Chinese powerhouse Vici Gaming (VG) took down surging Southeast Asian squad TNC Predator, 2-0, in their heated Upper Bracket Finals matchup to become the first finalist of the MDL Chengdu Major.

Game one

VG gave the Morphling-Earthshaker combo away to TNC for Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte and Timothy “Tims” Randrup, with Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios on Templar Assassin and Damien “kpii” Chok on Abaddon.

The Chinese powerhouse had planned for that however, as they last picked a mid Huskar for Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang to take over early game alongside a Faceless Void for Zhang “Eurus” Chengjun and an offlane Puck for Zhou “Yang” Haiyang.

Ori’s Huskar predictably shut Armel out from the midlane and led his team in taking over early, with VG having a 9-to-1 kill score — two of those being on Gabbi — and 8,000 gold lead just 11 minutes in.

With VG taking Roshan by the 16-minute mark, TNC tried to make as much space as they could on the map to buy time for Gabbi’s Morphling to come online and give them a fighting chance. Kpii’s Abaddon was particularly proficient in this, as he pulled VG away from TNC’s base and denied himself three-straight times to waste their time.

While TNC’s space-creating antics did buy enough time for Gabbi to finally get his Aghanim’s Scepter, it wasn’t enough to stop VG from just marching down their base and decisively taking a one-game advantage in the series.

Game two

TNC looked to bounce back in the second game with a high-damage ranged hero lineup with Gabbi on Drow Ranger, Armel on Templar Assassin once more, and kpii on an offlane Venomancer.

Meanwhile, VG ran with Eurus on Faceless Void again, Ori on a mid Kunkka, and Yang on Omniknight.

The laning phase ended with both teams at relatively even ground, but Armel’s Templar Assassin had a much better start compared to the previous game and was able to get both a Blink Dagger and Desolator by the 14-minute mark. That let TNC apply pressure on VG’s side of the map while Gabbi’s Drow Ranger was left free to farm.

While TNC was able to claim Roshan by 21 minutes and take over the map soon after, once it expired the game slowed down as both teams became content to farm and take the occasional fight while waiting for the next Roshan respawn. A stalemate ensued as VG were able to repel TNC’s pushes up their high ground, they were in turn unable to easily fight into their opponents’ high-damage lineup.

While TNC looked like they were in complete control for most of the game, things started to equalize once Eurus’ Faceless Void built up a full inventory that let him outlast everything that TNC threw at him. A crucial skirmish for the lategame Roshan saw TNC grab the Aegis, but Xiong “Pyw”‘ Jiahan’s Lina was able to sneak in and grab the Cheese, Refresher Shard, and Aghanim’s Blessing. That later paid off when he was able to set up two crucial pickoffs on TNC’s heroes that broke the game wide open for VG.

With the momentum on their side, VG was able to take the fight to TNC and mount an assault on their base. The decisive engagement on the top lane was won by VG, as TNC’s heroes could no longer take down Eurus’ Faceless Void. After an arduous 63 minutes, VG were able to outlast their opponents and secure the series.

With their win, VG secure a Top 2 finish at the Major along with US$160,000 and 3,000 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points. That haul of points should more than guarantee that the team will be among the first to secure one of the coveted direct invites to The International 2020 (TI10).

TNC are not out of contention for the championship however. They will await the winner of the match between Invictus Gaming and Evil Geniuses to see who they will face at the Lower Bracket Finals for the chance to take on VG in the Grand Finals.

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