Dota 2 The International 10 Team Profile: Team Spirit
One of the most exciting parts of The International for Dota 2 are the rookie teams competing, looking to prove themselves against their more seasoned adversaries. The rookie squads tend to be the most surprising, as some Internationals for Dota 2 see rookie teams claiming the Aegis against fan favorites and global leaders. Back in 2016, Wings Gaming would win The International 2016 after many in the Dota 2 community considered them too inconsistent and untried to perform competitively at The International 2016, even though they had secured victories against teams like OG and Team Liquid throughout the year. Team Spirit goes into The International 10 with a similar story.
We’ve been doing team profiles on Dota 2 teams participating at The International 10. Leading up to the first day of group stages, the goal is to provide detailed team profiles on all teams competing to give new viewers and returning fans improved insight for this year’s event. Check out profiles we’ve published on Team Undying, Elephant, and OG if you’re curious. As always, stay on the lookout for more blogs on The International 10 to come in the future.
CIS Hopefuls Emerging From a Sunken Submarine
To better understand the current Team Spirit roster, it’s important to look at CIS’ tier 2 and tier 3 scenes. CIS’s lower-tier competition has sustained itself through various community cups, smaller, sponsored leagues, and Dota’s lasting popularity throughout the region.
Throughout the latter half of the 2010s up until now, CIS’ tier 1 and tier 2 scenes have been in flux, with teams like HellRaisers, Winstrike Team, and Team Empire rising from the mires of tier 2 Dota to compete with established teams like Virtus.Pro and NAVI. That doesn’t mean that every team competing at the lower rungs of professional CIS Dota 2 has experienced similar growth and success. Teams like Double Dimension, Effect, and RoX.KIS has housed some of CIS’s best talents to quickly fold after better offers have come along, or results have been too disappointing to renew contracts. It’s the tier 2 scene that’s been responsible for fostering young talent in CIS and preparing them for the international stage.
For the longest time, Yellow Submarine was a Dota 2 community team that participated in smaller events throughout Europe and CIS. The most defining moment in their history as an organization was when the team won open qualifiers for the European qualifier of The International 2015, placing the team among respected European squads like NAVI, Alliance, and Ninja In Pyjamas. Unfortunately, the squad wouldn’t qualify for The International 2015, washing out during the group stages of the European qualifier.
Up until 2020, the Yellow Submarine brand was essentially a banner to unite under for CIS pubstars and semi-pros looking to compete in smaller tournaments, much like Europe’s Kaipi or North America’s S A D B O Y S. Miposhka, a CIS semi-pro who would return to Yellow Submarine after his teams under other organizations split up, would partner with pubstars Yatoro and TORONTOTOKYO, experienced Belarussian pro player and team captain so_bad, and round up the squad with Cascade’s offlaner Collapse. This Yellow Submarine squad started posting results it didn’t show in previous years, making top 10 at ESL One Germany 2020 and 4th at Dota Summit 13 Online – CIS & Europe. Eventually, the Yellow Submarine squad would get the attention of Team Spirit, who would sign them in December.
Recent Results & Roster Changes
2021 would see Team Spirit make a drastic substitution in the middle of ESL One CIS Online Season 1, as the squad would bench so_bad and replace him with Miroslaw from Cascade. The decision to bench so_bad came from the team’s loss against Team Empire and so_bad’s tilted attitude during those games. According to an after-match report from Team Spirit’s manager Dmitry Belov, “serious clashes” within the team came about and necessitated so_bad’s benching.
Team Spirit would close out their performance at ESL One CIS Online Season 1 in fourth place, securing DPC points but keeping them outside the Singapore Major. Team Spirit would compete in smaller events, including EPIC League Season 3, Dota 2 Champions League, and the Pinnacle Cup, where they saw first place twice and second place at EPIC League.
The next opportunity to qualify for the second major of the series would be at Season 2 of ESL One Online Eastern Europe, where they would take 2nd place and qualify for the WePlay! Animajor. At the Animajor, Team Spirit would tie up best of twos in a group-stage round robin against teams like PSG.LGD, Vici Gaming, and Evil Geniuses. Team Spirit would get knocked out in the playoffs stage by Vici Gaming, earning Team Spirit 7th place at the Animajor.
The Eastern European qualifier would be Team Spirit’s last chance to get to The International 10. Team Spirit led the qualifier in DPC points. Still, it would be facing stacked competition in teams like HellRaisers (fielding the brilliant Ukrainian player Resolut1on), Dendi’s B8, Team Empire, NAVI, and AS Monaco Gambit.
Team Spirit’s DPC points allowed them to choose a safe upper bracket against teams they had no problems playing against. Both Winstrike Team and PuckChamp would fall to Team Spirit 2-0. By the time Team Spirit faced HellRaisers in the upper bracket final, NAVI, B8, and Gambit were eliminated from the qualifier, thus allowing Team Spirit to prioritize their games against HellRaisers and Team Empire.
After beating HellRaisers 2-1, Team Spirit would face Team Empire in the grand final, playing a grueling best of 5 set that saw games going beyond 50 minutes as Team Empire held out against Team Spirit’s balanced yet aggressive hero compositions, relying on the immense late-game carry potential of heroes like Terrorblade and Phantom Lancer. They could join teamfights as soon as they hit their crucial item timings. However, Team Empire would struggle in games where Team Spirit secured early leads and snowballed off TORONTOTOKYO’s aggressive mid Tiny and Leshrac plays, giving Yatoro the time to safely farm on heroes like Ursa, Luna, and Phantom Assassin. Team Spirit would secure their spot at The International 10 by winning 3-2 against Team Empire.
After the Eastern European qualifiers, Team Spirit has not slowed down in terms of competition. The team eagerly participated in ESL One Fall 2021, winning games against T1, the best team in the SEA region, and Thunder Predator. During the playoffs, Team Spirit was eliminated by PSG.LGD, earning them 5th place at the event.
The OGA Dota Pit Invitational would see Team Spirit compete against more of its contemporaries that they will see at The International 10. Team Spirit would fight from the first round of the lower bracket to the grand finals, defeating Fnatic, T1, and Tundra Esports. Many consider them a dark horse in the European scene even though they won’t be competing at The International 10. PSG.LGD would once again eliminate Team Spirit, but the series was not as heavily favored towards PSG.LGD, as many would assume. If anything, Team Spirit gave these games to PSG.LGD after securing the early game and making poor team fight decisions that PSG.LGD capitalized on and used as pressure against the young CIS squad.
Predictions for The International 10 for Dota 2
The entirety of the CIS region resides under the shadow of Virtus.Pro. No one wins in CIS unless Virtus.Pro decides they should. Historically, Team Spirit has not seen success against VP in official competition, even during the 2020-2021 season, where the squad has seen the most improvement. However, there is hope that Team Spirit has managed to win one game in the best of three contests against Virtus.Pro.
PSG.LGD stands in the way as a significant obstacle, but this is the nature of Chinese Dota 2, where the region has become insular due to the global pandemic. Several teams in the west have struggled to keep up with the pace PSG.LGD sets during their games, so the challenge Team Spirit faces against PSG.LGD isn’t unique. However, they have been learning in their games against PSG.LGD and Yatoro seem hungry for both Ame and NothingToSay’s spots as the best core player in the world as he sits at 4th place in the Dota 2 world leaderboards for Europe, only three spots behind NothingToSay and 31 spots above Ame. Seeing as most teams competing at The International 10 are either in Bucharest or somewhere in Europe, these leaderboards are an indicator of which pro players are currently practicing on the public ranked ladder.
Team Spirit’s drafting style doesn’t necessarily belie a priority for signature heroes or comfort picks, as they typically draft according to the patch’s meta and prioritize a balance of early-game aggression, mid-game sustain, and explosive late-game team fight. TORONTOTOKYO has shown great success on Storm and Void Spirit and seems to be practicing with mid Clinkz and Batrider, two heroes who are sure to be prioritized at The International 10.
Yatoro’s carry playstyle has seen him excel on heroes that can contribute to team fights early or farm quickly enough to begin carrying around the mid-game. We should expect Yatoro to perform well on heroes like Morphling and Ursa, should Team Spirit draft those heroes for him. While he doesn’t make flashy plays in the safe lane with popular carry heroes like Sven, Luna, and Terrorblade, he can perform just fine as long as his team allows him to farm safely and prevent too much ganking in whatever lane he’s in.
Miraslaw is probably my favorite support player right now. His Dark Willow plays in the offlane have shown to be incredibly disruptive to the opponent carry player and position five support. We should expect Mira to cycle through lanes and secure ganks for his team by playing heroes like Mirana, Shadow Demon, and Lion. If we see Miraslaw on the support Clockwerk, we can expect a lot of kill activity on the map as Miraslaw loves to play aggressively on this hero.
Overall, Team Spirit is another young team with many potential and results that show growth and grit. If Team Spirit can overcome Virtus.Pro, they’re certain to perform well against other European teams and even go toe-to-toe against teams like Team Secret and Evil Geniuses. Due to the heavy presence of Chinese teams at this year’s The International 10, it’ll be difficult to say whether Team Spirit can ensure high placement should any other Chinese teams besides PSG.LGD goes on a breakaway run through the group stages. However, we’ve seen rookie teams claim the Aegis at The International before, and The International 10 would be the perfect stage to see that happen once more.