After 10 days of competition, Team Spirit has won The International 2021 finals and are the new champions.
The biggest tournament in Dota 2 history has found its champion. Team Spirit is the winner of TI10 and will take home the $18 million grand prize. That stands as the largest prize in esports history, breaking the record set by TI9.
The squad’s run to the podium ended with a 3-2 win over PSG.LGD in the grand final. Team Spirit mounted a shocking underdog run, entering TI10 as an afterthought but running all the way to the finals with victories over top contenders such as OG, Invictus Gaming, and Team Secret.
This finishes off a stunning run that saw the team fizzling in the group stage to winning in the playoffs at the expense of almost every one of the favorites to win.
PSG.LGD drafted the tried and true combo of Io and Ursa for game one while Team Spirit opted for an unexpected Naga Siren on Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk. Team Spirit had a difficult road ahead as PSG.LGD also drafted Lycan, threatening the double-werewolf strategy that different European teams had attempted at TI10.
PSG.LGD gained a slight advantage in the laning phase, taking two tier-one towers before 10 minutes, but at a high cost. Yatoro freely farmed a 17-minute Aghanim’s Scepter while his team distracted the Chinese favorites.
As with any Ursa game, PSG.LGD tried to fight around Aegis of the Immortal but Yatoro got so big so quickly that it forced a change of approach. Instead of going for Aghanim’s Scepter on Lycan for the double-werewolf strategy, Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida was forced into getting damage items to try and clear out Naga Siren illusions.
The strategy worked to some degree, but when Team Spirit swiped the second Roshan kill of the game, PSG.LGD was in a very difficult position. The Russian squad was already playing boldly, but the Aegis allowed Spirit to go right for the throat. Spirit marched uphill and went right for barracks, and PSG.LGD just couldn’t answer.
PSG.LGD opted for a different combo in game two. Morphling and Earthshaker represent an extreme mid-game threat, which Team Spirit hoped to counter with Magnus and Puck. Spirit’s offlane had a difficult time harassing Wang “Ame” Chunyu’s Morphling out of lane, but once again Yatoro got the gold he needed to top the net worth chart, this time with Luna.
PSG.LGD also managed to score first blood on structures. Faith_bian’s Nature’s Prophet demolished Spirit’s tier-one safe lane tower just after seven minutes. Despite the map control disadvantage, Spirit held a 3,000 gold lead at the ten minute mark. At 12 minutes, Yatoro had nearly double the creep score of Ame with 140 last hits.
A big team fight at 14 minutes ended with three dead on Spirit and a 2,000 net worth swing towards PSG.LGD. Captain Zhang “y`” Yiping’s Io Relocate ganks were a crucial part of the squad’s rotations. After baiting some ultimates, PSG.LGD pivoted towards a sneaky Roshan.
That Aegis didn’t do much for Ame, as a clutch Reverse Polarity from Collapse ended with a triple kill for Yatoro. Minutes later, a Horn Toss from Collapse led to Ame’s third death in a two-minute span. One Roshan kill later and Team Spirit knocked down the middle barracks. Faith_bian attempted to split push Spirits’ own top barracks but he couldn’t stall for long.
Collapse dominated the match with tons of Horn Toss and Skewer combos, resulting in death after death for PSG.LGD. Spirit’s off-laner would end game two with two kills, 20 assists, and zero deaths. Morphling’s Aghanim’s Scepter combo with Earthshaker finally came online for LGD at 33 minutes. It was enough to pick off supports in a Rosh fight, but Yatoro’s Luna was way too big to take down by that point. Team Spirit wiped PSG.LGD before and after buybacks to enter game three on match point.
For the third draft, PSG.LGD finally pivoted away from Io and towards Rubick and Undying. Spirit responded by snap-picking Magnus again. Spirit finalized its pickoff-heavy draft with Phantom Assassin and Invoker. Down two games in grand finals, LGD finished the draft with offlane Bloodseeker and mid Tinker.
The threats were clear. Spirit would leverage Empower on Phantom Assassin to create a massive power spike while NothingToSay’s Tinker would have to hold them off.
The laning stage started calm but exploded once Faith_bian’s Bloodseeker hit level six. A Haunt gank from Ame was enough to take the first building, though Collapse traded it for PSG.LGD’s top tier-one tower. Tinker became a significant threat by acquiring Blink Dagger at 10 minutes.
A series of Spirit ganks went awry to give PSG.LGD the lead heading into the mid-game, but the Eastern Europeans succeeded in stunting Ame’s Spectre. The reigning DPC major champion started its offensive with multiple fights at Team Spirit’s mid tower.
Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang picked up Aghanim’s Scepter at 17 minutes. The bouncing Laser’s blind shattered Team Spirit’s resistance, allowing PSG.LGD to take map control.
Yatoro’s Phantom Assassin continued to farm at an alarming rate and a Black King Bar could’ve represented a huge power spike for him. Instead, it had to get used defensively to escape from the PSG.LGD deathball. XinQ even managed to steal Reverse Polarity and use it against Yatoro to set Spirit’s carry further behind.
With a 26 to 14 kill advantage, PSG.LGD secured Roshan to set up a siege. Team Spirit attempted a few pickoffs, but lost more heroes than they killed. Almost every attempt on Tinker ended with Spirit’s heroes popping BKB just to teleport away. One last scramble in the bot lane secured top and bottom barracks for PSG.LGD. One Roshan later and Ame was able to survive a Skewer into the fountain to finish game three.
The two squads swapped draft strategies for game four of the TI10 grand finals. PSG.LGD picked Magnus and Luna while Spirit went for Winter Wyvern and Spectre. The mid lane matchup was TORONTOTOKYO’s Templar Assassin against NothingToSay’s Kunkka. PSG.LGD’s draft was designed to peak around 35 minutes while Spirit was willing to go much later with Yatoro’s Spectre.
PSG.LGD opened up the match with a blitz for first blood 35 seconds before the horn. The early laning phase went on to favor Spirit as Collapse’s Axe doubled Ame’s creep score for the first few minutes. Mira and Miposhka dedicated their early games to stacking camps.
PSG.LGD’s supports teamed up with NothingToSay to steal a triple-stacked ancient camp with Tombstone from Spirit Those clever moves accelerated the squad’s gold lead to 5,000 at the 10-minute mark.
A lucky double damage rune led to an Aegis on Ame’s Luna, which put PSG.LGD firmly in command of the game. The momentum didn’t shift from there thanks to multiple pickoffs on TORONTOTOKYO. PSG.LGD began knocking on Spirit’s front door at 18 minutes, threatening fast barracks with Luna’s Moon Glaives.
After a few more skirmishes, Ame charged the tier fours to force Glyph of Protection. One more hopeless teamfight later, PSG.LGD evened things up to 2-2 to force a deciding game five in the TI10 finals.
After four grueling games, Team Spirit forgot to ban Tiny in the first phase. PSG.LGD ended up on complete comfort picks with Tiny, Lycan, and Kunkka for NothingToSay. Spirit fired back with Magnus and Ember Spirit, ending with a desperate Terrorblade for Yatoro. PSG.LGD definitely won the draft in the final game of The International 10.
The early laning stage was fairly even, but the sheer amount of magic damage aimed at Yatoro’s Terrorblade made it difficult to farm. He was forced to move to the jungle after Faith_Bian’s Lycan got Helm of the Dominator at nine minutes. Collapse did score some cheeky kills on PSG.LGD’s captain, but NothingToSay’s net worth quickly topped the charts.
After dodging a smoke gank at 13 minutes, Spirit was able to turn and pick off Ame’s Tiny. Minutes later, a massive teamfight at Spirit’s tier two went south for PSG.LGD as Yatoro’s Metamorphosis pop lead to four kills. A following pickoff on XinQ opened up the space for the first Roshan. Things started looking up for the Eastern European rookies, but PSG.LGD finally had its combo together. Faith_bian’s Lycan finally had Aghanim’s Scepter, which is an extremely powerful buff for Tiny.
Instead of staying defensive, Team Spirit marched confidently down mid at 26 minutes. A beautiful Horn Toss and Skewer from Collapse took NothingToSay out of the fight early and sentenced PSG.LGD’s mid tier-two to death. Team Spirit followed up with a massive siege for bottom barracks. XinQ’s buyback lasted for all of 15 seconds before Collapse Skewered him back into oblivion. Spirit took both bottom barracks and the mid tier-three before initiating another team fight top. With three dead and no buyback on Ame, Team Spirit began whacking the tier four towers. With a clutch Nightmare and Fiend’s Grip on NothingToSay, Team Spirit got the ancient down to a fraction of health before backdoor protection kicked back in.
Forced to flee, Spirit opted to take Roshan and secure the victory. PSG.LGD took the fight to them, which resulted in NothingToSay dying for 100 seconds without buyback. Ame desperately tried to steal Roshan, but it only sealed PSG.LGD’s fate. With one more massive Skewer from Collapse, Team Spirit won the biggest prize pool in esports history.
PSG.LGD fielded a very different lineup for its previous TI podium runs. The Chinese scene underwent a massive shuffle last year, with the previous roster split among Elephant and EHOME. PSG.LGD rebuilt by absorbing most of the 2020 EHOME roster and bringing back Ame to play in the safe lane.
The squad stayed very active throughout 2021, with top-four finishes in every event it competed in.
Hard support y` and offlaner Faith_bian entered TI10 looking to make history by becoming the first Chinese players to win The International twice and the only players to do so outside OG’s two-time championship squad. With Wings Gaming, the pair helped pull off one of the most impressive first-place finishes in TI history at The International 2016.
The squad wasn’t originally expected to dominate the 2021 DPC season, but PSG.LGD did enough along the way to enter The International 2021 as the clear favorite. Captain y` led his team to a third-place finish at the ONE Esports Singapore Major and a championship at the WePlay AniMajor which was followed by strong performances in the pre-TI10 events.
PSG.LGD dominated the TI10 group stage with a 15-1 record and cruised through the upper bracket in the playoffs. Despite that, the team wasn’t able to bring it home in the grand finals.
The Team Spirit organization is a familiar name across multiple esports, including Dota 2. It first entered the game in 2015 but has historically been a tier-two team in the CIS region, struggling to shine in the shadow of Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere.
Team Spirit’s TI10 roster included the following players:
Team Spirit had a very competitive 2021 season marked by poor performances at international events. Spirit earned fourth and second-place finishes in the Dota Pro Circuit seasons but failed to place well at the WePlay AniMajor.
Spirit teased that it has some credibility by taking second at the Dota PIT Invitational, falling in the finals to PSG.LGD, but still entered TI10 as an underdog. Team Spirit earned a trip to Bucharest with a close victory in the Eastern Europe qualifier.
TI10 was every player’s first TI attendance with the exception of Miposhka. The captain attended The International 2017 with Team Empire, where he placed a respectable eighth.
Team Spirit’s TI10 run had echoes of Digital Chaos from The International 2016, but unlike DC the team was able to bring it home. Spirit’s fast-paced drafts built around Tidehunter and Weaver took several lower bracket squads by surprise and let them upset a number of tournament favorites along the way. Reaching the finals was already a huge achievement for the team, but winning The International 2021 is one of the biggest surprises in esports history.