue mark. 5inQ quickly responded by ganking Blitz's Timbersaw in the mid lane.

From that point on, the action picked up often with Blitz's Timbersaw especially energized and in top form, becoming a key cog in helping the American side to some early tower kills. This would enable them to transition out of the laning phase much earlier than normal, with both teams prioritizing team fights and movement over farm.

During the picking phase of the game, the Korean side's hero picks--with them not having a single traditional hard carry in their line-up--had foreshadowed an action-filled midgame, and this had definitely come to fruition.

After picking up Orchid on his Nature's Prophet, SexyBamboe was able to get several key pick-offs of QO's normally docile Queen of Pain, and on top of a huge tower, gold and experience lead, Zephyr rode Bamboe's sexy play to a snowball stomp and a game one victory.

Game Two

The drafting stage of Game Two would see Zephyr hope for continued success from Timbersaw. This time, however, SexyBamboe would take the reigns of the tree-chopping hero, with Blitz being assigned to Doom.

Bamboe's Timbersaw headed to the offlane up against QO's Templar Assassin for a 1v1 in the bot lane. The mid-lane was Blitz's Doom vs. Sagun's Slark, and it was in this mid-lane shortly after the 4-minute mark that Sagun captured first blood, taking down Doom before he had the chance to get to level six and skill his ultimate.

5inQ wouldn't let Zephyr snowball to an insurmountable lead this time around. If anything, 5inQ was the slowly accelerating juggernaut. Shortly after the 20 minute mark, with a 9k gold lead in hand, they made an up-hill attempt at Zephyr's dire side top tier 3 tower. The attempt was succesful and they even snagged a kill on Blitz's Doom but not without making sacrifices, with two of their core heroes (Slark and TA) dying in the fight.

Those two deaths on 5inQ's two most crucial heroes seemed to be a turning point for Zephyr, both figuratively and emotionally. In the fifteen minutes that followed, Zephyr would not lose a single team fight, and evened what had once been a 12K+ gold lead. Things were even better for them experience-wise, with them seeing a 10K lead, where there had once been a 10K deficit.

This game had all the see-saw action that was lacking in the first game. Right when it seemed that Zephyr would march right into 5inQ's Radiant-side base, the Koreans mounted a solid defense, taking down 5 heroes (including two kills on Timbersaw) at their top tier 2 tower.

That would be their last succesful stand. When Zephyr revived, they headed south, towards the Radiant Tier 2 that 5inQ still had standing. It quickly fell, with the Asian squad electing to make their stand at the Tier 3 bot. It would be a long stand, lasting close to five minutes, but eventually, 5inQ made a small mistake and the Yankees capitalized, taking the fight and drawing the GG call, and a 2-0 lead.

Game Three

With their first pick Timbersaw in game three, Zephyr hoped to make it three for three on the hero. For the second time in a row, 5inQ changed things up quite a bit with their draft, with four heroes who they hadn't chosen yet in the series (they picked Rubick in the 1st match as well as this one).

In this elimination best of five series, the Korean squad was dynamic in their approach to the picks, while Zephyr seemed to want to make as few game-to-game changes as possible.

Zephyr, playing from the Radiant side, sent a tri-lane bot, going up against Anarchy's Clockwerk. First blood came at the 7 minute and 4 minute marks in games one and two (respectively). In game three, Zephyr grabbed the first kill one second into the match (no, that's not a typo).

The teams settled in for a quiet laning phase, until the 7-minute mark, when they began trading kills for several minutes.

Between Two Towers

QO's Storm and Cynical's Enchantress were the beneficiaries of several of these kills and capitalized on that momentum with a big three for nil team-fight win in between the midlane tier one towers shorly before 12 minutes had elapsed.

Perhaps in part to a sense of overconfidence from these skirmishes, QO seemed to get a little lazy, walking into the river without having vision uphill. The result was that he lost his own life and gave up one of his teammates as well. Less than two minutes later, Zephyr would take a huge teamfight win in this very same location.

Even after all this action in the middle lane, neither of the tier ones had yet been razed. It would take the mighty strength of a single Storm Spirit with a few creeps to take down the Radiant side Tier one mid a few minutes later.

But Zephyr still had failed at taking even a single tower, and they perhaps felt the mid lane tower was indestructable, because they grouped up and headed into the bot lane. Zephyr won the fight that resulted, and took the tier 1 bot, their first of the game. The tower pushed them to a gold/exp lead of 3k/5k (respectively).

With that monkey off their back, they grabbed a free tier one mid, and then won a huge team fight mid--losing three heroes, but taking down the entire five-man squad of 5inQ. Both gold and experience leads would skyrocket after this, and Zephyr rode that momentum to another fairly easy victory. This time, the series was in hand, and they had eliminated 5inQ from this third season of the Nexon Sponsorship League.

Zephyr moves on to the Finals, where they will get a rematch against kr EoT Hammer in a Best-Of-Five series to see who will come out victorious in NSL Season 3.