The Reigning Kings of Moscow: Liquid Win Epicenter
June 11 2017
LIQUID DEFEND EPICENTER THRONE
Once again, Defending Champions. After our Starladder title just a few weeks ago, Liquid Dota decided to stay in China to bootcamp and learn a few tricks for this new meta. The stint in that corner of the globe turned out to be something of a hyperbolic time chamber as Team Liquid were crowned kings of Moscow for the second year in a row.
Earlier this week, it looked more than a little unlikely. Two losses in the first day of matches set up a nervy week for the team. Last year's champions looked tentative and vulnerable, but Liquid turned things around the next day. A 2-1 against nemesis OG restored the team's confidence, and the entire squad started to click. In the quarter finals, a hard loss in the first map against VP once again put Liquid on the ropes. However, our fantastic five rebounded once again to win 2 straight games. GH's Keeper of the Light was arguably the MVP of the series, though Matumba's Lone Druid also did work—even playing mid against Shadow Fiend.
That set up a chance for revenge against LGD.FY, a team that looked close to unbeatable in the group stage with a score of 4-0 (8-1). Still, Kuro confessed that the team was confident against the Chinese squad in his post-quarters interview, suggesting that perhaps our heroes had a few tricks in the bag from the boot camp in China. They keys turned out to be Sven against the hugely popular Bristleback and the return of Bloodseeker mid. After an hour, one of the tournament's favorites after the group stages were out with a whimper and Liquid was on to defend the crown.
The finals began and Liquid's preparation clearly paid dividends. A first pick Io for GH followed by a Sven for Miracle and a last pick Necrophos for Matumbaman set the groundwork for Team Liquid to counter EG’s Bristleback-centered strategy. In what would be the most one sided game of the tournament, Team Liquid assaulted Suma1L’s midlane like ravenous animals, devouring his Storm Spirit and any of EG’s other heroes that found themselves in their path. Liquid’s full draft hadn’t even come online before EG tapped out of game 1 just 17 minutes into the game—down 23-1 in kills. EG answered back in game 2 with an exceptional performance from Cr1t on Oracle, healing his team for over 9000 damage and keeping them alive long enough to turn fight after fight in EG’s favor. With the bo5 tied up at 1 apiece, the grand finals had turned into a Bo3.
Game 3 started off with GH proving that he belongs in the conversation for one of the best supports in the world. His rotations in the early game secured a courier kill and, with an incredibly predictive sunstrike from Miracle, first blood on Suma1L’s Mirana in the mid lane. GH’s map presence not only stifled EG’s movements around the map but also secured his team some much needed space to farm. GH stacked Ancient camps while shifting between lanes in an incredible display of timing. Combined with Miracle’s 14 minute Aghs on Invoker and a classic Lycan game from Matumba, EG crumbled in the face of Liquid's onslaught. A massive 3-man Echo Slam from GH more or less sealed the deal, putting Kuroky and co on match point.
With momentum back on Liquid’s side, we saw a repeat of GH’s Earth Shaker and Epicenter's favorite hero, Bristleback. This time, however, it was Matumbaman running him mid against Puck. EG opened the game on the right foot, securing farm on their three cores and stopping MC and Miracle from farming comfortably in lane. Fortunately, GH was at it against with his stacks, which allowed Liquid to crawl back up the net worth chart. Matumba acquired his Vanguard at a key timing, and EG had to throw everything and the team bus in order to take him down. A brutal 1v5 situation near the bottom tower turned into a kill, but the Bristle's final quills snapped EG's backs for a triple kill. The casters were surprised and amused, and ODPixel could do little but exclaim, "How the hell, what the hell is this hero?!"
This marked the beginning of the end for EG as MC and GH picked up their blink daggers in quick succession. The final moments of the game featured a desperate attempt to defend the base by EG where they used every buyback they had to try to stop the relentless intrusion into their base. Miracle’s Ursa charged Arteezy into his own fountain where the enraged bear swiped EG’s chances at making a comeback out of the arena. Miracle danced around the Radiant base for a good 2 minutes with less than 5% health for a final victory lap before the GGs were called.
After a terrible first day of Dota, Team Liquid proved that they had the skill and the mettle to repeat as champions against another set of world class teams. The tournament in Moscow offered upsets and epic games in equal measure (and a slew of post-event nerfs), and Liquid leave Russia with another trophy in hand. The case for Liquid's invite to TI just got a whole lot stronger.
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