Western Europe's Team Secret have become the first team to qualify for The International 11 (TI11) from the tournament's Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) after they swept Virtus.pro (VP), 2-0, in the LCQ's upper bracket finals on Wednesday (12 October).
With Secret punching their ticket to Singapore, it also extends team captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's record of attending every single iteration of TI to its eleventh year — a legendary feat in Dota 2 that can never be replicated.
— Yahoo Esports and Gaming SEA (@YahooEsportsSEA) October 12, 2022
Secret started the LCQ with a solid performance in the Group Stage, claiming the third seed of Group A with a 6-4 record and an upper bracket berth in the Playoffs.
Secret only got better in the Playoffs, where they defeated Xtreme Gaming, 2-1, before soundly sweeping T1, 2-0, to advance to the upper bracket finals.
Meanwhile, VP took the third seed of Group B with a 5-5 record to also make the upper bracket. They then defeated Vici Gaming and Team Liquid to face Secret for the LCQ's first spot in TI11.
VP opened the draft for game one by taking the Undying and Disruptor combo for Daniyal "yamich" Lazebnyy and Egor "Xakoda" Lipartiya. That gave them some flexibility on whether to put Undying as an offlaner or support, while Disruptor has become more popular in the final days of the LCQ due to the incredible power of his Aghanim's Scepter.
Secret went for a strong safe lane combo with Witch Doctor for Clement "Puppey" Ivanov and Sniper for Remco "Crystallis" Arets, two ranged heroes with plenty of damage and control between them.
Beastmaster for Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin was the answer by VP, as his Boars can absorb the stun from Witch Doctor while Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev's Luna deals the damage.
It was an even laning stage as both teams had roughly the same networth at the 10-minute mark. However, most of VP's gold was on RAMZES' Luna, who wasn't interested in fighting early, while Beastmaster was significantly behind the other cores in networth. This led to VP having a weak mid-game and allowed Secret to control the map.
While Secret did well in the mid-game, RAMZES only kept growing bigger and bigger, and once he started showing up to teamfights, it became almost impossible for Secret to match his damage output.
At the 42-minute mark, Secret managed to trade their bottom barracks to take down DM and Yamich by making one of the boldest plays of the LCQ. Realizing that going late is too risky, Secret went all-in for the enemy barracks and pulled off the craziest comeback of the series.
Game two saw VP stick to the same approach they had in game one, which, to be fair, almost won them the game. Luna, Disruptor, and Undying were all picked in the opening phase of the draft, although this time the Undying was given to DM.
A roaming Clockwork for yamich gave VP more flexibility in the mid-game along with vision to scout out Secret. The Russian squad needed a mid who had no downtime and settled for a rather unorthodox mid Tusk for Danil "gpk" Skutin.
Secret also wanted a midlaner who could one-shot enemies and picked up Lina for Michał "Nisha" Jankowski.
Secret also picked Primal Beast for Roman "Resolut1on" Fomynok. Primal Beast has won all three times he was picked up by the Western European squad. For the second time in the series, Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov played Nyx Assassin while Puppey took Chen, his most-played hero of all time.
It wasn't only the draft that was familiar for VP, as they had the same strategy towards the game, giving RAMZES all the farm while the other four heroes make space. Unlike the previous game however, Secret was better prepared to deal with it and their high mobility made it easy to take control of the map.
If there is one person who gets the MVP award in game two, it had to be Nisha. He built his Lina with a focus on magic damage and used that to great effect to remove enemy cores the moment a fight breaks out. His ability to kill a core Undying with one Laguna Blade was all VP needed to see before they fled from Secret 25 minutes into the match.
Nisha wasn't the only one who had an incredible performance in game two. Puppey reminded everyone why he is the only person in the world to attend every TI, as his Chen doubled the networth of the other supports and kept his team alive with a 10-minute Mekansm followed by a 20-minute Wraith Pact — an absurd amount of gold for a position 5 support to have but is par for the course for Puppey.
Unlike game one, which ended in an incredible fight between the two teams, the final seconds of game two saw Secret do what they had been doing since the game started: kill Luna with a Laguna Blade and prevent VP from fighting back.
After a 28-minute rout, VP finally called GG, conceding the 2-0 series victory as well as the coveted spot in TI11 over to Secret.
Secret is now the 19th team to qualify for TI11, with the previous 18 either being directly invited or earning their spot through the regional qualifiers.
VP still has a shot of being the 20th team in the tournament if they win the LCQ's lower bracket finals against the winner of the lower bracket semifinals between Team Liquid and Vici Gaming.
The TI11 LCQ will take place from 8 to 12 October and will feature the 12 runners-up from the regional qualifiers fighting for the last two spots in the Group Stage. The LCQ will begin with a single round-robin Group Stage from 8 to 9 October followed by a double-elimination Playoffs from 10 to 12 October.
TI11 will be hosted in Singapore from 8 to 30 October and features a revamped format with the new LCQ and a longer schedule. For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.
Team Secret roster:
Remco "Crystallis" Arets
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Roman "Resolut1on" Fomynok
Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev
Danil "gpk" Skutin
Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin
Daniyal "yamich" Lazebnyy
Egor "Xakoda" Lipartiya
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