Vici Gaming fought back from a game down to squeeze past TNC Predator and set up an all-Chinese clash with PSG.LGD in the upper bracket second round at TI9.
TNC Predator were on course to become the first Philippines team to reach the top six of Dota 2's International when they took a surprise lead after the first game in the upper bracket round one match.
But Chinese roster Vici Gaming are among the favourites to take the TI9 crown and, cheered on by a raucous home crowd in Shanghai, were inspired to fight back, winning games two and three.
The TNC roster featured kuku, who had been banned from playing in the Chongqing Major in December 2018 after using offensive language towards a Chinese player during an online game.
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TNC had progressed to the playoff bracket after finishing fourth in Group A with a 2-5-1 record, setting up the upper-bracket meeting with Vici, who came through Group B with a 4-3-1 record.
Before the match Dota 2 community man Wykrhm Reddy described TNC Predator as a "scary" proposition.
Fnatic or Liquid next for TNC
The win means Vici will face another highly fancied Chinese team - PSG.LGD - in upper bracket round two on Thursday.
TNC Predator, meanwhile, will face the winners of Team Liquid vs Fnatic in lower bracket round two on Wednesday.
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Picture: ESL / Helena Kristiansson