VGJ.Storm defeats Winstrike, Secret edges out Vici

Avery "SVG" Silverman of VGJ.Storm leads his team into their match against Winstrike on Day 3 of The International 2018 at Rogers Arena in Canada. Provided by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

VGJ.Storm 2, Winstrike 0

The third day of International 8 kicked off at Rogers Arena in Vancouver with a one-sided match that saw VGJ.Storm sweep Winstrike 2-0.

The first game of the series saw VGJ.S put on a clinic. Team captain and support Avery "SVG" Silverman chose to go for a bold first two picks, Drow Ranger and Mirana. Confident he and his teammates could outplay Wintrike, SVG went into the game with a calculated plan and executed to it near perfection. Carries Yawar "YawaR" Hassan and Roman "Resolut1on" Rominok on Mirana and Drow Ranger, respectively, controlled the pace of the game with a huge damage advantage. VGJ.S did a great job picking when and where to fight, turning its damage advantage into an objective lead very quickly into the game. Once VGJ.S claimed its lead it never let off the pressure, consistently growing its advantage on the way to a convincing Game 1 win.

In Game 2, Winstrike's captain and support Aleksander "Nofear" Churochkin chose to ban Mirana, but VGJ.S still went for its Drow Ranger right away. This time SVG opted to pair it with a Weaver, losing out on some potent disables and utility from Sacred Arrow and Moonlight Shadow, but keeping all the mobility and damage. Winstrike opted for Tiny, played by carry Bogdan "Iceberg" Vasilenko. Iceberg helped find some good kills on offlaner Jingjun "Sneyking" Wu, but Resolut1on's Drow Ranger was always out of reach. VGJ.S was able to steamroll its way over Winstrike with even more efficiency than in Game 1, bringing Game 2 to a close in just under 28 minutes.

This loss ends an impressive run from the CIS qualifier winner, Winstrike. After barely scraping out of a group stage exit, Winstrike managed to eliminate the International 7 runners-up, Newbee, before tieing for 9th-12th along with Team Serenity and Mineski. The team will take home $376,000 in prize money. Meanwhile, VGJ.Storm's journey will continue Thursday at 4 p.m. ET when it takes on the winner of Team Secret vs. Vici Gaming.

--Jack Ballenger

Team Secret 2, Vici Gaming 1

Team Secret edged out Vici Gaming in the first Main Event series at TI8, securing a nail-biting 2-1 win.

The first game of the series was a very long but high-action win from Vici. It took almost an hour of trying to siege down Secret defenses, but Vici was able to hold on to its lead for the majority of the game. Secret did create some opportunities for a potential comeback, closing the gap on a 10,000 gold lead thanks to some excellent play from carry Yeik Nai "MidOne" Zheng's Ember Spirit, but Vici was able to quickly reign things in and recover its lead. Vici support duo Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng and Lu "Fenrir" Chao were able to completely control the game on Earthshaker and Silencer, respectively, shutting down Secret's attempts at pressure. With two high-damage carries, Terrorblade for Zhang "Paparazzi" Chengfun and Templar Assassin for Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang, Vici was well equipped to close things out in the late-game.

Vici went back for almost the exact same draft in Game 2, content to focus on its own game and only swapping out Ori's hero from Templar Assassin to Lina. This time Secret was prepared. A last-pick Zeus for MidOne gave Secret great burst damage that allowed it to play at a lightning-quick pace. At 12 minutes, Secret secured four towers, a Roshan and a 7,000-gold lead. One minute later Secret secured both middle lane barracks and boosted its lead to 9,000. Secret was patient, methodically breaking down Vici's remaining defenses before forcing the "GG" call at 32 minutes.

With an entire season's worth of hard work on the line, both teams went for a strategy centered around a single strong pick. Secret staked things on MidOne's Invoker, while Vici put its eggs into the basket of an Ori Huskar. Although he was always a threat, Secret played around Ori's Huskar perfectly. Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat's support Enigma was a crucial factor in Secret's win, providing a disable that Huskar could do nothing about with Black Hole.

Vici Gaming joins Winstrike Team, Mineski and Team Serenity in a tie for 9th-12th place, taking home $376,000 in prize money. Team Secret will play again on Thursday against VGJ.Storm at 4 p.m. ET.

-- Ballenger

PSG.LGD 2, Team Liquid 0

PSG.LGD moved one step closer to the finals with a 2-0 victory over Team Liquid.

Team Liquid was outdrafted and outplayed so hard that we wondered: Is Liquid waiting for the lower bracket to lay down all its cards? In both drafts, captain Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasomi was seemingly baited into drafting support heroes that were heavily countered by LGD's last pick. TL players looked shell-shocked at how LGD defeated them easily at every turn. Small mistakes spiraled into bigger mistakes and Liquid tried to force sloppy plays out of desperation. Even when it knew a fight was turning sour, the players pushed on, hellbent on trying to salvage something and gain even the slightest hold on the game. If this is the best that Team Liquid can muster against its toughest opposition, the chance at gaining a second Aegis of Champions is slim to none.

PSG.LGD put on a performance that was nothing short of perfection. The team made crisp rotations, won every lane and managed to shift every draft in their favor. In Game 1, it was Xu "fy" Linsen's Io in combination with Wang "Ame" Chun Yu's Gyrocopter that brought Liquid down in style, grabbing a triple kill before relocating to bring down a tower across the map. In Game 2, star mid-laner Lu "Maybe" Yao frustrated Liquid with ease as Bloodseeker. Despite all of its efforts Liquid could not kill Maybe, no matter how low his health went. He ended up finishing the game with 16 kills and no deaths. While PSG.LGD may have shown more of its strategies than Team Liquid, the last hope for China moves on, one step closer to the Aegis of Champions.

PSG.LGD moves on to the upper bracket finals where it will await the winner of Evil Geniuses versus OG at 4 p.m. ET on Friday. Liquid will play the winner of VGJStorm vs Secret at 1 p.m. ET.

--Travis Elliott

OG 2, Evil Geniuses 1

OG achieved its highest finish at an International ever after taking out Evil Geniuses 2-1. In the most contentious series of The International 2018, OG managed to throw away what should have been a clean 2-0 victory. In Game 1, the draft went entirely OG's way and the laning stage followed suit with OG's heroes winning most of their lanes. After styling on Evil Geniuses while throwing in plenty of trash talk, OG took a quick Game 1.

OG looked to continue its dominance, easily taking control of Game 2 after the laning stages. But after becoming too cocky, taunting and toying with Evil Geniuses, OG made its fatal mistake. Overstaying its welcome, the members of OG were wiped at the middle barracks of Evil Geniuses. After realizing the mistake, OG began to panic, becoming sloppy and attempting to force things to end the game, which resulted in even more wipes. In less than five minutes, OG had tossed away a 10,000-gold lead and its chances at winning Game 2. Evil Geniuses, with its superior team composition, won out in the end and forced a decisive Game 3.

In Game 3, it was OG who looked hopeless from the start as Evil Geniuses ran roughshod over OG, as mid-lane Sumail "Sumail" Hassan terrorized OG as Tiny. This didn't last for long, however. Evil Geniuses simply waited too long to end the game once it was ahead and gave OG a window to creep back in. Once OG was in a rhythm, it was Evil Geniuses who were forcing fights this time around, leading to its demise.

OG will move on to the upper bracket finals to face PSG.LGD at 4 p.m. ET on Friday. Evil Geniuses will fall to the lower bracket and await the winner of OpTic Gaming versus Virtus.pro at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.

-- Elliot