Dota 2 Riyadh Masters: Liquid and Spirit make Top 3, to meet in upper bracket finals

Meanwhile, Talon Esports and BetBoom Team dropped down to the lower bracket while Team Secret were eliminated.

Team Liquid and Team Spirit have secured at least a Top 3 finish at the Dota 2 Riyadh Masters after they emerged victorious in hard-fought upper bracket semifinal matches in day three of the Playoffs. Pictured: Team Liquid zai, Team Spirit Yatoro. (Photos: Team Liquid, Team Spirit, Gamers8)
Team Liquid and Team Spirit have secured at least a Top 3 finish at the Dota 2 Riyadh Masters after they emerged victorious in hard-fought upper bracket semifinal matches in day three of the Playoffs. Pictured: Team Liquid zai, Team Spirit Yatoro. (Photos: Team Liquid, Team Spirit, Gamers8)

Day three of the Dota 2 Riyadh Masters Playoffs saw some of the best games of the tournament so far.

The competition kicked off with the final match of the first round of the lower bracket, where Eastern Europe's 9Pandas eliminated Western Europe's Team Secret in a 2-0 sweep.

The action then shifted to the upper bracket semifinals, where Team Liquid and Team Spirit advanced to the upper bracket finals and guaranteed themselves a Top 3 placement after hard-fought 2-1 victories over Talon Esports and BetBoom Team.

Here's how all the action in day three of the Riyadh Masters Playoffs went down:

Lower bracket round 1

9Pandas 2-0 Team Secret

9Pandas kicked off the action in day three by soundly sweeping Secret to advance to the second round of the lower bracket.

In game one, 9Pandas used their patented carry Alchemist pick in the hands of Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev to dominate the laning stage and snowball to a comfortable 34-minute win.

Matvey "MieRo`" Vasyunin on Lycan paced 9Pandas' 27-13 kill lead with a game-high seven kills on two deaths. RAMZES and Vladislav "Antares" Kertman on Skywrath Mage also pitched in with six kills apiece.

Game two was a similar story, this time with 9Pandas utilizing a tri-core of Terrorblade for RAMZES, Storm Spirit for Gleb "kiyotaka" Zyryanov, and Timbersaw for MieRo to complete the 2-0 series sweep in 38 minutes of action.

MieRo once again led the way in kills, this time with eight on two deaths, while RAMZES added a clean six kills to fuel a 28-14 kill lead for 9Pandas in the closeout game.

Upper bracket semifinals

Team Liquid 2-1 Talon Esports

The second match of the day saw Liquid overcome Talon in a hard-fought, three-game slugfest that was capped off with an insane base race in game three.

Game one was a classic Liquid win, as they came out of a tightly-contested laning stage with guns blazing to dominate the midgame behind a fearsome tri-core of Luna for Michael "miCKe" Vu, Leshrac for Michał "Nisha" Jankowski, and Visage for Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg.

Despite Talon's efforts to stall things out to the late game, Liquid were able to take the first game of the series after 42 minutes.

Liquid looked poised to sweep the series in game two, where they once again got in a dominant position by the midgame.

However, Talon were able to hold on long enough this time around, giving Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon's Terrorblade the time he needed to grow into an unstoppable late game force and help his team force a decider after 48 minutes.

23savage fueled Talon's 37-25 kill lead with a game-high 12 kills on six deaths while Rafli "Mikoto" Rahman on Storm Spirit added nine kills on six deaths.

Game three may end up being the best game of the entire tournament. Both teams were on relatively even footing from the early to midgame, until Talon started to gain momentum by winning teamfights behind 23savage's Morphling and Mikoto's Ember Spirit.

With most of the teamfights not going their way, Liquid resolved to stall things out by having zai on Broodmother relentlessly split-push across the map to give miCKe's Faceless Void the space he needed to hopefully carry the team by the late game.

Talon continued winning the clashes well into the late game, although zai was able to chip away at their base in return.

The final minutes of the game saw Talon win what should have been the decisive teamfight just outside of Liquid's base, which let the Southeast Asian squad finally assault their opponents' Ancient. However, zai was able to sneak into Talon's base at the same time in an attempt to force a base race by himself.

The rest of Liquid managed to prevent Talon from teleporting back and destroying their Ancient while zai destroyed their opponents' Ancient to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at exactly the hour mark.

Team Spirit 2-1 BetBoom Team

The final match of the day was an all-Eastern Europe affair, where Spirit pulled off two improbable comeback wins to defeat BetBoom in another three-game thriller.

Game one saw Spirit field a glass cannon carry duo of Drow Ranger for Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk and Windranger for Denis "Larl" Sigitov while Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov on Dark Seer manned the front line.

However, BetBoom dominated for much of the game behind their more balanced tri-core of Morphling for Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko, Primal Beast for Danil "gpk" Skutin, and Lycan for Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko.

BetBoom dominated in terms of net worth from start to finish, but Spirit were able to keep themselves in the game thanks to a fearsome high ground defense as well as some key pickoffs on enemy cores. One such pickoff came around the 42-minute mark, where Spirit managed to kill Nightfall twice that eventually allowed them to take the game one win after 44 minutes.

BetBoom were quick to shake off their game one loss, dominating once again but making sure to close things out this time around. Gpk led the way for his team on Tiny, notching 21 kills on just two deaths to force the series to a deciding game three after 44 minutes.

Game three was a similar story to game one, as BetBoom once again dominated before Spirit pulled off yet another improbable comeback in the late game.

BetBoom got to a dominant position behind gpk's Ember Spirit and Pure's Axe scoring kills all around the map, which also gave Nightfall's Terrorblade space to free farm. Meanwhile, Spirit resorted to conceding multiple deaths on their supports to give Yatoro's Faceless Void space to carry them once things went late.

While BetBoom handily won the straight-up teamfights out in the open, they could not break through Spirit's stubborn base defense, which extended the game past the hour mark. Eventually, BetBoom were caught off-guard by Spirit just outside of their base that eventually allowed them to steal the 2-1 series victory after 72 minutes of action.

With the above results, Liquid and Spirit have guaranteed themselves at least a third place finish as well as a whopping US$1.7 million in winnings. They will next face off in the upper bracket finals on Saturday (29 July) for the first spot in the Grand Finals, where the US$5 million grand prize will be at stake.

Meanwhile, Secret has been eliminated in 9th-12th place and will take home US$300,000 in consolation.

The fourth day of the Riyadh Masters Playoffs will see three more eliminations in the lower bracket, starting with the second round followed by the first of two lower bracket quarterfinal matches.

Here the matchups for day four of the Riyadh Masters Playoffs:

  • Gaimin Gladiators vs Quest Esports

  • 9Pandas vs Team Aster

  • BetBoom Team vs winner of Gaimin Gladiators vs Quest Esports

The Riyadh Masters Playoffs will take place from 25 to 30 July with a double-elimination format. All matches in the Playoffs will be best-of-three series except for the Grand Finals, which will be a best-of-five.

The Riyadh Masters 2023 is the biggest Dota 2 event this year outside of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season, featuring a massive US$15 million prize pool. The champions of the Riyadh Masters will go home with a handsome US$5 million grand prize.

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