A Winning Weekend: Dota Pit, Americas Minor, Smash Summit 5
November 06 2017
It was another busy weekend for Team Liquid: three titles, three games, three cities. Our TI Champs got back to their winning ways in Split, Croatia as they dominated Dota Pit for their second consecutive Minor championship. Next, our CS:GO squad qualified for the ELEAGUE Major Qualifier by chopping their way through the lower bracket to win the Americas Minor Championship held in Toronto, Canada. And finally, sunny LA was the site of Hungrybox's coronation as the year's top Smash player. Hbox defeated Armada to claim the Smash Summit 5 title—his 6th straight win.
New Patch, Same Result
The reigning TI champions were back at it again this weekend, this time in Split, Croatia for Dota Pit League Season 6. After a 'disappointing' semi final finish at ESL One Hamburg, Liquid bounced back immediately with another title and 150 DPC Points.
As the first big tournament on the new patch, fans around the globe wondered if the balance of power would shift, or if the top echelon of teams would stay the same. After this first tournament, it seems like it's more of the same. After Liquid, Newbee, VG, and Virtus.pro came to collect the points.
During the first two rounds of the tournament, Liquid prioritized Viper, one of the reworked heroes for this patch. They picked Viper 3 out of 4 times as Liquid stomped both Immortals and TI runners-up Newbee.
Their first real challenge of the tournament occurred in the winners bracket finals, where Vici Gaming leaped into the lead with one of the tournament's big heroes, Mirana. Despite a double digit kill lead and a healthy gold lead, it was only a matter of time until MATUMBAMAN could get online. The return of the Lone Druid — their fifth pick in the draft — truly made a difference once Radiance was completed. A turn-around team fight in the top lane was secured with a 3-man roar, and Miracle-'s Timbersaw eventually became too big to fail. Another trademark MATUMBA hero, Broodmother, also appeared in game 2 to seal their trip to the finals.
There, they would meet VG once again, but the result would not come as easy. Dropping the first two games, it looked like VG had figured out how to counter Liquid's style of play. However, our boys in blue adjusted and rediscovered their winning formula. Down 0-2, Liquid would then cruise through three quick games to complete the reverse sweep. The team looked dominant as they trounced their foes under 30 minutes on each occasion, which saw some comfort picks like Lycan, Lone Druid, and Invoker. The reversal was so comprehensive that the announcers even wondered if the team had been playing on the new Turbo Mode.
A Few Scares on the Way
Over in Toronto, our CS:GO team almost suffered an ignoble setback as they dropped into the lower bracket against a red-hot Misfits team in the first round of the playoffs. After a comfortable 2-0 (32-5) group stage, Liquid looked poised to qualify for ELEAGUE, but the upset meant that Liquid would not have to win 2 more sets just to qualify.
Fortunately for the team, they woke up just in time to bounce back. Quick 2-0s over compLexity and CLG showed that the team was ready to claim their spot in the Major Qualifier, and their lower bracket run included a clinical 16-1 over CLG on Inferno.
Unfortunately, that map would get banned out in the final, which had $30,000 at stake. Though both teams had already qualified for the Major Qualifier, this was an opportunity for our team to reaffirm our place on top of the NA scene. Despite our momentum, the finals began on a sour note as the Misfits once again claimed Cobble. We managed to make it to 13-14 after being down 3-8, but ran out of steam in the final two rounds.
Once again, we performed our best with our backs against the wall. We made headway on Train through a crisp 12-3 CT side before closing it out 16-4. Twistzz and EliGE had monstrous games—122 and 133 ADR each. The final map of the tournament would be Mirage, and this time, stanislaw would be the one to step up. With 21 frags he led Liquid to a resounding 16-7 win to close the tournament. We now head to the ELEAGUE Qualifiers with our heads held high.
The Best Player of the Year
Finally, we completed our weekend with another Hungrybox victory, culminating in a titanic clash between the game's top 2 players, Hbox and Armada. The world's best Puff slew a conga line of Fox's to reach the grand finals from the winners bracket, taking out SFAT, Mango, and Leffen on the way.
A Swedish bout would determine his finals foe, and after a close 2-3 defeat during their first meeting, Armada would prove that he belonged in the finals. Leffen appeared to have the advantage as he surged into a stock lead on Dream Land, but the Swedish Sniper would not be denied. He bounced back to take the map and clean up his opponent with 2 stocks remaining to sweep the series.
The heavyweight bout that the fans had been waiting for had come to fruition, and the last big tournament of the year would determine the year's best player. Armada required two series in order to win the title, but Hbox would not even give him one. Hbox clutched out the series by first winning a crucial map on Final Destination, a notoriously difficult map for Puff. Armada, of course, would go on to tie the series, and both players traded blows to reach the final stock of the tournament.
With the title on the line, Hungrybox dug deep and aerialed Armada out of the screen to seal the deal. After years of coming second against Armada, 2017 has seen a change in fortunes between the game's two best players. This Summit title confirms Hungrybox as the year's best Smasher and puts an exclamation point on what has been a phenomenal year.
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