In a pair of brutal hour-long matches, Fnatic just barely took the victory over regional rival TNC Predator

We’re deep into the TI Qualifiers for the Southeast Asia region as today, Fnatic took on TNC Predator in the Upper Bracket finals. The winner would advance to the Grand Final and battle for a chance to head to TI10. Meanwhile, the loser would fall to the lower bracket and have one more team stand between them and The International.

Both teams have had a great showing so far in the tournament, but neither are close to perfect. TNC struggled against Team SMG and BOOM Esports, dropping games and forced into 60+ minute wars against BOOM. Similarly, Fnatic dropped the ball against Omega, failing to put the team away and allowing a comeback in their second game. 

Both teams clearly have very exploitable weaknesses. For one, TNC relies heavily on their ability to farm to late and win out in longer games—something of a staple of SEA teams this tournament. On the other hand, Fnatic seems far more proactive, with each player looking for outplays and engagements, confident their team could follow up. This is a double-edged sword though, as in games like their match with OB Esports x Neon, FNC struggle against an Aghanim’s empowered Nyx Assassin cutting off their aggression.

Fnatic’s War of Attrition Against TNC

Game one started with Fnatic attempting to bully TNC Predator out of the lanes. This lead to a big early lead for Luna and a solid start to the mid-game. Fnatic pushed into TNC’s high ground before the 30-minute mark, a rarity in these long SEA qualifier games.

But Timothy John “Tims” Randrup Grimstroke set up a ridiculous turn on the high ground, pushing Fnatic back. TNC had the better team fighting composition, but Fnatic was more farmed. From there, the game rapidly devolved into a battle of attrition. Fnatic started pushing forward inch by inch with the burrowed Nyx, forcing TNC to take bad fights.

A four-minute back and forth fight at the 53-minute mark showed that while TNC could win an initial engagement with their brutal team fight composition, Fnatic’s heroes thrived in drawn-out fights. A botched Roshan by TNC finally put the nail in the coffin, leading to a Fnatic victory in game one.

TNC Gives It Their All

For game two, TNC gambled on Gabbi hard-farming on Terrorblade for victory. The team started the game attempting to secure the farm by invading Fnatic’s jungle. But the focus on their primary carry allowed a gold lead on Fnatic’s more balanced strategy. 

However, Fnatic mistook this for a sign they could win fights. Instead, they underestimated the early game strength of TNC’s heroes and lost a series of skirmishes. This caused Fnatic to play on the back foot, focusing on getting Marc Polo Luis “Raven” Fausto’s Arc Warden as fed as possible.

After almost 30 minutes of stalling, Fnatic finally got the ideal fight, with the gold lead mattering. Punishing the TB and forcing him into side lanes to farm, the Arc Warden now acted as a hard counter to TNC’s carry. But TNC refused to say die, forcing fights and picking off Fnatic’s supports. At this point, any small mistake could lead to disaster, and unfortunately, it was TNC who started making errors.

Slowly but surely, the game petered into a super late game matchup with—a familiar sight in these SEA qualifiers. However, TNC successfully kept up on items and punished any attempt Fnatic made to push in. As the game hit the hour mark, Fnatic pushed back TNC again to their high ground and continued their tactic of throwing Arc Warden's Tempest Double into the base to whittle down the barracks.

A familiar pattern started to develop of TNC pushing out from their base, only to lose a fight at the steps of Fnatic’s high ground and possibly losing Roshan. After this had repeated three times, with Aegis, a Ballista on Arc Warden, and no buybacks left, TNC finally yielded, calling GG after over 70 minutes of gameplay.

The Scoreline Hardly Tells The Full Story

Despite being a 2-0, Fnatic didn’t have anything close to an easy time securing this victory against TNC Predator. A more measured and cautious style from them than usual pushed things into the hyper-late game. As a result, TNC simply had more chances to come back. But each time, they fell inches short of taking the win.

Even though TNC Predator will be headed to the Lower Bracket, it would not be surprising at all to see them back in the Grand Final on July 3rd. This is a dangerous and aggressive team that could easily still secure their spot at TI10.

The top 4 teams have already been locked in, between FNC, TNC, BOOM and Xctn. Out of these powerhouse squads, only one will emerge to claim the qualifier spot tomorrow.

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