OG 2, PSG.LGD 1
The upper bracket finals of the International 2018 concluded in a thrilling 2-1 victory for OG over PSG.LGD on Friday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
In Game 1 OG responded to a potentially deadly LGD last-pick Huskar with heavy pressure in the early game. The team leaned on offlaner Sebastian "7Mad" Debs, who stepped up to take control of the game on Enchantress. LGD managed to recover and contest fights once its three cores finished Black King Bars for magic immunity, but the shorter duration of the item put LGD on the clock.
LGD offlaner Yang "Chalice" Shenyi played an excellent Weaver and found a lot of kills, but LGD was never in position to follow up with objectives. OG did well making sure that at least one of LGD's carry players, Wang "Ame" Chunyu on Drow Ranger or Lu "Sumnus" Yao on Huskar, ended up dead at the end of a fight.
With its tower-pushing heroes down, LGD became much less threatening and gave OG space to fall back. A final pair of climactic fights near the LGD base gave OG the window it needed to finally close out the first game.
Both teams went for flashy comfort heroes in Game 2. For OG, 7Mad played Magnus, and carry Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen played Invoker. LGD, meanwhile, secured Earthshaker for captain and support Xu "fy" Linsen and Storm Spirit for Somnus.
Topson played a fantastic game for the first 20 minutes, but his lead melted away after a string of careless deaths. LGD was able to take out Topson easily with its massive disable and mobility advantage. OG had two large teamfight spells, captain and support Johan "N0tail" Sundstein's Silencer Global Silence and 7Mad's Reverse Polarity, but LGD played extremely well around the long cooldowns. If OG failed to secure major kills during those spells, LGD was able to turn around and completely roll over OG.
Somnus' Storm Spirit recovered from a miserable start to totally take over the game with his mobility, finishing with a 9/4/19 KDA to force Game 3.
With a trip the finals on the line, both teams opted to work in strong late-game cores to their final drafts. For OG, carries Anathan "Ana" Pham and Topson played Spectre and Arc Warden, respectively. LGD answered back with a Terrorblade for Ame and Mirana for Somnus.
LGD did an excellent job shutting down Ana's Spectre in the early game, but Topson was able to step up and create the space needed for Ana to scrape together a recovery. LGD still kept OG on the back foot but couldn't actually break into OG's base. Support Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka's Earthshaker made pushing extremely scary for LGD while Topson's Arc Warden kept pressure applied all over the map.
A daring initiation from Ame finally allowed LGD to crack OG's defenses. LGD was able to secure a lane of barracks, but it came at the cost of a buyback and death from four heroes. With just Chalice's Enchantress alive to defend, OG was able to storm into the LGD base and go straight for the throne to secure its path to the finals.
PSG.LGD will drop to the lower bracket where it will have another chance at the final if it can beat the winner of Evil Geniuses vs. Team Liquid at 1 p.m ET on Saturday. The finals will take place later that day at 5 p.m ET.
-- Jack Ballenger
Evil Geniuses 2, Team Liquid 0
Evil Geniuses ended Team Liquid's chances at back-to-back Aegis of Champions on Friday with a 2-0 victory.
Team Liquid started off Game 1 with an interesting last draft pick in Chaos Knight. Despite putting pressure on the middle lane in an attempt to shut down Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan's signature Storm Spirit, Liquid found its lead slipping as the game dragged on.
In an act of desperation, Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi purchased a Divine Rapier, which he lost almost immediately. Shortly afterward, he managed to gain it back only to lose it once more as Evil Geniuses marched to victory. In Game 2, Liquid once again drafted somewhat outside its comfort zone and opted for a Terrorblade and a last-pick Viper. The attempt to outsmart Evil Geniuses in the draft backfired, though, as SumaiL's squad showed its prowess.
Evil Geniuses took down the reigning champion in an incredible display of skill. In Game 1, the team showed patience and outlasted Team Liquid, which had tried to pressure Evil Geniuses early and go in for the kill too quickly. In Game 2, support player Andreas "Cr1t" Nielsen as Dark Willow helped push Evil Geniuses out to an early lead that it would never relinquish.
Team Liquid is eliminated from The International and will finish with $1,772,085 in prize money. Evil Geniuses, meanwhile, secured a top-three spot and will move on to face PSG.LGD in the lower bracket finals at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.
-- Travis Elliott
Team Liquid 2, Team Secret 0
Team Liquid stayed in the running for a second consecutive title after knocking out Team Secret 2-0.
Team Secret completely disrespected Team Liquid in both drafts and paid the ultimate price. Support and captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov, who won The International 2011 and has competed in every iteration of The International since then, may have put too much confidence in his own ability to predict what his former teammate and Team Liquid captain Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasomi would do.
Team Secret allowed Liquid to have the Broodmother pick in Game 1. Despite being absolutely decimated by the hero in Game 1, Puppey let Broodmother through once again in Game 2 and even gave up Invoker, the favorite hero of Liquid's all-star mid-laner Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi. When asked about the draft, Team Secret's coach Lee "Sunbhie" Jeong-jae simply replied, "We're not scared... bring it on."
Meanwhile, Team Liquid completely dismantled Secret. Both games were won during the drafting stage by captain Kuroky. In Game 1, it was the carry Lasse Aukusti "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen as Broodmother running over Secret with complete autonomy across the map. Secret tried to counter with a Storm Spirit and Earthshaker, but the picks just weren't strong enough to deal with Broodmother. Game 2 was a complete wash. Team Secret rolled over as Liquid took a relatively uncontested lead, styling on Secret en route to a dominant victory.
Team Secret is eliminated from The International 2018 and will return home with $1,137,816. Team Liquid is now guaranteed a top-4 finish at The International 2018 and will move on to face Evil Geniuses later in the day at 7 p.m. EST.