Team Liquid sweep back to back series to claim Top 4 spot in Shanghai, while Team Secret pushes past Infamous for a match up with Vici Gaming
We’re beginning to come down to the final days of TI9 now, and the stakes continue to rise to an exciting degree as the last remaining teams in the field grow ever closer to the ultimate prize of the Aegis of Champions. While the previous day had set up the Upper Bracket Final between PSG.LGD and OG, Day 4 would exclusively feature action in the Lower Bracket, as the 8 remaining teams in the field would be cut down to just 5. By the end of the day in Shanghai, 3 more teams had been eliminated from the event, 1 squad would join PSG.LGD and OG with a guaranteed Top 4 finish, and the match up for that final Top 4 slot would be set.
The Lower Bracket action began with Team Liquid taking on Royal Never Give Up, with the European squad putting together a dominant Game 1 performance before outlasting its opponent in a marathon of a match in Game 2 that lasted over 78 minutes of in game time. After taking down RNG with a 2-0 series victory, Team Liquid proceeded to do the same against EG in Round 4 of the Lower Bracket, practically dismantling the North American squad with the combination of a late-game comeback in Game 1, and an outright blowout victory in Game 2. With those performances, Team Liquid pushed its winning streak in Shanghai to an incredible 7 games, and secured itself a Top 4 finish in Shanghai. The other Lower Bracket match up of Day 4 featured Team Secret taking on Infamous, with the South American squad’s Cinderella run at TI9 finally coming to an end as Team Secret rolled its way to a relatively one-sided 2-0 sweep. With their respective defeats, the trio of Royal Never Give Up, Infamous, and Evil Geniuses had their runs in Shanghai brought to an end, with the former 2 squads finishing in the 7th-8th place positions while EG claimed a 5th-6th place spot in the event standings.
While 3 teams did end up getting sent home on Day 4 of the Main Event, the day was not without some added levity in the form of the TI9 All-Star Match. Team Radiant (composed of SumaiL, Dy, miCKe, RAMZES666, and SoNNeikO) faced off against Team Dire (composed of pieliedie, Somnus`M, Tims, Nisha, and Miracle-) in a 5v5 game of All Random Death Match for the customary Cheese prize. Of course, the match itself became somewhat confusing considering the fact that Team Radiant played on the Dire side and Team Dire was on the Radiant side, but the match itself still proved to be entertaining. With 4 living heroes and 4 remaining respawns, Team Radiant claimed victory in the All-Star Match, with SoNNeikO being named MVP.
Royal Never Give Up
Final Position: 7th-8th
Eliminated by: Team Liquid (0-2, Lower Bracket Round 3)
Total TI9 Record: 6 Wins, 15 Losses
Final Position: 7th-8th
Eliminated by: Team Secret (0-2, Lower Bracket Round 3)
Total TI9 Record: 10 Wins, 12 Losses
Final Position: 5th-6th
Eliminated by: Team Liquid (0-2, Lower Bracket Round 4)
Total TI9 Record: 12 Wins, 12 Losses
Day 4 Matches
Royal Never Give Up vs. Team Liquid
Bo3 (2-0 Team Liquid Win)
The opening match of the series saw quite a bit of action early in the match, as both RNG and Team Liquid looked to play aggressively in the hopes of pushing the pace of play and catching its opponent off guard. While that faster pace resulted in a multitude of kills in the early stages of the game, neither side was able to truly establish control of the other, as the squads remained fairly even heading into the mid-game stage. Around the 30 minute mark, Team Liquid finally seemed to break the deadlock and take a definitive advantage, building up its net worth lead and pushing RNG back into its own base. While the Chinese squad would make one final attempt to turn the tides, its efforts would fall short as Team Liquid closed out the match to claim a 1-0 lead in the series.
Much like its predecessor, Game 2 began with the 2 squads remaining fairly even through the early stages of the game, as neither side led by more than 3k net worth through the first 25 minutes of play. As the match shifted into the late-game stage, the 2 teams continued to vie for control, with the net worth lead shifting back and forth multiple times as the squads traded team fight wins and pick offs. After trading momentum back and forth for nearly an hour, Team Liquid finally appeared to break the game open around the 60 minute mark, with the European squad establishing a sizable net worth lead and dealing the first damage to its opponent’s base. However, RNG would continue to put up stubborn resistance to Team Liquid’s assaults, extending the match even further through a series of valiant team fight and base defense efforts. Eventually though, the team’s strength was depleted, with RNG conceding defeat after one final fight to lose the series 0-2.
Infamous vs. Team Secret
Bo3 (2-0 Team Secret Win)
Game 1 of the series saw Infamous pull out some unconventional picks, as the South American squad drafted both a Phantom Lancer and a Riki in their first match against Team Secret. In an effort to create space for said Phantom Lancer to farm, Infamous committed to a high number of early engagements, pushing Team Secret to try to match their pace with frequent rotations of their own. While the early aggression didn’t allow either squad to claim a significant lead outright, Infamous did succeed in creating the desired space for its carry, with Phantom Lancer coming online in the mid-game stage to help swing the momentum in the South American squad’s favor. Despite dealing some significant damage to Team Secret’s base, Infamous couldn’t quite knock out the European squad, as Team Secret fought its way back into the match to turn the tide of the match and open up a sizable net worth lead of its own. By the 50 minute mark, Team Secret had built that lead up past the 30k mark, taking complete control of the map and keeping Infamous largely confined to its base. Despite Infamous’ best efforts, the squad could not hold off the subsequent attacks from its opponent, as the South American squad conceded defeat to fall behind 0-1 in the series.
Game 2 saw Team Secret come out with an aggressive posture, as the team used a core trio of Faceless Void, Tiny, and Abaddon to push the pace and force Infamous into a defensive position early in the match. The aggression worked to perfection, as Infamous simply could not hit its preferred timing due to the heavy pressure from its opponent, and continued to fall further and further behind as the match progressed. Sensing that its opponent was running out of steam, Team Secret pressed the attack, pushing its way past the final defenses of Infamous to close out a dominant, one-sided victory to sweep the series 2-0.
Evil Geniuses vs. Team Liquid
Bo3 (2-0 Team Liquid Win)
Team Liquid opened up the series with a rather bold move in its draft, as the European squad picked up a Tinker for Game 1 against EG. With its opponent picking a late-game focused hero in Tinker, EG attempted to speed up the pace of play in the hopes of knocking out Team Liquid before that Tinker could reach its full strength. While those efforts did earn EG a modest net worth lead in the early and mid-game stages, Team Liquid was able to prevent itself from falling too far behind while it continued to buy time for the Tinker. By the time the late-game stage rolled around, EG’s advantage had largely evaporated, as Team Liquid was able to fight its way back to an even footing and effectively reset the momentum of the match. However, a trio of team fight victories from Team Liquid led to an even more definitive shift, as the European squad wiped EG out entirely and forced a “gg” call from its opponent to lock down a 1-0 lead in the series.
Game 2 saw Team Liquid once again commit to a high volume farming hero, as the European squad picked up an Alchemist in the hopes of simply out pacing EG. The North American side was not prepared to handle Team Liquid’s lineup, with the team falling behind by an alarmingly high amount of net worth in the early and mid-game stages of the match. By the 20 minute mark, Team Liquid’s net worth lead was hovering around the 10k mark, as the European squad appeared to be in complete control of the game at that stage. As the match progressed, that lead only grew larger and large, as Team Liquid kept up the pressure to push EG further and further into its own base. Every effort that EG made to turn the tide of the match resulted in abject failure, as the North American squad was shut down at every turn over the rest of the match. With repeated team fight wins and pushes deep into its opponent’s base, Team Liquid locked down another victory to sweep the series 2-0 and keep its perfect Lower Bracket run intact with its seventh straight win.
Team Radiant vs. Team Dire
Things got a little weird right away in the All-Star Match, as Team Radiant and Team Dire played on the opposite sides from the map from their respective names (i.e. Team Radiant played as Dire and Team Dire played as Radiant). After a slew of in-game taunts and voice line spamming, the TI9 All-Star Match got underway, and right from the start, the 2 squads were out for blood. Of the combined 80 respawns between the 2 teams, 23 of them had been expended within the first 4 minutes of the match. By the 10 minute mark, both sides had lost at least half of their total respawns, but Team Radiant began to pull away thanks to an impressive 8 kill streak from SoNNeikO on Windranger. While Nisha was eventually able to bring SoNNeikO’s reign of terror to an end, Team Dire had just 3 respawns remaining by the time the fight ended, while Team Radiant still had 10 respawns left. By 16 minutes, Team Dire was out of respawns, leaving just Nisha, Miracle-, and pieliedie to fight against all of Team Radiant. Though those remaining players managed to reduce Team Radiant to just 4 remaining respawns, they couldn’t complete the full comeback, as Team Radiant claimed victory in the TI9 All-Star Match. For his impressive performance and top score in the game, Na’Vi’s SoNNeikO was named MVP of the All-Star match.
Day 5 Upcoming Matches
PSG.LGD vs. OG
The Upper Bracket Finals of TI9 will feature another TI8 rematch, as PSG.LGD and OG will once again face off to determine which of them will claim the first spot in the Grand Finals in Shanghai. 1 year ago, it was OG that managed to win this match up, claiming a 2-1 victory that foreshadowed its later 3-2 win in the Grand Finals of TI8. In that match up, OG was still considered to be an underdog, with the squad having defied all expectations with a near miraculous run in the Main Event. This time around, OG’s presence this deep in the Main Event Bracket is far less surprising, as the team looks to continue its march towards becoming the first team to ever win multiple TI titles. The 2 squads appear to be evenly matched coming into this series, as both teams have put together dominant performance to this point in Shanghai. Each team placed at the top of their respective groups in the Group Stage, with PSG.LGD posting a 13-3 record in Group A while OG went 14-2 in Group B. In the Main Event, the squads have pushed their way past some stalwart competition, with PSG.LGD taking 2-0 wins against VP and Vici Gaming while OG topped Newbee 2-0 before overcoming EG with a 2-1 series win. Both squads are intimately familiar with success on the international level, and their relatively even performances in Shanghai have set the stage for an absolutely epic confrontation in this match up as both teams look to lock down their shot at claiming the Aegis of Champions with a spot in the Grand Finals of TI9.
Vici Gaming vs. Team Secret
Day 5 will begin with a match up between 2 squads that accounted for 4 of the 5 Major Championship titles won this season, as Vici Gaming and Team Secret are now set to battle it out for a guaranteed Top 4 finish at TI9. While this series will be the first clash between the 2 squads in Shanghai, the teams have certainly seen their fair share of battles of the course of the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season, with most of those battles having come on the biggest stages in the game. The teams faced off in the Grand Finals of ESL One Hamburg 2018 as well as in the Upper Brackets of both The Kuala Lumpur Major and The DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Over the course of those 3 previous series, Team Secret has won 6 matches compared to Vici Gaming’s 4. With the bright lights of the TI9 stage upon them though, past clashes between the 2 squads will likely lose much of their significance heading into this match up, as both teams will be at their absolute best for this elimination series. Considering the fact that both squads have had very similar runs in Shanghai so far, this particular series appears to be one in which its participants stand evenly matched. Both Team Secret and Vici Gaming put together impressive Group Stage showings, but have looked somewhat less consistent in their Main Event runs. The good news for the 2 teams is that they retained enough of their usual strength to survive to this point in the event, but it is unclear what effect some of their struggles in previous series may have on their play coming into this match up. With that being said, it’s pretty much impossible to tell which team will come out on top in this series, but the matches themselves are sure to be incredibly entertaining as 2 of the Dota 2 world’s best teams clash in Shanghai, with only 1 able to carry on in their quest for the Aegis of Champions at TI9.
Team Liquid vs. Vici Gaming/ Team Secret
After its incredibly impressive victory over EG in the previous round, Team Liquid has secured itself a guaranteed Top 4 finish in Shanghai, but the TI7 Champion is looking to press for even more as it is set to face off against the winner of the Vici Gaming vs. Team Secret match up on Day 5. At this stage in the event, any lingering doubts surrounding this Team Liquid squad have long since been dispelled, as the European team has silenced its critics with a truly masterful run through the Lower Bracket of the Main Event. The team has felled Fnatic, TNC Predator, Royal Never Give Up, and Evil Geniuses across the last 4 rounds of the Lower Bracket, and has accomplished all of this without dropping a single match. With a 7 game winning streak coming into this match up, the team is sure to be riding a high of confidence that not even an opponent of Team Secret or Vici Gaming’s caliber is likely to break. On the other side of things, whichever team emerges victorious from the Team Secret vs. Vici Gaming series will come into this match up with some potential concerns based upon their Main Event runs to this point. Vici Gaming just barely fought its way past TNC Predator in Round 1 of the Upper Bracket, before being trounced by PSG.LGD in Round 2 to fall into the Lower Bracket. Meanwhile, Team Secret suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of EG in its first Upper Bracket series, and showed some signs of weakness in its 2-1 win over Mineski before pushing its way past Infamous to earn its match up with Vici Gaming. Compared to a Team Liquid squad that has won 7 straight matches and 3 straight Bo3 series, neither squad appears to be at the top of their game at the moment. However, the team that survives that match up will have had its strength put to the test, and said test will almost certainly have the victorious squad playing at its best for the subsequent showdown against Team Liquid.