Western European Dota 2 stalwarts Entity are the sixth team to qualify for The International (TI) 2023 from the regional qualifiers after they claimed the first of two spots in the tournament's Western European regional qualifier with a 2-0 sweep over Luna Galaxy in the upper bracket finals on Thursday (31 August).
After a rough 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season, Entity managed to right the ship just in time to qualify for this year's Dota 2 world championship tournament.
After their Top 12 finish in TI 2022, Entity entered the 2023 DPC season with Alimzhan "watson" Islambekov replacing Ivan "Pure" Moskalenko as their carry player.
The team had a solid start to the season, finishing fourth in the Winter Tour regional league in the bloodbath that is Western Europe and making it to the Top 6 at the Lima Major. However, Entity fell off from there, only managing back-to-back sixth place finishes in the Spring and Summer Tour regional leagues.
Those lackluster results prompted Entity to part ways with offlaner Tobias "Tobi" Buchner in June, replacing him with Filipino veteran Kim "Gabbi" Santos ahead of the TI 2023 regional qualifiers.
Entity were on fire in the qualifiers, taking down big name teams Nigma Galaxy and Team Secret in the first two rounds to get in position to claim the first of two spots in the upper bracket finals against Luna Galaxy, who were fresh off a massive upset over favourites Quest Esports.
Game one started with Entity drafting for a strong midgame deathball spearheaded by a tri-core of Gyrocopter for watson, Ember Spirit for Daniel "Stormstormer" Schoetzau, and Legion Commander for Gabbi. Meanwhile, Luna Galaxy looked to take things late behind Indji "Shad" Lub's Medusa.
Both teams ended the laning stage on relatively even footing, but Entity were able to take the midgame fights their draft was designed to win to start pulling ahead. But while Entity were dominating the clashes, Luna Galaxy put up a stubborn base defense to draw things out.
While Luna Galaxy managed to push the game past the hour-mark, a determined Entity were still able to break through their defenses after 62 minutes of action to take the game one win.
Watson and Stormstormer paced Entity's 29-19 kill lead with a combined 18 kills and 34 assists against four deaths between the two of them. Gabbi also pitched in with seven kills and 16 assists on four deaths.
In game two, Entity opted for a heavy burst damage lineup headed by Phantom Assassin for watson, flanked by Stormstormer on Pangolier and Gabbi on Dawnbreaker.
Luna Galaxy looked to shut down their opponents' relatively slow draft behind a strong start from Cedric "Davai Lama" Deckmyn's Beastmaster. However, Entity managed to weather the storm in the early game and started pulling away after the 20-minute mark.
Despite Luna Galaxy's best efforts to mount a comeback and force a game three, Entity closed out the 2-0 series sweep in 39 minutes to punch their ticket to TI 2023.
Watson had an excellent performance to end the series, notching 14 kills and nine assists — including an Ultra Kill in the closing seconds — against four deaths to fuel Entity's 32-19 kill lead.
With their victory over Luna Galaxy, Entity claimed the first of two spots in TI 2023 from the Western European qualifier. They will be the region's fourth representative in the this year's world championship tournament, joining directly-invited squads Team Liquid, three-time Major champions Gaimin Gladiators, and defending TI champions Tundra Esports.
Luna Galaxy will have another shot at making it to TI 2023 as they drop down to the lower bracket finals, where they will face the winner of the lower bracket semifinals between Quest Esports and Team Secret for the second spot out of the Western European qualifier.
China's Azure Ray, North America's Nouns Esports, Eastern Europe's Virtus.pro, as well as Vivo Keyd Stars and Thunder Awaken from South America were the first five teams to earn a spot in this year's world championship tournament for Dota 2 through the regional qualifiers.
TI 2023's regional qualifiers were held from 17 to 31 August, with the competition being split into three five-day phases where two regions will compete in each phase. The first set of qualifiers were for North America and China, followed by South America and Eastern Europe, and with Southeast Asia and Western Europe closing things out.
TI 2023 will be hosted across multiple weekends from 12 to 29 October in Seattle, the United States. This year's tournament also features a revamped format split into two distinct phases, called 'The Road to The International' and 'The International' itself.