TI7 Group Stage Day 1 Recap

Day one of The International 2017 is in the books, and in case you missed any of the action from Seattle, this post will hopefully serve to fill some of the gaps. Of course, covering every single game played on Day 1 would be long and tedious and not particularly entertaining to read, so we’ll try to cover the most important bits without wading through the minutia. Let’s start with the most relevant information first: the Day 1 schedule, and the group standings.

Schedule and Standings

ti7_groupstage_a
Group A Matches – Day 1
ti7_groupstage_a_standings
Group A Standings – Day 1
ti7_groupstage_b
Group B Matches – Day 1
ti7_groupstage_b_standings
Group B Standings – Day 1

So now you have the standings and the matchups from Day 1, but what actually happened in all of these games and series? For the sake of brevity and my own sanity, I won’t be providing a detailed description of every team’s games on Day 1, otherwise this “Day 1 Recap” wouldn’t be done until after the whole tournament ended. Instead, we’ll divide up the results from Day 1 into a few sections to discuss a bit, with some focus on a handful of facts, results, and stats that were noteworthy for the right or wrong reasons. Let’s start with some talk about the teams themselves, beginning with those that made bold statements in Seattle.

Teams

The Standouts

A handful of teams managed to make a splash in Seattle on Day 1, and in this section we’re going to highlight them and give a brief breakdown of the team’s matches and play styles. If you see a team in this section, it’s safe to say that it had an enjoyable day at TI.

Group A

LGD Gaming – LGD Gaming came out of the gate ready to play, and it showed from the team’s very first matchup. As one of the few teams playing 3 series on Day 1, the Chinese squad knew that it had a chance to set itself up for success early, and this opportunity was not wasted. The team played 6 games on Day 1, and didn’t lose a single one of them, opening up its group stage campaign with a perfect record. Though the team played with a few different styles throughout the day, one thing remained consistent for the Chinese squad no matter the opponent. LGD did an astounding job of identifying the key piece of the opponent’s strategy, and shutting it down.

Against Fnatic, LGD fielded a roster of heavy lockdown to limit the effectiveness of an Io pick, followed by a heavily gank-oriented lineup to track down and punish a risky Chen selection. LGD similarly countered the playstyle of Team Empire, its second opponent of the day. In game 1, the team played a fast paced, aggressive playstyle that overwhelmed Empire’s lineup en route to a 23-8 win. In game 2, LGD slowed the pace a bit, throwing a Terrorblade into the lineup against and Arc Warden for Team Empire. Empire needed to be active and aggressive early to slow down the TB and make space for its Arc Warden pick, but instead it was LGD who employed this aggression with a Spirit Breaker pick. While game 2 was not as brief as the first match, LGD was able to limit the effectiveness of Empire’s strategy, not allowing the opponents early successes to transition into a strong late game force. Team Secret was the final opponent of the day for LGD, and yet another team that would see its strategies countered by the Chinese powerhouse. In both games, Secret attempted to draft a lineup with high levels of teamfighting potential and sustainability. However, in both matches LGD took advantage of this with high volume farmers: Anti-mage and Timbersaw in game 1, and Alchemist and Ursa in game 2. These heroes were able to farm quickly and effectively, reaching power spikes that effectively won the game for LGD before Secret’s teamfight lineups could reach their most effective timings.

LGD’s performance on Day 1 was impressive on many levels. Not all teams can shift between different playstyles as smoothly and effectively as LGD did in its matches, and even fewer teams could do so in the perfect way needed to counteract the plans of its opponents. These first 6 games for LGD showed off the whole package of skills necessary for a winning team: strong and varied drafting, individual skill, cohesive teamplay, and an ability to identify and respond to opponents strategies. It’s a long path to the Aegis of Champions, but LGD Gaming took about as confident of a first step as one could make in Seattle.

Opponents: Fnatic(2-0), Team Empire(2-0), Team Secret(2-0)

Record(Day; Tournament): 6-0; 6-0

Most Picked Hero(Day; Tournament): Kunkka(4); Kunkka(4)

Most Banned Hero(Day; Tournament): Nyx Assassin(4); Nyx Assassin(4)

 

Team Liquid – Team Liquid was another of the teams from Group A to play 3 series on Day 1, though the European squad fell just short of matching LGD Gaming’s perfect record. Liquid came into TI7 as one of the favorites to compete for the Aegis of Champions, and they showed why on the day of action in Seattle. A 5-1 record puts Team Liquid just one spot behind LGD gaming in the standings after Day 1. Liquid’s playstyle remained a bit more consistent than that of LGD, though the results were similar in both cases. Liquid did what the team seems to love doing: out farming, out pushing, and outlasting its opponents until Liquid can eventually attack with overwhelming force.

In Liquid’s first series against IG.V we saw Liquid struggle against early to mid-game oriented ganks and teamfight. However, in both matches Liquid was able to find a way to outmaneuver its opponent, split pushing and farming until IG.V lost its momentum and left itself open to attack. Against Fnatic, Liquid decided to play more aggressively from the outset to keep the SEA squad on the back foot. In game 1, Liquid drafted a highly mobile lineup to constantly push and pressure Fnatic, forcing the SEA team to group up defensively well before it was ready to commit to a fight. In game 2, Liquid opted to play aggressively with a core trio of Lycan, Zeus, and Bristleback that was able to bully the Fnatic lineup from the very start of the match. Though Fnatic put up a reasonable fight, its lineup had no answer for the aggressive Bristleback play, and Fnatic folded to give Liquid another 2-0 series win. Liquid’s final series of Day 1 was against Evil Geniuses, and provided the European squad with its only loss of the group stage so far. Liquid started out strong in game 1, utilizing a last second surprise Broodmother pick to through EG off with a combination of strong pushing power and teamfight potential. Liquid took fights sparingly with this lineup, opting to bleed EG dry with constant split pushing and small skirmishes. Though EG put up a fight for a time, the constant pressure eventually took its toll on the team’s economy, leaving its cores with woefully inadequate levels of farm to contend with Liquid’s lineup. Game 2 was more difficult for Liquid, as EG managed to adjust to its opponent’s strategies with much greater success than in game 1. Liquid again drafted a lineup with heavy amounts of pushing power and control, but this time EG had pushing power of its own. Spearheaded by Lone Druid and Mirana picks, EG was able to counter Liquid’s pushes, and secure enough farm to turn the tides of the eventual teamfights. Though EG managed to crack Liquid’s strategy in the end, the European squad are still likely more than happy with the 5 wins it netted them in Day 1. The question now will be if the team is able to continue using this strategy against other teams, or if Liquid will have to adjust to avoid a downturn in Day 2.

Opponents: Invictus Gaming.Vitality(2-0), Fnatic(2-0), Evil Geniuses(1-1)

Record(Day; Tournament): 5-1; 5-1

Most Picked Hero(Day; Tournament): Earthshaker & Nature’s Prophet(4); Earthshaker      & Nature’s Prophet(4)

Most Banned Hero(Day; Tournament): Puck(5); Puck(5)

 

Group B

LGD.Forever Young – It was a fantastic day for the LGD organization at TI, as both of its teams ended up making undefeated starts on Day 1. While LGD.FY did not play as many games as its sister squad, it still managed a perfect 4-0 record en route to a top spot in Group B. If there is one word that sums up LGD.FY’s strategy on Day 1, that word would be sustainable. LGD.FY made a point of drafting lineups that were either tanky or capable to healing and sustaining itself through long teamfights. Because of this, the squad was able to force longer and more costly engagements for its opponents.

In LGD.FY’s first series against Execration, this strategy say its first success of TI7. Execration drafted a lineup full of highly mobile teamfight oriented heroes, headlined by a trio of Puck, Necrophos, and Weaver. In response, LGD.FY drafted its own trio of heroes with the intent of nullifying Execration’s aggressive lineup. LDG.FY’s core trio consisted of Dragon Knight, Doom, and Faceless Void, providing the Execration heroes with beefy targets that couldn’t be brought down in quick bursts as they had hoped. Execration’s lineup also relied heavily on magic damage, and when LGD.FY completed Black King Bars on its core heroes, its opponents could no longer keep up. Game 2 went in a much similar vein as the first match. LGD.FY picked a high damage core, and surrounded it with supports that could continuously heal and sustain a high level of aggression. Execration’s lineup was suited more towards a later game showdown, with Lifestealer and Tinker as the team’s primary heroes. LGD.FY’s lineup pushed too hard, and Execration’s heroes couldn’t burn through enough of LGD.FY’s healing to turn the game around. Against Hellraisers in LGD.FY’s second series of the day, the squad employed a similar strategy, with expectedly strong results. In both games, Hellraisers attempted to use a mix of pushing power and teamfight potential to control the tempo against LGD.FY. In both cases, LGD.FY drafted lineups built around high levels of teamfight capacity and sustainability. LGD.FY were able to force the full on engagements that it wanted, and with its teamfight oriented lineups were able to win those engagements and establish control of the map and the game for a second 2-0 victory.

LGD.FY displayed the persona of a brawler in Day 1, willing to fight it out with any team and any lineup that could be thrown at them. The fact that the team won all 4 of these matchups is testament to the Chinese team’s strength in this regard. It remains to be seen if the squad can adapt to another playstyle, but what we saw in Seattle on Day 1 was both encouraging and impressive. And LGD.FY sit atop its group as Day 2 dawns.

Opponents: Execration(2-0), Hellraisers(2-0)

Record(Day; Tournament): 4-0; 4-0

Most Picked Hero(Day; Tournament): Night Stalker & Oracle(2); Night Stalker &      Oracle(2)

Most Banned Hero(Day; Tournament): 7 Heroes Tied(2); 7 Heroes Tied(2)

 

The Letdowns

Just as there were some teams that came out ready to play in Seattle, there were others that had a less auspicious day in Seattle. We’ll try to keep this section as short as possible, but know that if you find a team in this section, then it’s probably trending downwards in the rankings.

Group A

Fnatic – Fnatic had 3 series slated for today’s schedule, which unfortunately did not go very well for the SEA squad at all. The team got off to a horrific start to TI, losing all of its series on its way to an 0-6 overall record for Day 1. It’s safe to say that the day could have gone much better for the team, as the squad faced struggles in match after match. No matter what Fnatic tried to do on Day 1, they were stymied by their opponents at every turn.

Fnatic went up against LGD in its first series of the day, a series whose results were outlined previously in the LGD Gaming section prior. As a brief recap, Fnatic attempted to run 2 lineups heavily dependent upon a single hero: first with an Io and again in game 2 with a Chen. In both instances, LGD were able to track down, control, and repeatedly kill these key heroes, effectively leaving Fnatic with no game plan and leading to 2 quick loses. Fnatic’s second matchup came against Liquid in another series that we previously covered. This time, Fnatic attempted to run highly mobile, gank oriented lineups, but were again stymied and outplayed by its opponents. Liquid drafted and played even more aggressively than Fnatic, turning the SEA squad’s strategy against it and leaving the team with no respite on its way to another 0-2 loss. A final matchup against fellow SEA team TNC gave Fnatic one last hope to salvage something positive from Day 1 in Seattle. Unfortunately for Fnatic, this series would also end in disappointment, as TNC seemed more than ready to handle the SEA squad. In both games, TNC drafted  hard hitting and controlling lineups anchored by a fast and hard pushing core, Naga Siren in game 1 and Tinker in game 2. Fnatic attempted to run lineups built around mobility and teamfight power, but simply couldn’t keep up with the pace dictated by TNC’s lineups.

The good news for Fnatic is that no team can statistically be eliminated from the group stage on Day 1, so despite the horrible start to its TI7 run, Fnatic aren’t out of the running just yet. It’s going to take a serious adjustment to its strategies and drafting, but Fnatic could still turn things around and put together a solid run to move up the standings. If Fnatic are planning on making a comeback, they have precious little time to adjust; one more day in this section of the recap and Fnatic may be out of TI entirely.

Opponents: LGD Gaming(0-2), Team Liquid(0-2), TNC Pro Team(0-2)

Record(Day; Tournament): 0-6; 0-6

Most Picked Hero(Day; Tournament): 3 Heroes Tied(2); 3 Heroes Tied(2)

Most Banned Hero(Day; Tournament): Batrider(5); Batrider(5)

 

Group B

Cloud 9 – Cloud 9 came into TI with some high hopes and expectations, but the squad stumbled out of the gate a bit on Day 1 of the group stage. Cloud 9 played 2 series today, but were unable to secure a win, ending the day with an 0-4 record that put it at the bottom of the standings for Group B. Cloud 9 didn’t go down without a fight in these games, but the squad couldn’t quite put all the pieces together to close out any of its matches.

Cloud 9 had the misfortune of opening its Group Stage run against OG, and its didn’t end well for the team. Cloud 9 played an extremely aggressive strategy in game 1, but were never able to transition that aggression into significant objectives and map control. OG were forced to play defensively for the first half of the game, but eventually found the farm and initiation opportunities to turn the game around and hand Cloud 9 its first defeat of the day. Game 2 saw both teams trying to force fights, but the healing and sustain from OG gave it a slight edge. Between fights, OG managed to consistently split push, forcing Cloud 9 further and further back with no way to overcome the sustainability of OG’s lineup. Cloud 9’s second matchup was against Newbee, and unfortunately this series didn’t go much better for it than the first. Cloud 9 looked for a farming, late-game oriented lineup in game 1 centered around a Naga Siren pick. Newbee pushed the tempo almost immediately, applying pressure and forcing fights before the Naga Siren had a chance to farm itself into a position to fight back. Game 2 went in a similar fashion, with Newbee drafting a fast pushing, “deathball” lineup that Cloud 9 wasn’t prepared to fight. Cloud 9 couldn’t execute its teamfight strategy effectively, and Newbee’s constant pressure and pushing proved too strong to overcome.

Cloud 9 had a bad first day at TI7, but the good news is that the squad only played 2 series on Day 1. The 0-4 start is not particularly encouraging, but Cloud 9 was close to winning many of its games on Day 1, which provides some hope that the squad can turn things around in the next few days.

Opponents: OG(0-2), Newbee(0-2)

Record(Day; Tournament): 0-4; 0-4

Most Picked Hero(Day; Tournament): Lich(3); Lich(3)

Most Banned Hero(Day; Tournament): 4 Heroes Tied(2); 4 Heroes Tied(2)

 

Other Stuff

High Jumps: LGD Gaming(Group A, N/A →1st), Team Liquid(Group A; N/A→2nd), LGD.Forever Young(Group B; N/A→1st)

Free Falls: Fnatic(Group A; N/A→9th), Cloud 9(Group B, N/A→9th)

Shortest Match: 16m:45s Evil Geniuses(W) vs. Invictus Gaming.Vitality

Longest Match: 58m:15s Team Secret vs. Infamous(W)

 

Heroes

In the Meta

In Day 1 of the Group Stage for TI7, there were 7 heroes to have a combined pick and ban rate at or above the 50% mark.

Night Stalker – (11 Picks, 23 Bans) Night Stalker was either picked or banned in an astounding 85% of matches during Day 1 of the Group Stage. Needless to say, Night Stalker is a strong addition to any team looking to utilize an aggressive playstyle. However, it should be noted that though Night Stalker was popular on Day 1, he wasn’t necessarily as successful as his popularity would suggest. Of the 7 heroes to have a pick/ban rate of 50% or higher, Night Stalker had the lowest win percentage at just 36.36%

Batrider – (16 picks, 16 bans) Batrider had the 2nd highest pick/ban rate at 80%, and was a staple of the offlane position in Day 1. Batrider seems like he always worms himself back into the meta every time a LAN comes around, so don’t be surprised if he continues to be on this list. Despite his popularity, Batrider is also a hero to have a less than stellar win rate, winning just 37.50% of his 16 matches so far.

Puck – (10 picks 21 bans) Puck saw action in multiple position in Day 1, which is a level of flexibility that makes the hero particularly wanted and dangerous amongst the teams at TI. When Puck did take the field, the results were somewhat positive, with the Faerie Dragon posting a 40% win rate.

Nyx Assassin – (10 picks, 20 bans) Nyx Assassin saw either a pick or a ban thrown his way in 75% of the matches on Day 1, and we saw why in those matches in which he got to participate. Nyx Assassin posted an 80% win rate during Day 1, a statistic that might draw even more attention towards this hero.

Faceless Void – (19 picks, 10 bans)Faceless Void was the belle of the ball at Day 1 of the Group Stage, being picked or banned in 72.50% of the matches. He led all other heroes in terms of number of games picked and held a win rate of 47.37%. With such a high pick rate and win rate hovering near 50%, there is little reason to believe that Faceless Void won’t remain within the top tier of the competitive meta.

Earthshaker – (13 picks, 13 bans) Earthshaker came into TI7 as one of the most popular heroes at the professional level, a trend that continued in Day 1 of the Group Stage as Earthshaker had a combined pick/ban rate of 65%. The heroes damage potential and multiple sources of control play into many of the play styles that have proven to be popular so far in Seattle.

Sand King – (9 picks, 11 bans) Sand King just barely makes the cut off for this list with a pick/ban rate of exactly 50%, with a win rate of 44.44% so far. The hero fits a role both as an aggressive ganker/initiator and a strong teamfighting option and damage source.

 

Other Stuff

Most Picked Hero(Day; Tournament): Faceless Void(19); Faceless Void(19)

Most Banned Hero(Day; Tournament): Night Stalker(23); Night Stalker(23)

Efficiency Hero(Day; Tournament): Kunkka(90% win rate, 10 games); Kunkka(90% win rate, 10 games)

Efficiency Zero(Day; Tournament): Lina(0% win rate, 5 games); Lina(0% win rate, 5 games)

Unpicked Heroes: Abaddon, Bane, Brewmaster, Clinkz, Crystal Maiden, Huskar, Lion, Meepo, Monkey King, Omniknight, Pudge, Skywrath Mage, Slark, Spectre, Tiny, Treant Protector, Undying, Warlock, Wraith King

Unbanned Heroes: Abaddon, Bane, Brewmaster, Centaur Warrunner, Clinkz, Crystal Maiden, Dazzle, Doom. Elder Titan, Gyrocopter, Jakiro, Juggernaut, Lina, Mirana, Monkey King, Morphling, Naga Siren, Ogre Magi, Omniknight, Phoenix, Pudge, Riki, Shadow Demon, Shadow Fiend, Skywrath Mage, Slardar, Slark, Spectre, Spirit Breaker, Tiny, Tusk, Underlord, Undying, Vengeful Spirit, Visage, Warlock, Windranger, Wraith King

Unpicked & Unbanned Heroes: Abaddon, Bane, Brewmaster, Clinkz, Crystal Maiden, Monkey King, Omniknight, Pudge, Skywrath Mage, Slark, Spectre, Tiny, Undying, Warlock, Wraith King

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