EG, OG earn TI8 rematch in Upper Bracket, Newbee, Team Secret drop to the Lower Bracket, and VP, TNC Predator are handed early exits in Shanghai on Day 2 of the Main Event
After the excitement and high stakes of the 4 Bo1 elimination matches on Day 1, Day 2 of the Main Event brought us a quartet of Bo3 series as the action carried on in Shanghai. In the Upper Bracket, another 2 teams were slated to lock in guaranteed Top 6 finishes at TI9, while 2 squads would be consigned to the Lower Bracket for the remainder of their runs at the event. Speaking of the Lower Bracket, there were a pair of series to be played there as well on Day 2, as 2 more teams were set to be eliminated from the event.
In the Upper Bracket, OG got things started with a dominant 2-0 sweep of Newbee, guaranteeing the squad a Top 6 finish and moving it closer to its goal of becoming the first team to ever win multiple TIs. In the other Upper Bracket match up, North American squad Evil Geniuses turned in a incredibly showing against Team Secret, outlasting the European powerhouse in a stunning 2-1 series to advance to Round 2 of the Upper Bracket. With their respective victories, EG and OG are set up for a rematch of their clash at TI8, which was played in the exact same position in the Main Event bracket 1 year ago in Vancouver.
In the Lower Bracket, Virtus.pro faced off against Royal Never Give Up in a Bo3 elimination series, to some rather shocking results. The CIS juggernaut fell flat in this do or die series, as the squad was outplayed by its Chinese opponent at seemingly every turn. In just under 63 minutes of total game time, Royal Never Give Up pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the event so far, knocking VP out of TI9 while guaranteeing itself a position in the top half of the event standings in the process. The final series of the day saw Team Liquid face off against TNC Predator, with the TI7 Champion seemingly rousing itself from its Group Stage stupor with a pair of impressive late-game surges to catch TNC Predator by surprise and claim a 2-0 victory in the series. With their defeats in the Lower Bracket, the duo of Virtus.pro and TNC Predator saw their runs in Shanghai come to a close, with the 2 teams being the first of 4 to claim finishes in the 9th-12th place position at TI9.
Final Position: 9th-12th
Eliminated by: Royal Never Give Up (0-2, Lower Bracket Round 2)
Total TI9 Record: 8 Wins, 12 Losses
Final Position: 9th-12th
Eliminated by: Team Liquid (0-2, Lower Bracket Round 2)
Total TI9 Record: 10 Wins, 11 Losses
Day 2 Matches
OG vs. Newbee
Bo3 (2-0 OG Win)
Game 1 saw OG employ the core Io strategy that it had repeatedly found success with in the Group Stage. However, Newbee looked to push the pace of play right from the start of the match, hoping to apply enough early pressure to slow down the OG lineup. Unfortunately for North American squad, that pressure wasn’t enough to shut down OG’s heroes, as Topson’s Bristleback (8-2-11) took over the match and spearheaded a brutal charge for OG that shifted control of the match into the European squad’s hands. What followed was an absolutely dominant stretch that saw OG smash its way past every defensive effort that Newbee could put together, as the TI8 Champion claimed a one sided victory to open the series.
The second match of the series saw OG as the squad looking to be aggressive in the early stages of the game, as the European squad opened up a sizable net worth lead over the first 20 minutes of play. Behind a strong combination of farming power and team fight strength, the squad kept Newbee on the defensive as its cores struggled to keep pace with their counterparts. While the North American team put together an admirable series of defensive efforts, it could do little to close the gap as OG continued to push its advantage further and further while chipping away at its opponent’s base. The repeated assaults from OG eventually broke through the Newbee defenses, sapping the team’s strength and opening the way for another dominant victory to secure an impressive 2-0 sweep of the series.
Team Secret vs. Evil Geniuses
Bo3 (2-1 Evil Geniuses Win)
Game 1 saw the 2 squads top for differing strategies in the early game. Team Secret looked to buy time and create space for a core trio of Wraith King, Tiny, and Enchantress, but EG’s game plan called for early aggression and fighting to limit the growth of those core heroes. EG’s aggression afforded it a sizable advantage in the early stages of the match, with the North American squad finding a number of early pick offs and beneficial skirmishes. While the early pressure gave EG a sizable advantage, that lead largely faded out as the match moved through the mid and late-game stages, as the cores of Team Secret accrued an impressive level of farm to even up the match in terms of net worth. Unfortunately, that farm didn’t allow the squad to match the team fight strength of its opponent, as EG reestablished control late in the game with a series of dominant fights. Team Secret needed a miraculous series of victories to turn the tides of the match, but those miracles did not materialize for the squad, as EG closed out the match to claim a 1-0 lead in the series.
Unlike its predecessor, Game 2 of the series saw the 2 squads remain fairly close in the early stages of play, as neither team led by more than 3k net worth over the first 20 minutes of the match. As things moved into the late-game stage, EG began to break that deadlock, building up a modest net worth lead while beginning to take more control of the map. Despite facing a sizable deficit in terms of net worth, Team Secret managed to extend the match, buying time for itself as the squad looked to find its opening to launch a full comeback effort. As the match approached the hour mark, that patience appeared to pay off, with Team Secret managing to swing the net worth lead into its own favor as the momentum of the game began to shift. With its control over the match slipping, EG threw everything it had into one final fight in an attempt to shatter the rapidly building momentum of its opponent. In the end though, Team Secret held firm, claiming victory in the fight to wipe out EG and its buybacks to even up the series 1-1.
The final match of the series began with EG on the defensive, as Team Secret was able to apply a high level of early pressure to build up a big net worth lead in the laning phase. While the kill count remained fairly even through the first 25 minutes of play, Team Secret pulled away rather significantly in terms of net worth, building up a lead of over 12k during that time frame. Once again though, the late-game stage would see a dramatic shift in momentum, as EG began turning team fights in its favor to chip away at Team Secret’s sizable lead behind a combined 21-8-42 stat line from its core trio of Phantom Assassin, Ember Spirit, and Enchantress. By the 40 minute mark, the North American squad had fully turned the tide, wiping out Team Secret’s lead entirely and catching the European team without buybacks to complete a ridiculous comeback win to take the series 2-1.
Virtus.pro vs. Royal Never Give Up
Bo3 (2-0 Royal Never Give Up Win)
The opening match of the series saw VP load up on heroes with damage and team fight control, putting a core trio of Lifestealer, Storm Spirit, and Tidehunter together with supports of Enigma and Ogre Magi. However, RNG opted to get aggressive with some high damage heroes of its own, relying upon a core trio of Alchemist, Leshrac, and Abaddon to provide farming power and team fight strength alongside a support duo of Shadow Shaman and Shadow Demon. The Chinese squad quickly exerted control over the game, shutting down a brief surge from its opponent and establishing clear control of the map while finding heavy levels of farm on its core heroes. By the time the mid and late-game stages rolled around, VP was having difficulty bringing its considerable team fight power to bear, as the CIS squad could not consistently find the right execution to pull off its desired strategy. Without that team fight power to fall back on, VP crumbled under the assault from RNG, opting to concede defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series.
Game 2 ended up starting much like the previous match had, with RNG seemingly controlling the pace of the game despite trailing in terms of net worth throughout most of the first 20 minutes. In the mid-game stage, that control proved to be all that mattered, as RNG was able to out fight VP in multiple consecutive team fights to absolutely shatter any potential momentum that the CIS squad was hoping to build up. With its buybacks expended and a net worth deficit of over 9k at the 32 minute mark, VP felt that it had exhausted all options, with the team once again conceding defeat to fall 0-2 and end its run at TI9 in shocking fashion.
TNC Predator vs. Team Liquid
Bo3 (2-0 Team Liquid Win)
Game 1 of the series began with TNC Predator looking to play aggressively, as the Southeast Asian squad was able to significantly out kill its opponent in the early stage of the match. That aggression applied a fair bit of pressure to the Team Liquid draft, with the European squad playing from behind heading into the mid-game stage. Despite surrendering some early kills, the Team Liquid cores were able to find sizable levels of farm, and the team quickly turned the tides of the match with team fight wins in the mid-game stage. TNC Predator was simply unprepared to take those fights, with the Southeast Asian squad just barely managing to hold on to avoid straight up losing the match after a particulalry hard push from Team Liquid around the 27 minute mark. Unfortunately for TNC Predator, the team didn’t last long after that, with the squad failing to hold back the next assault from its opponent to lose the match and fall behind 0-1 in the series.
Heading into the second game of the series, TNC Predator opted for a tanky, team fight oriented lineup led by a core trio of Bristleback, Death Prophet, and Tidehunter with Mirana and Oracle supports. For Team Liquid, the game plan revolved around farming power and damage, with the European squad picking up cores of Anti-Mage, Leshrac, and Underlord alongside Rubick and Shadow Demon supports. The 2 squads ended up playing at a somewhat slower pace for most of the match, eschewing frequent team fights in favor of building up high levels of farm on their respective cores. As the match moved into the late-game stage though, the pace of play began to pick up, with Team Liquid pushing out to big net worth lead behind an impressive performance from Miracle-‘s Anti-Mage (X-X-X). While TNC Predator’s lineup was tanky enough to significantly extend fights, it lacked the damage to break through its opponent. After one final, unsuccessful fight, the Southeast Asian squad conceded defeat to fall 0-2 in the series and end its run in Shanghai.
Day 3 Upcoming Matches
PSG.LGD vs. Vici Gaming
The first Upper Bracket series of Day 3 will be an all-Chinese affair, with PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming set to battle it out for a guaranteed Top 3 finish at TI9. These 2 squads come into this match up as two of the absolute elite teams in the Dota 2 world, having won a combined 4 Major Championship titles over the past 2 seasons. In terms of their relative strength, these two squads appear to match up fairly evenly, though PSG.LGD will likely come into the series as a bit of a favorite against its regional rival. Though Vici Gaming proved to be the more successful team during the Pro Circuit campaign, PSG.LGD’s consistent strength has proven to be an incredible asset so far in Shanghai. The team finished at the top of its group with a 13-3 Group Stage showing, and followed up that impressive feat with a dominant 2-0 sweep of VP in its first Main Event series. On the other side of the match up, Vici Gaming mustered a solid 11-5 Group Stage performance, but faltered a bit in its first Upper Bracket series with a hard fought and somewhat unconvincing 2-1 victory over TNC Predator. Even with that in mind, regional match ups among Chinese teams have delivered a multitude of surprising results over the years, and the difference between these 2 squads appears minor enough for either squad to reasonably come away with a victory in Shanghai.
OG vs. Evil Geniuses
For the second round in a row, Evil Geniuses is set to participate in a rather familiar match up on the TI stage, as the North American squad faces off against the same OG roster that it took on 1 year ago in Round 2 of the Upper Bracket of TI8. In addition to providing the Dota 2 world with a rematch of that incredibly TI8 series, this Upper Bracket series will also serve as a rematch of the teams’ Group Stage clash too, as OG took down EG 2-0 as part of its incredible 14-2 run in Group B. While EG finished a few spots below OG with a 9-7 Group Stage record, the North American squad came out on fire in its first Upper Bracket match up, going toe to toe with a Team Secret squad that many considered to be the best in the world, and walking away with an impressive 2-1 victory to reach this series. As for OG, the defending TI Champion had a slightly less challenging time in its first Upper Bracket series, as the squad absolutely demolished Newbee with a one-sided 2-0 sweep of that series. Based on the team’s dominant performance to this point in the event, it is hard not to see OG as the favored squad coming into this match up. However, EG’s defeat of Team Secret, its own successful Group Stage showing, and the sheer levels of skill and experience on its roster, make this match up a fairly even one as these 2 titans of the Dota 2 world will face off with a guaranteed Top 3 finish at TI9 on the line.
Newbee vs. Infamous
Day 3 of the Main Event will kick off with a clash between North and South America in the Lower Bracket, as Newbee will take on Infamous in a Bo3 elimination series. The match up is one that many likely didn’t anticipate seeing on the TI stage, as both Newbee and Infamous had relatively low expectations coming into this event. However, both squads have managed to defy those meager expectations so far, putting together some impressive performance against the elite teams in the Dota 2 world. Newbee managed to finish 9-7 in Group A to secure itself a spot in the Upper Bracket, while Infamous finished with a respectable 7-9 Group Stage record to advance to the Lower Bracket. From that point though, the team’s trajectories varied a bit, with Newbee suffering a massive, merciless 0-2 sweep at the hands of OG to fall out of the Upper Bracket while Infamous put forth a fairly one-sided victory over Keen Gaming in the Bo1 elimination matches in the Lower Bracket. In terms of relative performance, the 2 squads appear to be fairly even, but there is a rather significant difference in terms of the level of experience for the teams. The Infamous roster has displayed some exceptional skill so far at TI9, but stands as a team with fairly limited experience playing at the highest tier on the international level. Meanwhile, the Newbee lineup is full of veteran players that are much more familiar with the pressure of playing on the big stage in the Dota 2 world. Experience is certainly an asset, but at the end of the day this match up will be won by the squad with the stronger execution and team play. Based on their performances to this point in the event, this match up looks as though it could be the most closely contested series that we’ve seen so far at TI9.
Team Secret vs. Mineski
The phrase of “David and Goliath” gets thrown around to a decent degree in any sort of competitive environment, and coming into this match up between Team Secret and Mineski, the phrase certainly appears to apply. On one side of the match up stands a Team Secret squad that topped the Pro Circuit Rankings this season, claimed 2 Major Championship titles, and is considered by many to be one of, it not the best teams in the entirety of the Dota 2 world. On the other hand, we have a Mineski squad that struggled with consistency throughout the 2018-2019 campaign, never finished higher than the 5th-6th place position at a Pro Circuit event, and made a change to its lineup just days before its successful run in the TI9 Qualifiers. With that in mind, Team Secret will come into this match up as a clear and rather large favorite to bring down Mineski, and the Southeast Asian squad will certainly have its work cut out for it if it wants to pull off an underdog victory. However, it should be noted that Mineski managed to pull off a 1-1 split with Team Secret in their Group Stage match up, and after surviving its Bo1 elimination match against Na’Vi, the Southeast Asian squad will likely come into this series with a fair bit of confidence in itself despite taking on one of the top teams in the world. The match up will certainly fit the bill of a “David and Goliath” match up, but it’s always important to remember just how that ancient story actually ends: with David felling the giant Goliath. Mineski will have to hope that it is up to the task of emulating that feat in Shanghai, as the team looks to take down a giant of the Dota 2 world in Team Secret.