Filipino powerhouse TNC Predator claimed a spot in the upcoming WePlay AniMajor after they defeated rivals Fnatic 2-1 on Wednesday (19 May), in arguably the most pivotal match in Season 2 of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit's (DPC) Southeast Asian regional league.
The stakes were high in this latest iteration of the SEA 'El Clasico' between TNC Predator and Fnatic, as both squads shared a record of 4-2 with T1 and were all locked in a three-way tie for first place in the league and a direct seed to the AniMajor playoffs.
It also featured fresh faces on either side, as TNC Predator now fielded an all-Filipino lineup with the additions of Jun "Bok" Kanehara and Marvin "Boomy" Rushton while Fnatic had a new offlaner in Ng Kee "ChYuan" Chyuan.
After Fnatic took a convincing victory in game one, TNC Predator looked to bounce back in the series with their now-signature midgame-focused line-up spearheaded by Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte's carry Dragon Knight, Armel "Armel" Tabios' Puck, and Bok's Beastmaster.
Fnatic survived the midgame offensive from their opponents and were looking to be in control of the game behind Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto's fearsome Terrorblade. However, TNC stormed back to take the lead in a huge clash for Roshan around the 30-minute mark where they picked off Kam "MooN" Boon Seng's Storm Spirit and snatch the Aegis of the Immortal away from Fnatic.
Roshan proved to be Fnatic's undoing once more in the deciding clash of the game at the 44-minute mark, as TNC Predator took the Aegis for themselves again then scored a huge kill on Raven's Terrorblade thanks to non-stop stunlocks from Timothy "Tims" Randrup's Lion and Boomy's Snapfire.
It didn't take long for TNC Predator to force the GG call from Fnatic after that, as the series was forced to a decider after 47 minutes of action. Armel led the way for his team with 10 kills against two deaths while Gabbi added 9 takedowns of his own.
With momentum on their side, TNC Predator dominated game three thanks to their overwhelming firepower in team fights. With the threat of a huge Black Hole from Bok's offlane Enigma keeping Fnatic from taking the initiative, Gabbi on Ursa and Armel on a mid Bristleback were left free to wreak havoc among their opponents.
Under the guise of Smoke of Deceit and Moonlight Shadow from Tims' Mirana, TNC Predator were able to catch out three Fnatic heroes and break into their base at the 28-minute mark.
Smelling blood in the water, TNC Predator marched into Fnatic's ruined base and had Bok use two Black Holes to mop up the remaining Fnatic defenders and claim the series, 2-1, in just under 35 minutes. Gabbi's Ursa notably claimed the majority of his team's 29 total kills with 12 against just two deaths.
With this huge victory over their rivals, TNC Predator end Season 2 of the Southeast Asian regional league with a 5-2 record and guarantee themselves at least a Top 2 finish. Their final placement in the standings will be determined by the result of the match between T1 and OB x Neon Esports on Thursday (20 May).
If OB x Neon Esports win, TNC Predator lock up the top spot in the league and earn a direct seed to the playoffs of the WePlay AniMajor. But if T1 win, TNC Predator will have to defeat them in a tiebreaker match for the number one spot.
Regardless of the result of that match, TNC Predator have guaranteed themselves, at least, a spot in the Major's group stage and, more importantly, 300 DPC points to go towards securing an all-important direct invite to The International 10 (TI10) in August.
It is a massive improvement for the Filipino powerhouse, who finished Season 1 of their league in fourth place and missed out on the ONE Esports Singapore Major.
TNC Predator will be one of the 18 teams flying to Kiev, Ukraine to compete in the WePlay AniMajor from 2 to 13 June for their cut of the US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool.
A deep run in the AniMajor can earn TNC Predator one of the 12 coveted direct invites to TI10 in Stockholm, Sweden in August, where the chance to claim the Aegis of Champions as well as the lion's share of the massive US$40 million prize pool await.
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