posted by Sun_Tzu,
The playoffs of the DreamHack Inviational kicked off today, with both of the Round-of-6 matches being played, as eu Fnatic took on eu QPad Red Pandas and ru Team Empire faced off with Team Dignitas.

The two winners of these matches will go up against se No Tidehunter and us Team Liquid respectively on the 13th of April, with the NTH match-up starting from 15:00 CEST.

eu Fnatic.EU vs. eu QPAD Red Pandas

With Fnatic picking heavily for the late game against QPandas Alchemists, this opened it up for kr Ryoo 'SeleCT' Kyung Hyun on Bounty Hunter to make the jungling of Batrider an absolute hell. With Lone Druid also getting absolutely zoned out by QPandas trilane, the early game just spiraled out of Fnatic's control. However, as QPandas chose not to press their advantage, they allowed Fnatic to claw their way back into the game, until they were almost ahead after finding kills on Alchemist. However, great Disruptions from se Hampus 'Mini' Olsson and later on superb Orchid Malevolence reactions from nl Wehsing 'SingSing' Yuen eventually shut down the ability of de Kai 'H4nn1' Hanbueckers on Batrider to initiate, and even a Divine Rapier for Fnatic's Gyrocopter is unable to get them back into the game, as se Niklas 'wagamama' Högström farms his team into a victory in game 1.

In the second game, feeling merciful, QPandas decide to allow Fnatic to pick up both Wisp and Chaos Knight. With H4nn1 taking up Storm Spirit as well and farming freely on the safelane, the amount of initiation coming out of Fnatic and the ability to take fights just overwhelms QPandas, who end up admitting defeit after 16 minutes, with Fnatic 27-5 in the lead on kills and se Adrian 'Era' Kryeziu going 7/3/10.

Fnatic seem to surprise QPandas with a Lifestealer, Keeper of the Light and Earthshaker offensive trilane, which ends up disrupting the farm on wagamama's Faceless Void fairly hard, as his Lich and Nyx Assassin friends just aren't able to do much. Meanwhile, dk Johan 'n0tail' Sundstein on Night Stalker absolutely destroys everything in sight, and after a bit of a weaker than expected start, fi Kalle 'Trixi' Saarinen sets himself up as the supreme farmer on the map, as Fnatic end up winning all three lanes and taking a convincing game 3.

Fnatic.EU defeat QPAD Red Pandas 2-1 and move on to face No Tidehunter in the semi-finals.

ru Team Empire vs. us Team Dignitas

Dignitas has had a tendency recently to be very greedy, but against the highly aggressive Empire, this was just asking to be punished. With an offensive trilane around ru Vladislav 'blowyourbarin' Morozyuk on Naga Siren, Empire were able to shut down Gyrocopter completely, and with ru Roman 'Scandal' Sadotenkov on Dark Seer destroying Templar Assassin in mid, Empire took a firm control of the game. The main concern ended up being that while aggressive, Empire occasionally took questionable fights, giving up some kills, delaying their push and allowing Nature's Prophet, who went for a Maelstrom, to get fairly fat. But forced to buy back several times, Dignitas comeback was halted, and once blow started getting his tanky items, he was able to stay alive long enough for Scandal to win the fights, giving Empire the lead in the series.

A surprising aggressive lane from Empire with Storm Spirit and Keeper of the Light, but this time Dignitas predicts it, putting Tiny and Wisp on their offlane, forcing Clockwerk to rotate up top to support Scandals Gyrocopter. With dominating plays coming out of us JingJun 'Sneyking' Wu on Queen of Pain and us Saahil 'Universe' Arora on Nature's Prophet always being there to turn around fight, early skirmishes went consistently the way of Dignitas. However, once Scandal got up his Black King Bar, he was able to turn fights and even score some big wins for Empire, but the more he fought the lower the duration of the magic immunity got, and eventually Dignitas were simply able to wait him out, which allowed Dignitas to take the second game of the series.

Empire once more ran a offensive trilane, which was able to completely shut down Luna's farm, however good reactions by Dignitas allowed them to win early skirmishes. What at first seemed like a win for Empire turned out to be more of a bait, as it allowed Universe on Dark Seer to take the lead in terms of farm, backed up by Nature's Prophet and some very impressive plays by stand-in from us Fnatic.NA, us Arif 'MojoStormStout' Anwar on Brewmaster. Even with the absence of Sneyking, Dignitas were able to take over the mid game and eliminate Empire, who had no late game fall back.

Dignitas defeat Empire 2-1 and will continue to face their North American rivals Team Liquid.

Semi-Finals coming up

eu Fnatic.EU vs. se No Tidehunter

As we all remember from StarLadder 5, this is a close one. By my account, these two should be considered the two strongest teams in Europe right now, with NTH having a slight general advantage, but as se Jonathan 'Loda' Berg has pointed out, some teams are stronger against others, and relatively Fnatic is stronger against NTH than they are against some other teams. If Fnatic were at their peak condition, I might give them a slight advantage in this match-up, but as is, all I can say is that we are likely to get a full three games out of this series.

us Team Liquid vs. us Team Dignitas

These two teams know each other very well, not just because they are the two strongest of the North American scene right now, but because they recently played a total of six games against each other during the D2L playoffs, going 3-3. However, Liquid improved their performance over time, which is why I would give them the advantage in this match-up. The crucial thing is whether Liquid can stop themselves from taking poor engagements, and whether Dignitas can change up their play a bit, as their greedy lineups with junglers are unlikely to go unpunished against such a familiar foe.

Schedule and Grid

Saturday, 13th April

14:30 CEST - Pre-game show
15:00 CEST - se No TideHunter vs. eu Fnatic
18:00 CEST - us Team Liquid vs. us Team Dignitas
21:00 CEST - Final