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North American squad TSM faced off against OG in the first round of the ESL One Stockholm Major upper bracket. The two teams haven't had a chance to play against each other since The International 10 (TI10) group stage which resulted in a 1-1 tie.
The playoff rematch between these two teams did not disappoint, as both teams had an extremely back and forth series that could have swung either way at times.
In the end, it was TSM that emerged victorious in a 2-0 sweep while OG dropped down to the lower bracket.
MoonMeander carries TSM in game one
OG's draft in game one focused on sustaining their carry Monkey King, played by Artem "Yuragi" Golubiev. To that end, Tommy "Taiga" Le took the position four Io to give Yuragi enough survivability to utilize Jingu Mastery and become virtually unkillable in teamfights.
Former OG offlaner and two-time TI winner Sébastien "Ceb" Debs focused on locking down enemies using Shadow Shaman. Bozhidar "bzm" Bogdanov's Invoker provided the squad with all the teamfight they needed.
Finally, Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf took the offlane Razor as a counter to TSM's Chaos Knight.
OG had a solid draft in the first game but there were two issues.
The first was having Taiga play the Io instead of Ceb. Taiga has an active play style and shines on heroes who can make big plays such as Enigma and Clockwork. OG might have done better had Ceb played the Io and Taiga took the Shaman instead.
The second issue for OG was trying to use Razor to counter Chaos Knight. Razor's Static Link greatly reduces the physical output of a target yet Chaos Knight is practically immune to that problem thanks to having three Phantasm illusions dealing 100% of the hero's damage.
TSM's draft had quite a few similarities with OG's.
Kim "DuBu" Doo-young played Bane, a hero known for his ability to lock down enemies. Offlaner Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek played Underlord to reduce the enemy's physical damage output.
The differences in TSM's draft came in their mid lane and position 4 support picks. Jonathan "Bryle" De Guia took Void Spirit and focused on picking off enemies and creating space while team captain David "MoonMeander" Tan picked Mirana, a far more active support compared to the Io.
It was an even laning stage between the two teams. Each time one side got a kill, the other squad would quickly return the favor. Neither team was able to pull ahead or take map control.
OG's cores did manage to out farm the cores on TSM.
Timado stayed at the top of the net worth on Chaos Knight but SabeRLight- and Bryle struggled to keep pace.
Thankfully for TSM, MoonMeander stepped up big time in game one, as he more than doubled the net worth of the other supports.
This farming ability allowed MoonMeander to get a 15-minute Spirit Vessel, nullifying the regeneration of the Monkey King and Io. The Spirit Vessel also greatly reduced the effectiveness of Io's 19-minute Mekansm.
Even then, OG managed to win the first big teamfight of the game 25 minutes into the game, as they caught TSM completely by surprise in their triangle. They did lose Taiga but secured four kills in return, which was a very decent trade.
Thanks to winning the first teamfight of the game, OG started to snowball their advantage and slowly gained control of the map.
Unfortunately for the European squad, it was impossible to completely close a map off against a team that had an Underlord, who could use his Fiend's Gate to farm any area of the map.
However, even with Fiend's Gate, TSM were slowly but steadily losing the net worth battle against OG and knew they had to make a play for Roshan, which was a big turning point in the game.
OG tried to stop them, but ended up losing three of their heroes without getting anything for their troubles.
It was a massive turn of events. OG had a 7,000 gold advantage at the 40-minute mark, but due to losing the fight at Roshan and map control, it was TSM who held a 10,000 gold lead at 44 minutes, a 17,000 gold swing in four minutes.
It was all downhill for OG after the pivotal fight at Roshan. They were slowly cut off from the map and couldn't secure any pickoffs for themselves. TSM took game one 15 minutes after their big win in the Roshan's pit.
MoonMeander had an absolutely stunning game with the support Mirana.
He was the third most farmed hero on the map, only behind the carries of both teams. His itemization was perfect as well, as he focused on disrupting the enemy's damage output with a Wraith Pact, Ethereal Blade, and Scythe of Vyse.
TSM's supports shine in game two while OG stumble
The cores from each side in game two focused on highly mobile heroes. For TSM they took Pangolier for Bryle, Monkey King for Timado, and the first Night Stalker pick of the tournament for offlaner Saberlight.
OG had the same strategy with regards to their cores and took ATF's signature Timbersaw, Yuragi on the Phantom Assassin, and finally the Ember Spirit for bzm.
While both teams focused on mobility for their cores, they had very different approaches to their supports.
TSM went for long-range spell casters, Keeper of the Light and Silencer, while OG preferred supports with shorter cast range spells but great lockdowns in Earthshaker and Bane.
This difference in support picks was the reason TSM won game two. Dubu on Silencer only needed to stay far behind and use Global Silence to be useful. Keeper of the Light could channel Illuminate from a great distance with no risk to himself.
TSM had chosen safe pick supports that lacked lockdown, but on the other hand could still provide value to the team without risking their lives.
OG's approach on the other hand proved far riskier, as Earthshaker and Bane needed to be in the thick of battle to get their spells off.
If OG could have pulled ahead then it may have been fine, but in an even game the OG supports were always at risk of dying.
In the end, it was TSM's ideas that paid off.
MoonMeander's Keeper of the Light got a 17-minute Spirit Vessel and a 30-minute Wraith Pact while dealing the highest damage among all supports in the game. Dubu also impressed with only four deaths on Silencer and a KDA of 6.5.
Ceb, on the other hand, struggled as his Bane was constantly killed early in each fight, dying 12 times in total. Ceb only got his first major item, a Force Staff, 28 minutes in the game.
It was even worse for Taiga's Earthshaker, who died 15 times in the game and took 33 minutes to farm his Blink Dagger.
The differences between the two teams' strategies was laid bare for all to see at the 35-minute mark.
SabeRLight jumped on Taiga to get a kill, Ceb tried to stop TSM's offlaner using Fiend's Grip but was himself immediately stopped by Dubu's Global Silence.
Taiga lost his life early in the fight due to his lack of defensive items, followed shortly by Saberlight.
It looked like OG might have been able to kill Bryle and take the fight, but an incredible use of Satanic and Swashbuckle saved his life and allowed TSM to instead bring down four members of OG.
TSM had held the advantage through the entire game and their big win at the 35-minute mark forced OG to call GG four minutes later.
TSM proved yet again how important it was to win the drafting stage as they secure their spot in the upper bracket semi-finals.
It's not over yet for OG, as they can still win the tournament, but will have to do so from the lower bracket.
OG's next opponent are BOOM Esports, a team they went 1-1 against during the Group Stage. There is a lot on the line as the winner of that match secures a 7-8th place finish while the loser goes home with no prize money or Dota Pro Circuit points.
TSM FTX Dota 2 roster:
Enzo "Timado" Gianoli O'Connor
Jonathan "Bryle" De Guia
Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek
David "MoonMeander" Tan
Kim "DuBu" Doo-young
OG Dota 2 roster:
Artem "Yuragi" Golubiev
Bozhidar "bzm" Bogdanov
Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf
Tommy "Taiga" Le
Sébastien "Ceb" Debs (stand-in)
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.