SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Team Spirit hoisted up The Aegis of the Immortals for the second time after sweeping Grand Slam hopefuls Gaimin Gladiators at the Grand Finals of The International 2023.
The CIS team displayed an absolute dominant performance in the tournament, only dropping two games for a 19-2 game record. Their most impressive series coming out at the grand finals, where they swept Gaimin Gladiators, who were looking to complete the first-ever Grand Slam after winning the three Majors of the 2023 DPC Circuit.
The squad, composed of carry Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk, offlaner Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov, support Myroslav "Mira" Kolpakov, captain and pos 5 Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov, and coach Airat "Silent" Gaziev claim The Aegis for the second time, while midlaner Denis "Larl" Sigitov gets his first world title.
Team Spirit had a strong DPC season. For their three Eastern Europe Tours, they placed 2nd, 2nd, and 1st. Although they finished 7th-8th in Lima, 9th-12th in Berlin, and 9th-12th in Bali, they still made enough DPC Points to sit in a comfortable 10th seed.
Leading up to The International, the team picked up steam and won Riyadh Masters in July after defeating Team Liquid 3-1, and DreamLeague Season 21 in September, sweeping Shopify Rebellion 3-0.
In Phase Two or the Seeding Decider, they went 2-0 again, defeating Shopify Rebellion.
Team Spirit began their Bracket Stage in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals where they faced off against Virtus.pro. Their fellow EEU team gave them their first game loss in the tournament after a 33-minute win in Game 1. Team Spirit were able to bounce back however, reverse sweeping them and sending VP to the Lower Bracket.
Team Liquid came up next. TS took Game 1, on the back of a dominant team perforomance. The sidelane duo of Yatoro and Collapse popped off, with a 12/3/13 Chaos Knight and 15/2/15 Axe, respectively. The WEU team bounced back and were able to fend off Team Spirit in Game 2 thanks to a stable early game, and a midgame that allowed them to snowball off of picks. Ultimately, however, Game 3 and the series would go Team Spirit’s way.
In the Upper Bracket Finals they met their first Chinese opponents, LGD Gaming. LGD had been undefeated in the Bracket Stage up to this point, going through 9Pandas and Azure Ray on the way, who were formidable opponents in their own right. A marathon Game 1 ended in 76 and a half minutes, with Yatoro's Terrorblade wreaking havoc and ending with a 19/6/13 stat line. Collapse was also huge, contributing 9 kills and 20 assists. The rest of the team were on point, with Larl, Mira, and Miposhka boasting 30, 20, and 23 assists, respectively. Game 2 went a lot quicker, ending in 47 minutes as Team Spirit locked in a ticket to the Grand Finals.
As Team Spirit secured their Grand Finals slot, they awaited who their opponents were going to be. Was it going to be the tournament favorites Gaimin Gladiators, looking to complete their Grand Slam? Or would it be the Dota veterans of Azure Ray, with the likes Somnus, chalice, and fy so close to another shot at The Aegis? Or perhaps LGD Gaming, wanting to take revenge against Team Spirit for knocking them down into the Lower Bracket after having an amazing tournament run of their own?
In the end it would be none other than the 2023 Majors winners, Gaimin Gladiators. GG had been on an interesting TI run themselves. They finished second in Group C, falling behind to LGD. They lost their Seeding Decider match in a surprise upset by Talon Esports. They begain their Bracket Stage in the Lower Bracket, crawling through the gauntlet. They grinded and mowed down everyone who came their way. Evil Geniuses 2-0. 9Pandas 2-0. nouns 2-0. Team Liquid 2-1. Azure Ray 2-0. LGD 2-0.
All that stood between Gaimin Gladiators and history were the white-hot Team Spirit. The entire Dota community rallied behind these two teams and expected nothing less than bangers as two titans would finally clash in the biggest stage of them all.
But it wasn’t even close.
Yatoro's Weaver would make quick work of GG in Game 1, as the team brought down the opposing Ancient in 33 and a half minutes. A dominant team performance allowed TS to take Game 2, albeit not without some challenges. Gaimin were able to get small leads here and there, but never enough to bring them all the way, as Spirit always looked like they had an answer to anything GG threw.
It was match point, and Gaimin had their backs against the wall. With everything on the line, they played their hearts out. Things started to bode well in the early to mid game, with GG getting a handful of picks. A teamfight broke out in the 16-minute mark, getting three free kills. With 15 straight unanswered kills, Gaimin were up 23-8 and a healthy nine and a half thousand net worth lead, their biggest in the series. The two teams went blow for blow in the ensuing moments of the game, with neither team wanting to back down. Things, however, started to go downhill after an extended teamfight around the 36-minute mark saw Team Spirit wipe out Gaimin Gladiators, receiving no casualties of their own. GG weren’t quite able to come back after that, and Team Spirit snowballed off of that one teamfight to dominate the game. They came marching down GG’s base, and destroyed the Ancient in just over 42 minutes, capping off an unprecedented championship run, one that will definitely be remembered for ages to come.