We are now down to just five teams in the ESL One Berlin Major 2023 after the fourth day of the Playoffs on Friday (5 May).
In front of a live crowd at Berlin's Velodrom arena, Western European juggernauts Team Liquid and South American powerhouse Evil Geniuses (EG) emerged victorious in three-straight 2-0 sweeps in the lower bracket.
Liquid ended China's hopes for a Major championship in Berlin by sending Team Aster home before knocking out The International 11 (TI11) champions Tundra Esports. Meanwhile, EG eliminated Southeast Asia from contention as they sent Talon Esports packing.
Read on for a breakdown of all the action in the fourth day of the Berlin Major Playoffs:
Lower bracket round 2
Team Liquid 2-0 Team Aster
Liquid began their day four rampage by bulldozing through Aster, who have outlasted the other Chinese teams thanks in part to stand-in midlaner Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan.
SumaiL would trade blows with Michał "Nisha" Jankowski in a showdown between two of the best mids in the world, though Nisha and Liquid would prove too much even for SumaiL.
Game one saw SumaiL on Mirana outplay Nisha on Void Spirit during the laning stage, but Liquid still snowballed during the midgame to put Aster on the ropes. While Du "Monet" Peng's excellent play on Slark helped the Chinese team stay competitive, they were still on the losing end of a war of attrition.
Despite a valiant last stand led by SumaiL with Divine Rapier, Liquid still broke through Aster's defenses to take game one after a 54-minute slugfest. Nisha paced Liquid's 31-25 kill lead with 13 kills against five deaths while Monet put up a clean 12 kills despite the loss.
Even after the long game one brawl, Liquid remained on fire in game two. Nisha once again showed out, this time on Queen of Pain, notching a perfect 14-kill, 11-assist line as Liquid knocked Aster out in a 29-12, 35-minute closeout game.
Evil Geniuses 2-0 Talon Esports
The second match of the day between EG and Talon followed a similar script to the Liquid-Aster series, as the South American squad overcame their Southeast Asian opponents in a late game thriller in game one before stomping them in game two.
Talon were in the driver's seat to start the series, taking advantage of a slow draft by EG anchored by Crhistian "Pakazs" Savina's Faceless Void. As Talon looked to take over during the midgame, Adrián "Wisper" Dobles on Batrider helped to keep the South American squad afloat as Pakazs slowly grew to a late game beast.
Once the Faceless Void came online, Talon could do little to stop it in teamfights. In what ended up being the decisive clash of the game at the 41-minute mark, Pakazs survived a five-man gank before landing a four-man Chronosphere that gave EG the momentum.
While Talon were able to stall things out to 55 minutes, Pakazs eventually secured the game one win for EG with an excellent 14-kill, two-death showing on his Faceless Void.
Talon seemed discombobulated from their game one loss as they barely put up a fight in a 25-minute game two. Jean Pierre "C. smile" Salazar on Storm Spirit balled out to secure the series sweep, notching a perfect 15-kill, seven-assist line to fuel his team's lopsided 34-5 kill lead.
Lower bracket quarterfinals
Team Liquid 2-0 Tundra Esports
Liquid rode the momentum from their victory over Aster to dismantle the TI11 champions to close out the day. In typical fashion, Tundra made their opponents work for every victory as the series totaled 86 minutes of action. But don't let the game durations fool you, it wasn't even close. Liquid racked up a total of 71 kills while only conceding 16 deaths across two games.
Game one saw Michael "miCKe" Vu show out on Ursa as Liquid ran over Tundra's snail-paced Naga Siren draft in 48 minutes. MiCKe notched 14 kills against two deaths to pace his team's 32-6 kill lead, with Nisha on Ember Spirit also pitching in with a clean eight kills.
Tundra put up a better fight in the 37-minute game two, but that's not saying much. MiCKe once again led the way for Liquid, this time on Bloodseeker, and put up 17 kills against just one death as they closed out the series with a 40-10 kill lead.
With the day's results, Liquid have secured at least a Top 4 finish as well as US$50,000 and 350 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points in winnings. With at least 1,400 DPC points racked up over the season so far, Liquid also became the first team to secure a direct invite to this year's iteration of The International, Dota 2's annual multimillion dollar world championship tournament.
Meanwhile, Tundra Esports, Talon Esports, and Team Aster have been eliminated from the Major.
Tundra bow out in 5th-6th place with US$25,000 and 300 DPC points in consolation while Talon and Aster exit in 7th-8th place with US$12,500 and 200 DPC points apiece.
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.