We’ve been lucky enough to witness the most interesting Group Stage series of any TI to date. Now the time has come for the Main Event. The first day was packed full of amazing plays, Rapiers, five-man stuns and more, which was expected considering the caliber of the teams.
Let’s take a look at what happened in each series:
PSG.LGD vs Virtus Pro
The opening series of the TI 9 Main Event was between the Chinese powerhouse and the CIS hegemon. In the past, this matchup was described as a classic ‘clash of titans’, however, the match turned out to be heavily one-sided. With thousands cheering them on, PSG.LGD were able to rip through their enemies with ease.
Game one saw two new picks to the scene from Virtus.Pro – Brewmaster and a mid-lane Dazzle. In typical CIS fashion the team looked to take as many fights as possible during the early stages. With early-kill advantages they decided it was high time to go for Roshan. Little did they know at the time that this decision would likely cost them the game.
PSG.LGD realized what was going on and caught their enemies off-guard with an amazing 5-man Ravage from Chalice. From that moment on, the Chinese completely dominated the game and took the lead in the series.
With their backs against the wall, No[o]ne and his team-mates tried to bounce back in the second game of the series. Similar to their last match, VP was on the diving train yet again during the early game. However, momentum shifted after another chaotic team-fight went in favor of the Chinese.
Despite slowly falling behind, VP never gave up and even brought a Divine Rapier to help defend their base. However, having no way to withstand the constant pressure from LGD, the Rapier was dropped and picked up by Ame – the last nail in the coffin for the CIS powerhouse.
TNC vs Vici Gaming
This was an amazing three-games series worth watching. Besides losing, TNC also got “booed” by the crowd, particularly during game one which they won. This was to be expected to some degree after the recent incident that’s landed Kuku and TNC in hot water with the Chinese Dota community.
TNC was definitely the better team in the first game of the series. They were able to apply ample pressure which led to a sizable net-worth difference. Vici’s last glimmer of hope was Paparazzi’s empowered Juggernaut, who had a standout game. Unfortunately, even he was not enough to save the squad and round one went to TNC.
The second game of the series was a constant back-and-forth, as the balance of power shifted almost every fight. Vici Gaming eventually grabbed the lead and managed to hold on, pushing the series to one final game.
Game three was all about Vici Gaming. The Chinese giants solidified an early lead and kept it. Even though TNC tried tirelessly to bounce back, the sheer damage output from Vici was too much to deal with. With the result banked, Ori and Co. have guaranteed themselves a top-six finish.
Unlike the previous matches, these were played in a best-of-one format. Teetering on the knife’s edge, these were the teams looking to keep their tournament hopes alive:
Alliance vs RNGU
The first game of the day was between Alliance and Royal Never Give Up. Even though most expected the European team to win, Royal delivered a knock-out punch. Alliance started strong and things were looking scary for the Chinese squad for a while. However, as soon as the Anti-Mage came online, things went downhill for Boxi and his teammates.
Despite the loss, Alliance had a decent event and will be heading home with a $500K prize. Not bad at all.
Fnatic vs Team Liquid
This was one of the most anticipated games in the Lower Bracket. After all, Team Liquid is one of the most loved teams with a massive following.
The game started relatively slow, as neither team were able to gain a clear advantage. However, as soon as Team Liquid were able to secure a small lead they began to control the pace of the game completely. Fnatic tried to fight around their Enigma, but the IO + Gyro combo proved too much. In the end, Team Liquid took the victory, sending Fnatic home with promises to bounce back “stronger than ever next season”.
Keen Gaming vs Infamous
The penultimate game of the day was one where we saw the first Chinese team eliminated. Not only were Infamous able to take the match over Keen Gaming, but they now also hold the record for the highest-placed South American team at The International.
Na’Vi vs Mineski
The last game of the day was truly epic, filled with classic ‘322’ plays. Mineski had an excellent start after Nikobaby strolled through an easy laning stage. Likewise, Na’Vi tried to exert early pressure in order to slow down Mineski’s progress.
After a fight in their favor around the 30th-minute mark, Na’Vi managed to get the bottom rax and went for a quick Throne push. However, Niko had his buyback ready and quickly returned to defend. This resulted in a fast counter-push which secured Mineski the mid rax.
With a gold advantage on their side, the SEA team continued to pressure their enemies. After securing yet another Roshan, they decided it was time to push in and win the game, sending Na’Vi home with a $500K paycheck.