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AIC Quarterfinal Recap
The single-elimination quarterfinals of the Arena of Valor International Championship (AIC) took place last weekend, with the four winners advancing to the double-elimination semifinals to take place this coming weekend. Among the four matches was one amazing series, two duds, and one mostly expected result. Let’s take a look:
AHQ vs OverClockers
The first best-of-five series of the weekend was initially considered the most one-sided of the quarterfinals. Instead, it turned out to be a classic, with the heavy underdog OverClockers holding a 2-1 lead over the world champions before AHQ found another gear and dominated the last two games to complete the 3-2 comeback.
Game 1 was pretty close until around the 10 minute mark, when AHQ started to slowly snowball the game. Though the final kill count and gold amounts were heavily one-sided, the fact OverClockers kept it close for so long seemed like a moral victory at the time. Game 2 was playing out pretty similarly until Turtle masterfully baited AHQ into a terrible team fight, letting OverClockers push down all three mid-lane towers. AHQ recovered, killing all nine towers and was seemingly on their way to finishing the game until this happened:
Game three was once more a surprisingly close affair, with AHQ holding a slight lead over the first 15 minutes but falling behind once Izno on Tel’Annas was sufficiently fed. The double marksmen composition, backed by the amazing zoning from Dua on Alice, managed to knock down all nine towers – but at the cost of a potentially game-losing team fight near the 29-minute mark. In their rush to finish the game, however, AHQ didn’t notice a large minion wave pushing down their top lane, which allowed Turtle to backdoor them once again.
AHQ finally realized that Turtle’s Lindis was the biggest threat by game 4, banning it out and letting OverClockers take Elsu in the process. Their constant aggression kept Izno’s Elsu from ever landing any meaningful snipes, and AHQ won the game in just over 11 minutes.
In game 5, AHQ played it even more dangerously, letting OverClockers have the perpetually banned Ignis. AHQ countered with Kahlii to out-range Ignis, while also picking up Batman to hunt down the wizard. The result was a game that snowballed even harder than game 4, as AHQ used a dominant 22-1 kill count to finish the game in 12 minutes.
J Team vs Toyota Diamond Cobra
Game 1 between Taiwan’s #1 J Team and Thailand’s #3 Toyota Diamond Cobra went to J Team in classic J Team style: slow and steady, eventually wearing down TDC until they broke. Game 2 started out in TDC’s favor, as Mrsunz’s The Flash ran circles around J Team, setting up a kill, gold, and tower advantage. J Team, ever resilient, managed to crawl back into the game and take down all of TDC’s towers. However, they had a disastrous team fight at the worst possible moment, getting aced and allowing TDC to win at the 27-minute mark.
J Team gave TDC a lesson in macro play in game 3, as they managed to build a massive 8000 gold lead at 14:10 while being down in kills, 5-3. They soon closed it out, putting TDC down match point. In game 4, TDC’s early kills did give them an actual gold lead, and they held steady for the duration of the early game. But J Team took advantage of TDC members being low on health at the 10-minute mark, pushing into the mid lane and picking up multiple kills and towers. The rest of the game was a straightforward close-out by J Team, choking TDC out until they were eliminated from the AIC.
Bazaar Gaming vs Alpha Red
Though Bazaar Gaming came into the match with compatriots Alpha Red as the reigning RPL champions, you wouldn’t know it from game 1. Alpha Red dominated from start to finish, shutting down Difoxn’s Slimz and winning the game with eight towers still standing. In game 2, Bazaar made the bizarre decision of combining Aleister and Kriknak. The result was neither enough back line protection nor enough dive to consistently find Taoz’ Tel’Annas. Though Bazaar’s early game went slightly better, Alpha Red still managed to build up a 10,000 gold lead before winning in under 18 minutes.
Not thinking their game 2 draft was bizarre enough, Bazaar Gaming outdid themselves in game 3, picking a midlane-less composition. As expected, the mid-by-committee composition was heavily punished by Alpha Red, the latter felling the opposing mid tower extremely early. The snowball was on after that, Alpha Red convincingly winning in under 12 minutes and knocking out rivals Bazaar Gaming.
Team Flash vs Flash Wolves
Flash Wolves played game 1 in classic Flash Wolves style, falling behind 2000 gold before inexplicably winning a number of team fights and picking up the victory. In game 2, they made the mistake of getting ahead in gold at the start, which all but secured their defeat. All jokes aside, it was Team Flash’s XB with an amazing ambush at the 6-minute mark to flip the game on its head and give Team Flash the momentum going forward. Though Flash Wolves had their chances, consistent staggered deaths from normally-stalwart XiXi and their inconsistent attention to macro play was their downfall, a simple minion wave down mid proving fatal.
Flash Wolves seemingly had the slight upper hand going into game 3, but they made the strange decision to choose Diao Chan, putting the the playmaking XiXi on one of the most immobile heroes in the game. While Flash Wolves have shown the ability to outmaneuver their opponents even after losing a draft, this was a little too much to overcome. XiXi was scared to even approach team fights, and the snipes from Wayn’s Elsu didn’t hit their mark, resulting in FW’s slow and steady downfall in 24 minutes.
For some reason, Flash Wolves decided that Bazaar’s disaster of a game 3 looked like a good strategy, so they too went for a mid-less draft in game 4. Or was it jungle-less? It’s hard to tell. The early game went well enough for Flash Wolves, as they kept pace for the first several minutes of the game. However, the lack of steady positions led to open lanes and easy towers for Team Flash once the kills came. Once Team Flash figured out how to beat FW’s strange composition, the snowball came hard and fast, and Flash Wolves was eliminated in under 12 minutes.
Final Weekend Predictions
Here is the bracket for the final four teams:
Team Flash looked reasonably strong against Flash Wolves, though it’s hard to make any judgments considering how hard the latter collapsed in their quarterfinal match. Meanwhile, AHQ managed to survive their scare against an OverClockers team that came with specific strategies to topple the giants. AHQ, despite some potential weaknesses in Chaser’s and Rush’s hero pool, are unlikely to succumb to Team Flash the way their GCS counterparts did.
Prediction: AHQ 3-1 Team Flash
Though Alpha Red similarly benefited from a quarterfinal collapse by their opponent, they looked very solid in their own right, taking advantage of every opportunity they were given. However, J Team is simply too consistent and too resilient a team to be beaten by anyone other than AHQ. I see J Team “stealing” a couple of victories in which Alpha Red has the advantage but makes a tiny mistake that’s heavily capitalized upon – just like we saw in the group stages between these teams. In the end, J Team will eke out the series.
Prediction: J Team 3-2 Alpha Red
Like I mentioned earlier, AHQ does have some weaknesses for J Team to exploit. However, I feel that the skill difference between DS Laners Sun and Yuzon and midlaners Hak and Star at two key positions will be too much to overcome for J Team. While J Team’s solid play and ability to take advantage of weaknesses and errors will give them a couple games, I don’t believe it will be enough to win the series.
Prediction: AHQ 4-2 J Team
As for the rest of the bracket, I predict Alpha Red over Team Flash, 3-1, J Team over Alpha Red, 3-1 (they’ll have figured AR out a bit better by this point), and finally AHQ over J Team, 4-2 once again.
AIC Proper Coverage
- AIC 2018 Playoffs (Quarterfinals) Schedule (December 6, 2018)
- AIC 2018 Group Stage Results (Esports Roundup December 3, 2018)
- AIC 2018 Group Stage Starts on November 30 (November 28, 2018)
- AIC 2018 Knockout Stage Results (Esports Roundup November 26, 2018)
Road to AIC Coverage
- AIC 2018 Begins Tomorrow (November 22, 2018)
- AIC 2018 Predictions (Knockout and Group Stages) (November 16, 2018)
- AIC 2018 Group Draw Finalizes Seedings (November 12, 2018)
- Valor Series, AOG Winter Championships Concluded, 16 Teams Decided for AIC 2018 (November 11, 2018)
- AHQ Wins GCS 2018, Valor Series, AOG Go into Grand Finals (November 10, 2018)
- Valor Series Enters Playoffs, Thailand/Indonesia/China AIC Reps Decided (November 2, 2018)
- Bazaar Gaming Wins RPL S2, More AIC Qualifier Tournaments Nearing Close (October 26, 2018)
- $600,000 USD Arena of Valor International Championship (AIC) 2018 set for November (October 24, 2018)
- RPL Completes Regular Season, Other AIC Qualifiers Wrapping Up (October 12, 2018)
- 2018 Arena of Valor International Championship (AIC) Officially Announced (October 8, 2018)
- Esports Roundup: Valor Series, GCS, RPL, AOG, ASL, Valor Cup (September 21, 2018)
- Esports Roundup: Valor Series, GCS, RPL, Valor Cup (September 14, 2018)
- Valor Series Begins Tomorrow: Esports Roundup September 7, 2018
- Esports Roundup (Valor Series, GCS, RPL, Asian Games) (August 28, 2018)
- AWC Finals Recap (August 1, 2018)
- AWC Semifinals and Finals Overview (July 31, 2018)
- Korea Crowned World Champions after Thrilling Seven Game Finals (July 29, 2018)
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