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TI 2023: Team Spirit defeat Team Liquid to reach to TI12's upper bracket finals

In a clash between the two biggest favourites to win The International 2023, Team Spirit defeated Team Liquid to get one step closer towards their second Aegis.

Team Spirit defeated Team Liquid, 2-1, in the upper bracket semifinals of The International 2023's Finals Weekend to advance to the upper bracket finals and guarantee themselves at least a Top 3 finish. (Photo: Valve Software)
Team Spirit defeated Team Liquid, 2-1, in the upper bracket semifinals of The International 2023's Finals Weekend to advance to the upper bracket finals and guarantee themselves at least a Top 3 finish. (Photo: Valve Software)

The two biggest favourites to claim the Aegis of Champions at The International (TI) 2023, TI 2021 champions Team Spirit and Western European juggernauts Team Liquid, clashed in the upper bracket semifinals at the opening day of the tournament's Finals Weekend on Saturday (28 October).

After a hard-fought three-game slugfest, Spirit emerged victorious to advance to the upper bracket finals and get one step closer to the championship. Meanwhile, Liquid dropped down to the lower bracket quarterfinals.

Spirit kicked the series off with a bang, running through Liquid in a 40-minute rout. The TI 2021 champions came in guns blazing with a tanky, hard-hitting tri-core of Chaos Knight for Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk, Kunkka for Denis "Larl" Sigitov, and Axe for Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov.

After a dominant showing in the laning stage, Collapse and Yatoro wreaked havoc on Liquid in teamfights while Larl prevented any attempts to fight back with his barrage of disruptive Torrents.

Collapse paced Spirit's 38-14 kill lead with 15 kills and 15 assists on just two deaths while Yatoro had 12 kills and 13 assists on three deaths.

Liquid struck back hard in game two, taking a one-sided win of their own in 54 minutes to force the series to a deciding game three.

Michael "miCKe" Vu on Weaver and Samuel "Boxi" Svahn on Muerta each had nine kills to pace Liquid's 33-21 kill lead. MiCKe also had seven assists on four deaths while Boxi had 18 assists on three deaths.

Off-meta picks shine in the decider

Both teams then pulled out all the stops in the decider with some unorthodox picks.

Spirit's off-meta picks were a mid Tiny for Larl and an offlane Night Stalker for Collapse. Yatoro on Weaver, Myroslaw "Mira" Kolpalkov on a support Invoker, and Miroslaw "Miposhka" Naidenov on Grimstroke rounded out the lineup.

Meanwhile, Liquid turned heads with a mid Riki pick for Michał "Nisha" Jankowski and Disruptor for Aydin "Insania" Sarkohi. The rest of the lineup then featured Spectre for miCKe, Brewmaster for Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg, and Dark Willow for Mira.

While many doubted Liquid's lineup could work, they were the ones in the driver seat for an action-packed early game. However, Spirit were able to slow things down a bit and score some pickoffs that enabled them to take the lead.

With things going late, Yatoro and Collapse began outclassing their counterparts in the teamfights. Despite their best efforts to mount a comeback, Liquid could not stop Spirit from securing the 2-1 series victory after a 53-minute thriller.

Yatoro fueled Spirit's narrow 36-35 kill lead with 12 kills and 13 assists on four deaths. Collapse pitched in with nine kills and 14 assists on five deaths while Larl had nine kills, nine deaths, and 13 assists.

Meanwhile, Nisha had a game-high 15 kills and 14 assists on 10 deaths despite the loss. MiCKe also put up 10 kills and 16 assists on seven deaths.


With their victory, Spirit have guaranteed themselves at least a Top 3 finish as well as US$250,000 in winnings. They will next face the winner of the match between LGD Gaming and Azure Ray in the upper bracket finals for a spot in the Grand Finals.

Meanwhile, Liquid drop down to the lower bracket quarterfinals, where they will be facing a very familiar foe in three-time Major champions Gaimin Gladiators.

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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