Team Aster fails to secure a win against 9Pandas at the Bali major’s knockout round.
After a grueling and tide-shifting BO3 series, 9 Pandas stay undefeated against Team Aster and secures their stay at the Bali Majors. Defeated in the knockout rounds, Aster has much to reflect on as their shine slowly dimmed with the series’ progression, showing signs of a lack of consistency.
9Pandas’s Dota 2 team comprises some of the best Russian Dota 2 players in the scene, coming in as somewhat of an all-star squad comprising RAMZES666, kiyotaka, MieRo, Antares and Solo (captain). Although freshly formed this April 17, 2023, under the guidance of coach Vladimir ‘RodjER’ Nikogosian, they performed well in the DPC EEU 2023 Tour 3 and ESL One Berlin Major 2023, coming in 3rd in both tournaments.
For the side of Team Aster, with the recent addition of the child-star Suma1L on May 8, 2023, the Chinese team came in with guns blazing and two objectives in mind, to secure their stay at the Bali Major and finally get their victory over 9Pandas! Having played three sets of games against the Russian Pandas, they had drawn twice and lost to them once. The time for redemption was here, and Aster headed into the BO3 series, hoping to break the curse to no avail.
► 2023 Bali Major Group Stage
► July 6th : Aster VS 9pandas @9pandasgg
09:15 PM （Beijing Time）
09:15 AM （EST）
03:15 PM (CEST)
We fall from upper bracket and we will be fighting our way in the lower bracket . Let’s hope the team can… pic.twitter.com/X39DoSHxVY
— Team Aster (@CN_TeamAster) July 6, 2023
Game 1 was a legendary game full of aggression, with a total of 48 kills in 42 mins. The tides slowly shifted Team Aster into the lead, as the pushes with Xxs’s Visage and the excellent start for Suma1L’s Ember Spirit slowly transitioned to a 22-minute mid lane melee barracks downed for 9Pandas. Monet's Drow Ranger domination was evident over the mid to late game, as he picked up kills thanks to careful scouting by Visage’s Familiars and Pi qui’s Clockwerk’s Rocket Flares. The deal was sealed when Monet’s Drow critically hit Kiyotaka’s famous Storm Spirit, inflicting around fatal 1,800 burst damage. The Chinese Pandas lost the teamfight, which transitioned to a final push ending the game with the Suma1L and Team Aster as the victors.
Game 2 started with a draft favoring Aster, as all 9Pandas Heroes were squishy and easy targets for Monet’s Drow, Sumail’s Ember Spirit and Xxs’s Doom. The game started decently in their favor, with RAMZES666’s Alchemist having a tricky lane against Xxs and Boboka’s Techies. But as the mid game approached, Alchemist managed to pick up his farm and even made impactful rotations, leading to the deaths of the 9Panda’s overextending Heroes. Slowly but surely, the game swung immensely in favor of the Pandas, with the final few teamfights leaving heavy casualties on Team Aster’s side due to Refresher Black Holes from Miero’s Enigma and Refresher AOE (Area of Effect) Electric Vortexes from Kiyotaka’s signature Storm Spirit. The lockdowns were too much for the already-crumbling Chinese defense, and soon enough, they were forced to head into a game three by the relentless Russian Pandas.
Game 3 was drafted with 9Pandas having a cheesy lineup, especially with Miero on Axe and Antares on Skywrath Mage. Team Aster’s lineup was very dependent on Boboka’s Enchantress and Pi qiu’s Rubick making good rotations and having complete control of the early game. Monet’s Slark also needed to have a good early game. But, the cheesy combos were far too powerful for the Chinese Squad, and they had difficulty surviving the hard ganks from the CIS Pandas. Following an 8 mins 22 seconds Midas on RAMZES666’s Terrorblade and a couple of terrible fights for Team Aster spelled certain doom. Soon, the Pandas started to chip away at the Aster’s defense, picking off the enemy cores and pushing high ground cautiously. In the end, after one last smoke gank, the Chinese squad threw in the towel, accepting they would not be able to best the Russians.
Aster 1:2 9pandas @9pandasgg
We are sorry we let the fans down. We end our Bali journey today. And fail to secured a direct invite for Ti.
Good game well played from 9pandas. pic.twitter.com/ZbvgU9ENEI
— Team Aster (@CN_TeamAster) July 6, 2023
Will this curse ever be lifted, or will Team Aster always fall prey to 9Panda’s deathly maws? Only time and another brilliant series of Dota will tell.