Only three teams remain in contention for the title after the penultimate day of the Dota 2 Lima Major.
Western Europe's Gaimin Gladiators completed an undefeated romp to the Grand Finals after routing an undermanned Team Liquid in the upper bracket finals.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asia's Talon Esports continued their incredible run in the lower bracket by knocking out Entity and Shopify Rebellion to meet Team Liquid in the lower bracket finals.
Here's how the fifth day of the Lima Major Playoffs went down:
Talon Esports 2-0 Entity
Riding the high from their victory over Team Spirit in day four, Talon Esports were on fire as they knocked out Entity seemingly without breaking a sweat.
Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon led the way for Talon in a 35-minute game one, notching 14 kills against two deaths on Terrorblade to pace his team's 33-15 kill lead.
In game two, Rafli "Mikoto" Rahman took the spotlight as Zeus and racked up a series-high 15 kills on just one death as Talon swept Entity out of the Major in 34 minutes and up 30-11 in kills.
The day was not yet over for the Southeast Asian squad, however, as they were set to face North America's Shopify Rebellion in the final match of the day.
Gaimin Gladiators 2-0 Team Liquid
The upper bracket finals was a showdown between Gaimin Gladiators and Team Liquid, two juggernauts of Western Europe that have yet to drop a game in the Playoffs up to this point. But while many favoured Liquid to win, the dynamic drastically changed after Samuel "Boxi" Svahn was forced to exit the Major due to a medical emergency.
Liquid had to call up their analyst, Mathis "Jabbz" Friesel, to stand-in for Boxi. And with all due respect to Jabbz, Boxi's absence was glaring as the Gladiators soundly swept Liquid to become the first team in the Grand Finals.
Quinn "Quinn" Callahan had another standout performance on Leshrac to lead the Gladiators to an easy 39-minute game one victory, racking up 20 kills and 11 assists against two deaths.
Not to be outdone by his midlaner, Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov put up 20 kills of his own on Ursa while having three deaths as the Gladiators closed out the series in a 34-minute rout.
Talon Esports 2-1 Shopify Rebellion
The day ended with a rollercoaster match between Talon Esports and Shopify Rebellion, with both teams trading stomps before the Southeast Asian squad ran away with the series in a one-sided game three.
Talon had all the momentum in the world as they took an easy 34-minute victory to open the series behind solid performances from their three cores. 23savage led with 10 kills on Nature's Prophet, Mikoto had nine kills on Puck, while Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong on Nature's Prophet pitched in with eight to pace their team's 38-9 kill lead.
Shopify Rebellion were quick to strike back in a 48-minute game two thanks to phenomenal showings from their own cores. Artour "Arteezy" Babaev on Bloodseeker and Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek on Nature's Prophet each had 13 kills while Abed "Abed" Yusop put up 10 kills of his own.
With a spot in the Top 3 on the line in the decider, Talon never gave Shopify Rebellion even an inch of ground as they closed out the series in a 44-minute stomp.
With a tri-core of Spectre for 23savage, Storm Spirit for Mikoto, and Primal Beast for Jabz, Talon dominated the laning stage and prevented Shopify Rebellion from hitting their timings with relentless ganks. While the North American squad would find a glimmer of hope here and there, the Southeast Asians were quick to dash any hopes of a comeback before they ultimately sealed the deal.
Four Talon players finished with double-digit kills as they finished game three with a 51-13 kill lead.
Jabz led with 13 kills against one death, 23savage and Mikoto both had 12 kills, while Worawit "Q" Mekchai on Tiny pitched in with 10 takedowns of his own.
With today's results, Gaimin Gladiators have guaranteed themselves at least US$100,000 and 350 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points in winnings. Of course, they will be aiming to claim the Major championship as well as the grand prize of US$200,000 and 400 DPC points.
Talon Esports also secured US$75,000 and 300 DPC points and will be gunning to become the first Southeast Asian team to win a Major since TNC Predator's victory in the MDL Chengdu Major back in 2019.
Meanwhile, Shopify Rebellion and Entity reach the end of their time in the Lima Major.
Shopify Rebellion bow out in 4th place and with US$50,000 and 250 DPC points in consolation. Entity exit in 5th-6th place and will be taking home US$25,000 and 200 DPC points.
The Lima Major Playoffs will take place from 28 February to 5 March and will be a double-elimination bracket. All Playoff matches will be a best-of-three except for the Grand Finals, which will be a full best-of-five series.
Teams will have to make the Top 8 in order to earn a cut of the Lima Major's US$500,000 prize pool and 1,900 DPC point pool. Those precious DPC points will go towards earning an all-important direct invite to this year's iteration of The International (TI), Dota 2's annual world championship tournament.
The Lima Major is the first Major of the 2023 DPC season and will feature 18 of the best teams in the circuit battling for their share of the US$500,000 prize pool and 1,900 DPC point pool. For everything you need to know about the Lima Major, check here.