TI9 Main Event Recap And Analysis: Day 1

TI9 Main Event Recap And Analysis Day 1 Esports Tournament Event
  • The TI9 Main Event is underway. TI is always a lot to take in, for a casual or even a hardcore fan. If you’re feeling a little lost, and need a chance to process the games that took place, then this article will clear things up for you!

Opening Ceremony

TI9 started off fairly traditionally with an outstanding orchestral performance. The nostalgic Dota 2 theme really set a legendary tone throughout the arena, and to viewers at home. Throughout the performance, a dozen or so dancers have displayed an entertaining performance which ended with a chill-inducing human flower blossoming! A few moments later, an epic drum sequence welcomed all the teams to the stage, ending with defending champions OG replacing the Aegis on the pedestal; waiting to be reclaimed once again.

Day 1 Overview

Day 1 treated us to tons of entertaining matches and some hilarious and interesting fluff content in between. The day started off with 2 Upper Bracket BO3’s, and finished off with 4 BO1 elimination matches in the Lower Bracket.

Upper Bracket


Game 1 started with a massive emphasis on team fight by both sides. Their drafts reflected in the games, making for an incredibly action-packed experience. LGD are coming into this series as favorites, and VP was coming into the match after a rather wanting performance from the group stage. Although the matchup is LGD favored, VP is known to have explosive starts at main events, so they aren’t to be discounted in situations like these.

Game 1 Draft

As stated earlier, both teams opted for an incredible team fight heavy lineup. VP picking Brewmaster, Earthshaker, and Silencer, and LGD responding with a Tidehunter, Gyrocopter, and Rubick. VP have tried to out mind game LGD by picking unorthodox and flexible heroes. They went for a first pick silencer which could be played in multiple positions, and ended with the last pick dazzle who strategically complements the silencer pick. VP ended up playing the Dazzle as a mid hero, with Silencer as a position 5.

LGD went for more standard team composition, with a position 5 Ogre having his signature Bloodlust ability; which buffs his allies move-speed and attack-speed. This steroid complimented both Sven and Gyrocopter, who immensely benefit from some sort of damage steroid. Bloodlust allowed LGD’s cores to out farm VP after the laning stage, and also allows all of the LGD lineup outmaneuver VP with their innate higher movespeed.

The Radiant The Dire 1st Pick Dota 2 Event
  • LGD on Radiant
  • VP on Dire
Game 1 Summary

VP were able to secure a mild advantage right after the laning stage, and were able to snag the tier 1 tower fairly early on. They carried this bout of momentum until about 20 minutes where LGD have completely dismantled VP in team fights. Sometime during 16 minutes, VP were able to get a blink dagger on their earthshaker, and bullied LGD out of the rosh pit. Even with an Aegis at the hands of the morphling, they lost the next fight against LGD. At that point, VP was struggling to find their footing, and went on to lose game 1.

Game 2 

Coming from a very lackluster performance in Game 1, VP were given the chance to reset and come back into this game with a fresh slate. Armed with some extra knowledge of LGD’s play style and strategies, VP can go into the drafting stage more confident than before. LGD, on the other hand, are able to just continue and ride this wave of momentum they have made for themselves. Based on the context of game 1, LGD clearly have an edge in team play and skill, and all they need to do is go even in the draft screen.

Game 2 Draft

VP have addressed their slower pace in teamfights with heroes that excel at disruption and counter initiation. Elder titan is able to provide huge control before BKB’s from a very safe distance, and pangolier and safely roll about under the cover of his magic immunity. During this time, a last pick Terrorblade would have the freedom to just wail on whoever he can reach. Terrorblade is somewhat of a signature hero for VP, and although this is the first time that he’s been picked in the tournament, he has the means to pop off in this context

The Terrorblade was picked in the hopes of rendering the high physical damage lineup of LGD useless. LGD opted for a more lane dominating draft with a strong teamfight presence. All three cores of LGD are strong laners in the Tidehunter, PA, and Kunkka. These three cores also deal almost exclusively physical damage. Kunkka is also able to provide his team with the rum buff. Rum on a naturally tanky hero like Tidehunter makes him feel invincible. Another noteworthy synergy of LGD’s draft is the set-up potential for Mirana arrows with Kunkka’s combo, or Elder Titans low cool-down stun. If LGD is able to snowball hard from the laning stage, and group up early on, then they are in good pace to end this series with a quick 2-0.

LGC vs VP Game 2 Dota 2 Tournament TI
  • LGD on Dire
  • VP on Radiant
Game 2 Summary

Game 2 took a much slower pace than game 1. Both teams position 1 heroes opted for a slower and greedier build. Phantom Assassin decided to rush battlefury, since an early deso would prove futile against TB’s high base armor. Terrorblade is naturally a slower hero, and he was given a lot of space in the first 20 minutes to have complete free farm. However, No[o]nes gyro opted for an early Drums BKB to be able to fight early on, while Somnus’ went for an early Radiance BKB. Both drafts timings seem to slightly match, but LGD seemed to get ahead in the first few engagements. LGD’s draft naturally has a spike between 20-30 minutes, with spells like Ghostship, Moonlight Shadow, and Ravage being naturally devastating in the mid game. VP looked to delay the game as long as possible, in the hopes of having their carry amass a huge networth advantage.

Unfortunately for VP, their early and mid game deficit was much too high for them to recover. Towards the later stages of the game, LGD cemented their advantage and continued to find game-winning runes, and take complete control of VP’s jungle. Terror Blade was able to amass crazy farm for about 30 minutes, however a single arrow halted his progression and all his items were for naught. Divine Rapier and Aghanim’s Scepter in hand, Ame’s Phantom Assassin made quick work of the entire VP lineup. LGD went on to take this series 2-0, and are set to continue their TI run in the comfort of the Upper Bracket. This is not the end of the road for VP, as they will have one more chance to glory via the Lower Bracket. But getting Lower Bracket this early into the tournament makes VP’s odds of claiming the Aegis very slim.

Vici Gaming vs TNC

Vici Gaming are coming into this series as the favorites, but it would be unwise to discount TNC. No one expected TNC to have such an amazing group stage as they did, as they secured themselves an Upper Bracket spot to everyone’s surprise. As a squad, the TNC boys have a massive chip on their shoulder, considering the controversial racial comment made by Kuku months back. This match is more than a TI match, but is a very personal one. On a lighter note, the Chinese crowd were decently welcoming to TNC, and it’s great that both parties are able to look past their difference and just wail on each other in the game screen.

Game 1 Draft

TNC won the first phase of the draft, with strong counter picks to VG’s first pick Enchantress. The combination of Ancient Aparition, Sand King, Life Stealer Queen of Pain and Tiny gives TNC insane synergy and pick off potential. These 5 picks are able to kill any hero on the map, and provide a massive counter to Enchantress. In response, VG opted for a Juggernaut, due to his built-in magic immunity. Having a hero with a “get out of jail free card” can be very valuable against pick off heavy heroes. Juggernaut also benefits greatly from Magnus’ empower, allowing him to accelerate his farm incredibly quickly, as well as making his Omnislash much more deadly. VG rounded off their line-up with a last pick Lina, who can provide insane damage during RP, and has the potential to snowball out of control.

TNC vs VG Game 1 TI Dota 2 Event
  • TNC on Radiant
  • Vici Gaming on Dire
Game 1 Summary

Although TNC’s draft gave them a much stronger lane presence with their innate aggression, VG were able to match that aggression and make decent trades during the laning stage. At the end of the lanes, VG were able to slightly come out on top in terms of gold, but TNC had a kill lead and an early game focused line-up. VG responded with an ultra-conservative style, grouping up and allowing the jugg to utilize empower to amass a net worth lead. VG’s game plan is to slow the game down as much as possible since they have a much favorable late game lineup. TNC on the other hand, would actively look for an opening to chip away at VG’s lineup.

Unfortunately for TNC, VG were able to stay disciplined, and maintained their defensive form and took advantageous engagements. TNC’s key target was Juggernaut, but he accelerated so much that he became much too tanky to burst. At 30 minutes however, TNC were able to expend their buybacks in exchange for a massive rosh fight. They were able to get an aegis onto their lifestealer, and used the aegis to try and regain control of the map. When push comes to shove, TNC are experts in high ground defense.

TNC’s initial strategy was to manhandle VG’s lineup in the mid game. That plan failed horribly, but TNC were able to bounce back at the 40-minute mark after playing extremely patiently for the duration of the late game. A mistake made by VG during a high ground push gave TNC an opening to severely punish their enemies. They were able to get key pickoffs an obtain their first net worth advantage of the game. However, at the 55-minute mark, VG were able to get a few key pick offs and secured themselves the Aegis, which they proceeded to lose less than a minute later. Despite this, VG were able to win a huge fight right after, with a solo Reverse Polarity on the Lifestealer.

Just seconds later, VG overextended in their push yet again, and Lifestealer bought back and proceeded to shred VG’s heroes after an excellent combination between Sand Kings Burrow Strike, and Queen of Pain Sonic Wave. TNC proceeded to regain complete control of the map, and built their already growing advantage. At that point, Tims’ Tiny was able to transition into a a core, after purchasing an Aghanims Scepter and Daedalus. The subsequent roshan was yet again taken by TNC, after getting a key kill on to VG’s juggernaut. Aegis in hand, TNC win a couple of scirmishes and use it to control the map once again.

At 76 minutes into the game, after multiple even fights, TNC were able to get 3 key kills on VG heroes without Buy Back, and were able to force out a GG. Easily one of the greatest games to ever grace the TI stage!

Game 2 Draft

TNC kicked off their draft with a very similar ideology to their first game, opening with a Tiny and AA. VG decided to draft tankier/much harder to kill heroes, opening with Tidehunter, Kunkka and Shadow Demon in response. A big issue for VG in game 1, was TNC’s ability to get a key pick off before a fight even start, and having a save like Shadow Demon would remedy that problem. Also calling back to the PSG vs VP series, Kunkkas ghost fleet makes Tidehunter incredibly difficult to kill at all stages of the game. This time around, VG went on to snag the Lifestealer for themselves, and TNC drafted a Razor in response, who is considered a hard counter to Lifestealer. Once again, if TNC are at the grace of how their lanes turn out, having heroes that need a strong start to be impactful. Not to mention that VG, in theory, has a much stronger late game than TNC.

TNC vs VG game 2
  • TNC on Radiant
  • Vici Gaming on Dire
Game 2 Summary

Despite a seemingly even net worth at the end of the laning stage, TNC came out ahead in terms of kills and general tempo control. They were able to group up incredibly early and attempt to force a fight in the mid lane, resulting in a very early takedown of VG’s tier 1 mid-tower. Subsequently after taking down the mid tower, TNC ran a train around the map in an attempt to control the side lanes. VG however, do an excellent job of maintaining control of their towers, and playing defensively in the mid game. After the first big teamfight of the game, TNC managed to come out on top after buying back on 2 of their heroes, securing themselves the aegis for Razor.

VG were able to take complete control of the mid-game, using their superior team fight, and the massive net worth on Lifestealer. VG are in no rush to end the game, so they use this net worth advantage to gain control of the map, and try and slow down the game. At 30 minutes, however, TNC’s cores have all purchased BKB’s rendering all of VG’s team fight abilities useless. They went on to win their first big engagement, grab the Aegis, and secure a solid net worth lead, giving them a strong transition into the late game.

After a failed attempt at pushing high ground, and losing both of TNC’s most important cores, VG swing the net worth into their advantage. At around 40 minutes, both teams clashed once again, and Tim’s Earthshaker had an insane impact in that engagement. TNC, later on, went straight to the rosh pit, and got themselves the Aegis once more. Aegis in hand, TNC attempt to break high ground unsuccessfully. They did not lose any heroes, but TNC’s lineup struggles to push high ground by nature. Both teams were in a stalemate until the 45-minute mark, until VG were able to win a decisive fight in the river, after which they were able to force buybacks and did some damage to TNC’s mid Tier 3 tower. At this point in the game, VG had an 11k gold lead, and postured themselves for the next aegis, in preparation for their next push.

At 53 minutes, VG were finally able to break high ground, and took the first Tier 3 tower in the game. Fast forward to 57 minutes, VG continued their push and claimed the mid melee barracks as well as the bottom tier 3 tower. In return, TNC punched back with an excellent echo slam, and were able to take down 3 of VGs heroes. TNC then went on to take the whole bottom lane of racks. Unfortunately for TNC, this was for naught, as Razor was shortly after caught out of position without buyback, and VG were able to win the next team fight by sheer number advantage. They then went on to take game 2 of the series!

Game 3 Draft

Both teams take a much different route in the draft compared to the previous 2 games. At this point in time, both teams are aware that the previous 2 games lasted well over an hour. And in games that last over an hour-long, one strategy reigns supreme. Vici Gaming ran a 4 protect 1 lineup, with the latter 4 having great synergy with one another. Leshrac is a very squishy hero, and when hes backed up by Warlocks Shadow Word, Shadow Demons Disruption, and Centaurs Stampede, then he is free to do whatever he wants during the game. These 4 heroes will try and create as much chaos as possible while the position 1, Medusa, is able to freely build a huge net worth advantage.

TNC respond to this, by taking an incredibly different and rather drastic route. Possibly in anticipation of VG’s idea of going late game, TNC last picks a Brood Mother, a hero who in the right circumstances, is able to completely take over the game and end it by 20 minutes. Another notable synergy is Grimstrokes Inkswell and Juggernauts Blade Fury, as well as Tiny and Earthshaker, enabling all 3 heroes to reliably stun any hero they try and run down.

TNC vs VG game 3
  • TNC on Radiant
  • Vici Gaming on Dire
Game 3 Summary

VG’s response to the Brood pick was having the Centaur be his lane matchup. Centaur is a textbook lane counter to Brood, since he has multiple ways to survive and kill an onslaught of spiders. On the bottom lane, Leshrac was given an uncontested lane, since TNC opted to have the lane unoccupied in the hopes of making moves in their aggressive tri lane top. Unfortunately for them, Warlock is able to massively offset any damage that TNC tries to apply to his allies thanks to his Shadow Word. If you run an aggressive trilane and are not able to secure an advantage, then you are put into a really bad position. All in all, the laning stage was a massive loss to TNC, and are welcomed into the mid-game with a 2k net work deficit with a last pick Brood.

The first few minutes of the mid game involved brood trying to catch up from his lackluster laning stage, and VG just running a train on all three lanes in the meantime. On the other side of the map is Medusa, who continues to farm during this time. By 20 minutes, VG had amassed an 8k gold lead, destroyed all tier 1 towers and a tier 2 bottom, and were able to get key pick offs in the Juggernaut and Tiny. It’s safe to say that VG were on track to completely in control of the game.

As the game went on, TNC have had no opportunity to regain their footing on the game. VG came out on top on every engagement and were able to clear out the mid lane of racks by the 30 minute mark. At that point, VG was far too ahead, and TNC air balled their timing. VG went on to completely dominate TNC in their high ground, forcing a GG call. VG take the series 2-1.

Lower Bracket

Alliance vs RNG

All the remaining matches for today are Best of 1 elimination matches. The stakes are really high, and teams that are able to outcheese their opponents tend to come out on top. Both these teams are pretty evenly matched, but an slight edge could be given to Alliance due to their time together as a squad, as well as Loda being their coach. For anyone not aware, Loda was a part of the Alliance squad that won TI3, making him have first-hand experience in Cheesy strategies, in the hopes of sneaking easy wins. If any team can catch on to these strategies, it’s RNG. With players that are no strangers to the TI stage, and many of whom are equipped with years and years of experience, RNG definitely have the ability to give Alliance a run for their money.


Alliance is no stranger to starting off their drafts with a bang, and this game is no exception. With a Faceless Void and Dark Willow opener, Alliance have bluntly stated that they want to take this series by winning every team fight. They later on rounded off their draft with their signature Storm Spirit who is complemented by a Crystal Maiden to nullify his early mana issues. Finally, they opted to go for a last pick Gyrocopter who doesn’t have any direct synergy with the draft, apart from the chronosphere. Apparently, the Gyrocopter was picked completely on accident, as they misclicked the “pick” button due to lack of time.

RNG drafted much more reactively, with a more careful approach to their draft. Both Shadow Demon and Abaddon are a direct counter to Faceless Void, since these heroes have the ability to save a teammate in the middle of the Chronosphere. The Ember Spirit matches up decently well against Storm, especially if he has some kind of an advantage to the Storm. The biggest point about their draft, is the Anti-Mage pick. Firstly, the majority if Alliances damage is magical damage, which AM can just shrug off. Moreover, Storm’s gargantuan mana pool will pose a constant threat to his team, and will force him to play more carefully. However, if Storm does get a good start, then he can single-handedly shut down the AM.

RNG vs Alliance
Valve Corp
  • Alliance on Dire
  • RNG on Radiant
Game Summary

Both teams came out pretty even after the laning stage, with a very slight lead in favor of Alliance. They were able to take that small lead, and secure themselves a very good start into the mid-game. Alliance had a very clear and simple strategy, look for fights when Chrono is off cooldown. RNG was very aware of this, and were in complete freedom to do whatever they wanted in that downtime. They looked to take control of the map, and just dominate all three lanes during this time.

The mid-game was incredibly even in terms of net worth, but RNG were able to get a sizeable lead towards the 35-minute mark. It was at that point where RNG was able to get 2 key pickoffs, and Alliance struggled to get back a foothold on the game. RNG were constantly in Alliances jungle, and with an AM in their draft, they were able to get him super farmed towards the late game. At the 40 minute mark, RNG just overwhelmed alliance with their net worth lead, and just threw bodies into their base. RNG wins the first BO1 of the tournament against Alliance! It’s a rather sad day for Alliance, since this was their first-ever TI as a squad. They put up an excellent fight, and hopefully, they will find more success in the future!

Liquid vs Fnatic

Fnatics strategy coming into this BO1 is to stick with their roots, and pick a hero that they fund incredibly familiar to them. Iceiceice on his classic Timbersaw, and DJ on his Enigma. Their whole lineup is very team fight heavy, and they were banking on winning the first few early engagements. Team Liquid opted to go for a strategy that has stood the test of time. Calling back to the timeless Io Gyro combination, a once devastating combo pick that forced Icefrog to temporarily remove Io from captains mode. Liquid themselves also called back to their roots… kind of. Kuroky picks Matumbans signature hero Necrophos for w33haa.

Team Liquid Vs Fnatic Dota 2 TI
Valve Corp
  • Liquid on Radiant
  • Fnatic on Dire
Game Summary

Despite a rather slow start, Team Liquid were able to come out on top in terms of lanes. They led the cs chart on all 3 of their cores, and secured themselves first blood. Although Na’Vi were lagging behind after the laning stage, they came out swinging and were actively trying to make moves around the map. DJ’s enigma was akin to a wild animal, just looking for any opening. At some point into the early game, he did have that opening, but the Io Gyro’s global presence made almost every move Fnatic try to do easily punished.

During the mid-game, Fnatic were able to catch a few key pickoffs, and were able to set a decent net worth lead. Their lead continued to build until Liquid won a decisive team fight in the mid lane at the 25-minute mark. They, later on, took to the Rosh Pit and secured an Aegis for the Gyrocopter. Despite the Aegis on Gyro, Fnatic took an engagement that cost them 2 heroes in exchange for 2 heroes and Gyros Aegis. At that point in the game, both teams were pretty even.

At the 34 minute mark, Fnatic were able to burst Gyro before Io could react, and went on to clean up the rest of the Liquid lineup without expending black hole. Fnatic took complete control of Liquids shrine area and looked like they were in the position to win the next engagement. Unfortunately, DJ whiffed the black hole and the rest of Liquid capitalized. The Liquid squad went on to get yet another Aegis, and went for a final push into Fnatics high ground. With Gyrocopter in the front, Miracle was able to make quick work of Fnatics base. It’s a sad day for Fnatic, as they are officially eliminated from The Internation 9.

Infamous vs Keen

Infamous drafted a lane focused lineup, that would have no trouble transitioning into the late game. With Hector on his signature Wraith King, Infamous were very glad to have that pick available for them. Keen opted to pick Kunkka as their mid, and Infamous responded with the last pick Templar Assassin, a hard counter to Kunkka. TA completely dumpsters the Kunkka lane, and with the help of Tusk, she should have no trouble at all. Keen decided to pick a much earlier timing-based line up, with heroes like Omni Knight, PA, and Witch Doctor. These heroes are able to have massive impact with just an item or two. It’s clear that Keen’s strategy this time around was to snowball from lanes and end the game as early as possible.

  • Infamous on Dire
  • Keen on Radiant
Game Summary

After a rather slow laning stage, Infamous were able to secure a lead via their TA. Fast forward to the 12-minute mark, and Keen win the first big engagement in the mid lane, and were able to destroy the tier 1 mid tower right after. Keen were in complete control of the game until TA purchased herself a 20 minute BKB. Infamous proceeded to get key kills and regain some momentum for themselves. They were able to take multiple towers and win a handful of skirmishes, finally grabbing the Aegis of the Immortal. With the Aegis, they just ran a train into Keen’s base and completely destroyed them, easily one of the most one-sided BO1’s today.

Mineski vs NaVi

Mineski had a well-rounded lineup, with a decent team fight presence via the Enigma, and late-game potential with the Wraith King, Lina, and Ogre Blood Lust combination. If things got a little too heated, then they could fall back on the Shadow Demon Disruption. All in all, Mineski had a very safe, and easy to execute strategy. Na’Vi on the other hand gambled and went for a Sniper pick. Sniper needs to have a good start, as he is very weak in catching up from a slow start. The good news for him, is that he had a fantastic lineup to the front line for him, and give him the chance to strut his stuff in fights. With Beastmaster, Sven, and Earth Spirit on his side, Sniper was on track to taking over the game.

Navi Vs Mineski Dota 2 TI
  • NaVi on Radiant
  • Mineski on Dire/
Game Summary

Mineski were able to secure a winning laning stage, and decided to build their advantage even further by taking over the map for the mid game. Both these lineups are really comfortable taking this game to the later stages and play a more passive game. At the 27 minute mark, the first real engagement took place with Mineski getting the upper hand. NaVi’s inability to penetrate Mineski’s backline and target the sniper proved to be their demise. NaVi went on to secure an aegis for the sniper.

Aegis in hand, NaVi committed to pushing tier 4’s with 3 of the enemy dead with around 15 seconds in the death timer. This proved disastrous and mineski were able to respawn and demolish them. Immediately after that, Mineski marched down mid and managed to take a whole set of mid racks of their own. At this point in the game, the net worth difference was very minuscule, with both teams having a similar chance in killing the throne.

At the 41 minute mark, NaVi committed to a fight in Mineskis high ground and were chased back to their side of the map. Mineski were able to take complete control of the map as a result, amassing a massive net worth lead. After numerous skirmishes for the next 20 minutes, Minesky are able to fully commit to one final high ground push. Fortunately for them, they were able to just about take the throne. Unfortunately for Na’Vi, they will no longer be competing in The International 9 Main Event.

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