posted by Oak_,
Starting over 1h30mins late, the Shanghai Major Playoffs very first series was packed with excitement for Team Liquid's fans, as the European squad ended up using one of Alliance's best weapons against them.

Liquid drafted very aggressive push-oriented lineups, including AdmiralBulldog's beloved Nature's Prophet picks, twice in a row. The match was in the first round of the upper-bracket playoffs, and the victory ensured Team Liquid at least a top 6 finish at the Shanghai Major.

Game 1: Matumba's Fuzzy Rage

The series kicked off with a now frequent respect ban of se Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg's Nature's Prophet, which has proven to be a nuisance for every Alliance opponent in this patch. As the draft went on, the Swedes picked an se Jerry 'EGM' Lundkvist offlane Silencer in response to a very spell-intensive 3-4-5 from Liquid made up of a Phoenix, Tusk and Tidehunter.

The game itself starts with a premature first blood in the Radiant Secret Shop, as Bulldog's Lone Druid fell prey to an aggressive uphill charge from Liquid's top rune campers. A few minutes later, se Gustav 's4' Magnusson returns the carry kill as Matumbaman's Ursa shoots for an early Rosh attempt: his infamous QoP ends up chasing the Ursa into the Dire jungle, when se Joakim 'Akke' Akterhall, playing an Enchantress, corners the bear and seals his fate.

With the help of bg Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Borislavov on the Tidehunter, the Ursa finally finds his Roshan kill, but that first Aegis doesn't open up too many teamfight opportunities for Team Liquid. At this point the Swede Squad starts to build a slight lead in both towers and kills, but Liquid catches up with a good team fight in the top lane.

Alliance running and hiding for their lives as Liquid sweep the leftovers

fi Lasse 'Matumbaman' Urpalainen eventually finds himself a second Aegis and that gives them the courage they needed to dive mid and find another favorable engagement, where they manage to get their first S4 kill of the game. In the aftermath, Liquid uses the opening as well as they can and take both mid and bot T2 towers. This puts KuroKy's team clearly ahead for the first time, with a ~4k gold and xp lead 26 minutes in.

A little afterwards, se Alliance finds an important kill on Fata's OD which gifts them with a free t2 mid, but it is not enough to compensate for that 30min-farmed Ursa.

FATA's OD gets caught out of position

33 minutes in, Matumbaman capitalized on a desperate buyback from se Jonathan 'Loda' Berg's Sven during a base siege and kills him again, putting him on the sidelines for a full 100 seconds. That ends up meaning two lanes of rax for Liquid, and they collect up to ten kills in between the razings.

Matumbaman's farm a little over 30mins in

At this point, the Ursa is 11 and 1, has an insane amount of farm and keeps snowballing out of control, much to the despair of EGM, who keeps getting found out of position and quickly decimated by the bear's swipes. 37 minutes in and after yet another 3 kills from ursa S4 is forced to call GG, forfeiting the first game of the series to eu Team Liquid.

Highlights: S4 showing great map awareness and predicting Liquid's movement; Liquid's cohesion and protection of Matumbaman's farm.

Game2: The Turnaround

The Alliance lanes for game 2 were fairly daring, with Loda's Naga as an offlane carry, Bulldog playing a solo safelane Beastmaster and an agressive Enchantress-Naga-Dazzle trilane, probably planing to fish for healbombs with naga's illusions and enchantress' creeps.

Healbomb army gone wrong

This configuration fails right off the bat, as EGM's Dazzle gets quickly FB'd. Not long afterwards, as soon as se Joakim 'Akke' Akterhall leaves the lane for roaming duties, Loda gets ganked and made short work of.

Loda gets whacked by Furion's and Invoker's global presence as soon as Akke leaves lane

Alliance's first kill of the game comes as S4, playing the Batrider, finds himself an invisibility rune and pulls FATA's Invoker uphill towards their mid T1, where both Akke and Bulldog were waiting to finish him off.

It doesn't take long for the Swedish team to realize their aggressive offlane isn't working and rotate their heroes, falling into a more conventional configuration, with Bulldog in the offlane and letting Loda farm top.

The first deciding moment of the game comes after a Matumbaman Reaper's Scythe kill on S4's Batrider, as Liquid finds space for a mid push. de Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi commits the Shadow Shaman ult to raze the T2, after which they begin to slowly siege Alliance's base. Loda's team respond with a well placed Weave into Song of the Siren, but fail to find enough follow-up damage and end up with three dead amongst their ranks, as Liquid take down the tower and one of their barracks.

Scythe kill on S4 creating space for high ground breach

KuroKy's crew keeps moving stacked for another ten minutes or so and eventually take down the remaining mid Barracks. But that's as far as Liquid's push-intensive strategy goes. Right after Loda finds himself a Roshan kill, he counters Kuro's Aghs Mass Serpent Wards with a timely Song, negating their opponents a huge battle advantage. Alliance follows up killing everyone but fi Jesse 'JerAx' Vainikka's Oracle, who only manages to find a single return kill.

Alliance capitalize fully on that moment and completely turn the game around from there. As the Naga's inevitable snowball builds up, bg Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Borislavov starts trying to respond to Alliance pushes with split-counterpushes, but to little avail.

~23k gold swing in favor of Alliance

53 minutes in and after the Swedes pull off a 23k gold swing, Liquid are forced to call GG when their surviving few fall prey to a song deep into their base, which finally makes way for mega creeps to come into play in favor of Alliance.

Highlights: MinD_Control's persistent split-pushing, Loda's farming discipline and songs

Game 3: Liquid does it right this time around

Again, instead of banning Bulldog's Nature Prophet, Team Liquid picks him and the Invoker off the bat, complementing with a greedier carry to cover their bases if the game goes ultra-late again. Alliance responds with repeated Beastmaster and Naga Siren picks as well, but switch to a S4 Puck mid this time around.

Game 3 final draft, with four repeated picks and a different outcome

The game sets off with a few kills here and there for both teams early on, EGM galloping up and down chasing MinD_Control and finding quite a few Prophet kills, including the first blood on top lane.

EGM charges MinD_Control and gives Bulldog a free First Blood

While that slowed Liquid's push a little bit, 13 minutes in Alliance gave away both their T1 and T2 top towers for a Roshan kill. And what was worse for the Swedes, Matumbaman's Anti-mage didn't participate in either initiatives, maximizing his farm elsewhere instead.

Not surprisingly, his Battlefury came online shortly before minute 15, to which Loda responded with a Sacred Relic not 30s later and a full Radiance another two minutes after that.

de Adrian 'Fata' Trinks's Invoker was absolutely on point the whole game, sniping heroes left and right with Sunstrike early on and setting the tempo for teamfights with Tornado and Ice Wall in the later stages, as well as contributing to Liquid's push strategy with Alacrity.

FATA removes two enemies from teamfight before Ice-walling and killing WD

Liquid moves on to repeating their mid game performance from game two, opening a 10k gold lead against their opponents. This time around, Loda's farm is directly matched by Matumbaman's own Anti-mage net worth and ends up unable to control the game long enough to get Song level 3.

As the game progresses, EGM's Spirit Breaker started to fall off and became fodder to Liquid, while Matumbaman and FATA steadily grew in net worth and breached high ground, first from bottom lane, then top. With a single lane of Barracks up in their name and an underfarmed and underleveled team, there was little more Alliance could do to avoid the inevitable.

Highlights: FATA's sunstrikes and overall literally godlike invoker performance

The winners of the series Team Liquid are guaranteed to be in the Top 6, for a minimum prize of USD $202,000, and will play in the Upper Bracket Semifinals against the winner of kr MVP Phoenix* vs cn PSG.LGD. The Alliance, on the other hand, have dropped to the Lower Bracket, and will have to face the dreaded Bo1 match agains the winner from cn EHOME vs us Team Archon*.

  • Oak_


    Francisco "Oak" Carvalho
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