Image by Valve on Flickr
The International 2017 has finally opened its door at Key Arena and like previous years, 4 teams had to bid farewell at the end of the day. The group stage set the pace with 106 different heroes picked, making this event the most diverse yet. With numerous big names, such as OG and Secret, in the lower bracket, day 1 looked to be a very promising one.
Team Liquid vs. Invictus Gaming
Invictus Gaming surprised with a last pick Alchemist, with which they amassed a significant advantage early on. Liquid failed to win their lanes as Boboka’s Night Stalker proved to be too much of a nuisance, giving even more space to iG. The Chinese powerhouse quickly pushed in, taking down the first lane of rax within 23 minutes and closing out the game just 10 minutes later. Miracle’s Invoker was not enough to stall the sheer pushing power and sustain from iG.
Game two looked to be just as one sided. Invictus Gaming once again pulled ahead in the laning stage, and Miracle’s Monkey King fell behind significantly in farm. The Chinese continued to pressure Liquid, but a smart decision from Liquid to prioritize farm on Gh’s Keeper of the Light saved the day. The KotL Agh’s allowed Liquid to take more map control and it provided them with the necessary sustain to pressure iG. Despite a sizeable networth disadvantage, Liquid fought their way back into the game and forced a game 3.
In the final game of the series, iG opted for a very aggressive mid game lineup and with an early Blink Dagger on Xxs’ Earthshaker, the team found the necessary initiations to constantly kill and pressure Liquid. The Europeans could never find an opening themselves and were constantly caught out of position or had their initiations interrupted, leading to a very dominant victory for iG.
Evil Geniuses vs. Newbee
Evil Geniuses had a solid start with good pickoffs through Universe’s global presence on Nature’s Prophet. Newbee however made sure to secure a good lane for Sccc, ganking SumaiL several times.
The early mid game saw EG pull further ahead as they continued to take objective after objective, but Newbee forced their way back into the game with key pickoffs and teamfights. EG continued to split push and as Newbee intended to retreat, the Chinese turned an engagement around and caught EG off guard as three heroes were down without buybacks and their mid.lane was exposed. With their fresh BKBs, Newbee decided to go for the throne and could not be stopped.
In game two, Evil Geniuses saw themselves pressured early on as Newbee drafted a rather aggressive mid game lineup. The North-Americans kept themselves in the game through teamfights around their Blackholes, but Newbee kept the pressure high and Kaka’s Earth Spirit proved to be the game winner with a crucial stoneform save on Kpii. The Chinese always traded favorably and EG simply didn’t have enough damage to bring down the tanky cores of Newbee.
ELIMINATION MATCH Team Secret vs. Execration
Team Secret pulled ahead in the laning stage and transitioned into a map controlling mid game, taking objectives and pushing Execration further back. The SEA representative looked to take the fight to Secret, but consistently traded unfavorably, leading to an even bigger advantage for Secret. For a while it looked like Execration could hold their highground long enough for their cores to come online, but Secret sealed the deal with a dominating teamfight.
ELIMINATION MATCH Team Empire vs. Cloud 9
Cloud 9 looked to play a somewhat slower game with an Arc Warden and Doom pick, but without sacrificing pushing potential with a Dragon Knight. Team Empire picked a rather mid game aggressive line-up that could take the fight to Cloud 9. The CIS squad won basically every lane, denying C9 any chance for early map control. Empire made sure to punish every little misstep by the North-Americans, but Cloud 9’s split push kept their economy largely on par with Empire’s. Empire kept forcing fights and continuously caught Cloud 9 off guard. Resolut1on’s Faceless Void was nigh impossible to kill and the CIS team forced C9 into their own base until they had to tap out.
ELIMINATION MATCH OG vs. Infamous
Kiev Major champions OG dominated the laning stage and proceeded to further increase their advantage. For the first 20 minutes, only the supports of OG died, as Infamous struggled to trade favorably, lacking both damage and a proper initiation. OG continued to dismantle Infamous, though the Europeans slipped up occasionally, giving Infamous more time to hold their base. Ultimately though, OG had no issues closing out the game.
ELIMINATION MATCH iG.V vs. Digital Chaos
Digital Chaos came out on top in the laning stage with a very active and successful Bulba Spirit Breaker. IG.Vitality attempted to find a crack in DC’s armor and succeeded once, but from there on out DC gave them no further openings. The Chinese only had 8 kills to their name at the end of the game, as DC rolled over them and eliminated them.