EPICENTER Major: OG out with a bang; Gambit's TI9 invite dream crushed by Alliance
Title image courtesy of EPICENTER
OG put on an extraordinary performance despite losing to PSG.LGD, while Alliance snatched the last TI9 invite from Gambit and forcing them into the qualifiers.
No loser in a brilliant show
After an off-day on Thursday 27th, the heat picks up again in playoff day 5 opening with a rematch between Group D contestants PSG.LGD and OG. Responsible for the elimination of giants such as Evil Geniuses and Team Secret in this event even without Johan 'n0tail' Sundstein, OG faced the Chinese titans with their coach, Titouan "Sockshka" Merloz, once more.
Getting their hands on the scary composition of Tiny+Io+Gyrocopter, PSG.LGD convincingly dominated the early game in the first of the bo3 series, despite their opponent's attempt to counter with a Dark Seer+Earth Spirit pick. It wasn't until 10 minutes in did OG manage to secure their first kill, rewriting the score into 1-11. Even with the huge advantage in levels, PSG.LGD wasn't able to pull ahead significantly in gold due to Anathan 'Ana-' Pham's excellent farm on Lifestealer, while OG stroke hard from behind by playing as 5 and picking off Yao 'Maybe' Lu's Tiny repeatly. It looked that OG had a fair chance of coming back until at minute 26, they got caught trying to take on Roshan, losing the ensuing fight against PSG.LGD and giving them a 9k lead in gold for the first time in game. Everything then slowly went down the slope with no return for OG.
Game 2 commenced with an aggressive 3 vs 3 on top lane, and action packed full to the brim, averaging almost 2 deaths per minute. With Topias 'Topson' Taavitsainen's favoured solo mid Shadown Demon establishing an early advantage, the 2 teams kept neck-and-neck in income, kills and carry net worth until a drawn-out teamfight at 27 minutes saw OG giving 7 kills to their opponents back-to-back. Recovering from the bloodshed, both sides quickly gathered around the Roshan pit and another, 4-minute long fight broke out, in which OG lost thoroughly to PSD.LGD, bought back on 4 of their heroes, then died back on them all. During these battles, Yang 'Chalice' Shenyi's Legion Commander donated each of her Duels to Shadow Demon, diminishing his ability to influence the battlefield with Disruption. The game soon ended with a 44-25 score in favour of the Chinese team, and a 13-4-13 Legion Commander at 35 minutes.
Contest for TI pass: a battle worthy of songs
The hype was through the roof for the Gambit vs Alliance match, to the point it got dubbed 'the real Grand Finals of EPICENTER Major' as it determines which team would get their ticket to Shanghai and which would have to fight their way through the bloody pits of qualifiers if they want a chance at the biggest event of the year. The teams last confronted each other at ESL Birmingham, where Gambit came on top 2-0 against Alliance.
Gambite opened up the first game with hopes on their Shadow Fiend+Lone Druid dual cores to carry them through. However, they soon began to lose all 3 lanes, especially with their Doom getting constantly picked off by Timbersaw played by Samuel "Boxi" Svahn on top lane. Snowballing from his early edge, Timbersaw had 6 kills under his belt at 7 minutes and used his mobility to help Alliance to dominate in coming teamfights. Winning one of those at 26 minutes and turning it into a Roshan kill, the European team went highground at 31 minutes and took an easy win with a 25-8 score.
The CIS team defended their last stand with all they could muster in the 2nd game, including giving Alexander "Immersion" Hmelevskoy his famed Earth Spirit. The strategy did work well for them early on, and with several kills on the enemy Morphling, the game started to tilt Gambit's way. From 16 minutes on, all major fights seemed to surround the Roshan pit, with the teams trading advantages back and forth, until Alliance found out about Gambit's sneaky attempt at 38 minutes, demolished them in a teamfight and took the aegis. This resulted in the Russians losing their mid barracks and whatever momentum they had gained up to that point. Still, Gambit gripped tightly onto their will to win, and managed to swing the tide decisively in the next Roshan fight, putting the 2 teams back on equal footing by rolling the Europeans' gold lead on them from 15k back to 2k. The clock slowly ticked towards 63 minutes, with all 10 players on both sides on their highest alert and most intricate maneuvers, when the dam finally broke into a 5-minute, epic clashing that again happened around Roshan. In spite of some amazing saves by Earth Spirit and exceptionally well placed Tidehunter ulti's, Gambit lost the fight and subsequently the series, while Alliance celebrated the fruition of their hard work after sticking together for a whole season through thick and through thin.
Round 4 - Best of 3
Round 5 - Best of 3
Round 6 - Best of 3
Best of 5
The last DPC event takes place in Moscow, Russia at the VTB Ice Palace June 22-30, with 16 teams competing for the lion's share of the $1,000,000 prize pool and more importantly, the highly coveted DPC points. The last four TI9 invites will be determined at the event, making this the most intense major of the season so far.