Esports VainGlory International Premier League

[VIPL2] Cage Match Preview: Two Teams Enter, One Team Leaves

On December 19th, VIPL Groups A and C will be playing some intense matches that will decide the fates of all four teams involved: PHOBIA  vs. WILD  and WEV  vs. INFAMOUS – yes, it appears there’s a worldwide pandemic of broken caps lock keys. All four teams have one win and one loss, having beaten the underdog of their respective groups, but having also lost to the top dog of their respective groups. Now, it’s time to separate the men from the boys. Two teams will enter each match, but the one who loses goes home. It’s cage match time!

PHOBIA vs. WILD (Group A)

Of the two groups, this will be the most closely matched. Here’s what you should know.

The support players for PHOBIA and WILD, febri and MonG, respectively, have proven to be very talented, particularly as some of the best jukers in the world. You can see them in action here (febri) and here (MonG). That being said, PHOBIA would’ve lost their game against the Group A underdog, DMG, if the latter had not been baited into following febri around for a full 25-second jukefest. WILD, however, had a much more decisive game against DMG, giving me confidence that WILD will have an edge over PHOBIA.

I have seen WILD use a wide range of heroes, but I get the impression that PHOBIA has an achilles’ heel: their Celeste. In the pre-season article, Meet the Teams, Keldegar had indicated that their jungler, spectro, favorited Celeste. Since then, he’s played her in both games. This could either be a potential ban by WILD or a primary team fight objective. In PHOBIA’s match against Group A bully, GankStars, they were beaten in part because GankStars kept focus-firing and locking down spectro’s Celeste during team fights, preventing him from becoming a threat. In the one team fight where GankStars did not do this, PHOBIA was 4000 gold behind and still managed to take out two members of GankStars without losing any of their own – pretty impressive.

The real question is: does PHOBIA have some new tricks up their sleeve? I hope so. Otherwise, I’m betting that WILD’s competitive analysts have already come to conclusions which are similar to mine.

WEV vs. INFAMOUS (Group C)

On the surface, WEV vs. INFAMOUS looks like a perfectly balanced match. They’ve both won against the same team: Universal Civils. And they’ve both lost against the same team: Invincible Armada. However, I fear this one may be a little more one-sided than meets the eye.

First, WEV was the closest team – thus far – to beating the undefeated forerunner, Invincible Armada. In the longest, most action-packed match of the season, WEV barely got edged out of winning a game that was close all the way to the very end. If you haven’t seen that match, I highly recommend you watch it while you’re waiting: Day 3 – Group C – WEV vs. Invincible Armada (30-minute length; timestamp = 01:35:00).

In extreme contrast, INFAMOUS vs. Invincible Armada was the shortest, most one-sided matchup of the season, wrapping up at around 13 minutes. Now, this was probably in part because they took a risk with Phinn during the draft, which ended up working out horribly for them. Nonetheless, this stark contrast of how each team played against the group leader, Invincible Armada, is definitely raising red flags in my mind. Admittedly, with each team only having two games under their belt this season, it might be considered presumptuous to form any conclusive opinions.

A deciding factor of this match will be the draft phase, with each team trying to lock in their best comfort picks. They want to be at their strongest because everything is riding on it. That being said, I expect there to be a lot of contention over Skye and Ardan. Ardan is a notably strong support pick that greatly impacts the games he’s in and both teams will try to either obtain him or ban him. However, INFAMOUS has consistently demonstrated that they would much rather sacrifice an Ardan pick if they get to first pick a Skye. Reading between the lines, Skye seems like a precious draft pick for INFAMOUS and WEV will probably attempt to deny them of that.

In the end, if I had to predict which team was going to come out victorious, I would would place my money on WEV; but, while I believe WEV may have this match in the bag, I love cheering the underdog. I’m betting INFAMOUS is hungry for this win and I can’t wait to see what strategies they’re preparing for WEV.

All matches will be streamed on the OGN Twitch channel on December 19th at 8pm PST (December 20 @ 5am CET; 1pm KST). If you’re not awake at that time, you can always view the matches after the fact on OGN’s past broadcasts page. Enjoy!

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