The Playoffs of the ONE Esports Dota 2 Singapore Major has begun with the first round of upper bracket matches, where tournament favorites Team Secret took down surging South American squad Thunder Predator in the highlight match of the day.
Thunder Predator have been the darlings of the Major thus far, as they came out of nowhere and topped the Group Stage with a 12-2 record against some of the best teams from the other Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) regions. That earned them a spot in the upper bracket of the Playoffs where they were pitted against Secret, the top team of the European regional league and the consensus best team in the circuit.
Secret convincingly swept Thunder Predator 2-0 in the third of the four matches of the day, finally halting the South American squad's rampage through the Major and sending them down to the lower bracket.
The three other matches saw top North American team Evil Geniuses (EG) defeat top Southeast Asian team Fnatic, followed by Invictus Gaming (IG) taking down Vici Gaming (VG) in all-Chinese showdown, while Chinese team PSG.LGD beat top CIS team Virtus.pro (VP) to end the first day of the Playoffs in the Singapore Major.
The next round of the upper bracket will take place on Friday (2 April), featuring matches between EG and IG as well as Secret and PSG.LGD. The winners of those two matches will then advance to the upper bracket finals on Saturday (3 April).
Meanwhile, Thunder Predator, Fnatic, VG, and VP all drop down to the lower bracket, where four teams that qualified from the Group Stage await them in the Major's first set of elimination matches on Thursday (1 April).
Thunder Predator will take on Team Aster from China, Fnatic will face off against OB.Neon Esports in a showdown between two Southeast Asian teams, VG will go up against Team Liquid from Europe, while VP will be matched against North America's Quincy Crew.
The Singapore Major is scheduled to run until 4 April. The event features 16 teams from the DPC's six regional leagues competing for the lion's share of a US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool.
For everything you need to know about the ONE Esports Singapore Major, check here.
Here's a recap of all the matches in Day 5:
Evil Geniuses 2-0 Fnatic
Top North American team EG started the playoffs strong with a clean 2-0 sweep over Southeast Asia's Fnatic in an entertaining series that featured a surprise Techies from Fnatic in game two.
Game one started off slow with only three total kills after the first 10 minutes. However, EG was able to bust the game wide open by demolishing Fnatic outside of their base at the 18-minute mark, which allowed them to take a set of barracks not long after and cruise to a 26-minute victory.
Artour "Arteezy" Babaev on Juggernaut and Daryl "iceiceice" Koh on Beastmaster both notched a game-high six kills, with Arteezy also finishing the game without a single death, to pace their team's 19-9 lead on the kill score.
Fnatic looked to bounce back in game two with a surprise Techies pick for Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong, who was tasked with making space and forcing the game late for Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto's Wraith King. EG countered by giving Arteezy Naga Siren, a hero that could both safely deal with Techies' mines and still contend with Wraith King in the late game.
While Jabz was able to get a couple of cheeky solo kills with Techies' mines, Fnatic were unable to stop EG from dominating the map after the laning phase.
Even as Fnatic delayed the game to 50 minutes and allowed Raven's Wraith King to get six-slotted, EG was able to build a 30,000 gold lead and used it to overwhelm their opponents to secure the 2-0 series sweep.
Abed Azel "Abed" Yusop on Void Spirit notched a series-high 12 kills in the close-out game, with Arteezy's Naga Siren adding 10 kills of his own.
Invictus Gaming 2-1 Vici Gaming
The second series of the day saw top Chinese team IG defeat fellow Chinese squad VG, who came all the way from the Wildcard Stage to qualify for the Playoffs.
Game one was a showdown between two illusion-based hard carries, with IG going with Phantom Lancer for Jin "flyfly" Zhiyi while VG picked Terrorblade for Yang "poyoyo" Shaohan. The laning phase ended with both teams on even footing, but poyoyo's Terrorblade quickly outpaced flyfly's Phantom Lancer in terms of farm.
But even if the Terrorblade was sitting on top of the net worth chart, IG was able to outmaneuver VG in the pivotal midgame fights to come out with the win in just under 35 minutes.
In game two, IG picked the Terrorblade themselves for flyfly, which VG countered with a push-heavy lineup led by Juggernaut for poyoyo, Death Prophet for Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang, and an offlane Lycan for Ren "eLeVeN" Yangwei.
VG used their pushing power well, as they quickly took down IG's outer towers and limited the space in which flyfly could safely farm. With the Terrorblade not as powerful as he otherwise would have, poyoyo's Juggernaut was able to dominate the fights and give his team the edge. While IG was still able to win some fights and drag the game out, VG eventually forced them to call GG after 44 minutes.
Poyoyo had a game-high 14 kills against three deaths to lead VG in forcing the series to a deciding game three.
With the series on the line, IG went with a glass cannon core duo of Weaver for flyfly and Templar Assassin for Zhou "Emo" Yi. Meanwhile, VG went for a more balanced lineup with poyoyo on Monkey King, Ori on Void Spirit, and eLeVeN on Beastmaster.
Emo put IG on his back and carried them to victory in game three, as his Templar Assassin repeatedly mowed through VG's lineup in teamfights. In one particular skirmish in the mid lane, Emo's Templar Assassin killed eLeVeN's Beastmaster in just two Psi Blade hits while Ding "Dy" Cong's Abaddon barely survived.
Emo's absurd firepower was fueled by unusual item choices, as he only bought a Black King Bar at the 35-minute mark when the game was already decided and after he had already built a Desolator, Butterfly, Dragon Lance, Daedalus, and Swift Blink.
Emo ended the game with a series-high 15 kills out of his team's total of 29 and without a single death to push IG to the next round of the upper bracket.
Team Secret 2-0 Thunder Predator
The most-anticipated match of the day saw tournament favorites Team Secret humble the surging South American squad Thunder Predator, who were fresh off a 12-2 domination of the Group Stage.
Secret opened the series with a strong teamfight tri-core of Monkey King for Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen, Queen of Pain for Michal "Nisha" Jankowski, and Mars for Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg. Meanwhile, Thunder Predator ran with a push-heavy tri-core of Bristleback for Alonso "Mnz" León, Death Prophet for Leonardo "Leostyle-" Sifuentes, and Venomancer for Frank "Frank" Arias.
Secret were aggressive from the get-go as they ran an aggressive tri-lane to shut down Mnz early and give Matumbaman the space to go for a full-greed buildup of Hand of Midas into Battle Fury and Aghanim's Scepter. However, Secret botched a teamfight in the bot lane despite a 10,000 gold lead to give Thunder Predator a chance at a comeback.
Thunder Predator took the Aegis of the Immortal and destroyed Secret's top set of barracks at the 32-minute mark despite being down over 16,000 gold. However, Secret made the South Americans pay dearly for breaching their base as Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat on Tusk made good use of his hero's Aghanim's Scepter ability, Walrus Kick, to push Mnz's Bristleback way out of position for the punish.
Secret then won the ensuing teamfights to force Thunder Predator to call GG after 41 minutes of action. Matumbaman's Monkey King led the way for his team with 14 kills against just one death while Nisha on Queen of Pain added 10 takedowns of his own.
Game two saw both teams go for unorthodox drafts, with Secret picking a carry Abaddon for Matumbaman, a mid Mars for Nisha, and Timbersaw for zai while Thunder Predator put Mnz on Lifestealer and Leostyle on Batrider.
The game started with Matumbaman, zai, Mnz, and Leostyle constantly switching lanes to get a favorable lane matchup, with that veritable game of 'musical lanes' ending at the 6-minute mark when Thunder Predator took down Secret's mid tower that was constantly left unprotected.
Despite that unusual laning phase, Secret came out ahead and were able to solidify their lead by winning a big fight for Roshan at the 20-minute mark.
Despite their best efforts, Thunder Predator couldn't fight into the Secret deathball and were eventually forced to call GG after 38 minutes. Matumbaman and Nisha both had 9 kills, while zai added 7 of his own, to pace Secret's 34-13 lead in kills as they secured the 2-0 sweep in their first series of the Major.
PSG.LGD 2-0 Virtus.pro
The first day of the Playoffs ended with top CIS team VP falling to PSG.LGD 2-0, who continue to excel after having to start the Major all the way from the Wildcard Stage.
PSG.LGD opened the series with a strong teamfight tri-core of Troll Warlord for Wang "Ame" Chunyu, a mid Magnus for Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang, and Pangolier for Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida. Meanwhile, VP's lineup was anchored by a Juggernaut for Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko, a mid Doom for Danil "Gpk" Skutin, and Mars for Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin.
PSG.LGD handily won the laning phase and quickly outscaled their opponents as Ame's Troll Warlord and NothingToSay's Magnus topped the net worth chart. While VP showed signs of life by winning a couple of midgame fights, the Chinese squad methodically closed them out in just under 47 minutes.
Ame led the way for PSG.LGD with 12 kills while NothingToSay and Zhang "y`" Yiping on Phoenix added 8 kills apiece.
PSG.LGD put Ame on Troll Warlord again in game two, with NothingToSay on Death Prophet and Faith_bian on an offlane Puck to back up their carry. Meanwhile, VP picked Wraith King for Nightfall, Kunkka for Gpk, and put DM on Mars again.
Both teams were content to just farm in the early game, with VP holding a narrow advantage with a 8-3 kill lead after 20 minutes. However, PSG.LGD were able to repeatedly catch their opponents out of position to take control of the game and eventually close out the series 37 minutes.
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