EPICENTER Major 2019 is complete as Vici Gaming prevailed over Team Liquid in an epic 5 game series. It was nearly a dream run for Team Liquid, showcasing their new roster for the first time since replacing MATUMBAMAN with w33. Liquid started the day with the Lower Bracket Final, needing only two games to defeat home-town favorites Virtus.Pro and move into the grand final. Awaiting Team Liquid was a rematch of the Upper Bracket Final against one of the inform teams leading into TI9, Vici Gaming. Vici Gaming were dominant throughout the tournament, finishing top of their group and powering their way through the Upper Bracket. These two teams displayed their class and proved why they both deserved to be in the grand final. The Grand Final had it all- Excellent drafting, top-tier strategies and epic individual plays by both core and support players. In the end it was Vici Gaming who prevailed 3-2, claiming victory at the last Major of the DPC season.
Game 1 saw Vici pick up the most famous pairing of IO and Gyro in the first phase, followed by Liquid focusing their bans on Yang’s offlane picks that saw some great drafting by both teams. Even before the 0 minute Bounties came up we got some action with Vici getting first blood and Miracle’s Anti-Mage giving up his life for an early kill of his own. The laning phase saw plenty of action with Vici focusing their attention on Liquid’s offlane, crippling Mind_Control’s Centar Warunner and prioritizing Paparazzi’s Gyro. Meanwhile Miracle’s AM freefarmed and w33’s Templar Assassin was able to win his lane despite the unfavorable matchup against Ori’s Monkey King. A 15 minute Roshan by Liquid forced Vici Gaming into an unwanted team fight as Liquid were simply too far ahead in terms of terms of levels. Liquid attempted to push high ground with Ageis, but Vici proved they weren’t out of this yet, not only saving their Tier 3 tower but also taking down w33’s TA twice. Some good map control saw Miracle able to take an uncontested T3 tower that nearly cost him his life, as Liquid were able to save their carry… Just. A second uncontested Roshan saw Ageis picked up on Miracle and a 15k gold lead for Liquid. w33 must of forgot that Ageis was on Miracle as he got caught out on Vici’s high ground with no support. This saw Vici on the aggressive, looking for more blood and nearly getting Miracle. But some amazing individual plays from Miracle saw his AM not only survive, but style on Vici and take two sets of raxes. Finally Vici were able to bring Miracle’s Godlike streak to an end, thanks to a greedy play by Miracle that saw him pick off IO, IO buying back and Vici blowing everything to get that big bounty of AM. A 3rd Roshan was finally enough to end Vici’s defiant defence as they claim Mega Creeps and more importantly, game 1. Team Liquid 1-0
These two teams strengths could be summed up on the first round of bans- Vici banned Chen, TA and IO. Liquid banned Omniknight, Sven and Warlock. Following these bans was perhaps the quickest first 4 picks in Dota history- Vici pick up Cent, Liquid counter it with Mars and Rubick which is counted by Grimstroke. The rest of the draft saw some comfort picks with w33ranger and Ori’s Death Prophet. A tri on tri lanning phase saw plenty of action that saw Vici slightly ahead with all 3 of their cores leading the net worth chart. The mid game saw Vici use their advantage to pressure T1 towers and winning these 4v5 exchanges, all while Miracle was playing for the late game with his farming-Midas build. Vici begun taking map control, forcing Slark to fight and defend T2’s when he desperately needed items. Vici using this advantage to claim an uncontested Roshan and a 7K gold lead. A huge team fight saw Vici’s line up peak with Crimson Guard, Healing Ward, Guardian Greaves and Ageis prove to be too much sustain for Team Liquid, as Vici take their first T3 and kill everyone but Miracle. This prompted instant buybacks but all to no prevail as Vici were simply too far ahead, taking down Liquid again along with Rax and on to T4 as Liquid GG, game 2 to Vici Gaming. All Tied 1-1
Game 3 saw Liquid’s draft clearly on a timer- Miracle on Jugg, Mind_Control Enigma and w33 showcasing his Timbersaw, something Liquid is all too familiar with. Vici taking a different strategy, aiming take the game late with their scaling draft- Ori on Medusa, Paparazzi on Sven and Yang on his signature Mars. An early 5 man smoke saw Yang pick up first blood and initiate a tri lane, something which clearly favored Vici’s draft. Some nice early rotations by Fade on Shadow Shaman saw some early kills on mid and offlanes for Vici. Once the lanes settled, Liquid focused their attention on objectives, taking Vici’s T1 safe lane and mid towers while Miracle and Paparazzi had their own game on Dota. As the game progressed into the mid game, Liquid continued to pressure T2 towers but Vici were just as aggressive. Constantly killing Liquid heroes and turning the gold lead into their favor for the first time. A tempting double damage rune was enough for Liquid to kill off Yang and turn to Rosh. Vici looking to defend Ageis took a team fights that ended up in favor of Vici, despite losing Medusa. Vici were back on the aggressive, looking to take mid T1 tower that Liquid tried to defend, again losing multiple heroes as Paparazzi was starting to deal some serious damage. 30 minutes and the game was even, both teams playing exceptionally well but prolonging the game was exactly what Vici wanted to do. Vici identified they were hitting singe key items and smoked up, taking down multiple Liquid heroes, T2 towers and claiming Ageis; Suddenly Vici had a 10k gold lead and map control. Vici decided to use this Ageis to push high ground and played it perfectly- spreading out to avoid a potential Blake Hole, but close enough to save their Medusa if needed. By this stage, Vici’s cores were too strong, taking T3 and rax. Liquid couldn’t do anything but throw bodies at Vici, buy back and repeat! Vici proving top strong yet again and taking a 2-1 lead in the series. Vici Gaming 2-1
Game 4 saw Vici stick with what has worked with the previous 2 games, banning Chen, TA and IO. Liquid also following their previous strategy banning Sven, DP and Omni. Game 4 also saw both teams introduce off-meta heroes with Liquid last picking Puck mid and Vici picking Lina on Ori. Vici’s last two picks focusing on avenues that can bring down Phoenix’s Supernova. Another tri vs tri saw Miracle on Arc Warden pick up first blood but again, Vici benefiting most from this. The offlaner between Mind_control’s Cent and Yang’s Doom was relatively uneventful, as Doom naturally saw himself ahead thanks to Devour. The early game basically saw each team mimicing each other as both teams backing their drafts to prevail. Vici clearly took notice of Game 1 of VP/Liquid, upping the tempo of the game and forcing teamfights before Arc Warden can farm. Some excellent Rubick plays on Fade looked to win most of these skirmishes, only for Miracle and Gh to rise to the occasion and match Fade. The mid game saw a clear lack of damage for Liquid, other than their Arc Warden. Vici hit their first timing window of BKB’s and looked to first. Liquid did well to minimize objective damage, only giving up mid T1 tower as Miracle continued to farm with no pressure. But eventually Vici were able to catch a wild Puck and Grimstroke tusks to Fade stealing Grimstroke’s Soul Bind, instantly moving to Roshan and claiming Aegis. Vici continued to pick off Liquid, building their lead as all 3 of their cores were farming and scaling. While on Liquid’s side only the Arc Warden was farming as the other cores of Liquid had similar Net Worth to Vici’s position 4. Vici wasted no time heading to Roshan as soon as he respawned, Liquid simply couldn’t contest it as Liquid were putting all their eggs into Miracle’s Arc Warden, praying for Vici to over extend and make a mistake. All Liquid could do was cut lanes, turtle out and continue to build farm on Arc Warden. Finally Yang’s Doom made Vici’s first mistake, trying to kill a Pheonix that turned around thanks to a level 25 Arc Warden, killing Doom. This peak for Team Liquid saw them actually take down 3 members of Vici, allowing them to leave their own high ground as a team for the first time in 15 minutes. Then something I’ve never seen before… A timely arcane rune spawns 20 seconds before Roshan spawns, Arc Warden then places about 30 Spark Wraiths and instantly kills Roshan, Aegis, Cheese and Refresher Shard all fall to Liquid- Game back on!
Liquid’s confidence was somewhat misplaced, as our first 5v5 team fights saw Vici take down all 5 members of Liquid, including Aegis. As the game reaches 60 minutes you can’t help but be amazed that Liquid are holding up as all 3 of Vici’s cores are 6 slotted and have a 43k gold lead. Vici claim another Aegis, Cheese, Refresher Shard AND Aghanim’s Scepter Shard and finally push high ground, claiming their first T3 and this is where all he’ll breaks loose! Despite a band of Spark Wraiths, Vici were able to get into the Liquid back line and catch Miracle, finally killing him once- Instant buyback. Aghs Warlock is surprisingly doing so much work for Vici as MIRACLE DIES AGAIN! 3 heroes are down for Vici but they can smell blood and buy back, Tping back in but an epic egg and Vici are losing heroes rapidly, but why? Arc Warden’s clone is still alive and dealing all Liquid’s damage and suddenly, only Warlock is alive for Vici Gaming against 4 heroes of Liquid. Liquid TP into Vici’s base and kill the remaining hero, Warlock. GG is called- WOW. Tied 2-2
As expected both teams banned the same 3 heroes straight up. Vici picked up some comfort picks with Warlock, Mars, Rubick, Morphling and Leshrac. While Liquid picks up Cent, Oracle, Earth Spirit, OD and Spectre. Something that wasn’t expected was your traditional 2-1-2 lanes, no tri lane! Liquid are able to get first blood on their offlane, taking down Dy on his Warlock. An even laning phase didn’t benefit either team comprehensively as Paparazzi’s Morph was topping the Net Worth. Vici deciding it was time to group up and begin to take objectives. This is where Fade came up with some great plays on his Rubick, enabling Vici to take map control and all of Liquid’s T1 towers. Vici continued to play game 5 perfectly, moving togethe, picking off heroes and pressuring Liquid before their cores could come online. Every time Liquid showed themselves in a lane or under Vici’s vision, they are dead and suddenly a 15k gold lead opened up. The news kept getting worse for Team Liquid and Vici continued playing aggressive, forcing Liquid to not only fight but to defend their high ground, but all to no prevail as Vici take an early T3 and rax. As what all good teams do, Vici continued to punish Liquid forcing multiple buybacks to contest Roshan. An epic False Promise steal forced Liquid to spend far too much time and resources to kill a position 4 as the rest of Vici destroyed Liquid. After learning their lesson from the previous game, Vici were relentless. Taking another rax and eliminating Liquid one-by-one. The writing was on the wall as Liquid has no sustain or damage as Liquid call GG, Vici Gaming are your EPICENTER champions! Vici Gaming 3-2
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