Defeating the top contenders of Group B, and arguably the favourites to win the tournament, Vega Squadron gave us a fantastic show that begs us to ask the question: Are they finally out of the dumpster?
The opening matches of Group B of the StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 Minor certainly did not disappoint, as fans were witness to the first few games played on the new gameplay patch 7.13. Arguably the more competitive and volatile group at the tournament, with more well-established and recognizable names participating, Group B was sure to give us some surprises. The matches were all noticeably longer, averaging an astounding 50 minutes across the series–a precedent unheard of for the longest time.
This was clearly the most hyped series of the day. The two teams are both desperate to win some DPC points and climb into the top 8 rankings. The Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao factor kicked in and gave us some of the longest professional matches in quite a while, staying true to his trademark style. Despite their coach Adam “343” Shah standing in for Johan ‘pieliedie‘ Åström, the team managed to take the series after a gruelling three hours.
Fans were certainly not disappointed as the series kicked off with Game 1 that lasted for an incredible 78 minutes. The loss of a Divine Rapier on Abed ‘Abed‘ Yusop’s one-shot Kunkka handed Na’Vi the win. Game 2 was a clear-cut win for Fnatic with a snowballing Storm Spirit in the hands of Abed, redeeming himself from Game 1’s loss. The deciding Game 3 was the most tense of all, with Fnatic coming back from a massive 20k networth deficit. Concentrating all the power in the hands of Envy’s Medusa towards the late game, Fnatic earned themselves a hard-fought victory.
The Brazillian squad were another team using their coach as a stand-in for their position 5 player. Emilano “c4t“ Ito replaced Lucas “bardo” Barbosa for personal reasons. The temporary swap may have been the reason for the team’s defeat, although they fought valiantly throughout the three games of the series.
Game 1 saw SG e-sports pick Crystal Maiden and Centaur Warrunner to everyone’s surprise. Although Vega Squadron gained a sizeable lead in the early game, they threw their advantage and the game to everyone’s disdain. The CIS squad quickly learned from their mistakes and came back with a decisive victory in Game 2, taking a note from their opponents and bringing a surprise Treant Protector to their draft. Game 3 was a nail-biting, back and forth event, as Vega Squadron gained a lead in the early game and lost it once again. They managed to turn it back around despite losing a lane of barracks and advanced to the winner’s match of the group.
Fnatic 0:2 Vega Squadron
The underdogs of the series, Vega Squadron, were here to prove that they were unwilling to let this opportunity of winning DPC points go away easily. After replacing LGD Gaming merely days before the event, the CIS team showed up and appeared to be in great form. They even displayed confidence in the interview before their matchup against the clear favourites, Fnatic.
Game 1 was proof enough that they were here to play. Vega Squadron’s single-core lineup with a mid Jakiro sent the panelists into a state absolute disbelief, and only made them lean towards a Fnatic victory as the SEA team went for a last-pick Broodmother. To everyone’s surprise, Vega Squadron’s strategy actually worked out, as they managed to stall the Broodmother’s push and sieged towers rapidly themselves.
Surely everyone expected the series to go to a third game, considering Fnatic were one of the most formidable teams coming out of the SEA region. No one could have guessed that the CIS underdogs would take Game 2 with incredible patience and amazing smoke plays. Utilizing their pocket mid-Jakiro once again, they outplayed Fnatic’s signature heroes: Envy’s Death Prophet and Universe’s Faceless Void.
The schedule for tomorrow is as follows:
Decider match: VGJ.Thunder vs Winner of Elimination match (16:00 local time)
Elimination match: Natus Vincere vs SG e-sports (13:00 local time)
Decider match: Fnatic vs Winner of Elimination match (19:00 local time)