Alliance, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and OG survive the EPICENTER elimination round

Three in and three out after the elimination round ends.

Photo by Adela Sznajder via Dreamhack

The final three matches of the lower bracket elimination round wrapped up with Alliance and OG keeping their hopes of an invite to The International 2019 alive at the EPICENTER Major.

The first team of the winning trios Ninjas in Pyjamas, though. They took down paiN Gaming and ensured they would need to play in the TI qualifiers. NiP has been a strong albeit streaky team all season, evident by being a top-eight team in the world. They have experienced issues against the teams ranked above them, though. Fortunately, they have already locked themselves in for TI9.

Zoning was the name of the game for NiP, considering they drafted both Dark Seer and Sand King, two heroes that can poke at opponents and get away with it. Meanwhile, paiN went with a more direct lineup of Grimstroke and Warlock.

Anderson “444” Santos was brilliant for paiN on Warlock, but even backing up his team, they had serious issues blocking NiP in lanes. In a nearly 50-minute contest, NiP pulled away when they broke through the lanes and forced paiN onto their back foot.

With this loss, paiN will be forced to compete in the TI qualifiers that begin right after the Major if they want a chance to make to Shanghai in August.

Next up, Alliance took on Infamous. These two squads both needed a win, which made for an interesting matchup.

Unfortunately for Infamous, they had a rough group stage and couldn’t turn things around in the playoffs, finishing at 0-5 as they became the second South American team eliminated in a row.

Alliance was also one of the hot teams coming into EPICENTER and they managed to stay competitive against Vici Gaming and Virtus Pro in groups. With a Mars and Storm Spirit in their pocket, the Europeans pushed onward and took Infamous head on.

The SA squad just couldn’t keep up with Alliance, especially when Michael “miCKe” Vu was hard laning with Troll Warlord, which finished with a 9/1/10 statline 22,859 hero damage. This win keeps Alliance alive in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings while Infamous will face paiN in the SA qualifiers for TI9.

The final elimination match pit the TI8 champions, OG, against the third-ranked Evil Geniuses. EG was upset in the groups by Gambit Esports and had to face a weakened OG squad, who was playing without their captain, Johan “n0tail” Sundstein.

With their coach Titouan “Sockshka” Merloz standing in for them again, OG took the stage following the brief rescheduling in their match.

Syed “SumaiL” Hassan ran a very effective Alchemist through the early stages of the match, giving EG a sizable lead once towers started to fall. Sockshka was very clearly the liability early on for OG, and EG took advantage of that by killing him three times in the match.

EG never let go of the kill advantage, but OG did turn the momentum and close in on their opponents. And as it turns out, kills aren’t everything, which favored the more passive OG, who punished the much more aggressive EG.

Evil Geniuses’ mistakes led to several key picks that allowed OG to pull themselves back into the game and eventually steal the game from right out of EG’s hands. With a few more wins, OG can lock into one of the top 12 spots and return to The International.

EG doesn’t need to worry about their TI9 spot, but this loss did put Vici back into the third spot on the rankings for this season.

For Infamous and paiN, they will both likely receive invites to the closed regional qualifiers that will run from July 8 to 15. Only six teams will make it into TI9 through the qualifiers, one from each of the six regions, which means one of them will not make it out of SA.