Team Liquid return from the post TI7 vacation to claim the first minor of the season
Undefeated up to the StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3 grand finals, Team Liquid looked to prove everyone that winning The International is not a curse, but rather just the beginning of the long road to the next Aegis of the Immortals.
Team Liquid had an almost perfect run in the first minor of the season. They’ve topped their group with clean 2-0 victories and reached the playoffs grand finals undefeated. Their adversaries came to the SL i-League Invitational #3 grand finals after a lower bracket run in the group stage and one impressive series against compLexity Gaming in the playoffs semifinals. Perhaps thirsty for revenge against the ones who defeated them on the very first day of the tournament, Mineski opened the best-of-five series with a win over Liquid but crumbled under the pressure afterwards
Team Liquid opened the grand finals with a heavy spell damage draft with only one right clicker, namely a Lasse 'MATUMBAMAN' Urpalainen favorite hero, Lifestealer. The laning stage went terrible for the TI7 Champions who lost all three lanes. Matumba got decimated bottom lane by a classic Bane-Mirana, Arrow into Nightmare combo, Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Ivanov struggled to stay alive in the offlane against Daryl Koh 'iceiceice' Pei Xiang’s Night Stalker while Amer 'Miracle-' Al-Barqawi was continuously bullied in the mid lane by Chai 'Mushi' Yee Fung’s Venomancer. Eight minutes into the game Mineski were leading Liquid 6-1 in terms of kills and were keeping Liquid under control really well with the Mirana and Night Stalker continuous rotations. At the 10 minute mark Liquid decided they had enough and grouped the entire squad mid lane forcing Mineski to a five man Dota that was not really favoring the Malaysian team who would have preferred to keep the ganking game rolling.
Liquid’s transition into the game mid stage was smooth, and despite being nearly 7K gold behind they were the first team to claim a tier three tower along with ranged barracks via mid lane. However, their hero line-up faded away pretty fast by the 30 minute mark, when four Mineski heroes had the BKB up and all Liquid’s combos and spell damage were nullified.
Anucha 'Jabz' Jirawong on a support Clockwerk was Mineski’s secret weapon. His Initiations and team fight control, sometimes even blind hooks, enabled his team to power through Liquid’s mid game possible comeback and take the first game of the series.
Liquid had the first pick in game two and decided to take Venomancer for themselves and reserved their last pick for a Miracle Terrorblade to which Mineki responded with a last pick Arc Warden for Iceiceice. Liquid’s mind games started from how they arranged their heroes in the lane. They've sent Furion mid to stand against Mushi’s Viper and had Miracle solo safe lane which helped him find a fast level six while the two supports ensured that all the lanes go in Liquid’s favor, especially by keeping the Arc Warden in check.
Unlike the previous game, Liquid were able to push the towers extremely fast and with ease, most of the times not even needing Miracle to join them. Venom’s Plague Wards along with the Furion Treants were enough to take objectives one by one. When the high ground push time came, Miracle was already six slotted and with the Aegis on him as well, Liquid didn’t have any problems to even the score, resuming the best-of-five grand finals to a bo3 scenario.
The third game of the series begun with Team Liquid invading the bottom Bounty starting rune but the adventure ended up pretty bad for them, with Mind_ControL stuck on the cliff and the rune being denied by Mineski. Not only the start of the game went poor but Liquid also lost the laning stage, and much more like in game one, Mineski looked unstoppable. However, despite Liquid being lead 11 to 2 in kill score by Mineski at the 12 minute mark, Matumbaman was topping the net worth chart, ahead of Mushi’s Anti-Mage even. With him being able to stay on par with the Anti Mage item progression and with Miracle on his signature Invoker, Liquid were able to slowly recover. They’ve played patiently, waiting for Miracle to get his Aghanim’s Scepter and with the first window of opportunity, they changed the tides in their favor by taking first a tier three tower and the ranged barracks.
When Matumba was ready to leave the jungle and join his team, Maroun 'GH' Merhej stole the Magnus Empower and in combination with the Invoker Alacrity buff placed on the Lifestealer, Liquid became unstoppable and pushed themselves one game away from the championship title.
In the last game of the series, Team Liquid drafted a GH specialty, Keeper of the Light to complement a full pushing line-up. Mineski tried to salvage the game with a last pick Alchemist but unfortunately for them, it was not enough. Without any anti-push power, not in the early game at least, they’ve lost all the three lanes extremely fast and admitted defeat in just 20 minutes time.
With their first minor event victory, Team Liquid are now the Pro Circuit leaders with a total of 450 qualifier points already in the bag. The 450 points are per team, each player winning 150 points from their StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3 victory. The top three players contribute to the team total points.
SL i-League Invitational Season 3 prize pool and Dota Circuit Points (DCP) distribution:
1st place: $130,000 + 150 DCP/player Team Liquid
2nd place: $65,000 + 90 DCP/player Mineski
3rd/4th place: $30,000 + 30 DCP/player compLexity Gaming, Team Secret
5th/6th place:$15,000 Natus Vincere, SG e-sports
7th/8th place: $7,500 Newbee, Vici Gaming