Redemption for China as LGD Gaming shines, tops Group A after Day 1 in Bucharest
The season’s second Minor is now underway in Bucharest, and 4 teams saw action as the first matches of Group A got things started on Day 1 of the event. LGD Gaming, Infamous, and Immortals made their season LAN debut, while Team Secret returned to the big stage after a strong showing at the StarLadder i-League Minor just a few days ago. By the end of the day, we had one team secure a top 4 spot and a place in the playoff bracket, while 2 more teams were set up for a do or die elimination match in Group A.
Group A: LGD Gaming(2) vs Infamous(0)
Group A kicked off with a match up between Chinese squad and direct invitee LGD Gaming and South American squad Infamous. Both teams came into the event with questions and in serious need of a strong performance to quell some of the doubts surrounded both squads. LGD Gaming come into the event without support player Victoria, forcing its coach, QQQ(formerly 357) to step in temporarily. On top of that, LGD Gaming are playing under a bit more scrutiny following the dreadful performance of fellow Chinese teams Newbee and Vici Gaming at the StarLadder i-League Minor. On the other hand, Infamous came in with some doubts of their own, having won its spot at this event due to the disbanding of Digital Chaos.SA. With little to no LAN experience, this South American squad is an unpredictable variable up on the big stage.
Game 1 appeared to be going well for Infamous, as it quickly got out to a comfortable lead against LGD. Unfortunately, Infamous found its lineup lacking with regards to pushing high ground and breaking base, and LGD proved particularly adept at holding its defensive position. Infamous made a few attempts to force the issue, but all that seemed to do was accelerate LGD’s progression. Infamous didn’t appear to have an answer for LGD’s Winter Wyvern, as the largely physical damage based Infamous squad couldn’t break through Cold Embrace and lost out on kills on a consistent basis. With all of this extra time and farm, LGD Gaming eventually hit its power spike and turned the game in its favor to bring down Infamous.
Game 2 went in a similar fashion for both teams. Infamous drafting a lineup with a good amount of pushing power, but once again found itself lacking when the time came to push onto the high ground of LGD’s base. As the game progressed, Infamous became more and more reliant on its core Sven to carry it through fights, while LGD’s lineup got stronger as a whole with heroes like Arc Warder, Faceless Void, and Shadow Fiend scaling significantly better. The team fight potential for LGD proved too strong, especially once it could control and kite the Sven to nullify most of Infamous’ damage. This game was marked by sloppy execution by both teams, but LGD’s lineup had a strategy that was significantly simpler to execute effectively, and that won out in the end.
This series was certainly an exciting start to the action in Bucharest, but it wasn’t exactly the best or cleanest Dota we’ve seen from these two teams. The series was marked by an alarming amount of almost random kills that really shouldn’t have happened so frequently, contributing to the sense that the execution from both teams was somewhat lacking. LGD manage to take a solid 2-0 win here, but it can’t be overly satisfied with how it played in that opening series. Infamous is likely to be just as disappointed, as the team didn’t quite look like it was playing at 100% in its two matches of the day. The South American squad was actually leading at points in both games, and had played itself into a position to win, but just didn’t have the lineups it needed to break high ground and close out games. Moving forward, it seems Infamous needs to address its drafting strategy for its next matches, as the team really struggled to break LGD’s base and finish off games. For LGD, the squad’s high ground defense and team fight coordination looked solid, but it needs to step up its level of play to avoid close calls like this one.
Group A: Team Secret(0) vs. Immortals(2)
Team Secret and Immortals headlined the second series of Group A on Day 1. Secret entered the event fresh off of a rampage through the European region during the initial qualifiers, followed up by a strong showing at the StarLadder i-League Minor. These performances had the squad coming into the event as one of the top teams in the Pro Circuit and perhaps a favorite to win in Bucharest. On the other side of the matchup, Immortals has had a rouger time in its region, as North America is significantly harder to win out in this season than in times past. The Korean squad has looked solid through the NA qualifiers, but we haven’t gotten the chance to see them in a LAN setting yet this season. However, after the performance that compLexity Gaming put on at the StarLadder i-League Minor, people may be on alert regarding NA teams on LAN.
Game 1 saw Team Secret draft a seemingly aggressive, team fight oriented lineup along with a last pick Arc Warden that added a solid farming and pushing option to fall back on. Immortals drafted a heavy magic damage based lineup, but through in a last pick Chaos Knight to add to its already strong pushing power and add a physical damage dealer. Secret’s cores looked strong and fairly tanky, but the Dragon Knight and Doom became too reliant on their long cooldown ults, while Immortals could maintain its aggressive maneuvers almost constantly. Chaos Knight found too much farm, and Team Secret didn’t have a reliable method to kill him off in fights. Though Secret had a fantastic high ground defense around the 35 minute mark that bought them some time, it only delayed the inevitable as the squad still had no answer to the Chaos Knight.
Game 2 saw Immortals double down on the aggressive play that had won them game 1. The team drafted Pugna and Wyvern for the second game in a row for both magic damage and sustained pushing power, while picking up Spirit Breaker, Bloodseeker, and Bounty Hunter to pressure Secret. Team Secret’s draft looked a little shaky, with a last pick Huskar and a Brewmaster pick that would leave Secret again relying on high cooldown abilities to fight. Secret was simply run over in this match, as Immortals refused to let up on its pressure. The Huskar was constantly ganked, the Ember Spirit found limited farm, and Brewmaster’s ult was largely ineffective and wasn’t enough to turn fights in Secret’s favor.
Immortals refused to slow down for even a single second in this series, with 2 straight lineups designed to constantly run at Secret and give them no time to farm up or prepare for fights. Secret didn’t appear to make the adjustments draft-wise, not being able to field a lineup that could stand up to that insane level of aggression. It seems the only way to beat Immortals’ aggression may be to go for it yourself, but that may just be playing into the exact style Immortals want. Immortals’ performance has the team looking strong in Group A, and the squad is in a strong position to claim a top 4 spot moving forward. Meanwhile, Secret looked a little shaken up in this series, finding difficulties adjusting against such a fast and aggressive style of play. Fortunately for the European squad, it’s unlikely the team is forced to play against another team as fast-paced as Immortals, so Secret should be able to calm things down and regroup for Day 3 to keep its hopes for back to back top 4 finishes alive.
Group A: Immortals(1) vs. LGD Gaming(2)
Group A closed out Day 1 with the winner’s match between LGD Gaming and Immortals for the top spot in the group and a place in the playoff bracket. Despite taking a 2-0 win against Infamous, LGD looked a bit shaky coming into this match up. The squad’s execution and performance in that first series seemed sloppy and somewhat disorganized, and the team was behind against Infamous for a decent portion of its matches. Immortals on the other hand, looked insanely strong after basically demolishing a top level team like Secret. On paper, this one looked very one sided, as Immortals looked to continue its highly aggressive strategy against LGD. The Chinese squad’s chances for victory hinged on its ability to figure out an answer to Immortal’s aggression where Team Secret could not.
Game 1 seemed to play perfectly into the game plan for Immortals, as the squad continued the employ the fast paced strategy that saw it bring down Team Secret. The team drafted an Io and Sven combination, backed up by a Venomancer for farming and pushing potential and the support Winter Wyvern that had served it well in the previous series. LGD drafted a lineup built for team fights and crowd control, but the Chinese squad found itself getting off to a slow start that left its cores lagging behind early. Immortals took fight after fight, all the while pushing lanes with Venomancer. By the 20 minute mark, Immortals had taken a lane of barracks and Sven was too big to be brought down, and LGD couldn’t mount a comeback.
LGD needed a big change in strategy to turn the series around, and game 2 provided just that. LGD decided to try out Immortals’ aggressive play style for itself, drafting a trio of mobile cores alongside a Night Stalker and Winter Wyvern combination that would look to pressure Immortals at every turn. Immortals itself seemed to turn away from the aggression that had seen it through its first 3 games. Another Io pick was paired up with and Outworld Devourer that wasn’t fully prepared to fight early. Though the Immortals lineup did eventually come online in the mid game, LGD’s 5 man pushes and movements left Immortals without any openings to take a successful fight.
After deviating from its usual play style in game 2, Immortals chose to go back to what had been working for it previously. The team drafted the Winter Wyvern and Pugna combination that they had employed multiple times before, adding a Bloodseeker and Nature’s Prophet in an attempt to recapture the aggressive style that had gotten it to this point. LGD opted for a highly mobile and strong initiating trio of Storm Spirit, Earth Spirit, and Clockwerk, throwing in a Silencer to disrupt the enemy’s team fight coordination. The Immortals lineup was succeeding in pushing early on, but as the game progressed it became more apparent that it lacked the same teamfight potential as LGD. Immortals lacked a solid form of initiation, and its attempts to start fights were often countered by well timed Global Silences from Silencer. The Immortal lineup never seemed to click, and LGD had the initiation and team fight power to turn Immortals back at every turn and take control of the game for a 2-1 series victory.
Immortals had made it to this point by overwhelming its opponents with aggressive plays and constant pressure, but LGD managed to turn the Koreans’ strategy against them, employing an aggressive strategy of their own. Immortals threw an Io pick into the mix in game 1, but the team’s signature aggression remained against an LGD lineup that needed time and space to get off the ground. LGD chose to play aggressively themselves in Game 2, while Immortals changed things up and went for a slower lineup that needed time to come online. LGD’s aggression found pick offs, then transitioned into lane pushes and 5 man group ups for LGD which secured the game. By the time Immortals went back to its old play style in game 3, it was too late and LGD looked as though it had adapted to the fast pace. Immortals will have another chance to secure itself a spot in the playoff bracket on Day 3, as it will face an elimination series against the winner of the preceding match between Infamous and Team Secret. For LGD, the victory secures the Chinese squad the top spot in Group A, alongside a place in the playoff bracket and a minimum of 30 Qualifying Points. The Chinese squad has a bit of a break before it sees action again, as its excellent performance on the event’s opening day ensures that LGD won’t have to play until the fourth and final day of the Minor.