The first day of the main event is underway now, and here's what you might have missed! We'll try to pick out the best game from each series for you to watch, although it might be hard if the stomp is on too hard.
Virtus.pro vs Invictus Gaming Vitality Game one was relatively uneventful, with Virtus.pro on Radiant and iG.V on Dire. A Treant Protector pick from iG.V caused a lot of headaches for Virtus.pro as Zhang 'Q' Yi used Living Armor to negate the Russian team's damage output early on. Virtus.pro were wiped at the 19 minute mark and it seemed like the upset was on — the Treant pick was too disruptive to their bullish style. The game swung back to VP when they snagged the Aegis of the Immortals at about 24 minutes though, and the Radiant team pushed out towers until they took Dire's top barracks, secured a teamwipe near the Roshan pit (the holder of the Aegis) and finished iG.V off.
The second round was much more exciting. Again VP were Radiant and iG.V was Dire, and again VP secured first blood. Far more kills, and more skirmishes dictated the pace of this game. iG.V were again trying to slow the pace, but VP wouldn't let up, constantly instigating to put pressure on an iG team that looked firmly in control. A risky push from iG.V into the top lane cost them dearly, swinging the momentum in Virtus.pro's favour and securing the victory — although iG.V played out what was essentially the first elimination game to the bitter end. VP wins, 2 - 0.
Wings Gaming vs Evil Geniuses. Despite featuring a different line-up, Evil Geniuses bears the title of The International 2015 champions. And Wings Gaming has the honour of being their successors, winners of The International 2016. So this promised to be a solid match-up. Nevertheless, Wings has had good form since The International, and EG has… not. So their bout promised to be interesting.
In Game 1 Wings were Radiant and EG landed on the Dire side. EG picked up a cheeky gank for first blood 30 seconds before the first creep wave, but by five minutes that game looked fairly even. EG did a fantastic job of picking apart Wings' Clockwerk, played by Zhang "Faith_Bian" Ruida, finding him all over the map and shutting him down. This made life difficult for Wings, and their only option was to switch gears and try to slow the game down. The Chinese team pushed into towers to swing pressure back onto EG, but Sumail "Suma1L" Hassan's Alchemist was able to keep the focus on Wings, and when Artour "Arteezy" Babaev caught Chu "shadow" Zeyu in a gank right underneath the top tower without a buyback, Wings had no choice but to call GG.
Game 2 didn't go much better for the defending International Champions. Wings were again Radiant and EG were on the Dire side, and EG scored first blood again. Li "iceice" Peng rotated to the top lane to help out Faith_Bian, walking himself right into a gank from Andreas "Cr1t" Nielsen. From there, it was a non-stop barrage as Evil Geniuses found pick-offs all over the map, with Arteezy's Luna doing a lot of the heavy lifting. It seemed essentially over for the reigning champions — when Wings started playing conservatively EG matched them, and with the advantage available to the NA team the Radiant side was forced into taking risks. One of those risks paid off big around the 34 minute mark, when Wings secured the team wipe on EG — but it just wasn't enough to get them back into the game.
EG wins 2 - 0.
The first game is better viewing and has been embedded below, but the team wipe from Wings in the second game is spectacular play.
CompLexity Gaming vs WarriorsGaming.Unity WarriorsGaming.Unity managed to secure the upset against Wings in the Group Stages, so they were definitely worth watching as they took on CompLexity — the NA team managed to beat Evil Geniuses in their own group stage.
In game one, WG.U played Radiant and CoL played Dire. CoL picked up first blood 90 seconds in, when Kyle "swindlezz" Freedman caught Chua Soon "KanGaroo" Khong out of position and punished him for it. A three-for-one at nine minutes put CompLexity firmly in control, and things seemed to be going their way as they began to establish map control. Once Kam Boon 'NaNa' Seng’s Timbersaw was able to get some desperately needed survivability, however, WG.U were able to find pick-offs on CoL's Mirana and Weaver and this gave them the positioning they needed to take down CoL's top barracks — unleashing super creeps and putting all the pressure back on CoL. WG.U's ability to attack CoL's buildings made it difficult for CompLexity to fight back, and when they lost a teamfight at the 24 minute mark they had no choice but to GG.
In game two WG.U were Radiant and CoL Dire, and CoL picked up first blood 90 seconds in. If you're decent at pattern recognition, you'll know what happens next — WG.U replicated their success from the first game and managed to eek out a victory. Spoiler alert! It wasn't actually an identical game — this one was much closer as CompLexity fought to stay in the tournament. Mihai "canceL^^" Antonio secured the first blood on NaNa's Timbersaw deep under WG.U's mid tower, firing a warning shot at WG.U and attempting to set the tone for the game. With swindlezz on Treant Protector this time, CoL had a good team composition to counter WG.U's push, and both teams were forced to tread water for a while as they tried to get their heroes enough gold and experience to reach their potential. Both teams traded evenly, with WG.U focusing on Jaron "monkeys-forever" Clinton's Sand King and CoL blasting down Lai Jay "Ahjit" Son's Luna, but a teamfight loss at 24 minutes gave the advantage to WG.U, and they never let it go. CompLexity managed to sneak away with the Roshan at 26 minutes, but WG.U immediately punished them for it and pushed the Dire team all the way back to their base.
WarriorsGaming.Unity win, 2 - 0
OG vs MVP Phoenix OG are definitely the favourites in this match-up against the South Korean MVP Phoenix. You might be sick of me harping on about this, but they're both teams with Aussies — OG has Anathan "ana" Pham and MVP Phoenix has Kim "Velo" Tae-sung — so definitely one to watch.
Game one was a barnstormer, with MVP Phoenix playing as Radiant and OG on the Dire side. OG gave Ana an Ember Spirit as their surprise final pick, and this combined with Shadow Demon and Luna — a combo used effectively by both EG and WG.U earlier in the day — turned OG into a split-pushing nightmare for the Radiant team. Instead the onus was on MVP Phoenix to stop OG from getting to the point where they were unstoppable, and far out they did their best. A four man stomping at the 19 minute mark threatened to give MVP the advantage, and the South Korean team did its best to capitalise on the momentum, but OG didn't break stride as they split pushed their way to victory. Every time MVP moved out to secure a gank, OG moved down another lane to punish the attempt, and in the end MVP weren't able to leave their base without losing their barracks. Weaver, Sniper and Vengeful Spirit dying at the 39 minute mark secured the victory for OG.
Game two had MVP as Radiant, OG as Dire and MVP snagged the First Blood (as they did in game 1) which, based on the nature of all games today meant that OG would win the series. MVP's high pressure blitz style was working out well for them in game two, as they snagged kills on OG's heroes thanks to aggressive use of their Smokes of Deceit. By smoking on two heroes, MVP were able to get kills, but more importantly they put pressure on OG as the Dire side was forced to play conservatively until they could work out where the missing heroes were. It slowed down OG's experience and gold gain quite a bit, which was important if MVP were to survive into the late game. Johan "N0tail" Sundstein on Terrorblade and Gustav "s4" Magnusson on Axe were proving difficult to deal with, however, as they split focus on either side of the map and created a lot of pressure for the Radiant side. After 20 minutes and with significant map pressure online from OG, they began to bait MVP into teamfights. The South Korean team were left without choices though — they had to go for it, and OG were able to capitalise with a series of huge teamfight trades resulting in a snowball victory for the European team.
OG wins 2 - 0.
That's all for today's Dota 2 awesomeness! Tune in tomorrow for more action out of Boston as Ad Finem take on Newbee, Digital Chaos clash with Team Faceless, EHOME battles Team NP and the two LGD teams duke it out.