Is PSG.LGD still TI10 favorite after ESL One Fall finals loss?

Steven Rondina • August 29, 16:32

Tundra Esports’ future is unknown but right now the team looks like one of the strongest in the world.

Adrian “Fata” Trinks’ squad has won ESL One Fall 2021, an achievement worth $175,000. The victory may or may not be the last fans see of the team since it fell short of qualifying for The International 2021. But the team could very well end up being elite if they remain together next season. Tundra won the series by taking a 3-2 victory over PSG.LGD in the grand finals.

Tundra Esports defeat PSG.LGD to win ESL One Fall 2021

Tundra Esports really asserted itself in game one with a shockingly lopsided stomp. Playing as Monkey King, Leon “Nine” Kirilin grew out of control very early on, notching seven kills in the first 15 minutes as both side lanes broke in Tundra’s favor. A team wipe at the 13-minute mark allowed Tundra to snowball hard en route to an emphatic opening victory.

PSG.LGD returned fire in game two but it wasn’t easy. The second game was an absolute bloodbath with the teams coming together to fight every two to three minutes. Both teams got their licks in but Wang “Ame” Chunyu’s Bloodseeker was difficult to control throughout and proved to be the difference in the transition from mid-game to late game. This allowed PSG.LGD to start winning team fights more consistently, setting them up for the victory to even the series.

Game three saw PSG.LGD look to be in top form once again. While the team has looked inconsistent during the tournament, game three of the finals was arguably their best of ESL One Fall. The team looked to be in WePlay AniMajor form, getting an early lead and converting it into a runaway stomp

Tundra Esports was in a do or die position but Nine was once again a difference-maker for the team. Playing as Templar Assassin, Nine dominated the mid game after a competitive early game and helped Tundra take control. Though PSG.LGD was able to give Tundra a scare after finding a pair of kills on Nine, the European squad was able to take back control and force things to game five.

The decider started off much like game two with a surprising support Storm Spirit pick for Zhao “XinQ” Zixing that allowed PSG.LGD to keep step with Tundra as Nine once again flexed his muscles mid. Things were even into the late game with alternating aggression based on ult cooldowns. But as things dragged on, Tundra was able to farm faster and keep a higher pace.

Oliver “skiter” Lepko’s Juggernaut and Nine’s Lina got six-slotted and that flipped the switch for Tundra. Though PSG.LGD had looked strong, the net worth difference was impossible to ignore which allowed Tundra to seal the series 3-2 and take home the $175,000 top prize for ESL One Fall.

Is PSG.LGD still the favorite to win TI10?

With how strong PSG.LGD has looked over recent months, it’s actually a surprise that the team finished anywhere but first place. Given that PSG.LGD looked strong, but not exactly dominant, the question now turns to whether the Chinese squad should still be regarded as the favorite to win TI10.

That discussion does start with the important note that PSG.LGD coach Zhang “xiao8” Ning was the team’s starting mid laner in ESL One Fall 2021. Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang is currently in Malaysia facing travel restrictions and may or may not be allowed to attend TI10. It’s uncertain whether xiao8 will remain the starting mid for PSG.LGD if he can’t make the trip to Bucharest, or if the team will find a different substitute.

Though xiao8 is a Dota 2 legend, he’s been retired since 2018 and spent the last few years of his career as either an offlaner or support. He has performed well as a mid on a few occasions, but he clearly isn’t going to be the best option for PSG.LGD at TI10. That makes PSG.LGD’s chances hinge on what happens with the mid lane for the event.

Regardless of whether NothingToSay can make it to Europe, PSG.LGD is missing out on valuable practice time as they boot camp in Amsterdam as he waits for paperwork to go through. That pushes the team out of “clear favorite” territory, but leaves them as a strong contender.

If NothingToSay gets approved for travel or if PSG.LGD can find a strong, Chinese-speaking mid laner for TI10 then the team can still be looked at as a favorite. There are several formidable mids set to watch the event from their couch, and someone like Deng “Dstones”‘ Lei or Guo “Xm” Hongcheng represents a clear upgrade at mid over xiao8.

But if xiao8 remains the starting mid for the team, PSG.LGD should be looked at more as a probable top-eight team than a decisive favorite. Regardless, NothingToSay’s status for TI10 is something to keep a very close eye on in the coming weeks.

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