Only eight teams remain standing in The International (TI) 2023 as the Road to The International Playoffs concluded on Monday (23 October). And on this day, Eastern Europe reigned supreme over three other regions in the lower bracket.
Star-studded Eastern European squad BetBoom Team ended South America and Southeast Asia's hopes for a TI championship as they eliminated Vivo Keyd Stars and Talon Esports.
Meanwhile, Western Europe's Entity pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament after they ended defending champions Tundra Esports' hopes for a second-straight title. However, Entity could not enjoy their victory for long as they were later knocked out by rising Eastern European team Virtus.pro (VP).
Here's how all the action in the final day of TI 2023's Playoffs went down:
Lower bracket round 1
BetBoom Team 2-0 Vivo Keyd Stars
BetBoom kicked off the final day of the Playoffs by booting out Keyd Stars in a dominant 2-0 sweep.
BetBoom came out swinging to start the series, routing Keyd Stars to the tune of a lopsided 29-6 kill lead in 34 minutes of action. Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko on Dawnbreaker led the way with 10 kills and 12 assists on two deaths while Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko on Terrorblade and Danil "gpk" Skutin on Storm Spirit combined for a clean 17 kills and 28 assists.
Keyd Stars put up a better fight in game two, though it was still a one-sided affair as BetBoom closed out the series in 37 minutes and with a 24-11 kill lead.
Pure on Dawnbreaker once again topped the kill boards with 11 kills and seven assists on just one death. Vitalie "Save-" Melnic on a support Dark Willow also had a clean five kills and eight assists.
Entity 2-0 Tundra Esports
The second match of the day saw one of the biggest upsets of TI 2023 so far, as Entity knocked out defending champions Tundra Esports in a 2-0 sweep.
Tundra opened the series with an aggressive draft headlined by Oliver "skiter" Lepko on Chaos Knight, Topson on his signature mid Pugna, and Neta "33" Shapira on Sand King.
Meanwhile, Entity looked to take things late behind Alimzhan "watson" Islambekov's Naga Siren. Daniel "Stormstormer" Schoetzau on Invoker and Kim "Gabbi" Santos on Primal Beast were tasked with helping their carry survive to the late game.
Tundra were on fire to start game one and seemed primed for a quick game one win. However, Entity managed to turn the tables with some excellent teamfights in the midgame. With Tundra's momentum ground to a halt, they severely lacked the damage to keep up with Entity as their high-damage, tanky lineup finally came online.
After 47 minutes of action, Entity completed the comeback to take the series opener. Watson finished with 12 kills and 12 assists on four deaths to pace his team's 34-30 kill lead while Stormstormer and Gabbi combined for 14 kills and 39 assists on four deaths apiece.
Game two then saw both teams switch strategies. Tundra looked to take things late with an overwhelming gold lead generated by skiter's Alchemist and 33's Doom while Entity looked to secure the sweep with a midgame deathball featuring Terrorblade for watson, Batrider for Stormstormer, an offlane Kunkka for Gabbi.
While Tundra were successful in avoiding fights and slowing the game down for 40 minutes, Entity broke the game wide open when they scored a huge kill on skiter that allowed them to go for a base push. Tundra then botched their high ground defense as Entity took down skiter after forcing him to buy back from his previous death.
Entity then closed out the series sweep after 42 minutes to send the defending champions home. Watson put up 12 kills and seven assists on just one death to pace Entity's 28-15 kill lead in the closeout game. Stormstormer also added seven kills and 13 assists on one death.
Lower bracket round 2
BetBoom Team 2-1 Talon Esports
Up next was the closest series of the entire lower bracket, as BetBoom outlasted Talon in three drawn-out affairs to punch their tickets to the Main Event.
Talon drew first blood in this series in a 69-minute game one behind a mobile, high-damage tri-core of Spectre for Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon, Windranger for Rafli "Mikoto" Rahman, and an offlane Weaver for Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong.
While Talon had many opportunities to take this game earlier, multiple misplays by them allowed BetBoom to hang on longer before eventually conceding the series opener.
Game two was yet another 69-minute affair, this time with BetBoom emerging victorious behind Nightfall's Muerta, gpk's Invoker, and Pure's offlane Pudge. Talon actually held the lead for much of the game thanks to 23savage's carry Dark Willow, but some costly missteps in the late game gave BetBoom the opening to pull off the comeback and send the series to a game three.
Even if BetBoom was down 28-29 in kills by the game's end, Nightfall finished with a game-high 13 kills and 10 assists on four deaths. Gpk also pitched in with a clean eight kills and 16 assists.
BetBoom were in full control in the decider as Pure on Spirit Breaker and Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek on Enchantress shut down Talon and gave Nightfall on Phantom Lancer and gpk on Storm Spirit free rein to wreak havoc.
Talon were able to stall things out to the late game once again, hoping that 23savage's Morphling could pull off the comeback. Unfortunately for the Southeast Asian squad, BetBoom ended their run in TI 2023 after 54 minutes.
TORONTOTOKYO paced BetBoom's 31-14 kill lead with 10 kills and nine assists on six deaths while Pure had eight kills and 15 assists on four deaths. Nightfall and gpk also combined for 12 kills and 28 assists against one death apiece to close out the series.
Virtus.pro 2-0 Entity
TI 2023's Playoffs closed with VP cutting Entity's phenomenal lower bracket run short in a 2-0 sweep.
VP came out swinging to start the series behind Ilya "Kiritych" Ulyanov's carry Templar Assassin and Ilya "squad1x" Kuvaldin, who led their team to a lead from the laning stage and never looked back.
Entity looked to stall things out to the late game in the hopes that watson's Morphling could pull them from the brink. However, VP were simply too far ahead and eventually took their first win of the series after 61 minutes.
Kiritych paced VP's 30-20 kill lead with 13 kills and 10 assists on two deaths while squad1x pitched in with seven kills and 21 assists on just one death.
VP continued rolling in game two behind Kiritych's Chaos Knight and squadix's Puck. Entity looked to match their opponents' midgame timing with watson on Luna, Stormstormer on Pangolier, and Gabbi on Dawnbreaker, but their lineup couldn't get off the ground.
In the end, VP closed out game three in 29 minutes and with a 25-5 kill lead to secure the 2-0 series sweep and a spot in TI 2023's Main Event. Kiritych led the way with 10 kills and five assists on one death while squad1x had a clean eight kills and eight assists.
With today's results, BetBoom Team and Virtus.pro have guaranteed themselves at least a Top 8 finish as well as US$76,000 in winnings. They will be playing in TI 2023's Main Event in Climate Pledge Arena from 27 to 29 October.
Meanwhile, Vivo Keyd Stars and Tundra Esports exit TI 2023 in 13th-16th place with US$46,000 in consolation. Talon Esports and Entity bow out in 9th-12th place and will take home US$61,000 for their efforts.
The International Main Event will be hosted in the Climate Pledge Arena from 27 to 29 October, where this year's Dota 2 world champion will be crowned in the Grand Finals on 29 October.
Here are the matchups for the opening day of TI 2023's Finals Weekend:
Lower bracket round 3:
Gaimin Gladiators vs Nouns Esports
BetBoom Team vs Virtus.pro
Upper bracket semifinals:
Team Spirit vs Team Liquid
LGD Gaming vs Azure Ray
For everything you need to know about TI 2023, check here.