RNG stage biggest upset yet
After their disappointing match in the Upper Bracket, Virtus.pro had to make up for that in the Lower Bracket against Royal Never Give Up. The Chinese squad send Alliance home, may be a little bit surprisingly. Therefore, the Russians went into the series as favourites.
Just like the day before, RNG refused to take on the role of the underdogs, though. Despite losing a teamfight after 15 minutes and being completely wiped out, the Chinese found their way back into the game.
When RNG charged for the game-ending attack, Virtus.pro had no buybacks available and could not deflect their enemies. Royal Never Give Up took the 1-0 lead.
The second game painted a similar picture. Virtus.pro had a great start into the game but their early game lead did not translate into a dominant position later on. RNG took the better teamfights once again like in this crucial scene:
The Chinese squad won the fight in the river big time and were able to push the top lane. Du 'Monet' Peng's Faceless Void as well as Zhi Cheng 'LaNm' Zhang's Elder Titan had flawless games, disabling their opponents in the right moments and winning fight after fight. Eventually, VP couldn't keep up with RNG's pace and were eliminated from the tournament.
By defeating Virtus.pro, RNG unexpectedly bested one of TI9's big favourites and the last CIS team in the tournament. Surely, the support from the crowd gave their confidence an extra boost. After the game, the team was celebrated by a delighted Chinese audience and gave us a pretaste of what it will be like, should a home team take the Aegis.
Team Liquid take their revenge
In the last match of the day, another tournament favourite was bound to go home. While Team Liquid entered the event as favourites, TNC Predator have become a dark horse with the potential to best even the top teams.
What was more, both teams met in the group stage and back then TNC had the upper hand – and to be frank the series was not even that close as Timothy 'Tims' Randrup read his opponents like a book.
The South-East Asian team went into the series very confidently. For the first 25 minutes, they controlled the game, leaving little room for Team Liquid to abuse mistakes and got many kills. But then, the TI7 champions pulled the trigger.
Liquid attempted to get Roshan and forced a fight around his pit. Although TNC tried everything to deny their opponents the Aegis, Omar 'w33haa' Aliwi was able to pick up. At the same time Liquid got kill after kill and undid TNC's advantage. After this fight, things snowballed and the fan favourite took game one.
Game two ran down after the same pattern. TNC asserted their dominance very early, taking out Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi's Shadow Demon for first blood. As a result, the SEA squad was ahead in networth, experience and hero kills which accumulated over time. By minute 23, it looked like it was just a matter of time when they would tie the series.
TNC's hero composition was just better suited for the early and mid part of the game. Liquid's only hope was to carry the map into late game, so that Amer 'Miracle-' Al-Barkawi's Anti-Mage and Omar 'w33haa' Aliwi's Leshrac could wreak havoc. Therefore, Liquid switched to a very elusive playstyle: avoid fights and push lanes.
Indeed, Miracle- did a great job dodging ganks and constantly farmed his hero very efficiently. The star player's farm began to become a problem for Kim Villafuerte 'Gabbi' Santos and co and was near unkillable. Everytime they almost got Anti-Mage, he was saved by Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi or simply blinked away.
After some 45 minutes, Liquid ended the game two and TNC were released from playing a nerve-wrecking, extremely frustrating match. On August 23, captain Kuro and his team will meet RNG in their next Lower Bracket match. This is going to be an exciting match, because Liquid are constantly getting better as the tournament goes on and RNG are getting fueled by the support of their fans.
What's up next?
Infamous and Newbee will kick off Day Three of the TI9 playoffs. In the second series, Secret and Mineski will battle it out.
The winner is going to take on the winner from the first match next. After that, both Upper Bracket semi-finals will be played out: PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming will play for the favour of the home crowd, while OG and Evil Geniuses engage in another TI8 rematch.
How's going to win: Team Liquid or Royal Never Give Up?
Photo credit: Valve