Evil Geniuses are the Star Series X champions after 3-2 victory against Secret
What they could not do last season against Empire and DK, they did it this season against Team Secret. Evil Geniuses are the StarLadder X champions, after their 3-2 victory in the best-of-five grand final. The Americans will be taking home the $106,000 first place prize.
The offline finals of Starladder X continued today with the fourth and final day of the event. Yesterday saw the demise of Team Tinker, Virtus.pro, IAP Execration, and Natus Vincere, effectively halving the participants. Cloud 9 defeated Alliance in a best-of-three series, and faced Evil Geniuses, who promptly beat them 2-1. The Americans then battled Secret in the best-of-five Grand Finals, taking an impressive 3-2 victory despite their enemies' Upper Bracket advantage.
Round 3 - Best of 3
Round 4 - Best of 3
Best of 5
Cloud 9 opted for a heavy push strat, securing a Terrorblade for EternalEnvy and a Beastmaster for FATA, accompanied by Lich, Skywrath Mage, and a Centaur Warrunner in the drafting phase. Alliance, on the other hand, opted for a somewhat unconventional draft, securing a Viper for Loda, a Void for AdmiralBulldog, along with Mirana, Witch Doctor, and a Legion Commander.
The first few minutes of the match favored Cloud 9, with an early first blood on Bulldog's Void, coupled with multiple pick-offs on Alliance's heroes. Envy and Aui_2000 on Lich went for a dual mid, effectively zoning out Apemother on the Legion Commander, who was only able to find a single duel victory in the entirety of the game.
Alliance were able to secure a few kills and teamfights, but the gold and experience lead for C9 just kept piling on, with Envy even soloing Roshan multiple times. Soon enough, EE accumulated a massive gold advantage over Loda, leading by almost 5000 gold by the thirty-minute mark. When the inevitable push from Cloud 9 came, there was little Alliance's underfarmed cores could do. Alliance tapped out, 42 minutes into the match.
In the second game, Alliance saw the threat of a Terrorblade pick, and outright banned it in the first phase of the draft. They drafted a Wraith King for Loda, a Brewmaster for Apemother, and Doom for AdmiralBulldog. Cloud 9, on the other hand, picked up Slardar for Envy, a Razor for FATA, and a Centaur Warrunner once again for Mag.
The early laning phase was a back-and-forth affair in terms of hero kills, with no team able to secure a definite lead. It was not the same in terms of towers destroyed, however, as Cloud 9 were able to destroy multiple towers early on.
28 minutes into the game, Alliance struck back, teamwiping C9 in a fight around the Rosh pit, securing themselves the Aegis, as well as a respectable gold and experience advantage over Cloud 9. The next few minutes proved to be uneventful, until the Swedes were able to pick off Envy and pieliedie via a smoke gank by the 35-minute mark. Riding off the back of the kills, Alliance were able to breach C9's mid lane, taking out the melee barracks.
With Doom effectively taking heroes out of the equation and the Brewmaster split forcing back the defending Cloud 9 heroes, Loda's Wraith King devastated C9's towers and barracks. After an extended teamfight in Cloud 9's jungle, C9's heroes were wiped, forcing out the GG by the 49-minute mark.
In the final game of the series, the Alliance went for an all-out push strat, with Loda on Lycan, Bulldog on his (in)famous Nature's Prophet, and Apemother on Jakiro, coupled with a Tide and a Witch Doctor. Cloud 9, on the other hand, countered with a push strat of their own, with EE again on Terrorblade, pieliedie on a Vengeful Spirit, and Mag once again on Centaur Warrunner, along with a Puck and an Enigma.
The early game saw a 5-0 lead in terms of kills from Cloud 9 by the eight-minute mark, but Alliance's heroes destroyed towers right and left, with C9 losing five towers a mere 13 minutes into the game. Alliance's momentum seemed to die down in the minutes that followed, however, as Cloud 9's heroes secured one kill after another against Alliance.
6.82's tower gold nerfs put the final nail in the coffin for Alliance, as the gold they earned through the destruction of Cloud 9's towers proved to be no match against the gold farmed by C9's powerful cores, with EE's Terrorblade earning a 10-0 standing.
The Alliance eventually surrendered by the 32-minute mark, earning the 4th place spot, whereas Cloud 9 advanced towards their best-of-three against EG.
Cloud 9 once again picked up a Terrorblade for EE, along with a Centaur Warrunner for Mag, which had pushing potential, as well as teamfight potential when coupled with their Magnus, Witch Doctor, and Ancient Apparition picks. On the other hand, EG drafted a Lycan for Arteezy, as well as a Slark for Fear, forming a solid pushing lineup combined with their Jakiro, Lion, and Earthshaker.
The early game saw a balanced string of kills on both sides, along with a great two-man RP-into-skewer combo from FATA's Magnus, which effectively ruined a gank coming from Zai's Lion and ppd's Earthshaker.
The mid-game, however, saw multiple kills from EG, who capitalized and pounced on various opportunities, which often ended up with C9 trading poorly. These teamfights, along with an ultra kill from Fear, slowly but surely ground down Cloud 9's defences, with EG accumulating a 30,000 experience lead, as well as a 20,000 gold lead by the forty-minute mark. Following another disastrous teamfight by the 41-minute mark, Cloud 9 decided to call out the GG.
In the second game, Evil Geniuses opted for a Visage-Vengeful Spirit combo, combined with Fear on Weaver and Arteezy once again on Lycan. Cloud 9, in a refreshing change of heroes, took up Tide for Mag, an Alchemist for Aui, a Bane for pieliedie, and a Brewmaster for FATA, with only EternalEnvy retaining his post once again on Terrorblade.
The early game saw C9's heroes find one kill after another against EG's lineup, along with EE easily bringing down towers. EG's heroes failed to destroy enough towers, as rotations from Cloud 9's squad made EG bleed for every inch of ground they took.
The situation looked bleak for EG, who struggled to find kills in the mid game. C9 effectively shut down EG's core heroes, and bit by bit, took control of the map.
When the time came for their push to commence, Cloud 9's Terrorblade plowed through EG's defences, forcing out the GG 33 minutes into the match.
In the final game, EG showed their players' trademark versatility, switching Arteezy for Fear with his Dragon Knight in the middle lane, and Universe on the safelane Jakiro, whereas ppd on Witch Doctor, Zai on the Ogre Magi, and Arteezy on Razor squared of in a trilane-versus-trilane matchup against Cloud 9's safelane: EE's Terrorblade, pieliedie's Vengeful Spirit, and Aui_2000's Visage, whereas FATA on the mid lane took up Puck, and Mag stepped up to the offlane once again with his Centaur Warrunner.
Early on, the EG trilane's aggression was relentless, resulting in a 7-0 lead for them a mere three minutes into the match. Envy's Terrorblade was severely underfarmed as a result of EG refusing to let up the pressure they were exerting against C9's lineup, as C9's heroes and towers fell all over the map.
EG continued to press on, taking Cloud 9's T3 bottom tower 17 minutes in, and destroying the bottom barracks by the 19-minute mark. C9 showed signs of life, however, as they fought back EG's assault on their T3 top tower, which resulted in four of EG's heroes dying. Cloud 9 staunchly defended their top T3 tower, fighting back one assault after another from EG.
With the massive amount of map control they gained in the early game, however, EG continued to tighten the noose against C9, who eventually surrendered, 31 minutes into the game.
GRAND FINAL - Team Secret vs. Evil Geniuses - 2 : 3
The Americans selected a familiar push-oriented lineup with Lycan, Tidehunter and Batrider as their cores. Secret responded with a variety of strong ganking heroes including an easy-lane Storm Spirit for Kuroky. The early game started ideally for Secret Team as they started with the solid 6-0 score. However, despite their successful gank attempts, Puppey's boys were unable to prevent Fear and Arteezy from farming effectively, and their core items arrived right on time. This became evident by minute 24, when a fight near the Roshan pit ended 3-0 in favor of EG, allowing them to get their second uninterrupted Roshan of the game.
The massive gold and experience advantage of Evil Geniuses did not allow Sven and Storm Spirit to have the teamfight impact they wanted, as the superior lockdown of Tidehunter, Batrider and Beastmaster helped the Americans burst down their targets at will. The 36th minute was the beginning of the end for Secret, with Arteezy using his Necronomicon and wolves to take down Secret's bottom barracks, while s4's Sven only managed to destroy the top tier-three tower. Secret attempted a counter-attack three minutes later to finish s4's job, but they were decimated by EG inside the Dire base. The Americans finished the game a few seconds later, winning yet another teamfight over the ruins of Secret's top barracks.
The two teams opted for similar teamfight-centered strategies, with Evil Geniuses selecting Tidehunter once again along with Ember Spirit and Slark, while Secret chose Morphling, Doom and Brewmaster for the top-three positions. Much like the first game, Secret made better early-game rotations, earning the lead on the scoreboard. The Americans attempted to shut down Kuroky's Morphling through the Lich-Ember Spirit mid-dual lane, and they were partially successful as Kuroky died three times before the seventh minute. However, Secret's well-timed ganks allowed the German to get back on his feet.
While it was not always obvious by the gold and experience graphs, Evil Geniuses were always one step behind Team Secret in terms of map control. With the exception of a sloppy engagement by minute 21, most of the mid-game engagements ended in favor of Secret. Nevertheless, Secret did not attempt to breach EG's base until the 30th minute, as the Americans successfully defended their base. The second raid came three minutes later, with Arteezy getting caught off-guard outside their base. Using the natural demolishing power of Morphling and Enigma, Secret not only got rid of the bottom set of barracks quickly, but also managed to win a decisive teamfight inside their enemy's base. Several buybacks were used by EG in a last-ditch effort to save their base, but their one-by-one engagements only resulted in more deaths. This costly mistake proved to be the last for the Americans, as they tapped out and called the GG.
Unlike their previous strategy, Secret Team decided to go for a lineup based on AOE damage more than single-damage burst. On the other hand, EG selected a similar strategy as the second game, picking Lycan and Tidehunter along with the unusual Puck for Fear. The earlier stages of the game heavily favored the Americans, as they managed to grab the first two kills of the game and force the Secret Team into a farming-defensive position instead of their preferred aggressive stance.
While both Kuroky and Simbaaa managed to find vast amounts of farm, Arteezy's Lycan quickly turned into the wealthiest soldier of the battlefield. Every gank attempt by Puppey and BigDaddy against EG's cores turned against them, as Fear's intervention resulted in uneven and bad trades for Secret and free Roshan kills for EG. Since history tends to repeat itself, both Visage and Lycan snowballed out of control, and their massive physical damage was too much for Secret to mitigate. The first barracks to fall belonged to Secret's middle lane, and their top set soon followed. The GG came with the Americans leading 24-7 and Secret getting teamwiped inside their base by minute 40.
Evil Geniuses deployed the exact same strategy as their previous game, using a Witch Doctor and Nyx Assassin instead of their previous supports. Refusing to deny Arteezy his Lycan, Secret attempted to counter the pick with Brewmaster, Doom and Medusa. The first minutes of the final game saw a lot of action for both teams, with EG again focusing on shutting down Kuroky's heavy late game carry. As ppd and Zai applied a lot of pressure on Kuroky, Secret's top trilane was forced to rotate rather early against Fear, allowing Arteezy to farm freely.
The first 30 minutes of the game were rather one-sided, and the game looked very similar to the previous one: EG won every teamfight, taking tower after tower and Roshan after Roshan with little resistance. A sign of hope for Secret arrived with 32nd minute, with Lycan getting caught off-guard and doomed before he popped his ultimate, allowing Puppey's gang to win a 3-0 teamfight by the Roshan pit. They then proceeded to take down their enemy's mid tier-two tower, only to get ambushed by UNiVeRsE's fresh double Ravage. Nevertheless, through a well-placed Fissure and Force Staff by BigDaddy, Kuroky survived the massacre.
Secret's dreams seemed crushed a little over 40 minutes into the game, as an unlucky Blink into UNiVeRsE's Ravage by BigDaddy resulted in a devastating 5-0 fight in favor of EG and the destruction of Secret's middle barracks. Luckily for them, they were able to snatch the next Roshan and reinforce their defenses for the Americans' second raid. Using the power of Keeper of the Light and Earthshaker, the European squad even managed to prolong the game long enough to kill a second consecutive Roshan, equipping their heroes with the Aegis and two pieces of Cheese.
Believing they had the teamfight advantage, Secret decided to intercept EG inside the Dire forest, but the Americans escaped the encounter using Tidehunter's Double Ravage with only two casualties while forcing two buybacks from s4 and Simba. Despite their buyback cooldown, Secret rushed to the middle lane, and even managed to destroy EG's middle barracks. However, UNiVeRsE's Ravage came off cooldown just in time, killing KuroKy twice and allowing the Americans to teamwipe Secret once again. With only two heroes standing, there was little Secret could do as the Americans marched forwards to claim their Ancient, as well as the StarLadder Season X's grand prize of $106,000.
Sunday, October 26
Team Secret, the team from the winner's bracket, will start the grand finals with a 1-0 advantage.
Headline image by Chris Romano and ESL One (flickr)
Rotator image by SLTV