Virtus.pro takes down OpTic in lower bracket

Fans stare in disbelief while watching The International 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Provided by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Virtus.pro 2, OpTic 1

The International 8 continued Thursday with Virtus.pro taking down OpTic Gaming 2-1 in the lower bracket in the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In Game 1 of the series, OpTic captain and support Peter "ppd" Dager demolished VP with a last-pick Huskar for carry Quin "CCnC" Callahan. The only one of Virtus.pro's heroes with any hope of challenging Huskar was offlaner Pavel "9pasha" Khvastunov's Enchantress, but the rest of OpTic did a great job keeping 9pasha under control. With no counters, CCnC was invincible, finishing with an 11/0/3 KDA (kills/deaths/assists). The problems for Virtus.pro didn't end with CCnC's Huskar, though. OpTic's other carry, Per Olsson "Pajkatt" Lille, was deadly on Clinkz. With both OpTic carries at peak performance, there was little Virtus.pro could do to stop the onslaught.

Both teams went for popular and difficult-to-counter picks in Game 2. Virtus.pro picked Broodmother for carry Roman "Ramzes666" Kushnarev, while OpTic took Drow Ranger and Alchemist for Pajkatt and CCnC, respectively. The draft ended up being a mismatch, though, as there were no other core heroes to benefit from Pajkatt's Drow Ranger. Virtus.pro capitalized on OpTic's split draft, exploiting the weakness of Drow Ranger. CCnC played well on Alchemist, riding the momentum from his star Game 1 performance, but he couldn't stand up to Virtus.pro 1 vs. 5. Not only was Ramzes666 a huge threat, but 9pasha had one of the best Tiny games of the tournament. He managed to find kills nonstop, finishing with a 20/2/19 KDA.

Down to a single game, the draft in Game 3 was much more reserved. Both teams opted for strong teamfight with good objective damage to back it up. Virtus.pro was able to win its lanes and transition into a very strong mid-game. All five members of Virtus.pro played excellently, turning things around after a disastrous Game 1 and rocky Game 2. After taking the lead at four minutes, Virtus.pro never looked back. OpTic made some solid efforts to take fights, but no one could step up to do the damage needed. CCnC's Lina got dominated in middle lane by Virtus.pro carry Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko's Tiny, and Pajkatt's Clinkz was in a similar position.

This ends an impressive run by North American hopeful OpTic Gaming, and it shuts the door on any hope of a repeat International victory for ppd. Optic finishes tied for seventh-eighth and will bring home $630,000 in prize money. Virtus.pro's road will continue against Evil Geniuses at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

-- Jack Ballenger

Team Secret 2, VGJ.Storm 0

Despite a scare in Game 2, Team Secret kept its hopes alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over VGJ.Storm.

Continuing its pattern of unpredictable drafting, Team Secret picked a Meepo in Game 1 of the series. Instead of running Meepo in the middle lane, Secret further confused its opponents by giving the hero to Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard in the safe lane. Taking advantage of its opponent's befuddlement, Secret took a quick win while only incurring nine deaths to put itself ahead in the series.

Secret's funky drafting was more a hindrance than help in Game 2, with a last pick Terrorblade having to hold Team Secret in the game until mid laner Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng's Clinkz could start contributing.

Secret only took a few chances in Game 2 as things began to look more and more dire. A controversial decision by Secret's Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat as Elder Titan to pursue a kill on VGJ.Storm's Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok resulted in Secret killing the carry and coming away with his Divine Rapier inside VGJ.Storm's base, essentially an open invitation to end the game then and there.

VGJ.Storm is eliminated from The International and will return home with $629,545. Meanwhile, Team Secret will continue on through the lower bracket and will come up against Team Liquid at 1 p.m. ET on Friday.

-- Travis Elliott

Evil Geniuses 2, Virtus.pro 0

Evil Geniuses managed to secure a 2-0 win over Virtus.pro to conclude Thursday's action at The International.

It was a relatively easy win for EG to kick off the series. After winning all three lanes, EG was able to apply nonstop pressure with carry Artour "Arteezy" Babaev's Drow Ranger boosting the damage of the rest of his team. That damage bump gave Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan's Storm Spirit the juice needed to completely roll over Virtus.pro. The only reliable disable that Virtus.pro had for SumaiL was support Alexi "Solo" Berezin's Crystal Maiden, but as the lowest net worth and level hero in the game, Solo was easy to bring down at the start of a fight, which freed things up for Sumail to roll in. With offlaner Gustav "s4" Magnusson's Pugna able to supply the building damage, EG was well-equipped to follow up fights with quick objectives and powerful base pushing to end the game.

With a one-game lead, EG's captain Tal "Fly" Aizik chose to put Virtus.pro's tournament life on the line with a last-pick Alchemist for SumaiL. Game 2 started out strong for Virtus.pro with three kills on SumaiL, but the rest of EG was able to force attention away from Alchemist. By 16 minutes, SumaiL had finished his Radiance and quickly brought the gold lead into EG's favor. He almost singlehandedly turned a 2,500-gold deficit into a ballooning 10,000-gold advantage for EG. Virtus.pro's Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev fought back well on Ursa, finding a lot of kills on Arteezy's Mirana, but his death at 39 minutes with no buyback allowed EG to secure a lane of barracks. That injection of gold pushed EG's lead over the edge and let it steadily pressure Virtus.pro into defeat.

After finishing the Dota Pro Circuit season in first place, Virtus.pro came into The International 8 as the favorite to win the event to many but will exit in fifth-sixth place for the second year in a row. For its efforts, the team will earn $1,133,700 in prize money. Evil Geniuses moves one step closer to securing the Aegis of Immortality and will play again at 7 p.m. ET on Friday against the winner of Team Secret vs. Team Liquid.

-- Ballenger