Liquid got off to the best start they've had all tournament in Game 1. Did anyone happen to mention that this team is pretty good in the early game?? They were up nine kills before EG took their first (on KuroKy, not exactly a high value target). The combination of Gh's Io and KuroKy's Tusk were a roaming death machine keeping EG scared, even behind their own towers.
EG picked SumaiL's signature Storm Spirit in their final drafting phase, but Matumbaman's Necrophos (picked last) was a perfect bit of lockdown that allowed Liquid to get a hold EG's slippery midlaner.
As Team Liquid assaulted EG's Tier 2 tower in the midlane, Suma1L tried to focus Io but EG couldn't even get that kill.
They lost their Storm again, quickly followed by their Tier 3 tower and top shrine, Liquid methodical in their aggression.
After finishing off the second shrine, Liquid came back for the barracks. EG tried one more time to get another kill to add to their score, but after failing to do even that (and with a kill score of 24-1), EG called GG.
Liquid picked Enchantress for KuroKy in Game 2 but he didn't have anywhere near the type of impact Liquid's roaming duo had in the first game. This time, it was EG to take an early lead, albeit a less dramatic one this time.
As the game progressed beyond the final minute of the two teams' previous clash, the kill score was relatively even and no team held a significant advantage.
An overcommitment on Arteezy's Ursa in the top lane started to swing the momentum EG's way but Liquid still had a good Radiance timing on MATUMBAMAN's Lone Druid and didn't allow the game to snowball out of control.
The ball finally got rolling when EG took their second Roshan. Liquid had a huge issue cutting through EG in fights, with Living Armor, Vlad's on Ursa and the multiple defensive spells coming from Cr1t-'s Oracle. Theyd get a hero low, then the saves would come in and Liquid would end up losing several heroes and gaining nothing.
Liquid had lost two sets of barracks by the 36 minute mark, were behind by almost 20k net worth and desperately needed a way back into the game. They left their base looking to stop EG's third Rosh, but lost three heroes and EG went straight for the juggular.
Liquid didn't call it until their heroes had respawned and they went for a final hurrah, but the story was the same as before. No one on EG died despite falling incredibly low, and Liquid called GG as EG began to chip down the ancient.
After taking Dark Seer, Treant Protector and Warlock in their first three picks, EG slammed in a Drow Ranger fourth, obviously with a strategy in mind. EG's last pick was yet another new (for this event anyway) hero for Suma1L - Mirana.
GH made moves all around the map early on with his roaming Earthshaker, giving Liquid a huge early edge. He didn't just help his lanes secure kills, but also stacked camps every chace he had. By the ten minute mark, Liquid already held a 4.5k net worth lead.
Liquid very patiently grew their net worth lead, starving out EG by taking out towers one by one with MATUMBAMAN's Lycan off on his own while the rest of Liquid capably held off the rest of EG as four against five. Liquid tried to brute force high ground, but without wanting to commit too many melee heroes to hitting buildings against EG's big ultimates, they needed another strategy.
The team backed off as a unit under smoke, leaving Bristleback on the front line. When Cr1t- went for a deward, he was immediately nuked down and the fight began.
That massive Echo Slam from GH sealed the deal, and with all five heroes brought down, EG knew it was time to concede.
Neither team banned Io in the first phase, and EG snapped it up first, giving it over to zai. The trade-off was allowing Liquid to take Bristleback once again, and giving GH another chance to play his high-impact roaming Earthshaker. MinD_ContRoL also got to play another Dark Seer game.
Liquid's stacking game was on point again, giving them another early net worth lead, though again, not as dramatic as in the previous game. With Treant Protector for Cr1t- again, Liquid needed to commit hard for any tower kill, but with MATUMBAMAN standing alone smacking down towers with his 10k net worth at 20 minutes, there wasn't much EG could do.
Things almost looked over at the 20 minute mark after a dominant fight in EG's base.
Four heroes were down and only Arteezy had buyback, but thanks to short respawn timers all Liquid could take was a Tier 3 tower. EG smoked out of their base looking for the wrap-around on Liquid in the top lane, but Liquid sniffed it out and took another great fight, further cementing their lead.
At the 30 minute mark, Miracle- was diving EG's fountain. He lost his Aegis, but made space for the rest of his team to take a lane of barracks. An all out brawl in EG's base ensued, with heroes dying, respawning and dying again (but buildings being largely ignored). After all of EG's lives and buybacks had been expended, the GG was finally called and it was time for Liquid to celebrate.
With this win, Liquid secure a $250,000 prize and one of the last major-scale championships before The International 2017 qualifiers. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to net them an invite, but they've definitely proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with.
Photo credit: EPICENTER