The CIS Brawl, as it was dubbed by the broadcasters in Bucharest, went down to the absolute wire.
Though they did not want to face their bitterest rivals as such at The International 10 (TI10), the new blood Team Spirit have nonetheless broken their curse against Virtus.pro (VP) in an exciting three-game series in the lower bracket.
Fans of CIS Dota were treated to a full match between the two best teams from the region, with breathtaking moments and awe-inspiring plays all throughout.
Game 1: VP Snatch Early Lead, Spirit Counter with Crisp Play
Virtus.pro started the first game looking strong, with Danil “gpk” Skutin leading the charge for his team as Kunkka. He looked nigh unkillable in the mid game, thanks to the power of the Ghostship (R) buff and his precise usage of Armlet of Mordiggian. Gpk even narrowly escaped certain death in one teamfight, managing to escape by the smallest of margins.
Their tight, coordinated play helped them grab a small advantage early on, and for a while it looked like VP had Spirit’s number as usual. But the tide began to turn past 25 minute mark, when Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk started to make his presence known. Playing the last pick carry Monkey King, the rising star unleashed his A-game with extremely confident moves and decision-making.
Simply put, he looked fearless throughout Game 1. The way he aggressively used Tree Dance (W) to get close to VP’s heroes near their towers indicated just how sure of himself he was the entire time. Spectators also found Yatoro asserting himself on lone supports in this first map, which allowed him to scale incredibly hard into the late game.
The man that truly secured their win condition, though, was Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov and his Tidehunter. A four-man Ravage (R) in the waning minutes of the contest helped Spirit easily secure mega creeps. The decisive teamfight at the end of the game saw him land a massive double Ravage as well, which finally broke VP’s backs. Their greatest rivals tapped out shortly after.
Game 2: Merciless Aggression Allows VP to Even the Series
With the loss from Game 1 behind them, Virtus.pro opted for a very aggressive draft in Game 2. Picking Ursa and Viper for themselves, Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko and gpk ran roughshod over Spirit’s late game focused lineup in the early and mid game. What resulted thereafter was a veritable bloodbath in favor of VP, with only Yatoro and Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek even getting into the positive KDA ratios.
There was little that Spirit could do to stem the tide in Game 2. Though they had a draft that could melt towers left and right, VP’s control of the pace of the game meant that they could not wrest map control from their rivals. gpk’s Viper also ensured that there was no escape for anyone on the side of Team Spirit, should they get caught in one of their ganks.
And while they were able to extend the game past the 46 minute mark thanks to their staunch high ground defense, in the end it still wasn’t enough. VP twisted Spirit’s arms one last time, forcing them to call gg.
Game 3: Spirit Outlast VP in Slobber-Knocker Decider
Alas, the tying game was not enough for VP to clinch the series. And what a nailbiter of a Game 3 it was. The third map started out more or less even between the two teams, as VP and Spirit traded blows well into the start of the late game.
VP opted for a harder scaling lineup this time around, with Nightfall picking up the Luna for the late game power. Gpk also got his hands on his signature Invoker this game, indicating that he himself was not messing around anymore. Spirit on the other hand went for the Tiny-Lina-Doom core lineup, which also had plenty of late game potential.
True enough, the game lasted almost 52 minutes. Vitalie “Save-” Melnic was a big part of why it did — setting up key ganks for VP as Bane. The number of ganking opportunities he found throughout the game was honestly kind of shocking, and he helped VP stay in the game for a really long time.
Unfortunately, not even Save- could save (pun absolutely intended) his team from defeat in the deep late game. The coordination between the Spirit players was simply too much for them to handle, and their greater overall scaling won out over that of VP. TORONTOTOKYO was definitely the star of the show in Game 3, with his turret Lina carrying the load tremendously. He ended up with just 400 hero damage less than Yatoro’s Tiny — which was the carry on their lineup!
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The Drought Ends
Thus ends Virtus.pro’s years-long hold over Team Spirit, and their run at The International 10. This result actually marks the first time that Team Spirit has beaten VP in a tournament series since 2015, which is a crazy long stretch of time to lose continuously to an organization.
For Team Spirit, this is cause for celebration. They are now guaranteed a top four finish no matter what happens, and they can use this to put the CIS region back on the Dota map going forward. They will face the winner of Invictus Gaming vs. Vici Gaming tomorrow, for a slot in the lower bracket finals.
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