Russian Dota 2 stalwarts Virtus.pro (VP) have become the fourth team to qualify for The International (TI) 2023 from the regional qualifiers after they soundly swept One Move, 3-0, in the grand finals of the tournament's Eastern European regional qualifier on Saturday (27 August).
After its star-studded roster from the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season was dissolved, VP entered the 2023 season with a roster of mostly young players, namely Kamil "Koma`" Biktimirov, Ilya "squad1x" Kuvaldin, Evgeniy "Noticed" Ignatenko, Oleg "sayuw" Kalenbet, and Andrey "Dukalis" Kuropatkin.
After a fourth place finish in the Winter Tour regional league for Eastern Europe, VP replaced krylat and Dukalis with Ilya "Kiritych" Ulyanov and Artsiom "fng" Barshak.
But even with a decorated veteran in fng taking over as team captain, VP only managed two more fourth place finishes in the Spring and Summer Tour regional leagues — forcing them to earn their place in TI 2023 through the regional leagues.
With their consistent fourth place finishes in the regional leagues, VP were the heavy favourites to win the Eastern European qualifier. They started their campaign strong with a 2-0 sweep over Matreshka followed by a 2-1 victory over Natus Vincere.
VP then faced One Move for the first in the qualifier in the upper bracket finals, where the former claimed a spot in the grand finals in a 2-0 sweep. One Move defeated Natus Vincere, 2-1, in the lower bracket finals to force a rematch with VP for the spot in TI 2023.
VP were quick to assert their dominance in game one, stomping One Move to the tune of a 19-4 kill lead in just 26 minutes of action. Squadix on Invoker and Noticed on Lycan combined for a clean 9 kills and 21 assists to set the tone for their team.
Game two was a closer affair, though VP still took a comfortable 37-minute victory behind the one-two punch of Kiritych's Sven and squadix's mid Earthshaker. Squadix made plays throughout the midgame and racked up eight kills and seven assists on two deaths, making space for Kiritych to take over late.
With a spot at TI within reach, VP didn't waste any time completing the series sweep in game three. Squadix once again dominated on his mid Earthshaker and hunted for kills across the map with sayuw's Dark Willow, giving Kiritych's Troll Warlord space to farm up and lead the closeout push in 30 minutes.
Squadix fueled VP's 32-14 kill lead in game three with 10 kills and 13 assists against just one death. Sayuw added nine kills and 18 assists on two deaths while Kiritych pitched in with seven kills and eight assists on two deaths.
With their victory over One Move, VP are now the fourth team to qualify for TI 2023 through the regional qualifiers.
China's Azure Ray, North America's Nouns Esports, and South America's Vivo Keyd Stars were the first three teams to earn a spot in this year's world championship tournament for Dota 2 through the regional qualifiers.
VP will also be the fourth Eastern European team in the tournament, joining directly-invited squads 9Pandas, Team Spirit, and BetBoom Team.
TI 2023's regional qualifiers will run until 31 August, with the competition being split into three five-day phases where two regions will compete in each phase.
With the qualifiers for North America, China, South America, and Eastern Europe now concluded, Western Europe and Southeast Asia will then close things out from 27 to 31 August.
TI 2023 will be hosted across multiple weekends from 12 to 29 October in Seattle, the United States. This year's tournament also features a revamped format split into two distinct phases, called 'The Road to The International' and 'The International' itself.