Day 1 of the International 2018 (TI8) Main Event kicked off with a bang, with the top dogs beginning to show up in the first Upper Bracket clashes while the field was thinned in the first bloodbath of the Lower Bracket. Read on to find out more.
Team Liquid 2-0 Optic Gaming
The Main Event kicked off with an opening match between defending champions Team Liquid and Optic Gaming, a squad led by TI5 champion Peter “ppd” Dager. While Optic went through a surprising turnaround in the Group Stages, going from being on the brink of elimination to squeaking through to the UB, many expected the opening match to be a one-sided affair in favor of the defending champions. They were right.
The series took less than an hour to finish, as Team Liquid dispatched their opponents in 30 minutes or less. In Game 1, Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov went wild on Clinkz with 10 kills and no deaths as Liquid dispatched Optic in 28 minutes. Game 2 saw Liquid’s tri-core lineup of Ursa Warrior for Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, Broodmother for Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen, and Batrider for MinD_ContRoL overwhelm their opponents and sweep them aside in just 30 minutes.
Liquid draws first blood and confidently strides onto the next round of the UB, while Optic will have to continue battling for their tournament lives in the LB in Day 2.
Virtus Pro 0-2 PSG.LGD
While the second UB match was the closest by far, many still expected tournament favorites Virtus Pro (VP) to win and press onward its seemingly destined path to the Grand Finals. Their opponents, the Chinese powerhouse PSG.LGD, had other plans it seems.
Game 1 saw VP dominant for most of the game, however LGD’s star mid player Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao on Storm Spirit engineered a spectacular comeback for his team to take the opening game in 39 minutes. VP seemed to have been discombobulated by their reversal in Game 1, as they had no answer for Somnus on Lina and Wang “Ame” Chunyu on Terrorblade, who combined for 18 of their team’s 30 kills.
LGD moves on to face defending champions Team Liquid in Day 3 of the Main Event, while VP stumble and fall to the brink of elimination in the LB.
Fnatic 0-1 Team Serenity
The first LB match opened between the east-meets-west mix of Fnatic against the surprise Chinese entry Team Serenity. Fnatic had a wild ride in the tournament so far, riding high with a 39-1 win over defending champions Team Liquid in the Group Stage then brought low after barely missing an UB berth.
Serenity put Fnatic in a chokehold from the start and did not let go, with the duo of Zhang “Zyd” Daquan on Lina and Zhao “XinQ” Zixing on Necrophos leading the way with 10 kills apiece. Fnatic tried to rally on the back of former TI champion Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora on Mirana, but they ultimately fell after a grueling 44 minutes.
Serenity will face Optic Gaming in the next round of the LB, while Fnatic’s wild ride ends in another early exit from TI. They take home a consolation of over $124 thousand.
TNC Predator 0-1 Mineski
The SEA teams in the tournament continue to be culled as the SEA superteam of Mineski squared up against their brethren from the Philippines, TNC Predator. From their many clashes over dominance of the SEA region in the past, there was no clear favorite for the matchup.
TNC looked dominant from the start, with Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios on Tiny netting kills all around the map. While Mineski were clearly on the backfoot, TNC couldn’t seem to break their enemy’s base as Kam “Moon” Boon Seng on Shadow Fiend especially proved to be resilient. In the end, all it took was one lucky double damage rune for Mineski to win one fight and swing the entire game in their favor. Despite TNC having a 30-18 kill advantage, it was Mineski who won the fight that mattered and forced the GG call.
This is the first time TNC suffered a first-round exit at TI since the team debuted in the tournament with a stunning upset over OG back in 2016. Meanwhile, Mineski moves on to face VP in the next round.
Newbee 0-1 Winstrike Team
In what ended up as the closest match of the LB so far, last year’s runner-ups Newbee went up against the scrappy CIS team Winstrike. Newbee was looking for a path to redemption after their heartbreaking loss to Liquid in last year’s finals, but they had to take the long way through the LB after a disappointing Group Stage run. Still, many favored last year’s runner-ups to advance.
Winstrike did not take that sitting down, however, as they got into their opponent’s face from the very start. While Newbee’s Xu “Moogy” Han on Gyrocopter thrived on both farm and kills, the rest of his team was starved of resources as Winstrike closed in on the enemy base one scrappy fight after another. The trio of Airat “Silent” Gaziev on Phantom Lancer, Bogdan “Iceberg” Vasilenko on Tiny, and Alexey “nongrata“‘ Vasilev on Clockwerk became a roaming kill squad, netting 35 kills in total. While Moogy stood defiant with 18 kills of his own, there was nothing that could stop the onslaught of Winstrike, who eventually eventually broke all their opponents’ barracks and spawned Mega Creeps, prompting Newbee to submit.
Winstrike moves on to face the losers of the first UB match in Day 2 of the Main Event. Years after the squad won TI4, Newbee suffer yet another heartbreaking loss in TI as their dreams of holding up a second Aegis of Champions are dashed much earlier than expected.
VGJ.Thunder 0-1 Vici Gaming
Day 1 of the Main Event ended with a Vici Gaming civil war as the Chinese sister teams faced off to see who will move on to rep their organization alongside their North American orgmates VGJ Storm, who still sit comfortably in the UB.
The main Vici Gaming squad looked to be on a mission to prove they’re the only ones (in this matchup at least) to rep the Vici name, as their support duo of Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng on Earthshaker and Lu “Fenrir” Chao on Silencer wreaked havoc all over the map. With their opponents prevented from making too many aggressive maneuvers, Zhang “Paparazi灬” Chengjun’s Arc Warden was given free rein to farm to his heart’s content. While VGJ.Thunder were able to hold off their opponents until the late game, timely Global Silences from Fenrir and big Echo Slams from LaNm in key teamfights sealed the deal for the main Vici squad.
Vici Gaming will move on to face the losers of the next round of UB matches, while their sister team will be the last team to be eliminated in Day 1 of the Main Event.
The eliminated teams will be going home with over $124 thousand as consolation, while the rest have already secured themselves at least over $370,000. Catch up with all the action on the tournament’s official Twitch or YouTube channels.