Upsets continue to abound in The International (TI) 2023 as Entity knocked out defending TI champions Tundra Esports in a huge 2-0 upset in the final day of the Road to The International Playoffs lower bracket on Monday (23 October).
Tundra were looking primed to claim a second-straight Aegis of Champions this year after they added two-time TI champion Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen to their roster in September after Martin "Saksa" Sazdov took an extended health break.
On the other hand, Entity struggled throughout the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit season but were reinvigorated by the addition of Filipino star Kim "Gabbi" Santos as their new offlaner. They then earned their spot in TI 2023 after a near-perfect run through the Western European regional qualifier.
Tundra had a phenomenal start to TI 2023's Road to The International Group Stage, finishing the first phase as the top seed of Group D with a 7-1 record. Meanwhile, Entity had a less than stellar start by taking the second seed of Group A with a 4-4 record.
Both teams then struggled in the second phase of the Group Stage and were forced to a lower bracket start in the Playoffs.
Tundra fell victim to a massive 2-0 upset to North America's Nouns Esports while Entity were also soundly swept by China's Azure Ray. As a result, Tundra and Entity were matched against each other in the final series of the first round of the lower bracket.
Tundra opted for an aggressive draft to start the series with Oliver "skiter" Lepko on Chaos Knight, Topson on his signature mid Pugna, Neta "33" Shapira on Sand King, Leon "Nine" Kirilin on a support Weaver, and Wu "Sneyking" Jingjun on Grimstroke.
Meanwhile, Entity looked to take things late behind Alimzhan "watson" Islambekov's Naga Siren. Daniel "Stormstormer" Schoetzau on Invoker, Gabbi on Primal Beast, Vladislav "Kataomi`" Semenov on Dark Willow, and Dzmitry "Fishman" Palishchuk on Ancient Apparition were tasked to help their carry survive to the late game.
Tundra were on fire to start game one, as Topson shut down Stormstormer and took the mid tier one tower in just five minutes while an early Blink Dagger from 33 allowed him to get an 11-minute Triple Kill. The defending champions continued rolling and seemed primed for a quick game one win.
Despite being down by over 15,000 gold in net worth after just 27 minutes, Entity pulled off a stellar flank on Tundra and claimed four huge kills to spark their comeback. In a pivotal fight for Roshan at the 33-minute mark, a clutch three-man Terrorize from Kataomi allowed Entity to get three more profitable kills, the Aegis of the Immortal, and much-needed momentum.
With their momentum ground to a halt, Tundra could do little to stop a surging Entity squad from dominating the ensuing teamfights. From the 40-minute mark onwards, the defending champions severely lacked the damage to keep up with Entity's high-damage, tanky lineup.
In the 47-minute mark, Tundra tried one last ditch attempt to regain their footing by contesting another Roshan from their opponents. However, Entity were simply too far ahead by that point with a net worth lead of over 42,000, demolishing the defending champions in one last clash to force the GG call.
Watson's stellar play on Naga Siren was instrumental in Entity's game one comeback win, finishing with 12 kills and 12 assists on four deaths to pace his team's 34-30 kill lead. Stormstormer and Gabbi also played pivotal roles, combining for 14 kills and 39 assists on four deaths apiece.
Game two then saw both teams switch strategies. Tundra looked to take things late with an overwhelming gold lead generated by skiter's Alchemist and 33's Doom. Topson on Zeus provided damage from afar while Nine on a support Monkey King and Sneyking on Nature's Prophet were tasked with split-pushing to slow the game down.
On the other hand, Entity looked to secure the sweep with a midgame deathball featuring Terrorblade for watson, Batrider for Stormstormer, an offlane Kunkka for Gabbi, Vengeful Spirit for Kataomi, and Undying for Fishman.
Tundra were successful in their attempts to slow the game down, as Entity had difficulties finding the five-on-five clashes they needed to start snowballing. The game then devolved to a slog, as Entity only managed to find small skirmishes as they looked to pick off Tundra's split-pushing heroes.
However, Entity finally found the teamfight they were looking for at the 40-minute mark when Tundra tried to smoke gank them in the mid lane. Even if Tundra got the jump on them, Entity broke the game wide open when they scored a huge kill on skiter that allowed them to go for a base push.
Tundra then botched their high ground defense, as Entity took down skiter after forcing him to buy back from his previous death. Entity pounced on that golden opportunity and went for Tundra's tier four towers and scoring more kills on the remaining defenders, eventually forcing the defending champions to tap out after 42 minutes.
Watson put up another stellar performance, notching 12 kills and seven assists on just one death to pace Entity's 28-15 kill lead in the closeout game. Stormstormer also added seven kills and 13 assists on one death.
With their victory, Entity have guaranteed themselves at least a 9th-12th place finish as well as US$61,000 in winnings. They will face Virtus.pro in the final match of the Playoffs for the right to advance to TI 2023's Main Event.
Meanwhile, Tundra bow out of the tournament in a disappointing 13th-16th place with US$46,000 in consolation.
The Road to The International Playoffs will take place from 20 to 22 October in the Seattle Convention Center's Summit. It will feature the 16 teams that made it out of the Group Stage fighting to be among the eight teams making it to The International Main Event.
The International Main Event will be hosted in the Climate Pledge Arena from 27 to 29 October, where this year's Dota 2 world champion will be crowned in the Grand Finals on 29 October.
For everything you need to know about TI 2023, check here.