Despite not directly qualifying for the Chengdu Major and going the long way by winning the Dota Summit 11 Minor first, Invictus Gaming (IG) topped Group D — with clean sweeps over Beastcoast and J.Storm — to secure an Upper Bracket berth.
IG sweep Beastcoast 2-0 (Group D Opening Match)
IG kicked off their matchup against Beastcoast by picking a strong core duo of Faceless Void for Jin “flyfly”‘ Zhiyi and Kunkka for Emo against against Bloodseeker for K1 and Templar Assassin for Chris Luck. With stronger lanes on their side, IG accrued an early lead and never looked back. Despite Beastcoast’s best efforts, they could do little against their opponents’ teamfight power and were forced to call GG after 37 minutes.
IG tried their hand with the carry Nightstalker in game two, pairing it with Emo’s Invoker against Lifestealer for Hector Antonio “K1 Hector” Rodriguez and Viper for Jean Pierre “Chris Luck” Gonzales. While Beastcoast held the lead early on, once Nightstalker farmed his Aghanim’s Scepter IG started slowly chipping away at their advantage. With Viper’s effectiveness falling off in the lategame, Beastcoast couldn’t stop IG from overpowering them and taking the series.
J.Storm outlast Gambit Esports, 2-1 (Group D Opening Match)
Meanwhile, North American squad J.Storm took on ascendant CIS team Gambit Esports. While J.Storm ran a fairly standard lineup headed by Chaos Knight for Leon “Nine” Kirilin and Death Prophet for David “Moo” Hull, Gambit pulled out a heavy push pocket strat with a mid Shadow Fiend for Danil “gpk” Skutin and an offlane Chen for Maxim “Shachlo” Abramovskikh.
Gambit won the laning stage handily and quickly snowballed to an unstoppable early game push, which J.Storm’s midgame-centric lineup was virtually powerless against. In the quickest match of the Major by far, Gambit took the first game of the series in just under 15 minutes.
Gambit ran its pocket strat again in game two, but J.Storm was able to survive it this time with Moo on Chaos Knight and Nine on Viper. With Gambit’s early pushes repelled, it didn’t take long for J.Storm’s cores to hit their timings in the midgame and take over to tie the series up.
In the deciding game three, J.Storm picked up a carry Nightstalker for Moo and Timbersaw for Nine against Juggernaut for Kiyalbek “dream`” Tayirov and Kunkka for gpk. Once Nightstalker picked up his Aghanim’s Scepter, J.Storm took the lead and never looked back to take the series after 25 minutes.
IG dominate J.Storm, 2-0 (Group D Upper Bracket Match)
Game one of the Upper Bracket Match saw J.Storm pick a carry Nightstalker for Moo once more, alongside Outworld Devourer for Nine and an offlane Pudge for Braxton “Brax” Paulson. IG countered with Puck for Emo and Morphling for Flyfly, taking advantage of their opponents’ support Earthshaker.
IG handily won the laning phase which snowballed into a huge lead for them come midgame, even as Moo’s Nightstalker came online with his Aghanim’s Scepter. While J.Storm were able to claw their way back to a lead on the 48-minute mark, IG turned things around with huge teamfight wins after 59 minutes. Despite their best efforts, J.Storm succumbed to the IG onslaught in a 62-minute grinder.
IG ran a Drow Ranger strat for game two, complimenting flyfly’s hero with Templar Assassin for Emo. Meanwhile, J.Storm picked up the Morphling-Earthshaker combo for themselves along with a mid Underlord for Nine.
With the threat of the seemingly unstoppable Morphling-Earthshaker combo looming, IG handily shut down J.Storm’s cores before they could come online. While Nine’s Underlord was able to weather IG’s onslaught for a time, J.Storm couldn’t get anything going and conceded the series after 23 minutes.
IG joins TNC Predator, Vici Gaming, and Team Liquid as the first teams to secure a spot in the Upper Bracket of the playoffs. J.Storm will await the winner of the Losers’ Match between Beastcoast and Gambit to see who they’ll face for the last Upper Bracket spot for Group D.