posted by SmittyW.,
In the Upper Bracket at The International 2019 things are becoming increasingly more intense. The semi-finals revealed which two teams are going to compete for the first slot in the Grand Finals.


The Chinese derby was certainly a highlight of the tournament – especially when it comes to the crowd in the arena. The audience celebrated every move taken by both teams and rewarded great plays with their cheers. Yet, only one of them could advance to the Upper Bracket finals, a spot fiercly contested. TI8 runner-up vs strongest Chinese team of the season: who would emerge victorious?

LGD claim first spot in UB finals

Although PSG.LGD didn't find as much success as Vici Gaming last season, they are still a force to be reckoned with – which they showed in the group stage, in their first UB match against and now in the first game against VG.

In game one, both teams largely played a very calm early game. As if mutual respect hindered them to make too aggressive plays in the beginning, we didn't see to much going on apart from a three-man kill by VG.

Only after way more than 20 minutes did we see the first major fight. Although LGD got the better of the fight, the difference between the teams wasn't too severe.

After this fight, the squad surrounding carry Wang Chun 'Ame' Yu stepped up their game and didn't leave Vici Gaming as much room as before. VG, meanwhile, wasn't able to get significant kills; apart from a Lion here and a Rubick there, their play wasn't too dangerous to their opponents.

By the end of the first game, things got a little closer again, but LGD took the better engagement at Rosh's pit, paving the way for their 1-0 lead.

In the second game, both teams were much more aggressively very early on. We saw skirmish after skirmish and it was hard to tell, which team had the lead. After 25 minutes, the game was still pretty balanced however, though Vici Gaming were comfortably ahead in gold by 5k. But then they grew a little overconfident, taking a fight in front of LGD's base they better hadn't.

With VG's small gold lead gone, LGD got in charge of the game. After this fight, Vici began to crumble especially when they started losing fights. In a decisive several minute-long fight, LGD dismantled their opponents and closed out the series 2-0 – advancing to the TI Upper Bracket finals for the second time in a row.

OG vs EG

OG have been – just like last year – the surprise of the tournament. The last DPC season didn't go to well for the TI8 champions, and people began to doubt whether they could actually defend their title.

From the group stage on, OG have played in a dominant fashion and sent Newbee 2-0 down to the Lower Bracket. Evil Geniuses had a mediocre group stage, but in their first Upper Bracket match against Team Secret they released their full potential, besting the supposedly best team in the world 2-1.

TI8 featured the very same match-up in the semi-finals of the Upper Bracket; therefore this series had a very special meaning to players and fans. But who would make it to the UB finals this time?

EG stop OG's run

As dominant as OG were in the games before, as helpless were they against Evil Geniuses in game one. The flagship of North American Dota didn't let OG find into the game and steadily edged out more of an advantage.

Although Johan 'BigDaddyN0tail' Sundstein and his squad didn't suffer a full wipe until the late game, they were being picked off left and right. Consequently, their farm lacked behind plus if they found kills at all, they eliminated support heroes while the juicy position 1 and 2 players of EG had the time of their lives.

Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev's Terrorblade got increasingly out of control. He and Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan's Lina played a perfect game, scoring 10/0/9 each. Considering that two players were able to survive for the entirety of the game, one can only speak of a stomp in game one.

Despite Arteezy's strong performance on Terrorblade, OG didn't ban the hero for game two. Instead, they adjusted their composition and went for a very stun-heavy composition with Topias 'Topson' Taavitsainen on Tiny and Anathan 'ana' Pham on Faceless Void.

In contrast to game one, OG played much better right from the start and didn't suffer major losses – that is until minute 14. A little later, a failed ambush by Topson seemed to herald an EG lead, which was even more likely after OG lost two more heroes in a second skirmish. This gave Terrorblade much more room and time to farm a little and OG lost a good portion of their map control; but only temporarily.

EG couldn't capitalize on OG's mistakes this time and their advantage turned out to be very slight at best. The TI8 champions maintained their compusre, also thanks to Topson and ana whose picks really paid off over time:

Eventually OG took out the barracks of Evil Geniuses and attempted to end the game. The North Americans, however, deflected the attack in an outbreak that almost looked like one of the many comebacks we've seen in the last few days.

ana's Chronosphere proved to be too much to stomach for EG in the end, and OG were able to tie the series. Despite ana's critical role in this victory, it was Topson who scored best in the team, finishing 13/4/15. It was equally surprising that Arteezy turned out to be rather useless in comparison to his Terrorblade performance in game one – the star carry boasted merely three kills in the end.

The deciding match was at first a match with two contestants on par. Neither EG nor OG really edged out an advantage for the first 15 minutes. But then OG flipped the switch and took the game their under control.

In a massive teamfight the defending world champions successfully pushed the midlane and finally got the kills for their trouble that would give them an advantage. The game wasn't over at that point, but in contrast to Evil Geniuses, OG got enough farm on ana's Juggernaut.

Meanwhile, Arteezy couldn't get enough farm on his Anti-Mage to challenge his enemies. Like in game two, the Canadian had little impact on the game and tried desperately to get enough gold to change this circumstance. All his efforts were in vain, though. While his team-mates fought for their tournament lives, Arteezy kept on farming.

This proved to be a mistake, or at least a futile attempt to get enough gold for a BKB – OG razed the barracks of the mid and top lane, and the BKB farmed by the EG carry didn't turn the tides as he might have hoped. OG won the series 2-1 and will now meet LGD in a 2018 Upper Bracket finals rematch.

Who is your favourite in the Upper Bracket finals?

Photo credit: Valve