Graphics by Naganis, Art by Valve
After launching our new roster early last week, after going undefeated (5-0 plus a forfeit) through three groupstage encounters, it's time for Liquid`Dota to hit a serious test. And oh boy, what a test. Our final opponents in the groupstage—also undefeated—are the Alliance. The best team in the world. The winners of TI3. Them.
Are we ready?
Only one way to find out!
Team Liquid vs Alliance
— WePlay Dota 2 League Groupstages —
14:00 CDT, September 29[local]
WePlay Dota 2 League
Alliance has progressed as smoothly through the groupstage as we have; perhaps even more so. Against TheRetry, their strategy employed an Aghanims Bounty Hunter (no, you're not crazy, it does nothing) and a carry Abaddon. They still won in dominant fashion. They had no issues with Super Strong Dinosaurs either. In the early match before ours, they will play For Sweet Revenge, who have collapsed in the groupstage and are in last place. Anything other than a 2-0 victory for the Swedes would be a surprise.
That means that we and Alliance will face off with a 6-0 record each and qualification basically assured. But this is a statement game for us, and don't expect Alliance to take us lightly either. Once you win TI3, your crown is constantly under assault. Alliance knows that this year they have a massive target on their back and that in a strange way, they have more to prove every day than they had before. With everyone looking forward to MLG, Dreamhack, and yes, TI4, the Alliance is the team everyone wants to beat the most. We're not excepted.
So can we do it? The simple answer is "yes". We have a talented squad. We can definitely win. The longer answer is "we'll see". It's never possible to tell where different teams are until they play. We've played teams who have no reputation or results. We've crushed them. But against Alliance, and teams like Na'Vi, Fnatic, and the new EG and Empire line-ups, we'll be harder pressed. This match against Alliance will be a huge step in figuring out just exactly how we stand.
Alliance: Loda, s4, AdmiralBulldog, Akke, EGM
There are some awesome individual battles here. AdmiralBulldog was the breakout star of 2012-2013, transforming from a odd Lone Druid specialist to one of the best offlaners in the world. This year, all eyes are on qojqva, who's Nature's Prophet is the terror of the western scene and who plays a pretty mean Lone Druid as well. The two players are similar in play, hero pool and talent. Who will win their showdown? The middle lane presents another fascinating battle. BuLba has recently returned to the mid position, but he has been the team's standout player on multiple occasions. His flawless play from the middle will see a serious challenge from s4, who has long occupied a position alongside only Dendi as the top mid players from the west. We'll see if BuLba can hold his own against s4.
Then there's the #1 position, TC and Loda are much different in terms of carry play. Gone are the days that Loda was mainly know for his ability to throw the game, yet the Alliance captain still plays a pretty wild style, aggressively joining fights and playing a huge array of heroes. TC meanwhile is one of the most stable, reliable carry players in the west. Although he was targeted heavily by the teams in our group, he still constantly managed to find farm and make an impact. Death does not come easily to TC, while Loda sometimes seems to actively court it.
At the heart of this will be the mind games between the supports. Alliance's Akke-EGM combo is the model; they were essential to Alliance's TI3 victory. The drafting strategy that did the most damage to Alliance relied on banning Akke's heroes and EGM's Naga Siren; that's how important they were. FLUFF and wayto are still working on their coordination, but they also have a claim to being the smartest support combination in the scene. Both with tons of captaining experience, they are hard to outsmart in game. Watching the battle of wits between the supports will be a joy in this match.
We need your support for this series. Please follow @Liquidqojqva and @Liquidwayto, as well as the rest of the team; @LiquidFLUFF,@LiquidBuLba and @LiquidTC and show your support for them on twitter and in the comments below! Let the team know you'll be cheering for them. It makes a huge difference. Don't miss this match, it's going to be a blast.