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Wings Gaming came out victorious in the recently concluded ESL One Manila that took place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, sweeping the best-of-five final series against the formidable Team Liquid.
Roller coaster group stage
Wings Gaming, which consists of Chu Zeyu (Shadow), Zhou Yang (bLink), Zhang Ruida (bian), Zhang Yiping (Innocence), and Li Peng (iceice), was off to a decent start on the group stage after beating Complexity Gaming two games to one.
Hot on the heels of their first group stage victory, Wings Gaming takes on Team Liquid on the second round of the group stage. Wings Gaming had put up a good fight in the first game of the best-of-three group stage series against Team Liquid, but fell short in the end of the more than an hour long match.
The second game was relatively shorter compared to the first one, albeit there’s no shortage of action between the two teams. Team Liquid trailed behind in kill count for almost the entire game, but the Dutch managed to take down Wings Gaming’s tier three mid tower and melee barracks in the 35-minute mark following a successful team fight that almost wiped out the entire roster of Wings Gaming.
Wings Gaming wasn’t able to bounce back from that and they lost their first meeting with Team Liquid in a gut-wrenching 0-2 fashion.
On the final group stage elimination match, Wings Gaming was scheduled to take on Complexity Gaming. The morale of the Chinese team was high considering that they’ve already beaten coL in their previous meeting, but team USA is coming off a convincing win over Mineski in their previous match and is hungry to avenge their loss. Despite giving the first blood to their opponent, Wings Gaming had a solid early game thanks to well-executed ganks and top-notch performance from bLink’s Invoker on the mid lane. But as the game went on, Complexity Gaming started to pick up the pace and managed to secure the win which is largely attributed to the combination of Chessie’s Naix shenanigans and swindlezz’s Ion Shell. Unlike the first game, Complexity and Wings were neck-to-neck, in the kill count aspect at least, in the early stage of the game. It wasn’t until the 23-minute mark that the match kind of opened up for Wings Gaming as they managed to kill all but one hero after successfully taking down Roshan and securing the Aegis for the Slark (Shadow).
From that point on, Wings Gaming slowly snowballed their way to victory fueled by the impeccable performance from Shadow and well-timed Sonic Wave from bLink who both finished the game with a Monster Kill streak.
Stakes were high heading on to the third and final game of the group stage second round and neither team wants their ESL One run to be cut short this early in the tournament. Because of that, there weren’t a lot of action in the game (FYI the score was 10-10 in favor of Complexity around the 23-minute mark) as both teams took their sweet time to make sure they got their core items first before heading in to a fight or go for a high ground push.
When they did get their items, including the Aegis of the Immortal 27 minutes in to the game, Wings Gaming wasted no time and started to bring the fight to Complexity Gaming. With a hard-to-kill Weaver leading the charge and annoying the hell out of the opposing team with his swarm and Shukuchi, Wings Gaming’s solid back line consisting of Venomancer and Invoker finished the job and secured the crucial win which took them to the semi-final round.
The Undefeated versus the Underdog
Not to undermine the teams on Bracket A, but Group B has, in our mind, a more competitive set of teams in terms of overall experience playing on major tournaments, as well as individual skills. With that being said, Wings Gaming is in for one heck of a fight against Fnatic who was undefeated going in to the semi-finals round despite facing two battle-tested opponents in EHOME.cn and Team Empire in the group stage.
In the first game of the semi-final round, Fnatic gave Wings Gaming a taste of why they got the best record in Group A. Fnatic.DJ immediately got to work drawing the first blood and provided the much needed back line offense and health regenall throughout the game as his team took game 1 in a lopsided fashion.
Looking to replicate the success they had in the first match, Fnatic has gone with the same Enchantress-Beast Master lineup for the second match. Similar to the first fight, Fnatic got off to a hot start with DJ once again getting the first blood and went on to get 4 early kills for his team even before the timer reached 7 minutes.
But despite DJ’s brilliant work with his Enchantress, Wings Gaming managed to get easy kills with good rotation and timely ganks on Fnatic heroes that are out of position. The Chinese team went on with a four-man wipe during a high-ground defense which only came at the cost of two heroes on their side and a buyback from the Witch Doctor.
Wings Gaming seized the opportunity and turned up the heat by pushing on Fnatic’s off-lane. During their push towards the Dire bottom tier three tower, Wings Gaming wiped out Fnatic in an impressive team fight headed by bLink’s Phantom Lancer which got Rampage once it’s all said and done. In the end, the former went on to win game two to force the series to a third and deciding game.
Fnatic went for an almost identical draft that they had on game 1 heading to the last semi-final match. But despite losing to that roster in the first game of the series, Wings Gaming was better prepared to deal with Fnatic.DJ’s Enchantress and the rest of Fnatic gang.
Wings Gaming established an early lead through outstanding teamwork and rotation as they picked off Fnatic heroes one by one. As soon as the Lone Druid got its Radiance on its Spirit Bear and BKB on the OD, we knew it’s only going to be a matter of time before Fnatic’s structures crumbles to ashes.
True enough, it only took 24 minutes for Wings Gaming to dismantle all but one barracks and another two minutes to get mega creeps on their way to a quick and convincing victory over Fnatic.
Revenge is sweeter with a SWEEP!
As if pulling out an upset against an undefeated team in the semi-final round wasn’t tough enough, Wings Gaming had to deal with another team with an unblemished record throughout the entire series – Team Liquid. And to make matters worse, this is the same team that swept them during the second round of the group stage.
Needless to say, Wings Gaming headed to the final series with a chip on their shoulder, but they went to work early in the first game securing pick-offs en route to establishing an early lead on the scoreboard.
The Chinese team carried over the momentum that they had in the early game heading to the mid game. They continued to have easy kills thanks to the vision and bonus gold provided by the Bounty Hunter and strong initiation from the Batrider.
Liquid was able to close the gap a little bit during the late game, but Wings Gaming took a gamble by letting the KOTL to defend the bottom lane high-ground push from the Beast Master and Nature’s Prophet by its lonesome as the rest of the team brings down Liquid’s top lane tier three tower and melee barracks.
Things went south for Team Liquid from that point on, and they were forced to call GG in the 39-minute mark of the first game.
Sensing that Wings Gaming may be off to something, Liquid.JerAx wanted to nip it at the bud and went on to pick Earth Spirit for the second game of the finals series. He got to a great start helping to secure the first blood and the three successive kills forTeam Liquid.
But despite of JerAx’s brilliant Earth Spirt plays, Wings Gaming maintained a slight advantage on scoreboard thanks to the superb set-up from the Earthshaker’s fissure and/or Bane’s Nightmare that’s followed up by a Sun Strike from the Invoker. Wings Gaming also pushed the lane, taking down the mid tower, as well as both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Dire safe lane towers by the 16-minute mark.
Wings Gaming continued to pressure the lane with Invoker’s forged spirits, Bane’s Demonic Summoning from his Necronomicon, and the Beastmaster’s boars. In the end, these formidable minions, and Invoker’s Beyond Godlike streak, proved too much to handle for Team Liquid as they lost the second game of the ESL One Manila finals in 41 minutes.
Team Liquid was dumb-founded after dropping the first two games of the finals to the team that they swept in the group stage. The last thing they want to happen is to be swept in the most crucial match of the series, so they tried their best to keep Wings Gaming’s Alchemist from getting the first Bounty Rune and managed to get the first blood on the Bounty Hunter in the process.
Liquid kept the pressure heading to the mid game and they managed to establish a slight but comfortable lead in the score sheet. That minor advantage slowly turned into a commanding lead as Team Liquid secured pick-offs after pick-offs en route to a 29-15 lead in the 29-minute mark.
Unbeknownst to Team Liquid, however, the Alchemist is snowballing out of control with the help of his Greevil’s Greed, Hand of Midas and a few Track kills. 36 minutes in to the game, the Alchemist already has an Octarine Core, Armlet of Mordiggian, Manta Style, Radiance, Shiva’s Guard, and a Boots of Travel which made him virtually unstoppable as he pummels his way through Liquid’s base and killing all who stood against him.
It only tool 6 more minutes for Wings Gaming to destroy all the tier three towers and all the barracks, and forced Team Liquid to swallow the bitter pill of calling GG near the 43-minute mark of the third and deciding game of the ESL One Manila series.
To the Victors, the spoils
What Wings Gaming was able to accomplish in the recently-concluded ESL One Manila 2016 is no small feat, and they’ve managed to silenced all the nay-sayers in a very convincing fashion. And although they still have a long way to go before they can be the at the same level as the great Dota 2 teams, they were able to prove that they are no push-overs and hopefully they can continue this momentum heading to the Internationals 2016.
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