The two most dominant forces in Dota 2 clashed in the grand finals of The International 2023 today, with Team Spirit showing the fight for the Aegis of Champions wasn’t even a contest.
In a crushing 3-0 sweep, Spirit ended Gaimin Gladiator’s bid for a perfect season and became just the second team to ever win two TI titles.
While the year started slow for Spirit, they worked themselves into championship form with big wins at Riyadh Masters 2023 and DreamLeague Season 21, carrying that momentum directly into a nearly undefeated run at TI12.
From a top finish in the group stage to utterly decimating the world’s best teams in playoffs, Spirit dropped two games throughout their time in Seattle, one to each of Virtus.pro and Team Liquid. That puts them at a 19-2 record and a 90.5 percent winrate for TI12, the highest win percentage for a TI winner in history—eclipsing TI3 Alliance’s 88.5 percent and TI NAVI’s 90 percent.
In grand finals, Spirit set the tone before the draft ever started as Yatoro walked on-stage in Climate Pledge Arena with a freshly shaved head.
With that sacrifice to the Dota gods, the bald buff of legend was granted to Spirit, leading to a game-one stomp on the back of Yatoro’s 18-kill Weaver that dealt 47 percent of Spirit’s damage.
Game two was much closer, but Yatoro went nuclear on a Faceless Void that had only appeared 19 times throughout the entirety of TI12. This included multiple Chronosphere lockdowns and a Rampage to end the game—expanding his record as the only player to ever record more than one Rampage during a TI Main Event with his fourth.
Gaimin looked like they would handily take game three thanks to Quinn’s signature Pangolier making its 63rd appearance this year alongside Ace’s Brewmaster.
At one point Dota Plus put them at a 96 percent chance to win, but it didn’t take into account Yatoro refusal to lose and Collapse’s metabreaking Spirit Breaker that helped Spirit break Gaimin’s spirit—try saying that 10 times fast.
Less than a minute after that Dota Plus menu was shown on screen, Spirit started an endless series of aggressive pushes and picks that snowballed into a TI win, thanks to Mira’s Tusk. It was far from a pretty ending, but Gaimin couldn’t slow down Spirit, and after a fight for a Roshan went horribly wrong, it took less than five minutes to close out the last game.
“It is magic,” Miposhka said about the comeback. “It is our Team Spirit.”
With this win, Spirit becomes the second Dota 2 organization to ever lift a second Aegis—following OG at TI8 and TI9. Yatoro, Collapse, Mira, and Misposhka also join those legendary OG lineups as the only players to have ever won a second TI, with Larl the only newcomer who wasn’t there for their first win at TI10.
Spirit is taking home $1,414,763 from the TI12 prize pool, though that number might jump significantly thanks to Siberian OnlyFans model Eva Elfie. This is a far cry from their TI10 earnings of $18.2 million, but they did recoup some of that total by winning $5 million at Riyadh Masters.
Gaimin’s loss marks the continuation of the “TI curse,” as no team has ever won a DPC Major and then went on to win TI. If Gaimin had won TI12, they would have been the first team to break that curse, the only team to have ever started in the lower bracket and win a TI, and have completed the first “Dota Grand Slam” with three Major wins alongside a TI Aegis.
Instead, they head home suffering their first finals loss of the year, $377,214 for second place, and a lot to think about heading into a 2024 season that won’t feature a Dota Pro Circuit.