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Dota 2

Singapore Major Grand Finals: iG Complete Reverse Sweep

Patrick Bonifacio

The ONE Esports Singapore Major has reached its conclusion with the grand finals. And what an event it was! Both Evil Geniuses and Invictus Gaming fought their way to the championship match to put on a real show. The finalists used all the time available to them by playing all five games in the series.

iG.Kaka at WESG

Brimming with confidence and experience, Invictus Gaming captain led his team to victory at the Singapore Major grand finals. (Photo courtesy WESG)

Although EG got off to a roaring start in the matchup, iG came back to pull off the unlikely reverse sweep. The third game was particularly notable, as it was a clear sign of things to come and an obvious turning point in the series.

Auspicious Beginnings

EG team captain Tal “Fly” Aizik and his highly skilled crew wasted no time getting out to a massive lead in the matchup. The first game was absolutely clinical, with both Azel “Abed” Yusop and Artour “Arteezy” Babaev bringing their A-game. Abed in particular, was allowed to play his signature Storm Spirit in Game One. Invictus Gaming quickly realized the folly of doing so, as Abed himself posted nine kills and zero deaths in the first map. Arteezy followed suit, of course, with a unique Leshrac pick that saw him playing the hero in the safe lane. His own score read 9-3 by the game’s end. Daryl “iceiceice” Koh’s Beastmaster was also a huge factor, and would be for the rest of the Singapore Major grand finals even though he was only able to play the hero twice.

The boys in blue put the series in a chokehold in the second map, but this time it was iG’s draft error that cost them the game. Their Faceless Void pick was questionable at best and game-losing at worst, especially against EG’s Bloodseeker and Ancient Apparition combo. To make things worse, iceiceice and superstar support Andreas Franck “Cr1t-” Nielsen formed a highly aggressive duo that took advantage of Chronosphere’s long cooldown.

The pick proved disastrous for Jin “flyfly” Zhiyi, whose 0-9 score was less than inspiring. And speaking of the score, EG had 35 kills while iG had a mere eight.

The Question Mark that Won the Singapore Major Grand Finals

With the title just one victory away and the whole team looking unbeatable, EG picked Storm Spirit for Abed for the third straight game. This signaled plenty of confidence in both Abed and coach Sam “BuLba” Sosale, especially considering it was the first pick for EG. Given his stellar performance on the hero in the first two games, it started to look like Abed would facilitate the clean sweep.

But something changed in iG during the drafting phase. They recognized that Beastmaster was simply too strong to handle, banning it in the first phase to force iceiceice to play something else. They also had a much more coherent lineup this time around, with ways to deal with the Storm Spirit pick.

iG held a small lead in the laning phase, which was actually surprising given that Zhou “Emo” Yi died so often as Void Spirit in the middle lane. EG snatched the advantage in the mid game, however. This lead went all the way up to almost 15,000 gold in EG’s favor, but they couldn’t close things out before it was too late. iG’s more late game-oriented draft kicked in past the 45 minute mark, with flyfly’s Sven doing most of the heavy lifting. By the end of the 56-minute contest, Emo dropped one of the spiciest lines in all of Dota: the offensive question mark. Their comeback was just that incredible—and honestly, we think he deserved the right to talk a little trash.

Running Downhill

Game Four was when iG really turned things around. Capitalizing on some rather dodgy drafting by EG, Thiay “JT-” Jun Wen’s Bloodseeker pick helped them punish Arteezy’s Phantom Assassin. The EG carry could not get much done in team fights, as he was always either Ruptured or otherwise threatened by Chan “Oli” Chon Kien’s Supernova. It also helped that Emo destroyed Abed’s Storm Spirit (yes, the fourth straight pick) in the lane. EG never really got much done in the fourth game, leading them to a slow and painful death.

Game Five saw BuLba’s stubbornness come out once more with the fifth straight Storm Spirit pick for Abed. This time, though, he also picked Enigma for iceiceice and Lifestealer for Arteezy. For a while, EG actually had the lead in the laning phase and the mid game—making it look like the reverse sweep dream would not happen for iG. Cr1t-‘s Tusk play was instrumental to this early advantage, with the veteran player showing everyone his usual consistency and game sense.

Unfortunately for EG, the opposite transpired. Some critical individual mistakes in the late game started to pile up, giving iG a huge window for a comeback. This was even in spite of flyfly having the worst laning phase of his life as Spectre, thanks to iceiceice’s 30 denies.

The MVP award absolutely goes to Hu “kaka” Liangzhi, though, whose Lion play was just unbelievably good. The sheer level of confidence he possessed in the fifth game helped carry his team to victory, leaving no chance for either Abed or Arteezy to get anything done. He should get full praise for what he did throughout the series, especially after such a bad start for his team.

China Back on Top

This seals the deal without a doubt: China is the best region in the world as of this moment. The amount of quality talent in the region cannot be denied, and their neck of the Dota Pro Circuit woods can very well be considered the most competitive overall. While Europe did have Team Secret in the mix at this event, their fourth-place finish knocked them down a peg or two in the pecking order.

PSG.LGD Gaming’s third-place result also lends credence to this assessment. While they did miss out on an opportunity for a rematch with EG in the Singapore Major Grand Finals, they did pretty well for themselves considering their placement in the Chinese regional league. Having a Wild Card team make it all the way to the grand finals is definitely something else.

As for EG, they can still hold their heads high despite choking in the grand finals. There is clear chemistry in this current roster, and we have no doubt they will capture a Major title soon enough. That is, if the Arteezy curse doesn’t hang around. Until then, there’s the second DPC split to look forward to.

Special mention goes to Thunder Predator, whose top-six finish has them in the upper echelons of pro Dota as a whole. They carried themselves extremely well throughout the event, proving that South America is ready for the big stage. It’s a shame that beastcoast couldn’t make it to the tournament—they would have been just as amazing, if not better.