Despite having an average age much lower than most other teams in the field, Team Spirit showed the kind of poise and confidence against iG that most would expect from more seasoned squads.
The young lads in Team Spirit have accomplished what few thought they could: defeat Invictus Gaming (iG) to secure a top three finish at The International (TI10). Despite being one of the weaker teams on paper going into this tournament, Team Spirit captain Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov and his ragtag band are now one step away from making it to the grand finals.
Team Spirit strolled into the building with a swagger in their step, ready to face iG in a rematch for the ages. To this end, they pulled out all the stops, putting the Chinese squad away in just two games.
Game 1: Phantom Assassin Wins at the Main Event
We’re sure that few expected the result of Game 1 just based on Team Spirit’s draft, which revolved around Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk getting his hands on Phantom Assassin. This hero has fallen way out of favor in recent times, but interestingly now has a 60 percent win rate at TI10. Either way, Mortred is one of the least picked heroes in the tournament, with only 15 appearances from both the group stage and the main event.
Regardless of her lack of popularity at TI10, though, she showed up big time in the first game between Team Spirit and iG. Despite only being 18 years old at his first ever International, Yatoro showed zero fear in the face of iG, who knocked Team Spirit into the lower bracket on the first day of the main event.
Given plenty of space by both Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek and Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov, Yatoro farmed up a 13 minute Battle Fury — an item that has also fallen by the wayside in the metagame just like Mortred herself. This set him up for a spectacular performance. Not even Thiay “JT-” Jun Wen could withstand the sheer amount of damage coming from Yatoro this game, as he simply lopped off the heads of iG’s heroes left and right.
As for the rest of Spirit, their teamfight execution was just on point as well. Collaspe and Miposhka did a ton of heavy lifting for them in five-on-five engagements, which of course allowed Yatoro and TORONTOTOKYO to do their work freely. The game ended before 35 minutes had even elapsed, with a score of 21-9 in favor of Spirit.
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Game 2: Yatoro Goes Super Saiyan After a Poor Start
Bogged Down at the Beginning
The beginning of Game 2 was quite rough for Team Spirit, who opted to draft Drow Ranger for Yatoro this time around. A sneaky play by Chan “Oli” Chon Kien as Lion allowed iG to score first blood on Yatoro early in the laning stage, setting them up to continuously bully him in the early game. This is what would indeed transpire in the first several minutes of the contest, and for a while it looked like the draft “error” would cost Spirit the second game.
But as if he’d been in this situation at The International before, Yatoro made the snap call to TP mid (as a level 5 Drow Ranger!) in order to help TORONTOTOKYO’s Dragon Knight get a kill on Zhou “Emo” Yi’s Lina. This gave him his much-needed sixth level, and some breathing room to actually farm some creeps.
From there, he would find himself getting picked off a few more times while farming. Despite the early setbacks, however, Yatoro kept his composure, and trusted his teammates to keep iG’s lineup at bay while he recovered. Of course, it did help that Jin “flyfly” Zhiyi placed a few questionable Chronospheres (R) as Faceless Void throughout the game, with one even locking two of his teammates in precarious positions. Team Spirit made sure to capitalize on these rare mistakes from iG, taking teamfight wins wherever they could.
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Yatoro Drops the Hammer
And then it was only a matter of time until Yatoro went absolutely ballistic. With Daedalus and Swift Blink in tow, the young gun unleashed his full power upon iG in the late game, scoring his second rampage — the highest number for any player at The International main event. Not even veteran captain Hu “kaka” Liangzhi’s support Weaver (with Aghanim’s Scepter) could put a stop to the red hot Yatoro, even with his clutch Time Lapse (R) usage.
Team Spirit wiped the floor with Invictus Gaming in the final teamfight past the 50 minute mark, emboldening them to go high ground knowing that flyfly had no buyback available. With their backs totally broken by the Drow Ranger’s damage output, iG conceded defeat and their run at TI10.
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An unbelievable result for Team Spirit, who continue their run as the undisputed dark horses of TI10 so far. They face Team Secret in the lower bracket finals tomorrow, October 17th, the final day of the event.
If they triumph over Clement “Puppey” Ivanov — the last remaining all-time TI attendant — they will punch their ticket to the grand finals versus juggernauts PSG.LGD Gaming.