The grand finals of The International 11 (TI11) is now set. Team Secret defeated Team Liquid, 2-1, to earn the right to challenge Tundra Esports for the Aegis of Champions in the best-of-five grand finals.
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov now has the chance to claim the Aegis of Champions for a second time, 11 years after he won the first-ever TI way back in 2011.
Meanwhile, Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen caps off his storied career with a third place finish.
Both Secret and Liquid earned their place in TI11 through the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). From there, they caught fire and became two of the most dominant teams of the Group Stage, finishing with as the second seeds of their respective groups with 13-5 records apiece.
Meanwhile, Liquid lost their first Main Event match against Team Aster and were dropped down to the lower bracket. They then knocked out fellow Western European teams Entity and OG before outlasting Thunder Awaken to earn their place in TI11's Finals Weekend.
Secret came out swinging to start the series, picking a hard-hitting ranged carry duo of Sniper for Remco "Crystallis" Arets and Morphling for Michał "Nisha" Jankowski.
After a relatively quiet laning stage, Secret started snowballing out of control that even Liquid's tanky tri-core of Lifestealer for MATUMBAMAN, Primal Beast for Michael "miCKe" Vu, and Enigma for Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg couldn't stand up to them.
Secret cruised to a quick 27-minute victory, with Nisha notching a clean 13 kils and eight assists to fuel his team's 24-14 kill lead.
Liquid struck back hard in game two, as they themselves took the Sniper for MATUMBAMAN as part of a hard-hitting tri-core alongside Tiny for miCKe and Broodmother for zai. Secret responded with Monkey King for Crystallis, Queen of Pain for Nisha, and Primal Beast for Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok.
In the inverse of game one, Liquid led from the laning stage and never looked back. MiCKe's Tiny and Samuel "Boxi" Svahn's Tusk presented a formidable frontline, giving MATUMTABAN free rein to snipe enemies down and zai to pick off the backline.
Liquid forced the GG call from Secret just before the 40-minute mark to set up a do-or-die game three. MiCKe had 12 kills against six deaths, while MATUMBAMAN added 10 kills of his own, to pace his team's 35-21 kill lead.
Both teams went blow for blow in the do-or-die game three. Liquid were in control from the early to mid stages of the game, as zai's Brewmaster caused utter chaos in the fights to give MATUMBAMAN's Lifestealer and miCKe's Lina the opening they needed to dish out the damage.
However, Secret stuck to their strategy of having hard-hitting, long-range cores, only amping up the ante this time. The team managed to hold off long enough for Crystallis' Drow Ranger and Nisha's Invoker to come online, with Puppey's Enchantress also getting enough farm to act as another core.
Timely stuns from Resolut1on's Beastmaster and Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov's Earthshaker allowed their hard-hitting teammates to melt through Liquid in the decisive clashes. Despite MATUMBAMAN and his squad's best efforts to regain momentum, Secret closed out both the game and the series after an intense 38 minutes of action.
Crystallis notched 13 kills and 15 assists against two deaths to lead Secret to the grand finals in his first-ever TI appearance, with Puppey pitching in 10 kills and 13 assists of his own against two deaths.
With their victory, Secret have guaranteed themselves at least a second place finish and over US$2.4 million in winnings. Of course, they still have their sights set on the Aegis of Champions as well as the grand prize of over US$8.3 million as they prepare for a rematch with Tundra Esports in the grand finals.
Meanwhile, Liquid bow out of the tournament in third place with and over US$1.6 million in consolation.
Team Secret roster:
Remco "Crystallis" Arets
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok
Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Team Liquid roster:
Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen
Michael "miCKe" Vu
Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg
Samuel "Boxi" Svahn
Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi
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