The International 2017 main event series opener between Invictus Gaming and Team Liquid can be summarized in three syllables:
Ever since the start of the series, IG’s 17-year old offlaner couldn't help but steal the show. From Xxs' stomping of Team Liquid during the first game as Batrider to his defiant Sand King in the second one, IG's offlaner is all into making plays for his team.
Then came the deciding third game. Many had their predictions favoring the Miracle-empowered squad but Xxs' Earthshaker was able to shatter all those predictions with his perfectly-timed Echo Slams and well-place Fissures.
Considering the pressure brought by being one of the youngest Dota 2 players on the biggest Dota 2 stage, Xxs was easily the MVP of this series. One unfazed decision to commit his Echo Slam while alone not only deterred the dual gank of GH and Miracle, but it also produced so much reaction from Team Liquid that from that point on Liquid was almost irredeemably behind in their lanes.
After that failed gank, Miracle's Ember Spirit was forced to prematurely rotate to the middle lane to pick off Lina. What he left, however, was a free-farming Earthshaker primed to obtain his Blink Dagger earlier than usual. This piece's headline was originally focused purely on Xxs until this play by Op happened:
Op cast Lightning Strike Array on the right place at the right time. Pure luck, but it was game changing.
On the surface, Op's LSA was only intended to give IG vision by cutting the trees down while also stacking up his Fiery Souls, but its impact ultimately secured the game for the Chinese squad. Since then, they were an unstoppable snowball which left Team Liquid with nothing to do except to eventually call GG and drop down the lower bracket.
Invictus Gaming, meanwhile, secured a 5-6th place finish and more than $1.6M.