Team Liquid vs. Virtus.Pro
Liquid went for a offensive trilane around Steven 'Korok' Ashworth on Kunkka, in order to disrupt the VP trilane of Chaos Knight, Wisp and Bane. This forced Tyler 'TC' Cook on Magnus into mid lane against Oleg 'Crazy' Kolesnichenko's Outworld Devourer, a lane which by all reason TC should have lost, but ended up doing better in than expected. However, this was of little comfort for the North Americans, as Ilya 'Airman' Pevcaev playing the Chaos Knight got off to a great start, with his team picking up several kills on the trilane and quickly getting out of control, sitting on 9/0/5 by 11 minutes in, prompting Liquid to call the early 'GG'.
For game two, as Liquid headed into the second pick stage with a Keeper of the Light and banning out heroes like Gyrocopter, VP picking up Phantom Lancer felt not just a little panicked, as Airman would have to try to face up against TC on Lifestealer backed up by Keeper and Bane. VP did however make a solid transition, as they noticed that Korok had headed up top with Storm Spirit, putting Crazy playing Outworld Devourer for the second game up against him in order to try and keep that Naixbomb combination down a bit. Delivering VP the good start they needed was the good reactions of Sergey 'kSi' Kuzin on Nature's Prophet, who helped VP get the better of early game skirmishes, setting all three cores of the Russians ahead early on.
But Liquid was not out of it, and using their superior early game fighting abilities, they managed to regain their momentum heading into the mid game. As kills began to tilt in favour of Liquid, Korok out-paced Crazy, neutralizing the earlier power of Sanity's Eclipse as it no longer could be used to burst down Korok in fights. With this, Liquid was in position to win teamfights out right. Feeling confident, Liquid tried to take the high ground, but as they overextended, they ended up being forced back without claiming a Barracks. But in the coming fights, Korok and gang would redeem themselves, as they ran circles around their opponents with bashes from TC and Scythe of Vyse as well as Orchid Malevolence on both Korok and Michael 'ixmike88' Ghannam playing the Keeper on top of the Primal Roar and Fiend's Grip. Eventually, even a really farmed Airman Phantom Lancer was reduced to nothing, as his support cast did never stayed alive long enough for him to do his thing. Liquid wins game two.
After a round of trying to dodge each other offensive trilanes, Airman on Weaver found himself staring down Bulba on Clockwerk on bottom lane, while up top Brian 'FLUFF' Lee found himself offensively jungling with his Chen, vying for creeps with kSi on Nature's Prophet, who got a bit an advantage as he sniped out the Radiant Courier early on between the middle lane towers. The odd configuration of lanes also meant that Sergey 'Ars-Art' Revin on Bane ended up farming up against TC's Luna at top lane, with Undying and Nyx Assassin supports respectively. While Liquid were doing ok on lanes, the first big teamfight and the power of the Chaotic Offering from Crazy's Warlock helped them take the momentum and turn it into early pushes, claiming mid lane Barracks once they had the double Golem's, Tombstone and Treants.
But Liquid responded with mass Blade Mail's, which turned the game in their favour, while TC's Luna shot up to the top of the net worth tables. While the surprise factor of this move helped Liquid take the first fight convincingly, the following fights went less cleanly, as VP were adapting to this surprise play. This helped the Russians go back on the warpath, adding a Necronomicon on Nature's Prophet and once more using the dual Golem's to claim the bottom Melee Barracks, but every time they were on cooldown, VP could not win fights. Using this opening to pick up an Aegis on Luna, Liquid proceeded to bait out another Golem cooldown, with FLUFF sending TC back at the last moment with Test of Faith, allowing Liquid to return shortly after and held even out the Barracks before Liquid went for the Tier 4 Tower and the Throne, taking game three.
Team Liquid sends Virtus.Pro home with $2,000 at the end of a 2-1 series.
Coming up next:
The Alliance vs. Team Liquid
The Alliance starts with a one game winners bracket advantage.
Liquid went for an offensive trilane around Juggernaut played by Sam 'Bulba' Sosale, doing fairly well during the laning stages, but once fights started breaking out the Alliance were able to start making things happen with Gustav 's4' Magnusson on the Magnus setting up for Jonathan 'Loda' Berg on Phantom Assassin to put on the hurt, and with the random number generators on his side, staying alive with the help of Blur. However while the Swedes kept on trying to find some openings, TC on the Lifestealer farmed up on the quiet, nudging Liquid slightly ahead. In the early mid game s4 tried to initiate on Liquid outside of their own Tier 2 Tower, but a big Reverse Polarity stolen by ixmike gained Liquid the turn-around kills on both s4 and Loda, which allowed them to take the first Barracks of the game. A while later, after finding a double damage rune for Loda, the Alliance went looking for a fight, which erupted in mid lane, suddenly turning what looked to be a fairly good position for Liquid into a complete disaster, as the whole team was taken out with Loda and Henrik 'AdmiralBulldog' Ahnberg diving in deep, clearing out two lanes of Barracks in the process. With no other options left, Liquid tried to force the issue, pushing up mid lane, but as they lost the fight to the near unkillable Loda Phantom Assassin with Blur, Satanic and Manta Style, Liquid ended up calling the 'GG'.
Pandering to news writers clearly doesn't work, but nobody tell Joakim 'Akke' Akterhall that, as we all want to keep on seeing him play that Ogre Magi! Pairing it up as usual with the s4 Magnus and the Bulldog Lone Druid as well as the new addition of Loda's Alchemist promised to deliver some major hurt in the mid game. Liquid did not skip a step however, getting a strong pushing lineup of their own with TC on Dragon Knight and Bulba on Nature's Prophet as well as FLUFF pulling off some big moves on Chen with the Harpy Stormcrafter, scoring an early kill on the Lone Druid. While things looked fairly close, a chaotic fight going the way of the Swedes at bottom lane set them ahead on kills and gave Bulldog some time to get back into the game, setting them back on the path for their timing push.
At this point both teams decided to take a few minutes off and just fight in the Roshan pit. Good positioning and the teamfight control coming out of Korok on Brewmaster as well as FLUFF delivering more big plays helped Liquid come out on top. We now resume regular programming.
With Liquid slightly ahead, the Alliance would have needed a big initiation from s4, but great plays from ixmike on Shadow Demon, getting off those defensive Disruptions, kept on turning fights around. Next in the Alliance book of tricks, bait the enemy to initiate on Loda, and as they turned it around and killed Korok, he bought back and ran to rejoin the fight, turning it around along with Bulba, who had been sent home by FLUFF only to teleport back into the fight. But it could only last for so long, eventually s4 started finding his openings and Loda as well as Akke doing big work, even the Entangles of the Spirit Bear proccing at clutch moments, and any small opening with the Bloodlust and Empower buffs meant that not one but two lanes of Barracks was lost for Liquid. One more big fight at top lane, with Akke rocking the Multicast, and Liquid ended up calling the 'GG'.
The Alliance takes the win 3-0 over Team Liquid, taking home $5,000 for their efforts while Liquid walks away with $3,000.
1st - The Alliance - $5,000
2nd - Team Liquid - $3,000
3rd - Virtus.Pro - $2,000