Alliance conquer Starladder|i-League XIII
A few days ago Starladder almost replaced their future champions, but Alliance were determined to make it to Minsk and fight their way back to the top of the DotA 2 scene. And they've done it in the most convincing manner possible.
They've marched through snowstorms and overcame delayed flights because they knew Minsk was their proving grounds, the place where all the naysayers would change their minds and hearts and the opportunity to justify their controversial Shanghai Major invite after their WCA title was deemed too insignificant by both community and analysts. There's no question that the patch favors their style, but there's so much one can take away from Alliance before recognizing their true TI3 Champions pedigree, especially now since they are reunited. And what better way to make an epic comeback other than battling it out with the TI5 Champions after defeating the popular Team Secret and Team Liquid.
When teams have to play a best-of-three grand finals, the entire mentality and game approach changes. There is no time for experimental drafts, nor a warm-up opening game one. A win in the first game of the series puts you one step closer to the trophy and Alliance seemed to have clearly understood that.
Evil Geniuses, on the other hand, were a bit indulgent with themselves and during the first draft of the day chose to ignore all Henrik "AdmiralBulldog" Ahnberg heroes and the Jerry "EGM" Lundkvist Io. Instead, they wanted to go with a greedy draft that involved a last pick Luna for Artour "Arteezy" Babaev with a Queen of Pain for Syed Sumail "Suma1L" Hassan and the first appearance at Starladder|i-League of Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora’s Dark Seer.
Alliance of course didn’t hesitate and went with Furion for Bulldog and Io for EGM while the last pick for Jonathan "Loda" Berg - Wraith King was a forced choice since all other valid pairing heroes for the wisp were banned.
First blood happened at the beginning of the laning phase when Alliance denied Universe’s secret shop farm attempt, quite a weird first kill given the fact that Universe saw the rotation in time to retreat.
Unlike what we are used to see coming from a Furion Alliance draft, this time the Swedes went extremely aggressive from early laning phase and destroyed EG. Alliance was leading the board with an 8-2 kill score eight minutes into the game and once they transitioned into the mid game Io was ahead of Queen of Pain in net worth.
Team fights were impossible to win for EG because of a smart itemizations from Loda who built an early Blademail that made Luna’s ultimate unusable. Having to play with a huge deficit, EG decided to try a sneaky four man smoke into Roshan’s pit but Bulldog scouted them with his trees and instead of retreating EG took a bold decision to use a second smoke to surprise Alliance with a gank in their jungle. But even so, they weren’t able to find any kill, losing three of their heroes instead while Arteezy’s ultimate was still not used.
A few minutes later it was Alliance who claimed an uncontested Roshan and placed the Aegis on s4-Puck. With that, they forced the issue on high ground but a 3-2 and an Aegis trade was made in favor of EG and Alliance decided to postpone the final push.
Feeling a bit more confident and really in need to make things happen, the boys in blue smoked and adventured outside their base, trying to find a pickoff. Unfortunately for them, there was nobody left in the Radiant jungle so, EG decided to push the tier one bottom tower. The objective was taken but with a huge cost as they got team wiped and their base melt down once Alliance arrived at their door. The GG was called at the 27 minute mark.
Alliance’s hero pool in this patch put Peter "ppd" Dager in a lot of trouble and he was forced for the second game of the series to use the first two bans on Io and Nature’s Prophet and to first pick Batrider while trying to secure a global map presence with a Zeus for Suma1L and Spectre for Arteezy.
Again, EG refused to believe that Alliance will go for the early aggression, despite having Lone Druid and Chen on their side. The drafting stage ended with a last pick Night Stalker for Gustav "s4" Magnusson who was prevented by ppd to play one of his signature Puck or QoP.
Only four minutes into the game Alliance was grouped as four with a Chen’s army carefully selected by Joakim "Akke" Akterhall to secure early first tower gold for his team, which he did as EG was not willing to make the same mistake of engaging so early.
The first blood came a minute later when Bulldog lost his life to level six Zeus but that didn’t prevent him from getting a nine minute Hand of Midas for Alfredo the bear.
Although there were not so many kills happening, Alliance took the map control very fast which made Spectre’s farm quite hard to acquire. With only one kill in 17 minutes this surely wasn’t EG’s plan when they drafted the Batrider - Zeus - Spectre combo.
Alliance’s early dominance allowed them to try a first high ground push at the 19 minute mark, when they took the first tier three tower and forced a double buyback on EG (Spectre and Venomancer).
The scenario of the first game repeated itself; Alliance regrouped, got an uncontested Roshan kill, placed the Aegis on Loda, this time around and resumed the push. But now Arteezy was better prepared to face the Alliance snowball with a Radiance of his own which made things a bit harder for the Swedes who got again pushed out of the base with another double buyback, this time from Zeus and Witch Doctor.
Mirroring perfectly the story from game one EG used a four man smoke in hopes of catching someone in their jungle but again nobody was hanging around.
Alliance changed the lane and charged the bottom lane of barracks. 33 minutes into the game Bulldog got an entangle on Venomancer, forced an unfavorable exchange for EG who had no more buybacks to trade and that was the moment which secured the Starladder|i-League trophy for Alliance.
There were no shady tactics involved in this victory, no sneaky maneuvers won them the title but sheer determination, the perfect mindset and the will to live up to their own DotA 2 history. Alliance plowed tower after tower, forced buyback after buyback, but no immovable object could stop this unstoppable force and now the Northern Overlords returned and they brought the winter with them.