Team Spirit is the first team to qualify for The International 10 (TI10) out of the regional qualifiers after a dominant run through the Eastern Europe/CIS qualifier, capping off their campaign with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over a surging Team Empire in the grand finals on Sunday (27 June).
Team Spirit earned the top seed and an upper bracket berth in the qualifier after finishing second in Season 2 of the Eastern Europe/CIS regional league and getting into the Top 8 of the WePlay AniMajor. Spirit swept Winstrike Team and PuckChamp in the first two rounds then defeated HellRaisers, 2-1, in the upper bracket finals to reach the grand finals of the qualifier.
Meanwhile, Team Empire had to start the qualifiers from the lower bracket after only managing to finish seventh in Season 2 of their regional league. Despite being heavy underdogs, Empire rampaged through the lower bracket to earn the right to face Spirit in the grand finals for a spot in TI10.
Empire cruised through Winstrike and Team Unique before pulling off a huge upset over regional powerhouse Natus Vincere in the fourth round of the lower bracket. They then defeated PuckChamp and HellRaisers to reach the grand finals.
Spirit opened the finals by defeating Empire in a 47-minute game one, with Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk on Terrorbalde and Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Kehrte on a mid Tiny both notching a game-high eight kills to pace their team's strong start to the finals.
Empire then turned the series on its head after they scored back-to-back wins in games two and three, which both lasted over 50 minutes. Empire's midlaner, Gleb “depressed kid” Ziryanov, notably excelled with Invoker and Puck to bring his team just one game away from qualifying for TI10.
However, Spirit bounced back in game four behind Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov's Mars and TORONTOTOKYO's Leshrac, who had 10 kills against three deaths in 44 minutes of action, to force the series to one last deciding game.
Despite Empire's best efforts, their spirited run to get to TI10 was finally ended by Spirit in a 40-minute beatdown in game five. Yatoro on Phantom Assassin led the way for Spirit with nine kills against two deaths, while Collapse on Axe pitched in with five clean kills of his own, as they punched their ticket to TI10.
With their victory, Spirit has become the 13th team to earn a spot in TI10 after Evil Geniuses, PSG.LGD, Virtus.pro, Quincy Crew, T1, Vici Gaming, Team Secret, Team Aster, Alliance, Beastcoast, and Thunder Predator earned direct invites to the tournament.
TI10's regional qualifiers will continue with its second stage from 30 June to 3 July, with North America and Southeast Asia determining their final representatives in the tournament followed by Europe and China from 7 to 10 July.
Valve announced on Thursday (8 July) that the event would be moved from August to October and pulled out of Stockholm, Sweden, after it failed to get recognition as an 'elite sporting event'. TI10's Group Stage will now be held in Bucharest, Romania from 7 to 10 October followed by the Main Event from 12 to 17 October, where the 18 participating teams will be fighting to claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool.
Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk
Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Kehrte
Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov
Miroslaw “Mira” Kolpakov
Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov
Alexey “Smiling Knight” Sviridov
Gleb “depressed kid” Ziryanov
Uladzislau "Petushara" Kazlouski
Oleg “say” Kalenbet
Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod
Check out esports videos from Yahoo TV: