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Team Liquid took on their former organization Alliance in an exciting series today to decide the first European team to head to China for Dota 2‘s MDL Chengdu Major. Alliance pulled off the series win 2-1, but Liquid will live to fight another day.
With several heavyweight teams like Secret, OG, and Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi’s stack opting to skip the first Major qualifiers, other European teams have a great opportunity to step up to the plate. Securing valuable Dota Pro Circuit points could make the difference between an invite to The International 2020 or having to play through the qualifiers again.
Liquid and Alliance underwent some massive roster changes this season. KuroKy’s departure meant that Liquid lost their captain of four years and the organization scrambled to find a stable team that could fill his massive boots. Liquid signed the entire Alliance roster led by Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi, in turn prompting Alliance to add a new squad captained by Adrian “Fata” Trinks.
Thus, the stage was set. The absence of European juggernauts meant that Liquid and Alliance topped their respective groups, earning them a spot in the qualifier playoffs. Both teams proceeded to demolish their opponents—Ninjas in Pyjamas and Team Singularity—with style, ending each series in less than an hour of game time.
Due to Europe only receiving two qualifying slots for the Major, the playoff bracket was slightly different. Teams in China, Southeast Asia, and North America only had to win one series to qualify, with one more slot given to the losers bracket matchup. This meant that Liquid and Alliance had to face each other with the victor earning their flight to Chengdu.
The series was a slugfest between the two new rosters. In the first game, Liquid drafted three strength heroes and a Troll Warlord and they were duly punished by a Timbersaw pick that saw their strength heroes shredded like paper. Maximilian “qojqva” Bröcker’s Tiny was forced to rotate early and couldn’t stop the rapid snowball Alliance forced with Abbadon and Gyrocopter.
Liquid picked up Timbersaw and Gyrocopter for themselves in game two. Alliance responded with an unconventional Bloodseeker pick for Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov and Outworld Devourer. This time, Liquid pressed the tempo, pulling Alliance around the map and never allowing their damage-dealing cores to farm up. Liquid’s choice to take Oracle as a position five paid dividends since the sustain proved too much for the Bloodseeker to abuse his Thirst. Liquid took the second game, sending the series to a decisive third map.
Alliance once again picked up the Bloodseeker, this time pairing it with a Razor to severely counter Liquid’s Troll Warlord. Liquid went heavy on the magical damage and sustain with Necrophos, Tiny, and Oracle, trying to out-heal the Bloodseeker’s passive again. Liquid didn’t account for the Razor to neuter Troll so devastatingly, however, and they simply didn’t have the physical damage to punish Alliance’s tanky draft.
Nikobaby was the highlight of the series, pairing his aggressive playstyle seamlessly with calculated methods. The Bulgarian carry made brilliant decisions regarding his items and target selection and was on point even with an unconventional Bloodseeker pick.
Alliance’s new roster have guaranteed a slot in the first Major of the season, while Liquid will have another chance in the lower bracket. In the meantime, Liquid will have to channel the spirit of champions past while iNSaNiA and his boys await the winners of NiP vs. Team Singularity.