By Nick Seagull - Team Spirit (TS) has won the most prestigious tournament in DotA2 videogame discipline The International (TI) and received the main ideological prize Aegis of the Immortal on Sunday, thus proving it is the strongest DotA2 team by right.


Along with their triumph, the young competitors have become millionaires as they have received $18,208,300 in total for the placement.

The perfect result is literally shocking as the team wasn’t even expected to appear in the top-3. Despite Team Spirit proving its power before TI started by showing some positive results, the coach of the team couldn’t even imagine such an event outcome. Its coach Airat “Silent” Gaziev in an interview to the 29th podcast of “No ROFLs” said that the 7-8th placement would have been satisfying for the team. Airat couldn’t imagine that his team was destined to win.

What is The International and why is it so important?

The International is the annual tournament, organized and sponsored by the Valve Corp., and consists of 18 strongest DotA2 teams from different regions. It is the largest tournament in a DotA2 field, and not only in DotA. There hasn’t been a single tournament at any esports discipline with a prize fund close to The International. 

TI 10 took place in Romania, Bucharest. Initially it was scheduled to be arranged in Sweden, but it failed to happen due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The very first The International competition that took place back in 2011 in Cologne was the first tournament in the cybersport field with an overall prize of $1,6 million, where the victorious team earned $1 million. Every succeeding TI only increased its prize fund with every year.

Winning The International means everything for the team as it gains a status of the indisputable strongest DotA2 team and earns a vast amount of money.

How the tournament started for Team Spirit

In the group stage, within the first day of the tournament, Team Spirit faced two DotA2 giants in face of Team Secret (Europe) and PSG.LGD (China), both were considered to be favorites of the tourney. The format of the group stage games was arranged in best-of-2 series (two games to play). The results could be various, even a draw, as in case of the tie, both teams would have achieved the points. However, Team Spirit lost both series with identical 0-2. On the next day, Team Spirit faced two Chinese teams, The Elephant (China) and Vici Gaming (China). After these two series Team Spirit received their first points by beating The Elephant, but it couldn't have a victory over Vici Gaming, scoring it to two games won and six games lost. After two days of TI, Team Spirit, having a poor 2-6 score, has turned to a devastating machine. The four next teams that Team Spirit had to play against within the group stage were crushed. The team left no chance for Quincy Crew (the US), Fnatic (Southeast Asia), BeastCoast (Peru) and SG e-sports (Brazil). The amount of points earned granted Team Spirit the deserved place in the upper-bracket, where the teams with the most points go. Those who failed to get enough points hit in the lower-bracket and became deprived of an opportunity for further failure - a loss in a series grants a goodbye to a team. A team who loses in the upper-bracket, which implies the lesser amount of matches needed to get to the grand finals, drops down to the lower-bracket continuing their way to the Aegis without a chance to fail.

Team SpiritTeam Spiritdota2/facebook.com

Upper-Bracket

Shortly after the lower-bracket had ended, the list of the next matches was announced. The timetable showed all the further matches in both brackets. The upper-bracket consisted of eight teams was full of the DotA2 giants: Team Secret, European team OG who won the two last tourneys in a row, PSG.LGD, T1 (Southeast Asia), Virtus.Pro (Russia), Vici Gaming and IG (China) that Team Spirit faced within its first match in the bracket. 

Each team was set to play a match in a Best-of-3 series regardless of the bracket. Team Spirit showed their seriousness to go further through the bracket by securing a win on the first map in the series against Invictus Gaming (IG). However, the Chinese team could make significant changes in its game style and the next two maps, sending Team Spirit to the lower-bracket, in which the team couldn’t afford to commit any mistake, otherwise the tournament is over.

Lower-bracket

After the first match in the upper-bracket, which led to the loss and further fall to the lower-brack, Team Spirit was set to play against Fnatic, which had been already conquered by the TS during the group stage clashes. The result of the match was 2-0 in TS’ favor. The next opponent for Team Spirit was OG, the team that twice has shocked the DotA community by winning the previous two The Internationals with incredible prize funds. Spirit hasn’t lost any of the maps in the BO-3 series against OG, paving a path for the next phase of the tourney. After the convincing win over OG, Russia-based Team Spirit was scheduled to face Virtus.Pro, then-considered to be the strongest in the CIS region. The bout between two ‘CIS top teams’ ended up with a score of 2-1 in Team Spirit’s favor. This match up was described by Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk (Team Spirit, position #1 player) as the most “tense” of all in the tournament, including the last one against Chinese PSG.LGD.

A looming end of the lower-bracket - approaching the Grand Final

The win over Virtus.Pro determined the new CIS dominant team, but yet not the strongest in the world. Hard to find out what happened and how it became possible that the apparent underdog in the face of Team Spirit could have rushed to the top 4 position when a coach said that 7-8th place would have been fine for the Russian team. Nonetheless, the next match was no less as significant as the previous ones, however, it was principal. Team Spirit earned an opportunity to avenge their loss against IG in the first day of the bracket games. Team Spirit succeeded by scoring the match up to 2-0 putting the Chinese team to fourth place.

Team Secret - Team Spirit: battle for the Grand Final against PSG.LGD

Captain of Team Secret and also the winner of the very first The International that took place back in 2011, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, is rightfully considered to be one of the most successful DotA2 players as during his career the player has achieved numerous first places in major tournaments with his team, aiming at the reiteration of his success dated by 2011 when he played for Na’Vi. The majority of the DotA2 community and bookmakers found a real opportunity of Team Secret winning TI. 

The series started with a confident victory of Team Secret in the first game. The game seemed one way as Team Spirit could hardly resist the maneuvers of their opponent seeking in an attempt to find a key against Puppey’s team, nonetheless, Team Spirit finally broke and typed “gg” thus marking the end of the first game in the series. In the both next games Team Spirit was outplaying its opponent on every lane on the map being one step ahead. Being concentrated and cold blooded Team Spirit ended the match up victorious, making it 2-1. 

Team Secret, along with Puppey, the player, who has attended all of The Internationals took 3rd place.

The triumph of the players from the CIS 

The Grand Finals of each of The Internationals has been traditionally set up to be played in a best-of-five series. This Grand Finals wasn’t an exception. The Chinese top team PSG.LGD who had hit the Grand Finals as the first team knew what to expect from Team Spirit and how to build up its game against the CIS region representatives. The highly respected LGD’s coach in China, Xiao8 who has won TI 4 with a prize fund of $10,923,977 playing for Newbee, made it clear in the interview before the series started that the Chinese players are well prepared to face Team Spirit and how to counter TS’ strategies. Undoubtedly he was right as his team showed resilience to the key strategy of Team Spirit, nonetheless the first two games of the series left LGD on edge of the failure as the score indicated 2-0 on screens in Team Spirit’s favor. Chinese giants are not of this kind who would give up if something went wrong. Knowing the strong sides of Team Spirit they could push the weakest ones and it brought results. Chinese competitors equalized the score to 2-2. 

However, the last game flew towards “now or never” and both teams were excited and deprived of a chance for a mistake. 

The first mistake was made by a Chinese team as they refused to ban Magnus for Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov who showed outstanding results by playing this hero. LGD knew about Collapse’s proficiency on Magnus, but the team was sure it could resist, Xiao8 said in an interview between games.

In fact, the Chinese top players couldn’t find the right way to have a win over the well-prepared and hungry to victory Team Spirit and claimed the well-known second place at TI by repeating the same results as they achieved back in 2018 at TI 8.

CIS region is on the top again

Team Spirit’s success has raised the CIS region to the top again since the 2011 Na’Vi victory on the first The International, as the Chinese coach said afterwards. The next two following years, 2012 and 2013 respectively, Na’Vi were close to claim victory again by taking the second place both in 2012 and 2013. According to him, since then the CIS region seemed to have completely faded as during none of the next years any of the Russian-speaking teams couldn’t even have hit top-3. 

However, Team Spirit proved the worth and the power of the CIS region, especially when four of the members of Team Spirit were Royale Roaders - players who appear on the tournament for the first time and subsequently claim the victory. The only one player of Team Spirit who took part in The International is Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naydenov. Naydenov played for Team Empire on TI7 when his team was eliminated by Team Liquid, and left the tournament placing 7-8th. It was his only appearance on TI, excluding TI 10.

Recognition

The triumph of Team Spirit has become viral not only among DotA2 players and game-related individuals, but also reached the Russian President, who evaluated players’ mastership and praised them for the glorious victory. He wished the team all the best and to receive further achievements.

The airport of Moscow, Vnukovo placed a large banner with a scripture “Team Spirit, Winners of The International 10, GG, Meet Our Heroes.”

Along with other teams, two time TI winners OG congratulated the new Aegis holders, saying through Twitter: “We leave you the throne. You deserved it.”

During the tournament, Team Spirit was asked how they deal with tension and nervousness and Miroslav “Mira” Kolpakov simply replied that the team enjoys playing with each other, so that helps a lot to reach results.