Team Secret eliminated Nigma Galaxy from the Western European regional qualifier for The International 11 (TI11) after a dramatic 2-1 showdown in the qualifier's lower bracket quarterfinals on Friday (16 September).
It was the most anticipated matchup of the qualifier, as both Secret and Nigma were among the favourites to qualify for TI11 out of Western Europe. However, the two teams have put out mixed results so far.
Secret won their first upper bracket match against Into The Breach 2-1, before getting soundly swept by Entity 2-0 in the upper bracket semifinals and knocked down to the lower bracket quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Nigma fell to Goonsquad in a 2-1 upset in their opening match and were dropped to the lower bracket. The squad led by Kuro "Kuroky" Salehi Takhasomi then defeated Brame and DGG Esports to face Secret in the lower bracket quarterfinals.
The fact that Secret and Nigma met in just the third round of the lower bracket meant the loser wouldn't even be able to qualify for the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).
What's more, at stake was Secret captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's historic streak of attending every single iteration of TI so far.
The first two games of the series were hard-fought, both lasting over 50 minutes.
Secret took game one after 52 minutes of action behind an excellent showing from Remco "Crystalis" Arets on Monkey King, who finished with 20 kills and 17 assists against three deaths.
Nigma forced the series to a decider after taking a 50-minute game two. Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi on Bloodseeker willed the series to a third game, notching 20 kills and 11 assists against three deaths.
But while the first two games of this hype matchup were nail-biters, it ended with an anticlimactic game three.
Secret absolutely dominated the decider, securing the 2-1 series victory after a 40-minute beatdown and with a heavily lopsided 45-6 kill lead, to end Nigma's dreams of qualifying for TI11.
With their victory, Secret are one step closer to punching a ticket to Singapore for TI11.
They will next face the winner of the other lower bracket quarterfinal between Goonsquad and Into The Breach in the lower bracket semifinals. The winner of that match is guaranteed a Top 3 finish in the qualifier and a spot in the LCQ.
Meanwhile, Nigma have now failed to qualify for TI for the second-straight year.
It's a very disappointing result for the team, considering they were in the grand finals of TI9 three years ago when they were still playing under the banner of Team Liquid.
That is made even more heartbreaking by the fact that every player on Nigma was a past TI champion, including recent addition and TI5 winner Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan.
TI11's regional qualifiers will be held from 3 to 17 September across the DPC's six regions: Western Europe, China, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America. The qualifiers will be played in three batches, with two regions playing in each batch.
Three teams will fly to Singapore out of each qualifier. The winner of the qualifier will earn a spot in TI11's Group Stage while the second and third-placed teams will have to earn their spot in the LCQ.
For more details on the TI11 regional qualifiers, check here.
For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.
Team Secret roster:
Remco "Crystalis" Arets
Michal "Nisha" Jankowski
Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok
Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Nigma Galaxy roster:
Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi
Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan
Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov
Maroun "GH" Merhej
Kuro "Kuroky" Salehi Takhasomi
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