Liquified: A look at how Liquid owned the meta at TI7

Team Liquid TI7 Champions
Team Liquid TI7 Champions
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The year’s premier Dota 2 major has drawn to a close, with Team Liquid securing the grand prize of almost $11,000,000. With plenty of thrills and spills along the way, here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights of the tournament as well as some analysis going forward.

 

 

The Losers

The early stages of the competition were chaotic and unpredictable, with a number of highly-anticipated teams such as EG, OG and Digital Chaos seeing early eliminations in the tumult. LGD took a shocking early defeat as well, suffering a 2-0 loss against Virtus.pro in the first round of the Upper Bracket. Despite this setback though, the Chinese team clawed their way back to the top four, only to lose 2-0 against the eventual champions, Team Liquid.

Both LGD and LGD.FY came within a hair’s breadth of reaching the Grand Finals – each side found themselves matched up against one of the grand finalists and each lost by only one match. Still, they claimed a very respectable 4th and 3rd place respectively, meaning three of the top four teams were Chinese – an encouraging development for the Eastern meta.

 

 

The Grand Finals

Liquid themselves were beaten by Invictus Gaming at the start of the main event, but made a shocking comeback from the Lower Bracket to go all the way to the very top. They found themselves facing the dominant team Newbee in the Grand Finals and managed to win without sustaining a single loss in the best-of-five encounter.

The first game began well for Team Liquid, with a greedy team and an aggressive strategy in mind. KuroKy’s Lich grabbed an early kill, and Liquid were able to assert their dominance expertly for the rest of the match. Save for a few slight hiccups, Liquid played this match flawlessly, grinding Newbee into the ground with a staggering advantage of 20,000 gold in under half an hour.

 

 

The second game saw star player Miracle- with an unusual pick, playing the recently-nerfed Alchemist. It just goes to show that those nerfs were well-placed as although Newbee took an early lead, crushing the European team 8-0 in short order, Team Liquid stayed calm and waited for opportunities to strike. Thanks to their roster of Earthshaker, Necrophos and Ancient Apparition, they were well-equipped to pick off Newbee’s heroes, all the while allowing Miracle- to grab an Aegis and demolish Newbee’s bottom racks. The Chinese team simply couldn’t stop these Alchemist-boosted pushes and had to cede the round.

The third and final match was the longest of the three, with Newbee resting their tournament hopes on Death Prophet, a popular character in the Chinese meta who was often seen throughout TI7. Liquid played a few more unusual heroes – Miracle- on Juggernaut and MinD_ContRoL on Dark Seer – in an attempt to surprise their opponents. Despite this, the game was close, with the two sides evenly matched at first – until Liquid caught Sccc’s Death Prophet off-guard, putting Newbee in a bad position. Soon after, GH managed to steal Newbee’s kill on Roshan with Earthshaker. With such a massive swing, Newbee were crushed in a decisive teamfight and were left unable to buy back in. And with that, Liquid found themselves the winners.

Liquid’s strong teamplay and discipline carried the day, particularly in the Grand Finals. Their co-ordinated picks and level-headedness meant that they made few errors and always had a solid, unified strategy to beat their opponents. Their teamwork was of crucial importance, but individual players still managed to shine.

Miracle- was consistently effective, his surprise Alchemist pick building up enough momentum to win the second match. MinD_ContRoL was particularly impressive, especially against Newbee – his solid Nature’s Prophet play in the first match (allied with his perfect form on the hero throughout the tournament) left Newbee with no choice but to ban the character in the last encounter. And of course, GH’s game-winning steal on Roshan in the last match has earned him the spotlight, deservedly so.

Consequently, although Miracle-’s consistency and unity were on point, it was a combination of this teamplay and formidable individual play that really set Liquid apart.

 

 

Going Forward

As ever, the International gives us an excellent insight into the highest levels of Dota 2 play, along with a better understanding of the meta. It seems to be in a reasonably good place now, with numerous off-pick heroes seeing play, even in the Grand Finals. However, the statistics also show that some heroes certainly stand out for the pros – Nyx Assassin, Nightstalker, Batrider and Puck all saw far higher ban rates and pick rates than other heroes. Nyx in particular was either picked or banned in a whopping 82% of all matches.

Meanwhile, Crystal Maiden’s nerfs seem to have taken a heavy toll – with only five picks throughout the tournament, she’s certainly not as popular as she once was. With quite a few heroes seeing practically no play, such as Pudge, Lion and Undying, as well as the extreme popularity of the top four heroes, it seems that Valve may be mindful of these things in upcoming patches.