Fnatic are just one series away from qualifying for The International 10 (TI10) after they swept rivals TNC Predator 2-0 in the upper bracket finals of the tournament's Southeast Asian qualifier on Friday (2 July).
While Fnatic were able to take the series in two games, TNC made them work for it as the match had a total playing time of just under 130 minutes.
Fnatic opened the series with a heavy team fight line-up comprised of Luna for Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto, Leshrac for Ng "ChYuan" Kee ChYuan, Tidehunter for Yang "Deth" Wu Heng, Nyx Assassin for Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong, and Abaddon for Djardel "DJ" Mampusti.
TNC also brought a lot of firepower to team fights with Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte on Lifestealer, Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios on Puck, Jun "Bok" Kanehara on Dragon Knight, Timothy "Tims" Randrup on Grimstroke, and Marvin "Boomy" Rushton on Lion.
Fnatic looked like they would easily be taking the lead in the series after a dominant start in game one. However, TNC were able to keep things even after Tims' Grimstroke was able to farm up an Aghanim's Scepter and use Dark Portrait on Raven's Luna to score a huge teamwipe for his team.
Both squads then continued clashing with neither side getting a decisive advantage as the game ticked closer to the one hour mark.
Fnatic were able to win a fight around the 57-minute mark to get in position to claim Roshan. TNC inexplicably decided to buy back on their heroes to try and snatch the Aegis of the Immortal away, a decision which ended in disaster after Gabbi was killed without buyback.
With no heroes capable of defending against Fnatic's onslaught left alive, TNC were forced to call GG after 58 minutes of action. Raven finished the game with a series-high 16 kills against just three deaths.
Fnatic looked to claim the series late in the second game by picking Arc Warden for Raven, with ChYuan on Storm Spirit, Deth on Axe, Jabz on Mirana, and DJ on Snapfire backing him up.
TNC also angled their draft for the late game by giving Gabbi Terrorblade, while Armel on Tiny, Bok on Legion Commander, Tims on Tusk, and Boomy on Phoenix rounded his supporting cast.
Fnatic were once again in control of the early game as Raven was allowed to farm virtually uncontested, but TNC kept themselves in it by constantly bringing the fight to their opponents. However, the stalemate was broken around the 45-minute mark when Fnatic punished TNC's decision to reinitiate following a successful pickoff. That maneuver allowed Fnatic to take full map control and slowly start sieging their opponents' base.
Despite facing huge net worth deficits that reached as much as 48,000 gold, TNC managed to defend their base as the game ticked past 60 minutes. However, the constant threat that Raven's Arc Warden — who managed to get the perfect Tier 5 neutral item for his hero, the Ballista — would sneak in and snipe a hero, barracks, or tower started wearing down on TNC.
Fnatic took advantage of the growing cracks in TNC's defences around the 68-minute mark. With the Aegis on their side, Fnatic jumped into their opponents' base to take down both Gabbi and Bok. Crucially, Gabbi was forced to use his buyback while Bok was dead for over two minutes without his.
Knowing that TNC didn't have any saving mechanics with Bok dead, Fnatic kept jumping into their base to try and find the opening they needed to win the game. Fnatic somehow managed to catch Gabbi unawares and kill him without buyback, allowing them to take the game and the 2-0 series sweep after a 71-minute marathon.
With their victory, Fnatic are the first team advance to the best-of-five grand finals of the qualifier. If they can win the finals, then they will be Southeast Asia's second representative at TI10.
Meanwhile, TNC still have a second chance as they drop down to the lower bracket finals. They will be facing the winner of the match between Execration and BOOM Esports for the right to challenge Fnatic for a coveted spot in TI10.
TI10 will feature the 18 best teams from across the DPC and will be held from 10 to 15 August. The tournament will start with a Group Stage from 5 to 8 August before the Main Event kicks off from 10 to 15 August, where the last team standing will claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool.
Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto
Ng "ChYuan" Kee ChYuan
Yang "Deth" Wu Heng
Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong
Djardel "DJ" Mampusti
Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte
Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios
Jun "Bok" Kanehara
Timothy "Tims" Randrup
Marvin "Boomy" Rushton
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