Day 2’s trend of Playoff Seed Teams being sent home continues as Vici defeats Virtus Pro 2-1 to send the CIS squad home
The Lower Bracket Matches of Day 2 of the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs have had one clear trend - the teams with more games played seemed to have the edge. Both Alliance and Team Aster, top seeds from their respective regions have already been unceremoniously knocked out of the Major earlier today. The ones who defeated them? Young guns Team Spirit and a fiery TNC, who worked through a fierce Group Stage. The third match of the day saw that exact scenario yet again. Virtus.Pro, the undefeated top seed from the CIS DPC, were one series away from bombing out of the major. On the flipside were a volatile Vici Gaming, who's chances at TI10 rested on their results here.
While VP had only played a single series thus far against Nigma, Vici had to fight through 24 games to get to the Playoffs. With their tournament lives on the line, this match was do-or-die.
Game 1 - The King Slays His Own Subjects
The draft saw Vici Gaming snap up their signature Ancient Apparition instantly, who they have an 87.5% win rate on so far. In response, VP fearlessly picked up Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin's signature Timbersaw. Seeing two backline squishy supports on the side of Vici, Virtus.Pro last-picked Danil "gpk-" Skutin's Tiny, despite the hero's abysmal 20% win rate thus far.
The name of the game was clear. With relatively passive carries in Wraith King and Spectre, the onus would be on the remaining 4 heroes of each side to get the ball rolling.
The laning stage was nothing short of a disaster for the CIS squad. Despite being put in a favorable lane, DM's Timber could not stop Yang "Poyoyo" Shaohan's Spectre from free-farming. Meanwhile, Ren "old eLeVeN" Yangwei's Dragon Knight was quietly getting bigger and bigger. This early laning advantage snowballed into an early lead, as Vici outfought Virtus.Pro all over the map.
Showing their prowess as a major-worthy team, VP refused to relent, and struck back. They opted for a daring smoke right into Vici, and finally managed to win their first fight at 18 minutes.
Sure, VP managed to edge out fights in their favor here and there. All the while though, Xiong "Pyw" Jiahan's Grimstroke was amassing his wealth. VP banded together to try and secure Vici's Tier 1 Mid Tower. As the fight broke out, they found a Dark Portrait of their very own Wraith King sentencing them to death.
The Pain Train Doesn't End for VP
Despite VP's best efforts, the gold lead had already reached insurmountable levels. With Spectre Haunt and Storm Spirit's zip in, the supporting cast of VP were easily diced up every fight. As for the VP cores, they had a hard enough time killing the Magic Immune evil brother of their carry, let alone the Vici cores themselves.
As the game slipped further and further out of VP's grasp, the suffering didn't seem to end. With a whopping 28k gold lead nearing the end of the match, the Chinese Wild Card survivors stumped VP, forcing them submit in Game 1.
Game 2 - The VP Deathball Flattens Vici
With their backs against the wall, VP opted for a death-ball draft, with a comfort pick in Vitalie "Save-" Melnic's Windranger support. Facing them down was the tried and tested Mars Phoenix team fight combo, and aggressive cores in Zeng "Ori" Jiayang's Lina with and Ursa for Poyoyo.
In a complete flip from Game 1, this time is was VP snatching the early lead. Learning from their mistakes, the VP heroes grouped up as soon as they got their ultimates. Making use of the Death Prophet Exorcism, they swept from top tower to mid and smacked Vici further into their side of the map.
While Old Eleven had a free first game, VP heavily targeted his Mars this time round, completely subduing the breadwinner of Vici. A mark of a good team is knowing when they need to shake things up and Vici knew they needed an opportunity. What looked like an easy kill on Ilias "Kingslayer" Ganeev's Ancient Apparition turned cold instantly as he faced down his death and blasted Vici to bits.
Night Falls on Vici's Parade
Out of desperation, Vici attempted a sneaky Roshan that was quickly foiled by VP. Posturing for the Aegis themselves, VP leaped onto the lingering Vici squad and decimated the challengers to their throne.
The Virtus.Pro squad knew their win condition exactly - outlast the team fight ultimates of Vici, and the Chinese squad would be free real-estate. Even in fights that didn't look to be in their favor, VP would simply regroup and go again. With every won fight, the deathball claimed yet another objective with ease.
With the second Aegis in Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko's back pocket, the CIS champions marched to the high ground. The Luna gambit is always the same. As soon as the Tier 3 tower is down, the glaives would make the fight impossible. Even with their full arsenal of spells, Nightfall was just too big at that point.
With one barracks left to their name, a final god-like shackle from Save- sealed the deal for Vici, and forced the series into a final game.
Game 3: The Final Showdown
With everything riding on this final match, VP drafted to shut down old eLeVeN's Timber yet again with a last pick Monkey King for Nightfall. In response to the heavy physical damage on VP, Vici borrowed Nigma’s game-winning Winter Wyvern, along with a Storm last-pick to round out their team.
The early game saw both teams following the recipes that found them success. While VP managed to crush old eLeVeN as planned, Vici’s focus was on setting Ori up for success.
While Vici held the early advantage, the DM Dragon Knight Blink signaled a turn in the tide of the match. The surging explosive VP heroes punched back into Vici. VP turned their sights onto Roshan, but Vici weren't letting that crucial objective go without a fight. In the ensuing chaos, a clutch Sunder from Poyoyo turned a pivotal fight into Vici's favor.
Both Teams Refusing To Relent
Unlike the first two games, this all-important final match swayed back and forth. In the face of Vici's warpath, an insane series of Shackleshots allowed VP to claw a fight from the brink of disaster.
Not to be outdone, Vici channeled the core value of Chinese Dota - Patience. They drew VP out into the open, and Poyoyo slammed the door shut on the fight with a clutch Cheese and Sunder.
As their hopes began to crumble all around them, VP rallied for a final hurrah. Unfortunately for them though, Vici had played so many damn games to get here, and saw through their desperation. A failed wrap-around smoke left VP fully in the open, allowing Poyoyo to melt them with his Metamorphosis.
With their opponents in shambles, Vici Gaming forced VP to tap out of the series, claiming a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
The Road Ahead For Virtus.Pro and Vici Gaming
While the VP run at the AniMajor has ended here, their spot to TI10 has already been secured. While they showed composure and grace in the face of adversity here, they'll have work to do if they want to break the LAN curse they seem to have thus far.
As for Vici Gaming, they've crucially clinched their spot in TI10 after 27 excruciating games played. Their journey is far from over though. They'll bear the responsibility of vanquishing CIS from the AniMajor, as they look to face a Team Spirit looking for vengeance for their fallen comrades tomorrow.
The hypothesis of playing more games seems to stand true, as all three matches played at the time of writing this article have seen the Playoff Seed sent home prematurely.
The battle for the title of the AniMajor has still a ways to go, as NoPing Esports faces off against Evil Genuises up next.
Image Credit: WePlay Twitter.