The pivotal second game of the Dota 2 PGL Arlington Major grand finals may end up being the best game of the year. The International 10 (TI10) champions Team Spirit outlasted their rivals, Chinese juggernauts PSG.LGD, in an epic 75-minute thriller where the result hung in the balance until very last clash of the game.
Winning that marathon game two gave the TI10 champions all the momentum in the world and exhausting PSG.LGD at the same time, eventually leading to Team Spirit's 3-1 finals victory to claim the Arlington Major championship.
So how did Team Spirit emerge victorious from that incredible slugfest?
Let's break down all the biggest factors that ultimately decided the Arlington Major grand finals:
Spirit focused on shutting down Ame early
After their dominant win in game one of the finals with a surprise carry Pudge pick, PSG.LGD went for a carry Naga Siren for Wang "Ame" Chunyu in game two.
While the hero had a 1-4 record in the Major, Naga Siren can excel in the right conditions, such as when it's matched up against enemies who have no wave clear.
However, Team Spirit had Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov on Marci, a hero that can dish out a lot of area-of-effect damage, and Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov on Viper, arguably the strongest laning stage hero in the game.
As a result, Ame had a tough laning stage and couldn’t get online as fast as he needed to.
Team Spirit also wasn’t content to shut down Ame's farm in the laning stage, as they chased him around the map and managed to take him down three times in the first 12 minutes. While Ame managed to recover later in the game, PSG.LGD’s timing was delayed and Team Spirit were given valuable space to get online.
Spirit had no problems dealing with magic immune targets
Apart from Zhao "XinQ" Zixing on Tusk, PSG.LGD had no abilities to disable enemies who were magic immune. This gave Team Spirit a few seconds in each fight to set up their abilities without worrying about any interruption from their Chinese opponents.
The TI10 champions, on the other hand, had a Black King Bar-piercing ability on three of their heroes and they used those to great effect.
During a pivotal teamfight 33 minutes in, Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk on Monkey King was able to get off his Wukong's Command due to the lack of control from PSG.LGD, while Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov's Bane held down Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida's Razor and Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek on Queen of Pain pushed enemies away with Sonic Wave.
Despite being caught unaware and with a sizeable net worth disadvantage, Team Spirit still come out on top of the fight and secured a teamwipe while losing nothing thanks to their multiple BKB-piercing abilities.
PSG.LGD lacked tower damage
There were a lot of strong points to PSG.LGD’s draft in game two. They had several saves coming from Zhang "y`" Yiping's Dazzle and Faith_bian's Tusk, along with plenty of heals from Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang's Keeper of the Light.
The team did good mixed damage and the lineup was fairly durable as well.
The only issue plaguing the lineup was its lack of structural damage. If Faith_bian had bought an Aghanim’s Scepter on Razor that would have solved the problem, but because he didn’t, the only way PSG.LGD could take barracks was after winning a teamfight.
This slow push gave Team Spirit ample time to set up a fight and wait for the perfect conditions to defend the high ground. This is how the TI10 champions turned the game at around 50 minutes, as Mira caught Dazzle unaware and gave his team the best opening possible to make a comeback.
Spirit played without fear
One of the reasons why a team lose in Dota 2, even at the pro level, is that they stop taking risks once they are behind.
Having a huge net worth disadvantage usually leads the losing team to hold the high ground and pray they can defend their buildings while the opposing team outfarms them.
Team Spirit were one set of barracks behind, had a 16,000 gold deficit, and had their throne exposed when they decided to take a fight at Roshan 57 minutes into the game.
Despite having no vision of the area, Mira jumped into the enemy’s lineup and started the fight because the TI10 champions knew they either take risks and win the game or they play safe and lose it.
Playing without fear and putting it all on the line, Team Spirit displayed an incredible ability to keep aiming for victory and that is why they made the biggest comeback of the Arlington Major.
With their 3-1 victory in the grand finals, Team Spirit claimed the Arlington Major championship as well as the grand prize of US$200,000 and 820 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points.
Meanwhile, PSG.LGD's dominant run in the tournament ends in disappointment once again. They bow out with a commendable second place finish and with US$100,000 and 740 DPC points in consolation.
The Arlington Major was the second and final Dota 2 Major of the 2021-2022 DPC season.
The tournament featured 17 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world fighting for their slice of the US$500,000 prize pool and 4,570 DPC point pool.
More importantly, the Arlington Major was the last chance for teams to secure a coveted direct invite to TI11, Dota 2's marquee million-dollar world championship tournament.
For everything you need to know about the Arlington Major, check here.
Team Spirit Dota 2 roster:
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek
Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov
PSG.LGD Dota 2 roster:
Wang "Ame" Chunyu
Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
Zhao "XinQ" Zixing
Zhang "y`" Yiping