MANILA--Neon Esports' run in the One Esports Singapore Major came to an end on Saturday after falling to Team Secret, 1-2, in the third round of the lower bracket playoffs.
A major item adjustment on skipper Clement Ivanov and midlaner Michal Jankowski in the deciding match helped Secret solve the puzzle that is the brilliance of Erin Ferrer as Windranger just as Neon looked poised to do yet another reverse sweep by bouncing back from a Game 1 defeat with a quick Game 2 win.
Despite the struggles of Andrei Ong's Nature Prophet early on, Ferrer dominated Jankowski's Death Prophet even as Yang Hu Weng's offlane Pugna provided Neon's early push with his Netherblast skill and Secret's early game move of playing a trilane offlane formation with Lasse Urplainen's Troll Warlord in it looking to be backfiring as he struggled on his own.
However, Ivanov, playing Keeper of the Light, bought an Ethereal Blade to help in neutralizing Ferrer even as Jankowski bought a Reaver to become tanky enough to stay alive despite Ferrer's attacks.
That worked wonder as Urplainen finally got his groove in the endgame and upended Ferrer and Ong, who was also beginning to find his rhythm.
Not helping Neon's cause is Jaunuel Arcilla's decision to play as a "meat shield" just to keep his cores from getting killed as his Tusk did not have enough golds to get good items of his own.
Secret clinched the series in the marathon match after forcing Neon to call GG in the 61st minute.
Despite the defeat, Neon will still walk away with US$25,000 (around PHP1.2 million) plus 300 DOTA Pro Circuit points for the joint fifth place finish alongside another surprising squad, Peruvian side Thunder Predator.
Thunder Predator's own Cinderella run ended after bowing to Invictus Gaming, 1-2, in their own Round 3 affair.
Invictus would oust Secret in the lower bracket semifinals, 2-0 to set up a lower bracket finals showdown against LGD.
LGD lost in the upper bracket finals against Evil Geniuses, 1-2, sending the Chinese squad backed by French football powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain down to the lower bracket final.
The winner of the Invictus-LGD match-up will take on EG in the best-of-five grand finals.
Both the lower bracket finals and the grand finals will be played on Sunday.
On the other hand, Secret will finish fourth in the Singapore Major and will take home US$50,000 (around PHP2.4 million) and 350 DPC points.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno