Day 3 featured the teams in 'Group C', and among the four groups in this stage, this bracket was arguably the easiest to predict, in terms of advancement to the main tournament. The favored teams coming in were OG and LGD Gaming, and the wild-card teams, Newbee and Team Archon, had an uphill battle in front of them.
Both OG and LGD Gaming are teams that mix individual mechanical prowess and fast adaptability with their cores, which makes for a lethal combination to plan against. LGD Gaming relies on the carry abilities of both Sylar and Maybe, while OG's Miracle- is one of the most individually gifted players in DOTA 2.
Newbee is a team with a mix of strong veterans -- Hao, Mu and ChuaN -- along with a couple of promising upstarts, but as a team, they lack a strong identity or strength in any particular area. Team Archon has an aggressive fighting lineup that incorporates unique drafts and relentless pressure.
OG vs. Team Archon
On paper, this was a mismatch -- a seasoned, tournament-successful team in OG, against a team of mix-and-match North American players in Team Archon. Even if the potential outcome seemed all but certain on paper, in reality it was a set of nonstop fighting, rotations and individual glory plays.
The first game felt like a never-ending fight, with both lineups doing a perpetual dance of death around the other. OG met Team Archon in several early-game rotations for a virtual stalemate into the midgame, but the difference was that OG left Miracle- out of the fights for free-farm. Miracle- would pay off immediately, with his radiance timing, and he impacted the next fights to such a degree that they would fall strongly into OG's favor -- including the first barracks before the 20-minute mark -- and the farm difference between carries would prove to be the tipping point for OG in a frenzied Game 1 victory.
Team Archon drafted a roaming Mirana for Game 2, and succeeded in grabbing an early-game kill lead. Between the highest net worth of Miracle- and the power-leveling of OG's support players Cr1t- and Fly, the lead the team built favored them despite Team Archon's higher kill total. Team Archon would consistently group up as four or five to pressure into the midgame, and kept the game close, but the difference would once again be Miracle-. His elusiveness, highest net total throughout the game and split-push allowed OG to hold off the assault of Team Archon's lineup and break the map -- and the game -- open. They would finally break the base, and the will, of Team Archon to claim the set.
LGD Gaming vs. Newbee
This was the hardest-to-predict set of the entire group, as both Chinese teams boasted strong individual star players -- LGD Gaming with Sylar and Maybe, and Newbee with Mu and Hao. As a result, it was the closest contest and the most compelling series for viewers on Day 3.
Even though both squads were constructed as two-lane phase teams, they fought early and often in a absolute stalemate. One rotation and momentum shift was immediately met with another, but LGD Gaming's two carries would pace the net worth charts. The swing in Game 1 came from the radiance pick-up from LGD Gaming's Sylar, which allowed his team the fight and map advantage. Newbee clawed back behind the play of Mu's Tiny, but the overall worth of the team was too far behind LGD Gaming's entire lineup.
Eventually the solo carry power of Mu was not enough for the well-rounded LGD Gaming cores, and every fight in the late game fell in their favor as the team sealed a Game 1 victory. Newbee drafted for a fighting lineup in Game 2, and it worked out well for them. After a drawn-out first game, Newbee rotated continuously to claim Game 2. Behind Tusk and Sven, Newbee grouped up often, for advantageous fight after advantageous fight. The entire 22-minute game was a slugfest, and Newbee's faster roster punished the greedy draft of LGD Gaming. Game 3 was the execution battle that most tuned in for from the start. Both teams fought and traded early, entering the midgame with neither lineup holding a noticeable edge. The farm war stalemate extended well past the 30-minute mark, with LGD Gaming's lineup grabbing a slight edge for the latter stages of the game. LGD Gaming drew the first-base damage, but Newbee stalled and responded to every blow thereafter to keep the game close. Both teams, utilizing great defensive spells and tactics, held and defended -- and it took a Newbee overextended chase to Sylar's Juggernaut for LGD Gaming to firmly grab hold of the game. Eventually, the better initiation of Earthshaker and the late game of LGD Gaming's lineup proved too strong for Newbee for the final game of the set, giving LGD the victory.
Team Archon vs. Newbee
This set was a chess match, putting a clash of styles on display. Newbee drafted to counter the play of Team Archon, while Team Archon attempted to build toward the execution game to match Newbee.
Newbee's carefully crafted lineup was a response to the abnormally aggressive play style of Team Archon, and the early game featured a series of teleports and failed kills. Team Archon still took the kill lead because of their superior mobility, but Newbee stuck around because of a better lane phase, keeping the game in a stalemate.
The solo carry power of Team Archon's Spectre was too weak against the tri-core setup of Newbee's Tiny, Sven and Dark Seer, and while it would take a late-game push and forced fight from Newbee, it would be enough to claim Game 1.
Game 2 started off in Team Archon's favor, in terms of map control and overall net worth, despite the numerous Newbee ganks. The game broke in Newbee's favor with an early team wipe at Minute 19, and their three-core set up the midgame in their favor. Newbee's Mu was the star of the midgame -- his Puck initiated winning fights, forced action and was a nightmare to deal with. Behind Puck's strong start, the carry Spectre would eventually snowball Newbee into the late game, and eventually end the Team Archon threat as they were sent out to the lower bracket with their second loss.
OG vs. LGD Gaming
This match between arguably the two best teams in the group was a matchup that many predicted, and star power was not lacking for either squad as Miracle- led OG and Sylar and Maybe anchored LGD Gaming. The winner of this set would automatically qualify for the upper bracket, while the loser would have to face off with Newbee for the second berth to the upper bracket.
What a wipeout of a first game. OG had everything working in its favor in the opening game -- a greedy lineup and better rotations -- and it helped the team to win the fights they had to, causing a blowout early game. Moon and N0tail shined in initiations and Miracle- put on another clinic in the carry game. Not much else to say, as it was 28-6.
At this point, the set slowed down into an execution war in Game 2. Despite the early rotations and team fights, it was all an act as both squads had an unspoken agreement to stay passive and farm. Neither team could crack the other with fights, and traded back each time almost immediately after the other team won one. OG led early with a tri-core of Broodmother, Juggernaut and Batrider against the duo-core of LGD Gaming's Sven and Lycan, but the stalemate was clearly reflected in both map control and the kill totals throughout the 30-40-minute mark.
Both teams respected the other's win conditions. For LGD Gaming, it was a superior area-of-effect team fight, and the subsequent push after it with Lycan and OG, who boasted pick-off kill potential and split-push power -- as did Miracle-. LGD Gaming eventually cracked through OG and caused the first big momentum shift around the 65-minute mark, with a fantastic fight and Roshan aegis grab, but OG employed smokes, ganks and pick-off to not only stall the game, but take the objective advantage.
OG would take the entire LGD Gaming base, except for the throne, but it couldn't quite close the game out. LGD Gaming took advantage of two small mistakes from OG, which snowballed into a base race and comeback to win a marathon Game 2.
In a pace departure, both teams executed early fights often to translate to fast objective pushes and Roshan takes in Game 3. The big advantage for OG was Miracle-, yet again, with a fast start and unimpeded farm and kills for his Slark. Despite the stalemate in map control and kill totals in the midgame, Miracle-'s Slark was the big gold monster and kept the game firmly in OG's control.
LGD Gaming picked off the rest of OG, but the gold lead from Slark and their Lone Druid proved too strong, despite the balanced totals from the Chinese team. By the 30-minute mark was all OG, as the entire team camped out at LGD Gaming's side of the map and forced multiple fights on the high ground, eventually breaking through the defenses and ending the game. The final fight, and the sudden end of the game, came just five minutes after the momentum and net worth were at a virtual stalemate.
LGD Gaming vs. Newbee
This rematch, with the higher stakes of an opportunity to advance into the upper bracket on the line, was exciting -- but when compared to the first Newbee-LGD Gaming set, it was a bit of a letdown. Newbee needed to adjust to prevent a double-jeopardy situation, but LGD Gaming was too experienced, relentless and strong in the end.
The fighting started early and often from LGD Gaming's side, in response to a push-oriented lineup from Newbee. With every winning fight, the response from the other side was swift. The downside to trading fights for Newbee was the lack of map control -- an effect of that pushing lineup -- and eventually Sylar's farm and LGD Gaming's team fighting setup proved too strong for Newbee's defenses.
The game eventually stalled when Newbee took the first barracks, but LGD Gaming prioritized team fighting over everything and overwhelmed Newbee behind the late-game power of Lone Druid. After a valiant defense into the late game, the team fight of LGD Gaming was just too strong and earned them a Game 1 victory.
Game 2 started slower than the first, as both teams kept the aggression to a minimum (in relation to the other games of the day), which allowed the carries to enjoy great farming in the lane phase. Behind Slark, LGD Gaming took the initiative and the first big lead, but Newbee stalled and traded throughout the midgame despite the farm deficit between the team's cores. LGD Gaming controlled the team fighting for the majority of the game, and broke the base with a final push and fight when Newbee Mu's Tiny was too late to the party.
Despite a valiant effort, Newbee was bound for the lower bracket.
In all, it was quite a Day 3, with a mix of blowouts, chess matches and snail-paced games. The group stages are not even over yet, and it's been quite a show during the first three days of the Shanghai Major -- and it's only going to get better from here.