The handshake on stage after the final whistle
The first bo3 of the Starladder i-League finals saw 3rd place of group A Evil Geniuses play 2nd place of Group B Vega Squadron. Both had finished the groupstage with a 3-2 record, and the winner of this first round encounter in the single elimination playoff would progress to play PSG.LGD in the semi-finals. The quarter-final was also the first match to be played infront of a live audience.
Vega start slow, but put up a fight later on
The opening match between Vega and Evil Geniuses was very much about Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev, whose Outworld Devourer was left to his own devices far too long, and Vega paid the price for neglecting him. Likewise Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan's offlane Bat Rider had an easy ride in the opening gaming making space for Saahil 'Universe' Arora's Faceless Void to tidy up the mess.
Krivulya 'Cema' Semion's Tusk was unable to get the ganks required to stop the Evil Geniuses line-up from getting ahead, and as a result Vladimir 'No[o]ne' Minenko's Invoker lost the mid lane. Overall a disappointing start for Vega, with the analyst panel putting the loss down to Mag being stuck on Lone Druid, instead of a more aggressive mid-game hero we are used to seeing him play.
it was not the best opener considering it was the first match inside the stadium, but Vega Squadron pulled themselves together for the second game.
The damage scoreboard at the end of game 1 between Evil Geniuses and Vega
Evil Geniuses expertly keep the split-pushing under control
The second game proved all about the draft, with Vega's line-up focused around split pushing and taking down wandering heroes. Globals from Nature's Prophet and Zeus meant the TI5 winners needed to be cautious, and after a handful of ganks in the first 15 minutes of the game, they quickly realised if they were going to win their second game they needed to play 5-man Dota.
They had the heroes to do so, but it wasn't until 23 minutes in that Evil Geniuses showcased just what their draft was capable of. Infront of their bottom tier 2 tower they synchronised their combos brilliant, with Chronosphere into Death Ward with Magnetise on top decimating Vega Squadron *.
Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev was on Lone Druid for the third time in the competition, and still managed to keep his trademark cheekyness using his Bear to push the lanes. Pavel '9pasha' Khvastunov's Lycan did pose a threat to Evil Geniuses in the mid game, but by the late game they had more than enough fire power to deal with him as four of the five EG players had Aghanim's Sceptre.
Vega did get some hold of the game at 34 minutes after scouting out Evil Geniuses' Roshan attempt courtesy of Thundergod's Wrath, and Saahil 'Universe' Arora's blind time walk over the cliff towards the Dire Secret Shop turned ugly. It was a messy encounter for Evil Geniuses, as Clinton 'Fear' Loomis and Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan both tried to take out Vega's low-hp targets to no avail.
Vega get caught by the combo for the second time
Evil Geniuses lost four players in the process, but in a deja vu several minutes later Evil Geniuses rinsed and repeated the wombo combo that had destroyed Vega earlier in the game, and ironically in almost the exact same place.
It was the end of their attempted comeback, one which had got the home crowd fairly excited, and Evil Geniuses with the power of Arteezy's Bear slowly chipped away at Vega when they found space to do so amidst all the split pushing by Solo's Shadow Shaman and Mag's Nature's Prophet.
The live crowd at the event swarmed to the Evil Geniuses box post-match
Captain of Evil Geniuses ppd was interviewed by birthday boy SirActionSlacks
Post-match Evil Geniuses captain Peter 'ppd' Dager was quizzed about LGD Gaming's performance, with the TI5 winners set to face them in the next round despite ppd commenting on his YouTube channel he wasn't convinced they would do well at the tournament. Ppd said that he was happy LGD Gaming had found their form having gone through quite a bumpy period lately in terms of results.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly which results he was referring to, as LGD Gaming finished 2nd at WCA 2015 and took the first slot of the China Regionals. They also finished top of group A yesterday with a 4-1 record. Just how in shape they are we will soon find out as the pair will meet tomorrow.