Team Liquid vs Team Aster – Ti11 Playoffs Match Preview & Analysis

Despite securing a guaranteed top-four finish at the International 11 (TI11), Team Liquid and Team Aster are still feeling uneasy as they await their Lower Bracket series.

The loser is eliminated at fourth place, ending their TI11 run on a commendable note, while the winner advances to the Lower Bracket Final. Hence, no words can describe how much are at stake, the prize pool, the regions, and eventually the title as the International 11 Champions.

zai and Boxi hugging it out after defeating Thunder Awaken at TI11

TI11 Lower Bracket Round 5

Better known as the semifinals in most competitive events, the Lower Bracket R5 will decide whether the last Chinese team standing, Aster will move on. China has missed the Aegis of Champions for four consecutive years since TI7, so Aster isn’t just playing for their team’s sake but the entire region’s legacy on their back.

After all, Aster was the opponent that dealt the finishing blow on their Chinese brethren, PSG.LGD in their previous series. Hence, the handshake after that match marked the passing of their torch in keeping China at TI11.

On the other hand, many fans are rooting for Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen’s success as he returned to Team Liquid for one last TI. This will be his last TI journey, so the current generation of Team Liquid squad wanted this to be a tribute to Matu’s legacy too.

Team Liquid’s road to TI11

If there’s ever a telltale sign of a championship-winning team in the making, it’s often their tough journeys to make it thus far. Team Liquid shares that very story, whereby their roots came from the International 11 Last Chance Qualifier. They survived the qualifier against bigger favorites from various regions, such as T1, Virtus.pro, and Xtreme Gaming to name a few.

Even after making their debut into TI11 in the worst way possible, Liquid continued to surpass everyone’s expectations. And don’t get us wrong, Liquid is by no means an unstoppable team. They had one too many close series throughout TI11 Playoffs, such as 2-1 vs Entity and the famous 2-1 vs Thunder Awaken.

For the unwary, the third match between Liquid and TA boiled down to a scenario, where one team fight decides the outcome of that match. TA’s Enigma used Blackhole on the unsuspecting Michael “miCKe” Vu’s Pangolier. Yet, he survived with 1HP before Matu’s Lifestealer narrowly used Infest on his ally to give him health. It was barely a play by Team Liquid, but more so a miracle.

In fact, Liquid has been arguably very lucky with these nail-biting victories, but perhaps Liquid has fate on their side at TI11.

Team Aster the sole Chinese survivor at TI11

Putting the nail in their regional rival’s coffin was bittersweet. On one hand, Aster is certainly thrilled to secure fourth place and beyond at TI11. However, at the cost of putting down the most rooted team at TI11.

Ori and Boboka fist-bumping after defeating PSG.LGD at TI11

Unlike the remaining candidates at TI11, namely Team Liquid and Secret, the Chinese powerhouse has been a staple throughout the DPC 2022 season. They are second only to the biggest teams of the season, such as PSG.LGD, Team Spirit and OG. However, amongst the remaining teams at TI11, Aster is the most accomplished one.

Additionally, it’s evident that Aster improved drastically since we last saw them at PGL Arlington Major 2022 and ESL One Malaysia 2022. They defeated PSG.LGD in a very convincing fashion, which is not a feat many teams can claim.

Team Liquid vs Team Aster

On paper, Aster is hands down superior to Liquid. In fact, the two rivals have met once in Upper Bracket R1, which concluded in favor of Aster.

Even so, we would bet against Kyle’s prediction on EG winning TI, that Liquid has some tricks up their sleeves. For instance, Liquid’s last match vs Aster felt reserved, compared to their form in lower bracket. They picked Shadow Fiend as a reliable and stable carry pick but doesn’t account for the lack of initiations.

Whereas we saw a change in pace by Liquid when their TI journey was at stake. They pulled off Enigma games every time if it wasn’t banned. Played fast-paced hero combos, such as Drow Ranger, Broodmother, and Leshrac.

Thus, Aster would rather be wary of what Liquid has in mind if we were in their shoes. Because Matu’s hero pool can be very unsuspecting in many instances, Liquid can even opt for their infamous Enigma Blackholes.

TI11 Lower Bracket R5 featuring Team Liquid vs Team Aster

For what it’s worth, both teams have made it this far into TI11 to even consider giving up. And perhaps just an exclusive perk at only TI11, the venue shifts to the supposedly bigger and better Singapore Indoor Stadium. Hopefully, with soundproof booths, because it was a terrible experience to play the TI11 Playoffs with all the external sounds, caster callouts, and audience cheers in the background.

May the two teams play their best at TI11 Lower Bracket R5 on October 29. For odds and match outcome picks head over to our TI11 Main Event Predictions article.