T1 cements itself as a TI10 favorite by winning ESL One Summer

Steven Rondina • June 21, 04:40

It was hard to be sure about T1’s strong performance in the WePlay AniMajor, but it’s abundantly clear just how strong the team is now.

The Southeast Asian squad took first place in ESL One Summer 2021. On the final day of the event, T1 defeated Alliance 2-0 to earn a spot in the event’s grand finals. From there, T1 rematched Virtus.pro, out-lasting the CIS region’s top team to take a 3-2 victory. The first-place finish earns the team $175,000 and a whole lot of momentum ahead of The International 2021.

T1 drew first blood in the series, taking out Virtus.pro courtesy of a strong performance from Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon. That was shaping up to be a hollow victory for T1 however, as Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko carried Virtus.pro to back-to-back victories with a pair of games that saw him combine for 22 kills and zero deaths.

Game four was even for a long time in terms of both gold and experience gained, but T1 has proven that when this team gets an inch, it will take a mile. A team fight victory in the late game started a rapid snowballing that forced things to the decider.

The final game saw T1 draft a lineup built entirely around pushing with Broodmother, Warlock, and Leshrac while Virtus.pro went all-in on team fighting. Though things were even, both teams were farmed to the point that one stumble would lead to a swift defeat. When Virtus.pro was tripped up by a team fight, T1 took down Roshan and shattered Virtus.pro’s base to seal the 3-2 victory.

Is T1 a favorite for TI10 after ESL One Summer 2021?

T1’s victory in ESL One Summer 2021 is a major milestone for the team. Despite an unremarkable first half of the season brought about by the controversial decision to kick Souliya “JaCkky” Khoomphetsavong in favor of 23savage, the team has been beyond criticism since April. The team took first place in the Southeast Asian DPC league, third in the WePlay AniMajor, and has now won a prominent tournament with international competition.

That shifts the narrative from “how well can T1 do in The International” to “is T1 a potential favorite at TI10?”

It’s difficult to find many flaws with the team at this point. While the strong performance at the AniMajor could be brushed off as a fluke, T1 defeated Vikin.gg, Quincy Crew, Alliance, and Virtus.pro to take first place in ESL One Summer 2021. That gives the team victories over a long list of strong opponents that will be competing at The International 2021 and the knowledge that they’re capable of beating the best teams from multiple regions.

Though betting markets haven’t been opened yet, PSG.LGD and Evil Geniuses are likely to enter as the favorites to win TI10. Both beat T1 at the WePlay AniMajor, though not without dropping a map. A case can be made that T1 should be looked at as the third favorite to take the Aegis of Champions.

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