Top Filipino Dota 2 team TNC Predator opened the second day of the WePlay AniMajor Playoffs on Thursday (10 June) with a huge 2-1 upset over Chinese powerhouse Team Aster in an insane best-of-three elimination match.
Despite a strong performance from TNC Predator in the Group Stage, they narrowly missed out on an upper bracket berth and had to start the Playoffs in the lower bracket.
Meanwhile, Aster was directly seeded to the upper bracket of the AniMajor Playoffs as the top team of the Chinese regional league. However, they were upset in the opening round of the upper bracket by T1 — the other Southeast Asian squad remaining in the tournament — and were knocked down to the lower bracket, where TNC awaited them.
The first game of the elimination match between TNC and Aster ended up being a back-and-forth affair, ending with the Filipino squad throwing away a lead to hand their Chinese opponents the win. Aster then took that game one win in stride, as they dominated the early stages of game two and were looking like they could secure the series sweep.
However, TNC were able to delay the game thanks to midlaner Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios on Batrider taking map control and making space for carry player Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte's Templar Assassin to become the strongest hero in the game.
The game hung in the balance in a clash at the Roshan pit around the 53-minute mark, where Armel was able to snatch the Aegis of the Immortal away and give his team the chance to score three huge kills on Du "Monet" Peng's Morphling, Lin "Xxs" Jing's Broodmother, and Ye "Borax" Zhibiao's Dark Willow.
Aster bought back their dead heroes to continue the team fight, hoping to catch TNC as they retreated from the Roshan pit. However, TNC were able to keep their heroes alive and force Aster to overextend in their chase. With the Chinese team now in a compromised position, Gabbi's overwhelming damage output allowed TNC to take down four Aster heroes without buyback.
With no defenders left to stop the subsequent push from TNC, Aster conceded after 56 minutes of action and the series was forced to a deciding game three.
Riding high on their momentum from game two, TNC dominated game three behind a hard-hitting yet tanky tri-core of Ursa for Gabbi, a mid Tiny for Armel, and an offlane Magnus for Jun "Bok" Kanehara. Meanwhile, Timothy "Tims" Randrup on Winter Wyvern and Marvin "Boomy" Rushton on Warlock backed up their cores with a lot of healing and teamfight control.
TNC practically tanked through everything Aster had to throw at them in the team fights, emerging virtually unscathed to run over an opposition that already spent all of their abilities. Aster were eventually forced to call GG after 38 minutes and bow out of the WePlay AniMajor.
Gabbi and Armel notably excelled in that series-clinching game three, as they combined for 20 kills and 19 assists against just three deaths to keep TNC's tournament hopes alive.
With their victory, TNC secure a Top 8 finish, US$12,500, and 200 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points. They now advance to the next round of the lower bracket against the winner of the match between Evil Geniuses and NoPing Esports.
TNC will be looking to continue their run in the lower bracket to earn more DPC points, which they will need to secure an all-important direct invite to The International 10 (TI10).
The Filipino squad now have a total of 572 DPC points after their victory over Aster. In order to guarantee themselves a direct invite, they either need to get to 800 points from a Top 2 finish in the WePlay AniMajor or have the other teams in the running for a direct invite stumble out of the tournament.
The WePlay AniMajor will run until 13 June as the remaining teams battle for their cut of the US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool. For everything you need to know about the WePlay AniMajor, check here.
Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte
Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios
Jun "Bok" Kanehara
Timothy "Tims" Randrup
Marvin "Boomy" Rushton
Du "Monet" Peng
Liu "White丶Album" Yuhao
Lin "Xxs" Jing
Ye "Borax" Zhibiao
Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng
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