It was a battle of Europe vs America today as Team Liquid faced off against Evil Geniuses.
After taking out Royal Never Give Up earlier in the day, Team Liquid was hoping to continue their streak and advance to the next round.
Meanwhile, Evil Geniuses, having fallen to rivals OG yesterday, were hoping to repeat their run at TI last year and climb their way back up to the Grand Final.
Both Western powerhouses had plenty to fight for, although the loser wouldn’t be walking away empty-handed — after all, the fifth-sixth place featured a guaranteed US$1.1 million at least.
But in the end, it was Liquid who came out on top in dominant fashion. The North American squad will be heading home and will have to try again next year if they want to be two-time TI champions.
The first game started with pretty strong drafts from both teams, with Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid both feeling like they got exactly what they wanted.
Liquid’s Aliwi “w33” Omar’s Tinker was a surprise, as this is the first time the hero has been picked at the TI9 Main Event. Liquid’s carry player, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi Aliwi was put on Faceless Void, and would provide the majority of Liquid’s control.
On the other hand, EG went for a tanky line-up, with Gustav “s4” Magnusson on Centaur to be used as an initiator for Artour “Arteezy” Babaev’s Lifestealer.
Despite an early First Blood from Miracle-, the laning phrase was peppered with kills by both teams, although EG looked like the stronger team overall thanks to Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan’s Kunkka, who came up tops against Tinker.
However, a fight at the 10-minute mark saw Liquid manage to fight back by using all of their ultimates, and getting three kills from it.
SumaiL continued to increase his gold lead by getting a huge stack of ancients, and this proved useful once EG decided to fight, with his Kunkka loaded with a Heaven’s Halberd, which has the ability to disarm opposing heroes, preventing them from attacking.
With the mid-game solidly in EG’s favor, Liquid could do nothing but wait it out. With their team having the stronger defensive wave clear abilities, it would be difficult for EG to breach their high ground. A fight at the 37-minute saw Liquid getting a big kill on Lifestealer, but that was all they got.
The next fight was much better, with Miracle- catching out three of EG’s heroes, letting Liquid win the team fight and taking out all of EG’s cores. With momentum on their side and a Tinker packed with plenty of firepower and a repeatable Scythe of Vyse via his Reload ultimate, Liquid went in for the kill, and it was soon all over for EG.
The second game in the series saw very predictable picks from both teams, with Tiny for SumaiL, the Lifestealer again for Arteezy, and Earth Spirit for Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen on EG’s side.
Liquid chose to go with the ever-popular Elder Titan played by Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, Rubick played by Maroun “GH” Merhej, and a surprise Dark Seer for Ivan Borislavov “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov.
Liquid started out strong, knowing that w33’s Alchemist needed space to farm, and made plenty of it for him. While EG chose a more aggressive approach, Liquid was able to hold, despite EG getting multiple kills.
Miracle-‘s Ember Spirit was able to run heroes down and get multiple kills thanks to Dark Seer’s Ion Shell and Surge.
Without being able to pressure Liquid, EG soon found themselves on the backfoot, with Alchemist becoming insanely strong. Knowing their timings, Liquid confidently started taking fights, and the writing was soon on the wall for EG.
Liquid continued to push their advantage, and EG simply had no answer. EG called it a mere 30 minutes into the game.
With that EG is knocked out in fifth-sixth spot and take home at least US$1.1 million.