Team Liquid survive the Virtus Pro wrath and live another day to defend their EPICENTER title
picture courtesy of Epicenter
Day one at the EPICENTER Moscow 2017 playoffs concluded with bad news for the CIS and the home crowd fans of Virtus Pro who got beaten at their own aggressive game.
The last series of the day was a very anticipated one as the defending champions Team Liquid were about to fight against a full biased live audience. After the group stage elimination of Natus Vincere, Virtus Pro was the last CIS remaining team to defend the regional pride on the EPICENTER epic big stage set-up.
The best-of-three series opened with a very strong performance from VP who even allowed Liquid to draft an Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi Invoker, knowing exactly how to counter it and how to outmaneuver Liquid from early stages. VP relied on their supports and offlane to set the pace of the game and to land their big ultimates when needed. The laning stage went from bad to worse for Liquid, who couldn’t secure a decent start with a Pudge support and by the 15 minute mark they were already lead with a 11-3 kill score and got cornered behind tier two towers. Alexei "Solo" Berezin’s Disruptor was the ultimate nemesis for Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen who got trapped in the Static Storm countless of times, therefore he couldn’t land any offensive Chronosphere and make any difference fort his team. At the 18 minute mark VP secured an uncontested Aegis and went on the high ground mission. However, the Russian team displayed a lot of discipline and didn’t adventure into dangerous dives until the second Roshan was killed and the advantage was just too massive for Liquid to overcome.
Virtus Pro maintained their notorious aggressiveness with the second draft of the series and went once again for the early push with Troll Warlord, Jakiro and Chen, while Liquid prepared a line-up aimed at the mid-late game stage, with farm and levels dependent heroes.
However, Liquid’s draft also had a hefty amount of anti-pushers with Keeper of the Light, Treant Protector and Earthshaker to control VP’s thirst for battle and early objectives. And their plan went smoothly despite having a bit of a disadvantage during the laning stage as Solo sniped their courier two minutes into the game, with Miracle’s bottle on it. Liquid recognized that Miracle will get in trouble fast without the extra regen and grouped their supports to defend the tier one mid tower just as VP were showing the first signs of aggression. Instead of being the first to lose a tower, Liquid went on playing the five man Dota as soon as the Dragon Knight got his level 6 and never let the momentum fade.
Having to play against an 18 minutes Radiance, a 20 minutes Aghanim’s Scepter on KotL, along with a Pipe on DK, VP couldn’t defend any of their towers and lost the game in under 30 minutes.
Why change it if it’s working seem to have been Liquid’s mentality in the decisive game three where they opened the draft with Keeper of the Light and Lone Druid and continued with the same Earthshaker for Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Borislavov. The game story was rather similar with the previous match, this time around Miracle carrying the team on Juggernaut. VP found themselves in the same position where they weren’t ready to take big team fights, nor to defend the high ground before the 30 minute mark.
With their victory over Virtus Pro, Team Liquid advance into the EPICENTER semifinals and will play the team that delivered the biggest surprise so far in Moscow, the Group A leaders, LGD Forever Young.
Will Team Liquid reach the grand finals?
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