The fourth day of The International 7 took place entirely in the lower bracket, as the competition was whittled down to just five teams. With everything on the line for these teams at Key Arena in Seattle, here is how these hotly contested elimination matches went down.
The day began with Team Liquid facing Empire. Although both teams were facing down elimination, there was much more on the line for Liquid. It came into The International 7 as a favorite to win but dropped to the lower bracket on the first day of competition. Empire, on the other hand, is already playing with Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok as a last-minute stand-in, and expectations were very low.
Empire put up a commendable effort, but Liquid was clearly the better team in this match. The effect of having players with experience competing on the main stage was evident in this game. Liquid made fewer mistakes, and its teamwork was much better overall. Despite this being the end of the road for Empire, finishing in the top eight despite most analysts and fans not expecting them to make it past the first round was a very good result. In addition to the $604,916 the players have won, they have also gained a huge amount of experience that will serve them well in the future.
The two next teams on the chopping block were OG and LGD Gaming. The competition so far at The International 7 has been extremely tight, and this series was no exception. In Game 1, no team gained a lead larger than 5,000 gold at any point in the game, even when LGD were barreling down OG's middle lane and knocking down the Ancient.
The second game wasn't nearly as close, however. OG seemed demoralized after its close loss in Game 1, whereas LGD went into Game 2 with a fire in its belly. Despite being a heavy favorite to win it all, OG was simply unable to escape the grip of LGD in this series. After the Chinese squad took a lead in the early game, it never looked back on the way to a big win.
OG's seventh-eighth place finish is sure to be a disappointment for Tal "Fly" Aizik and Johan "n0tail" Sundstein, who suffered a similar fate at TI6 last year. OG has secured $604,916 in prize money, but the prize falls far short of what the Boston and Kiev Major champions were aiming for. LGD advances to face Invictus Gaming on Friday.
The final elimination game of the day was the battle of the two remaining hopes for Western Dota 2 fans, Virtus.pro vs Team Liquid. This wasn't just a tense series for the players in their booths, as the audience in the arena was also deeply invested in each team's every move. The first game was extremely close, with the teams jockeying for position the entire time. The audience was kept on the edge of its seat the entire time, but eventually it was the Liquid fans who could tentatively rest easy after an absolutely ridiculous 103-minute game.
Game 1 felt like an entire series, but the teams had one more to go. Game 2 felt like the blink of an eye compared to the first, but Virtus.pro did manage to even up the series and bring it to a Game 3 with a strong performance in the second frame. With everything on the line, it seemed fitting that Liquid would turn to Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi's Anti-Mage to keep the team's TI7 hopes alive. It wasn't just Miracle- though; Liquid showed up to win and refused to accept anything less.
Liquid advances to face the winner of Invictus Gaming and LGD. Virtus.pro exits The International 7 in fifth-sixth place with a prize of $1,090,299.
There are now just two days left of The International 7, and if the last week and half is any indication, sparks will surely fly. Friday's action will kick off at 1 p.m. ET with Invictus Gaming taking on LGD Gaming in Round 4 of the lower bracket.