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Empire wins in epic QF grind against Secret

From ESL's Twitter account
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--After three lengthy battles, Empire booked the last seat to the ESL One semifinals after beating Secret at the Mall of Asia Arena in the quarterfinal series that ended early Sunday.

The best-of-three match-up started at around 9:10 p.m. on Saturday night, but the first match lasted for a little over 50 minutes before Secret, banking on Artour Babaev's Invoker and Jacky Mao's Clinkz, took the opener by wiping out the entire Empire roster in the final clash.

The instant rematch, however, was an instant classic.

Secret appeared to be heading to the sweep after crushing all the three lane towers at the middle lane early on, but they opted to play safe and finish it off in the midgame, leaving an opening for Empire's Roman Kushnarev, playing Spectre, to build up for the epic clutch moment.

Game 2 started at around 10:45 p.m. on Saturday but lasted for 73 minutes, ending at 12:03 a.m. of Sunday. Behind Kushnarev, known by the in-game name Ramzes666, playing more of a tank in the late game, Empire equalized, forcing the rubber match.

Ramzes then got the better of his hard carry battle against Mao, also known as Eternal Envy, as the Russian's Slark lifted Empire to the series win in the 41-minute long Game 3 as the Canadian's Lifestealer lost steam in the end.

Empire, the European qualifying tournament winners, will next face Liquid, the lone directly invited club left in the running for the US$250 thousand top prize following Secret's elimination, in the semifinals later Sunday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno