Western Europe's Team Secret have come one step closer towards qualifying for The International 11 (TI11) after they soundly swept Southeast Asia's T1 2-0 in the upper bracket semifinals of the TI11 Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) on Tuesday (11 October).
Secret and T1 qualified for the upper bracket of the LCQ Playoffs after solid performances in the Group Stage. Secret took the third seed of Group A with a 6-4 record while T1 was the fourth seed of Group B with a 5-5 record.
Secret and T1's upper bracket semifinals matchup was set after they defeated Xtreme Gaming and Natus Vincere, respectively, in the upper bracket quarterfinals.
T1 started the series by picking Undying and Morphling for Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon and Anathan "ana" Pham respectively.
The two heroes are durable in the laning stage and can survive most matchups due to their ability to manipulate their health. Both heroes are highly successful in the tournament, with a 60% winrate for Morphling and 57% for Undying.
Team Secret went for a mixture of magic damage and stuns by picking Leshrac and Nyx Assassin for Michał "Nisha" Jankowski and Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov. The two heroes could take down Undying in the laning stage, one of the few duos in the game who could do so.
T1 then picked a Tusk and Oracle, leading Secret to believe that Undying would be an offlaner, when in fact it was a surprising mid Oracle for Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen.
This was an extremely risky choice for the team. While Oracle has good burst damage, he lacks durability and a way to flash farm if he falls behind.
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov took his signature Chen to provide his team with more frontline units as well as a global heal, since both teams drafted mostly DPS heroes between them and lacked significant burst damage.
Roman "Resolut1on" Fomynok's Lycan was picked up to counter Oracle, as Lycan could send his minions to demolish Oracle while the hero ran everyone else down.
Carlo "Kuku" Palad rounded up the draft for T1 with a Tidehunter to give them some much-needed teamfight while Remco "Crystallis" Arets played Ursa, another hero for Secret who benefits from prolonged engagements.
The biggest question on everyone's mind was how well would Topson perform on the mid Oracle? And the answer was... not that well.
Secret adjusted to the surprise pick by putting Nisha with Zayac and running over the top lane, while Resolut1on's Lycan could farm against Oracle without worrying about dying. Topson, on the other hand, had to be extremely wary of Lycan.
T1 had serious damage problems during the midgame, as their lineup wasn't the best at bringing down tanky heroes like the Lycan and Ursa, especially with a Chen healing them. Secret also itemized well, mitigating a lot of Topson's damage by buying multiple Infused Raindrops while Puppey got a 10-minute Mekansm.
With no way to burst people down and no scaling on their heroes except for Morphling, Secret had firm control of the game after the laning stage. After diving tier four towers to secure a teamwipe, it was clear that there was no comeback for T1 and they called GG by the 27-minute mark.
In game two, T1 first picked Clockwerk for Kenny "Xepher" Deo alongside their classic Venomancer, though this time it was for Whitemon instead of Kuku. Secret went for a similar draft to game one, picking two mobile and tanky cores in Primal Beast and Morphling.
T1 went for one of OG's classic hero combos when they had Ana and Topson: Faceless Void and Tiny. Tree Volley along with Chronosphere is enough damage to take out most lineups.
Secret went for another iconic Puppey hero by taking Enchantress and Zayac's Earth Spirit.
Both teams saved their offlaner for the last pick, Secret wanted to add more creeps to their army and picked Beastmaster, while T1 wanted to use Kuku as a scout with the offlane Nightstalker.
T1 didn't look as crisp as they did in previous matches and nowhere was that more evident than the fact that both supports bought an Urn of Shadows. Since only one Urn can collect charges from kills, having two is redundant and indicated the lack of communication the team was suffering from.
It wasn't just T1's supports who couldn't work together, as the Tiny-Faceless Void combo never truly manifested.
Ana and Topson weren't on the same page and that led to missed opportunities such as in the 28-minute mark, when Ana caught three people in the Chronosphere seconds after Topson just used his Tree Volley. This lack of coordination led to T1 getting team wipedwhile gaining nothing for their troubles.
If T1 wasn't on the same page, Secret certainly was. The team plan for them was simply to withstand the damage inside the Chronosphere and they did that perfectly by building a Holy Locket on Puppey along with four Black King Bars on the rest of the team.
T1's lack of damage, as well as the miscommunication in the team, led to them conceding after 37 minutes and awarding Secret a clean 2-0 series victory.
Secret now just need to win one more series, either the upper bracket finals against Virtus.pro or the lower bracket finals, in order to qualify for TI11.
There's more than just a spot at TI at stake though.
Should Secret qualify for TI11, it will extend team captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's record of attending every single iteration of TI to another year — a legendary feat in Dota 2 that may never be touched.
Meanwhile, T1 drop down to the lower bracket with their loss.
However, they still have a chance to qualify for TI11 if they manage to get to the lower bracket finals and win.
T1 will next face the winner of the elimination match between Vici Gaming and Wildcard 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
Michal "Nisha" Jankowski
Roman "Resolut1on" Fominok
Bakyt "Zayac" Emilzhanov
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Anathan "ana" Pham
Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen
Carlo "Kuku" Palad
Kenny "Xepher" Deo
Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon
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