Neslyn A. August 23, 2019
After a strong group stage run, TNC Predator fell short in the main event of The International 2019.
The team dominated Team Liquid in the group stage with a clean 2-0 sweep and denied the former champions an upper bracket slot. However, TNC Predator found itself in a rematch against Liquid in an elimination series at TI9. This time, the tables turned.
The Filipino team looked strong as it kicked off the opening game with first blood on Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi’s Troll Warlord. Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte had a great time in the laning phase with his Wraith King, farming a Radiance within 17 minutes. Meanwhile, Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios rushed a Heaven's Halberd to deal with Miracle-.
The team asserted its dominance by roaming around the map and finding valuable kills. This resulted in multiple setbacks for Ivan Borislavov “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov, who struggled to buy Blink Dagger for his Tidehunter.
TNC Predator seemed ready to close out the game, but the champions of The International 2017 had a few tricks up their sleeves.
In a crafty move, Miracle- decided to build Diffusal Blade before purchasing Black King Bar, specifically to function as a counter to Gabbi’s Reincarnation. The decision paid off for Team Liquid, shifting the game’s momentum. The net worth advantage started to flatten out and soon favored Liquid.
A key team fight at 25 minutes sealed TNC’s fate. Team Liquid destroyed the middle barracks and tier-four towers, leaving TNC Predator’s Ancient exposed. After a few more kills, Miracle-‘s Troll Warlord dealt massive amount of damage to the enemy’s throne, forcing TNC to call GG.
In game two, TNC Predator once again dominated early, but Team Liquid countered. While TNC looked to fight, Liquid stayed elusive and found success split pushing. TNC Predator had no answer for the pressured lanes, allowing Aliwi "w33" Omar’s Leshrac and Miracle-‘s Anti-Mage to get farmed.
Team Liquid’s strategy translated to a convincing victory and allowed them to advance in the lower bracket.
The loss to Liquid sends TNC home in 9th-12th place with a prize worth over $679,000. Team Liquid has since advanced through the lower bracket, taking out Royal Never Give Up and Evil Geniuses. They are currently set to face the winner of Team Secret vs. Vici Gaming.