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Only three teams remain standing in the epic battle for the coveted Aegis of Champions in the final day of The International 10 (TI10).
Chinese juggernauts PSG.LGD have seemed nigh-unbeatable throughout the entire tournament, and are waiting in the grand finals to see who will challenge them for the championship.
Western European powerhouse Team Secret are itching for a rematch with PSG.LGD after losing to them in the upper bracket finals. However, they will first have to go through Eastern European dark horses Team Spirit, who have been on a warpath through the lower bracket on their way to face Secret.
Which of these three teams will be the one to raise the Aegis of Champions? Read on to know more about the Top 3 teams of TI10:
From before TI10 began and through its Group Stage and Main Event, many have been asking: Who can stop PSG.LGD? Even through the final day of the tournament, the answer remains the same: No one.
The Chinese juggernauts have only lost two games on their way to the grand finals; the first against Team Secret during the Group Stage and the other to Southeast Asia's T1 during the first round of the Main Event. However, no team has been able to truly defeat PSG.LGD in a full series in TI10.
You can point to many things when trying to look for the reason for their dominance. Their roster is as stacked as can be, with each member more than deserving of being included among the five best players in their position in the whole world. Of those five, two are past TI champions: Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida and Zhang "y`" Yiping, who won TI6 with Wings Gaming.
Carry player Wang "Ame" Chunyu is no stranger to the biggest stage in all of Dota 2 either, having been part of the LGD rosters that finished 4th in TI7, 2nd in TI8, and 3rd in TI9. Zhao "XinQ" Zixing has claimed the mantle of the best position 4 support player in China while Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang is arguably the best midlaner in the world right now.
Of course, we must never forget the team's coach: the legendary Zhang "xiao8" Ning, who won TI4 with Newbee and earned the moniker of "the Director" for his masterful strategies that play out like a movie script. From behind the scenes, he has orchestrated PSG.LGD's path to the Aegis of Champions.
But more than their stacked roster, one of the biggest reasons why PSG.LGD stand the best chance to win TI10 is that they exhibit that quality that all past champions have: they understand and play the game on an entirely different level than anyone else, much like their old rivals OG did during TI8 and TI9.
It's the same thing that many saw in Wings Gaming, which Faith_bian and y` seem to have brought over.
And thus far, PSG.LGD have made playing Dota 2 in a whole other level look all too easy. Of course, that doesn't make them invincible, and a team can still take a game or two off of them. But it's hard to see if anyone can outsmart and outplay them over the course of a best-of-five series. To put it simply, TI10 is PSG.LGD's tournament to lose.
Wang "Ame" Chunyu
Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
Zhao "XinQ" Zixing
Zhang "y`" Yiping
Zhang "xiao8" Ning (coach)
Since their inception in late 2014, Team Secret have always been a team that dominated online tournaments and Majors before falling flat during TI. But this year is different, as Secret have finally broken through and made the Top 3 — by far the team's best result in TI.
Even then, they still have their eyes set on the Aegis of Champions. Despite losing to PSG.LGD in the upper bracket finals, Secret have proven that the Chinese juggernauts can bleed. And if they bleed, then they can be taken down.
Secret are very similar to PSG.LGD, boasting incredible positional depth and unparalleled experience from the past TI champions in its roster.
Team captain Clement "Puppey" Ivanov is a living legend; being the only player to have attended every iteration of TI thus far on top of winning the very-first iteration of the tournament with Natus Vincere and being a finalist in TI2 and TI3. Years have passed and different players have come and gone, but Puppey remains the pillar that holds Secret at the very top of the professional Dota 2 scene.
Alongside Puppey are carry player Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen and coach Lee "Heen" Seung Gon, who won TI7 with Team Liquid in the first-ever clean sweep of a TI grand final. Meanwhile, Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg remains arguably the best offlaner in the West, Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat is still the greediest yet most impactful position 4 player in the world, while Michal "Nisha" Jankowski has been the only one to truly challenge NothingToSay for the right to be called the world's best midlaner.
The skill gap between PSG.LGD and Secret is razor-thin, with the deciding factor in their showdowns thus far being the draft. Puppey is a notoriously bold drafter, often letting the enemy team pick meta heroes because he is so confident he can still counter them.
Of course, this doesn't always work out well for Secret — just look at how the upper bracket finals went — but that boldness will be one of the biggest things that can push them over the finish line. If there's one man that can outsmart "the Director", it will be Puppey. If there's one team that can outplay PSG.LGD, it will be Team Secret. But before they get a chance to exact their revenge, they will have to get past the the tournament's surprise package - Team Spirit.
Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen
Michal "Nisha" Jankowski
Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg
Yazied "YapzOr" Jaradat
Clement "Puppey" Ivanov
Lee "Heen" Seung Gon (coach)
Many discounted Team Spirit as a young, scrappy squad from Eastern Europe who should be proud for even qualifying for TI10, and expected them to be one of the first teams to get eliminated. Many have been proven wrong as they underestimated this year's dark horses.
Spirit bounced back from a 0-4 start in the Group Stage to qualify for the upper bracket in the Main Event, but itself an amazing feat. They bounced back again from getting knocked down by Invictus Gaming (IG) to the lower bracket, this time by kicking out four other teams on their way to an unprecedented spot in the Top 3.
Spirit first took down Southeast Asia's Fnatic, before ending two-time defending champions OG's dreams of a three-peat, while regional rivals Virtus.pro were next. Finally, they exacted revenge on IG to survive to the final day of TI10.
Looking back now, that Spirit were able to do all this should not have been that big of a surprise. The team is brimming with young talent — the roster's youngest player is only 18 years old while its oldest is just 23 — hungry for the chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage in all of Dota 2.
Carry player Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk may be the most versatile and explosive player in his position at TI10, having played a different hero in each of his team's games in the Main Event, and was the first-ever to score two Rampages in the Main Event of the same TI.
Midlaner Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek plays with a boldness not seen in TI since OG's Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen during their run to back-to-back TI championships. If one had to encapsulate his playstyle in just one word, it would be "gigachad", an internet meme for a person so strong he seems almost imaginary.
Meanwhile, offlaner Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov exhibits unreal patience; always knowing the right time to use his abilities to hand Spirit an unlikely team fight win. Also, he may be the best Magnus player in the world.
Finally, the support duo of Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov and Miposhka "Yaroslav" Naidenov excel from the sidelines. Always ready with a clutch stun or save, their steady play empowers their cores to go for the high-risk, high-reward plays that have been fuelling their victories.
Aside from being talented, Spirit exudes supreme confidence. They enter every clash thinking they will win, and somehow they always seem to do. They made easy pickings of the team that won the last two TI's and their midlaner had the guts to type "ez game" in all chat. They're mad lads and they're doing it.
Spirit draw obvious parallels to past TI dark horses like CDEC Gaming from TI5 and Digital Chaos from TI6. However, they also look like they're having fun like TI8/9 OG did, and carry themselves much like Wings Gaming did. They're a bunch of pubstars that play a brand of Dota unlike any other. And they just might win TI because of it.
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek
Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov
The final day of TI10 will begin with the best-of-three lower bracket finals between Team Secret and Team Spirit. The winners will then challenge PSG.LGD in a best-of-five showdown for the Aegis of Champions and the grand prize of over US$18.2 million.
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