Team Liquid Moves Into the Berlin Major Finals With Strategic Win Over 9Pandas
Team Liquid faced a rough loss in the first series of the lower bracket final of the ESL One Berlin Major 2023 against 9Pandas, before resorting to some strategic drafts and playstyles to come back and win 2-1. While 9Pandas had outdrafted and outperformed Liquid in the first game, Liquid used a very meta hero Medusa to its full potential in game two and a risky but highly effective early push strategy in game three to come out on top. In the last two series, 9Pandas defeated both Gaimin and Liquid in the first games but failed to convert those victories into wins. The team finishes in third place, earning $75,000 USD in prize money and 400 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points.
Liquid, meanwhile, will face Gaimin Gladiators in a rematch from the Lima Major grand final to decide the world's best Dota 2 team.
Team Liquid vs 9Pandas: Match recap and highlights
In game 1, 9Pandas chose Queen of Spirit as its final option, which was a great decision on paper. With cores on both teams requiring farm to become stronger, the early stages of the game saw little activity other than a few towers falling. But, as it turned out, Liquid lacked the ability to set up engagements aside from zai's Tidehunter, which 9Pandas leveraged to its advantage by strategically positioning its heroes in teamfights. Kiyotaka performed flawlessly on Queen of Pain, weaving in and out of teamfights to deal out massive damage and assist 9Pandas in winning in 38 minutes.
In game 2, Liquid chose zai Medusa in the offlane, a hero role combo that Tundra had popularised previously in the tournament. While Nisha and Kiyotaka emerged from the laning stage evenly poised, Liquid's supports substantially shut down Kiyotaka's Storm Spirit. Apart from RAMZES666, who was farming incredibly effectively on Terrorblade, Liquid's moves this time were spot on, allowing them to gain a large lead. Later on, zai proved unkillable with the other cores also having tons of items and Liquid won game two in 41 minutes.
In game 3, Liquid defeated 9Pandas with a highly methodical strategy. While 9Pandas got its hands on some meta heroes like Doom, Terrorblade, and Storm Spirit, Liquid went with a draft heavy on healers like Io, Witch Doctor, and Alchemist. The team even chose Ancient Apparition to ensure that this plan was not thwarted. Any 9Pandas actions were strongly negated with heals, and early liming by miCKe's Alchemist and Nisha's Lone Druid allowed Liquid to just rally early and win in 22 minutes.
Here are some highlights of the series.
After a few months of competing in regional competitions and international tournaments such as the DreamLeague Season 19, it's back to Liquid and Gaimin squaring a battle to see if Gaimin is still the top team in the world.
The team defeated Liquid in the Lima Major grand finals as well as the DreamLeague Season 19 finals and has been the only team that Liquid has found extremely difficult to defeat.
The International 12 (TI12) invitation is already in Liquid's hands, but it would still like to break this losing streak. In contrast, Gaimin will want to continue this tradition and strive to earn the most DPC points at the Berlin Major in order to get closer to its own TI12 invite.