The West European regional qualifier for The International 10 (TI10) has finally kicked off, with OG and Team Nigma now set to face off in a highly-anticipated showdown in the qualifier's upper bracket semi-finals.
As former TI champions and the most recent TI grand finalists, TI8 and TI9 champions OG as well as TI7 champions Nigma (who played under the banner of Team Liquid at the time) stood as the heavy favourites to become the finalists of the qualifier and play a rematch of the TI9 grand finals for a spot at TI10.
While they won't be playing for a spot at TI10 just yet, that rematch between OG and Nigma will be happening early after the teams won their respective opening matches against Hellbear Smashers and Vikin.gg.
Both TI9 finalists notably dropped the first game of their matches before stomping the next two games to claim a 2-1 series victory.
OG looked strong in game one of their match against Vikin.gg, but some sloppy play from the two-time TI champions gave Vikin.gg the chance to take the win after 55 minutes of action instead.
However, OG quickly bounced back behind a stellar performance from Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan's ultra-farmed Medusa. Thanks to a free Aghanim's Scepter from Sébastien "Ceb" Debs' offlane Alchemist, SumaiL led his team to an easy victory while notching a clean seven kills and finishing with a net worth of almost 42,000 gold in a game that ended just under 42 minutes and 30 seconds.
OG ran a similar strategy to the one they used in game two to close out the series against Vikin.gg, but with SumaiL on Drow Ranger as Ceb buffed him as Alchemist once again while midlaner Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen on Razor acted as a secondary core.
While SumaiL ended the game with a net worth of just 24,600 gold, OG were able to claim the 2-1 series victory over Vikin.gg with a quick 27-minute stomp. Both SumaiL and Topson finished with five kills against just one death apiece to pace their team's 16-5 kill advantage by the end of the game.
Meanwhile, Nigma were able to recover from a shaky start in game one of their match against Hellbear Smashers after Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi on Templar Assassin notched a series-high 16 kills against just two deaths to lead his team to a 32-minute victory in game two.
Nigma were then able to close out the series, 2-1, by routing Hellbear Smashers in a 37-minute game three.
OG and Nigma are now set to face in the first of two upper bracket semi-final matches in TI10's European qualifier on Friday (9 July). The winners of those semi-final matches will then advance to the upper bracket finals, where the winner will claim the first spot in the grand finals and come one step closer to qualifying 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, 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 the event 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's Group Stage will now be held in Bucharest, Romania from 7 to 10 October followed by the Main Event from 12 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.
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