Invictus Gaming inched out a 2-1 victory against Liquid in the 1st series of The International 2017
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It's the first series of The International 2017 main event and we are already in for a treat! A best-of-3 between 2 big names in the upper bracket – Team Liquid vs Invictus Gaming, with the latter taking the series 2-1.
Team Liquid looked like the better team during the group stage, securing themselves top seed in Group A. However, IG came into the match today fully prepared against Liquid, who may have been considered the favorites of this match. The series was highly anticipated and as expected, the match delivered and it was full of EPIC-NESS!
As mentioned, IG came into the series extremely prepared. The draft from Q was excellent and had all the means to deal with Liquid's play style. The early game went extremely well for Invictus Gaming with excellent rotations from Ye 'Boboka' Zhi Biao's Night Stalker during the first night. Kuro 'Kuroky-' Salehi Takhasomi's Tusk couldn't find any gank opportunities due to the nature of IG's heroes (I.e. Batrider can just Firefly out of Ice Shard and Night Stalker can fly during the night as well). After having an early disadvantage, Liquid managed to get some return kills on the back of good rotations by Lasse 'Matumbaman' Urpalainen's Weaver. However, with the good start on Batrider, his Blink Dagger came early and it started the 3-man gank squad of IG. Lin 'Xxs' Jing, together with Fu 'Q' Bin's Ancient Apparition and Boboka's Night Stalker consistently put pressure on all parts of the map, getting kill after kill on the cores of Liquid.
Amer 'Miracle' Barqawi tried his best to fight back with some amazing spell usages and sick Sunstrikes, but there was only so much an early-mid game Invoker could do. IG found the opening and took Roshan extremely quickly, furthering their lead with the Aegis on an extremely farmed Alchemist. Knowing that they are behind and needed to do something, Liquid tried for a wrap-around smoke play, but it did not turn out the way they wanted. They got team-wiped and IG got a 23-minutes set of rax in the mid-lane. Liquid made a similar smoke play out of desperation, but IG caught wind of it from an excellent placed Observer Ward and was fully prepared for it. Another team-wipe by IG gave them the 2nd Roshan and a 27-minutes top rax. Team Liquid finally called the GG after getting mega-creep just a little over 30-minutes.
With Bristleback + Keeper of the Light in the offlane, putting on the pressure and Ursa having a favorable match up against Alchemist in mid, the laning phase in game 2 went much better for Team Liquid. With the early lead, Liquid managed to contest the stacks of IG with Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Borislavov Ivanov's Bristleback and Maroun 'GH' Merhej's KotL, slowing down the Alchemist's farm as compared to game 1. However, with an early Blink Dagger, Xxs on the Sand King and Boboka's Riki were able to consistently find kills on the stragglers of Team Liquid, creating the space Xu 'BurNIng' Zhilei's Lycan and Ou 'Op' Peng's Alchemist needed. Feeling the pressure, Liquid found themselves a crucial timing to push high-ground even without Aegis. This timing was the pick-up of Ahganim's Scepter by GH's KotL coupled with day time. It was an extremely strong push, but IG managed to defend it through expanding a couple of buybacks. With superior map control, Liquid managed to take the 2nd Roshan soon after its respawn.
Wanting to catch Liquid by surprise, IG went for a smoke play, trying to contest them at the top lane Tier 2 tower. With an insanely good Chain Frost from Q's Lich, the fight looked good for IG. However, the advantage of Aegis on Ursa and Cheese on Bristleback proved to be too much. With Alchemist still down, Liquid managed to get their 1st set of rax just shy of 33-minutes. Feeling the momentum, KuroKy- and his team continued their aggression onto the bottom rax. With the constant heal from KotL's Illuminate, Liquid managed to take their 2nd set of rax. Fortunately, IG were able to defend their final lane of rax, taking a convincing fight in the mid lane, killing 4 of Liquid's heroes without losing a single.
With some signs of life, IG rushed down middle, securing themselves 3 towers as well as some additional kills. However, the push ended the moment GH's KotL respawned. Knowing the KotL is the crux in Liquid's team-fight, IG started putting all their attention on him, focusing him whenever they could in the fights. In a crucial Roshan fight, IG managed to take KotL down right at the start, but a buyback from GH secured Liquid the Aegis and Cheese. Despite having the net-worth advantage throughout the game, IG was forced to tap out at 41:35 after getting team-wiped in front of the mid rax with no buybacks available. GH's KotL was undoubtedly the MVP of the match with insanely sick plays throughout.
With the first 2 games being so epic, game 3 was going to be no different. Kills were happening constantly across the map in the first 10-minutes. With Chronosphere available and KuroKy- hitting level 6 on Ancient Apparition, Liquid made their first 4-man smoke gank on BurNIng in the bot lane. However, great positioning by Q on his Disruptor allowed him to get off an insane Static Storm + Kinetic Field combo, completely turning around the fight for IG. They managed to get all 4 of Liquid heroes without even losing BurNIng, who got away with a slither of HP.
Despite all of that, Matumbaman continued farming on his Lone Druid, maintaining the number one position on the net-worth 17-minutes into the game. Soon after, IG went for their own smoke play, trying to catch Matumbaman, who was split-pushing on the Lone Druid. However, Liquid was ready for it with their own rotations and a big fight broke out. With blows traded and ultimates expanded, it was a rather equal exchange with both teams losing 3 heroes each. Lady luck seemed to be on IG's side when Op's Lina got a random Light Strike Array stun on Faceless Void as MinD_ContRoL Time Walk in and was about to get off a huge Chronosphere. This resulted in a favorable team-fight for IG and allowed them to secure the first Roshan of the game.
With a 10k net-worth and 20k experience lead 30-minutes into the game, IG looked dominant and Liquid couldn't seem to find an answer. Feeling desperate, Liquid tried for a smoke play, hoping to finally get the jump on IG. However, the initiation never seemed to go Liquid's way as IG once again manages to get the upper hand. IG team-wiped the whole of Liquid's lineup while only losing BurNIng's Sven. With Xxs' Earthshaker getting a solo pick off on Faceless Void with no buyback, IG marched right down the mid lane, securing themselves 2 sets of rax 36-minutes into the game. Liquid showed some grit, staying in the game despite being down 30k net-worth and 45k experience. However, the final push by IG came with Aegis and Cheese and it proved to be too much for Liquid to deal with.
With this victory, IG is now guaranteed top 6 at TI7 and will face the winner of Evil Geniuses vs Newbee. Liquid, on the other hand, falls down to the Lower Bracket and will face the winner of Team Secret and Execration.
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