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TI4: Liquid to the playoffs

By Samuel 'DarthBotto' Horton
Jul 9, 2014 03:22


ImageThe wild card tournament has come to a close, with Team Liquid emerging victorious.

Today, the largest tournament in the history of esports kicked off with the highly-anticipated wild card stage of US The International 2014 being played out. Each showdown brought unexpected results, as certain teams not anticipated to perform well became dark horses, while arguably the more tenacious fan favorites never gained the proper momentum to succeed. In the end, it was US Team Liquid , the squad that has been virtually silent for the last month, that secured the sixteenth and final spot amongst the teams competing for a shot at the brunt of the 10.5 million dollar prize purse.

The first of the three wild card matches involved Russian veterans of RU Virtus.pro against the top Korean team of KR MVP Phoenix. An overwhelming majority of the Dota community anticipated that Virtus would steamroll over top of the inexperienced and unchallenged players from Phoenix. The events of the match, however, represented what the casters considered to be the rise of Korean Dota. While Virtus had an excess of kills, especially in the first stages of the first map, Phoenix emphasized map control, which led to two assertive victories. While tri-laning proved to be an ineffective strategy for the Koreans, their five-man grouping strategy was essentially unstoppable.

The face-off between CN CIS Game and Team Liquid brought about surprising albeit disappointing results. In their first game, CIS chose heroes that are generally more potent during the mid-game stages, leaving them at a disadvantage to Liquid's aggressive, tank-heavy selections. By the time that the mid-game stage of the match had begun, Liquid had enough of a lead with undisputed map control that CIS could do little to stay the storm. Likewise, the second match saw little gain on the part of CIS, as their passive strategy could not compete with Liquid. Thus, after four attempts to secure visas and tremendous support from the Dota community, CIS had lost the chance to compete in the playoffs.

Arguably the most intense showdown of the day came during the first session between Phoenix and Liquid. During the course of this game, Liquid monopolized Roshan, though this did not stop Phoenix from stealing the Aegis of the Immortal from under them. Running at nearly an hour long, it was a game of constantly trading kills and whittling down structures into leading up to the barracks. While Phoenix seemed to have a modest lead over Liquid, it took but one bad team fight to give Liquid a firm lead that would remain strong for the next twenty minutes, until the point that Phoenix's Ancient was destroyed. The second game did not live up to the spectacle of the first, as it was half as long, with Liquid remaining in control during the entire course of the game.

With the second game's victory, Liquid will be returning to the playoffs tomorrow, from which point they will play a grueling series of matches to determine if they have a chance at seizing the Aegis of Champions. Despite Phoenix not moving on to the main event, today's performance could be considered a symbolic victory, as they performed on par with the best of the teams today and exceeded expectations by a long shot. This may usher in the slow rise of Korean Dota on the international spectrum.

As of now, the roster of the sixteen teams competing at The International is complete:
SE Alliance
MY Titan eSports
US Evil Geniuses
EU Fnatic EU
CN NewBee
CN ViCi Gaming
UA Natus Vincere
CN Team DK
CN Invictus Gaming
EU Cloud 9
UA Team Empire
US Natus Vincere US
MY Arrow Gaming
CN LGD-Gaming cn
DE mousesports
US Team Liquid

Tune in tonight as the massive playoff stage kicks off!


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