Regrouped and refocused-Newbee strikes back at Team Liquid!
Witnessing Team Liquid’s dominance of the lower-bracket leading up to The International 7 final was a sight to behold, as solid team compositions and laning phase performances secured win after win for a team at the top of their game. Grand finals competitor team Newbee capably managed to transcend the upper-bracket, despite resistance from LGD.Forever Young in the upper-bracket finals.
The grand finals face-off between Europe’s Liquid and China’s Newbee, resulted in the first 3-0 sweep in TI history from Liquid! Newbee’s strategy prioritized shutting down Amer “Miracle” Al-Barqawi in teamfights, leaving plenty of room for the rest of Liquid to apply immense pressure by focusing objectives and effectively utilizing the ample lock-down provided by their well-balanced team composition. Disheartened Newbee fans, left wanting to see their favorite team get a second chance at defeating Liquid, looked towards the most prestigious of all Minors held this season-ESL One Genting in Southeast Asia. What occurred, delivered well and beyond opportunity alone, and shed a new light on the undeniable MVP of the event – Newbee’s Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi.
The level of hype surrounding ESL One Genting was explosive, in anticipation of one of the seasons most notoriously action-packed events! Both rosters remained unchanged since TI 7 and both teams would end up going head to head once more in an epic five game series. Newbee adopted a bold strategy for ESL One, revolving around Kaka’s proficiency with Naga Siren, leading to seven of eight wins with the hero, only losing against Liquid prior to the grand final rematch. Placing an individual player at the crux of the team’s overall strategy has worked in the past; however upon recognition, this approach allows the enemy team to easily counter, as less variables are at play. Despite Newbee’s success with this playstyle throughout the event, Liquid retained its mobile formula, leaving counters like Disruptor and Outworld Devourer largely unaccounted for. The end result was some of the most kinetic Dota 2 gameplay of the entire event.
While there was no shortage of jaw dropping plays, the most remarkable came from game five of the event – read on to find out which ones made the cut!
Team Liquid: Sand King (MinD_ContRol), Tinker (Miracle), Jakiro (KuroKy), Earth Spirit (GH), Lifestealer (MATUMBAMAN)
Newbee: Outworld Devourer (Sccc), Naga Siren (Kaka), Disruptor (Faith), Ursa (Moogy), Underlord (kpii)
5. Buyback Bltizkrieg
On the heels of a failed teamfight for Liquid, in which they lost Sand King to a glimpse return into kinetic field/static storm combo, Sand King responds with calculated vengeance! Buying back with fifty seconds left on the death counter, Sand King retraced his position to the backline to initiate a follow up teamfight on the unsuspecting team Newbee. What occurred next was an astonishing fusion of proper positioning, timing and conviction! With Newbee pressing highground at mid lane to pickoff Jakiro and Earth Spirit, Sand King begins channeling epicenter in the shadows of the ancients camp. Blinking directly into the center of Newbee’s disablers, Sand King serves Naga and Underlord on a platter for Lifestealer and Tinker to slaughter! Exploiting enemy awareness (or lack thereof) often results in huge plays in the hands of skilled players who can mechanically execute their impromptu strategies. This play was prime example of just that!
4. Three Man Burrowstrike to Aegis
Seemingly unaware of Liquid’s position in dire jungle, Newbee makes an attempt to acquire aegis. Underlord and Outworld Devourer are first into the Rosh pit, followed by Ursa at half hp. Liquid pops smoke, shrouding the entire team with the exception of a rejuvenating Tinker at fountain. As Liquid descends from top bounty rune, Underlord transitions out of the pit but it’s too late! Sang King lines up for another flawlessly executed burrowstrike, which catches Ursa, Naga and Outworld Devourer! Lifestealer explodes into the pit, as Tinker teleports back into the fold, melting Ursa and Naga just in time for Lifestealer to finish off Outworld Devourer; thus putting an end to his 3x kill streak. With Underlord and Disruptor retreating back to radiant side, Liquid finishes off Roshan! Nabbing aegis and creating adequate space for Tinker to continue pressuring lanes.
3. Smoke to Ursa Godlike
Following a successful scan near radiant shrine, Newbee smokes at their tier two tower, aware of Earth Spirit waiting for them atop highground. An infested Sand King swoops down into lowground to burrowstrike a revealed Ursa and Underlord, as the rest of Newbee spreads out to mitigate impending area of effect damage from epicenter. Naga catches Lifestealer with a timely ensnare, locking him in melee range of Ursa who makes quick work of an immobile target. Sang King clammors to escape, as Disruptor lands a well placed kinetic field and static storm directly on top of him, leaving another victim for Ursa to furiously maul. In a panicked moment of indecision, Earth Spirit rolling boulders below the action and into the range of Naga’s ensnare. Outworld Devourer force staffs into range, securing the kill on Earth Spirit! Tinker blinks away as Jakiro attempts to hide himself in jungle to safely teleport out. Aware of Jakiro’s location, Ursa blinks on top of him to shatter the illusion of safety.
2. Sccc Triple Kill
With Jakiro and Earth Spirit looking to secure a kill on Naga Siren near bottom rune, Earth Spirit rolls into the jungle towards Naga as Lifestealer erupts from Earth Spirit and begins burning her down. Outworld Devourer hastily emerges from the bottom left of the jungle, as he force staffs into the fray and astral imprisons a nearly eliminated Naga, moments before she hits the ground from burrowstrike. The fight shifts location to atop the staircase at radiant’s bottom rune. Outworld Devourer casts black king bar to bypass Jakiro’s macropyre before blinking to the flank of Lifestealer and Jakiro. In a frenzied exhibition, Outworld Devourer melts the aforementioned foes with a cataclysm of arcane orb and sanity’s eclipse. As Sand King attempts to exit the fight by heading towards ancients, Outworld Devourer force staffs directly into position to block his escape. Sand King pops sand storm in attempts buy himself time while his blink dagger comes off cooldown. Outworld Devourer blinks back on top of him, securing the triple kill in a dazzling display, highlighting razor sharp awareness and optimal positioning.
1. Ring Around the Rosh Pit
Trailing by eleven kills, Liquid looks to secure a successful teamfight and the most contested aegis of the match thus far! Liquid begins rallying around radiant’s secret shop in attempts to achieve a solo pickoff near the shrine before flanking the rest of Newbee. In anticipation, Newbee begins coordinating a brilliant bait and ambush to turn the tide of battle in their favor. Outworld Devourer force staffs from the ancients down to the shrine, feigning awareness of the Earth Spirit/Lifestealer combo. ready to pounce on the bait with the intention of quickly killing him before the rest of Newbee can arrive. Much to Liquid’s surprise, Ursa blinks in on top of Earth Spirit and Lifestealer, casting earthshock and enrage, in conjunction with black king bar split seconds prior to Sand King’s epicenter. Ursa quickly eliminates Earth Spirit moments after Outworld Devourer goes down and buys back into the brawl. As Liquid rotates entirely to focus Ursa, Underlord approaches their flank, casting pit of malice to snare Lifestealer! Disruptor casts kinetic field and static storm on top of Lifestealer to remove any possibility of escape, as Ursa hastily responds and attains the double kill! Back at Roshan, the rest of Liquid desperately attempts to retreat to higher ground in their jungle, while Tinker spams his robots across the Rosh pit. Jakiro falls, as Sand King is helplessly returned by glimpse and eviscerated by overpower for the Ursa triple kill! Lingering foolishly on the opposite side of the Rosh pit, Tinker continues to spam lasers, rockets and bots to no avail, as Naga sings him to sleep with a timely ultimate for Ursa to polish off an ultra kill! With Liquid wiped and aegis up for grabs, this victory gave Newbee the momentum to finish the match!