The rising SEA superstars pull off a teamfighting masterclass to defeat Alliance and secure a rematch against Virtus.Pro

The semi-finals of the ESL One Summer 2021 brought us a clash of EU and SEA’s finest – Alliance up against T1. Both teams had lost 2-1 to Virtus.Pro in the Upper Bracket, and were looking for a rematch against the CIS kings in the Grand Finals.

Despite their top seed placings in their respective DPC Regional Leagues, these teams ended the AniMajor with very different results. T1 had a respectable 3rd place finish, qualifying for the International as well in one fell swoop. On the flipside, Alliance bombed out without winning a single game, to the dismay of their fans.

In more ways than one, the story of this match was major redemption. For Alliance, it was about proving the doubters wrong after back-to-back slumps in the two majors. On the side of T1, they’d already finished in this position before, and didn’t want to let it happen again. Notably, these two squads were also facing off for the first time ever. The battle was on.

Game 1 – The Battle of the Concepts

In uncharted territory, it’s always best to stick to what you know. Going into the first game, both T1 and Alliance decided to bring their tried and tested recipes for success.

The Kuku-led squad first-phased Karl “Karl” Baldovino’s signature Doom, on whom he’d terrorized the rest of SEA with. With superstar Nuengnara “23Savage” Teeramahanon’s Wraith King and a Grimstroke for the Double-Doom combo, T1 looked ready to bring the heat.

For Alliance, their game-plan was the one they’d used time and time again. Linus “Limmp” Blomdin on a Strength mid on Magnus, to empower Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov on Anti-Mage. With combo-breakers in Tidehunter and Winter Wyvern, the EU contenders looked to overwhelm T1 with superior teamfight.

The early game saw both teams focusing heavily on macro – stacking, farming and biding their time. In the few moves made by both sides, it was Alliance that took the early kill lead thanks to clean setups from Limmp. Despite this, it was T1’s cores, each with their own farming tools, who came out drastically ahead in gold.

With key items attained on both sides, the teams looked toward Roshan. After a smoke into pick-off on 23Savage, the Aegis looked all but secured for Alliance. Completely unfazed, the 4 remaining members of T1 smoked up, and gave their opponents a painful reminder of their draft’s centerpiece – the Double Doom.

The clear mark of a good team is their unwillingness to let go of a lead. Recognizing their strength, T1 further tightened Alliance’s options for fights with their early BKBs. With the lead growing nigh insurmountable, T1 rolled into the Alliance base and completely crushed the Swedes, finishing Game 1 in dominant fashion.

Game 2 – T1 Out-Rat Alliance

In the face of adversity, some teams choose to admit defeat against strategies they just can’t beat. Alliance, for better or worse, was not one of those teams today. Despite the flawless Doom performance from Karl, Alliance decided to face it once again. This time round, they first-phased Centaur Warrunner, hoping that the Stampede would not only let them make moves earlier, but disengage from Doom if need be.

In response, T1 decided to match their tempo, putting Karl on Tiny, and 23Savage on another favorite – Luna. The SEA squad once again had immense farming ability on their side and were on pure comfort.

Alliance were looking to outmatch T1 in lanes, with a Shadow Fiend for Limmp, and Chaos Knight for Nikobaby. With the Luna counter in Simon “Handsken” Haag’s Shadow Demon, the EU squad looked to push the envelope in Game 2.

In stark contrast from Game 1, Alliance broke the early stalemate thanks to phenomenal individual play from Limmp. After solo-killing Karl in lane, he proceeded to absolutely schelack T1 right in front of their Mid Tier 1 Tower.

Advantage in hand for the first time in the series, Alliance took an easy Roshan, and looked to force the issue. Demonstrating flawless discipline though, T1 skirted between Mid and Top lanes, refusing to break formation. They expertly dodged Alliance’s attempts to start a fight, slowly burning out the Aegis. All the while, their double Hand of Midases ticked away, keeping them even in terms of gold. Sensing their lead slip quickly away, Alliance were forced to pull the trigger. This was just what T1 had been waiting for.

With the early tempo put to a halt, it was T1’s turn to fire back. Even with the counter-engage of Winter’s Curse from Artsiom “Fng” Barshak, the immense burst from T1’s draft, along with early BKBs yet again sent Alliance packing. In the final showdown for the all-important second Roshan, it was T1 that came out on top after a beautifully executed teamfight. In the ensuing chaos, T1 danced perfectly around the Pit, outmaneuvering Alliance to eventually team-wipe the EU contenders. With their momentum firmly slammed six feet under, Alliance tapped out shortly after.

The Grand Final Ahead

T1 have secured their re-match against a monstrous-looking Virtus.Pro in the Grand Finals with their win here. With how well both teams have been playing it’s without a doubt a match to watch.

As for Alliance, even though they bow out in 3rd place, this result is no doubt some redemption after a disappointing showing in the AniMajor. They walk away with a respectable $45,000.

All 3 teams have already qualified for the upcoming International. The International will take place from August 5-15, 2021 in Stockholm Sweden. The tournament has a prize pool of $40,018,195.

For more Dota 2 coverage and updates, be sure to stay tapped in to esports.gg.

Mike Tsang - Writer of the Month: April

Mike Tsang

Writer of the Month: April | Twitter: @permasneeze | Twitch: permasneeze

Mike is a digital content producer from Singapore who lives and breathes Dota 2. When he's not playing or watching the game, he can be found slurping ramen or sleeping next to his cat.