The third day of play at the LCQ was just as exciting as the ones before
Following in the footsteps of the scintillating action seen in the Group Stage, the Playoffs of the Last Chance Qualifier for The International 11 had big shoes to fill — and it delivered in spades. With all four Upper Bracket Quarterfinals series going the distance and competitive ties in the Lower Bracket fixtures, the day was a mouthful and then some for lovers of our beloved MOBA.
As there were way too many games to write about, we picked out the best games to discuss.
Starting the day off was three time TI finalists Natus Vincere’s defeat at the hands of the relatively new lineup of SEA’s T1, which was followed by European powerhouse Team Secret edging out Chinese hopefuls Xtreme Gaming. The two TI-familiar names of Virtus.pro and Vici Gaming duked it out next, with the former coming out on top. The last Upper Bracket clash involved TI7 champions Team Liquid and SEA Regional Qualifier finalists Polaris Esports.
Although all the matches were close, the picks of the bunch have to be T1 vs Na’ Vi and Secret vs Xtreme.
T1 vs Natus Vincere
After years of being a second-rate team, this is Na’ Vi’s shot at making a big comeback. The result of this clash didn’t do much to that effect, but they nevertheless performed admirably. T1, still very evidently a work in progress, has a long way to go to become real TI contenders, but they came out on top in this instance.
With the likes of Undying, Gyrocopter, Earthshaker, Winter Wyvern and Snapfire on their side, it looked as though T1’s wombo combo setup would win the game for them. Na’ Vi’s picks of Enigma, Dawnbreaker, Tusk, Ember Spirit and Drow Ranger packed a punch (not just the Walrus kind), but their lineup was much more pickoff-based, and would have to scale into the late game to triumph.
T1 managed to take an early lead as expected, but Na’ Vi held tight and never let that advantage spiral out of control. Slowly, they took back map control as well as gold advantage. Despite being well behind on kills until quite late in the game, their triple DPS cores were just too much for the Gyro and a mage-build Snapfire to counter. T1 called GG in the 46th minute.
If Game 1 was carried by Alik “V-Tune” Vorobey, ana rolled back the years in Game 2 to put up a Morphling performance for the ages. T1’s other picks were Puck, Tusk, Undying and Vengeful Spirit. Na’ Vi, on the other hand, went for a pickoff-heavy Disruptor, Lina, Void Spirit, Clockwork and Beastmaster, lacking DPS like their opponent had in the game prior.
Although the game was on an even keel for the first 20 minutes or so, once T1 took the advantage, it was a one-way street. They simply kept increasing their advantage until Na’ Vi accepted their reality and called it quits in the 30th minute.
For game 3, T1 went with an unconventional combo of Pudge, Tusk, Venomancer, Undying and Morphling, severely lacking in lockdown, but having a strong teamfight. Na’ Vi’s draft was also questionable as they went for niche picks Naga Siren and Visage alongside Clockwork, Batrider and Disruptor.
One of the classic elements of the partnership between ana and Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen is their ability to change Heroes between themselves, and this came into play as Topson went on the Morphling and ana went for Pudge. Once again, things were pretty even until a fight in and around the Roshan pit in the 23rd minute gave T1 the decisive advantage that they snowballed on to close out the game 13 minutes later.
Team Secret vs Xtreme Gaming
It’s a mark of how difficult the last year has been for Secret that they’re having to qualify for TI through the LCQ. Following some questionable roster changes since their defeat to Team Spirit in the Lower Bracket Final of TI10, they are finally looking strong, and just in time. Xtreme Gaming performed decently in the Chinese DPC, but failed to make TI the easier way. Now, it’s time for them to do or die.
Arguably the best game of the entire Upper Bracket, this one was an absolute back-and-forth blast. Xtreme went for Terrorblade, Death Prophet, Treant, Doom and Lion, while Secret picked Clockwork, Marci, Viper, Darkseer and Shadow Fiend. The former arguably had better teamfight, but the latter certainly had far better pickoff potential. And would need to kite less.
As late as 40 minutes into the game, there was a difference of less than 1k gold between the two sides. Every time one team gained an advantage, the other invariably struck back. However, Xtreme managed to win a crucial battle near — where else but — the Roshan pit around that time, and piled up a massive 42k gold lead by the time the game ended 20 minutes later.
This time around, Secret’s lineup left quite a few people questioning their draft. Dawnbreaker, Shadow Fiend, and Lycanthrope were accompanied by Nyx and Bane for a draft that neither had much burst nor convincing teamfight. On the other hand, XG went for an extremely greedy combination of Morphling, Pangolier, Broodmother, Undying, and Lion.
It was only natural for XG to take the early lead, and they boosted that lead considerably and looked to be in the driver’s seat by the 24th minute. One bad fight, however, and Secret pounced on the game and took it by the throat, finishing it off just 6 minutes later.
Secret’s all-round draft had Lich and Nyx supporting Templar Assassin, Batrider, and Mirana, while Xtreme’s had heavy DPS in the form of Juggernaut, Shadow Fiend, and Slardar assisted by Tiny and Dazzle, lacking magic damage.
Once again, Xtreme had the early advantage and seemed like they would be able to take the series after all, but a brilliant Lich performance by Clement “Puppey” Ivanov saw to it that Secret bounced back strong to knock XG into the Lower Bracket at the start of the 40th minute.
In the Lower Bracket, Na’ Vi took out South American outfit Tempest without much trouble, while XG, despite struggling against the more famous SA squad Infamous, eked out the series itself. In the last two games, VG wasted no time in trouncing NA Regional Qualifier finalists nouns, but the other American team, Wildcard Gaming, managed to knock out Polaris.
The pick of the games from the LB was, without much doubt, the match between Polaris and Wildcard.
Polaris Esports vs Wildcard Gaming
It was a bitter end for a Polaris team that had shown plenty of promise when going toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best teams, but unfortunately, the pressure got to them after all. Wildcard, on the other hand, came into this with nothing to lose and everything to prove. They will now no doubt be rejuvenated from this clash as they head into a matchup with the mighty VG.
With a draft that had Nyx, Lina, Undying, Tidehunter and Troll, Polaris had most if not all of their bases covered. Wildcard, on the other hand, actually went for a support Naga Siren in the year 2022, with Shadow Fiend, Axe, Ursa and Snapfire alongside.
This game was a slugfest of back and forth fights, and although Wildcard gained a massive 19k gold advantage in the mid-game, things never spiraled out of control for Polaris, who fought back hard. Their hard work wasn’t enough, however, as Wildcard still managed to close things out later in the game thanks to their stronger scaling Heroes.
The second game saw Polaris take the initial upper hand courtesy of Lina, Slark, Tidehunter, Undying and Lion. However, Wildcard were equal to the task with their Snapfire, Zeus, Visage, Marci and Morphling.
Things stayed on an even keel well into the mid-game, but by the time Tier 4 Neutral Items started popping out, Wildcard had a massive leg up. A few more battles followed, and the Americans entombed the South-East Asians in the 46th minute despite tremendous tenacity from the latter.
Tune in with us after the next day of the Playoffs for another recap.Plus, you’ll find the latest esports news, game guides and Dota 2 betting tips here on ESTNN.