Invictus And LGD Begin Road to Redemption At ESL One
The group stage of the Chinese division at ESL One Birmingham has come to a close, with a couple of interesting redemption stories developing out of the preliminary round.
Invictus Gaming and PSG.LGD Gaming in particular actually made it out of the group stage and into the playoff round this time, after putting on rather shameful performances at ESL One Los Angeles about two months ago. A stark contrast to their previous results for sure, we have no doubt they feel revitalized and in high spirits after showing such significant improvements.
LGD in particular blitzed through Group A, nearly managing to exit the preliminary stage with a flawless map record. They started the tournament off with a real bang, beating Aster two games to none. It took quite a while for them to put their opponents away in the first game, thanks to some scrappy teamfights that went Aster’s way in the late game.
For a while, it even looked like Aster had turned the game around by securing a 14,000 gold net worth swing around the 50 minute mark. But the comeback was not meant to be. A flawlessly executed engagement from LGD some time after allowed them to reverse the gold swing and seal the deal for good.
In the second game, it seemed that LGD looked at the clock and decided it was high time for dinner, completing the series win in just 26 minutes and 12 seconds. Their twin cores Yang “Chalice” Shenyi and Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao popped off in Game 2, scoring 33 kills just between the two of them.
The rest of the group stage went pretty much just as well for the International 8 runners-up. They took care of business in no time at all against Longinus in their next match, and showed poise and confidence in a three-game series against defending ESL One Chinese division champions Royal Never Give Up. LGD have clearly figured something out after their less than impressive run at ESL One Los Angeles, and look like a much better squad than they did then.
Their work isn’t quite done yet, however — as they still have the playoffs to get through. They face Invictus Gaming next Tuesday for their first match of the playoffs.
Masters Of Their Fates
And speaking of, Invictus Gaming must also feel relieved and reassured with themselves, given that they secured second place in Group B as opposed to fifth place (and early elimination) at Los Angeles. There’s no skirting around the fact that they needed this result after going almost scoreless in the previous tournament. For them to have survived the group stage here in convincing fashion is proof that they have poured a lot of time and effort into bettering themselves as a team going forward.
Their campaign at Birmingham started off auspiciously, with a 2-1 victory against eventual bottom-placers Sparking Arrow Gaming (SAG). Though the second game got away from them after some stellar Phoenix play by SAG’s Chong “FelixCiaoBa” Wei Lun, iG smothered their opponents in the third game in just under 23 minutes by completely dominating the laning stage.
iG then took their first series loss of the tournament at the hands of CDEC Gaming on the second day. This result was nothing to be ashamed of, though, considering that CDEC went on an undefeated streak to secure first place in the group. After the second day, however, it was clear that iG were able to pick themselves up mentally, mauling Los Angeles third-placers EHOME two games to none in a very inspiring series.
This outcome places them against LGD in the first round of the upper bracket next Tuesday, as mentioned above. Though they will face fierce opponents in LGD as a result, there are few better ways to test their mettle and newfound strength by jumping straight into the fire. We expect that both teams will go all out in this match, regardless of the fact that neither of them will be eliminated from the tournament just yet.
Young Guns Versus The Royals
On the other side of the bracket we find CDEC against Royal Never Give Up. RNG being in the playoffs is no surprise, of course, after the dominant run they had at Los Angeles. Winning two out of three matches in the group stage cleanly has them right where they want to be.
It’s obvious that they haven’t missed a beat since winning the Los Angeles title — and that they will be a force difficult for any other team to stop. Well, except LGD, who were the only ones that they actually lost to in the group. Despite their slipup against LGD though, the same Royals that clinched the title in the previous tournament are definitely still at their best with their supreme understanding of the metagame and application thereof. Oh, and of course, it helps to have really strong star players like Du “Monet” Peng in their ranks.
CDEC, meanwhile, have unlocked a level of power at this event that few people probably expected. They rampaged through their group much like LGD did in theirs, scoring six wins and taking only one loss in maps. Wang “Ame” Chunyu seems to have really settled into his role as the carry for CDEC, scoring a 12.5 KDA ratio over the first three days of competition. Not bad for someone that LGD opted to remove from their roster after a string of poor tournament results.
It will no doubt be exciting to see just how far this CDEC squad can go at this event, considering that they’re composed almost entirely of Chinese players waiting for their breakout moment in pro Dota 2. And while their group certainly could have been seen as relatively weak compared to the other, this is no doubt a great result for a team looking to gain experience playing at the highest level in their region.
ESL One Birmingham’s Chinese division will take a short break for the playoffs, which are set to begin on June 2nd. Make sure to catch the first round via ESL’s official Twitch channel.