Two-time The International (TI) champions OG are looking determined to get a chance at a third-straight Aegis of Champions, as they are now through to the upper bracket finals of TI10's Western European qualifier after they defeated rivals Team Nigma on Friday (9 July).
A hype rematch between two former TI champions and the finalists of TI9 in the qualifier's upper bracket semi-finals was set after OG and Nigma won their respective opening matches against Vikin.gg and Hellbear Smashers.
OG started the series strong with a dominant 34-minute victory behind a highly-unusual Chen pick for Johan "N0tail" Sundstein. Despite Chen being almost untouched in both casual and competitive play for years now, N0tail made it look broken as the engine of a fast-paced, unkillable midgame strategy.
Using his hero's ability to take control of neutral creeps, N0tail relentlessly stacked jungle camps to boost the farm of Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan's Leshrac and Sébastien "Ceb" Debs' Axe. OG stacked a total of 28 camps by the end of the game, half of which their captain was directly responsible for.
N0tail then made his team nigh-unkillable in team fights with an overwhelming amount of healing from Chen's Hand of God ultimate and an early Mekansm pickup, which allowed SumaiL and Ceb to freely run rampant over Nigma.
OG notably returned to their old fountain-diving ways to close out game one, with Ceb notching a game-high 14 kills against three deaths to pace his team's 33-15 advantage in kills.
Nigma didn't take their drubbing from game one lying down, however, as they punished OG's aggression in a 41-minute game two to force the series to a deciding third game.
N0tail ran with Chen again in the decider to fuel a tanky, team fight-heavy line-up comprised of a carry Magnus for SumaiL, a mid Pangolier for Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen, Beastmaster for Ceb, and Hoodwink for Martin "Saksa" Sazdov.
Nigma were looking in control early into game three behind Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi's Templar Assassin. However, OG turned the game on its head when they somehow won a crucial clash for Roshan at the 24-minute mark with Saksa even managing to grab a Triple Kill.
The two-time TI champions then took full control of the game when they scored a huge team wipe over Nigma in a clash across the top lane around the 28-minute mark. Topson almost tanked through all of Nigma's damage, which gave SumaiL the space he needed to dominate the team fight.
SumaiL would then seal the deal for OG when he landed a two-man Blink Dagger-into-Skewer combo and the a three-man Reverse Polarity to break Nigma's final line of defence and force the GG call after an intense 34 minutes of action.
SumaiL led the way with a clean 9 kills — with Topson, Ceb, and Saksa also pitching in seven kills apiece — as OG replicated the result from their previous meeting with Nigma in the grand finals of TI9 and inch closer towards qualifying for TI10.
With their victory over Nigma, OG are just two series wins away from beginning their campaign for a third-straight Aegis of Champions. They will next be facing Tundra Esports, who soundly swept Team Liquid in the other upper bracket semi-final match, in the upper bracket finals for the first spot in the best-of-five grand finals of TI10's Western European qualifier.
Nigma is not yet out of the race to TI10, however, as they drop down to the lower bracket to face Spider Pigzs. It will be an uphill battle for the TI7 champions moving forward, as they will have to survive two elimination matches and then defeat the winners of the OG-Tundra match in the finals to qualify for TI10.
TI10's regional qualifiers for Europe, alongside the one for China, will take place from 7 to 10 July. The two winners will be joining Fnatic from Southeast Asia, Team Spirit from Eastern Europe/the CIS, Undying from North America, and SG Esports from South America in the list of teams that earned their spot in TI10 through the regional qualifiers thus far.
Meanwhile, Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, Invictus Gaming, Virtus.pro, Quincy Crew, T1, Vici Gaming, Team Secret, Team Aster, Alliance, Beastcoast, and Thunder Predator have already earned direct invites to the tournament.
Valve announced on Thursday (8 July) that TI10 would be moved from August to October and pulled out of Stockholm, Sweden, after it failed to get recognition as an 'elite sporting event'. TI10 will now be held in Bucharest, Romania from 7 to 17 October, where the 18 participating teams will be fighting to claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool.
Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan
Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen
Sébastien "Ceb" Debs
Martin "Saksa" Sazdov
Johan "N0tail" Sundstein
Igor "iLTW" Filatov
Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi
Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov
Maroun "GH" Merhej
Kuro "Kuroky" Salehi Takhasomi
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