A resurgent Fnatic punched their ticket to The International 10 (TI10) after they overcame a 0-2 deficit and pulled off a huge reverse sweep over rivals TNC Predator in the grand finals of TI10's Southeast Asian qualifier on Saturday (3 July).
Fnatic bested TNC in their first meeting of the qualifier in the upper bracket finals, which earned them the first spot in the grand finals while TNC Predator were dropped down to the lower bracket finals. TNC then outlasted Indonesia's BOOM Esports 2-1 to earn their rematch with Fnatic for the coveted spot in TI10.
TNC Predator started the finals with a vengeance and dominated Fnatic in a relatively quick, 36-minute game one. The Filipino squad then outlasted their opponents in an intense 56-minute slugfest in game two to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
However, Fnatic stormed back into the series by dominating TNC in back-to-back 40-minute games, forcing the series to a do-or-die game five for a spot at TI10. Fnatic had all the momentum in the decider, as they once again blasted TNC in a 34-minute beatdown to complete the reverse sweep and earn their spot in TI10.
With their victory, Fnatic now join Team Spirit from Eastern Europe/the CIS, Undying from North America, and SG Esports from South America in the list of teams that earned their spot in TI10 through the regional qualifiers thus far. TI10's regional qualifiers will commence its last leg in Western Europe and China from 7 to 10 July.
Meanwhile, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, Virtus.pro, Quincy Crew, T1, Vici Gaming, Team Secret, Team Aster, Alliance, Beastcoast, and Thunder Predator have already earned direct invites to the tournament.
Southeast Asia notably has the fewest number of teams in TI10 with just two in T1 and Fnatic.
Valve announced on Thursday (8 July) that the event would be moved from August to October and pulled out of Stockholm, Sweden, after it failed to get recognition as an 'elite sporting event'. TI10's Group Stage will now be held in Bucharest, Romania from 7 to 10 October followed by the Main Event from 12 to 17 October, where the 18 participating teams will be fighting to claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool.
Read on for a breakdown of the grand finals:
TNC opened the finals with a strong midgame line-up headlined by Ursa for Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte and Templar Assassin for Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios, with Jun "Bok" Kanehara on Tidehunter, Timothy "Tims" Randrup on Mirana, and Marvin "Boomy" Rushton on Lion providing crowd control.
Meanwhile, Fnatic went with Monkey King for Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto, a mid Dragon Knight for Ng "ChYuan" Kee ChYuan, Legion Commander for Yang "Deth" Wu Heng, Winter Wyvern for Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong, and Ancient Apparition for Djardel "DJ" Mampusti.
TNC dominated the laning phase to build up an early lead and never looked back. The Filipino squad then made good use of their midgame power spikes to overwhelm Fnatic in team fights and eventually take a quick 36-minute victory.
Gabbi notched a game-high 17 kills against just two deaths, pacing his team's 29-8 tota kill lead, to lead TNC to a strong start in the finals.
Both teams looked to take it late in game two, with TNC picking Phantom Assassin for Gabbi while Fnatic opted to give Luna to Raven. Flanking Gabbi on the side of TNC was Armel's Death Prophet, Bok's Dark Seer, Tims' Tusk, and Boomy's Lion while Fnatic surrounded Raven with ChYuan's Leshrac, Deth's offlane Dragon Knight, Jabz's Shadow Demon, and DJ's Abaddon.
Game two started out as a much closer affair compared to game one, though TNC were in control well into the midgame. However, Fnatic were able to turn things around by scoring a huge teamwipe on TNC thanks to an apparently friendlyCentaur Warrunner neutral creep, who stunned four TNC heroes just as Fnatic were initiating off of Smoke of Deceit.
Fnatic followed that improbable teamwipe by taking down two lanes of barracks and were looking like they were about to tie up the series. However, they overstayed their welcome and got teamwiped by TNC, thus drawing things out to the late game.
TNC got the better of Fnatic in the late game clashes, as the Filipino squad outmanoeuvred and outplayed their opponents to take a commanding 2-0 series lead after 56 minutes of action. Gabbi continued racking up tons of kills in game two, as he notched a series-high 18 kills against three deaths to get TNC just one game away from qualifying for TI10.
Both teams once again looked to decide the winner of game three late. TNC looked to secure the series sweep behind Gabbi's Morphling, with Armel on Leshrac, Bok on Brewmaster, Tims on Shadow Shaman, and Boomy on Abaddon bringing up the rear. Meanwhile, Fnatic pinned their hopes of making it to TI10 on Raven's Terrorblade, with ChYuan on Death Prophet, Deth on Pangolier, Jabz on Lion, and DJ on Phoenix as his supporting cast.
Much like game three, both teams were on relatively even footing early into game four. But unlike game three, it was Fnatic that took full control by the midgame and eventually snowballed to a 43-minute victory. Raven and Deth notably combined for 15 kills and 25 assists against zero deaths between the two of them to force the finals to a fourth game.
Fnatic once again gave Terrorblade to Raven, surrounding him with Ember Spirit for ChYuan, Bloodseeker for Deth, Lion for Jabz, and Abaddon for DJ. Meanwhile, TNC picked up Medusa for Gabbi, Puck for Armel, Dragon Knight for Bok, and Phoenix for Boomy.
Game four ended up a similar story to game three, with Fnatic taking control by the midgame and snowballing to a 44-minute victory behind Raven's Terrorblade. Raven and ChYuan combined for 20 kills and 26 assists against zero deaths between the two of them to lead Fnatic in forcing the finals to a decisive game five.
With an all-important spot in TI10 on the line, Fnatic went all-in on the midgame by picking a carry Axe for Raven, Puck for ChYuan, Tidehunter for Deth, Mirana for Jabz, and Phoenix for DJ. Meanwhile, TNC looked to outlast their opponents in the late game with Gabbi on Spectre, Armel on Magnus, Bok on an offlane Death Prophet, Tims on Earth Spirit, and Boomy on Enchantress.
Fnatic seemed to have smelled blood in the water, as they dominated the laning phase and snowball through the midgame while their opponents struggled to get their lineup off the ground. Despite their best efforts to defend, TNC could do little to stop Fnatic from taking game five in 34 minutes and punching their ticket to TI10.
Raven had an insane performance on his carry Axe when his team needed him the most, as he notched a series-high 18 kills against zero deaths to lead Fnatic to TI10.
Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto
Ng "ChYuan" Kee ChYuan
Yang "Deth" Wu Heng
Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong
Djardel "DJ" Mampusti
Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte
Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios
Jun "Bok" Kanehara
Timothy "Tims" Randrup
Marvin "Boomy" Rushton
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