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.

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