Team Spirit Fight Their Way From Loser’s Bracket to Become Dota 2’s TI10 Champions

by in Dota 2 | Oct, 18th 2021

TI10 has been breaking records all over the place. The $40 million plus prize pool is currently the largest prize pool offered for an esports event. A record breaking 2.7 million peak viewers tuned in to watch TI10, the largest peak viewership for The International ever and the third largest in esports history. It’s also the second time a rookie team has won the event. Rookie teams at TI10 have been surprising audiences all week. The baby bears of pushed through some of the best teams in the upper bracket while Team Spirit ran through the entirety of the Dota 2 TI10 lower bracket to make it all the way to grand finals against PSG.LGD. As the last CIS and European representative at TI10, millions of eyes watched them in their game PSG.LGD. With how Team Spirit have managed a Cinderella story of claiming victory against Dota 2’s greatest teams in the lower bracket to gripping championship gold in the form of the Aegis of Champions, many are probably wondering exactly who these young dragons are and where they’ve come from. If you’re genuinely curious about learning more about Team Spirit, feel free to read our team profile on the young CIS squad. Otherwise, here’s what you need to know about Team Spirit Fight’s performance at the Dota 2 TI10.

Team Spirit: The Young Dragons of Dota 2

With a dragon emblazoned on the backs of their jackets, Team Spirit transformed after the first day of group stages to become a formidable challenger to the best teams in the world, despite their humble beginnings as Yellow Submarine, a community squad created for competition in semi-pro cups and tournaments in the CIS region. Since then, they’ve been steadily growing and growing, with their results at tournaments like the OGA Dota PIT Invitational being evidence of exactly how talented this rookie squad is.

The group stages of TI10 saw Team Spirit start their first day of groups with a 0-4 win/loss. However, the second day saw a dramatic change in the young team as they began taking wins of nearly every team in their group, with the exceptions of Team Secret, PSG.LGD, and Vici Gaming. By relying on impressive space creation from their offlaner Collapse, Team Spirit were able to secure wins off of aggressive, tempo-based line-ups that were able to fight early around objectives such as the first mid tower, roshan, or the first catapult wave in order to secure any kind of advantage that would allow them to scour the map. At first, many didn’t pay attention to the team outside of Collapse’s stellar clip-creating plays, but the rest of Team Spirit began to shine shortly after the group stages during their run through the lower bracket.

During the lower bracket, every game Team Spirit played looked like it would have been stacked against them. Fnatic, OG,, Invictus Gaming, and Team Secret all looked better than them on paper, but Team Spirit began came into their own at the Dota 2 TI10, with each player getting the opportunity to show off their skill as they all supported one another to achieve a shared goal.

TI10 Grand Finals: Team Spirit vs. PSG.LGD – The Draft

Any time a grand final at The International goes to five games, it’s typically a sign of both a balanced match-up and hero meta. In their best-of-five series against PSG.LGD, Team Spirit were playing as this season’s rookie unknowns against a more established opponent.

The last time a rookie team took the Aegis at The International was back in 2016. Chinese team Wings Gaming brought together pubstars and semi-pros to create one of the most alarmingly talented teams at TI6. Two players from that same Wings Gaming squad, Faith_bian and y’ are sitting on the PSG.LGD, ready to respond to the marathon from the underground push of Team Spirit.

The reason many were eager to favor PSG.LGD in the grand finals of TI10 is due to the fact that experience can temper anxiety and nervousness. Many of the players on PSG.LGD had experience playing at The International, with two players having won it previously. If PSG.LGD could use their experience to whittle down their nervousness, it would be enough to shut down Team Spirit’s dominant streak. While it’s safe to rely on experience and skill, this abundant faith in PSG.LGD’s experience as a team and their ability to deliver on the main stage may have undermined their winning efforts, especially during the draft.

Looking at Team Spirit’s drafts over the TI10 grand finals, three distinct trends emerge:

  • Prevent PSG.LGD’s Ame from playing either Tiny or Monkey King. Ame’s current win rate with Monkey King sits at 73.47%, and with how versatile the hero can be in a draft, Team Spirit were certain to ban it during the first phase.
  • Secure Collapse’s hero and draft an impactful support. Across all five games, Spirit made sure to pick Collapse’s hero first and an active support with strong roam potential. Supports like Elder Titan, Bane, and Dark Willow are capable of roaming early to help secure power runes for the mid player. If the support chosen during the first phase of the draft could also provide vision with their ability, that’s even better.
  • Take advantage of PSG.LGD’s Io priority. As a hero, Io provides lots of sustain and lane support to the safe lane carry, typically enabling them to win against kill lanes or secure a fast tier one tower. When PSG.LGD prioritized Io, Team Spirit made sure to draft against lanes where the Io was unlikely to occupy, such as PSG.LGD’s mid and offlanes.

Games three and four between PSG.LGD and Team Spirit saw the Io become a non-factor, forcing Team Spirit to draft and pick more reactively. Game three especially saw an effective draft that shutdown Collapse’s Magnus, and the fourth game saw PSG.LGD pick Magnus themselves and force Collapse on Axe, who he didn’t look comfortable playing. 

TI10 Grand Finals: Team Spirit vs. PSG.LGD – The Games

Many of the games between PSG.LGD and Team Spirit looked incredibly close, but in the games where Team Spirit won, they made sure to reinforce the heroes they felt could secure their win condition. In game 1, Team Spirit played more defensively than we had seen at the Dota 2 TI10, making sure to prioritize map vision with the Elder Titan spirit and Naga Illusions while reactively denying PSG.LGD ward vision and killing off Faith_bian’s wolves at every opportunity to prevent PSG.LGD from scouting Team Spirit’s positions. Once Yatoro’s Naga Siren was itemized to fight comfortably on the front lines with both herself and her illusions, Team Spirit ramped up the aggression to push down mid and force a fight at PSG.LGD’s high ground, which led to game 1 going in Team Spirit’s favor.

Game 2 saw Team Spirit coming to life during the mid game after their laning stages went in favor of PSG.LGD. At around the 20 minute mark, Team Spirit turned things around thanks once again to Collapse’s Magnus, which was able to provide timely initiation that was undeterred by PSG.LGD’s Earthshaker pick. After a solid three hero kill that saw all of PSG.LGD’s core players dead and the Aegis used, Team Spirit would ramp up the momentum with more pick-offs across the map leading to Team Spirit securing the Aegis while PSG.LGD would focus on split pushing to give Ame time to farm items on the Morphling. Eventually, game 2 would go in Spirit’s favor as a fight around the Roshan pit would lead to a prolonged team fight that saw Ame’s Morphling eliminated early with no buyback, allowing Team Spirit to slowly and surely eliminate PSG.LGD’s heroes for the GG call by PSG.LGD.

Games 3 and 4 saw PSG.LGD come back to form as they drafted against Collapse’s Magnus, making sure he wouldn’t be able to initiate for his team without getting punished. In game 3, PSG.LGD picked Spectre and Tinker for Ame and NothingToSay respectively to give them global teamfight presence and burst to respond to any fights started by Team Spirit. The Tinker pick was especially brutal against TORONTOTOKYO’s Invoker, shutting him down in the lane and preventing him from coming back into the game to provide suitable damage and follow-up during team fights. 

Both Rubick and Undying contributed to Collapse failing to make an impact in the game, as Collapse would charge or blink in on the Magnus only to get lifted up and focused down by the rest of PSG.LGD’s heroes. Game 4 saw a complete stomp come out from PSG.LGD, with all lanes going in their favor leading to a quick game that prevented Team Spirit from securing any kills or momentum on what was an immensely reactive hero composition.

Game 5 of the TI10 grand finals was the nailbiter, as both teams were one game away from winning it all or taking second place. PSG.LGD would allow Collapse back on the Magnus, and pretty much give Spirit all the heroes they wanted to build around Collapse’s aggressive initiation style. Even though PSG.LGD were able to secure the Lycan and Tiny combo. However, PSG.LGD’s nerves would lead them to diving past Team Spirit’s tier 2 tower in the bot lane, allowing Yatoro to safely swap his health with Ame’s Tiny which gave TORONTOTOKYO the opportunity to dash in on his Ember Spirit and set up kills on both Ame and NothingToSay, putting a significant dent into PSG.LGD’s lead. Collapse would farm an early Black King Bar on his Magnus, preventing the Skywrath Mage from silencing him on initiating and breaking up his Skewer combo, effectively rendering the hero useless and keeping PSG.LGD from having an advantage in team fights. After several successful team fights in Team Spirit’s favor, PSG.LGD would call GG, giving Team Spirit the win after a grueling five game set.

Team Spirit: What’s Next For the TI10 Champions?

Many have high hopes for both CIS and it’s tier 2 region since a team that’s been relegated to community tournaments and tier two has just now won the biggest prize in Dota 2 history. No doubt we will see Team Spirit become the favored representative in CIS when it comes to tournament invitations and Valve Majors. After such an impressive, storied win against the world’s best Dota 2 teams, the remainder of 2021 will see Team Spirit relax during Dota 2’s off-season as the rest of the world prepares for future Valve announcements for the 2022 DPC season. 

Team Spirit’s TI10 win will be the second time a team from the CIS region has won The International with NAVI winning the event during its inaugural year in 2011. Team Spirit’s win also serves as a solid bookend of a decade of competition at Dota 2’s biggest event, with every region with the exception of SEA and South America being able to hold the Aegis of Champions during The International’s lifespan. The International beginning with a CIS team winning and recently concluding in the same way seems fated and poetic in an odd way.

With 2022 on the horizon, no doubt teams are already preparing for the next season of DPC. Until then, we will continue to enjoy what’s been an incredible season for professional Dota 2. 


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