Dota 2 Berlin Major: Gaimin Gladiators, OG, 9 Pandas, Tundra advance to upper bracket semis
Meanwhile, Team Spirit, Team Liquid, Shopify Rebellion, and PSG.LGD were knocked down to the lower bracket.
The ESL One Berlin Major 2023 Playoffs are now in full swing as Gaimin Gladiators, OG, 9 Pandas, and Tundra Esports emerged victorious during the first round of upper bracket matches on Monday (1 May).
The Lima Major champions breezed through The International 10 (TI10) champions Team Spirit, OG pulled off a huge upset over favourites Team Liquid, 9 Pandas made short work of Shopify Rebellion, and the TI11 champions took down PSG.LGD.
The four victorious teams now advance to the upper bracket semifinals, where Gaimin Gladiators will be taking on OG while 9 Pandas will be facing Tundra Esports. Meanwhile, the losing squads drop down to the lower bracket.
Read on for a breakdown of all the action in the opening day of the Berlin Major Playoffs:
Gaimin Gladiators 2-0 Team Spirit
Lima Major champions Gaimin Gladiators are looking unstoppable as they continue their campaign for a second Major title this season. In their opening match of the Playoffs against Spirit, Gaimin Gladiators were quick to pick up Medusa and dare their opponents to find a way to stop it.
In game one, Spirit looked to match Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov's Medusa in the late game with a Sven pick for Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk. However, that plan failed to even materialise as Gaimin Gladiators dominated the laning stage and stomped the GG call out of Spirit in just 30 minutes of action.
Quinn "Quinn" Callahan led the way for the Gaimin Gladiators, pacing his team's 23-7 kill lead with a clean nine kills and 10 assists on Pangolier.
The Gaimin Gladiators once again put dyrachyo on Medusa in game two, with Spirit picking up Axe for Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov as a counter. While Spirit were able to keep the game closer for 40 minutes, the Medusa still reigned supreme in the late game and handed Gaimin Gladiators the easy 2-0 series victory.
OG 2-1 Team Liquid
The second match of the day saw super stand-in squad OG take on Team Liquid, who were considered one of the biggest favourites in the Berlin Major despite a shaky performance in the Group Stage. The 'stand-in buff' seems very real for OG, as Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov and Kartik "Kitrak" Rathi played key roles as they pulled off the 2-1 upset over Liquid.
Game one went as many expected, with Liquid making short work of an apparently undermanned OG in just under 40 minutes and with a 39-9 kill lead.
However, OG were quick to strike back in game two, where they themselves stomped Liquid in 37 minutes. The team's three cores fueled their 36-16 kill lead, with Artem "Yuragi" Golubiev on Ursa leading the way with 14, Bozhidar "bzm" Bogdanov on a mid Alchemist having 12, and MinD_ControL on Batrider adding 10.
OG rode the momentum from their game two victory onto game three, where they simply ran over Liquid. Bzm's Void Spirit wreaked havoc all across the map to give Yuragi's Terrorblade free reign to take over.
But it was MinD_ControL's Tidehunter that made the game-sealing play, setting up a huge pickoff on Michael "miCKe" Vu's Muerta under Liquid's top tier three tower with a surprise Ravage. OG would force the GG call not long after, securing the 2-1 series victory after 35 minutes of action.
9 Pandas 2-0 Shopify Rebellion
While OG's huge upset over Liquid in the previous series was certainly unexpected, not many could have also predicted that Eastern Europe's 9 Pandas will end up sweeping North America's Shopify Rebellion.
9 Pandas proved Medusa wasn't an auto-win pick in game one, as they successfully matched it in the late game with a core duo of Faceless Void for Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev and Tiny for Gleb "kiyotaka" Zyryanov.
While Faceless Void would go blow-for-blow with the Medusa in teamfights, the Tiny would burst through the other Shopify Rebellion heroes before turning around to help finish off the lone snake lady. Kiyotaka paced 9 Pandas' 37-26 kill lead in 50 minutes with 12 kills against five deaths.
With their Medusa now proven beatable, Shopify Rebellion instead opted for a carry Monkey King for Artour "Arteezy" Babaev to lead them to a comeback in game two. 9 Pandas countered with a burst-heavy lineup led by a carry Slardar for RAMZES, Puck for Kiyotaka, and Doom for Matvey "MieRo`" Vasyunin.
The Eastern European squad didn't need to take things late, as they were in control from the laning stage and never looked back. Shopify Rebellion's attempts to rally were simply swatted aside, forcing them to concede the series after 35 minutes.
Tundra Esports 2-1 PSG.LGD
The final series of the day saw the reigning TI champions take on a new PSG.LGD roster eager to reclaim the past prestige of both the organisation and of Chinese Dota as a whole. While Tundra emerged victorious as many expected, PSG.LGD still put up a good fight by forcing the series to three games.
Game one was a stomp, as Oliver "skiter" Lepko on Ursa racked up a clean 14 kills out of his team's 30-14 kill lead to force a 30-minute GG call out of PSG.LGD.
PSG.LGD were able to tie up the series with a stomp of their own, as Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang on Storm Spirit balled out for a clean 10 kills in a 40-minute, 31-12 rout.
Tundra were quick to shake off their loss in game two, as they dominated the decider from the get-go. In signature Tundra fashion, the TI11 champions took their sweet time securing the series victory, closing out PSG.LGD after 42 minutes and with a 60,000 net worth lead. Skiter on Sven once again led the way, notching 16 kills against just one death as Tundra ended the series up 36-15 in kills.
With today's results, Gaimin Gladiators, OG, 9 Pandas, and Tundra Esports have all secured at least a Top 6 finish as well as US$25,000 and 300 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points in winnings. They will soon be facing off in the upper bracket semifinals for two of the Top 3 spots.
Meanwhile, Team Spirit, Team Liquid, Shopify Rebellion, and PSG.LGD drop down to the first round of the lower bracket.
Team Spirit will face Team Aster, Team Liquid will take on Xtreme Gaming, Shopify Rebellion will meet a familiar foe in Evil Geniuses, while PSG.LGD will be battling Talon Esports.
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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