Table of Contents
A Rundown of the Season
The Future of Virtus.pro
More on Liquipedia
TPL S3 Recap
After several months of intense competition, The Premier League Season 3 has finally reached its end. There were many great matches throughout, showcasing the talents of the top teams currently residing in the Western scene. In the end Team Empire triumphed above everyone, winning convincingly against Virtus.pro in the Grand Finals.
If you have happened to miss it all, don't you worry as our own TL writer Tephus has recapped the event for you. He has also provided a small feature on Virtus.pro, one of the top teams this time around, who we expect may be entering their prime very soon.
We hope you have enjoyed The Premier League Season 3 and specifically our very own coverage of it. Congratulations to Team Empire on their well deserved win.
The Premier League wrapped up this weekend with a battle between four teams in the Grand Finals. Up for grabs was Na'Vi's undefended crown and a total of $6,000 in prize money. Let's go over what transpired!
Posturing for the playoffs was intense, with the top three teams all tied, and a four way tie for the final spot. The top three spots ended up being distributed via the matches played between the three teams, with Fnatic coming away with the best record and the first overall spot, continuing their great play as the year ended. Empire ended up in second, and Dignitas in third. A new set of tie breakers were required to decide the final playoff spot, which took the form of a single elimination bracket with best of threes.
Virtus.pro managed to push themselves through the tiebreakers with some strong play against two solid fan favourites in mousesports and No Tidehunter. Thus the final four teams were decided.
The first match-up of the day was Fnatic.EU vs Virtus.pro, with Fnatic taking the first game of the series. We saw fairly standard picks from both sides, although VP did ban out N0tail's Meepo in the second phase. VP's anti-mage managed to farm well, filling his inventory really fast, but it wasn't enough to overpower the tandem force of Fnatic's Lone Druid and Luna. Perhaps confident with their first win, Fnatic was able to chose to pick Meepo in game two. VP came on strong in game two, with a 15 minute 'GG', as N0tail's Meepo just wasn't able generate the momentum he is known for, and VP's Nyx wreaked havoc on every lane, ending with a score of 5-0-4. The final match saw Fnatic draft a carry-heavy lineup of Lone Druid, Templar Assassin, Shadow Fiend, and Batrider with Rubick supporting, but they were unable to find the farm to compete with VP's more balanced lineup, allowing VP to claim victory.
The second match-up of Empire vs Dignitas involved many trademark picks coming from both sides, which ended up not being too successful in the end. In game one Dignitas drafted a Tiny-Wisp combo, but it was never able to gain enough traction or given any space, and Empire came away with a convincing win, getting 27 kills in the 16 minute match. In the second game we saw Funn1k's Clinkz, sometimes able to win games on his own, unable to recreate the success he is known for. As the game rolled on, Empire had no response to Aui's Phantom Lancer, forcing Empire out of the match with his tremendous farm. In the deciding match, we saw both Aui's Morphling and Funn1k's wisp (along with blow on Chaos Knight). Early on the game looked quite even, with blows being traded evenly up until about 17 minutes. While Aui had considerable farm at this point, the mid-game dominance of CK-Wisp was too much to deal with as Empire took control of the game, putting up 20 kills in the next 10 minutes, taking two raxes, and forcing the GG call from Dignitas.
The first match of the Loser's bracket, Dignitas vs Fnatic, was the last series that wasn't a sweep. In game one Fnatic grabbed the wisp early, but they didn't grab any of the conventional pairing heroes to go along with him, but instead grabbing Lone Druid and Morphling. While the early game was fairly even, the midgame punch you'd expect from a wisp wasn't there, and with a fairly quick Scythe from Fogged, along with Aui's Lifestealer getting farmed, Dignitas were able to out fight Fnatic's lineup going into the mid game. Fnatic had no way of slowing the momentum, and Dignitas cruised to a game one victory. Game two was a extremely passive game, with only 12 kills by 30 minutes, which was a surprising outcome as Dignitas drafted fairly gank heavy with both Bounty Hunter and Nyx Assassin. Once the fights started to happen, the initiation and control of Tidehunter and Batrider from Fnatic, along with the dual carry of Naix and Luna were too much for the Naga Siren to handle. Game three showed more passive play between the two, but this time Dignitas had Aui on the Phantom Lancer. Being left mostly alone all game (12 totaly kill by 27 minutes), Aui was able to farm the map, while Fnatic had to split their farm between Naix, Lone Druid, and a Weaver. Once Dignitas decided to put on the aggression, Fnatic had no answer, and the game was over by 31 minutes.
For the Winners Finals we saw the two CIS teams face off, and Empire came out flying with a 16 minute dismantling of Virtus.pro in game one. VP's Luna only managed 29 last hits before the game ended, a reflection of the ability that Empire has to dominate the laning phase in their early game setups. In game two we saw VP giving Funn1k his wisp, but VP grabbed Chaos Knight themselves to deny the synergy. With VP's stun heavy draft, they opened up to a very early lead, even up about 8000 gold at one point. But Empire was able to inch their way back into the game once Naix was able to farm up a few items. Eventually VP just didn't have enough to shut down Naix in teamfights, and Empire was able to come from behind with the win.
With VP falling down to the loser's bracket, they were matched up with the North American hope, Team Dignitas. The trend of extremely short games continued, and unfortunately for Dignitas, they were the ones with the early 'GG's. In game one Dignitas was forced to tap out at 23 minutes, with their Naix unable to find the space to farm against VP's aggression from Furion, Beastmaster and Undying. In game two, Empire grabbed a Faceless Void, as well as some aggressive picks of Bounty Hunter and Nyx Assassin, to prevent Aui from being able to farm up on his Phantom Lancer. Empire was able to force the GG by 30 minutes, with a considerable kill lead and one set of rax down.
With VP's successful games against Dignitas, they forced the rematch with Empire in the finals, albeit starting with a 1-0 disadvantage. More short games were to come, as Empire continued their dominance of VP. In game one, VP allowed Empire to draft the Wisp-CK combo, and the game ended at 12 minutes, which happened to be one of the shortest games we have seen in quite a while. Wisp and CK had a combined score of 8-1 by that mark, with 15 assists between the two. In game two, VP again gave Funn1k his wisp, but again chose Chaos Knight in an effort to deny him from blow. Surprisingly, Empire also drafted Funn1k's other signature hero Clinkz, but he ended up being played by Scandal, and VP's last pick was a Zeus. Somewhat mirroring their previous series together, VP came out strong in the second game, building a decent lead, but again, when Clinkz and Naix came online in the midgame, VP didn't have enough to fight them off and ended up bowing out at 26 minutes.
While Virtus.pro were at one point one of the biggest teams Western DotA, they haven't been able to achieve the same results that made them and their players famous a few years ago. Perhaps overshadowed now by their fellow CIS teams, Na'Vi and Empire, VP has put together a solid few months recently. It all started with their second place finish in the round robin of Star Ladder Season 4, finishing ahead of favourites such as Fnatic, Empire, No Tidehunter and mousesports. Unfortunately their play at the LAN finals put them last between the 4 teams attending. While their play at this LAN was uninspiring, about a week earlier they attended the ASUS Open 2012, where they managed to place at the top of their group, including a win over Na'Vi. In the playoffs they made it to the finals, but fell to the team that they seem to never be able to beat, Empire, and finished in second place. While all this was going on, they managed to squeeze into The Premier League finals, beating both No Tidehunter and mousesports in a set of tiebreakers. In the finals, as we saw, they managed to continue some strong play, finishing second to Empire again.
Perhaps VP are on the verge of being a top EU team, or maybe they already are one. Either way, if they continue their play, we may be able to expect a tournament win in the near future. They just need to find a way to beat their nemesis, Team Empire, who if I'm counting right, hold a 10-2 record against them over the past few months.