Clement "Puppey" Ivanov is coming for his second Aegis of Champions.
Despite coming from the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Western European powerhouse Team Secret cemented their place as a championship contender at The International 11 (TI11) after they soundly swept Chinese favourites PSG.LGD, 2-0, in the first round of the Main Event's upper bracket.
Team Secret entered the match as one of the most dominant teams in the Group Stage, having claimed the second seed of Group B with a 13-5 record. Meanwhile, PSG.LGD overcame a shaky first day in the Group Stage to secure an upper bracket berth as the third seed of Group A with a 12-6 record.
PSG.LGD opened the series by giving Wang "Ame" Chunyu the carry Lone Druid, a great scaling hero. The team then drafted for the late game with an offlane Enigma for Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida as well. It was a greedy draft for the team, as only Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang's Pangolier could make space for his fellow cores in the early game.
Secret's draft was heavily focused on countering the Enigma pick, as they picked an offlane Silencer for Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok and Remco "Crystallis" Arets' Dawnbreaker. Offlane Silencer has been very hit or miss in the past and Secret took a big risk with their offlane hero choice.
The laning stage went well for Secret, as Crystallis was able to get plenty of denies against Enigma, slowing down his Black Hole timing.
Meanwhile, Michał "Nisha" Jankowski on Leshrac continued his streak of dominating the mid lane. When Secret went for a kill on Ame, PSG.LGD proved unable to fight back due to being behind early on.
Secret continued to focus their aggression on Ame and while they couldn't kill him, they did a good job of stalling his farm and forcing his allies to show up to protect him.
Secret was able to utilize the combination of Nyx Assasin's lockdown with Dawnbreaker's Solar Guardian to shrink the map for PSG.LGD. Teams in the playoffs have prioritized Dawnbreaker along with long-duration stun supports to create an intense amount of map pressure, something PSG.LGD couldn't stand up to.
Secret fans surely would have enjoyed in game one, as they only gave away three kills while taking down the members of PSG.LGD 23 times. Crystallis notably had an absolute blast in game one, getting eight kills and eight assists without being brought down once.
In game two, Secret stuck to their carry Dawnbreaker for the global presence and mid Leshrac for Nisha in order to take buildings. Secret's late game scaling wasn't incredible, as they intended to end the game early.
Meanwhile, PSG.LGD wanted to drag the game out in order to win in the late game. Zhang "y`" Yiping's Lich would help keep towers alive along as NothingToSay on Zeus zapped through creep waves in the hopes of repelling Secret's aggression.
But this time it was PSG.LGD that took the first three bounties of the game, along with a far better laning stage. The global presence coming out from Zeus also helped secure kills around the map, as NTS did at the six-minute mark.
However, once the mid game began, it was a familiar story as Secret used Dawnbreaker to great effect and win a massive engagement in the mid lane.
Nisha continued to farm even as Crystallis and Resolut1on on his offlane Marci started slipping behind the other cores on PSG.LGD. This was definitely not how Secret wanted the game to go.
PSG.LGD perfectly executed their draft, as they delayed the game long enough to avoid Secret's power spike and prevent them from taking the buildings they needed to snowball their way to an early victory.
Secret managed to win a couple of scrappy fights just when they needed them, allowing them to equalize the networth at the 25-minute mark. While PSG.LGD's draft had a stronger teamfight, the execution from Secret was simply too good in game two. Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov on Nyx Assassin notably shined, setting up nearly every kill his team got.
PSG.LGD looked like they could mount a comeback when Secret tried to siege up their high ground. Resolut1on jumped a bit too deep into Ame's Wukong's Command, allowing the Chinese squad to claw their way back into the game.
But in the end, Secret's combination Nyx Assassin-Dawnbreaker combo was unstoppable in both games and allowed them to secure a resounding 2-0 series sweep.
Secret's tri-core paced their team's 52-33 kill lead in game two, with Crystallis notching a series-high 17 kills against four deaths, followed by Resolut1on with 16 kills against seven deaths, and Nisha with 14 kills against just two deaths.
With their victory over PSG.LGD, Secret have guaranteed themselves at least a Top 6 finish and advanced to the upper bracket semifinals. They will face South American hopefuls Thunder Awaken, who kicked off the Main Event with a stunning 2-0 upset over Evil Geniuses.
Meanwhile, PSG.LGD drop down to the second round of the lower bracket, where they will fight for their tournament lives against the winner of the first round elimination match between TI10 champions Team Spirit and BOOM Esports.
TI11 will be hosted in Singapore from 15 to 30 October and features a revamped format and a longer schedule.
The tournament will begin with a Group Stage from 15 to 18 October, where 20 teams will fight to become among the 16 squads to advance to the Main Event.
TI11's Main Event will be a double-elimination bracket and is split into two phases, the first being held from 20 to 23 October while the second will take place from 29 to 30 October.
For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.
Team Secret roster:
Remco "Crystallis" Arets
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok
Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Wang "Ame" Chunyu
Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
Zhao "XinQ" Zixing
Zhang "y`" Yiping
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.
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