For those unfortunate souls who missed one of the greatest days of Dota in the game’s history on Day 4 of The International.
The fourth day of The International 11 matches is over, and although we usually try to keep emotion out of these recaps, holy wow. Sure, some of the games weren’t as exciting as they could have been, but the ones that were exceeded the wildest expectations of most people. There was a Mega Creeps comeback, a Rampage in a losing cause, and a 1HP escape that decided the fate of a match, just to mention a few incidents. There’s a fairly long break between now and the playoffs, so if you missed today’s matches, settle in and go through our recap.
beastcoast vs PSG.LGD
The South Americans had outdone themselves in the eyes of many by defeating one of the tournament favorites in Evil Geniuses. Next, they were up against a team that is known as one of the most clinical, well-oiled machines the game has ever seen. Almost everyone thought it would be a cakewalk for PSG.LGD, but beastcoast shook the team to its core.
There are few games in the entire illustrious history of TI that have seen as much relentless competition and as many back-and-forth swings as this game had in store for us. PSG.LGD went with Drow Ranger, Pangolier, Slardar, Mirana and Undying, focusing on pickoffs and initiation. beastcoast went with Visage, Enchantress, Faceless Void, Snapfire and Storm Spirit for better teamfight control and setups.
The game was absolutely neck and neck until as late as the 40th minute, with both teams displaying incredible feats of skill and coordination to give their team the lead before the other did the same. After multiple swings in both gold and XP, the Peruvians finally broke through and got Mega Creeps. Although they were about to lose the next teamfight, droves of those pesky but powerful creatures began knocking PSG.LGD’s Ancient down, and the team joined in on the destruction to close out an exciting clash.
With their backs against the wall, PSG.LGD went for Lifestealer, Leshrac, Axe, Marci and Disruptor for a solid teamfight-oriented draft. The South Americans’ picks of Mars, Crystal Maiden, Nyx, Tiny and Faceless Void lacked synergy and cohesion.
In sharp contrast to Game 1, and as the draft would suggest, PSG.LGD absolutely ruled the game from start to finish. Beastcoast managed all of one good teamfight where they sort of came out on top, but other than that, it was the Chinese juggernaut all the way until they finished the game in the 34th minute.
Thankfully for Dota fans everywhere, Game 3 brought back intense competition between the two sides. beastcoast opted for Batrider, Elder Titan, Chaos Knight, Marci and Shadow Fiend, combining off-meta heroes with meta ones for a well-rounded lineup that nevertheless lacked healing and save. Meanwhile PSG.LGD chose Sven, Leshrac, Brewmaster, Spiritbreaker and Io, also going for something off-beat alongside others that are tried and tested.
Despite some exciting exchanges early on, beastcoast managed to get themselves into a relatively commanding position for a while in the mid-game. However, just when it looked like they would create history and shock the world, PSG.LGD came back with a bang and simply dominated the game thereafter to win the series 2-1.
OG vs Team Liquid
Two fan-favorite teams meeting in the Lower Bracket of TI is one of the hardest things to watch as someone who loves the game neutrally. The narrative around both OG and Liquid has been one of a group of young, sprightly hopefuls with lots of spirit looking to make it far into TI, and many hearts were going to be broken no matter what the result of this match was.
With the likes of Centaur Warrunner, Lich, Leshrac, Slark and Shadow Demon, OG went with a draft that wasn’t quite cohesive. Liquid’s picks of Undying, Pangolier, Lina, Marci and Drow Ranger, on the other hand, were much more pro-meta and would make for better laning.
Despite OG giving away many early kills, the gold graph mainly remained in their favor because their cores were better farmers. They even managed to get a sizable lead after a brilliant fight in the 22nd minute, but Liquid fought back soon after and ended the game following a flurry of kills without losing a single Hero on their side.
OG’s draft in the second game was once again rather bizarre, with in-meta Snapfire, Tiny and Ember Spirit being paired with Nature’s Prophet and Huskar. Liquid’s draft of CM, Brood, Tusk, Leshrac and Bloodseeker was much more in line with the current state of the game, and the results spoke for themselves.
Although OG managed to get more kills in this one than in the first game, it was far more one-sided than it might appear. Liquid didn’t give OG the time to build up as they kept getting pickoff after pickoff, with Tiny being killed 7 times between minutes 16 and 27. In time, Liquid’s lead became way too high for OG to stand a chance against, and they ended the game cleanly in the 34th minute.
Team Aster vs PSG.LGD
The two Chinese powerhouses collided with the force of a supernova, with national pride being thrown out the window for personal and organizational glory. This year has seen one of the weakest showings from the region, and both teams had a point to prove going forward. That being said, the pressure was on two-time runner-up PSG.LGD, with Aster punching way above their weight, to have come this far.
PSG.LGD’s addition of Riki to a lineup of Ember Spirit, Visage, Primal Beast and Disruptor seemed to be questionable, but they made it work — at least for a while. Aster went with a more meta-friendly Drow, Pango, Mirana, and Lina alongside Shadow Demon.
It seemed as though nothing could stop the PSG.LGD train as they took an early lead and kept on building. However, once the Riki sort of plateaued and Aster’s Heroes got stronger, Aster managed to win a good teamfight and pretty much closed things out within a few minutes off of the back of that.
Aster’s draft of Gyrocopter, Lina, Mars, Mirana and Sven was a thing of beauty, PSG.LGD’s combination of Terrorblade, Kunkka, Enigma, Tiny and Snapfire was also potentially devastating. The main difference between the two sides was the fact that the latter relied heavily on spells with very, very long cooldowns.
After a balanced laning stage, Aster took over the game and just slowly but surely choked PSG.LGD out of the game, being beautifully efficient in executing its strategies. However, things remained relatively contentious until the 35th minute, a big teamfight that ended in Aster’s favor all but confirmed the end of the match, which happened 5 minutes later.
Thunder Awaken vs Team Liquid
Two continents, millions of hopes, and plenty of prayers backed these two teams as they went toe to toe. Thunder Awaken had impressed many with some excellent performances, but had fallen from the Upper Bracket in their last match. Liquid on the other hand had been grinding their way through the Lower Bracket since losing to Aster, and this was their ticket forward. This was unquestionably one of the greatest three-game series in the history of TI and maybe Dota itself.
We scarcely know where to begin with this game. The match could have gone to either team at almost any moment past the mid-game, and in the end it was won thanks to backdoor protection being nullified by one solitary creep, with the winners still being 15k gold behind. Thunder went with a solid lineup consisting of Rubick, Enigma, Mars, CM and Bloodseeker. On the other side, Liquid opted for Lich, Pango, Lesh, Tiny, and Lifestealer.
Thunder’s lead, which crested around the 24-minute mark, seemed like it would be enough to give them the win. Liquid fought hard to take advantage, but Thunder never stopped fighting as the match balance kept shifting. However, when TA was absolutely destroyed in a teamfight near the end, and although Liquid bought back to and proceeded to get Mega Creeps, they got greedy and attacked the base before some important buybacks on their side were up. Thunder crashed them and went straight down Mid to win the exciting tie.
In comparison with games 1 and 3, Game 2 was almost lame. Liquid took Enigma, Brood, Puck, Tusk and Ursa and dominated Thunder’s Marci, Tidehunter, Ember, Disruptor and Gyro.
The game wasn’t a total stomp as the laning phase went pretty evenly, but once Liquid pulled away, they went far, far ahead and left Thunder in the dust. The SA squad did have one decent teamfight where they clawed back a little, but any hopes of a comeback were quelled swiftly as Liquid won in the 36th minute.
We can only do so much with words for this game, and we strongly recommend that you watch the whole game (not just the highlights). With everything up for grabs, Liquid went for comfort picks within the meta with CM, Lesh, Pango, Tusk and Lifestealer. Thunder followed suit with Marci, Enigma, Ember, Undying and a slightly risky Pudge.
Although Liquid held a bit of an advantage for most of the game, it swung the other way many, many times. In a bloodbath of a game with 89 kills in less than 51 minutes, both teams tried their absolute best to outdo the other. There were teamwipes, buybacks, and some extremely clutch moments. It’s impossible to pick between Pudge’s Rampage and Pango’s subsequent 1HP escape that eventually won Liquid the game and series. Honestly, just stop reading this and click on the link to watch the full match already.
There are still four hopefully incredible matches left in The International, and they will come in 6 days’ time. You can be sure that we’ll be covering those, so be sure to join us then and keep an eye on our site for more Dota news and analysis.