posted by Meliora.Infinitum,
The opening day of the Starladder X LAN Finals was full of balls deep action with a few minor setbacks on the side, as teams tested their strength against one another for the better seeding in the playoffs. Take a look inside as we’ve gathered a few key elements of the opening day.

Image courtesy of Starladder

A major setback
The first of the two-day group stages opened up with sad news as ro Pittner "bOne7" Armand the offlaner of world Cloud 9 was diagnosed with kidney stones and sent home to recover.

While they found a replacement close by in ua Andrey "Mag" Chipenko, C9 is now the second team to play the Starladder with one man down (se Alliance being the other). While everyone wishes bOne7 a quick recovery, his sudden illness is definitely a setback for one of the favorites coming into the tournament. You can read the full statement of bOne7’s condition and what happened, here.

Not just 322s
Perhaps the most interesting part of the first day of Starladder X LAN finals was to see the Southeast Asian hope ph Inter Active Philippines bounce back from their quick loss to ua Na’Vi in their opening game. The early game advantage they were able to mount against ru Virtus.Pro carried them through in an entertaining and a quick game against the Russians.

IAP were able to keep the farming Spectre at bay with great rotations from both Rr? and Ewe, not to even mention the stupendously farmed Death Prophet in their back pocket. The thirty-minute extravaganza ended in a triumphant victory for the team that came from a far to challenge the best of the west. While IAP ultimately fell to eu Team Secret in their last match of the day after having the game by the balls early on, they have truly shown that they can take on even the best teams in the world. This bodes well for the team in their future endeavors as they wait for their next match in the playoffs.

Power of Tornado
A total of 10 Eul's Scepters of Divinity were bought in the eight games of the first day of Starladder LAN. Eul's has quickly become the mobility item of choice in the current meta.
Faster than the Road Runner
Teams have begun to value mobility in they drafts more and more as of late and it’s clearly carried over to the first day of the Starladder LAN finals as well. Storm Spirit, Death Prophet, Puck and Timbersaw have all seen their share of play, proving now more than ever that the key to a successful game lies within one’s ability to be at the right place at the right time, and it’s not just the heroes who are being picked that are mobile. Three of the most commonly featured mobility items: Blink, Force Staff & Eul's Scepter of Divinity were the go-to choices of many players in the opening day of Starladder LAN, as at least one of the three was purchased in every single game with a total of 51 purchases in the eight games played today (for the three items combined).

The road onward
Teams begin their second day of the two-day group stage tomorrow at 08:00 CET with everything still wide open in group one, while group two is all but settled with only one game to be played between eu Team Secret and ua Na’Vi. From there on out the teams will be seeded into the playoff bracket based on their group stage results; the top two will move to the Upper Bracket and the bottom two start from the Lower Bracket. Playoffs will be Bo3’s all the way through to the grand finals, which will be played as a best of five.

While us EG looks to be the strongest team to jump into day two alongside eu Team Secret, we’ve yet to see world Cloud 9 play a single game due to the injury of bOne7. It’s hard to see them being the same wrecking ball with one standin, but they will no doubt do their best in their three games back to back tomorrow morning. On the other corner, se Alliance looks to find their first victory as they are the only team who’s still not on the board, being down 0-2 in the group one.

This article was written by fi Teemu Ikonen, joinDOTA's Senior Writer. Meliora.Infinitum got absorbed into Dota during a LAN party between TI and TI2, and has been captivated ever since. Spends his spare time outdoors taking photos and writing a book. Believer of alternate universes, no legs strat and Half Life 3. Location: Espoo, FinlandFollow him on @MelioraInf.