The group stage of ESL One Birmingham is a wrap and the playoffs for the tournament have already begun.
There were certainly some upsets and surprises, as our teams worked their way through a series of Bo2’s to determine the seeding for the main event. Vici Gaming and Evil Geniuses both secured top spot in the seeding during the groups. While yesterday we said goodbye to our bottom two teams from each group. Ninja in Pyjamas, Forward Gaming, Alliance, and Keen Gaming have all been eliminated.
If you missed out on the action of the last three days, we’ve pulled together a few of the highlights to get you up to speed.
Day 1 Vici Gaming vs Team Liquid – Game One
Vici Gaming hit the ground running on day one. Their first game against Liquid was a blazing 22-minute stomp.
Things seemed fairly even as our teams pulled out of the laning phase. But Vici were planning to play this game aggressively. A mistake by Liquid initiating a fight at Vici’s shrine put them at a disadvantage that they never managed to recover from.
Vici exploited their advantage, and Ori had secured himself a rampage on Templar Assassin by 17-minutes.
It was the Io-Gyrocopter combination that gave Vici the decided advantage in this game. Paparazi was unstoppable on Gyro with Fade’s Io provided him with plenty of support to carry Vici’s game hard.
We’ve seen this combo used successfully at previous tournaments. With Io back in captain’s mode, Vici saw the opportunity to go for the quick kill. As the game reached 20 minutes, Vici Gaming had a comfortable 11k lead in the net worth and were pushing mid to take the rax and the game.
Group B: Team Secret vs PSG.LGD – Game Two
Things started out well for PSG.LGD in game one of their series against Team Secret. Both teams played a close game, and LGD came out on top.
But game two was a completely different story. It was obvious this was shaping up to be an interesting game from the draft. On the LGD side we saw Fy take Techies. While on Secret, Zai took Pudge.
Secret took the first blood down in bottom lane before the game reached 2 minutes. LGD had a difficult start to the game, with both Fy and Ame having to leave lanes and head to the jungle to try and farm. But Secret had no intention of dropping the pressure. Secret had secured themselves 4 kills in the first 4 minutes. The slaughter was just beginning.
Team Secret gave LGD a thorough beating. Ending the game in 35-minutes with 38 kills to LGD’s 12. A 26-kill lead over the Chinese team.
Nisha on Spectre was on fire this game, going 10/1/20. Ame’s Naga Siren just never got the chance to come online. The usually fierce carry ended the game 0/5/3.
Group A; TNC.Predator vs OG – Game One
TNC’s opening series against OG on day two gave us a taste of what we could expect from the SEA team in the series to come.
They went 1-1 against OG in this series, but their performance in game one was nothing short of superb.
This game really showed how far TNC.Predator have come as a team since the start of this year. They had some beautiful rotations through the early game. Punishing aggression and overextension by OG in the laning phase and dominating control of the map. They had a clear lead by the 15-minute mark, with Armel’s Alchemist sitting on a comfortable 8/0/4 at this point.
TNC’s draft was designed to snowball and keep up a fast-paced aggression that would shut down OG’s cores. They executed it perfectly. Gabbi alone had 11 kills for his team before the game had reached 20 minutes.
Much like Vici’s opening game on day one, TNC played at a blazing pace, and closed this match out in just 22-minutes. Ending with 33-11 kills and a 20k net worth lead.
Group B: Keen Gaming vs Evil Geniuses – Game Two
Game one in the series between Keen and EG was a 44-minute back and forth affair. EG ended out coming on top, but Keen’s performance had made EG work for the win.
As the draft started for game two, it was obvious that EG was planning to dictate the pace. We saw Cr1t take Io, while Arteezy went carry Luna. They took the first two kills of the game within the first two minutes. The SumaiL show was just beginning mid-lane.
By the time the game finished at 35-minutes, SumaiL was 15/4/6 on his Leshrac, securing almost half of his teams 32 kills across the game.
This marked the fourth 2-0 series for Evil Geniuses in the group stage. Their string of undefeated victories over day one and two ensuring them a safe spot in the playoffs.
Group A: Ninjas in Pyjamas vs TNC. Predator – Game Two
After taking out game one in their series against NiP, TNC.Predator came into their second game looking for a fast win.
But with everything riding on the line for them, Ninjas in Pyjamas weren’t about to take the game lying down. The kills were 4-2 by five minutes, and NiP were in the lead. 33 had 21 denies on his Nature’s Prophet in the mid lane, making things very difficult for Armel’s Medusa.
Things were looking very good for NiP through the early game. They had the gold advantage at 10-minutes, and it looked like they were on the way to securing the win. It all started to change as the game neared the 20-minute mark. Armel climbed to the top of the net worth, and once their Medusa was online TNC started pushing to take objectives.
The kills evened out at 25 minutes, but the net worth had begun to swing towards TNC’s advantage. They got 5 kills in the next minute and NiP fell just apart.
Kuku was merciless on his Batrider in these last six minutes. He ended up with a KDA of 9/2/12, while Gabbi’s Bristleback went 9/1/11.
TNC ended the game at 31 minutes with a 16-kill lead over NiP, going straight to a comfortable second place position in the playoffs.
Group B: Alliance vs Team Secret – Game One
It’s hard to overlook the final series between Alliance and Secret. Game one was a blistering back and forth that went for 85 minutes.
Secret ended the game with an 85k lead in the net worth. But things didn’t always look so clear cut during the match.
Alliance started out the first game strong, and initially had the lead over Secret during the laning phase. As the game approached its 30-minute mark, the tempo started to shift back towards Secret’s favour, and it seemed like they’d be closing things out soon.
But Alliance were able to repel multiple high-ground pushes, turn team fights and find excellent pick offs on Nisha’s Spectre to hold out against the offense from Secret.
As Midone cued up his double rapier, and with Yapzor’s Io dealing enough damage to clear lanes on his own, the writing looked to be on the wall for Alliance.
In the end, Secret’s push proved too powerful, and after 85 gruelling minutes, GG was finally called.
Secret took the second game in the series as well, ending their last group match against Alliance 2-0.
The playoffs continue today, and we’ll see Liquid and Gambit face off in the opening matches of the lower bracket, while Secret will battle it out against OG for a chance to progress to the next round.