The playoff meta so far has been quite different from the group stage. Monkey King has fallen off significantly and the likes of Medusa or Templar Assassin are much more popular than they have been before. One constant remains for now though: Crystal Maiden continues to be the most picked hero at the event, though with only 2 bans but 7 picks now, Treant Protector is catching up.
Invictus Gaming vs. Mousesports
DAC 2017 champions iG were the heavy favorites going into this match-up, especially with Mousesports’ poor form going into the event and their weak performance in the group stage. On top of that, iG stomped Mouz 2-0 in the opening round of the swiss bracket, leaving little room for analysts to consider an upset a high possibility.
Mousesports however proved that they still were a force to be reckoned with and gave iG a run for their money. Game 1 saw the Greek squad take control of the game early on. They were unable to build on their advantage though and allowed iG to come back. Things changed in game 2 however and Mouz knew how to close out the game. With a strong Lycan pick and performance, the squad forced out a third game. In that third game, iG relied on a classic 4-protect-1 strategy with high teamfight capabilities, which Mousesports could not contest with.
Both teams struggled in the group stage and since both finished the swiss bracket with a 2-2 score, this game was a completely even encounter, despite Liquid being the technically higher seed.
Liquid looked shaky throughout the entire series and their first draft wasn’t very confidence inspiring either. Newbee was in control throughout most of the game and struggled to close out the game due to the nature of Liquid’s defensive line-up with a Spectre and a Tinker. The Chinese did take home the game though and could, or should have advanced with a 2-0 score, but game 2 and ultimately the series had a different story in mind. Despite a sizeable lead and control in the 2nd game, Newbee failed to keep their composure and discipline, giving Liquid a chance to come back. The Europeans seized the opportunity they were given and forced a game 3. A scrappy game from both ended in Liquid’s favor, marking Newbee’s 4th loss to Liquid in 6th encounters (2 ties) across the last 12 months.
Similar to the 2nd series, DC and VGJ finished the group stage with the same score, making this a very even encounter. That said, VGJ was and is the obviously more experienced team and they showcased in the series the difference that can make.
The first game saw VGJ resort to a 4-protect-1 with a lot of sustain. That sustain proved to be too much to deal with, as DC couldn’t crack through VGJ’s defense sufficiently enough. DC was unable to come back in game 2 as they were completely dominated by VGJ’s control and aggression.
Virtus.pro finished the group stage as a top seed and proved why. The sheer aggression the team displayed in front of the home crowd was impressive to watch and iG.V had absolutely no answer. Within an hour of playtime, VP demolished the Chinese squad with a total killscore of 53 (0.8 kills per minute).
TnC had a stellar group stage performance and the team was poised to make a top finish–and then they drew Faceless. Up until this match-up, Faceless had only won a single Bo3 encounter on LAN, which occurred in the group stage against SG e-Sports. The team surrounding superstar Iceiceice has continuously struggled against international competition, but has dominated the SEA region for several months and never lost a Bo3 to TnC.
Faceless displayed how well they know their opponents with strategic laning in the first and third game, where they out-maneuvered TnC. The Filipinos showed what they were capable of too, but only in game 2.
OG was the clear favorite going into this match. The title defender has been a force to be reckoned with since the Boston Major, whereas Team Random, formerly of wings gaming, has continued to struggle at every event they attended, even if they have had unlucky draws.
Team Random are always a force to be reckoned with and having encountered OG 4 times before this match, the TI6 champions knew their opponents well enough to make it difficult for them. And they did show up; with strong performances in games 1 and 2, OG had to fight and give it their all to come out with a tie. Game 3 was not as close and saw OG run away with the victory.
Thunderbirds vs. Evil Geniuses
Both teams had a shaky group stage, though since expectations were higher for EG, it was on the North-Americans to deliver here; and they did.
Thunderbirds was ambitious, with unique drafts and their own approach at the meta. None of that really mattered though as EG pulled out a dominating performance and showed that they are ready to take on the top teams of the event.
Fans and analysts had no doubt that Secret would emerge victorious here, especially after their stellar 3-0 groupstage performance. The first game certainly indicated that Secret would take this game with ease, after a 29min stomp. SG e-Sports however showed that they are no push-overs and in the second game, they pushed back Secret with just as much aggression. Game 3 turned into a wild chaos as both teams fought with everything they had. Secret failed to close it out though and SG put on a stellar performance to secure them a top 8 position at the Kiev Major.