Chinese favorites, Vici Gaming, emerged victorious in a hard-fought series over North American powerhouse Evil Geniuses in the second Upper Bracket semifinals of the MDL Chengdu Major.
EG opened game one with a greedy lineup, with Artour “Arteezy” Babaev on Alchemist, Abed Azel “Abed” Yusop on Invoker, and Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev on Enigma.
On the other hand, VG’s composition was more balanced with Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun on a safelane Leshrac, Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang on mid Gyrocopter, and Zhou “Yang” Haiyang on Omniknight.
VG took full advantage of EG’s greedy lineup by going on the offensive early, taking down their opponents’ towers and invading their jungle to limit Arteezy’s space to farm.
While Arteezy was still able to farm up his core items, it was not enough to give EG the edge in the ensuing teamfights. With EG’s other heroes not having enough farm to make much of an impact, they could do little to stop VG from closing in on their base.
A crucial mistake by Arteezy gave VG the opportunity to take the game, as he was caught in the middle lane without using his Black King Bar and was forced to buyback. When VG later forced another fight that ended with Arteezy dead without buyback, EG was forced to call GG.
For game two, VG rolled out with Eurus on Gyrocopter, Ori on Kunkka, Yang on Venomancer, and Xiong “Pyw”‘ Jiahan on an unusual support Axe. EG went with comfort heroes for Arteezy and Abed, who were on Faceless Void and Ember respectively, but with Ramzes on an offlane Pudge.
VG got off to a strong start, as their bottom trilane was able to shut Arteezy down hard, who was only able to reach level 3 over six minutes in. That let VG’s supports outpace their counterparts, with pyw’s Axe notably playing an instrumental role in his team winning the midgame teamfights.
With VG ramping up the pressure, EG tried to slow the game down to give their cores more time to farm up in the hopes of contesting the game late. However, they could not stop the Chinese squad from marching up to their ground and taking their mid barracks by the 37-minute mark.
EG showed signs of life by picking off VG heroes making forays into their jungle, but the Chinese squad later struck back by taking down Abed without buyback and taking further objectives.
With a clean sweep of their opponents in sight, VG went for a bold assault on EG’s bottom barracks but were repelled and lost four in their attempt. That gave EG the opening to claw their way back into the game, as they opted to go for Roshan to secure their newfound advantage.
A questionable decision by VG to buy back on their four dead heroes to contest EG’s Rosh attempt would prove fatal however, as they lost the ensuing fight and the series was tied at one game apiece.
For the deciding game three, EG pinned their hopes on a strong midgame timing by Arteezy’s Juggernaut, empowered by Ramzes’ Magnus, and Abed’s Queen of Pain. VG countered with a strong midgame composition of their own, with Eurus on a carry Nightstalker and Ori on Razor, with Yang sustaining them on Omniknight.
EG came out of the laning phase with a significant lead, which they promptly used to try and take over VG’s side of the map to great success. The tides began to turn once Eurus’ Nightstalker got his Aghanim’s Scepter however, as he led VG in running roughshod all over their opponents.
Even as Arteezy led all heroes in net worth by a significant margin, VG was still demolishing them in fights and were poised to mount an assault on EG’s base. A crucial pickoff on Arteezy without buyback later gave VG the confidence to start well past their opponents’ tier-four towers.
EG took advantage of VG’s overconfidence to down their opponents’ three cores and gain some breathing room. However, once VG had all of their heroes up again they promptly snuffed out all hopes of an EG comeback by winning the decisive fight by their top shrine and closing out the series.
With their win, VG secures a Top 3 finish and at least US$110,000 and 2,100 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points. They will be facing an on-fire TNC Predator in the Upper Bracket Finals for a place in the Grand Finals.
The points earned by VG for their placement also mean that they should have enough points to be among the first teams to secure a direct invite to The International 2020 (TI10) in Sweden, alongside TNC.
Meanwhile, EG will be fighting for their tournament lives in the Lower Bracket, where they will be facing off against the winner of the match between Alliance and Team Liquid.