Putin congratulates Team Spirit for winning The International 10

Kenneth Williams • October 18, 14:54

Vladimir’s offering his congratulations to the winners of The International 10.

Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a formal congratulations to Team Spirit’s Dota 2 team for winning The International 10. The message was posted through the official Kremlin website. Putin complemented the squad’s decisiveness, teamwork, and ability to seize the initiative. It paid particular notice to captain Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov’s leadership skills. 

Mid laner Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek, offlaner Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov, and Miposhka are all Russian citizens. The message likely extends to carry Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk and soft support Miroslaw Kolpakov as well. Those two players hail from Ukraine. The squad’s underdog championship is a massive achievement for the Eastern European Dota 2 scene. TI10 is the first time a majority CIS team has won The International since Natus Vincere in 2011.

It’s unlikely that Putin himself has any interest in Dota 2, but it’s common for the Russian president to issue congratulations to Russian athletes who perform well internationally. Team Spirit’s $18 million grand prize was too big to ignore, even for Russia’s highest-ranked politician.

This isn’t the first time Vladimir Putin has expressed support for pro gaming. In 2020, he encouraged schools to incorporate esports as a competitive elective in a public speech.

How big is Dota 2 in Russia?

Dota 2 is the most popular esports title in Russia. Esports Flag reports that there are more than 129 professional Dota 2 players in Russia with more than $30 million in combined total earnings. Viewership for the Russian TI10 stream topped out at over 180,000 concurrent viewers. The massive surge is partially due to a majority-Russian team competing in the grand finals.

Russians seem to prefer Valve esports titles over Riot Games’ offerings. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is also popular with over 54 professional teams in the region. But the tactical shooter isn’t nearly as popular as Valve’s trademark MOBA. The country has comparatively minor presence in many other esports such as League of Legends, StarCraft 2, and Valorant.

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