The International 2017, Lower Bracket Finals: LGD.Forever Young v. Team Liquid Image courtesy of Valve

This is it, the final day of The International 2017. $24.6 million is on the line, $10.7 million of which going to the team who takes first place. Team Liquid is the West’s last hope to championing Dota 2’s most prestigious event. In a best-of-three, they prepare to fight for their spot in the grand finals against one of the most dominating teams in the tournament, LGD.Forever Young.


Game One

Team Liquid: Earthshaker, Keeper of the Light, Rubick, Bloodseeker, Lone Druid
LGD.Forever Young: Lich, Earth Spirit, Puck, Lifestealer, Sniper

The early game was tense, for everyone. Spectators could see the itch both teams had, wanting to lay on the pressure with well-timed ganks during the laning phase, but there was too much on the line for anyone to take any unnecessary risks. LFY and Team Liquid were two teams that had gained very early leads over their opponents throughout The International, and they knew that one instance of overextending could spell disaster for their first game. First blood eventually went to LFY’s Super, who claimed a double kill on Team Liquid after six minutes, and the two teams went back to minding their own businesses while farming.

LGD.Forever Young was first to gain a marginal lead, standing three kills and 2k gold ahead of Team Liquid by 12 minutes. Having gained the momentum needed for braver plays, LGD.Forever Young continued to pick off Team Liquid’s team members one by one in the lanes. It was almost expected from Team Liquid, who tended to fall behind during the laning stage when using this particular draft combo, so LFY’s small numerical lead did not spell disaster just yet. By 19 minutes, though, Team Liquid was behind in everything. They were behind in experience, gold, kills, towers, and weren’t doing terribly well with player items. It was going to take a lot for Team Liquid to close the gap between them and LFY, and things were looking bleak.

With only tier three and tier four towers left to protect them, Team Liquid did not have the luxury of confidence. LFY did. LFY had the Aegis on the Lifestealer and, despite it being daytime for Liquid’s Keeper of the Light, they were ready to make their assault. The move could have been considered an overextend when Puck, Sniper, and Lich fell, but Monet and ah fu continued to push for one more kill before retreating to the safety of their base.

LFY made their push into Team Liquid’s base at 43 minutes, but no one could have possibly expected a base trade in doing so. LFY lost tier three towers and a barracks to El Doge, who was becoming such a problem that LGD.Forever Young was forced to retreat and chase him off, losing Sniper in the process as they became distracted. It would have been hilarious if there wasn’t so much riding on these finals.

A team fight at Roshan’s Pit finally tipped the game. With four of Liquid’s players down and no buybacks, LFY rushed down mid and started their assault, chasing Gh out of his base. With the bottom and middle barracks reduced to rubble, Team Liquid was on the cusp of defeat. They tried to sneak down the bottom lane, catch LFY by surprise while they lingered about the pit, but LFY wasn’t having it. They pushed Team Liquid back, keeping the Puck at the base to take care of the bear that was eyeing LFY’s exposed bottom barracks. Team Liquid’s final tier three tower fell, and LFY went for broke.

It was chaos.

The Lifestealer fell, then Sniper. Team Liquid was forced to use buyback after buyback, LFY doing the same; they both were running out.Team Liquid’s base was in shambles. In a battle of diebacks, only Liquid’s Keepr of Light was left and all he could do was watch LFY as they bore down on their Ancient. At 57 minutes, LFY claimed game one.

Game Two

Team Liquid: Earthshaker, Crystal Maiden, Venomancer, Alchemist, Nature’s Prophet
LGD.Forever Young: Lich, Puck, Lifestealer, Tusk, Terrorblade

Game two did not have the same careful pacing as game one, with Team Liquid instigating more fights early on. They were looking to play mind games with LFY, looking to apply pressure before their opponents could. Unfortunately, LGD.Forever Young wasn’t the kind of team that let themselves get intimidated. When Team Liquid pushed, they pushed back. Yet, while they weren’t allowing themselves to get bullied, LFY did see themselves start to fall behind during the laning phase. At 10 minutes, Team Liquid was ahead by 5k gold even if they were only two kills ahead after a successful team fight.

Slowly but surely, that gap only increased. By 21 minutes, Team Liquid was ahead by almost 10 kills, had destroyed all of LFY’s tier one and two towers, and boasted a 15k gold lead. Whatever happened when they went back stage between games one and two, it kicked them into gear. They were beginning to tear LFY apart, piecing their camp apart and were inching their way towards their first base push.

That first push came at 23 minutes when three of LFY’s players were down. Liquid claimed a tier three tower and both of the top lane barracks, while having only lost one tier one tower the entire game. For all intents and purposes, LFY had fallen apart.

With little fanfare, Team Liquid tied out the series and forced a game three.


Game Three

Team Liquid: Nature’s Prophet, Rubick, Spirit Breaker, Venomancer, Terrorblade
LGD.Forever Young: Earthshaker, Batrider, Witch Doctor, Morphling, Death Prophet

Team Liquid was going into a tumultuous game three against one of the most dominating teams at The International with a roster that didn’t quite fit into their norm, but that didn’t stop them from gaining an early advantage over LFY in the first couple of minutes. In just three minutes, Team Liquid had claimed two kills, a 3k gold lead, and LFY’s tier one tower in the top lane.

LGD.Forever Young was getting outplayed. Another tier one tower fell in the bottom lane, the middle lane’s tower crumbling only moments later. Team Liquid had the gold, they had the experience, they had the items, and they had the ground. While LFY had the ability to turn team fights into their favor, even they only managed to escape by the skin of their teeth, they had lost too much too fast. Team Liquid took the Aegis of the Immortal from Roshan at 13 minutes, LFY too slow to respond to stop them.

At 25 minutes, Liquid split up to keep LFY occupied in the jungle while pushing for their bottom lane barracks. The melee rack fell to Miracle’s Illusions, but at the cost of six deaths from Team Liquid. LFY used tried to take Roshan while they were out, but Liquid respawned too fast and hadn’t yet fully recovered. It was too ambitious. Liquid stole the Aegis from under their nose for Miracle, but lost three of their own in the process.

It was at this point that Team Liquid appeared to be losing their advantage. With the experience gained tanking for Team Liquid, their gold advantage dropped from 12k to 7k, and they were down six kills. LGD.Forever Young had to find their footing now if they were going to turn such a disastrous game around.

Predictions swung to and fro. One moment, LFY looked as if they were going to be able to come back from this. Another, Team Liquid had complete control again. At 31 minutes, LFY lost a team fight that gave Liquid the opening to take their top lane tier three tower – an opening that would have given them at least one top lane barracks if their respawn timers were any longer. Almost 10 minutes later, Miracle and his Aegis dropped in a team fight before Liquid lost two more players. LFY rushed down mid to destroy their second tower in 41 minutes. But Liquid was already respawning as they tried for the tier three, chasing them back into the Dire camp, only for Miracle’s Terrorblade to single-handedly dive into his barracks to take the middle barracks even when all of his teammates were dead.

LFY was ready to push. They knew they had no time to lose. They destroyed the tier three tower, reduced both the ranged and melee barracks to rubble, then returned to the top lane for a team fight and the tier one tower. They were 11 kills ahead, Team Liquid’s gold advantage reduced to a meager 3k and their respawn timers dangerously high.

At 45 minutes, another Roshan was killed and the Aegis handed to Miracle. They committed to a team fight with LFY, and they both were forced to use multiple buybacks while Liquid’s Creeps and Mind Control’s Morphling destroyed the final barrack in LFY’s base.

Team Liquid was baited into LFY’s base only minutes later, but LFY wiped with no buybacks and claimed a well-earned victory to advance to the grand finals.