posted by SohNata,
jDL hosted another set of games over the weekend and we have you covered for two of the big matches that had implications at both ends of the table, when Fnatic clashed against Power Rangers whilst the in-form Empire battled against Next.Kz. This week was the fifth in this season of the joinDOTA League Europe, meaning we are fast descending into the crucial part of the season where teams really need to put together a strong succession of performances in order to claim those prized spots in the finals, or for some teams to dodge a potential scrap to stay in the top division. Every game counts now, so this weekend we focus on Empire and Fnatic, two teams already sitting in the Top 4 against two teams playing catch-up for a playoff spot, Power Rangers and Next.Kz.

Fnatic fire back against PR to remain unbeaten

Both teams wasted absolutely no time in sparking the game into life, with the opening exchanges starting out slow, but soon turning out to be a complete bloodbath. Power Rangers' initial attempt at first blood turned out poorly for them, using Fissure and Magic Missile to initiate and try and grab a kill on N0tail's Visage, but the tenacious Dane was able to escape with just 30HP - already committed though, PR found themselves near towers and crucially - near Era's Lifestealer, quickly beating down Fng's AA for the first blood. Six minutes in, on the same bottom lane, the fun really began. Kicked off by Era, N0tail and Fly killing Moon in a successful pick off, j4, Fng and chshrct descended upon the Fnatic tri-lane, ending the lives of both N0tail and Fly. This prompted H4nn1, Trixi and Scandal to all join in on the chaos too as a mass brawl broke out for a further five kills, a 3-2 trade in PR's favour.

The first use of Ice Blast a few minutes later caused another mass fight to break out on the same lane, PR grabbing two quick kills on Fly and Era, prompting Fnatic to TP in - but j4 snuck around the tower for a big fissure, prompting PR to overextend a little - and while they got N0tail's Visage down again, they had to trade it for Fng's AA and the Nyx being played by Scandal, standing in for this one. PR had built a slight lead from the exchanges and with another Ice Blast on the same lane a minute or so later they were able to secure a double kill on N0tail and Fly in exchange for chshrcat.

Trixi finds himself in a rough situation.

PR hung around too long after that though, allowing Fnatic to regroup and claim kills on Scandal and Fng as the towers on Top and Bottom got pushed in- however they did manage to deny both to stop further growth in PR's gold lead. However, this did open up time for PR to do some dewarding and ensure that the path was clear for a Roshan attempt, getting the Aegis onto Scandal. 14 minutes in though, PR seized a real stranglehold on the game - using a smoke gank to wrap around in mid, they were able to get the jump on Fnatic, the AA blast doing a ton of work as Fnatic found their heroes falling far too quickly, eventually losing four in exchange for just an Earthshaker.

Undeterred though, they regrouped immediately after all respawning and smoking up themselves to exact a small measure of revenge with some return kills - Nyx Assassin losing both Aegis and his life in particular to stabilise the situation somewhat. PR still had more control over the game however, with Nature's Prophet doing a good job split pushing while his team mates found ganks, Moon using swap whenever the opportunity arose, as the game settled into a much less frenetic pace from the opening exchanges- amazingly, as the game clocked up twenty minutes, Fnatic still hadn't claimed a single tower.

j4 finds himself caught in Telekinesis

Another big engagement went down after a lot of trepidatious movement around the Roshan pit - Nyx Assassin stepped out too far, letting Fnatic grab the kill, Nature's Prophet also falling alongside two of Fnatic's players. That was the cue for Lifestealer to jump in, leading to the death of Earthshaker and Vengeful Spirit, before fng hit a lovely ice-blast to just finish off Invoker, for a 4-4 trade. but crucially, Fnatic were unable to come out clearly ahead Matters got worse soon after, with an attempt to gank Vengeful Spirit going awry, both failing to secure a kill and losing three heroes in exchange for just AA, causing them to fall further behind. Thirty three minutes in saw another victory for PR - a Fnatic smoke gank failing due to an inch perfect blink by j4 to dodge Fnatic's stuns, denying them initiation and allowing PR to turn the situation around.

This would allow them to push down bottom, secure three kills and push into Fnatic's base for a pitched battle with big snowballs, Echo Slams and buybacks aplenty, both sides taking heavy casualties with Fnatic managing to save the racks and force PR back, although they were now 12k down in gold and 7.5k in experience - but they had kept the game alive. Both teams backed off for a little bit, until the forty minute mark, with Fnatic needing a late game Invoker and Lifestealer to claw back a huge comeback win as they found some small ganks and tower kills.

However, they still couldn't take a teamfight - having to let PR claim Roshan. In the aftermath of that however, Nature's Prophet portaled to an Ice-blasted Tusk, finishing him off in the blink of an eye - by the time Fnatic had arrived, PR were not far behind and Fnatic found themselves getting torn apart, with the gg coming soon after.

Game 2

Fnatic turned to their famed combination of Wisp and Tiny for the second game, along with the fearsome end-game brought by Doom and Storm Spirit. PR would be able to get chsrcat back on the Nature's Prophet again though and they also opted for last pick Disruptor, hoping that it could help control the Storm. Fnatic had a rough start to the game - Trixi suffering a mishap in the jungle and dying to a neutral, while N0tail's Wisp rotated and died to Lifestealer for the first blood, although the latter was not in vain with Fnatic getting two kills on j4's Rubick and fng's Disruptor out of the deal.

On the flipside however, PR would find their rotation turning into a horror show, failing to secure a kill on Wisp and causing all of Fnatic to rotate in - Tiny seizing the opportunity and brutalising all heroes in sight, picking up a very early triple kill and enabling both himself and Wisp to take a massive step towards the crucial level six. Doom had already found his though and immediately set about using it to grab a kill on Disruptor, after poor fng's de-warding ended up taking him much longer after three uphill misses in succession.

His misery would be compounded when PR tried to rotate in, but Batrider fireflied straight into Tiny to die instantly with Storm Spirit also taking down the Lifestealer. The deathball was gathering momentum incredibly quickly, Fnatic mercilessly taking PR to task, all before a single relocate had been used and H4nn1's Storm Spirit having barely entered the fray.

YOU'RE DOO- Oh. Hang on.

Now the relocates would begin, with the majority of the map now a very dangerous prospect for PR, finding their jungle an increasingly risky place to farm - PR having no answer to the question 'Where do you farm against Relocate, Storm Spirit and Doom'? The scoreboard read twelve kills in twelve minutes in and PR were increasingly falling behind. Chshrct was desperately trying to split push but was only finding minimal success, H4nn1 doing an excellent job in shutting him down.

One small glimmer of hope was Tiny's unstoppable streak ending after brazenly killing Disruptor under his T2 tower, waiting right under the TP spot to place an Avalanche, although he soon realised he was in too deep and his life was forfeit. Quarter of an hour in, both leads were in Fnatic's favour by a 7,500 margin with no intention of letting them slip, transitioning into the easiest Roshan of their lives before smoothly relocating onto Nature's Prophet to kill him in less than a second within the confines of his own jungle, scouted out by a well placed ward from N0tail. The ganks kept coming, with little recourse from the Belorussians against the increasing tide of aggression.

Tiny now had the Aganhim's to melt down towers while PR found some nice ganks on Storm Spirit - however while it was good to really put the hammer down on H4nn1, it did nothing to shut down Fnatic as a whole - just before reaching 20 minutes, the gold lead was 14,000 and it was very soon after that the end would come, as PR tried to get a kill on Doom - Wisp and Tiny were too fast at the controls and made their way in, smashing through everybody as if they weren't there, leaving almost everybody dead. Fng had seen enough already and conceded the game, meaning PR and Fnatic would split the series - a result you feel is more welcome for the former than the latter.

Final Score: Power Rangers 1-1 Fnatic

Empire take top spot after brushing Next aside

Next aimed for something a bit different to what we've seen in 6.80, with rare appearances for Beastmaster and Morphling. Empire would go for a more tried and tested set of heroes, including the Dazzle that they hold a 7-0 record with, although they didn't get the start they wanted, Dazzle giving up first blood in an unusual dual mid-lane where he was paired with Luna, against the opposing dual of Lion and Beastmaster, the series of stuns and nukes proving tough to stand up against. eQual got that kill and found himself involved in the early exchanges, picking up the next two kills in the game before diving a little bit too far and finding himself glimpsed back to an inevitable demise around seven minutes in. The rotations started coming thick and fast with no team really appearing to have the better of things amid Roars and Lassos, but eQual's failed pick off on Luna soon lead to another death, to start building a small advantage for Empire.

Quarter of an hour in though, Empire really broke the game open, getting the best of an exchange in mid after putting a quick death for the Lion, with Next turning to fight just ahead of Empire's T1 mid. Despite quickly bursting down the Batrider, this let Luna charge in with Eclipse while Storm Spirit zipped all around the fight, leading to four deaths for the Kazakhs, who also lost their tower and Roshan in the aftermath.

Next are caught in the eye of the storm.

A beautiful static storm from Alwayswannafly's Disruptor set the scene for another three deaths, despite Mag wasting lasso on an illusion. Empire were now fully in control, having towers, aegis and big leads in both gold and experience. However, the Aegis went down far too easily - Resolution zipped in to try and pick off Reeves on the Lion, but a last second hex allowed the rest of Next to flood in, using the Finger of Death to pop the aegis, then the Roar to set up the secondary kill.

Ending a killing spree and removing the Aegis, it was a needed boost for Next and offered them an opportunity back into the game they weren’t expecting. 20 minutes in and both teams were having an extended skirmish around the Tier Two tower, with Empire able to force Next away to their own high ground, soon allowing Mag to use his lasso on Topor's Morphling, bursting him down in very short order. Twenty four minutes in though, a smoke gank for Next would go disastrously, losing four heroes for no return - Lion got off a good initiation on Silent's Luna, but it seemed Next were unaware of the rest of Empire being nearby and found themselves massacred, particularly with most of them caught under another good Static Storm by Alwayswannafly. That would result in a lane of racks before Empire stormed straight into the base to wipe Next with ease again, for the gg call on 25:45.

Game 2

Next got off to a better start in this game, Reeves' Vengeful Spirit and eQual on the Timbersaw combining to take down Resolution down for first blood in Mid with the Magnus unable to survive, despite a good skewer attempt to try and get a return kill before dying. However, the action soon kicked off in elsewhere, Mantis being caught out in the jungle, with Reeves and amaz1ng's Shadow Demon also finding themselves taking a trip back to the fountain, in exchange for just an Ancient Apparition.

Throughout this though, Topor's Luna and Silent's Gyro were getting free-farm, both looking to transition into the mid and late game with plenty of beef for team-fights. The game was poised quite evenly at that point, but Empire showed more impetus to take control of things, finding three pick offs in succession on key heroes - the highlight being a kill on Mantis' Nature's Prophet - a well placed Vanskor ward around the Dire ancients spotted him alone, letting the AA ultimate find its target just as Mag hookshotted in for a well executed kill. When Next were able to fight back, it was only getting a kill on AA, which was nothing to write home about compared to the kills they'd lost on their Nature's Prophet and Timbersaw.

Next's trap is sprung, but doesn't go to plan.

Eighteen minutes in, the Roshan pit proved to be fertile ground for Empire - after getting a quick kill on eQual elsewhere, Empire were able to force the Kazakhs back toward the ancient stack, with Luna taking a death under the effects of an Ice Blast and Shadow Demon unable to get away in time, allowing Gyrocopter to pick up the Aegis alongside a freshly bought Black King Bar. Next decided to mix up their strategy and try to push- Prophet and Timbersaw did grab a bottom tower, although Empire were quick to send heroes in to make them pay with their lives. Luna did rotate in to mop up Clockwerk however, to make it an evenish trade.

Alwayswannafly was proving a massive nuisance to Next, his ultimates setting up easy kills for his team-mates, often on the mark, even from long distance. However, the game spectacularly imploded to a sudden conclusion 23 minutes in. Next tried to lay a trap down the middle lane, hiding in the woods next to the Roshan pit and bursting out as Empire ran past. Unfortunately for them however, the activated BKB on Gyrocopter saw him barely scratched as he mowed down everybody in sight to get a double kill as Magnus used Reverse Polarity on the stragglers to leave four dead in total. Next called it there, knowing the situation was irretrievable. Empire move to top position in the league with a very strong 8-2 record after rattling off four straight victories.

Final Score: Team Empire 2-0 Next.Kz


That wasn't the only action this week, as two games took place on the Friday - Empire (8-0) picking up another 2-0 victory, this time against Power Rangers (4-6). Cloud9 (7-1) had continued their impressive season too, as they swept to a win over Virtus Pro (3-7) and currently sit in second place. There was also some action in the Asian Premier Division as Orange (6-0) and Scythe (7-1) both took a big step toward a finals position with wins over Rex Regum Quon (0-8) and MiTH-Trust (5-3) respectively. tRICKED (8-2) took a big win in Europe 2.1, beating second placed your_family (6-4) and another team taking a big step towards the playoffs to try and make the Premier Division were The Retry (8-2) who dispatched Central of Fear (4-6). Away from the battlefield though, it's great to see ticket sales have now doubled the prize pool for this season - thankyou for your support.