Upper Bracket: Game 1 of PSG.LGD vs. VP

Champions of the last Major vs. TI runner-ups, we had a clash of two juggernauts of Dota world. Sudden information that Solo, VP’s captain, is sick and couldn’t play was a cause of disappointment. Alas, their coach ArsZeeqq stepped in as a sub to cover for his captain. Unlike the other examples where teams played with the stand-ins who are not familiar with their play-style, VP’s sub knew the ins and outs of the team. Another thing is that he was filling a support role, Dota’s most sacrificial role. So in many ways, VP wasn’t crippled by playing with a sub, it was more like playing with their 6th player.

Draft

First series of bans:

1. PSG.LGD ban Medusa

Other than Medusa being one of the most valued carries this tournament, I don’t see any other reason why PSG banned it. First few bans are always a matter of the game-plan that teams make before the game.

2. Virtus.pro ban Tusk

Tusk is also a top meta hero. And Chinese call PSG.LGD.fy Tusk-King for a reason. There is no reason not to ban him in the first ban phase.

3. PSG.LGD ban Beastmaster

Still in the realm of: We look at the top most picked/banned list and ban what we think could give us the most trouble.

4. Virtus.pro ban Grimstroke

I’ll let my imagination take over explaining this one. Of course we still follow the pattern of banning the meta heroes but I think there was a reason more behind this ban. VP is a very smart team. And as we know they eventually let the IO pick go through the ban phase. So in a way, to bait LGD into feeling more comfortable picking it (they would have probably picked it anyway), they banned Grimstroke, as his ultimate counters Wisp.

5. PSG.LGD ban Lich

Meta, meta, meta.

6. Virtus.pro ban Elder Titan

I already expressed my opinion of this hero. But I’ll also add that since the teams value ET this major, VP also used him as a bait for LDG to pick Wisp. All of ET’s abilities benefit from the enemy heroes clumping together and we know that Wisp is 90% of the time Tethered to a hero.

First series of picks:

1. PSG.LGD pick IO

LGD is in a minority of Chinese teams that have a good Wisp player. Fy is so good, OG didn’t let IO pass trough the first ban phase once when LGD had the first pick in the grand finals of TI8. I was so happy that finally one team dared to let IO trough. I said only the best of the best take this challenge and VP is at the moment the best team in the world with a reason (ok, they didn’t have Solo but still..).

2. Virtus.pro pick Earth Spirit

Other than being in the top of the meta, every hero VP took also needed to have some qualities against “IO gaming”. Three out of four ES’s spells can target more than one hero at a time, putting slow, silence and damage over time on them. So ES benefits from clumping together.

3. Virtus.pro pick Jakiro

Solo special, played by ArsZeeqq! I saw a few heroes Solo likes to play against IO and one of them is Jakiro. Ice Path, Dual Breath and Macropyre, all of these spells have huge AOE and it’s hard to miss them. VP set their coach to succeed in every way possible.

4. PSG.LGD pick Gyrocopter

Gyro is at the moment by far the most paired hero with IO. I’ll even argue that you can’t play Gyrocopter without IO. All his spells are active, but his mana regeneration is pretty shit. You don’t really have natural build-up for mana items or at least you don’t want to waste any slots on them. He also has the most useless talents in whole of Dota. And finally he has a great Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade that Wisp can grant him with his level 15 talent.

Second series of bans:

7. PSG.LGD ban Morphling

Morphling is considered to be “The” Gyro counter, so LGD took him out for that reason. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to fight a hero which can burst down your IO in a matter of seconds. Then Morph into Gyro and Flak down your whole team with his “Mr. max agility” attack speed.

8. Virtus.pro ban Sven

Virtus.pro continued to execute their well thought out draft plan in the second ban phase. I am pretty sure they knew they are taking Juggernaut so they went on to ban heroes that are able to mitigate his Omnislash impact. Sven’s Warcry is one of those spells that block physical damage effectively, he is also in the top of the meta.

9. PSG.LGD ban Outworld Devourer

LGD went on their own route of banning potential treats to their combo. Out of the heroes that were picked at least 10 or more times this tournament, OD has the highest win-rate.

10. Virtus.pro ban Centaur

If Beastmaster wasn’t banned by now, VP would have banned him instead. But since LGD already took out BM, Centaur was a logical ban. Highly valued offlaner who can tank up Jugger’s attacks and slashes from ult. His ultimate has a good synergy with Io + Gyro combo, and can make Jakiro miss his spells or at least have a hard time landing them.

Second series of picks:

5. Virtus.pro pick Juggernaut

4th time this tournament we see RAMZeS on this hero. Since Gyro+Io often dictate a fast paced game, Juggernaut makes a better pick for the early game than other, getting slow online meta picks, PA and Terrorblade. IO explodes if he get caught by Jugger’s Omnislash, and RAMZeS purposely itemized (Blink dagger and later Nullifier ) for that.

6. PSG.LGD pick Lion

Lion was an interesting pick for a support. I can get behind some of the reasoning for taking him but it was still a shaky pick nonetheless. He offers possible control for Jugg if he catches him before Blade Fury. And Jugg, is susceptible to magic damage. Jugg also has mana issues so Mana Drain can be effective too. But the problem of running Lion on the high-skill level, such as is on Major, is that you will have none or few opportunities against great players where they won’t Blade Fury in time.

7. Virtus.pro pick Dark Seer

I think this was another pre-planned hero. He can push in the lanes early, he can also manage almost any lane you give him and he is an aura carrier. Above all else mid to late game, he has Vacuum into Wall of Replica combo for great team fighting.

8. PSG.LGD pick Tiny

The only hero from top 9 of the most picked/banned list that got through now. And here LGD takes it to secure ambiguity of their draft.

Last two bans:

11. Virtus.pro ban Tidehunter

As if VP could smell that LDG plans top put Tiny middle they banned Tide. Although we saw middle Tidehunter this major, LDG until now, ran it on the offlane. The only marker that they needed an offlaner, was that none of their current heroes is a natural Vladmir’s carrier. And as I pointed out, Vlad’s is at the moment a must have item for any team. Tide would have also added a team fight counter initiation tool for LGD.

12. PSG.LGD ban Razor

Fishing in the dark, they took out Razor since he was sometimes used as a semi-counter to Io combos. His spells are good for clumped fights where he can stand next to the enemy, and Io+Gyro would suffer for that reason since their combo likes to run down into the enemy heroes.

Last two picks:

9. PSG.LGD pick Puck

Puck gives team fight control and is a somewhat neutral pickup since he can switch up lanes if need be. He is mostly played on the middle or the offlane but there were times when he was even used as a position 4 support (EG.Cr1t). This way LGD had two heroes to choose from to send to the middle, depending on the VP’s last pick. One big obstacle for Puck this game was Jakiro, since he is not able to Phase Shift his Ice Path, and that was a threat for his mobility.

10. Virtus.pro pick Dragon Knight

DK is one of No[o]ne’s signature heroes, so VP was happy to give it to him. He is also considered to be a big Puck counter in all portions of the game. Versus Tiny DK has no kill potential but is not going to die either. So VP de facto made LGD play Tiny middle.

Gameplay

All in all I give VP the adventage of the draft, they tackled Io+Gyro combo well. Both teams had the lead throughout the game and when Gyro got his BKB, LGD could have won riding on that momentum. But VP managed to weather the storm and come out on top in the end. My opinion is that if VP played with Solo they would have won this game easier. But again, be it easy or hard they still managed to get it.

This game was very fun to watch. I would recommend for everyone to watch the whole highlights of this series, not just this game, hence I won’t put on any special moments.

BONUS:

Here is one cheeky play by Virtus.pro:

PSG.LGD 0 : 1 Virtus.pro