The International 10 (TI10) champions Team Spirit defeated Chinese powerhouse Team Aster, 2-1, in the lower bracket finals on Monday (15 August) to earn the right to challenge Chinese juggernauts PSG.LGD in the grand finals.
In the first game of the lower bracket finals, Team Aster wanted to run down the TI10 champions with an aggressive and tanky lineup headed by Bristleback for Du "Monet" Peng and Brewmaster for Lin "Xxs" Jing.
Ye "BoBoKa" Zhibiao's job as Tiny was to catch people out of position to start each fight in favor of Aster. Winter Wyvern for Yu "皮球" Yajun was a good hard support to provide sustain and had the ability to turn fights around.
Lastly, Zeng "Ori" Jiaoyang on Zeus would provide Aster with all the magic damage needed as well as global vision.
Spirit had an unorthodox draft, with a hard support Rubick for Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov. Rubick almost always plays as the position 4 support due to his need for items to reach his full potential. Expect pubs to be ruined for at least a week now.
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov and Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov went for a Snapfire and Doom combo to win the bot lane while Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek's Puck focused on holding people down with Dream Coil so his allies can land all their spells. Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk rounded out the draft with the carry Juggernaut.
The laning stage went in favor of Aster, which wasn't a surprise as they had the more traditional lineup and started the game guns blazing. Aster ended the laning stage with a five-kill advantage.
Aster leveraged their lead to push into Spirit's side of the map and to score three kills at the 15-minute mark.
Aster's aggressive lineup worked to an extent but their lack of early tower damage stopped them from controlling the map.
Spirit also had good ways to recover from a bad laning stage, as Puck's high mobility against Aster's weak chasing ability and Doom's bonus gold allowed TORONTOTOKYO and Collapse to keep up in terms of networth.
Spirit hit hard when Aster started a fight in the mid lane without Monet and his Aegis of Immortal. Aster's overconfidence led to four members of their team being brought down with no losses on Spirit, effectively ceding map control to the TI10 winners.
Aster's entire game plan hinged on sticking together and controlling the game with the Aegis and that one big loss 20 minutes into the match neutered their aggression entirely. For the next 20 minutes, Aster only had a handful of support deaths while crushing every teamfight and ending the game with a massive 55,000 gold lead.
After a dominant performance by Aster in game two, the series was at match point for both teams, with a ticket to the grand finals on the line.
Aster opened their draft with Chen for BoBoKa, arguably the strongest support in the game right now. Sticking to their theme of tanky offlaners, Aster picked up Timbersaw for Xxs.
Monet played Troll Warlord, a suitable hero for bringing down Spirit's Phoenix and removing refraction charges but also susceptible to being kited in teamfights. Ori took Storm Spirit for the mid lane to provide his team with some chasing potential.
Most of the team's lockdown would come from Earthshaker, played by 皮球. It was imperative that Earthshaker have a good game, as he was essentially all of Aster's team fight.
Spirit had a more straightforward lineup to execute, relying on the classic Mars and Phoenix combo played by Collapse and Miposhka. Spirit could take fights at any stage of the game thanks to strong teamfight abilities in Supernova and Arena of Blood.
Mira focused on sustaining allies with Io while TORONTOTOKYO's job in game three was to get pickoffs on Tiny and help his team stall out the game until Yatoro’s Templar Assassin was ready to join fights.
Spirit's stronger lanes allowed them to control the early game. The TI10 champions recognized that Monet's Troll Warlord needed to do well in the laning stage in order to accelerate his farm later on. They therefore focused on applying pressure on the enemy carry, bringing him down twice in the span of one minute.
It was a relatively quiet game, as the carries on each team needed time to farm.
Aster was unwilling to go for big engagements against Spirit's superior lineup. Meanwhile, Spirit respected the Chen pick and knew better than to force fights in the mid game.
Because they were able to shut down Monet in the early game combined with the nature of Aster's feast-or-famine lineup, the TI10 champions began taking the lead and felt confident enough to push into the enemy's side of the map at the 30-minute mark.
While TORONTOTOKYO caught Xxs, Collapse held the rest of Aster down and prevented them from providing backup. A timely Supernova by Miposhka and Yatoro's insane damage allowed Spirit to get six kills in one fight while losing three members. Aster knew the game was over after that point and tapped out seven minutes later.
With their victory, Team Spirit have guaranteed themselves at least a Top 2 finish as well as US$100,000 and 740 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points. They now look ahead to another rematch with PSG.LGD in the grand finals for the Arlington Major championship.
Meanwhile, Team Aster bow out of the tournament in third place and with US$75,000 and 670 DPC points in consolation.
The Arlington Major grand finals will be a best-of-five series, with the victors claiming the Arlington Major championship as well as the grand prize of US$200,000 and 820 DPC points. The loser will have to settle for second place as well as US$100,000 and 740 DPC points in winnings.
The Arlington Major is the second and final Dota 2 Major of the 2021-2022 DPC season.
The tournament features 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 is 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.
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