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Grand Finals Recap
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TPL Season 4 Finals Recap
After months of gruelling competition, and some of the best series Western Dota has to offer, The Premier League Season 4 has come to an end. In the end Alliance won convincingly over Liquid during the Grand Finals, showing that their spot at 1st place in our May Power Rank will not be given up all too soon, especially if they keep this play up.
So with the tournament coming to and end, we of course recap the great games you might have missed. We take a look at what happened during the finals in our Grand Finals Recap, and look at what is to come for Alliance via an exclusive interview with Alliance's Gustav "s4" Magnusson. Read on to see what he has to say about G-1 League, Ti3, and more!
All in all, The Premier League Season 4 was a great success, and it was our pleasure covering all the games for you. Hope you enjoyed this recap, and we look forward to seeing you again when we start coverage of season 5!
Grand Final Recap
The Premier League on Liquipedia
WB Semifinal: Fnatic.EU vs Alliance
In game 1, Alliance's more early-game oriented lineup dominates Fnatic from the outset, with neither Trixi's Lone Druid nor Era's Anti-Mage able to find farm while Alliance breaks down towers and hunts people with TA/Nature's Prophet. Game 2 sees Fnatic taking a different approach: rather than try to control s4 through the drafting stage, the team expends a massive amount of resources to hold him down in the lane. This succeeds and Fnatic looks very strong early, but can't find either the barracks or a big teamfight win to end the argument. As Fnatic's convincing lead slips away, a mistake seals the loss: Era misses a full Eclipse on s4's now-reequipped Magnus and a game of keep-away that ensues in the Radiant jungle goes dramatically awry.
WB Semifinal: Virtus.pro vs Liquid
Virtus.pro debuts their face-rush strategy for the Premier League playoffs, drafting what looks like Airman's infamous Gyrocopter early only to reveal that it's a high-damage NS support Gyro instead. Liquid is grossly unprepared for the damage output and push capabilities, and TC's typically excellent farming for Anti-Mage is insufficient to drag it back. Game 2 sees the reeling Liquid pick a speculative lineup featuring Warlock mid and a Shadow Fiend carry for Korok bottom, but Virtus.pro doubles down on early ganks with Ars-Art's support Juggernaut and take an even more convincing early lead despite losing first blood. No Fiend's Grip answer for Lifestealer and nothing much coming from Shadow Fiend due to the extreme early pressure spell an expedited trip to the Loser's Bracket for Liquid.
LB Semifinal: Fnatic.EU vs Liquid
Starting in game 1, Fnatic struggles to get the Vengeful Spirit + Alchemist support pair to the effectiveness it needs, especially with a stand-in (Jaakko) playing the latter. Altogether, the team lacks the levels and sheer muscle to prevent Liquid's convincing attempts on the middle and bottom barracks before 30 minutes. Game 2, although looking little better, is cut abruptly short when N0tail's apartment complex loses power, prompting an eventual decision to concede from Fnatic.
WB Final: Alliance vs Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro reveals the first of their promised 'secret strategies' for the latter half of the playoffs with a Zeus pick for TMW's middle lane paired with a more typical Nature's Prophet for a global presence/damage approach. A few early kills do fall VP's way but both Loda and s4 continue farming excellently and Airman's NS doesn't make as much of the first night as is needed to keep the advantage rolling. At around 13 minutes it becomes clear that Virtus.pro have not secured enough of a lasting edge and the Dire carries begin to roll.
At first Alliance tries to put the CK/Io duo against OD, only to be stymied by assistance of Enfeeble Bane. s4 rotates to mid on Puck for a more normal matchup, only for Airman to continue to dominate the lane. Alliance finds trades but not dominance, while Virtus.pro finds a strong timing to siege towards and keep up the midgame pressure. They operate without fear of a counterpush and use this comfort to more and more confidently 5-man Dota to an eventual showdown and wipe of Alliance in the top lane.
This game is where Alliance graduates from looking like favourites to looking like champions. VP repeats the Disruptor/Juggernaut facerush support trick that tore apart Liquid in the previous round, and it earns them a cascading early lead after a gank attempt on Airman's Lifestealer goes horribly wrong for Alliance in bottom lane. What Virtus.pro doesn't have is any sort of pushing capacity, and even as Alliance drops to a 17-4 and then 22-6 kill deficit the team still has outer towers up. A push down the middle turns the tide in a big way when Virtus.pro fail to connect with their Vacuum-into-Static Storm combo for two big fights in a row and Loda's Gyro damage rips them apart. When VP still can't push it becomes clear they are facing a forbidding obstacle to victory and even some inspired teamfight wins at both Alliance's top tier 3 and their own can't quite bring the win back into focus.
LB Final: Liquid vs Virtus.pro
In Game 1 Virtus.pro looks to have the series sewn up; Liquid seems adrift with an uncharacteristic QPAD-esque draft that falls apart completely when the aggressive trilane gives up 2 kills before the one-minute mark. While Ars-Art and NS dominate the top for VP, TMW performs ably mid on OD and KSi wins bottom over Bulba. The beginning of the Relocate regime marks the end of Liquid in this game as the team calls GG at the 11 minute mark to freshen up for game 2.
For the first time in the playoffs, VP's pocket OD pick in games without Nyx falters. Despite total dominance in the early lane over Korok and a theoretically more push-oriented lineup than was brought to bear against Alliance in the WB finals, Virtus.pro's early lead is surprisingly tame, and Liquid reacts to an early deficit of farm and levels across all heroes with more aplomb than was seen from the team earlier in the playoffs. TMW stalls out at Mekansm and Force Staff while Korok, previously bullied, rockets ahead by finding a more aggressive posture with Lifestealer in the cargo hold more often than not. Once Sanity's Eclipse stops dealing any damage to Storm Spirit the problem areas for VP come into sharp focus: a lack of any actual damage as PL is primarily survivability oriented and the OD is underfarmed. The ensuing teamfights all go toward proving the theory.
In what must be the greatest game of TPL season 4, Virtus.pro's wombo combo looks to roll over Liquid early, with the first incursion onto tier 3 coming a scant 11 minutes in. The rest of the game is a study in “not losing.” Despite losing middle barracks in short order, Liquid stops a series of increasingly dangerous incursions by VP by locking down TMW's Warlock to preclude Chaotic Offering and at one point purchasing 5 Blade Mails in an act of desperation to prevent being wiped by Wrath of Nature, all while TC's Luna slowly farms out an increasing and eventually dramatic farm advantage over Weaver. A few pushes later, VP finds themselves 3 barracks and a tier 4 tower up and still without the ability to actually end the game. One final, climactic standoff at Dire's middle barracks is won in an instant of ingenuity when TC successfully baits out Virtus.pro's ultimates only for Test of Faith to take him to the fountain just before his demise. Through a game with teamfights so epic that one Roshan engagement actually crashed the Dota clients of everyone in the lobby, Liquid advances to a Grand Final berth against Alliance.
Grand Final: Liquid vs Alliance
Liquid consistently overreaches into an early deficit, with Korok unable to make plays from the mid other than a couple successful tier 1 tower pushes. While the tower gold advantage dissipates, Liquid has earned more farm on TC's Lifestealer than on Loda's PA and secures a Roshan, so Alliance isn't out of the woods just yet. Through smart midgame aggression and push, Liquid earns the first barracks of the game and deflects the counter-push that follows from Alliance in the same lane. However Alliance completely flips the script a few minutes later by baiting with Akke's KOTL at Radiant tier 2, activating Ghost Scepter, and jumping in with a Double Damage rune PA to take the wind right out of Liquid's sails in an instant that decides the outcome of Game 1.
Both solo lanes are oppressed early on, with the far more notable one being Bulldog's Lone Druid who loses his bear and falls to harassment from a Holy Persuasion Harpy Stormcaller. Liquid once again faces some difficulties in the early-game before exerting some muscle in the Radiant jungle to equalise the game. A long, weird, 2-part standoff at Roshan ends bloodily but inconclusively, and the game still feels like it can tip either way in an instant through the next several engagements, including one at each team's high ground. Finally, Alliance goes for the throat in a big way, combining some excellent Split Earths from EGM with a huge RP on 3 heroes from s4's ever-impressive Magnus to lock Liquid down long enough for Loda's Alchemist to do its work both on the Dire heroes and structures. One final worthy teamfight attempt from Liquid is narrowly tipped to Alliance to conclude the series and crown [A] the Premier League Season 4 Champions.
Alliance's Gustav "s4" Magnusson
(Picture courtesy of Liquipedia)
TL: Your solo mid play is immaculate and many consider you one of, if not the best solo mid player in the West. With your recent invite to G-1, you'll be playing with the likes of Mushi and Ferrari. Do you look up to them? Who do you think is the best mid?
s4: I have huge respect for both players, more so to Ferrari because of his stability. I have learned some tricks from iG's mid player which I made very good use of in my games; and he plays an insane Magnus.
TL: So, Mr. Magnusson. What's it like being the son of Magnus? Did he teach you any secret techniques for your solo mid role? Is that why you're so good?
s4: Yes, he told me to win mid you have to put the bottle on the bird, send it to fountain, and then back to yourself. :D
TL: The Premier League had an extremely long group stage. What are your opinions on the format of The Premier League, and did the long group stage and short playoff bracket affect the way you prepared at all?
s4: Maybe shorten the length of the group stages, but I have to say Bo3 is the way to go! The long group stage kinda helped us in a way, we had lots of improvement as a team from when it started, so we were confident going into the playoff bracket.
TL: You stomped through the winners bracket in the playoffs very convincingly. What did you think of your performance in particular?
s4: Those games that weekend is what reminded me why Dota is so fun. I think it strengthens your team just by winning these crazy comeback games. The grand final versus Liquid was nothing but resistance from them, as they are playing really good Dota lately.
TL: Regarding G-1, what are your expectations of the Chinese teams? Do you plan on preparing for teams specifically, or are you just confident in doing what you normally do?
s4: It will be the first time I go up against the best of the best Chinese teams around so naturally my expectations are very high. First of all, the drafting will be different so we have to take that into account and then plan what to do against each team. I feel like some of the teams would be easier to draft against but harder to play against because of the lack of mistakes. Our style could really fit well against some of the teams. At the end of the day it will be our biggest challenge thus far and this is why I love playing Dota. =)
TL: Are there any things you're looking forward to doing in China outside of Dota?
s4: It will be my first time in Asia, so I'm really curious in how their food taste's like. Hopefully I get to meet the guys from LGD.int as well. B)
TL: So far, Europe has Dreamhack, StarLadder, and Raidcall EMS, and America only has The International as far as LANs are concerned. Comparatively, pretty much every major tournament in China has LAN finals. What do you think needs to be done to increase the number of LANs in the Western scene?
s4: Honestly, I don't think much needs to be done, because I can see the scene sprouting and maybe in a blink of an eye a new LAN tournament is up for grabs.
TL: The International invites and qualifiers have been completely announced, and there has been a fair share of drama behind it. What are your thoughts on it?
s4: It really sucks for the teams not being able to prove that they might deserve going to Seattle, or hell just knowing if you were able to do it or not. Last year in my old team, TTB, we didn't get the chance either and it's painful.
TL: IceFrog has said that he plans on releasing 6.78 before TI3. If you could insert a single change into the 6.78 changelog, what would it be?
s4: Remove the global TP sound if you have vision of an enemy TPing to a nearby tower, so it would require more communication from your teammates if someone was TPing in.
TL: Thanks a bunch for the interview! Any shoutouts you would like to give?
s4: Shoutout to The Alliance and our sponsor Razer for supporting us. Also shoutout to my brother Franky and my former teammate/old friend Balsam. :D
Writers: ScintilliaSD, vykromond
Gfx: Hawaiianpig, shirousagi
Editors: TheEmulator, Firebolt145, Heyoka
Gfx: Hawaiianpig, shirousagi
Editors: TheEmulator, Firebolt145, Heyoka