Dota 2 Berlin Major: Gaimin Gladiators, 9 Pandas make Top 3; Talon knock out PSG.LGD
Meanwhile, OG and Tundra Esports were knocked down to the lower bracket quarterfinals.
We now have two of the Top 3 teams at the ESL One Berlin Major 2023 as day three of the Playoffs on Wednesday (3 April) came to a close.
Lima Major champions Gaimin Gladiators are one step closer to their second Major title this season after they soundly swept OG to advance to the upper bracket finals.
Joining them will be surging Eastern European squad 9 Pandas, who managed to pull off a huge upset over The International 11 (TI11) champions Tundra Esports.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asia's Talon Esports made it past the first round of the lower bracket after ousting China's PSG.LGD.
Read on for a breakdown of all the action in the third day of the Berlin Major Playoffs:
Lower bracket round 1
Talon Esports 2-0 PSG.LGD
Day three kicked off with a banger of a series that saw Talon Esports eliminate PSG.LGD. While the series looked like it would end in a quick sweep, the Chinese squad didn't go down without a fight as proven by the 73-minute thriller that was game two.
Talon started the series on fire, bulldozing PSG.LGD to the tune of a 27-10 kill lead in just 27 minutes. The Southeast Asian squad looked to carry that momentum into game two, where they racked up a 20-4 kill lead in the first 20 minutes.
Talon's dominant start was keyed by the oppressive offlane duo of Venomancer for Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong and Techies for Worawit "Q" Mekchai, who shut down Guo "shiro" Xuanang's Sven in the laning stage while letting Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon's Naga Siren farm virtually uncontested.
Despite their abysmal start, PSG.LGD were able to hang on thanks to Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang's Timbersaw. NothingToSay became an unkillable tank that prevented Talon from taking what looked to be an easy victory, stalling things out and letting shiro's Sven get enough farm to be a factor.
With PSG.LGD only growing stronger as they kept repelling assault after assault from Talon, the clock ticked past the hour mark as the game hung on a knife's edge. It was 23savage that stepped up in clutch time, deftly using Song of the Siren to catch multiple PSG.LGD heroes for an Aghanim's Scepter-upgraded Static Storm from Chan "Oli" Chon Kien's Disruptor to win key teamfights.
Talon finally broke through PSG.LGD's stubborn defence after 73 minutes of action to knock them out of the Berlin Major. 23savage led the way with 16 kills against two deaths, Q added 15 kills against six deaths, while Jabz pitched in with 10 takedowns against six deaths.
Upper bracket semifinals
Gaimin Gladiators 2-0 OG
The competition then moved to the upper bracket, starting with the first upper bracket semifinals match between Gaimin Gladiators and OG. While OG has thus far performed spectacularly despite having stand-ins, they were still no match for the defending Major champions on the hunt for a second title.
Game one saw the one-two punch of Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov and Quinn "Quinn" Callahan lead Gaimin Gladiators to a comfortable 47-minute victory. Dyrachyo paced his team's 42-22 kill lead with 14 kills against two deaths on Terrorblade while Quinn added 11 kills against two deaths as Ember Spirit.
Game two may be the most one-sided affair of the entire Major, as Gaimin Gladiators secured the 2-0 sweep in just under 25 minutes of action while racking up 41(!) kills and only conceding six deaths.
Quinn had another excellent performance on Pangolier, notching 17 kills against just one death, while Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard also showed out on Beastmaster with a clean 10 kills.
9 Pandas 2-1 Tundra Esports
The day ended with Eastern Europe's 9 Pandas pulling off another huge upset, this time over TI11 champions Tundra Esports, to advance to the upper bracket finals.
9 Pandas kicked things off with a slow-burn win in game one, where Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev on Alchemist simply farmed his way to victory in a low-kill affair where his team led 15-11 in 33 minutes.
Tundra then pulled off their usual off-meta shenanigans to tie things up in a 22-minute stomp in game two. While Neta "33" Shapira turned heads when he pulled out the offlane Medusa, it was Martin "Saksa" Sazdov that stole the show as he racked up 12 of his team's 23 total kills on Bounty Hunter.
The action finally picked up in game three, where 9 Pandas outlasted Tundra behind a phenomenal showing by Gleb "kiyotaka" Zyryanov on Tinker. Kiyotaka racked up 25 kills against six deaths to fuel his team's 42-36 kill lead in a 47-minute bloodbath.
With today's results, Gaimin Gladiators and 9 Pandas have secured at least a Top 3 finish as well as US$75,000 and 400 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points in winnings.
OG and Tundra Esports drop down to the lower bracket quarterfinals while Talon advance to the second round at the expense of PSG.LGD, who are knocked out.
The Major will take a one-day break before competition resumes on Friday (5 May) in front of a live audience in Berlin's Velodrom arena.
The fourth day of the Playoffs will feature the second round of the lower bracket, with Team Liquid taking on Team Aster and Evil Geniuses facing Talon Esports. The day will end with the first of two lower bracket quarterfinal matches between Tundra Esports and the winner of the Team Liquid-Team Aster showdown.
The Berlin Major Playoffs follows a double-elimination format where all matches are a best-of-three except for the Grand Finals, which will be a full best-of-five series.
The Berlin Major will take place from 26 April to 7 May and will feature 18 of the best teams in the DPC battling for their share of the US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool. Those DPC points will go towards securing all-important direct invites to this year's iteration of The International, Dota 2's annual multimillion dollar world championship tournament.
For everything you need to know about the Berlin Major, check here.
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