Southeast Asian hopefuls BOOM Esports have done the unthinkable.
After barely qualifying for the Main Event of The International 11 (TI11), BOOM pulled off a huge upset and knocked out TI10 champions Team Spirit after winning their best-of-one elimination match in the first round of the lower bracket.
Spirit did not look like themselves during the Group Stage.
The defending champions only managed a 9-9 record in Group B, which forced them to start the Main Event from the treacherous lower bracket.
Meanwhile, BOOM had to fight tooth and nail to earn their place in the Main Event. The team seemed headed for an early elimination after the Group Stage on its third day, when they only had a 4-12 record.
However, the Southeast Asian hopefuls managed to sweep Evil Geniuses in their last match of the Group Stage, which put them in a three-way tiebreaker with BetBoom Team and Soniqs Esports for the last Main Event spot for Group A.
BOOM then defeated both BetBoom and Soniqs in turn to get the chance to play against the defending TI champions in front of their home crowd.
BOOM opened the match by getting their comfort heroes, such an early Mars pick that gave them a strong teamfight and frontline presence. The big surprise in BOOM's draft came from the fact that Mars would go on the mid lane for Erin Jasper "Yopaj" Ferrer while offlaner Saieful "Fbz" Ilham played Beastmaster instead.
Team Spirit took multiple heroes that deal reasonable damage over time, such as a mid Leshrac for Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek and Lifestealer for Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk. Realizing they needed some burst damage on the team, Spirit went with a surprise offlane Outworld Destroyer pick for Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov.
Spirit were off to a great start by securing first blood on Yopaj. They then dominated the top lane and shut down Fbz while BOOM returned the favor in the bottom lane by bringing down Collapse.
However, among the two offlaners, it was Fbz who took the bigger hit to his networth. But luckily for BOOM, Yopaj was able to step up and make the plays the team needed to keep the game even.
After the laning stage, the TI10 champions started to pull slightly ahead, courtesy of their supports. While BOOM put all their resources into their cores, The European team had a better time utilizing the map overall.
Collapse suffered a little during the early game but Outworld Devourer is a hero who can have a great impact regardless of his networth, as he proved when he saved Yatoro 16 minutes into the game and secure a double kill for the team.
Both teams were relatively conservative in their gameplay, as one loss would send them packing home. Neither team wanted to make an aggressive move that can get punished and lose them the game.
BOOM managed to secure a quick Aegis at the 20-minute mark and used it to start controlling the map. This helped stave the aggression from Spirit, as they were unwilling to take a fight under such a big disadvantage. But luckily for BOOM, they could force fights by hitting buildings.
For the first time in the game, BOOM had the networth advantage and thus aimed to secure their second Roshan. It was the crucial objective for both teams, as taking the second Aegis of the game often allows the team to take a set of barracks afterwards.
Realizing they can't take a fight head-on, Spirit tried to deny BOOM the Aegis by stealing it. Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov made an impressive but ultimately futile attempt.
But even with their second Aegis in hand, BOOM was still cautious to go high ground. They had a major advantage in the game and were wary about losing it in a disastrous push.
Once the Aegis expired, Spirit thought they had room to breathe but BOOM had other ideas and now went for an aggressive push. Massive credit must go to Timothy "Tims" Randrup on Marci, as he managed to save his carry and helped the team emerge victorious after 40 minutes of tense action.
With their victory, BOOM have guaranteed themselves a Top 12 finish and now move on to the second round of the lower bracket. They will face Chinese favourites PSG.LGD, who were knocked down to the lower bracket by Team Secret.
Meanwhile, Spirit fail to defend their title and bow out of the tournament in 13th-16th place. They will take home over US$250,000 in consolation.
TI11 will be hosted in Singapore from 15 to 30 October and features a revamped format and a longer schedule.
The tournament will begin with a Group Stage from 15 to 18 October, where 20 teams will fight to become among the 16 squads to advance to the Main Event.
TI11's Main Event will be a double-elimination bracket and is split into two phases, the first being held from 20 to 23 October while the second will take place from 29 to 30 October.
For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.
BOOM Esports roster:
Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong
Erin Jasper "Yopaj" Ferrer
Saieful "Fbz" Ilham
Timothy "Tims" Randrup
Andrei "skem" Ong
Team Spirit roster:
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek
Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.
If you're a fan of Dota 2 both as a game and as an esports title, check out our Dota 2 page. From news to results, to the latest game meta or builds, as well as player interviews, there's something for everyone.