They cap off a stunning lower-bracket run and take the Grand Finals 3:0 vs. Newbee
It’s been a long time coming for Team Liquid captain Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, who has been a professional player for Dota since the original Dota days when it was still a Warcraft III mod. This year, he was one of three players who have been to every International, and the only one in his team who has been to The International Grand Finals before, at TI3, where Na’Vi went 2:3 versus Alliance.
The final day of the Main Event put Team Liquid up against one of the best teams all tournament – LGD.Forever Young whose only playoffs loss prior was their 1:2 series versus Newbee in the upper bracket finals. The tense best-of-three between Liquid and LFY saw the Chinese team take the first game in a dominant fashion, a 57-minute long match that saw them render Maroun “gh” Merhej’s signature Keeper of the Light and KuroKy’s Rubick highly ineffective – the match ended with a 48:17 score line in favor of the Chinese side despite Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen’s best efforts on the Lone Druid that nearly split-pushed Team Liquid into a win. In the second game it seemed like the tables have turned, this time with LFY on the back foot and Team Liquid’s Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Borislavov Ivanov perform masterfully on the Nature’s Prophet, appearing just in time to help during ganks and constantly keeping up their pressure in the lanes. Game 3 was one of the closest matches of the entire International, which saw Team Liquid continuously ramp up the aggression and nearly snuffed out LFY after taking out towers one after the other in quick succession – the Chinese side rallied however, and allowed Du “Monet” Peng to come back into the Game as Morphling. They nearly succeeded, but some impressively well-coordinated teamfights kept Liquid in the game and eventually allowed them to close out the series and face Newbee in the Grand Final.
Coming into the best-of-five Grand Final, Newbee seemed like underdogs despite coming in from the upper bracket – if you looked at their past head-to-head record, it appeared as if the European squad just had their number, and Liquid were coming into the Finals after just winning an insane series – taking all that momentum into the Grand Finals. And what a Grand Final it was.
The first game saw Team Liquid’s constant early game aggression via a Lifestealer + Slardar combo take over the pace of the game – MinD_ContRoL was once again on Nature’s Prophet, and Newbee’s Damien “kpii” Chok on the Batrider struggled heavily in the laning stage, allowing Liquid to take over the game in under 28 minutes, with MATUMBAMAN earning himself an impressive 11/1/13 KDA on Lifestealer. Game 2 saw Newbee take the early advantage this time with multiple successful pick-offs during the laning stage for Xu “Moogy” Han on the Anti-Mage and Song “Sccc” Chun on his signature Queen of Pain (who ended the game with a 10/1/7 KDA despite the loss), but an unfortunate teamfight that killed multiple Newbee heroes without buyback allowed Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi’s Alchemist to go for a high-ground push without taking any considerable damage, taking down Newbee’s barracks too swiftly for them to recover. The third game was a nail-biting back-and-forth, with the two teams coming out of the laning stage relatively even – up until a huge team fight around the Roshan Pit, where Liquid’s superior coordination allowed Miracle-‘s Juggernaut the split-second it needed to activate BKB and Omnislash on a sliver of life to take down three of Newbee’s heroes and consequently, the game.
Team Liquid had pulled off the first clean sweep in The International Grand Finals history, finally giving KuroKy that long-awaited Aegis of Champions – but that’s not to say Newbee were a pushover, they played their hearts out this tournament, and showed some impressive games in their upper bracket run. Team Liquid was just the better team today, and seemed nigh unstoppable after their match versus LFY – Liquid were a tough team to draft against, and the talent on their roster was unmatched here at the International. A well-deserved placing for both teams, and especially to those who have followed them since their rosters formed after the post TI6-shuffles. Both teams have had their slumps throughout the year (Liquid failing to qualify for Boston, Newbee placing low in both Boston and Kiev) but have shown resilience and drive, and here, on the biggest stage in esports – showed they could perform when it counts.
It’s been an epic season for Dota 2’s 2016-2017, but with the new Majors and Minors system, the addition of two new heroes, and of course, the eventual post-TI7 roster shuffles, being a Dota 2 fan has never felt more fun. With the West-East pattern still intact, with no player or organization having won multiple TI’s, and with three break-out stars (gh, Sccc and Moogy – all three making a name for themselves after only coming into Tier 1 play this past season) at the Grand Finals this year, one can only speculate what the upcoming season has in store for all of us.
Here’s to more beautiful Dota.
KaLeRei usually can’t shut up about video games, so she writes about them instead. Single-player RPGs or empire-builders/strategy games are her usual cup of tea, but she’s also been an avid follower of the Dota 2 and CS:GO professional scenes for a while. She has a fascination for old pros trying to prove they’ve still got what it takes, and cats.
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