Team Liquid are crowned champions of the StarLadder i-League Season 3
Team Liquid battled VG.J over the SL i-League StarSeries Season 3 title and a potential direct invite to the Kiev Major.
The battle for the SL i-League StarSeries Season 3 title is over and the two protagonists, VG.J and Team Liquid, offered Dota 2 fans an amazing Grand Final full of breathtaking moments. Find out what happened in this series in the paragraphs below.
The draft for this game saw Team Liquid go for a durable line-up with hard to kill heroes like Timbersaw, Brew Master and Ogre Magi, while VG.J went for a high mobility one taking a Centaur and a Bounty Hunter.
In terms of fighting, the game started well for VG.J who got the first blood on Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Barqawi’s OD and then went on to make three more important kills in the first 10 minutes against Brew, Timbersaw and KotL. However, they lost heroes of their own in these exchanges and the superior farm on Team Liquid’s side provided the European team with a slight gold advantage after the laning phase.
Around the 13 minute mark a big fight broke out near VG.J’s mid lane Shrine resulting in multiple kills on both sides. Because of the Bounty Hunter however, the Chinese team had a lot to gain from this exchange. During the following seven minutes VG.J kept running at Team Liquid, getting track kills and taking a net worth lead. By minute 20 the score was 15-9 in their favor, translating into a 3K gold advantage. At this point the game was still balanced in terms of net worth and map control, with both teams having lost three tier one towers. But the fights kept going in VG.J’s favor. The Centaur ultimates and initiations, Lin Sen ‘fy’ Xu’s superb Rubick plays and the overall team coordination were simply too good.
28 minutes into the game VG.J secured an Aegis for Sun ‘Agressif’ Zheng’s Lifestealer and went on the offensive. Just a few minutes later they brought down Liquid’s top melee barracks and forced several buybacks. They did lose three of their heroes, including their Lifestealer during the assault, but by this point their gold advantage had grown to almost 15K.
At the 38 minute mark the Chinese team secured another Aegis, this time for their Sniper. And once again, they went high ground without hesitation. Initially they were repelled, and it looked like Team Liquid would be able to hold their base without taking any major losses. But just a few minutes later they returned, forcing buybacks on Miracle’s OD and Lasse ‘Matumbaman’ Urpalainen’s Timbersaw. And, just like the first time they had the Aegis, they stayed a little too long and dove a little too hard and lost multiple heroes. Overall however their gold advantage grew to 20K after this push.
More offensive maneuvers followed with the Chinese team trying to end the game, diving deep into Liquid’s base, forcing buybacks but not being able to take down key structures. Multiple losses on their side allowed Liquid to make a bit of a comeback and deal some base damage of their own. But, unfortunately for the Europeans, VG.J managed to secure a third Aegis on top of the advantage they already had, and with it were then able to push and end the game.
In game two Team Liquid took the Centaur for themselves and also gave Miracle his signature hero, Invoker. VG.J decided to go with the Lifestealer again and even managed get a Slardar to go along with it. Liquid’s last pick, Enigma, which came on top of a Warlock and an Invoker, got everyone’s attention and hyped the audience for a great confrontation with some amazing combos.
The game started well for the Chinese team with their mid Ember diving, solo killing Miracle’s Invoker and getting the first blood before dying himself to the tower. The two teams went head to head and traded several kills during the laning phase. At the 10 minute mark VG.J had a slight gold advantage, with their Dark Seer being the top net worth hero in the game. By minute 15 the Chinese team had taken a good tower lead, having destroyed the top and bottom tier one towers on Liquid’s side.
18 minutes into the game a big fight broke out and Liquid managed to kill all of VG.J’s cores thanks to a well-placed Black Hole. They quickly took several towers afterwards and forced a fight around the Roshan pit. Having won this battle, they secured the Aegis for Miracle’s Invoker and shortly after they went high ground. During this siege they managed to kill Agressif’s Life Stealer, force his buyback and then kill him again, getting VG.J to gg out in just 24 minutes.
For game three VG.J went back to the Juggernaut - Magnus combo which had won them their second game against OG. Liquid picked IO, Beastmaster and Ember Spirit, giving them excellent map vision and mobility. And they were going to have to make great use of these advantages in order to win against a line-up that had amazing team fight potential, with a Sand King and a Warlock on top of a Magnus.
The game started slowly with little interest in fighting or getting kills on either side of the map. VG.J went for a 2-1-2 setup with little to no roaming during the laning phase, while Liquid chose a 3-1-1 structure with IO occasionally helping Miracle in his mid-lane struggle against Liu ‘Freeze’ Chang’s Legion Commander.
The first blood went to Liquid this time, six minutes into the game, after Matumbaman’s Morphling took down Magnus. Just three minutes later however a great rotation made by VG.J to Liquid’s safe lane helped the Chinese team get a tier one tower and three important kills. More fights followed, with VG.J making great use of their team fight potential and quickly increasing their lead. By minute 16 they had an almost 5K gold lead and a significant map control advantage.
Around the 17 minute mark Liquid managed to kill Roshan without their opponents being aware of it. But VG.J didn’t seem to care about their Aegis advantage and just kept pushing, leaving the Europeans with no outer towers by minute 22.
In spite of having a 7K gold deficit 28 minutes into the game, Liquid began to make use of their line-up advantage by split-pushing and making VG.J run aimlessly around the map. Knowing that the Chinese team was making a Roshan attempt, Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej’s IO together with Matumbaman’s Morphling forced VG.J to teleport back to base and defend. Then, as soon as their team got two pickoffs, they went back to the bottom lane and destroyed the Barracks.
The hit and run tactics continued for another 20 minutes, with VG.J getting occasional pickoffs but not being able to go on the offensive themselves. Each time they had the chance, Team Liquid destroyed key structures from VG.J’s base, ultimately winning the game by ratting their opponents to death.
Team Liquid had first pick in game four and they decided to take the Centaur again. In response, VG.J immediately picked Storm Spirit and a Keeper of the Light to go along with him, obviously trying to counter the engage/disengage mechanism offered by Centaur’s ultimate. Besides these picks, the Chinese team went for more team fight and sustainability picks, while the Europeans went for sustainability and split push oriented heroes.
The game started well for Team Liquid, who secured the first blood for Miracle’s mid lane Anti-Mage just 36 seconds into the game. VG.J’s Storm Spirit died for a second time just two minutes later, putting AM at 2-0-0. The Europeans didn’t stop there and by minute 10 the score was 8-1 in their favor. From that point onward, Team Liquid made space for their Anti-Mage, who quickly got out of control doubling the Storm Spirit’s net worth at the 19 minute mark. Overall, the net worth difference between the two teams at this point was only 5K, but it was clear that the AM’s farm and item progression could no longer be hindered.
The first Aegis was claimed by Liquid 23 minutes into the game. Surprisingly, VG.J had a small comeback moment just two minutes later, killing everyone on Liquid except for AM. But it didn’t last long, simply because the Anti-Mage was a monster at this point, solo killing anyone he encountered on the map.
The game dragged on for 12 more minutes, with Miracle’s AM even being killed at one point and VG.J getting the second Roshan, but ultimately Team Liquid’s net worth advantage was too big and the match came to an end at the 37 minute mark.
As a result of this victory it’s pretty clear that Team Liquid are back and that their new roster has grown into a cohesive unit that can go head to head with any team in the world. However, a question still remains: now that they’ve proven themselves in this new formation, will they get a direct invite to the Kiev Major?