Cover image source: Bart Oerbekke | ESL One Birmingham 2018
Day 1 of of the Regional Qualifiers saw Group A games, where TNC emerged as top seeds, taking down 496 and Mineski to move onto the playoff stage. The second seed will be decided tomorrow, as Lotac take on Mineski along with the entirety of Group B. The release of patch 7.20c late last night must have come as a big surprise to all the teams but TNC’s years of playing together was crucial as they thrived amidst the chaos and were able to take the wins.
496’s Invoker pick went unpunished in game 1 as TNC felt the wrath of the hero as they lost the game to a Void and Invoker combo that crippled their inability to teamfight.They almost lost game 2 as well, with 496 exploding in the mid game thanks to a Bounty Hunter, Tuskar and Centaur who roamed effectively. However, Kuku’s solid initiations on the Axe along with some conservative play from Gabbi’s LD allowed TNC to weather the tide and take the win in the lategame. By game 3, TNC had figured out what was working as they ran around the map with their TA and Dazzle, mowing down 496 and taking an easy sub 30-minute win.
In the other opening match, Mineski used a carry Naga Siren in game 1 to take a comfortable win as they paired the hero with an offlane kpii Engima to setup some devastating Black Holes. However, Lotac struck back hard in game 2, as Raven snowballed on his PA, critting his way to a win. Mineski were able to clean up the series, with kpii leading the charge on his Axe in game 3, as JT’s Void and Nana’s Invoker were there to provide the follow up damage.
In the winner bracket series, Mineski found themselves outmatched against a far superior TNC side who ran them over. Gabbi’s 1 position Brewmaster found all the space in game 1, taking over the game as 2 necrobooks coming out of Kuku and Tims meant that Mineski had little hopes of defending their base when the push came as early as the 25 minute mark. Game 2 was an even bigger stomp as TNC just ran around the map with their Io+Gyro combo, backed by Armel’s core Dazzle as Mineski had no answers to the early sustain and aggression coming out of their opponents.
A dominant show from veteran carry player, Raven saw Lotac eliminate 496 from the competition, taking the series 2-1. There was little 496 could do in game 1 as Raven’s Slark snowballed out of control after being given a significantly easy lane. Lotac had much of the map under their control from the mid game onwards and any dire heroes stepping out of their base were greeted by trips back to the fountain. Lotac’s lead was simply too much for 496 to overcome as they crumbled to a defeat. The Vietnamese team tied the series in game 2, with their aoe damage and control being too much for Lotac to deal with in teamfights. The Luna, Brewmaster and Timbersaw lineup was hard for Lotac to fight into as their lineup lacked the damage and were mostly built around control. 496 went all-in in game 3 with a Huskar pick and the hero never really recovered from a bad laning phase while Raven’s LD had the time of his life carrying his team to a win.
Mineski now take on Lotac for the last spot from Group A, while Group B will also play out their matches tomorrow. Stay tuned for all the action.