Team Liquid become two times Champions of EPICENTER Moscow
picture courtesy of Epicenter
Team Liquid defended their Epicenter title as they made short work of Evil Geniuses.
After a week of some amazing Dota 2 action, the stage was set for Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid to dazzle the Dota community with a befitting final. While we did see some spectacular displays (mostly from Liquid), all games turned out to be quite the one sided affairs.
EG came into the final having dropped just one game to Planet ODD in the entire tournament. They looked to be in form of their lives as they took out Team Secret 2-0 in the semifinals to get a shot at the Epicenter trophy.
Liquid on the other hand, had a shaky group stage and were dependent on Team Secret to propel them into the main event. But since getting there, Liquid came into their own, taking out Virtus.Pro and LFY to make it to the finals.
Game One: Evil Geniuses - 1 Team Liquid -24
You ever get that feeling for the first few minutes of an exam that you don’t know anything and subconsciously, you’re still in bed? That was pretty much was happened with Evil Geniuses in game one as Liquid quite literally stomped over the Boys in Blue (Liquid are blue as well, but EG are more often referred to by that name!)
Liquid caught EG off guard with a bit of an unconventional draft as they went for a safelane Necropos and mid lane Sven (give Amer 'Miracle' Barqawi any hero and he’ll make it good in the mid lane). The English panel mentioned Kuro 'Kuroky' Salehi Takhasomi being the best Tuskar player currently out there and he showed everyone just why. With two roaming supports pestering EG, it was his shard block that got the First Blood.
With Liquid getting kills all over the map, EG were at a loss with what to do. Storm Spirit isn’t a hero that fights early and Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev’s Bristleback just did not have enough farm to be a nuisance. Miracle’s 11-0-10 Sven was more than enough to draw out a 17 minute GG as Liquid drew First Blood in the series. That’s right, 17 minutes. That’s nearly how long it takes to draft!
Game Two: Team Liquid - 8 Evil Geniuses - 30
If game one was a beat down by Liquid, game two was the same by EG, and it was Andreas 'Cr1t' Nielsen’s Oracle who was the MVP of the game. Ending up with stats of 8/0/12 in a position five role, he made save after save with the False promise, not to mention perfectly timed Fate’s Edicts on Miracle to disarm the Juggernaut and Lone Druid’s Bear.
Liquid did get a few early kills on Sumail 'SumaiL' Hassan’s Queen of Pain, but there’s a reason why he is considered one of the best mids in the world. Farming and itemizing perfectly for the occasion, the QoP dished out some on point Sonic Waves in ganks (of course, that was not all she did) to put EG in the driving seat. When Matumbaman has his hands on the Lone Druid, you do not want the game to run late and that is exactly what EG did. Saahil 'Universe' Arora was on point with the Lasso grabs as the NA team comfortably took game two and leveled the series 1-1.
Game 3: Evil Geniuses - 6 Team Liquid - 27
Game three was the Maroun 'GH' Merhej show on his Earthshaker. EG turned to the Drow strat for giving them the lead in the bo5 final. But Liquid were prepared for it and they made sure they didn’t give EG the early advantage a Drow strat requires.
Gh’s Earthshaker was omnipresent in the laning stage and it was a combination of his fissure and Miracle’s perfectly predicted Sunstrike that got the First Blood on SumaiL’s Mirana. To add insult to injury, Gh got the courier kill as well and it only got better for liquid from then on. Besides making life difficult for EG in all three lanes, Gh also stacked up ancients for MinD_ContRoL’s Bristleback to flash farm.
With the perfect combination of Bristleback to be the frontliner (and Crystal Maiden to replenish his mana), Earthshaker’s three man Echo Slams, Lycan to chase down and massacre the enemy heroes and arguably the best Invoker to annihilate the opposition with his spells, Liquid closed out the game quite comfortably in just under 30 minutes.
Game Four: Evil Geniuses - 10 Team Liquid - 34
Knowing EG would be under the pressure of potential elimination, Kuro deployed the mind games in what would be the final game of Epicenter 2017. Instead of banning the Wisp or Puck in the first phase, Liquid banned the Sven and let both of EG’s favored heroes through, knowing that EG would pick them. Liquid in turn made sure they got their hands on to the coveted Bristleback. EG brought out the Axe which not only counters the Dazzle, but also a good call also makes sure Bristleback doesn’t show you his back (which is his best asset).
The game was evenly poised until a moment which surprised everyone, including the person who was responsible for it. EG were hot on the pursuit of Matumbaman’s Bristle with all five heroes. The porcupine showed them his behind, sprayed his quills and let his passive do the work, and even though he did end up going down, he got a triple kill! It would have been an Ultra Kill but Arteezy’s Razor managed to scamper away with less than 10% HP. From that point on, Liquid put their foot on the gas pedal and never let go.
Evil Geniuses did show some signs of life in their high ground defence as they brought down Bristle and Gh’s Earthshaker, but it was too little too late. When there was not the porcupine to worry about, there was an enraged bear in the form of Ursa who was hacking them down. I guess EG should have called animal control to help them out.
A huge factor in this game was Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Borislavov Ivanov’s Dark Seer who displayed some amazing vacuum wall combos that got Evil Geniuses whacked by their doppelgangers. Of the 34 kills that Team Liquid had in the game, Ursa had a say in 29 of them (12/1/17), Dark Seer played a part in 31 (0/1/31) and Bristleback was a part of 33 kills (15/2/18)! This just goes to show how good this team is in coordination and five man team fight!
An interesting thing to note is that in all four games, the losing side never had more than 10 kills. The longest game ran for 39 minues and Liquid were on the Dire side for all four games.
Having gone through their fair share of tough times, it is creditable that Liquid stuck with this team (they didn't qualify for a single LAN for a good four months, including the Boston Major) and are reaping the benefits of patience and team work. It is all but certain that we will get to see them in Seattle with a direct invite on the cards, and they can be added to the pot of potential TI 7 Champions!
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