BOOM Esports kept their The International 2022 dreams alive with a 2-0 win against their toughest opponents yet — Group A’s first-placed Evil Geniuses.
The Southeast Asian team was staring into the abyss of elimination today, but showed up on the final day to force tiebreakers against Soniqs and BetBoom Team.
The three teams, tied with the same record at 5-13, will have to succeed with the highest of margins. A three-way tie means a round-robin best-of-one for all three teams, instead of a single best-of-three series. The one squad to win both their games will qualify for the TI11 playoffs in the lower bracket — or be entirely eliminated from the tournament.
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BOOM Esports’ Bristleback and Enigma drafts kept them alive
Both series saw BOOM relying on two core heroes: Bristleback for Souliya “JaCkky” Khoomphetsavong, and Enigma for Saieful “Fbz” Ilham.
While Enigma has been a constant meta pick through the tournament, Bristleback has been far less popular. Enigma is the second-most contested hero through the TI11 group stage, picked and banned in 89 percent of drafts, according to Dotabuff. The hero’s laning prowess, able to constantly deny ranged creeps with Demonic Conversion, coupled with its late-game strength thanks to the spell immunity-piercing Black Hole, combines for a hero in hot demand.
But other than BOOM, Bristleback has only been picked once — in a loss from Team Liquid against PSG.LGD. Yet, the SEA team trusted in the hero to be their hard carry, building momentum with his survivable laning stage and transitioning into a mid-game beast with a bevy of stacked neutral camps to help him.
In game one, the plan worked almost perfectly. EG opted for a Pudge carry for Artour “Arteezy” Babaev, who suffered in the lane against an Enigma. The rest of BOOM, especially Erin “Yopaj” Ferrer’s Leshrac, constantly roamed the map to make space for their Bristleback.
And when the teamfights came, Fbz was always ready with a Black Hole.
The game was still kept mostly in check by an EG who relied on dodging BOOM’s heroes and taking whatever kills they could, but they had no answer for a Bristle that hit his item timings. When JaCkky knocked on EG’s door at the 38-minute mark with an Aghanim’s Scepter, Black King Bar, Satanic, and Assault Cuirass, the NA squad was no match for the overwhelming physical damage and tankiness from Bristleback and Leshrac.
Game two saw BOOM going for a similar strategy, this time with Yopaj on Kunkka instead of Leshrac. Once again, the midlaner had a phenomenal early game, earning kill after kill and terrorizing EG.
But EG had switched up their own strategy. The Group A toppers went for Naga Siren for a strong mid-game timing, and a Rubick to ensure that they had a strong Black Hole counter. An offlane Viper was picked up as well, to secure a Break for BOOM’s Bristleback.
Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen played fantastic on his Rubick, always turning around ganks with timely steals, while Arteezy closed down the entire map practically by himself with Naga’s illusions.
Though JaCkky mostly kept up in farm with the Naga, it was a far tougher game for BOOM. Viper’s Nethertoxin was the answer for Bristleback several times through the mid-game, and Fbz was unable to get good Black Holes off due to Rubick’s presence. Arteezy played phenomenally on his Naga, whose Song of the Siren helped his entire team disengage whenever it looked like the tides were turning towards BOOM.
It looked like EG firmly had the momentum on their side — but backing hungry beasts to the wall had dire consequences. BOOM’s support duo, Disruptor and Marci, proved to be the x-factors in several fights. Marci was able to zone out core heroes on her own, while Disruptor’s Static Storm and Static Field combo helped locked down key targets — and Glimpse meant that EG could never fully run away.
With Naga Siren slowly losing his item advantage, it looked like BOOM was ready to close out the game. But EG didn’t top Group A for nothing — they had a spirited comeback inside of them as well. An impeccable defence of their top barracks repelled BOOM again, giving the NA team a slight breather.
It wasn’t for long, however. BOOM came right back at the barracks once their heroes were up and alive, and Fbz’s Enigma took the stage for his closing statement. The offlaner caught two of EG’s Black King Bar-ed cores in his first Black Hole, before Refreshing for another one to truly seal the deal against the rest of his opponents.
And the dream upset was pulled off with aplomb. BOOM isn’t totally out of the woods yet, needing to win against Soniqs and BetBoom Team in the tiebreakres to qualify for the TI11 playoffs. But SEA fans will be happy to know that they still have some fight left in them, instead of going out of the tournament with a whimper.