Gunnar smiling at the camera for nouns at TI 2023.
Image via nouns

TI 2023’s most unexpected underdog is the final NA team standing as TSM collapses

TSM and Shopify are both headed home early.

North America had three representatives at The International 2023 but the most unexpected of the trio is the last one standing after all three faced elimination on day two of the playoffs. Despite a strong showing against Shopify Rebellion, TSM was unable to keep the oddity of nouns under control, collapsing late in game two as the tournament’s biggest underdog moves on yet again. 

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It wasn’t a pretty series between nouns and TSM, with both games lasting over 57 minutes with sloppy execution from both parties. 

Game one was a slow roll on both sides, but nouns won a huge teamfight at the 28-minute mark and never let go of the lead from that point. It was a masterclass performance from Gunnar’s Earth Spirit to go up 1-0, as he went 13-2-16, dealing over 67k damage along the way. 

Neither team looked composed in game two and the lead changed 12 times over the one-hour and eight-minute contest. TSM held multiple big leads, but  Moo’s Dazzle and Lelis’s Clockwerk essentially carried the game for nouns over a 30-minute span while Hector played shockingly passive on Phantom Lancer up until the final 10 minutes.

As Ceb said on a re-stream of the event, “this Phantom Lancer has been trying to lose so hard,” but the team did exactly what they needed to win on one big teamfight win to close a chaotic game out.

“There are times we just didn’t say a word,” Gunnar said in a post-game interview. “When [TSM] were chasing Hector, at some point we were like ‘Guys, can we save him?’ No one was talking, I tipped him because he was owning and then we were like ‘We can save him’ and then he died. I don’t know, a lot of [the game] was silent until the fights.”

With that win, nouns secured a top-eight placement at TI 2023 and will be playing in the main event on Oct. 27 after making it into the tournament via regional qualifiers. 

TSM came into this matchup with nouns after sweeping Shopify Rebellion and sending Arteezy’s team home in a tie for 12th place. That performance had many fans thinking they would be able to take nouns too, but instead, MoonMeander and crew exit TI in a tie for ninth place, an improvement from their last-place departure last season. 

Now all eyes turn to how TSM and Shopify’s roster could potentially look next season as both teams leave Seattle a fair distance from claiming the Aegis of Champions. Meanwhile, nouns supporters will cheer on the remaining NA underdog as they push into the main event.


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Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.