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Eastern European dark horses Team Spirit have just completed one of the greatest Cinderella runs in esports history after they defeated Chinese juggernauts PSG.LGD 3-2 in the grand finals of The International 10 (TI10) to claim the Aegis of Champions, and the lion's share of US$18.2 million out of the tournament's US$40 million total prize pool.
Both Spirit and PSG.LGD qualified for the upper bracket of the Main Event after finishing in the Top 4 of Group B during the Group Stage, with the Chinese powerhouse topping the group with a 15-1 record while the Eastern European underdogs barely made the cut with a 10-6 line.
In the Main Event, PSG.LGD cruised through T1, Virtus.pro (VP), and Team Secret to become the first team in the grand finals. Meanwhile, Spirit lost their upper bracket match against Invictus Gaming (IG) and were dropped down to the lower bracket.
Instead of folding in the face of elimination, Spirit carved a path of destruction through the lower bracket; knocking out Fnatic, ending back-to-back defending champions OG's dreams for a three-peat, defeating regional rivals VP, and then exacted their revenge over IG to survive to the final day of TI10.
Spirit then scored another huge upset over Western European powerhouse Team Secret to earn the right to challenge PSG.LGD in the grand finals.
Despite being the heavy underdogs in the grand finals, Spirit entered their showdown against PSG.LGD with supreme confidence. In game one, Spirit outmanoeuvred and outplayed PSG.LGD; dancing around all of their opponents' attempts to start a fight all while carry player Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk on Naga Siren enjoyed free farm.
Yatoro made good use of all the space given to him, leading his team to a stunning 38-minute victory to start the finals with a clean eight kills and over 30,000 gold in net worth by the time the game ended.
Spirit didn't take their feet off the gas in game two, as they took a commanding 2-0 series lead after routing PSG.LGD in 40 minutes and with a 24-8 advantage in kills.
Spirit offlaner Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov on his best hero Magnus fuelled his team's victory in game two, constantly finding pickoffs and ruining PSG.LGD's positioning in team fights with his hero's dreaded Blink into Horn Toss and Skewer combo. Yatoro on Luna also notably led Spirit in kills with 13 against just two deaths.
PSG.LGD showed signs of life in game four, as carry player Wang "Ame" Chunyu and midlander Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang on Tinker led the Chinese team in grinding out a 50-minute victory to force the finals to a pivotal fourth game.
PSG.LGD then had a statement win in game four, stomping Spirit in just 24 minutes — all while notching 23 kills while only giving up two deaths as a team — to force the series to an all-or-nothing game five.
Spirit shrugged off their previous losses and played their hearts out in the deciding game of TI10. The support duo of Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov on Bane and Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov on Winter Wyvern gave their team the vision they needed to avoid PSG.LGD's early aggression.
In the turning point of the game, Collapse — who was once again on his signature Magnus — partnered with midlaner Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek on Ember Spirit to shut down PSG.LGD right when they reached the peak of their powers in the midgame.
With PSG.LGD's greatest weapon blunted, Yatoro on Terrorblade had free reign to lead his team to assault their opponents' base as Collapse scored multiple pickoffs with the Horn Toss-Skewer combo while TORONTOTOKYO wreaked havoc on the backlines. After one last ditch attempt by PSG.LGD to salvage the game ended with Ame dead without buyback, Spirit marched victoriously into their opponents' base and secured their 3-2 victory in the TI10 grand finals.
With their incredible victory, Spirit claimed the Aegis of Champions and the grand prize of US$18,208,300, the biggest amount of prize money won by an esports team in a single tournament thus far. Split five-ways, Spirit's players can expect over US$3.6 million — assuming that their support staff and organisation are not taking a cut of their winnings.
Spirit is also the second Eastern European team to raise the Aegis of Champions after Natus Vincere won the first-ever iteration of TI in 2011.
What's more, this is actually the first time that Spirit as an organisation as well as four of its players — Yatoro, TORONTOTOKYO, Collapse, and Mira — has played in a TI. That they won the Aegis of Champions in their first try and in such a fashion only makes their story that much more incredible.
Meanwhile, PSG.LGD's dominant showing throughout the entire 2021 Dota Pro Circuit ends in disappointment as they fall mere inches short of the ultimate goal. They bow out of TI10 with an admirable second place finish and with US$5.2 million in consolation.
Team Spirit Dota 2 roster:
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek
Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov
Airat "Silent" Gaziev (coach)
PSG.LGD Dota 2 roster:
Wang "Ame" Chunyu
Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang
Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida
Zhao "XinQ" Zixing
Zhang "y`" Yiping
Zhang "xiao8" Ning (coach)