Cover Image Credits: Epicenter
Finally, after two long days of rest, the Epicenter XL Major kicked off with what was possibly the greatest opening cinematic in Dota 2, if not esports, history.
With all of the spectators, players, and talent hyped up, we hopped right into the BO1 eliminations. BO1 eliminations are always intense and the opening two matches of the EPICENTER XL playoffs were no different. Here’s what transpired on the first day of the Main Event
The opening match of the event featured two underdogs, that not many except their biggest fans expected to see. The surprisingly strong homeground team, FlyToMoon continued to structure their drafts around highly aggressive heroes, while paiN Gaming resorted to their tried and tested Lina-Luna core combo.
Alexander “Nofear” Churochkin's Bounty Hunter was the architect of FlyToMoon’s victory finding multiple courier kills, crippling paiN Gaming’s momentum and causing FlyToMoon to amass a 15k networth lead in just 25-minutes with a Tinker lineup. paiN just couldn’t hold their base against Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko's Tinker and ended up being eliminated from the tournament.
Mineski stepped up their game after their underwhelming performances in the Group Stage, knocking out one of the Dota Pro Circuit leaders Team Secret in the other elimination match.
Coming into the tournament, both teams were expected to be strong contenders who would start of in the Upper brackets. But their woeful play lead them to this best-of-one. Clement "Puppey" Ivanov was by far the biggest culprit, as almost all the analysts agreed that the game was a complete outdraft by Mineski whose straight-forward push-heavy line-up with a touch of now signature Daryl "iceiceice" Koh’s Pangolier ended up literally rolling over Team Secret knocking them out of the tournament.
Even though Team Secret was leading the DPC points table at one point, their weak performances of late has seen them still not secure a direct invite spot in TI8.
“Team Liquid and dominating Epicenter tournaments”, name a more iconic duo. There is something about the Russian event that brings out the best in Team Liquid, and this tournament has been no different. They have by far been the best team at the event, having not lost a single series. That trend continued today against OG.
The first game started out relatively even, but a badly executed teamfight from OG saw Team Liquid take the driver's seat. Team Liquid’s pressure applied all throughout the map caused them gain an overwhelming networth lead and then break OG’s base to secure the win.
The next game of the series just proved that Liquid was ready to fight once more as Amer “Miracle“ Al-Barkawi picked up Troll Warlord and was virtually unstoppable from start to finish. OG needed N0tail’s Phantom Lancer to hold firm, but he could not against the power of the Troll and it took 42 minutes for the GG call to come out from OG.
Team Liquid's win moves them along to the finals as well as secure their spot in The International 8. OG, on the other hand, will now face off against the CIS dark horse, FlyToMoon in the gauntlet that is the BO1 elimination match in the lower brackets.
This was perhaps the most hyped match of the day, and boy did it live up to the expectations.
The first game of the series was extremely well-contested, with the lead swinging back and forth constantly. By 30 minutes it was VP who had a slight lead due to Roshan kills and towers being dropped – but a massive fight from the Chinese squad soon after would see them obtain a 7k lead thanks to consecutive track kills from Fy’s Bounty Hunter. The GG was called from VP, A few minutes later as they just couldn’t deal the damage to bring down the Chinese juggernauts.
The second match Virtus.pro bounced back with style in a dramatic and powerful statement. The CIS team dominated their opponents and although they almost let it slip from their hands towards the end, VP maintained a firm grip on their game and level head to tie up the series
The final game of the series was yet another close one, with both teams finding great pick offs and taking towers around the map. By near 20 minutes, LGD had a small lead but VP were definitely not far behind. VP’s downfall proved to be a botched teamfight which saw LGD’s lead grow to a massive amount. Not 10 minutes later after LGD farmed consistently and decided that it was time to push the high ground – with that push, they managed to easily force out the GG from VP and claim the series.
LGD’s victory ensured a top 3 finish at the Major for themselves. They will move on to face Team Liquid in the Upper Bracket finals tomorrow. While Virtus.Pro drop down to the lower brackets to face Mineski in a clash of the giants in a BO1 match.
Here’s how the bracket has shaped at the end of Day 1 of the Main event.