StarLladder i-League StarSeries S3 group B open with an EPIC series Liquid vs VG J
picture courtesy of esl-gaming
Day two of the StarLadder i-League Star Series features only Group B matches, with two Chinese teams fighting in front of their home fans for a spot into the playoffs. First to step on the big stage were Vici Gaming J taking on Team Liquid.
The Bo3 series started with an epic game one that lasted 78 minutes. Bai 'rOtk' Fan opened the draft with the Nyx Assassin and Keeper of the Light and was a little bit surprising to see Team Liquid drafting a Naga Siren- Mirana - Batrider lineup into Vici Gaming J’s openings.
The early laning stage went totally in Liquid’s favor with constant pressure on VG.J’s youngster, Liu 'Freeze' Chang. His Storm Spirit got killed three times in the first minutes of the game while Maroun 'GH' Merhej became extremely annoying for the Chinese with his constant roaming and rune steals. The snatched bounty runes not only crippled VG.J’s supports who couldn’t find their fast levels, but also boosted GH’s progression towards a Blink Dagger.
Despite of all the aggression on Freeze, VG.J were able to begin their comeback at the 19 minute mark when they surprised Liquid with a smoke gank and wrapped around from behind the tier one tower on the Radiant side. Although Liquid used all their big ultimates, the Naga Song, Moonlight Shadow and Batrider’s Lasso, they still got wiped out. With the tier one tower gone, VG’J made their Roshan attempts a bit easier and the game was played around the Aegis timer from the mid stage to the end.
In theory, the late game stage was favoring Liquid with their Naga - Radiance split push, but VG.J managed to control her amazingly well with the Illuminate spams coming from Xu 'fy' Linsen while Mirana was obliterated by rOtk’s Nyx every time she showed on the map. Around the 30 minute mark, VG.J secured the Aegis for their Storm Spirit and were ready to push for the enemy base. However, the mission proved difficult and it wasn’t until they built all the defensive items like Lotus Orb and Linken’s Sphere, that the Chinese team was able to break high ground . As the game went to the late stage, both sides made mistakes and kill trades were happening with every engagement. VG.J even felt over confident around the 40 minute mark, after they took the mid lane tier three tower, and paid with their lives. Fifty minutes into the game, with two lane of barracks gone, Liquid were still able to push VG.J via mid lane and took down the barracks there. The game was a continuous fight for objectives in the last 20 minutes, at times the Chinese getting themselves in a lot of trouble with unnecessary fountain dives.
After finally securing Mega creeps at the 72 minute mark, rOtk’s team was still not able to close the game and got themselves almost in a base race scenario. However, while Liquid was pushing the Dire tier four towers with Mirana, Slardar and Rubick, Sun 'Agressif' Zheng single handedly repelled them and defended his throne which enabled the rest of VG.J to raze Liquid’s base.
For the second game, Liquid secured a fast push oriented lineup with KotL, Terror Blade and Beastmaster and a role swap between Lasse 'MATUMBAMAN' Urpalainen and Amer 'Miracle-' Al-Barkawi who went mid lane on Terror. Realizing they needed to shut down Miracle, VG.J invested a lot of resources in the early laning stage to focus him down, but in doing so, they lost rOtk’s offlane Underlord who got dominated by MATUMBA’s Timbersaw.
Although VG.J managed to get a lot of pickoffs and a fairly big lead in the laning stage, Liquid turned the game around close to the 20 minute mark, when they successfully defended their tier one tower bottom lane. Two team fights won in a row were all they needed to execute their pushing strategy and although they were defending the high ground 17 minutes into the game, ten minutes later they were demolishing VG.J buildings to push the series into a decisive game three.
For the last game of the series VG.J went with a very similar draft with game two, the difference being made by a Shadow Fiend for Freeze and a Warlock for Fy. The outcome however, was pretty much the same. rOtk died a few too many times in the bottom lane and despite a good laning stage for Agressif on Ursa, he couldn’t make the difference for his team once the five man Dota started. Continuously kited, unable to reach Liquid’s Sniper while the Europeans had the better initiation with the Centaur Blink-Stomp, VG.J were eventually sent to the lower bracket.