Team Liquid KEEP doing it; eliminate Virtus Pro to secure a top 4 place at TI7
With perseverance and composure, Team Liquid eliminated Virtus Pro from The International 2017 in a hotly contested three game series.
Game one of the lower bracket quarter final was an absolute barn burner, as Virtus Pro and Team Liquid duked it out in a rollercoaster game that lasted well over an hour. Draftwise, Liquid went with the tried and true push strat, picking up Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej’s devastating Keeper of the Light along with a Beastmaster, Lycan, and Death Prophet for Amer ‘Miracle’ Al-Barqawi. Looking to counter the pesky Lycan, Virtus Pro picked up a Bloodseeker Vladimir ‘Noone-‘ Minenko. Alongside a Venomancer for Roman ‘RAMZES666’ Kushnarev and a Necrophos, VP had some good sustain and push of their own.
The early game and laning stage started off at a breakneck pace, as the Liquid supports rotated everywhere around the map, constantly putting aggression onto VP. In the first few minutes, kills were traded on both sides, with Liquid coming out slightly ahead. Despite this, Noone- absolutely dominated Miracle- in the midlane, controlling the lane with his Bloodrage and Bloodrite, and after a slow start, RAMZES666 likewise began to dominate his lane. As the game went past the 10 minute mark, it settled into passivity, as both teams began to farm up. The game truly changed after a big victory at 15 minutes as VP found four from Liquid all the while Solo was farming alone. After the breakneck pace at the beginning, the game settled into this ebb and flow of farm and fights, as both teams continued to inch towards each other’s base.
Momentum seemed to swing in the midgame for Liquid at the 24 minute mark, as they caught VP off guard with their KotL Daytime vision. Then, Liquid transitioned into what seemed to be an unstoppable high ground push, but VP fended them off brilliantly, losing only a tier three tower in the process. Having staved off the high ground push, the game became much more even, as both teams danced around the map, finding pickoffs but never really any huge engagements. With both teams having both excellent push and wave clear, the game quickly became a see-saw of high ground pushes, with VP claiming a set of barracks first, after catching GH out at around 55 minutes. From there and onto the last half-hour of the game, both teams continually farmed, getting Refresher’s and Aghs to help prolong their teamfights. Liquid, however, were slightly ahead as great composure, and perseverance allowed them to take down all of VP’s barracks at around 100 minutes. Liquid were not out of jungle yet though, as it cost them two heroes without buyback. Realizing this, VP charged down the middle while Matumbaman picked up a Rapier and went for an all in against the few VP heroes that remained at base to defend. The last few minutes could have gone in anyone’s favour, but it was Liquid who pulled through, in the end, defending their exposed throne spectacularly. After losing the push, VP called GG after the marathon of a game.
This is a game to be remembered, rivaling the EG vs EHOME mega creep come back from TI6.
In game two after the grueling slugfest of game one, VP answered back in a big way with a very quick 35 minute victory. Draftwise, Liquid went with a fairly greedy lineup, picking up an Invoker, Sand King and Dark Seer, hoping for a mid-late game victory. VP had other plans, however, and went with very strong lanes and a scary death-ball, with a Viper, Necro, and Dazzle.
Although game one lasted well over an hour, Liquid seemed to have all the energy in the early game, going up 3-0 with their rotations. However, VP’s lanes were just too strong and the advantage was quickly nullified. Particularly, Miracle- himself had an abysmal time in his lane, and was forced to the jungle early on, unable to lane against the Viper. Likewise, all of VP’s other lanes dominated against Liquid. Knowing their early strength, VP were quick to group up and get aggressive around the map and took all three tier one towers by 13 minutes, opening up the map. Liquid is to be commended, however, despite the disadvantage, they continued to split and farm relatively well.
Unfortunately, Liquid was on a much longer timer compared to VP, and cognizant of the fact, the Russians simply stormed down the lanes taking objective after objective. Despite the strength of Liquid’s teamfight, the Russian squad had absolutely impeccable positioning each fight, denying Liquid any chance of getting any sort of angle. VP continued to push and claim objectives with Liquid unable to kill any of VP’s cores due to one: their farm and exp disadvantage, and two: the VP’s sustain. VP’s pushed down the top lane at 35 minutes, pressuring the last lane of barracks and Liquid called GG shortly after, unable to stop the Russian juggernauts.
With elimination on the line, both teams brought their absolute best once again to this hotly contest lower bracket series. Unfortunately, only one team could move on, and it was Liquid who triumphed over Virtus Pro in a 45 minute game. VP went with a strong teamfight lineup this time around, picking up an AA, Void, Mag and QoP. Team Liquid went with a strong pushing lineup, with a Venomancer, and notably, a Nature’s Prophet for Mind_Control who was the absolute MVP of this game.
Game three started in similar fashion to game one, with aggression coming from both teams supports. Liquid seemed to have a much better time compared to game two, especially with the global presence from Mind Control, who picked up two early courier snipes as well. VP’s rotations were also crucial, especially Ilya 'Lil’ Ilyuk's Slardar. Then, as the game went into the 10-20 minute mark, the contest settled into mostly small skirmishes, and periods of farm as both teams looked to hit their power spikes. The real story of the mid and late game, however, was Ivan 'Mind_Control' Borislavov Ivanov's play on his Nature’s Prohpet, as time and again his split-pushing dissuaded VP’s attempted aggression.
In the game’s final stages, a fight at 31 minutes spelled what seemed to be the turning point for Team Liquid, as they forced VP back off of the Roshan pit via Mind_Control’s rat. Although he died, Mind_Control ended up taking out a ranged barracks in the top lane, which forced split fight at the Roshan pit, allowing Liquid to take the aegis and a few kills along with it. From there, Liquid used the aegis advantage to farm up, and as VP tried to get aggressive, Mind Control simply split and forced VP back. The contest lasted another 15 minutes, ending at the 45 minute mark as Liquid found a big kill on Pavel '9Pasha' Khvastunov at 41, transitioned into an aegis and the victory a few minutes after.
Team Liquid move on to face one of the Chinese juggernauts, iG or LGD as they play in the next lower bracket game.
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This question gets old, but can Liquid KEEP doing it and take down one of the Chinese dragons in the next series?
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