The International (TI) 2021 champions Team Spirit have been crowned as champions of the Dota 2 Riyadh Masters 2023 after they defeated Western European juggernauts Team Liquid, 3-1, in the tournament's best-of-five Grand Finals on Sunday (30 July).
With their victory, Spirit claimed the lion's share of a whopping US$5 million out of the tournament's US$15 million prize pool.
This marks Spirit's first tournament victory since the PGL Arlington Major last August, where they defeated Chinese rivals PSG.LGD, 3-1, in the Grand Finals. The TI 2021 champions have now also won the Riyadh Masters after losing the 2022 edition to PSG.LGD.
Meanwhile, Liquid end their run in Riyadh with a commendable second place finish and will take home US$2.5 million for their efforts. This is now their fifth runner-up placement in a tournament this season, having finished second in the Lima, Berlin, and Bali Majors, as well as DreamLeague Season 19, to rivals Gaimin Gladiators.
Both finalists were among the strongest performers during the Riyadh Masters Group Stage, finishing second in their respective groups. Spirit had a 8-6 record in Group A while Liquid finished with a 9-6 standing in Group A en route to upper bracket berths in the Playoffs.
Both squads continued their strong showings in the first round of the upper bracket, where Liquid scored a rare victory over Gaimin Gladiators while Spirit swept China's Team Aster.
The upper bracket semifinals then saw Liquid defeat Southeast Asian powerhouse Talon Esports while Spirit overcame regional rivals BetBoom Team, which set up the first meeting between Liquid and Spirit in the upper bracket finals.
Spirit pulled off a 2-1 reverse sweep over Liquid to become the first team in the Grand Finals. Liquid then earned a rematch with Spirit in the championship round after they soundly swept Talon in the lower bracket finals.
Liquid had a strong start to the Grand Finals, as they stomped Spirit in a 33-minute game one to the tune of a 34-12 kill lead. Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg led the way with an offlane Naga Siren that he transitioned into a carry build, ending the game with 15 kills and six assists against just one death.
However, Spirit took back momentum in the series by outlasting Liquid in a 50-minute marathon in game two behind Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk's Faceless Void. Yatoro paced Spirit's 36-29 kill lead with 16 kills and 11 assists against four deaths while Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov on Timbersaw also pitched in with 10 kills and assists apiece on six deaths.
The pivotal third game of the series then saw Spirit take a commanding 2-1 series lead by pulling off a 46-minute comeback win behind an off-meta Troll Warlord pick for Yatoro. In a game that ended with a narrow 26-25 kill lead for the TI 2021 champions, Yatoro had nine kills and 16 assists against four deaths while Denis "Larl" Sigitov on Windranger added eight kills and 15 assists on six deaths.
Despite Liquid's best efforts to mount a comeback in game four, Spirit simply could not be denied as Yatoro's Terrorblade led them to a 46-minute win to complete the 3-1 series victory and claim the Riyadh Masters' US$5 million grand prize.
The Riyadh Masters took place from 19 to 30 July with a Play-In Stage, Group Stage, and Playoffs. The Playoffs followed a double-elimination format, where all matches were a best-of-three series except for the best-of-five Grand Finals.
The Riyadh Masters 2023 was the biggest Dota 2 event this year outside of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season, featuring a massive US$15 million prize pool. The champions of the Riyadh Masters went home with a handsome US$5 million grand prize.
Team Spirit Dota 2 roster:
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Denis "Larl" Sigitov
Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov
Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov
Yaroslav "Miposhka" Naidenov
Airat "Silent" Gaziev (coach)
Team Liquid Dota 2 roster:
Michael "miCKe" Vu
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg
Samuel "Boxi" Svahn
Aydin "Insania" Sarkohi
William "Blitz" Lee (coach)