Underdogs Team Spirit are TI10 Champions, winning $18.2 MILLION cover image

Underdogs Team Spirit are TI10 Champions, winning $18.2 MILLION

The International 10 ended in a crescendo and the champion of the biggest esports tournament in history has been crowned. Team Spirit!

TI10 Champions: An logic defying run that ended in $18.2 MILLION

After a full-5 game Grand Finals, Team Spirit have defied the odds to be crowned TI10 Champions.

Team Spirit's historic underdog story at TI10 secures them $18.2 million, the biggest prize winnings in esports history. It was a run that truly defied the odds and will go down as one of The International's greatest victories.

Over the course of the event, the new young players of TI10 winners Team Spirit; Collapse, Yotaro and TORONTOTOYKO became household names. Yataro for his remarkable hero pool, Collapse for his deadly Mars and Magnus and TORONTOTOKYO for his fearlessness even in the face of formidable opposition.

Meanwhile PSG.LGD who headed into TI10 at favourites did not cave, but delivered as expected. PSG.LGD finished 1st in group B undefeated with 7 wins and 1 draw. In the playoffs PSG.LGD dropped only 1 map to reach the Grand Finals, and knocked T1, Virtus Pro and Team Secret down to the lower-bracket.

Team Spirit's TI10 started with adversity... which they CONQUERED

Team Spirit only qualified for TI10 through the Closed Qualifiers and the start of their group stage did little to give fans a hint of what was to come. Team Spirit won only 3 of their 4 opening group stage matches, but from then on they hit their stride to finish 4th in Group A.

In the playoffs after a loss to Invictus Gaming, Spirit did not bow out but instead went on a warpath. In the lower-bracket Team Spirit beat Fnatic, reigning champions OG, fellow CIS compatriots Virtus Pro, got revenge against Invictus Gaming and outplayed Team Secret.

Team Spirit's Yotaro, Mira and TORONTOTOYKO
Team Spirit's Yotaro, Mira and TORONTOTOYKO

An emotional Grand Finals for the history books

Team Spirit reached the Grand Finals with nothing left to prove, but gave their opponent PSG.LGD a beating directly in the opening game. Post-Game 1 panelist OG's Ceb said Team Spirit were the first team to truly "shake" PSG.LGD at TI10.

For PSG.LGD things did not get better in game 2, as Spirit Collapse's Magnus skewered their cores to their deaths, time and time again. Collapse ended with 2-0-20 on Magnus, a hero which he excelled at throughout TI10, leaving questions as to why PSG.LGD did not ban it.

Team Spirit's body language said it all. They were calm and enjoying themselves, a stark contrast to the stern focused expressions of the PSG.LGD line-up. On paper PSG.LGD were the stronger team heading into the Grand Finals, finishing top of their group and remaining undefeated in the upper-bracket of the playoffs.

In Game 3, PSG.LGD finally arrived, playing a vision-based draft with Undying's Tombstone, Bloodseeker's passive and Spectre's Haunt. Pre-20 mins PSG.LGD had the advantage, and Spirit's Yatoro's Phantom Assassin was quickly picked off to limit the damage output of the CIS team's draft. Team Spirit were on the ropes for practically the entire match, and LGD's emphatic end to game 3 had Dota 2 viewers ready for more.

The fourth game was the most one-sided of the Grand Finals with PSG.LGD running circles around Team Spirit's draft. It was a clear outdraft as the splash damage of PSG's Magnus, Luna and Kunkka overrun the hopes of Spirit's to delay the game for their Spectre to come online.

Spirit's plan appeared to be to buy time with Axe and Templar Assassin but the sheer overwhelming pushing force of PSG.LGD had them knocking down tier 4s at 24 minutes. Team Spirit managed just 2 kills in game 4, leading to a fifth and final game.

Ahead of the decisive Game 5, Spirit's coach was asked what their best strategy was.

"Our best strategy is just luck," he replied.

With the score tied at 2-2, Team Spirit would have been forgiven for crumbling under the pressure, especially against a seasoned team like PSG.LGD. However, in the final game Team Spirit went for late game, rode the storm and confidently did what many thought would be impossible. To take down PSG.LGD and win The International 10, and $18.2 million.

If you want to a detailed breakdown of the Grand Finals, head to our Grand Finals article.

Final TI10 Standings and storylines

For TI10, 12 teams received direct invites based on the performance in the Dota Pro Circuit 2020-2021 season. The other six slots were awarded to the winners of Open Qualifiers for all six regions. Grand Finalist Team Spirit and 7-8th place finishers OG were the only Open Qualifier teams to make it top 8.

Best SEA placement since TI6

Despite T1 not reaching top 6, the team top 8 was a triumph for the SEA region. T1's performance was the best placement by a SEA team since Fnatic's 4th place at TI6 back in 2016.

A decade since two CIS teams in top 6 at TI

TI10 was also noteworthy for having two CIS teams in the top 6, Team Spirit and Virtus Pro. It is the first time it has happened since TI1 ten years ago, when Natus Vincere took 1st place and Moscow Five 5th.

South America unfortunately doesn't make a difference at TI10

Elsewhere the underwhelming performance of South America drew attention. SA's Thunder Predator and SG Esports were the only teams to be eliminated in the group stage. Meanwhile the region's final representative Beastcoast, bit the dust in the first round of the playoffs to finish 13th-16th.

NA region didn't get going at TI10 but wholesome "gg gl lil bro" brings smiles

Of the six regions, it was North America that fell the furthest from expectations. North America had three representatives in Evil Geniuses, Undying and Quincy Crew but none of the teams reached top 8. Evil Geniuses exit was quite brutal, meanwhile Quincy Crew and the NA region were dealt the coup de grace by OG.

It was not all doom and gloom though as OG versus Quincy Crew was blessed with the wholesome "gg gl lil bro", a message from Yawar to his younger brother Sumail on the winning team.

Top 8 teams

  • 1. Team Spirit (CIS)
  • 2. PSG.LGD (China)
  • 3. Team Secret (EU)
  • 4. Invictus Gaming (China)
  • 5-6. Virtus.Pro (CIS)
  • 5-6. Vici Gaming (China)
  • 7-8. OG (EU)
  • 7-8. T1 (SEA)

9th - 18th teams

9-12. Fnatic (SEA)
9-12. Quincy Crew (NA)
9-12. Alliance (EU)
9-12. Evil Geniuses (NA)
13-16. Team Undying (NA)
13-16. Team Aster (China)
13-16. Beastcoast (SA)
13-16. Elephant (China)
17-18. Thunder Predator (SA)
17-18. SG Esports (SA)

Full details of the groupstage and playoff results.