The second day of the tournament is finished. Once again, the quality of the games was incredibly high, but, once again, we saw mostly the same heroes being picked and banned.
Digital Chaos vs. Team Faceless
In the first game of the second day, a rather conventional draft from Digital Chaos was met with a strong teamfight/push strategy from Team Faceless.
The early game developed reasonably well for the SEA squad. J proved his skill on Dragon Knight, outfarming w33‘s Invoker. Other lanes broke more or less even.
Both teams opted for early aggression, applying a lot of pressure on the t1 towers on their respective safelanes. However, good rotations from Misery prevented Faceless from securing the objectives and spinning out of control, allowing DC to get a firm grasp on the map by the 10 minute mark.
Despite great fights from Team Faceless, their long cooldowns were ultimately their downfall — the amount of pressure from DC was too high. Even after being essentially teamwiped, they quickly regrouped and took a lane of barracks. After that they slowly but surely pressured their opponent out of the game.
The second game developed in a similar manner, with Faceless once again drafting early aggression, this time with Enchantress instead of Chen. However, they left themselves a late-game option with a last-pick Sniper.
DC have once again shown a higher level of play. Team Faceless is not a weak team by any means, but they severely lacked personal skill and team coordination in this matchup.
A first pick Omniknight — a very bold statement from EHOME. was followed up by a regular Batrider. Overall, the first stage of the draft followed the recent trends, with Juggernaut + Ogre Magi for NP. The second stage was a little more interesting, with a Bane pick for EHOME and a Beastmaster for NP. EHOME have secured one of their lanes with a Timbersaw pick and finished up with a Lycan.
The early game developed expectedly, with Ogre and Bane trying to figure out who is a stronger Mid lane bully. On the top lane, NP managed to force Batrider into his jungle, however it indirectly led to a first blood on the offlaner of NP. This led to a 7-minute Blink on old eLeVeN. Unfortunately, it was immediately scouted by a ward, allowing NP to dodge plan their fights better.
LaNm showcased a new, interesting build on his Bane, with a maxed out Enfeeble, making Weaver of Aui_2000 almost completly irrelevant. Essentially playing 4 v 5, NP lacked any sort of damage to hold their base.
With their backs to the wall, NP decided to go for the ultimate teamfight lineup, with Sand King, Mirana and Warlock. EHOME’s gameplan, on the other hand, revolved around pick offs and ganks — Night Stalker and Slark are a very strong roaming duo that gets even scarier at night.
For the longest time, EHOME managed to evade teamfights, but it came at a price of reduced farm efficiency. At a certain point the Chinese team could no longer afford to ignore the enemy, resulting in a couple of fairly successful fights for NP.
With the gold and momentum advantage, NP took out Roshan and went highground. Some very impressive individual plays from MSS and Aui_2000 secured the game, making it the first series in the playoffs to go all the way.
SD + Luna slipped through for EHOME in the third game, as NP once again opted for a first phase Warlock, followed up by a Mirana pick. This time around, EHOME decided not to put themselves into a corner, drafting reasonably teamfight-capable heroes to counter NP. It was met with a Naga Siren pick, making for a potentially very interesting game.
Almost whole game was very much an EternaLEnVy show, with all the negatives and the positives of it. This allowed Naga to remain relatively uninterrupted for the first 10 minutes of the game. It resulted in a slow but steady Net Worth growth for NP, which led to some incredible and flashy plays from the NA squad. This game is definitely worth watching.
In this matchup, Newbee was a heavy favorite — after all, it was Ad Finem’s first big LAN event. This didn’t startle them one bit, however, and they went for their comfort picks, opening up with a Bounty Hunter + Dark Seer Combo. Newbee secured some lane presence with a Juggernaut pick in response. The rest of the picks were fairly conservative, with Newbee getting OD, while aggressive Greeks went for a TA.
Experience prevailed nonetheless. A smart lane swap allowed the Chinese team to take a very early advantage and a tower at 2:30. By the 5 minute mark, the score was already 5:0 in favor of Newbee. Ad Finem dodged fights, split-pushed smartly and had a couple of potential comeback moments, but it was never enough.
Second game was a lot more exciting, with Ad Finem breaking even after the laning stage, mostly on the back of Bounty Hunter’s courier snipes.
On equal footing, Ad Finem definitely showed that their victory in the EU regional qualifiers was not a fluke. Morphling of Madara, backed up by extra Track gold became simply unstoppable — at one point he essentially fought 1v5 and won.
In the third game, Ad Finem, after receiving multiple bans on their regular picks, have played a completely new lineup, with an Alchemist core. Newbee’s pick has been more conventional, with a regular cast of Luna, Warlock and Timbersaw.
This time around they decided not to joke around, supercharging their aggressive playstyle. With several quick kills at the beginning of the game, they secured a small net worth lead, but, more importantly, momentum. Riding this momentum, they took fight after fight, choking out Newbee.
No one expected this outcome. The first game of the series has further exacerbated the worry for the Greek team. However, against all odds, they prevailed.
The Chinese showdown. Xiao8 vs. Maybe — the strategic genus against the midlane prodigy. The former protege stepping up against his former captain — this match decided, which last Chinese team will remain in the tournament.
The first game started with a very baffling death from Super. He majorly overextended, gifting Maybe’s SF a very early first blood.
Despite the initial blunder, both teams entered the mid game more or less on an equal footing. The first game definitely lived up to the expectations — for almost thirty minutes it was an incredible back-and-forth, with xiao8 once again showcasing why you don’t go highground against his teams, unless you are absolutely prepared. After one of these unsuccessful attempts, LGD lost their momentum and Forever Young managed to win the game with a bold ancient rush.
Second game started off great for Forever Young, with Maybe now returning the favor with an uncharacteristic early death on his Timbersaw. However, much like in the first game, for the most part it was a very entertaining back and forth. Maybe managed to recover very fast in his midlane and pushed the hero to the limit, but it was Forever Young’s 99 who was the most impressive player of the match — his initiations, counter-initiations and chases on Slardar were incredible to witness.
On the back of his initiation, Forever Young managed to snag the second crucial victory, knocking their sister squad out of the tournament.