In this series, Alliance drew the longest straw. But it was close. Very close. VikinGG will be kicking themselves for the game two loss and will want to forget that game three ever happened.
When the first blood came, it was due to a nice rotation for Alliance where they completely outnumbered VikinGG around the mid lane. And while they managed to claim the bounty on Aramis' head, the real reward came just after. First, BOOM threw out the first Tidehunter ultimate of the game and then the TP's started raining in from the rest of VikinGG. Alliance had just bought themself all the room in the game. The sidelanes were, virtually, unoccupied and Tide ult was on cooldown. It was clearly not the start the VikinGG had hoped for. A fairly obvious statement that was emphasised over the next few minutes as they became overaggressive on the bottom lane, losing two. All this, while Alliance was free farming top and mid. The game was still really close but Alliance had opened up the first clear lead of the match.
The mid-game was one of the more interesting we've seen so far. LIMMP's Tiny ran around the map, claiming kills pretty much whenever he wanted. Meanwhile the normally stable Nikobaby got caught out twice, in quick succession, in his own jungle. So even though the Tiny continued to grow, Alliance wasn't pulling ahead as much as they would've wanted due to the struggles of the Ursa. This was especially worrying for Alliance as the Ursa had committed to a Battle Fury while the Bloodseeker opted for a quicker build with a Maelstrom. And the quicker item timing started paying off right away with both kills and map control going the way of VikinGG.
But it wasn't smooth sailing all the way in from this point, as we've seen in many other games. Alliance did a great job at keeping on pace with VikinGG. Both teams played the late midgame very well, actually, rarely losing anything but a support. And as the minutes ticked by, Nikobaby became bigger and bigger, with the Battle Fury. Alliance's problem didn't go away, though. They were fighting into a lineup with crazy teamfight. They were trying to find key pickoffs against a lineup that was rarely out of position. While Alliance did show activity early on in the game, it started to become clear that it wasn't enough of it and it certainly didn't pushing VikinGG very hard.
After the 20 minutes mark, the game became all about one objective: Roshan. Alliance positioned themselves in their triangle while VikinGG was hellbent on not losing control of their jungle. It became a tense standoff. Both sides seemed to know what the other was doing and no one wanted to risk giving away an Aegis. In order to break the tension, VikinGG surprised viewers as they were the ones to enter the Rosh pit. Their lineup is good but it's not one that's good at sneaking Rosh. Especially so when the opponents have vision of the pit. So looking back, it must have been a bait. Well Alliance took the bait, line, and sinker as S4 cast his ultimate and rolled in on the Dire. VikinGG reacted by simply going a little bit backwards, luring Alliance into a suboptimal position and then struck a dagger through their opponents' hearts. They claimed the lives of S4, LIMMP, and Handsken before they calmly walked into the pit and won the Aegis. And just 10 minutes later the game.
Unlike the first game, the midgame was a lot more exciting this time around. The lineups of both teams was well suited for pickoffs, and that's what we saw. Almost every minute had at least one kill. Mostly on supports but the cores took their fair share of beatings as well. On top of this, the teams mirrored each other's tower pushes as well. So as we started approaching the late-game, the game really did hang in the balance. Alliance were able to maintain their networth lead but a 1k lead 25 minutes in is nothing to write home about.
With how close the game was, teamfights were few and far between. The first major engagement happened roughly 25 minutes into the game as VikinGG prodded Alliance for a weakness but were instead turned on. A really nice engagement from LIMMP's puck swung the fight to Alliance. VikinGG's response was less than ideal. Instead of accepting losing Khezu, Shad tried to lodge himself between the teams as a buffer, only to lose both his lives to the slow of S4's Viper and fng's Midnight Pulse.
At this point, Alliance correctly backed off to farm and claim more of the map. They told VikinGG that if they wanted to come back, they'd have to charge head first into a lineup that featured some big teamfight ultimates. What happened next might be one of the unluckiest events we've seen in Dota in... we don't know how long. Alliance entered the Rosh pit, thinking that VikinGG wouldn't (or couldn't) challenge them. And they were right. Someone just forgot to tell VikinGG that. They chose to engage and fng struck back with a Black Hole for the ages. Or it should have been. What no one, including fng, saw was that he also caught Khezu's Necronomicon Warrior in his ultimate. The Warrior was already low so it died almost instantly, taking a HUGE chunk of fng's life with it, making him easy pickings for the Enchantress. And with that, the fight was lost. If this moment would've turned the game, it probably would've haunted fng for the remainder of his life.
Still, sometimes what a team needs is a punch in the face. Sometimes, everything going against you strengthens you. And that's what happened here. After that unfortunate fight top, VikinGG took the networth lead but Alliance was definitely the team that played better. It took Alliance just five minutes before they could find another fight and this time, there were no Necrobook minions around to mess them up. From here on in, Alliance played closed to perfect. They farmed well. They fought well. And they took over the map. VikinGG had their opportunity to come back but Alliance was just sharper. On to game three.
There's not really much more to say about this game. VikinGG crumbled before our eyes and they're now fighting for their lives. Next week they'll take on Tundra in a game that could straight up relegate the loser.
Series MVP: LimmpLimmp has received a lot of criticism over his years in pro Dota. The criticism hasn't focused on his play, per se, but rather his seeming inability to carry games when needed. He has been a stable midlaner but the perception has always been that he relies on one of the other two cores to pull out the huge plays. And that has, to a big extent, been true. Up until this year. So far in the EU DPC we've seen Limmp absolutely dumpstering teams, from time to time. He's still not a Sumail or a NoOne but he definitely has shown off an increased ability to make big plays. And this series was not an exception. If it wasn't for Limmp, we're pretty sure Alliance would've lost this. Thus, he's our MVP for the series.
Both games 1 and 2 were great games to watch, and they were fairly different in nature. Game 1 had a lot of tactical movement around the map but not a lot of kills while game 2 was just an actionpacked blood bath of a match. Both highly reccomended.
Game 1: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/917939658
Game 2: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/918172711
Graphics: Julmust / DreamHack
Graphics: Julmust / DreamHack