The second day of ESL One Hamburg 2017's Group Stage saw its first team eliminated from the tournament.
Fnatic was unceremoniously booted from the standings without a victory and left with more questions than answers. The team looked lost in the drafting phase and worse off in its execution during the games. The focus of the blame could be pinpointed to the two cores, Steve "Xcalibur" Ye and Jacky "EternalEnvy" Mao. Their lack of synergy with the team was apparent and their mistakes were heightened as a result. Evil Geniuses took down the disappointing team in quick 2-0 fashion to continue its journey out of the Group Stage. Outside of that matchup, the two big series preceding it were fantastic.
Team Secret's legitimacy
Team Secret broke through its group with a 2-1 victory over Newbee. The lineup forced fights, aggressively rotated, and reacted perfectly to the strong drafts of its opposition.
Team Secret drafted for mobility with an emphasis on flexibility from its cores. Heroes such as Nature's Prophet, Io, Night Stalker, and Spirit Breaker were picked to create chaos and space for its cores and to rotate quickly for fights. Despite Newbee's captain Zeng "Faith" Hongda's best efforts to force Team Secret into fighting his specific pace with his drafts, the quicker rotations of Team Secret won out. All of Newbee's drafts looked great on paper, but the execution was lacking; Team Secret played reactionary and picked strong counters to the opposition's cores (Death Prophet to counter Ember Spirit, Monkey King against Chaos Knight, and Leshrac).
Team Secret's balanced attack began with Adrian "FATA-" Trinks and his versatile hero pool. His aggression with Nature's Prophet spread out the map and provided instant offense in game one, while his Doom in game three was involved in every critical team fight and correctly used his ultimate on the best targets. Yeik "MidOne" Zheng was especially impressive with two heroes that he never showcased in a tournament setting before (Leshrac and Legion Commander).
The clash of titans
Both Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro entered ESL One Hamburg as the perennial favorites to take the tournament. It pitted Team Liquid's lane dominance against Virtus.Pro's advanced ability to team fight. Both teams were in peak fighting shape due to keeping its lineups over the past year, and made sure its series was the one to watch.
It was a reversal of identities between the two teams with Virtus.Pro emphasizing strong lane matchups and Team Liquid drafting for burst combination attacks. The matchup between the combination of Virtus.Pro's Alexei "Solo" Berezin and Ilya "Lil" Ilyuk and Team Liquid's Maroun "GH" Merhej was the highlight to watch. Both rotating supports alternated clutch moments. Whether it was GH's legendary Io play and relocates or Lil's ridiculous playmaking abilities on Enchantress, each game was decided by the play of its star supports. Even with Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barqawi's impressive Phantom Assassin 26-3-16 game or Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev and Vladimir "No[o]ne" Minenko's consistency to post gaudy numbers, it was the battles between GH and Lil with Solo that truly dictated the set. Solo's sleeps and rotations in game one with Bane was pivotal for Virtus.Pro's lane momentum and Lil's Enchantress in game three was chaotic, sometimes out of position, and provided all the space necessary for the team's cores to farm up. In the end, VP took is 2-1 over TL.