TNC Predator, Mineski fight for TI8 survival

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The "Manila Clasico" of eSports is happening in DOTA 2's grandest stage.

Well, sort of.

TNC Predator and Mineski will collide on Tuesday (Philippine Time) at the start of the knockout stages of The International 2018 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The clash, which is scheduled for an 8 a.m. start, is the second of four matches in the first round of the lower bracket of TI8.

The match-up was set after Newbee and Optic swept their remaining group stage assignments on Sunday (Philippine Time) to force a three-way tie with Secret for third place in Group B, bringing TNC Predator down to sixth.

However, Newbee, which actually swept Secret in the group stages to help force the logjam, fell to the fifth seed after losing both its tiebreakers to Secret and Optic, bringing the two latter sides to the upper bracket.

Newbee still got a privilege to choose its opponent in its first knockout battle from the other group, and the club decided to challenge Winstrike, which swept Invictus in their wildcard playoffs, eventually setting up the TNC Predator-Mineski clash.

The winner of the one-match-only showdown will face the losing side in the best-of-three upper bracket quarterfinals between Virtus Pro and LGD-PSG, which will take place at 4 a.m. also on Tuesday (Philippine Time), in the second round of the lower bracket playoffs, which will be a best-of-three showdown.

Since TNC Predator's rise midway through this decade, its showdown against Mineski, which was then an all-Filipino squad, became a highly-anticipated battle among Filipino eSports fans, putting it at par with other major professional sport rivalries like the original "Manila Clasico", that is, the Ginebra-Magnolia rivalry, and the former pro football "NCR Derby" between the then Kaya Makati, now Kaya Iloilo, and the defunct Meralco Manila side. The rivalry even spilled to other eSports titles like LOL.

However, Mineski has since made a huge rebuild revolved around Malaysian star Chai Yee Fung, bringing in other Southeast Asians to the fold.

While its rivalry with TNC Predator began fizzling locally thanks to the shakeup, Mineski still maintained its Filipino spirit through current skipper Michael Ross.

On the other hand, Mineski is banking on its tried and tested core consisting of captain Carlo Palad, fellow support Tims Randrup, carry Marc Fausto, and offlaner Sam Hidalgo with midlaner Armel Tabios helping its cause.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno