In the round one of the Upper Bracket R1 we got an European derby. Clash of these two EU titans is always a treat. This time though, we were denied the 100% performance from Liquid. Unfortunately, they had to play with a stand-in for Miracle-, the reason being personal issues. Any team of this caliber with a stand-in, especially on a core position, suffers game-plan wise. Positive thing that came out of this whole situation is that as a stand-in, Liquid is using ex-Wings Shadow! I have to note that the lack of a communication certainly played a role in this series and should be factored into Liquid’s all around performance.
First series of bans:
Liquid ban Anti-Mage
Even though Secret played AM a couple of times this tournament, I really don’t see a reason for the first ban Anti-Mage. I guess Kuro just didn’t want to play against AM since teams need to adopt somewhat of a methodical approach against AM’s farming patterns. And with a stand-in that doesn’t understand English, that could have been a problem.
Secret ban IO
Same old story, told thousands of times before. IO is currently sitting at the 1st place, with 62 bans, on the list of most banned heroes. And second on the list, Lich, is not even close with 25 bans so far.
Liquid ban Lich
Speak of the devil. Lich is not a surprise to anyone anymore, definitely getting a nerf hammer next patch.
Secret ban Grimstroke
Also a hero not falling from the top of the most picked/banned list for The Chongqing Major. Liquid is at the moment 3:0 when playing this hero, so it was a totally valid ban target for Secret.
Liquid ban Medusa
Nisha’s Medusa was famous even before he joined Secret, so we have a reasoning for this ban. I really didn’t expect Liquid to come out so “defensive” from the first ban phase, but they did. Using two out of their first three bans on cores. Truly a-typical for them.
Secret ban Earth Spirit
Last time, I mentioned YapzOr’s skill on Earth Spirit, but I will also say that GH’s ES doesn’t come short from excellence either.
First series of picks:
Liquid pick Magnus
Because of the stand-in issue, Liquid is forced to play mostly 4 protect 1 style of Dota. And one of the best heroes for this kind of lineups is Magnus. With his Empower buff, he enables his carry’s farming ability by a bunch. Worth mentioning is the fact that Liquid mostly ran him as a position 4 support instead of putting him on the offlane.
Secret pick Rubick
YapzOr the Grand Magus, that’s how this hero should be called. Putting aside Rubick as a comfort pick, there are few more reasons why Secret took it so early. Obvious and important one was stealing the Mag RP. Also, still available in the pool was Terrorblade and Liquid already run it successfully this Major. Rubick straight up counters Terrorblade if he able to steals Reflection consistently. Secret was, I am pretty sure, the first team to use him as such in the last patch. With Reflection he can destroy TB’s illusions fast, and since the spell has a low CD + it lasts longer when Rubick casts it, it’s pretty annoying to deal with.
Secret pick Tiny
Tiny with his ambiguity is a good draft opener, as he can end up being a support or being run as a core. I already touched upon this in the last analysis.
Liquid pick Phantom Assassin
It was either Juggernaut or PA for Shadow, and since they lost one game thus far with Juggernaut, the choice fell on PA. Not picking a carry in the first phase could have put Liquid in trouble, since Shadow obviously has a limited hero pool with Liquid this tournament (though justified). But this put them in a bad spot, since their game-plan was pretty obvious.
Second series of bans:
Liquid ban Kunkka
Besides being one of the biggest beneficiaries of the 7.20 patch, and being on of MidOne’s signature heroes, Kunkka’s Rum buff is great in mitigating any burst-down attempts on his allies (Mag’s RP + some combo for example).
Secret ban Dark Seer
Liquid ban Elder Titan
In my opinion the most overrated hero of the Major. When played as a support, this hero needs levels and there is just not enough space for him to get them. Many times yesterday we saw underwhelming Stomps into Earth Splitters that just look cool but do little damage. Hero is just unplayable when behind. I am still waiting for someone to play it as a core.
Secret ban Oracle
Secret banned Oracle to lay foundations for Sven pick. Purifying Flames as a dispel straight up counter Sven’s Warcry. And with False Promise, Oracle fits the 4 protect 1 narrative that Liquid is running this tournament.
Second series of picks:
Secret pick Sven
At this point all of Liquid’s damage is physical (Phantom Assassin) so why not pick an already proven support for dealing with a physical damage carries, early to mid-game.
Liquid pick Chen
As the panel mentioned this was a questionable pick. Since the patch changes, Chen is still finding his role in the new meta, but hasn’t found it yet. KuroKy is a beast on the hero, don’t get me wrong; but Divine Favor as good spell as it is, can’t put Chen in the same pool with other top supports currently in the meta.
Secret pick Troll Warlord
Troll is a perfect pick in this situation as he is an agility hero with high starting armor. He can sustain trough PA’s harass and he can deal with Chen’s creeps with little to no help. Troll is the king of man-fighting so he forces PA to play more cautiously than usual.
Liquid pick Pugna
Liquid had Troll problem to address so that’s why they took Pugna. Decrepify is a good spell against any physical damage since even if the enemy heroes build BKB to fight it, you can always Decrepify yourself or your allies.
Last two bans:
Secret ban Tidehunter
At this point Secret has three melee heroes and PA, the “minus armor” carry, on Liquid’s side. So the Tide ban is pretty smart. He is one of the top offlaners currently, since he is a pain in the ass against the melee heroes with his constant Anchor Smashes. Besides Gush minus armor to help PA, his current meta build includes Vladmir’s and Solar Crest, all of which benefit PA tremendously.
Liquid ban Monkey King
MK is good against the tanky melee cores, and since Liquid had Underlord in mind as their next pick they banned him. A reason more for banning MK is that it’s also one of MidOne’s signature heroes.
Last two picks:
Liquid pick Underlord
I don’t know where to put this pick really. Liquid needed the offlaner and a hero that can deal with Troll. Troll has one of the best agility gains in the game, so I guess Underlord’s Atrophy Aura is good at dealing with it. But other than that I don’t really see the synergy or the need for him. Underlord is underwhelming most of the time, out of the 7 time he was picked this tournament, his win-rate is at a miserly 28.57%.
Secret pick Morphling
Nisha’s special! Haven’t seen him in a while on Morph but here we go. Secret knows their matchups well, so they sized the opportunity to abuse Liquid’s lack of lockdown this game. None of Liquid’s heroes have reliable stun, other than Mag’s RP which has a huge CD. Nisha also had a lot of good targets to Morph into.
Considering the fact Liquid played with a stand-in, this game wasn’t even close to being fair. This was a clear outdraft from the get-go. I believe Liquid was reduced to a limited hero pool because of a language barrier with Shadow which didn’t allow for more than a 4 protect 1 strategy. Secret played methodical and didn’t make much mistakes through the whole game. Because of this there is not a deciding moment worth mentioning for this game.
Liquid 0 : 1 Secret