ESL One Frankfurt: day two in review

EG vs. Fnatic

With iG's place in the final decisively secured, it remained to see which of the surviving western teams would face them. Game one made that question look simple: EG banned out Fnatic's all-important Io and seemed to bait out Excalibur's Meepo. He plays the hero better than anyone - and has single-handedly turned around games for Fnatic with him in the past - but here it was a disaster. He thoroughly lost the midlane against Arteezy, who killed him solo with Tinker. Focused rotations by EG assisted by good farm across the board made this a straightforward win for the Americans.

Fnatic made EG work for every inch of ground in game two. Augmenting a push-heavy draft with major teamfight ults - Chronosphere, Poison Nova, Black Hole - meant that they could get something out of every engagement despite an initially strong performance by Arteezy on a midlane Outworld Devourer. The game ran long, and it was a close-run thing all the way - particularly as Fnatic seemed keen to push their advantage too far in many cases. But eventually that teamfight power was enough to exhaust EG's supply of buybacks, and with their barracks gone there was only a limited amount of time left on EG's clock.

EG let the Excalibur Meepo through again in game three and it was only through a few impressive early jukes that Fnatic managed to survive the aggression designed to shut him down. Fnatic managed to claim a decent advantage in the early game, but couldn't control Universe's Tidehunter. As soon as that Blink Dagger came online, he was able to create space for Arteezy's Templar Assassin and mason's Doom to do substantial work. Fnatic held on thanks to Excalibur's Meepo topping the gold and experience charts, but it was all on him.

In an inverse mirror of the first game, EG were able to eventually grind down Fnatic's core heroes to the point where they could easily storm through several lanes of barracks at once. Hann1's Earthshaker was essential to slowing EG's pushes - a trick picked up from the Chinese teams - and great teamfight play kept them in the game, but one death from Excalibur without buyback cleared the way for EG to march into the final. Fnatic proved that they're one of the most dangerous teams in the world at the moment, but EG demonstrated how powerful multi-core lineups can be in these long games.

EG vs. iG

The final was a real test for EG. It began almost immediately after their semi-final match against Fnatic. Playing three best-of-threes in a single day is difficult enough without getting the kind of break that iG had enjoyed since their lunchtime victory over Alliance. But if there's ever been a player who could pull his team through anything, it's Universe. EG's offlaner did extraordinary work in the first game as Faceless Void, landing perfect Chronosphere after perfect Chronosphere while achieving respectable farm in a difficult position. iG drafted their familiar push lineup - Pugna, Enchantress, Shadow Shaman - but it wasn't enough.

Level-hungry core picks by EG - Void, Brewmaster, Razor - were bought space to farm by the incredible ganking combo of zai and PPD on Sand King and Mirana. iG regrouped and managed to push all the way through EG's mid barracks by the 20 minute mark, but a series of phenomenal teamfight performances around Universe's Chronosphere led to wipe after wipe for the Chinese team. Fifteen minutes after iG broke EG's base, EG returned the favour - and took a second lane of barracks a few minutes after that. Knowing that they were beaten, iG called it.

In game two EG opted for familiar strategies, drafting a farming hero for Arteezy - Phantom Assassin - and surrounding him with backup: Sand King, Batrider, Doom, Bane. In response, iG pulled out an aggressive lineup similar to the ones they beat Alliance with. Ferrari_430's Ember Spirit was the perfect setup for Sunstrikes from Luo's Invoker who was otherwise left to farm a lightning-fast Necronomicon 3 on the safelane. Credit goes to PPD for the hot jukes of the tournament, evading a three-man gank through the jungle before denying himself with Nightmare. But it was a small victory in a war that iG controlled decisively as soon as Luo joined the fray. It was obvious that EG didn't want to give up on the chance of a 2-0 victory, but it wasn't coming. The GG call came after 25 minutes.

Game three was as close to a perfect game of Dota as you're ever going to see. This isn't a game where perfection is really possible, but iG did everything they could to challenge that notion. EG picked up much of the same draft that they'd used to punish Na'Vi earlier in the day, combining Tiny/Io with Elder Titan, a farming Sand King, and a roaming Mirana.

It should have worked. It should have got them something , particularly in the late game when the Tiny/Natural Order combo came into its own. iG denied them a lategame. The problems started early, when it became clear that Ferrari_430's Queen of Pain could manhandle the Tiny/Io with impunity. Ganks came from every angle: YYF's farming Faceless Void. Perfect Sunstrikes from Luo on top of X Marks The Spot setups from ChuaN's unorthodox support Kunkka. Whenever EG looked like they might secure a kill, a Disruption from Faith's Shadow Demon took away their options. Precise, immaculate plays. iG executed flawlessly and gave nothing away: a single tower kill by Arteezy was enough to elicit a cheer from the crowd - and that was after twenty minutes.

Eventually, EG went all-in on Roshan in attempt to win themselves a way back into the game. iG punished it hard with a full five-on-five teamfight in which the Chinese team lost nobody at all. EG ceded victory - and the tournament - to iG after 29 minutes. The final score was 22 kills to zero . It was a tremendous statement to make in advance of TI4: EG are the best team in the western scene at the moment, and iG outplayed them in every conceivable way. The crowd was chanting "ChuaN! ChuaN! ChuaN!" as the Chinese veteran lifted the trophy, and with good reason.

If you missed our account of yesterday's games, you can read it here . Be sure to check out this interview with Mousesports' Pajkatt while you're at it, and check back in the next few days for an in-depth interview with Alliance's Loda.

Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.