Liquid cleans up at EPICENTER: Moscow
Team Liquid took home the trophy as well as $250,000 in prize money today after an impressive 3–1 win over Evil Geniuses in the EPICENTER: Moscow grand finals.
Liquid struggled in the group stages, losing to Team Secret and a surprisingly strong LGD.ForeverYoung. Liquid managed to defeat OG though, as well as claiming a free win against an extremely weak Na’Vi team. With a 2–2 overall record, Liquid secured a spot in the quarterfinals again Virtus.pro. Liquid came back after a devastating Game 1 loss with two extremely convincing wins, and advanced to a rematch against LFY. The break between group stages and playoffs served Liquid well, and they were able to sweep LFY 2–0.
The grand finals began with one of the most brutal out-drafts in recent memory. Evil Geniuses Bristleback was hard-countered by Liquid’s Sven, Io, Necrophos trio. The last-pick Necrophos was an incredible partner for the Io, providing ridiculous healing thanks to the bonus from Tether. Additionally, his Ghost Shroud made him practically immune to Bristleback all game. Evil Geniuses managed to bounce back in Game 2 thanks in large part to Andreas “Cr1t” Nielsen’s performance on the rarely seen Oracle. His saves with False Promise turned countless fights around in Evil Geniuses’ favor, and he did it all without dying a single time. The final two games of the series were all Liquid all the way. Amer “Miracle” Al-Barkawi dominated Game 3 on Invoker, racking up 14 kills without giving up a single death. The rest of Liquid were all playing well too, working together to shut down Evil Geniuses’ Drow Ranger draft. The final game of the tournament was Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen’s time to shine. His Bristleback was almost unstoppable, and he dealt more damage than anyone else in the game by 10,000. He only died twice, the first time taking three Evil Geniuses heroes with him and the second in exchange for two lanes of barracks. This was a crucial win for Liquid. With The International 2017 coming soon this August, there are few other chances to earn a direct invitation.
The year since Team Liquid’s victory at EPICENTER: Moscow 2016 has been a roller coaster of emotion for the team and its fans. After finishing in 7th-8th place at The International 2016, Liquid lost Adrian “Fata” Trinks and Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka. Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale and Miracle joined in their place, but Liquid’s results didn’t improve. In November of 2016 Maroun “GH” Merhej stood in for BuLba at the DreamLeague Season 6 finals, which Liquid took in a 3–0 win over Escape Gaming. GH officially joined Liquid, replacing BuLba in early January of 2017. With their new roster officially locked in, Liquid went on to win StarLadder i‑League Season 3 with a 3–1 win over Team VGJ.
Liquid’s first major events didn’t go as well though, casting a shadow of doubt over the future of the team. A last place finish at the Dota 2 Asia Championships followed by another early exit at the Kiev Major left their chances of securing an invitation to The International 2017 in question. A recent win at the second StarLadder i‑League Invitational looked promising, but the competition there wasn’t the same caliber as a Valve Major. Apart from iG and Newbee, Liquid was the only other premier team at the event. Liquid ended up facing a newly reformed TNC Pro Team roster in the grand finals, taking the victory in a back and forth 3–2 series.
This win at EPICENTER: Moscow certainly puts Liquid in serious contention for a direct invitation to TI7. The competition at EPICENTER was much more of a test, with OG, Evil Geniuses and Virtus.pro all in attendance. Additionally, Team Secret looked very impressive as well as the new LGD.ForeverYoung roster. Winning in a grand final against Evil Geniuses in such a convincing manner is a very strong argument for a Liquid TI7 invite, especially since EG is certainly already a lock for an invite. Between now and TI7, Liquid will have a chance to compete in the DreamLeague Season 7 LAN finals, as well as the 2017 Mars Dota 2 League, provided they can secure a spot through the upcoming European qualifier.