posted by SohNata,
If you're looking for an action packed series, then look no further than tonight's BO3 in the joinDOTA League playoffs as Team eHug and Sneaky Nyx Assassins had an all out war to earn a semi-final slot against Evil Geniuses. Find out who came out on top inside! The opening match of the joinDOTA league playoffs was certainly a curious one - with us Team eHug eager to pick up some form and make a deep run in the playoffs, taking on us Sneaky Nyx Assassins (Formerly SNA+4, Wild Witch Doctors), spearheaded by the newly picked up us Brian 'FLUFFNSTUFF' Lee after his departure from us Team Liquid, along with another player known for his time with Liquid, us Mike 'ixmike88' Ghannam.

Game 1

The draft brought a big surprise with Sneaky Nyx Assassins opting to pick up the rarely seen Wraith King, being piloted by SNA. After some brief mid-lane dual lane shenanigans, the game settled into a passive rhythm. Six minutes in though, the first blood was claimed by Sneaky Nyx Assassins, after a failed gank by ima_sheep(sux) (Shadow Shaman) and Pandaego (Disruptor) turned sour very quickly, being caught out by a counter-rotation in the midlane. As more heroes reached level six, both teams stepped up the aggression and a big engagement broke out, with ixmike88 (Clockwerk) initiating and grabbing two quick kills, but rotations from the rest of eHug saw him lose his life alongside FluffNStuff (Nyx Assassin) and whiteBeard (Vengeful Spirit), meaning eHug still came out favourably.

ixmike goes on the hunt.

That fight brought the game to life, prompting rotations and pushes across the entire map, while SNA had managed to farm up enough gold for a fourteen minute Radiance. Fifteen minutes in, a great lasso and flamebreak from Cak3z (Batrider) seemed to have eHug in a strong position during a teamfight on the top lane, until SNA rotated in, his radiance and some timely crits prompting a full team wipe. Sneaky Nyx Assassins would overstay their welcome, however, allowing eHug to get several revenge kills - but as they rotated to Roshan, SNA rose to the occasion, jumping into the Rosh pit and performing Grand Theft Aegis, as his team picked up several kills, giving them a strong grip on the game.

ima_sheep finds himself on the wrong side of a chase.

With the score fourteen a piece with both graphs nearing equilibrium at the twenty minute mark - Sneaky Nyx Assassins were beginning to exert their influence. Having taken down all the tier one towers, they made great use of their map control, soon finding three kills and prompting a buy back in eHug's own jungle. Justin (Doom) was finding himself far behind at this stage of the game, with only Jigglebilly (Weaver) able to match the levels and net worth of SNA and USH (Invoker). Sneaky Nyx Assassin's first attempt at high ground, however, would be an unmitigated disaster, as SNA got initiated on with the lasso and his team chased right after him, leading to a full team wipe without making as much as a scratch on the tower.

ixmike hooks up with Justin in the mid lane.

With both teams backing off to farm, the action calmed until the half an hour mark, after eHug made a questionable decision to defend their last Tier 2, with ixmike88 making a clutch use of Mekansm to keep himself and team alive, as eHug were swept up one by one, struggling to land any killing blows with the whole team dying in the process - compounded when Sneaky Nyx Assassins then rotated to Roshan to grab Aegis, with two eHug heroes dying in an ill-fated attempt to contest. Another blow was struck a few minutes later, with eHug being initiated on in their own jungle, once again coming off worse of wear, with Jigglebilly making a very costly die-back that had no impact on the fight. Sneaky Nyx Assassins couldn't break high ground from that initial fight, but it wouldn't be too long after that eHug would call gg.

Game 2

Game Two started off at a brisk pace, in which eHug were able to grab a speedy first blood on ixmike88 (Centaur Warrunner), although Sneaky Nyx Assassins struck back on top lane to kill off Cak3z under a well-timed stun combo from Fluff (Sand King) and SNA (Mirana) not just once, but twice. Seven minutes in, a crucial double kill went down as Pandaego (Dazzle) got caught on the wrong side of the river, finding himself easy food for USH (Templar Assassin), who then polished off Justin (Ember Spirit) who had tried to help his team mate.

Cak3z gets triple stunned up

The game began to open itself up, with both teams making small pushes on towers, with no massive team-fights taking place, although FluffNStuff did trade his life to kill two heroes in a well placed epicenter. eHug were soon able to take hold of the game, however. After Sneaky Nyx Assassins took an aegis, an immediate smoke gank attempt went south, as they lost three heroes in quick succession for just ima_sheep (sux) (Shadow Shaman), finding life difficult under the combination of Amplify Damage and Weave. Both teams transitioned into playing objective Dota after that point, taking down towers methodically, although Sneaky Nyx Assassins were being more efficient and getting more towers down, knowing that their late game would struggle against that of eHug. They then found their opening to take charge of the game. As eHug pushed the top tier two tower, SNA popped the moonlight shadow, giving his team perfect positioning to pick off eHug one by one, with them unable to put up a team fight at all, with Jigglebilly (Slardar) the only one to survive. Roshan fell to Sneaky Nyx Assassins soon after, as they suddenly found themselves 20k xp and 3k gold ahead.

Jigglebilly perfectly times his BKB usage

Thirty minutes in, eHug found themselves caught off guard yet again, this time in their own jungle, losing Jigglebilly very early, with Justin unable to carry the extra burden as eHug were routed again, with a tier three tower and barracks falling in the midst. However, Sneaky Nyx Assassins stuck around until eHug respawned and began the chase, including a stunning sequence when USH perfectly timed his BKB usage to dodge Slithereen Crush, with Jigglebilly then doing the same to break Magic Missile. The two teams converged on the spot with eHug coming out on top this time, stemming the bleeding from the earlier exchanges. This was all the impetus they needed and they soon were pushing highground, with Cak3z comboing off his Vacuum and Wall to devastating effect, catching four heroes with it. This allowed eHug to take mid racks as a result and Sneaky Nyx Assassins were unable to defend effectively with no buybacks, allowing eHug to rotate around the base, take another T3 tower and melee racks along with Roshan. It didn't take too much longer for the gg call to be made.

Game 3

Sneaky Nyx Assassins went back to their successful Wraith King pick from the first game, again placing it under SNA's control. The game took a passive slant to begin with, taking six minutes before Whitebeard grabbing first blood on Pandaego (Rubick) as he stacked up some ancients. It wasn't until twelve minutes in that the first team fight broke out, with Sneaky Nyx Assassins coming off much worse for wear, as ima_sheep (sux) caught most of them in the Ice Blast, allowing his team-mates to burst down three heroes and take the early momentum in the game. However, one item changed the game - it would be USH getting his Radiance up, meaning he was a now split pushing machine and providing a great boon in an exchange at the midlane, in which both Jigglebilly (Luna) and Justin (Alchemist) were sent back to the fountain.

Justin finds himself in an unwelcome position

That took us up to twenty minutes, with eHug still holding a slender lead, aided by some careless deaths from Sneaky Nyx Assassins. However, they lost a big chunk of that advantage when they tried to push the highground a little too early, finding themselves trapped in a mix of a great impale by Fluff (Nyx Assassin) and Song of the Siren, meaning eHug were outpositioned in the fight, losing four in the exchange. They'd lose another four soon after, again after taking a big teamfight in an inopportune location, fighting under a tower and only finding themselves able to break USH's Aegis in exchange for another big loss, with Sneaky Nyx Assassins now well in the ascendancy.

The eclipse gets dropped in a massive team fight.

It felt like the final nail in the coffin might have been a fight on the thirty six minute mark in a titanic turning battle, with most of Sneaky Nyx Assassins limping away on low health, but a key cogs by ixmike midway through locked both Jigglebilly and Justin in place, letting everybody hammer down on them, with eHug again losing most of their team for very little return, losing a set of racks and Roshan soon after. With things looking increasingly bleak, eHug made one last defense, but all they could manage was killing SNA, whose reincarnation rendered the effort moot as eHug fell apart, conceding and allowing Sneaky Nyx Assassins passage through to the next round against us Evil Geniuses on April 9th.