History repeats itself in Shanghai, as PSG.LGD and OG defeat Vici Gaming and EG to set up a TI8 rematch in the Upper Bracket Finals, while Team Secret and Infamous keep their TI9 dreams alive with wins in the Lower Bracket
Day 3 of the Main Event of TI9 brought with it some intense drama in Shanghai, as fans around the world were treated to some of the best Dota of the entire event. With the Main Event Bracket advancing further and further, the stakes for the teams still alive in the field were rising at a rapid rate, and those teams still contending for the Aegis of Champions certainly rose to the challenge on Day 3. By the end of the day 2 squads had locked down guaranteed Top 3 finishes at TI9, 2 more squads were officially eliminated from the event, and every remaining team in the field had secured themselves a place in the top half of the event standings with at least a Top 8 finish in Shanghai.
In the Upper Bracket, a match up of Chinese powerhouses took center stage, as PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming faced off in a regional grudge match. Despite the hype coming into the series, the actual matches ended up being fairly one-sided, with PSG.LGD largely controlling the pace of play to secure itself a strong 2-0 victory. The other Upper Bracket series proved to be much more dramatic though, as Evil Geniuses and OG faced off in a rematch of their Upper Bracket series at TI8. After trading one-sided victories in the first 2 matches of the series, OG put on a dominant show in the final match, breaking the game open in the mid-game stage to claim a 2-1 win in the series and secure a place in the Upper Bracket Finals.
In the Lower Bracket, the Day 3 schedule began with a match up between North and South America, as Newbee took on Infamous with a Top 8 spot on the line. While the series ended up going the distance with 3 total matches, each of those matches proved to be significantly one-sided affairs, with the teams trading wins in Games 1 and 2 before Infamous managed to close things out with a strong showing in Game 3 to earn the first ever Top 8 TI finish for a South American team. The other Lower Bracket series produced perhaps the best series of the entire event, as Team Secret and Mineski faced off in a series that had all the calling cards of an instant classic. Every single match in the 3 game series featured some incredible late-game dramatics, with the 2 squads fighting it out to the very end in an intense roller coaster ride of a series. Off the back of 2 near miraculous comeback wins, Team Secret managed to take the series 2-1, keeping its TI9 run alive and surviving by the skin of its teeth. With their defeats at the hands of Infamous and Team Secret, the duo of Newbee and Mineski had their TI9 runs brought to an end, with the 2 squads joining VP and TNC Predator with finishes in the 9th-12th place positions in the event standings.
Final Position: 9th-12th
Eliminated by: Infamous (1-2, Lower Bracket Round 2)
Total TI9 Record: 10 Wins, 11 Losses
Final Position: 9th-12th
Eliminated by: Team Secret (1-2, Lower Bracket Round 2)
Total TI9 Record: 10 Wins, 10 Losses
Day 3 Matches
PSG.LGD vs. Vici Gaming
Bo3 (2-0 PSG.LGD Win)
Game 1 of the series began in relatively slow fashion, as both squads looked to secure early farm for their cores rather than commit to fights and skirmishes. Over the first 20 minutes of the match, the 2 teams record a total of just 5 kills as engagements proved to be few and far between. Beyond that point though, the teams began picking up the pace of play, as both Chinese squads looked to take advantage of their damage and team fight power. As the match shifted into the late-game stage, PSG.LGD began to build up a small lead for itself, but the 2 squads still appeared to be close in terms of their kill count and team fight strength. In the end though, PSG.LGD was able to string together back to back team fight victories to finally drain the last of Vici Gaming’s strength. Without buybacks and with the majority of its roster dead, Vici Gaming opted to concede defeat as it fell behidn 0-1 to begin the series.
In stark contrast to the slow pace that began Game 1, the start of Game 2 saw both PSG.LGD and Vici Gaming commit to a much faster style of play, as the 2 teams clashed frequently in the early stages of the match. From the chaos of that frenetic pace, Vici Gaming managed to gain the upper hand, building up a modest net worth lead for itself with a series of pick offs and strong team fight performances. However, the tides would slowly begin to turn as the match moved into the late-game stage, with PSG.LGD claiming multiple team fight victories that seemed to snatch control of the match out of Vici Gaming’s hands. In an attempt to reclaim its momentum, Vici Gaming opted to commit buybacks and force an ultimately unsuccessful fight, resulting in significant damage to its base as the team’s net worth deficit ballooned to an alarming size. That gambit left Vici Gaming with just a single remaining opportunity to mount some form of comeback effort, but the subsequent team would result in a loss that forced the squad to concede defeat as it fell 0-2 in the series.
OG vs. Evil Geniuses
Bo3 (2-1 OG Win)
The start of the series saw EG adopt an aggressive style of play in the early stages of the game, as the team focused on early rotations and movement in an effort to apply high levels of pressure to its opponent. That strategy appeared to have its desired effect, as EG pushed out to a sizable net worth lead early in the match. As the game progressed, EG continued to press the attack, establishing complete control of the match and pushing OG back into its own base in the process. Despite OG’s best efforts, the European squad could do little to stand against EG’s onslaught, as the squad scrambled to find any answer to its opponent’s aggression. Behind a combined 22-1-34 stat line from its core trio of Terrorblade, Lina, and Enchantress, EG closed out the match in absolutely dominant fashion to claim a one-sided victory and a 1-0 lead in the series.
Game 2 saw the roles between the 2 squads reversed, as this time around it was OG that opted for an aggressive posture in the early stages of the match. While that aggression caught EG off guard at first, the North American squad was quick to respond, with the 2 teams committing to a flurry of fights and skirmishes that resulted in 26 total kills over the first 15 minutes of the match. As the match moved through the mid and late-game stages, the 2 squads continued vying for control, with the net worth lead changing hands multiple times as the momentum of the game shifted back and forth. Eventually though, OG managed to break through, opening up a sizable net worth lead and claiming the first set of barracks to put EG on the defensive. Sensing its moment to strike, OG put together one final push to sweep away the last of EG’s defenses and close out a win to even up the series at 1-1.
OG opted for a repeat of its aggressive opening in Game 3 of the series, as the European squad looked to push the pace early to prevent EG’s Anti-Mage pick from building up any early momentum. While the 2 teams remained even in terms of overall kill count, OG’s aggressive maneuvers succeeded in slowing EG’s core down a bit, allowing OG to build up a solid 5k net worth lead by the 20 minute mark. Unfortunately for EG, its opponent would only continue to build upon that early lead, pushing its way into the North American squad’s base and securing itself Mega Creeps at the 26 minute mark. EG made one last desperate attempt to stave off defeat with a final team fight, but that effort proved insufficient as the squad was wiped out to suffer a 1-2 defeat in the series.
Newbee vs. Infamous
Bo3 (2-1 Infamous Win)
Game 1 saw Infamous put together some aggressive maneuvers early in the match, as the South American squad exerted heavy pressure on Newbee to both rack up early kills and create space for its carry Wraith King to farm. That early pressure forced Newbee into a position in which it was playing catch up throughout the mid-game stage, as the squad struggled to match the strength of its opponent. Unfortunately for the North American squad, all of its efforts proved woefully insufficient to turn the tide of the match, as Infamous kept the pressure up and swept its way past all of its opponent’s defenses to claim a dominant victory to open the series.
After a slow start to the previous match in the series, Newbee endeavored to avoid that situation at the start of Game 2, playing at a slightly higher pace that earned the North American squad a sizable net worth advantage in the early stages of the game. As the match progressed, Newbee continued to increase its lead, taking advantage of its high levels of damage and control to find multiple pick offs and team fight wins. Forced into a defensive posture, Infamous struggled to hold back the assaults from its opponent, as the South American squad hoped to buy time for its core heroes to come online and match the strength of their counterparts. As it turned out, that moment didn’t come in time, as Newbee pushed into its opponent’s base and wiped out Infamous’ defenses to claim a fairly one-sided victory that evened up the series at 1-1.
The decisive final match of the series began with both squads looking to fight early on in the match, with the 2 teams committing to an intense level of fights and pick offs over the first 20 minutes of play. While the kill count remained even between the 2 teams over that span, Infamous was able to out farm its opponent in between those engagements, building up a significant net worth lead thanks to the heavy levels of farm on its core trio. As the game moved into the mid-game stage, Infamous pushed further and further ahead, repeatedly taking the better of team fights as the South American squad appeared to be forcing its opponent back into a defensive posture. Newbee simply could not seem to find its footing in the late-game stage, as the North American squad scrambled to find some sort of answer and hold off the repeated attacks from its opponent. The team could not find those answers though, as Infamous closed out the match behind a combined 22-12-36 stat line from its core trio of Wraith King, Leshrac, and Slark to claim a 2-1 victory and lock down the first ever Top 8 finish for a South American squad on the TI stage.
Team Secret vs. Mineski
Bo3 (2-1 Team Secret Win)
The first match of the serie saw Team Secret opt for a surprising strategy, as the European squad took a last pick Meepo alongside a Carry Visage. That duo proved slow to find its footing in the match itself though, as Mineski was able to apply early pressure and dictate the pace of play through the early and mid-game stages. Across that span, Team Secret found itself playing from behind in terms of net worth, as the squad desperately attempted to buy more time for its core heroes to build up their strength. Facing Mega Creeps and with both of its Tier 4 towers lost, things weren’t looking good for Team Secret, but the squad’s moment of triumph eventually revealed itself. After a stunning late-game team fight victory wiped out Mineski’s lineup without buybacks, Team Secret rushed headlong down the middle lane, throwing caution to the wind as it barreled its way into Mineski’s base to complete an incredible comeback victory. Team Secret’s near miraculous turn was so sudden that the team still trailed by over 16k net worth after it toppled Mineski’s Ancient to claim a 1-0 lead in the series.
Much like in Game 1, Mineski jumped out to an early advantage in Game 2 of the series, establishing a favorably pace as quickly as possible. Behind the team’s early aggression, Mineski built up a sizable net worth lead, keeping Team Secret on the defensive once again as the Southeast Asian squad appeared to be in control heading into the late-game stage. Despite facing that formidable deficit, Team Secret refused to go down without a fight, as the squad attempted to use its high damage heroes to extend the match as long as possible in the hopes of making another comeback effort. As the match carried on, those efforts began to bear fruit, as Team Secret slowly shifted the momentum of the match in its favor with a series of near unbelievable team fight wins. By the 50 minute mark, Team Secret had pushed into the base of Mineski, threatening the Ancient itself before Mineski pulled off a miraculous defense to stop Team Secret dead in its tracks. With the majority of Team Secret’s lineup dead without buybacks, Mineski rushed down the middle lane to go straight for the enemy’s Ancient to claim an incredible victory that tied up the series at 1-1.
The final match of the series saw Mineski opt for a fairly tanky lineup, combining cores of Wraith King, Death Prophet, and Ogre Magi with a support duo of Shadow Shaman and Ancient Apparition. On the other side of the match up, Team Secret focused on team fight power and sustainability with cores of Faceless Void, Tiny, and Omniknight with Rubick and Elder Titan supports. For the first time in the series, it was Team Secret that was able to establish an early lead, as the European juggernaut pushed forward thanks to some aggressive kills and efficient farming over the first 20 minutes of the match. Despite holding that early advantage, Team Secret wasn’t quite able to knock out its opponent, as Mineski worked its way to an even footing in the late-game stage, effectively resetting the match. The shift in momentum continued even further over the next few minutes, with Mineski actually establishing a sizable net worth advantage of its own and dealing a fair bit of damage to Team Secret’s base as well. Unfortunately for Mineski, the squad couldn’t hold on to that lead, as Team Secret came firing back with a massive team fight victory to completely sap the strength of its opponent. With most of its buybacks expended and only a couple of heroes left to defend its base, Mineski could not withstand the final assault from Team Secret, as the European squad pulled out another late-game comeback to finish the series 2-1.
Day 4 Upcoming Matches
Royal Never Give Up vs. Team Liquid
Day 4 will feature a match up in the Lower Bracket that very few people expected to see, at least not this far into the Main Event itself. Team Liquid, after a disappointing Group Stage run, has come alive in the Lower Bracket in Shanghai, posting 3 straight wins against Fnatic and TNC Predator to earn this position in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket and a guaranteed Top 8 spot in the TI9 standings. On the other side of the match up, Royal Never Give Up also put together a poor showing in the Group Stage, finishing that first segment of TI9 with an abysmal 3-13 record. Like Team Liquid though, the Chinese squad has hit its stride in the Main Event, knocking out Alliance in a Bo1 before pulling off a stunning 2-0 upset win over VP to earn its place in this particular match up. Both squad have turned slow starts into incredible success in Shanghai, but 1 of the amazing runs that we’ve seen from these 2 squads will meet its end by the time this series is over. The question is which squad will actually be the one to have its TI9 run brought to a close, as the 2 squads appear to match up fairly evenly in terms of their performance at TI9 itself. Of course, Team Liquid likely comes into the match up with a decent advantage due to the pedigree and experience of its roster, but RNG has shown that it is not willing to back down from any opponent regardless of their name or reputation. Considering the momentum that both squads have been able to build up so far in the Lower Bracket, this series sets itself up to be an incredible match up as both teams looks to push for a guaranteed Top 6 spot at TI9.
Infamous vs. Team Secret
Much like the other match up in Round 3 of the Lower Bracket (RNG vs. Team Liquid), this series will feature a match up that very few could have possibly predicted prior to the start of TI9. On the one side stands Infamous, the lone South American representative in Shanghai and a team that many doubted would make it to the Main Event in the first place. On the other side of the match up is Team Secret, a squad that won multiple Major Championship titles this season, finished at the top of the Pro Circuit Rankings, and was widely considered to be the best team in the Dota 2 world. Those narratives have both shifted a bit as TI9 has unfolded before us, with the 2 squads putting together some dramatically different runs in the Main Event so far. For Infamous, the story has been one of pleasant surprises, as the South American squad fought its way past Keen Gaming in the Bo1 elimination matches, then proceeded to put together an impressive 2-1 victory over Newbee that saw the squad significantly out play its opponent across its 2 wins. For Team Secret, the story in the Main Event so far has been one of long, drawn out matches that the European powerhouse has struggled to maintain control in. The squad lost its Upper Bracket series to EG in a 3 game series in which no match lasted less than 41 minutes of game time, and its most recent bout with Mineski saw the squad trail in terms of net worth within the last 5 minutes of every match in an intense 2-1 victory that required a pair of stunning late-game comebacks. At this stage in the Main event, any accomplishments or momentum from the regular season has long since lost its importance, and with Team Secret struggling while Infamous appears to be building up its strength, anything could happen in this do or die series.
Evil Geniuses vs. Royal Never Give Up/ Team Liquid
The final series of Day 4 will feature a match up with a bit of mystery to it, as we won’t know 1 of the participants prior to the start of the day’s matches. The winner of the RNG vs. Team Liquid match up that will be played at the start of Day 4 will end up advancing to this series, with that team facing the daunting task of playing 2 Main Event series in a single day. While one side of this match up remains unknown as of this moment, the other participant has already been decided, with either RNG or Team Liquid set to face off against EG following their loss to OG in the Upper Bracket on Day 3. Regardless of which opponent EG faces off against in this match up, the North American squad is likely to be considered the favored team coming into the series, based upon their performance to this point in the event. The squad put up a 9-7 Group Stage run (one that included a 2-0 win over potential opponent RNG), and managed to take down Team Secret 2-1 before finally falling out of the Upper Bracket after an admirable 1-2 defeat at the hands of defending TI Champion OG. However, that isn’t to say that either Team Liquid or RNG won’t come into this series with no chance of finding success in their own right. Both teams put together disappointing showings in the Group Stage, but have turned things around with some impressive showings on the main stage, with RNG racking up 3 straight wins against Alliance and Virtus.pro while Team Liquid did the same against Fnatic and TNC Predator. No matter which of those 2 teams manages to claim victory and advance to this series, they will likely prove to be a formidable challenge for EG as all parties involved look to advance to Round 5 of the Lower Bracket and claim a guaranteed Top 4 finish at TI9.