Liquid go to the Grand Finals of Esl One Manila
The unbelievable run of Team Empire at ESL One Manila came to an end with the semifinals series played against Team Liquid.
The game started slowly with the now typical rune trading and heroes going to their respective lanes, but with one unusual aspect, namely Adrian 'Fata' Trinks on LD and going mid against Puck. The first night was what Empire were waiting for with a Night Stalker rotation top, and they got first blood on Beastmaster, but Phantom Assassin dropped to the last tower shot. A gank on Beastmaster again broke out a big fight with an even trade after a masterfully stolen swap by Kuro 'KuroKy' Salehi Takhasomi. Empire’s attempts at aggression finally bore fruit as a clash at T2 bot on the Radiant side ended in a three for one trade in their favor, with perfect timing, just before Fata’s Radiance was completed.
Liquid returned this favor as an invasion of Empire’s Jungle turned bloody, with seven heroes down, four of which were on Empire’s side, and Phantom Assassin barely making it. Liquid were forced to defend their own jungle and Lasse 'Matumbaman' Urpalainen expertly denied himself with his wolves, forcing Empire to retreat. Puck went down to Night Stalker via Winter’s Curse and Vasily 'Afterlife' Shishkin was saved with a good swap, but Rinat 'KingR' Abdulin sacrificed his life to get him down river. Liquid pressed their advantage, going for more kills in mid and destroyed Dire’s T2, but as soon as Empire respawned they turned the tide, getting kills on Liquid’s retreat and leaving the score 15 to 17 with 26mins played. Empire’s constant aggression was punished with three down, while diving T2 mid with T1 still up, including the Puck dropping to a stolen Doom. With that done Liquid saw the blood in the water, pushed mid, popped PA’s Aegis and destroyed T3. The final clash in mid ended up in a wipe for Empire and them calling the GG.
Empire picked the bane of all pubs, a jungling Legion Commander with a very greedy draft, to counter Liquid’s strong push. First blood went to Empire, when Nature's Prophet dropped Witch Doctor solo top, but was shortly followed by a Chen gank in mid, resulting in Batrider’s death. Ivan 'Mind_Control' Ivanov was doing work in bot lane, got a kill on Crystal Maiden, followed by a haste rune and forced a Nature's Prophet rotation just to save his teammates before teleporting out and creating a lot of space. A fight broke out in the Radiant jungle with Beastmaster ulting Legion Commander, where the Death Prophet’s ult managed to get a triple kill, but finally died to a Spectral Dagger, leaving the score 3 to 6 at 7min. Liquid continued to pressure the jungle and sparked another fight, where Fata attempted to get four again, but this time Empire came out on top and nearly evened the score.
Things went a bit quiet with a few pickoffs here and there, but that wasn’t enough for Empire. They went aggressive in bot and it turned into a disaster. Only Spectre survived and when a full duration Freezing Field for Death Ward and Exorcism traded, the damage from Liquid was too much for Empire to handle.
Liquid continued to pressure, but Nature’s Prophet wouldn’t let top alone. With the Aegis advantage they advanced on T3 bot, lost DP twice and the T3 top of their own. Empire managed a few kills on the retreat including a Duel win against Antimage, with score of 17 to 19 31min. Liquid waited to take the next Rosh and then after a few pickoffs and recharging the Death Prophet’s ult, they went for it. They pushed T3 top, wiped out Empire and got the victory, ending the series 2-0.