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The playoffs of the ESL One Dota 2 Stockholm Major began on Monday (16 May) with the first round of upper bracket matches.
Western European juggernauts Tundra Esports kicked things off by taking down The International 10 (TI10) champions Team Spirit in a 2-1 slugfest.
South America's Thunder Awaken then continued their hot streak by outlasting Eastern Europe's BetBoom Team in another 2-1 thriller.
While the first two series of the day were relatively close affairs, the latter two matches ended up being sweeps. North America's TSM routed OG while surging Western European squad Gaimin Gladiators cruised through Southeast Asia's T1.
Tundra Esports 2-1 Team Spirit
Tundra started the day strong by dominating the TI10 champions in a 33-minute game one that ended with a lopsided 33-13 kill score.
The Western European juggernauts didn't give Spirit any room to breathe, using a strong pushing duo in Naga Siren for Oliver "skiter" Lepko and Lycan for Neta "33" Shapira to demolish Spirit's base.
Meanwhile, Leon "Nine" Kirilin on a mid Pangolier, Martin "Saksa" Sazdov on Snapfire, and Jingjun "Sneyking" Wu on Phoenix protected their allies with their teamfight abilities.
Spirit bounced back in a 59-minute marathon in game two, where Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk's Phantom Assassin prevailed in chaotic late game slugfests to force the series to a game three.
Tundra didn't waste any time in the decider, last-picking Nine's signature mid Keeper of the Light to round out a strong midgame lineup led by skiter's Chaos Knight and 33's Beastmaster.
Nine utterly dismantled Spirit, building Boots of Travel at just the fifth minute then dominating the map for Tundra by constantly pushing lanes and setting up kills left and right.
Despite the best efforts of the TI10 champions, Tundra forced the GG call after 44 minutes of action to take the 2-1 series victory.
While skiter ended game three with a game-high 14 kills against two deaths, Nine was clearly the MVP for Tundra as he had a perfect 13-kill, 10-assist outing in the decider.
Thunder Awaken 2-1 BetBoom Team
The second series of the day started with a solid team victory for Thunder Awaken, who took the opening victory after 40 minutes behind prodigy carry Christian "Pakazs" Savina's Templar Assassin.
Game two was arguably the best game of the day, as BetBoom forced the series to a deciding third game in the most exciting way possible.
Thunder Awaken were in control for much of the game thanks to their superior teamfight composition led by Pakazs' Faceless Void and Gonzalo "DarkMago" Herrera's Storm Spirit.
However, BetBoom managed to keep themselves in the game despite a huge kill deficit thanks to some staunch base defenses and relentless split-pushing from Nikita "Daxak" Kuzmin's carry Nature's Prophet.
What looked to be the decisive clash for Roshan at the 47-minute mark turned chaotic when BetBoom forced an engagement in the pit, distracting Thunder Awaken while Daxak teleported into the South American squad's base to snipe their Ancient.
Thunder Awaken showed incredible resilience as they shook off their surprising loss in game two then proceeded to dominate game three.
Pakazs' signature carry Templar Assassin once again led the way, notching 13 kills and 13 assists against three deaths to secure the 2-1 series victory for the South American squad after 43 minutes of action.
TSM 2-0 OG
The third series of the day featured two teams that entered the Stockholm Major not at full strength.
OG fielded Sébastien "Ceb" Debs and Johan "N0tail" Sundstein as stand-ins for Mikhail "Misha" Agatov and Evgenii "Chuvash" Makarov, who were unable to attend the Major due to visa issues.
Meanwhile, TSM played the first two days of the Major with Quinn "Quinn" Callahan standing in for Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek, who tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before the tournament started.
Fortunately for TSM, SabeRLight managed to recover and rejoin the team for the final day of the group stage.
TSM at full strength proved to be too much for OG, even if the latter's stand-in was a two-time TI champion in Ceb. The North American squad overwhelmed their Western European opponents in a 55-minute slugfest in game one.
TSM notably ended game one up 43-27 in kills with three players notching double-digit kills.
Enzo "Timado" Gianoli on Chaos Knight notched a game-high 14 kills against just one death, David "MoonMeander" Tan on a support Mirana got 13 kills against four deaths, and Jonathan "Bryle" De Guia on Void Spirit had 12 kills against three deaths.
Game two was another bloodbath that ended in TSM's favor, as they more than doubled OG's kills, 38-17. SabeRLight on Night Stalker popped off with 14 kills against two deaths to lead his team in securing the 2-0 sweep over OG and a spot in the upper bracket semifinals.
Gaimin Gladiators 2-0 T1
The last series of the day ended up being the most lopsided matchup, as Gaimin Gladiators soundly swept T1 in a series that lasted just 55 minutes.
The Gladiators hit the ground running in game one behind Melchior "Seleri" Hillenkamp's Enchantress, who dominated the early game to the tune of four kills in the first six minutes.
Miroslav "BOOM" Bičan's Storm Spirit then took over the midgame fights en route to a game-high 14 kills against three deaths.
The dreaded Tiny-Lycan combo for Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov and Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard then closed out game one after 33 minutes of action, with the Gladiators up 34-11 in kills.
Game two wasn't even a contest, as the Gladiators simply bulldozed T1 in just 21 minutes. DyrachYo on Chaos Knight had a clean 11 kills to pace his team's 28-6 kill lead to secure the 2-0 series sweep.
With their victories, Tundra Esports, Thunder Awaken, TSM, and Gaimin Gladiators have all secured a Top 6 finish and at least US$25,000 and 385 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points.
Tundra Esports will take on Thunder Awaken while TSM will face Gaimin Gladiators on Wednesday (18 May) to determine the two teams that will advance to the upper bracket finals on Saturday (21 May).
Meanwhile, Team Spirit, BetBoom, OG, and T1 all drop to the first round of the lower bracket for the first round of playoff elimination matches on Tuesday (17 May).
Team Spirit will take on South America's Beastcoast, BetBoom will face Western Europe's Team Liquid, OG will do battle with Southeast Asia's BOOM Esports, while T1 will meet regional rivals Fnatic.
Here is the bracket after the opening round of the Stockholm Major playoffs:
For everything you need to know about the Stockholm Major, check here.