OpTic Gaming and Virtus.Pro have been eliminated.

All-Star Weekend Manila 2017 (The Manila Invitational) has gone into full-swing yesterday afternoon at the MOA Arena, beginning the four-team single-elimination tournament with the opening best-of-three series between TNC Pro Team and OpTic Gaming.

The VIP crowd during TNC Pro Team vs OpTiC Gaming.

The opening game saw both teams put certain focus on jungling supports – with Chen being picked by OpTic and Enchantress by TNC. TNC also drafted additional control with Witch Doctor and Earthshaker, complemented by high-mobility heroes in Timbersaw and Mirana. Meanwhile OpTic opted for high-damage, mobile heroes in Ember Spirit and Phantom Assassin, along with Venomancer for constant lane pressure. Though the early stages of the match were somewhat even, most skirmishes ended up favoring TNC’s side, eventually giving them the advantage going into the mid-game. TNC’s Enchantress also heavily scaled, and was able to transition effectively into a core by the late game – closing it out in favor of the home team.

By the second game, TNC took things in stride and Carlos “Kuku” Palad showed an impressive performance on the mid-lane Timbersaw. Clutch skill steals by Theeban “1437” Siva also cemented team fights – allowing TNC’s cores to snowball and rendering Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen and Peter “ppd” Dager’s Tusk unable to take favorable ganks despite an admirable performance from Ludwig “zai” Wahlberg’s Monkey King. TNC closed out the series 2:0 and secured their slot to the Grand Finals.

TNC Pro Team's captain Theeban "1437" Siva during the post-match interview.
TNC Pro Team’s captain Theeban “1437” Siva during the post-match interview.

Before the second and final series of the day began, various games and entertainment was also featured – with performances such as world-renowned dance group Kinjaz, and a 1v1 match between The International 4 winner Wong “ChuaN” Hock Chuan and Bhutan-based Dota 2 streamer and personality Pinda “Pinda Panda” Rika Dorji. Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner chose a person from the audience to decide which hero they’d like to see played, and they chose techies – leading to a long but interesting match involving some fun mind-games and force staff plays from ChuaN to clinch him the win.

SirActionSlacks, ChuaN, Pinda Panda, and local hosts, Ann Mateo and Biancake in the 1v1 match pre-game segment.

The final series of the day was between Chinese squad Invictus Gaming.Vitality and CIS all-star team Virtus.Pro. The first game began with an interesting first-pick Pudge for VP’s captain, Alexei “Solo” Berezin, followed by typical Virtus.Pro picks such as Venomancer, Earthshaker and Rubick – the Arc Warden core pick for Roman “Ramzes666” Kushnarev is an uncommon pick for the team though. Meanwhile IG.V chose to go with an infest-bomb strategy centered around Gao “dogf1ghts” Tianpeng’s Nyx Assassin and Sun “srf” Runfa’s Puck to get in close. Despite an impressive early game from the Chinese squad, Virtus.Pro’s 4 players created enough chaos around the map to create space for Ramzes’ Arc Warden to keep up in farm and keep the lanes pushed out, eventually choking out IG.V and winning team fights during the late game thanks to multiple-forcestaff saves, clean skill-timings and better overall team fight execution.

The second game saw IG.V pick Keeper of the Light and Earth Spirit as their support duo, while VP went for a less-common Windranger and Rubick combo. A rising pick in the CIS region also came out for VP in the form of the offlane Pugna. Despite an even early-to-mid game on both teams, as the fights kept drawing out it was clear that VP was lacking the damage near the end, with Ramzes’ Monkey King unable to dish out enough to carry his teammates. Teamfights won with impressive multiple-hero Ravages by srf’s Tidehunter secured IG.V the second game and ensured a full series between the two teams.

The third game of the series was an unexpected upset – as IG.V’s aggressive lineup of cores in Venomancer, Legion Commander, and Razor allowed them to rack up kills early (7:0 by the 15-minute mark) and snowball into a win. Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko’s Dragon Knight was heavily-countered by Xu “Sakata” Zichen’s last-pick Razor and struggled to farm in-lane, resolving to farm the jungle using his ultimate to catch up. Despite an admirable performance from Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov’s Earthshaker, Virtus.Pro had simply fallen too far behind off the back of their disastrous early game and were unable to mount a proper comeback, closing out the series with IG.V going to the Grand Finals.

Invictus Gaming.Vitality walking out to the stage before their series.
Invictus Gaming.Vitality walking out to the stage before their series.

This afternoon TNC Pro Team will be facing Invictus Gaming.Vitality in the best-of-five Grand Finals.

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