ESL One Katowice 2018 Grand Finals Breakdown: Virtus.Pro vs. Vici Gaming

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Image courtesy of ESL One

By skillfully exploiting mistakes made by Vici Gaming, Virtus.Pro seized control of the series  by demonstrating the effectiveness of tight synergy and timely combinations.  

While ESL One Katowice 2018 has officially come to a close, the echoes of Poland’s first ever Dota 2 Major live on.  The event began with a series of upsets for two of Dota 2’s most prominent teams.  Main-Event Group A saw Vici Gaming overcome Team Liquid 2-1, sending Liquid to the loser’s bracket, while Newbee lost to Kinguin in round one of Main Event -Group B’s upper bracket.  Each team displayed a fervent desire to achieve the ESL trophy, the $400,000 and most importantly, those precious 750 DPC points, however only one team dominated throughout each phase of the Majors. 

It’s been four months since Virtus.Pro claimed first place in the ESL One Hamburg Major back in October of 2017.  Since then, alterations to their roster have been made which traded Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk for one of Navi’s most accomplished support players in the team’s history-Vladimir “Rodjer” Nikogosyan.  Despite skepticism from fans of Lil’s noteworthy ability to control team fights with Visage and Rubick, Rodjer proved himself a vital component to VP’s active playstyle by establishing expansive map control stemming from well-coordinated ganks and lane pressure from Chen’s army.  In conjunction with VP’s dynamic approach to gameplay, creative draft picks proliferated their early-mid game dominance and control, cutting off the necessary space for VG’s Terrorblade to farm and push objectives.  VP’s ability to catalyze the forward momentum of each successful play allowed them to get far ahead of VG in terms of objectives, map control and resource acquisition, ultimately resulting in a relatively one-sided performance which has placed VP on the top of DPC ranking list with 4,947 points!

Let’s further examine each game of the Grand Finals to understand what made VP such an unstoppable force!   

Game One

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Game one of the Grand Finals opened with an aggressive smoke maneuver from VP around bottom bounty rune, setting the tone of the match by securing first blood on an ill-fated Rubick.  In traditional form, VP drafted a control composition, which traded heavy damage for a fairly durable front and back-line to negate Batrider’s capacity for isolating and executing solo pick-offs.  Alternatively, VG prioritized initiation in conjunction with ample team fight potential between Rubick, Faceless Void and Death Prophet’s ultimates.  While the first ten minutes of the match were a fairly even exchange in terms of kills, VP began to pull ahead in both farm and objectives, forcing VG to shift to a more defensive approach to secure necessary items.  As the match transitioned into mid-game, the combination of VP’s speed, control and countermeasures, rendered much of VG’s team fight and damage potential ineffective.  The match culminated in a pivotal team fight around Roshan, in which Faceless Void chronosphered into the pit, snatching the aegis from Gyrocopter only to have the remainder of his team crushed under the weight of VP’s incredible sustain.  With the momentum now fully in VP’s favor, they pressed the advantage by obtaining three more kills and the win shortly after.      

Game Two

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Both drafts offered big team fight potential in game two, however the clever incorporation of VP’s Faceless Void pick yielded powerful synergy between chronosphere and Gyro’s call down.  While VP had slightly less stuns at their disposal this time around, impale and static storm served as sufficient counters to Enigma’s black hole.  VG’s picks prioritized heavy team fight potential and strong lane composition, at the detriment of lengthy cooldown reliance.  The match started off once again with the early-game advantage in VP’s favor after acquiring all four bounty runes!  Similar to game one, the first fifteen minutes were relatively even, with both teams exchanging kills and objectives.  At roughly the fifteen minute mark, the first team fight erupted as VP aimed to capitalize on aggressive ward placements in Dire’s jungle.  Gyro locked onto Warlock, quickly burning him down moments before Enigma got within range to cast black hole directly on top of him, while the rest of VG attempted to burn down Omniknight.  Disruptor would cast static storm on Omniknight, buying him a split-second to cast purification with one foot in the grave!  Gyro, Faceless Void and Nyx polished off the remainder of VG, as a slippery Warlock narrowly evaded death.  VG’s limited damage output at this point in the match highlighted a similar issue to game one, in which they couldn’t penetrate VP’s sustain.  With nowhere left for VG to safely farm the map, VP utilized Nyx to gank enemies under surveillance and Disruptor to catch enemies fleeing in response.  By the twenty-five minute mark, VG would surrender after being slaughtered in the second largest team fight of the match.       

Game Three

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Having lost the first two matches in the best-of-five Grand Finals, VG drafted a decent composition to handle the formidable Broodmother pick should they manage to survive the early-game phase.  VP opted to construct their draft around strong lanes and aggressive tower pushing, in attempts to push barracks before Terrorblade came online.  Core Jakiro was a solid choice to mitigate Terrorblade’s attack speed, however VG pulled off several spectacular combinations as a result of adept positioning and aggressive play.  VG proved early on that they would be able to survive the laning phase without too many casualties, as most of the early game was the usual tit-for-tat scenario.  It wasn’t until the eighteen minute mark that the scale began to tip in VG’s favor, after a flawlessly executed dream coil from Puck stunned Broodmother, Witch Doctor and Jakiro in one fell swoop, and scattering VP in all directions with minimal health remaining for Puck and Terrorblade to finish off.  VG pressed their advantage, destroying all but Radiant’s top and mid tier-two towers prior to the final push into late-game.  Twenty-six minutes in, VG solidified their victory in a devastating followup to VP’s attempted pick off of Batrider just above Radiant’s tier-two tower.  Finally securing a victory, VG looked to even the score in game four!         

Game Four

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VG’s success in game three can primarily be attributed to Terrorblade’s late game capacity for sustain, push and damage output.  In game four, VG decided they would give Terrorblade another chance to help them even the score.  Swapping Puck and Keeper of the Light for Witch Doctor and Dragon Knight, strengthened VG’s team fight potential and afforded them more durable lane compositions in attempts to buy Terrorblade time to sufficiently farm.  This time, VP would prioritize shutting down Terrorblade early with the Tiny counter-pick.  VP locked down two early-game kills on Terrorblade by the seven minute mark, thus setting VG’s strategy back dramatically.  With Gyro, Tiny and Pugna at the top of the net worth charts, the match slipped further away from VG with multiple team fight and tower losses.  By the time late-game rolled around, Terrorblade’s net worth had ascended to second place behind Gyro’s; however the cost was grave as VP pushed tier-two towers and secured another pivotal team fight victory, wiping out all but Elder Titan.  From there, VP pushed high-ground and managed to sustain the offensive by shutting down VG’s defensive attempts.  With Dire’s mid and bottom barracks destroyed, VP repeatedly pressured top barracks until VG perished as a result of  devastating combinations.  While VG fought well, VP dominated each phase of the match with efficient strategy and capable implementation.  A well-earned victory for the champions of ESL One Katowice 2018!       

Link to publication for Bonus Stage

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