The Alliance vs Natus Vincere: The International 3 Grand Finals Recap

Hooks were thrown; streaks were rolled and ended. When it’s all said and done, only one team will take the Aegis home and the $1.4M that comes with it. Here’s what happened between the clash between the two European behemoths: The Alliance and Natus Vincere.

Game 1

Weird is only the word can describe Na’vi’s draft. They showed no true carry in their line up and only relied on their heavy nuking spells to have some semblance of aggression in the first few minutes. Visage, Vengeful Spirit, and Venomancer took the aggressive trilane and went for an early push. S4 was prepared though, and drafted a defensive and fairly standard lineup for The Alliance. Admiral Bulldog on Nature’s Prophet was obviously the sacrificial lamb that took on Na’vi’s trilane, in which he did well as he didn’t die and stalled the top tier 1 tower long enough for EGM on the Wisp to reach level 6. He was with Loda on the Gyrocopter on the bottom lane against Funn1k on his Bounty Hunter. On mid was S4 on his Clockwerk Goblin against Dendi on the Batrider — a matchup that favored Dendi heavily.

What was thought to be a one-sided laning stage in favor of Na’vi didn’t turn out well for them. Akke on his enchantress got the farm and creeps he needed; EGM didn’t have to divide too much experience points as he was only with Loda on the bottom lane. S4 kept on harassing Dendi and held his own on mid. And Admiral Bulldog recovered despite being starved of farm and got his Mekansm 10 minutes in.

A couple of pickoffs by the Wisp-Gyrocopter got The Alliance the gold and experience lead they needed. There was no looking back at them as they were already sacking Roshan at 12 minutes. Na’vi tried to counteract, but The Alliance’s AoE and nuke spells in the form of Calldown, Nature’s Wrath, Spirits, and Clockwerks, Cogs, Rockets, and Hooks gave them the damage they needed to wipe Na’vi out in the jungle.

Na’vi’s seemingly experimental lineup tapped out just 15 minutes into the game.

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Game 2

Down 1-0, Na’vi returned to their usual standard lineup. They drafted Wisp held by KuroKy, which didn’t fare well against The Alliance in their previous meeting. They coupled it with Puppey’s Enigma, and XBOCT got a hard-hitting carry in Alchemist. Dendi and Funn1k handled Batrider and Bounty Hunter yet again for more lockdown and bonus gold.

The Alliance seems to have switched roles to Na’vi when they secured Venomancer and Visage for Akke and EGM respectively. Completing the trilane was Loda on the Specter. Admiral Bulldog was allowed to free farm on the neutrals though as they abandon the bottom lane.

The game started extremely well for Dendi. At two minutes in, he picked off S4 on the Beastmaster two times in the price of a Wisp despite Admiral Bulldog and Akke’s backups. XBOCT’s free farm enabled him to grab a four-minute Hand of Midas, and Funn1k kept on harassing The Alliance on the jungle.

The streak kept on extending for Dendi, and even the supports on Na’vi’s side continuously found pick offs to stack up their lead on the charts. By eight minutes, Dendi already had his blink dagger; The Alliance’s support were pretty much food at this point. They kept on diving into The Alliance’s jungle and abused Bounty Hunter’s track and Wisp’s relocate. At the same time, XBOCT was accruing more gold while finding kills. The Alliance was constricted in their jungle and moved as a group, with the exception of Loda who kept on farming to resurrect his team.

Na’vi killed Roshan at minute 17, and instantaneously relocated to the top lane to kill Loda. They had full map control and The Alliance can’t get out of their base anymore without fearing the Wisp-Alchemist relocate combo. At 19 minutes, Na’vi was already knocking on The Alliance’s tier 3 tower. Na’vi’s damage output overwhelmed The Alliance who didn’t have the means to stand against XBOCT who was item-locked at this point.

Na’vi struck back in game two and crushed The Alliance in 20 minutes, evening the series 1-1.

ImageGame 3

Inching for a comeback, The Alliance drafted S4 his signature hero, Batrider, and Admiral Bulldog got his trademarked Lone Druid. Ogre Magi came through for The Alliance, forming a lineup that could take Roshan down at level one. Completing The Alliance’s lineup is Loda on Mirana and EGM on Lina.

Na’vi went with what worked for them in the previous game, with Wisp and Alchemist. This time, however, Dendi was playing as the Wisp and KuroKy was on Rubick, a hero that he had so much success with in the past. Na’vi punched Visage on Puppey and Razor on Funn1k as the final tickets to their lineup.

The Alliance already had a taste of what a free farming Alchemist can do, which prompted them to have an aggressive trilane to match Na’vi. Dendi was left on mid to contest with Admiral Bulldog. The Wisp mid meant that he’s going to get his Relocate much quicker, which put Na’vi in a good position to start their ganks early. Despite dying to the Lone Druid, Wisp got a double kill on his first relocate on Lina and Mirana at the bottom lane. This forced The Alliance’s support to rotate to the top lane, opening the bottom lane for XBOCT to farm. The relocate gank kept on bringing some kills for Na’vi and The Alliance can’t respond because of their low levels.

The game went passive for a couple of minutes, largely due to The Alliance’s hidden map positioning to mitigate Dendi’s relocate ganks. Na’vi pushed the bottom two tier 1 tower and transitioned to the top lane to push. The Alliance grouped up in retaliation and scored a hook-lasso kill against Rubick, giving them a boost to destroy tier 1 mid.

Both teams huddle on mid but there was no engagement despite Loda hitting his arrow on Razor. The Alliance denied the tier 1 mid tower and immediately went for a smoke gank. Na’vi was ready though and turned the clash to kill Batrider and Lina in anticipation. They pressed on to push the tier 2 mid tower and did so without casualty. Both teams used the off-engagement time to farm for much-needed items: Heart of Tarrasque for the Alchemist and Radiance for Lone Druid.

Na’vi decided to go for Roshan that became a window of opportunity for The Alliance. S4 drags XBOCT away from the pit. Dendi tried to save him but the Radiance burn was too much for him. The Alliance went into a five man wipe and killed Roshan afterward, but not without Dendi attempting to steal the Aegis in which he failed to accomplish. The Alliance backed away with the Lone Druid dead and the Aegis in the pocket of Mirana.

Both teams looked to take map control away from each other. The Alliance pushed the top lane; Na’vi pushed bottom. The Alliance got the better hand, as they were clearly the better pushing team with the bear and Bloodlust on their side. They crushed all of Na’vi’s outer towers on the top lane and backed out unscathed.

The Alliance transitioned to the bottom lane and destroyed Na’vi’s tier 2 tower. Na’vi’s steadfast push into the tier 3 mid caused them to go back and defend. Na’vi destroyed the tower; The Alliance focused Razor down but couldn’t do it easily. Still, they forced Na’vi outside of their base wiped them again despite XBOCT scoring a triple kill. Na’vi kept on forcing The Alliance’s exposed Na’vi’s mid barracks, but a missed relocate placed Na’vi into a bad position that wrote more deaths to their paper.

The Alliance earned a Roshan kill and defended their base successfully until they had a bad fight in the river wherein Ogre Magi and Lina were picked off. Na’vi were quick on their feet and secured the first barracks of the game in the mid. Another clash on the top lane secured Na’vi a kill on S4 and put them in the position to push another set of barracks. XBOCT was too tanky at this point and continuously charged to the front lines, slicing any Alliance member he saw. The Alliance couldn’t bring him down despite dishing out every damage they can; Na’vi secured a mega kill in the process.

As a move of desperation, Admiral Bulldog purchased a Divine Rapier for his bear. The Alliance charged into the mid lane for a final push, but KuroKy’s lift on the bear rendered it useless. The Alliance was forced to tap out at 47 minutes. Na’vi earned a 2-1 advantage over The Alliance. This was the first time that the Swedes were behind in a series in The International 3.

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Game 4

Na’vi was determined to put the nail on The Alliance’s coffin and didn’t go for any risky lineups or plays. They immediately went for the Batrider, the Alchemist, and Puck. The former two have been instrumental in the team’s success. The same goes with Puck, being Dendi’s most played hero. KuroKy got his hands on Rubick yet again, whose lifts and lasso steals from last game immensely disarmed The Alliance. Puppey’s Bane would be their last pick that formed a formidable aggressive trilane for Na’vi.

The Alliance went back to their draft in game one with their Wisp, Nature’s Prophet, and Gyrocopter combo. They went for more aggression in this game though with Crystal Maiden as their hard support. The Alliance picked Nightstalker for S4 — this is the hero’s first appearance in the tournament — and looked to gank Na’vi non-stop.

The game started with a first blood on S4, which was easy for Na’vi because the hero has no escape mechanism. The Alliance answered by pushing tier 1 top, something that they had done well in the series.

Seeing that the enemy was busy farming, Na’vi pushed the bottom lane and got a tier 1 in the process. Na’vi’s push to the second tower was the beginning of their nightmares with images of S4’s Nightstalker. A teleport scroll from Loda followed by his Calldown disintegrated Na’vi, and The Alliance’s global presence and nighttime intimidation started to show. They picked off Na’vi anywhere on the map, which opened the map for the Gyrocopter and the Nature’s Prophet to farm. They got an Aegis for S4 before 14 minutes into the game: The Alliance is on an encore of their dominating performance in game one.

The game’s heat started to fizzle a bit around the 16 minute mark as The Alliance were waiting for the second nighttime. Na’vi was farming in group and waiting for their enemy to react, significantly reducing their efficiency. The Alliance, on the other hand, was free to split push, gank, and do whatever they desire on the map.

The Alliance pushed Na’vi’s tier 2 mid tower but was denied by Dendi. It wasn’t a loss for them though as it only paved an opportunity for another Roshan kill at 23 minutes. Afterward, The Alliance cruised to Na’vi’s top barracks and was very clear on their intent to make the mid barracks their next victims. Na’vi had some firepower left in them though. Funn1k’s Flaming Lasso that targeted EGM on his Wisp disrupted The Alliance’s team fight and they managed to fend the team off, while popping Loda’s Aegis and subsequently killing him.

At 31 minutes, The Alliance were almost ready for the final clash against Na’vi. They had all the items they need; even purchasing a Black King Bar on the Crystal Maiden for the highest damage possible. They kill the third Roshan at 33 minutes and was arming up for the final push of the game. XBOCT pushed the tier 1 top for some momentum, but it was an acceptable loss for the team.

Na’vi was at their final stand in their tier 3 mid. At this point, Loda had Satanic and buy back available and S4 had Cheese and buy back as well. Funn1k couldn’t engage as he was silenced by S4 and Admiral Bulldog was anticipating his blink with his Scythe of Vyse. Na’vi tried to fight with a back stab from XBOCT that killed The Alliance’s supports. Meanwhile, Loda and S4 were hammering down on the entire Na’vi squad. Na’vi went for a four man buy back, but all effort was in dire as the Gyrocopter and the Nightstalker had all the health and damage they required.

The Alliance evened the series 2-2 and forced a deciding game five.

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Game 5

Both The Alliance and Na’vi went for the most basic standard they could think of, and the draft was extremely similar to the present games, with the exception of S4 going for Puck and Dendi being assigned to the ultra-aggressive Templar Assassin. The Alliance finally gets the Wisp-CK combo online.

Completing Na’vi’s lineup was Puppey’s Enigma, KuroKy’s Rubick, Funn1k’s Batrider, and XBOCT’s Alchemist. Over on the side of The Alliance, they went for Akke on the Crystal Maiden and Admiral Bulldog on the Nature’s Prophet as the final character for the Swedes.

As expected, the game started in flames as Loda and EGM tried to draw first blood on XBOCT’s Alchemist at the borrom lane. They drove him under his tower, but XBOCT’s jukes turned the attempt into a first blood going in his way. Admiral Bulldog teleported to assist and got the kill in a hard-earned hide and seek in the tier 1 tower. They went for another kill at XBOCT and succeeded much more easily this time, but EGM perished under the Alchemist’s Acid Spray.

The bottom lane served as a graveyard for heroes until The Alliance’s trio rotated to the top lane. Meanwhile, Dendi was so far in front of S4 in experience and gold. To put S4 even lower, he was killed by an early black hole as his Illusory Orb was cooling down. Once again, The Alliance pushed the tier 1 top early, leaving XBOCT alone in the bottom lane. This would change soon however as EGM already reached level 6 and immediately set the Wisp-CK combo in motion.

Funn1k got his dagger 10 minutes into the game and blink lasso on the Crystal Maiden at the mid lane. Na’vi seemed to get the better end of the engagement, but a relocate on the rear of Na’vi earned Loda a double kill. Dendi was on point with his Meld strikes though and continuously punished The Alliance for ignoring his hero. As the clash ended, S4 and Loda bought back and managed to bring Dendi down.

The Alliance pushed the tier 1 mid which started another scrappy clash. They disengaged in the end with some casualties on both teams, but Na’vi was grouped up above the dire river again before long. A misplaced relocate gank separated The Alliance apart and Na’vi got the better positioning. Dendi scored a triple kill as The Alliance was backing off.

A huge clash that went for at least three minutes in the Roshan Pit soon took place as The Alliance positioned themselves for a Roshan Kill. Loda used Phantasm in the low ground and initiated on KuroKy. A one man Black Hole from Puppey halted Loda to do more damage and the heroes from The Alliance’s side started to fall one by one. Roshan’s health was dropping quickly as well through Dendi’s massive hits. EGM manages to kill Funn1k as he was hovering with low health. Still, Dendi was finishing Roshan off. In a miraculous move, Admiral Bulldog teleported into the pit. Coupled with S4’s Illusory Orb, they stopped the Templar Assassin’s Beyond Godlike streak and stole what could’ve been the Aegis that cost them a million dollars. The Aegis went to S4 and The Alliance saw an opportunity to push the bottom lane. They broke the tier 1 and tier 2 towers.

The 25 to 29 minute mark saw the calm of the storm as Dendi completed his Daedalus. Admiral Bulldog finished his Scythe of Vyse; Loda his BKB. Na’vi pushed the tier 2 tower at bottom, and The Alliance responded by a kill on Funn1k in the radiant jungle.

The second Roshan was up in 31 minutes. S4 was picked off near the pit and The Alliance didn’t want to contest without the Puck. Na’vi immediately went for high ground. At the same time, Admiral Bulldog was split pushing in the top lane and Loda and EGM relocated to the bottom lane to add more pressure. Na’vi was teleporting back, but a crucial Dream Coil by S4 cancelled the TP spells of three Na’vi players.

Admiral Bulldog kept on pressuring the tier 4 towers and even bought a Necronomicon for more push power and possibly a backdoor move. Loda, S4, and EGM in the meantime where stalling Na’vi.

Despite the two lane advantage of The Alliance, they wouldn’t force the push until the third Roshan respawned in 41 minutes. Na’vi grouped up to take the Aegis and Cheese and picked off Akke in the process. Loda, EGM, and Admiral Bulldog were already setting up a push on top. As Puppey was teleporting to base, he was hexed by S4 who was near the pit. Dendi was using his TP scroll as well when S4 once again landed a critical Dream Coil that cancelled the spell.

Na’vi attempted to defend their base with all their might, but Loda and S4 were already pummeling down the Ancient. Na’vi succumbed to The Alliance in an intense 43 minute game.

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The Alliance finishes their legendary run in The International 3 as the champions! They take the Aegis of the Champion home and the $1.4M that comes with it. Na’vi settles again for second place and takes home $600,000.

Personal notes:

I’m so glad to have been a part of this momentous event in eSports history even though I’m only watching at home. The amount of skill and dedication these players put out is truly admirable and only marks the growth of video games as a medium of legitimate sports.

Until next year!

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