TI 2023: Gaimin Gladiators breeze through Azure Ray to advance to TI12's lower bracket finals

Gaimin Gladiators will be facing LGD Gaming in the lower bracket finals for the right to challenge Team Spirit in the Grand Finals for The International 2023 championship.

Three-time Dota 2 Major champions Gaimin Gladiators soundly swept Azure Ray, 2-0, in the lower bracket finals of The International 2023 to advance to the lower bracket finals against LGD Gaming. (Photo: Valve Software)
Three-time Dota 2 Major champions Gaimin Gladiators soundly swept Azure Ray, 2-0, in the lower bracket finals of The International 2023 to advance to the lower bracket finals against LGD Gaming. (Photo: Valve Software)

Only three teams remain standing in contention for the Aegis of Champions at The International (TI) 2023's Finals Weekend.

Three-time Dota 2 Major champions Gaimin Gladiators seemingly didn't break a sweat as they soundly swept Chinese powerhouse Azure Ray, 2-0, in the lower bracket semifinals.

When looking at both teams' journey through TI 2023, such a one-sided result may come as a big surprise.

Azure Ray started the Main Event from the upper bracket, sweeping North America's Nouns Esports in the first round before getting knocked down to the lower bracket by fellow Chinese team LGD Gaming in the upper bracket semifinals.

Meanwhile, Gaimin Gladiators had to start in the lower bracket after getting upset by Southeast Asia's Talon Esports in the second phase of the Road to The International Group Stage.

That loss seems to have woken the three-time Major champions, as they went on a rampage through the lower bracket. They scored three-straight 2-0 sweeps over South America's Evil Geniuses, Eastern Europe's 9Pandas, and Nouns to survive to the second day of TI 2023's Finals Weekend.

On this day the lower bracket semifinals matchup was set after Gaimin Gladiators knocked out rivals Team Liquid and Azure Ray sent Eastern Europe's BetBoom Team packing.

The entire series between Gaimin Gladiators and Azure Ray totaled just 45 minutes of action, with game one being a 22-minute stomp and game two a 23-minute rout. It's fair to say that it was the most one-sided series of TI 2023, or of any TI really, especially when considering it happened this deep into the tournament.

Gaimin Gladiators came out swinging to start the series with signature picks to spearhead their midgame deathball in the form of Underlord for Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard and Chen for Melchior "Seleri" Hillenkamp.

Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov on Chaos Knight and Quinn "Quinn" Callahan on Pangolier were to dish out the damage in fights while Erik "tOfu" Engel on Pugna added even more pushing power to the lineup.

After a relatively tame laning stage, Gaimin Gladiators got their snowball rolling by the 10-minute mark and destroyed Azure Ray's bottom lane of barracks 18 minutes in. Despite the Chinese team's best efforts to mount a comeback, the three-time Major champions closed things out four minutes later.

Quinn paced Gaimin Gladiators' 18-9 kill lead in game one with a clean nine kills and seven assists.

Gaimin Gladiators upped the ante in game two with a last-pick Huskar for Quinn to go with dyrachyo's Weaver and Ace's signature Lone Druid. Rounding out the lineup was a support Muerta for tOfu and Enchantress for Seleri.

In one of the funniest moments in Dota 2 history, Gaimin Gladiators scored four kills on Azure Ray while the team's coach, Zhang "LaNm" Zhicheng, was giving a pre-game interview and talking about how confident he was in his team's chances in game two.

Already under so much pressure against their enemy's fearsome fast-tempo lineup, that disastour start by Azure Ray did them no favours. Just five minutes into the game, Gaimin Gladiators had a 10-0 kill lead and a 6,000 net worth lead.

The three-time Major champions didn't waste any time as they closed out the 2-0 series sweep in 23 minutes with a very lopsided 33-5 kill lead. Dyrachyo notably led his team to the final day of TI 2023 with a perfect 15-kill, 12-assist performance.

With their victory, Gaimin Gladiators have guaranteed themselves at least a third place finish as well as US$250,530 in winnings. Of course, they have their sights set on completing the perfect season by adding the Aegis of Champions to their historic three-straight Major championships.

Meanwhile, Azure Ray bow out of the tournament in fourth place and with US$172,175 in consolation.

Gaimin Gladiators will open the final day of TI 2023 against Chinese powerhouse LGD Gaming in the lower bracket finals. The winner of that match will then earn the right to challenge TI 2021 champions Team Spirit for the Aegis of Champions and the grand prize of US$1.4 million in the Grand Finals.

TI 2023's Finals Weekend will be hosted in the Climate Pledge Arena from 27 to 29 October in Seattle. There, the eight remaining teams will be battling to decide who will be crowned as this year's Dota 2 world champions.

For everything you need to know about TI 2023, check here.

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