TI 2023 Playoffs: Team Liquid sweep Talon Esports to secure Top 6, advance to Main Event

Team Liquid continue to be one of the most dominant teams in The International 2023 so far, having lost only one game en route to qualifying for the Main Event.

Team Liquid swept Talon Esports in The International 2023's Road to The International Playoffs to advance to guarantee themselves at least a Top 6 finish and advance to the Main Event. Pictured (from left to right) Team Liquid zai, Nisha, miCKe, Insania, Boxi. (Photo: Team Liquid)
Team Liquid swept Talon Esports in The International 2023's Road to The International Playoffs to advance to guarantee themselves at least a Top 6 finish and advance to the Main Event. Pictured (from left to right) Team Liquid zai, Nisha, miCKe, Insania, Boxi. (Photo: Team Liquid)

Western European Dota 2 juggernauts Team Liquid continue to look dominant in their quest for the Aegis of Champions at The International (TI) 2023 after they cruised through Southeast Asia's Talon Esports in the opening day of The Road to The International Playoffs in the Seattle Convention Center's Summit on Saturday (21 October).

Liquid have been on a tear since the Group Stage, finishing the first phase of the Road to The International Group Stage with as the first seed of a stacked Group B with a 7-1 record. They then swept South America's Evil Geniuses in the second phase to secure an upper bracket berth in the Playoffs.

Meanwhile, Talon had one of the biggest turnarounds of TI 2023 so far. The Southeast Asian squad started the Group Stage with a 0-4 record in day one then won all their games in day two to make it out of Group D as the third seed.

Talon then pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament when they defeated three-time Major champions Gaimin Gladiators to advance to the upper bracket of the Playoffs.

There's a lot of drama surrounding the Liquid-Talon matchup that was built up over the course of the season.

The last time the two met on a big stage was at July's Riyadh Masters 2023, where Liquid denied Talon a last-second victory in the upper bracket semifinals before sweeping them out of the tournament in the lower bracket finals.

Even so, Liquid made it look easy against a Talon squad that was both on the uptick and hell-bent on revenge.

Game one started with both teams on relatively even footing before Liquid blew things wide open in the midgame. Despite a rough laning stage, Michał "Nisha" Jankowski on Primal Beast wreaked havoc all across the map and heavily pressured Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon's Morphling.

With Nisha causing chaos in the frontlines, Michael "miCKe" Vu's Spectre, Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg's Dark Seer, and Samuel "Boxi" Svahn's Dark Willow had free rein to burst down the hapless Talon heroes. After a 40-minute beatdown, Liquid grabbed their first win of the series with a 25-10 kill lead.

Nisha paced Liquid's aggression with seven kills and 13 assists despite five early deaths. Meanwhile, miCKe, zai, and Boxi combined for 15 kills and 46 assists against just one death each.

Game two was a much closer affair as both teams opted for high-tempo drafts.

Liquid fielded a strong teamfight tri-core of Luna for miCKe, Storm Spirit for Nisha, and Dawnbreaker for zai. Boxi on Tusk provided crowd control while Aydin "Insania" Sarkohi on Ancient Apparition added global magic damage.

Meanwhile, Talon's draft was anchored by three high-damage cores in 23savage's Terrorblade, Rafli "Mikoto" Rahman's Zeus, and Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong's Bristleback. Worawit "Q" Mekchai on a support Earthshaker and Chan "Oli" Chon Kien on Phoenix manned the backlines.

After a closely-contested early game, Talon held the momentum as 23savage held the Aegis of the Immortal and destroyed Liquid's top lane barracks at the 28-minute mark. Things continued to look good for the Southeast Asian squad after Liquid attempted to punish them on the retreat but 23savage managed to isolate and take down miCKe.

However, Liquid found an opening to re-engage and somehow scored a teamwipe on Talon even through 23savage's Aegis.

Talon didn't take things lying down, however, and looked to regain momentum by claiming another Aegis at the 36-minute mark. Liquid were too late to contest them and were forced into an unfavourable engagement just outside of the Roshan pit.

MiCKe was left to fight alone against 23savage and Jabz, and it looked like he would be taken down. However, a timely Satanic usage allowed him to outlast the enemy cores, who notably could not heal after getting hit by Insania's Ice Blast.

The rest of Liquid simply cleaned things up from there, with zai even ending with a Triple Kill.

Despite Talon's best efforts to hold their base in the hopes of a late game comeback, they could not stop Liquid from securing the 2-0 series sweep after 43 minutes of action.

Zai fueled Liquid's 31-20 kill lead in the closeout game with 13 kills and 11 assists on two deaths. Nisha pitched in with eight kills and 17 assists on two deaths while miCKe added six kills and seven assists against three deaths.

With their victory, Liquid have guaranteed themselves at least a Top 6 finish and have advanced to TI 2023's Main Event, which will be hosted from 27 to 29 October in Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena. They will next face TI 2021 champions Team Spirit in the upper bracket semifinals.

Meanwhile, Talon drop down to the second round of the lower bracket and will be playing in the final day of the Road to The International Playoffs. They will be facing the winner of the lower bracket round 1 match between BetBoom Team and Vivo Keyd Stars to see who can also advance to the Main Event.

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.

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