The competition is heating up in the third day of the playoffs at the ESL One Dota 2 Stockholm Major on Wednesday (18 May).
The day started with an all-Southeast Asian affair in the lower bracket, where Fnatic defeated T1 in a 2-1 thriller to send their regional rivals home.
The competition then moved to the upper bracket, where two of the top 3 teams of the Stockholm Major were determined.
Western European juggernauts Tundra Esports continue to look like the favorites to take the Major championship after they swept South America's Thunder Awaken and secured the first slot in the upper bracket finals.
Surging North American squad TSM FTX then pulled off back-to-back comebacks against Gaimin Gladiators to earn the right to challenge Tundra for a spot in the grand finals.
Fnatic 2-1 T1
Day seven of the Stockholm Major kicked off with the last match of the first round of the lower bracket, between rivals Fnatic and T1.
Both these teams were very familiar with one another, as they often clashed during the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) regional leagues for the top spot in Southeast Asia and even have multiple players that can count former teammates on the opposing side.
The series started with stereotypical Southeast Asian Dota, as games one and two both wound up as slugfests that ended around the 44-minute mark.
Fnatic took game one with a 33-15 kill lead on the back of Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto's Chaos Knight, who finished with a series-high 18 kills against one death.
T1 were quick to tie up the series in game two, where Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte on Monkey King paced his team's 23-12 kill lead with a 11-kill, one-death showing.
You wouldn't think this series was between two Southeast Asian teams when you look at the numbers for game three, which was a virtual chess match that only had a total of 27 kills.
Fnatic and T1 were on relatively even footing for most of the game, with the latter only holding a 7-4 kill lead until the series-deciding clash for Roshan at the 27-minute mark.
T1 looked like they were about to win the series after they picked off Armel "Armel" Tabios' Death Prophet and were on the verge of killing Raven's Luna.
However, Jaunuel "Jaunuel" Arcilla on Bane saved his carry player from certain death with clutch usage of Nightmare and Shadow Amulet, letting Raven win both the teamfight and the series for Fnatic.
Tundra Esports 2-0 Thunder Awaken
The second match of the day saw tournament favorites Tundra Esports shut down Thunder Awaken. While the series ended up as a 2-0 sweep, Thunder Awaken made Tundra work for each win.
Game one was the longest game of the tournament thus far, totaling 64 minutes and 24 seconds of action.
Tundra controlled the series opener with their signature dominance over the laning phase and midgame led by Oliver "skiter" Lepko's Wraith King, Leon "Nine" Kirilin's mid Mars, and Neta "33" Shapira's Lycan.
While Tundra were unstoppable in teamfights, Thunder Awaken put up a stubborn defense of their base thanks in large part to Gonzalo "DarkMago" Herrera's Kunkka repelling their opponents with a storm of Torrents, Tidal Waves, and Ghost Ships.
It may have taken over an hour to do so, but Tundra finally managed to overwhelm Thunder Awaken's last line of defense with Tier 5 neutral items and five(!) Refresher Orbs.
Game two was a closer affair, but Tundra's support duo of Martin "Saksa" Sazdov on Monkey King and Jingjun "Sneyking" Wu on Snapfire came up clutch to fuel their cores midgame deathball.
Skiter on Luna, Nine on a mid Pangolier, and 33 on Lycan bulldozed Thunder Awaken in clashes and quickly demolished their base en route to securing the 2-0 series sweep after 47 minutes.
TSM FTX 2-0 Gaimin Gladiators
The last match of the day featured the last hope of North America, TSM FTX, scoring improbable back-to-back comebacks to sweep a Western European powerhouse in Gaimin Gladiators.
Game one saw TSM take the initiative early on and get a huge kill lead.
However, Gladiators were the ones leading in gold as Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov on Monkey King and Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard on Timbersaw topped the net worth chart while Melchior "Seleri" Hillenkamp on Enchantress tanked the ganks.
The Gladiators made good use of their gold lead to dominate the midgame teamfights and take two lanes of barracks, putting them in prime position to take game one.
But a costly blunder from dyrachyo in a push for mega creeps allowed TSM to score huge kills on both him and Miroslav "BOOM" Bičan's Tiny.
The North American squad took full advantage of the opening given to them, wiping Gladiators in one last clash to take game one after 44 minutes.
Enzo "Timado" Gianoli on a carry Nature's Prophet paced TSM's 39-21 kill lead in game one with a game-high 13 kills against three deaths. Offlaner Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek on Mars also pitched in with 10 kills of his own.
Game two was very similar to game one, with Timado and SabeRLight sticking to Nature's Prophet and Mars while Gladiators led in net worth despite once again facing a significant kill deficit.
However, TSM managed to take the gold lead for themselves by handily winning the midgame clashes.
Timado and SabeRLight combined with Jonathan "Bryle" De Guia's mid Pangolier to shut down dyrachyo's Monkey King and BOOM's Puck, preventing Gladiators from making any headway.
TSM eventually forced the GG call from their opponents after 45 minutes of action, with Timado notching a series-high 13 kills against one death to pace his team's 37-17 kill lead.
With the day's results, T1 exit the Stockholm Major in 9th-12th place with nothing to show for their efforts.
Only eight teams remain in contention for the Major championship: Tundra Esports, TSM FTX, Thunder Awaken, Gaimin Gladiators, Beastcoast, BetBoom Team, OG, and Fnatic.
The tournament will take a one-day break on Thursday (19 May) before resuming the competition on Friday (20 May) in front of a live audience in Stockholm's Hovet Arena.
The second round of the lower bracket will see Beastcoast take on BetBoom while OG face Fnatic. The winners of those two matches will move on to the next round, where Gaimin Gladiators and Thunder Awaken await.
Here is the bracket after the third day of the Stockholm Major playoffs:
For everything you need to know about the Stockholm Major, check here.