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Day 1 - The Bigger They Are...The first day of brackets in Manila was also the last day for two of the most popular teams in the scene. After falling in the groupstage, and extended lower bracket run was meant to be the path for EG and Team Secret to prove their growing list of critics wrong. Following the chaotic reshuffle, each team sorely needed to show the world that they are still the powerhouses they once were. For these two titans, their fate was a different one. The organizations who had towered over the Dota 2 scene for much of 2015, fell and they fell hard.
For EG the game started almost as well as you could hope. While they gave away first blood fighting for the top rune, they surged back to claim five straight kills in the first five minutes of the game. Fear shone brightly on an extremely mobile 4th position Axe. Though EG showed a very aggressive early game, VG.R handled the aggression with ease and always seemed to have the game under control. The two teams closely followed each other in both kills and towers for much of the contest but after 30 minutes EG overextended as they ran over the river looking for a kill on Phoenix. Up until that point EG had a small, but still notable lead. In the pivotal fight EG had not only lost 3 heroes, but also map control allowing VG.R to claim the aegis. Not long after this disastrous fight it looked like EG would turn the tides once again when they caught Nono in the river, close to the top rune, and it seemed like they would be able to nullify the aegis without giving up anything. Instead of bringing the game back VG.R showed up and after a brilliant Static Storm by DDC and a beautifully placed Supernova by Fy the fight, and eventually the game, went to the Chinese.
If EG had a good start to their lower bracket game, Secret had quite the opposite. Team Empire showed that they were not afraid to go off script and picked a support Riki who, in the first minutes of the game managed to essentially win the midlane for his team by sniping the Dire’s courier which carried tangoes and a quelling blade for Arteezy’s mid Phantom Lancer. The play set up a first blood for Empire but Secret looked to exploit the Riki pick and realized that Ramzes666, on the Lifestealer, would be very vulnerable on the bottom lane. Running an aggressive trilane, though they failed to get any kills on Naix, turned out to be a big victory for Team Secret. They made it impossible for him to farm and managed to claim a very early T1 tower, opening up the radiant jungle. With this early lead Secret walked into the same trap as EG and tried to use this advantage a bit too much. Picked off time and time again by Empire, Secret had to claw their way back into the game with superior teamfighting. It proved to be a very thin line. When Empire, 25 minutes in, managed to execute an almost perfect teamfight Secret melted and Empire quickly claimed two towers (T2 & T3) as well as the melee rax. This was really the defining moment of the game, as Empire managed to build off this advantage, ultimately knocking Secret out of Manila.
While a lot of the talk after the first day will center on the problems surrounding EG and Secret, they weren’t the only favorites to fall on the first day of the tournament. After going 0-4 in the groupstage the expectations on coL were low, to say the least, and the fact that they were playing Wings, one of the most hyped teams of the tournament, didn’t help their case. You can never count coL out, a lesson Wings learned the hard way as they crashed out of Manila in last place. All of this followed the inaugural game on the grand stage where Liquid, widely regarded as the number 1 team in the world by everyone and their grandmother, took a fall against MVP Phoenix in straight games, with game number 2 being the best game of the day. Liquid should not hang their heads, both games were closely contested. There is no shame in losing against a team who had a LAN win rate of close to 75% going into Manila but the road just got a lot more difficult for KuroKy’s squad.
Last but not least, we have the two games of the day where the results weren’t as surprising, but that does in no way mean they were uninteresting series. Mineski started strong and cheered on by a fanatic audience (seriously, listen to this) seemed to have the game all but won. Then Alliance did what Alliance has done so many times in the past; they brought the game back by dictating the pace of the game and, in the end outmaneuvered them to stay alive for another day. Alliance’s win sets fans up for another “El Clásico” as NaVi failed to compete against the recently reinvigorated OG, who are coming off great runs at Epicenter and DreamLeague. The Orange Gumballs showed the crowd in Manila that they will keep on building on top of that success and looked brilliant in this upper bracket game. Saying that OG was the better team in the matchup could be the understatement of the year as they, just as their future upper bracket opponents MVP, took their series 2-0 without seemingly breaking a sweat.
Bracket Post Day 1
Day 2 Games