Team Spirit is headed to The International 2021 finals while Team Secret will be left watching on.
The Russian underdog run continues to roll as Team Spirit secures a shot at the Aegis of Champions. They’ll face tournament favorites PSG.LGD in the grand finals to determine the team who wins the $18.2 million top prize. Team Secret exits the tournament in third place with a prize of $3.6 million.
Though Team Spirit heads into the finals after an exciting series of victories, the team will almost certainly still enter as a massive underdog. PSG.LGD has been on another level, and other teams will need to prove they’ve reached that level.
Nisha helps Team Secret get on top of Team Spirit
Michał “Nisha” Jankowski spearheaded an emphatic win for Team Secret in the lower bracket finals. Playing as Void Spirit, rotations to the top lane consistently netted kills for Nisha, allowing him to pick up four in the first 12 minutes.
That started the snowball rolling and Team Spirit couldn’t do anything to stop it. Team Secret took complete control of the action, taking team fights and preventing Team Spirit from getting any objective beyond a single tier-one tower. In the end Nisha netted 19 kills, more the entirety of Team Spirit, to set up a safe 39-minute win.
Team Spirit was ready to clap back in game two. After an even early game, Spirit started to take command in the mid-game around Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk’s shotgun Morphling and Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek’s bulky Kunkka.
While Spirit was in position to start pushing for win conditions, a sloppy team fight gave Team Secret an opening to take things back. The net worth was evened up with an extended team fight with Secret whittling down Spirit’s bulky cores, forcing buybacks. Unfortunately for Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and company, they never had the chance to start swinging things back properly.
A pickoff on Lasse Aukusti “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen’s Juggernaut cost Team Secret the Aegis of the Immortals and another pickoff on him set up a highground push. Though Secret tried to hide MATUMBAMAN’s lack of buyback, Team Spirit took a lane of barracks and went right for the ancient. Spirit took it after an exciting fight to force a deciding game three.
Team Spirit rallies to move to TI10 finals
Game three started with an interesting draft revolving around a core Tiny picked for MATUMBAMAN. Team Spirit went back to the Winter Wyvern-Magnus combo it used to counter OG earlier in the event. From there, the team also banned out Ogre Magi to ban out the counter to that counterpick that was established by PSG.LGD earlier in the tournament.
Secret took a page out of OG’s book and answered with Lycan, setting up potential two-hit team wipes. Spirit answered that with Sven, a hero capable of giving his entire team bonus armor.
The early game was a tricky one for both teams as Secret’s Nisha and Spirit’s Yatoro both got very strong CS on Lina and Sven, respectively. The Russian squad looked to head this off with non-stop ganks onto Nisha, scoring four kills on him in quick succession. Though Secret answered kill for kill, most of them ended up on hard support Puppey while it was Spirit mid-laner TORONTOTOKYO that got the bulk of his team’s kills.
Despite that, enough farm came through for Team Secret for the team to get Aghanim’s Scepter for Lycan and strong items for MATUMBAMAN. Despite having all those items online, it was Yatoro who topped the net worth charts when Secret started looking for action. He turned that farm into big team fight performances, which were enough to prevent Secret’s cores from ever dealing serious damage.
TORONTOTOKYO recovered from there, giving Spirit a significant net worth lead as things transitioned into the late game. In the end, it was Team Spirit that wound up being the team to land massive team-wiping cleaves.
This gave Team Spirit the 2-1 series victory to seal a spot in the grand finals.
Team Secret continues to fall short of The International finals
Team Secret is a perennial contender when it comes to The International, but “perennial contender” is also a delicate way of saying “a team that never wins the championship.” That’s been the case for the organization’s entire existence, and it continued this year.
While Puppey enjoys GOAT status, the European juggernaut was almost an underdog at TI10. The team earned fourth at the ONE Esports Singapore Major but landed in a disappointing 16th-place at the WePlay AniMajor. Their one appearance in a pre-TI tournament, ESL One Summer, didn’t go particularly well either.
Secret making a third-place run is objectively a strong performance and exceeded expectations after an uncharacteristically average Dota Pro Circuit season. But alongside rival Evil Geniuses, the team has unfortunately settled into being a bridesmaid position.
Team Spirit will look to keep the good times rolling, but it faces a very tough challenge in the finals with PSG.LGD looking almost unstoppable throughout TI10.