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The conclusion of ESL One Hamburg brought with it the conclusion of an era of Dota. Indeed, many people have called Team Liquid the team of the patch and yet with the end of the patch on the horizon they failed to prevail. Virtus.Pro, on the other hand, finally found themselves atop the podium as they finally achieved their first Major victory, having been denied at such a defining moment several months ago. With all that said, let us dive into the recap of what was an incredibly exciting weekend.
The tournament was done in a two-group GSL (double elimination) format wherein only two teams per group advanced to the playoffs. Having had only become a Major after much prior planning and venue booking, it was unfortunate that this Major had only 8 teams, but 8 rather fantastic teams regardless. Day One saw a series of Bo1s with varying results. Newbee saw through the quick dismantling of Fnatic in 32 minutes with a very deathball-like strat involving Death Prophet and Omniknight. The next series was a classic in brand, featuring an exciting comeback for Secret after an early deficit, ultimately securing victory with a Magnus+Juggernaut combo as well as YapzOr’s signature Rubick. Following that was the Liquid vs SG series which featured a push-heavy lineup from Liquid, only slowed down by the talent of 4dr on Ember Spirit but ultimately not impactful on the end result. The last series of the day was an expected one-sided demolishing with VP going up against Keen Gaming, featuring some extremely heart racing moments where VP heroes had narrowly escaped death, gradually building into a massive lead.
Day Two saw some upsets in light of the final rankings at TI, with both finalists falling short of playoffs and needing to play decider matches. This was characterized by underperformance in the first game of Newbee vs Secret followed by a complete outdraft in Newbee’s favour and ultimately ending with yet again some underwhelming performances from Newbee in Game 3 as Ace snowballed out of control with Monkey King. The other series featured VP throttling the TI champions with dominant lanes and an uncontested last pick Lifestealer in Game 1, causing Liquid’s first loss with Wisp since the Group Stage at TI. This was followed by two extremely back-and-forth and hard-fought games where VP finally prevailed in Game 3 what with a sensational performance on Brewmaster from 9pasha. The last series of the day brought about the elimination of Fnatic who were there to replace HappyFeet. Evil Geniuses swiftly and confidently put a halt to Fnatic’s hopes of winning a single game during this tournament as Fnatic tried new things while EG simply ran them over with superior teamfight and farm.
Thus came the end of Day Two, bringing us into SG vs Keen Gaming on Day Three. Both teams fought tooth and nail as games went back and forth and a total play time of almost 3 hours was needed in this heated series. The first game displayed a number of insane skirmishes but Keen Gaming’s superior split-pushing lineup gradually prevailed as they sieged SG from all sides, getting megas and forcing diebacks until victory came. Game 2 was of a similar nature but as with many games featuring the hero, Arc Warden gradually grew too big and got out of control. Game 3 saw a rather one-sided yet severely intense match as SG soon found themselves on the ropes and pulling out incredible desperation plays which ultimately lead to an amazing, game-winning Rosh fight as Rong on the Winter Wyvern guaranteed SG’s loss with diebacks and a failed Rosh attempt, eliminating the South American team.
After that series came one of the most highly anticipated ones, Newbee vs EG. Newbee had previously shut down EG in the Winner Bracket of TI7 and thus there was no doubt that EG wanted revenge and it sure looked like they were going to get it. Game 1 was an utter decimation of Newbee as EG snowballed out of control with flashy plays from SumaiL and Newbee’s lack of solutions for Universe’s Pugna, giving EG some confidence going into the next game. It looked all but over for Newbee going into the 30 minute mark what with a rather unorthodox Undying pick and dodged ganks from SumaiL earlier in the game. Indeed, heavily snowballing cores can often be the recipe for victory but the lack of proper pushing heroes and Sccc’s prowess on Queen of Pain gradually brought the game into Newbee’s favour as a few sick initiations from Kpii put a stopper into EG’s playoff hope. In very similar fashion, Game 3 was an utter disaster for Newbee’s mid lane but fantastic initiations and counter-initiations from Kaka and Kpii pulled Newbee back into the game, forcing EG into a deficit against the flashfarming capabilities of Templar Assassin which eventually resulted in the elimination of EG.
However, the day didn’t end there and neither did the Group Stages. The atmosphere within the arena began to settle down as fans imagined a one-sided rollover in the last series of the day, Liquid vs Keen. That said, Game 1 put Liquid in an awkward position as an unconventional item build from Ying on the Queen of Pain, strokes of RNG luck, and a heavily snowballing Bloodseeker won Keen the early-mid game, greatly worrying Liquid fans and gradually forcing an insane 65 minute game. Liquid’s perseverance and further sensational plays from GH, for which he is well known, eventually turned the game in their favour as Liquid proved to be too much for Keen. Game 2 saw a similarly worrying start for Liquid as Keen started balling out of control but were stopped in their tracks as Miracle quickly found farm on Sven and took over the game, However, it took a little while as Ying put up a great show on Puck, preventing Liquid’s victory until Miracle committed to a game-winning BKB.
With that, the Group Stages came to an end and the Top 4 of the tournament were determined. Qualifying Points had been guaranteed for VP, Secret, Newbee, and Liquid as they headed into the single elimination Main Event.
The main event was played throughout Day 3 and began with the VP vs Newbee matchup, rather highly anticipated and ultimately proven exhilarating. Newbee brought out a rather unorthodox draft in Game 1, going back to the winning Undying of the previous day but playing Batrider in the mid lane against a Phantom Lancer. As expected of most unorthodox drafts, Newbee soon found themselves on the backfoot and were run over by a VP whose networth was consistently amplified by Track gold and ultimately seeing a rampage from No[o]ne to seal the deal. Game 2, however, showed again the prowess of Sccc on QoP, as well as some block-drafting wherein Newbee stole VP’s first phase picks from the earlier game as their own and finishing with a Timbersaw pick against what was effectively 4 melee heroes and 5 strength heroes. The game proved rather exciting and amusing as Newbee struggled to find their footing coming out of the laning phase but the good old Sprouted Sven and an essentially unstoppable Timbersaw evened out the series. Game 3 was one full of surprises as Newbee drafted normally into a last pick Brood out of VP, forcing highly unorthodox lanes which seemed to be working out. However, VP found themselves left to farm and farm they did, eventually leading into an insurmountable gold lead as they weaved themselves in and out of fights in combination with heavy split pushing, ending Newbee’s journey at ESL One Hamburg.
With VP determined as the finalists, it was time to go into the Secret vs Liquid revenge match from TI and the Starladder Minor. Game 1 saw insane outplays as Liquid found themselves winning the lanes while on signature heroes, allowing them to snowball out of control and utterly take over the game, making it seem like child’s play as they absolutely choked Secret out of the game. The same could not be said about Game 2, however, as an odd Gyrocopter pick, intended to counter Winter Wyvern, failed due to a weak laning phase and eventually bringing about a swift victory for Secret. Game 3 saw a 2nd consecutive loss for Liquid on Wisp as a single-target focused draft failed to stand up to the might of Pugna and the survivability of a Necro, backed up by a free farming Juggernaut. Widely considered an out draft with credit to Puppey, a major upset was pulled and revenge satiated as Secret headed into the Grand Finals vs VP.
As the lights were set and fans shuffled into their seats, VP and Secret prepared to enter the Grand Finals of the first Major of the season. Though rather disappointing that it was a mere Bo3, it can hardly be denied that both teams played hard to win. Nonetheless, there is little doubt that the games were fairly good. Game 1 ultimately seemed to come down to the mid lane matchup as Secret last picked Lina while VP last picked Sniper. The effect soon shone through as Lina struggled against Sniper and found herself unable to do much towards the end of the game. WIth hardly any ways of killing Sniper, Secret gave in and tapped out around 40 minutes as they realized that Sniper was simply too big. Game 2 proved a much more exciting game in spite of Secret’s miserable early game against a team known to excel in the laning phase and snowballing off of advantages gained in that period. Clutch plays from Solo and unfavourable lane matchups resulted in Secret having an offlane Ember Spirit played by MidOne struggling to have an impact in the early game. However, the presence of a Magnus always allowed for Secret to take favourable teamfights and this was shown when they managed to team wipe VP not once but twice in a row despite a 10k gold deficit. However, perhaps when it mattered most, 9pasha stepped up and prevented Secret from following up on an impressive RP out of FATA, disabling their main damage sources with his own counter of Epicenter + Burrowstrike and rendering the RP useless. Thus ended the series and the tournament, allowing VP to raise their first Major trophy.
With the conclusion of the tournament, the Mercedes-Benz MVP was also announced as Solo found himself not only the winner of a Major but also the owner of a brand new Mercedes-Benz. It also heralded the end of the 7.06 patch lasting from 15th May to 31st October 2017, and announcing the Dueling Fates update. Finally, the tournament essentially resulted in an overhaul of the Dota Pro Circuit leaderboards, seeing VP take the top followed by Secret, Liquid, and Mineski, in that order.
VP vs Newbee - Semi-Finals Game 1
VP vs Secret - Finals game 1