With the 4 teams advancing to the Starladder Minor playoffs guaranteed a chunk of the season’s first qualifying points for TI8, the 6 remaining teams — Team Liquid and CompLexity Gaming already advanced earlier — all had their work cut out for them as they fought over the two final playoff slots in Day 3 of Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3.
The Fall of the Chinese Titans
China has long been considered as the most competitive and stacked in all of Dota 2; every year they have never failed to field out strong teams that make deep runs in tournaments, especially at The International.
This year has been no different, with 3 of the Top 4 teams in The International 7 all hailing from the world’s most populous country. And, with the addition of the talent-laden Vici Gaming squad this season, the Chinese now arguably had at least 4 teams who could take games and even series off of the best Dota 2 teams in the world.
Heading into the Starladder Minor, both Newbee and Vici Gaming were heavy favourites to place in the Top 4. Instead of dominating the competition, however, both would find themselves on the wrong end of massive upsets, courtesy of CompLexity Gaming and SG e-sports respectively.
Even with the lackluster start, though, Newbee and Vici Gaming still had a chance to advance to the Starladder Minor Playoffs. Unfortunately, the earlier losses seemed to weigh heavily on both squads.
Vici Gaming, for one, looked uncharacteristically sloppy against Mineski.
In Game 1, Mineski abused their opponent’s cooldown dependent lineup, split pushing to perfection and avoiding unnecessary fights. The following game, Mineski went with a more traditional 4 protect 1 lineup with Chai ‘Mushi’ Yee Fung playing Anti-Mage. And, once again, Mushi delivered, extending his win streak to 15 games on the said hero.
Meanwhile, Newbee just had no answer for Team Secret, losing decisively in a 2-0 sweep.
Mineski Redeem Themselves
There’s no doubt that Mineski’s latest lineup have a lot of potential. In between Mushi and Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang, as well as the playmaking skills of Anucha ‘Jabz’ Jirawong, Mineski had the talent and experience, at least on paper, to be a top team.
A successful start to the season with Mineski ripping off 4 straight qualifier tournaments seemed to validate earlier expectations. However, there were still doubts about how good the team really was; many believed their performance was more of a product of being in a region that lacked real contenders.
Mineski’s earlier loss at the hands of Team Liquid didn’t spell good news for them either. Especially when it came in such dominating fashion. But, Mineski have righted the ship since; they took down both Vici Gaming and SG e-sports quite convincingly to advance to the Starladder Minor Playoffs.
Mineski will have a chance to prove more of their doubters wrong tomorrow at the Starladder Minor Playoffs.
Team Secret are Back on Track
Team Secret suffering in their first series loss of the season — at the hands of Natus Vincere no less — caused a lot of concern among their fans. Skeptics and doubters alike were very quick to point out the fact that Team Secret always had a tendency to choke in LANs.
For now, though, Team Secret have found a way to silence their critics.
Newbee just couldn’t find their footing against Team Secret, calling GG after losing their second Tier 3 tower in less than 25 minutes in Game 1. The following game was more of the same. Albeit it was a bit more tightly contested.
With all three of Yazied ‘YapzOr’ Jaradat, Yek ‘MidOne’ Nai Zheng and Marcus ‘Ace’ Hoelgaard playing their signature heroes in Game 2, however, Song ‘Sccc’ Chun could do nothing to prevent his team from exiting the first Minor of the season without even a single win.
In their rematch against Natus Vincere, Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov pulled out Bane twice to wonderful results. In particular, the support hero’s ability, Enfeeble, proved very effective in mitigating Navi’s early game aggression. This prevented them from getting off to a running start and allowed Team Secret to play more to their draft’s strengths.
While Natus Vincere threatened to come back late a couple of times in both games, Team Secret’s net worth advantage simply proved insurmountable.
The Starladder Minor Playoffs
Team Secret will open the day tomorrow against Team Liquid (Oct 15) at 12:00 CEST followed by Mineski taking on CompLexity Gaming at 15:00. The winners will then move on to face off against each other in a BO5 Grand Finals at 18:30.
Which team do you think will come out on top tomorrow at the Starladder i-League Playoffs? Will it be the defending champions, Team Liquid? Or will it be any one of CompLexity Gaming, Mineski or Team Secret? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.