The Pinnacle Cup playoff picture gets clearer with every game played. As we head into our third round of games there are already teams fighting for their tournament lives and others hoping to build momentum for a deep run in the playoff bracket.
Level UP vs. PuckChamp
Both squads came into the match 0-2 and in desperate need of a win to turn around their chances of making the playoffs. The series highlighted an extreme difference in play style throughout all three games. In game one, Level UP were able to sneak in a last pick Broodmother and create the expected result. Behind one of the most brutal heroes to close out a draft, Level UP utterly obliterated PuckChamp in just over 17 minutes. Game two was the polar opposite story. PuckChamp wisely banned out the Broodmother immediately and were able to force a much more standard and slow paced game of Dota. Lasting nearly 60 minutes and focusing much more on mid and late game team fights, PuckChamp outlasted and outscaled Level UP to force a game three. PuckChamp tried to force a similar style of game in the third contest but Level UP were clearly ready with an adjustment. Again, Level UP seized control in the first few minutes of the game and steamrolled their way to a 25 minute victory.
Brame vs. HellRaisers
On paper, this matchup looked to be a really close slugfest. In game one, Brame did not disappoint with their high tempo fight-ready lineup. HellRaisers opted for a much more pickoff oriented draft and sacrificed much of their early game trying to get their heroes online. As the momentum began to shift towards HellRaisers however, Brame were able to force a couple of crucial fights and punish HellRaisers and their inability to fight 5v5. Behind a nearly unkillable Bristleback carry, Brame rolled into HellRaisers base and cleaned up the victory. Game two was one of those games you love to see as a Dota fan. Both teams took a more measured approach and really focused on locking down the late game power peak. HellRaisers were able to get away with a jungling Enigma but neither team were able to pull very far ahead. As most Dota games tend to, this contest became all about Roshan, and Brame were able to snag a critical one towards the end of the match. Despite several heroic base defenses from HellRaisers, Brame utilised their Wraith King raid boss to outlast everything HellRaisers were throwing their way. Both teams now sit at a 2-1 series record with plenty of group stage play left to come.
Chicken Fighters vs. Hellbear Smashers
This series was a great example of how different teams can interpret how to play Dota. Hellbear Smashers really like to focus on giving their carry as much space and farm as possible while Chicken Fighters tend to spread the wealth a bit more. Game one gave supporting evidence to Chicken Fighters’ vision of the meta, as their three cores and heavy team fight easily outclassed Smashers. A mostly unsupported Phantom Assassin was simply not enough damage to overcome the early lead from Chicken Fighters who continue to play with an offlane stand-in. Smashers doubled down in game number two. Pairing a Magnus with an Alchemist is greedy enough. However, they also grabbed Bounty Hunter to try and really accelerate their gold lead. The game did seem to be going in their favor as they climbed to a nearly 20,000 net worth lead. Unfortunately for Smashers, this extreme focus on their own farm also allowed greedy Chicken Fighters heroes to come online as well. Few heroes do better when left to their own devices than Medusa and Storm Spirit. With some excellent team fight to back them up, Chicken Fighters were able to break Hellbear Smashers bank and close out the series 2-0.
Vikin.gg vs. Team Unique
This series was a pivotal for both teams regarding their chances to make a deep run in the Pinnacle Cup. Team Unique entered 0-2 while Vikin.gg’s 1-1 start to the tournament was slower than expected. Game one proved just how much the series meant to both teams as two late game lineups dragged things into the wacky realm of tier five neutral items. Team Unique’s Medusa proved to be too much to handle in the ultra late game, giving Unique a huge victory. With their backs against a wall, Vikin.gg pulled out a very interesting strategy in game number two. Utilizing a carry Axe, offlane Broodmother and mid Shadow Fiend, Vikin.gg were able to withstand a mid-game advantage for Unique. The tides turned as Vikin.gg hit critical mass and they tied the series at one apiece. It would be a somewhat anticlimactic end to the critical series as Vikin.gg had a perfect Broodmother counter in mind when Team Unique drafted it early. Vikin.gg dominated from start to finish and easily closed out the series with an aggressive win in 32 minutes.
Team Spirit vs. EXTREMUM
EXTREMUM have surprised so far in the Pinnacle Cup but had to face their toughest challenge yet in Team Spirit. These interregional rivals have faced off countless times over the last year and it appears that Team Spirit has the upper hand. Game one was hotly contested with EXTREMUM getting off to a fast start in the kill department. They exerted immense pressure on the map and punished the slower lineup from Team Spirit. However, as we have seen so often, once the late game arrived, it was the Team Spirit Medusa that took over the game. In game two EXTREMUM went back to their offlane Broodmother pick that had given them so much success in their first two series. Team Spirit were clearly expecting it and had prepared the perfect counter. Behind a carry Naga Siren and aggressive fighting heroes, Spirit quickly squashed the spider and stomped their way to a 2-0 victory.
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