Team Spirit had gone 2-0 ahead on Sunday but could not land a third battle, meaning the title was decided in a fifth game as their rivals – associated with French football giants Paris Saint-Germain – battled until the last.
PSG.LGD took home $5.2 million for finishing in second place, while Team Secret were awarded a still respectable $3.6 million for their third place.
Team Spirit reached the final by seeing off back-to-back champions OG and ending their dreams of a threepeat with a 2-0 win before the weekend.
After a round robin group stage in the 18-team tournament, the main event was played in a double elimination format at the National Arena in Romanian capital Bucharest, which is usually capable of holding up to 55,000 fans but was empty on this occasion.
The victorious team was made up of Russians Yaroslav Naidenov (Miposhka), Magomed Khalilov (Collapse), and Alexander Khertek (Torontotokyo), as well as Miroslav Kolpakov (Mira) and Ilya Mulyarchuk (Yatoro) of Ukraine.
“I don’t know what to say at all,” Naidenov was quoted as saying of his team’s staggering win.
“I’m not even sure that this [title defense] will happen. We’ll think about the future later.
“I don’t know what we’ll do next. Maybe someone will even retire. We just won such a big prize! Does it even make sense to play Dota [anymore]?”
This was The International’s first edition since 2019, with Covid scrapping one planned for Stockholm last year.
And online, Team Spirit’s victory was wildly celebrated.
“WE ARE THE INTERNATIONAL 10 CHAMPIONS,” beamed the group via their official Twitter account.
“It was an amazing adventure. We thank all the fans for your support! We wouldn’t be there without you. See you next season!,” they finished.
The Russian national football team were among the biggest-name congratulators of Team Spirit, whose “massive win” was heralded elsewhere as an “underdog story”.
“They eliminated the defending champions. They eliminated the strongest team of the year. They eliminated the tournament favorites. They sacrificed hair,” explained a popular esports fan account.
“Next year, all Dota players will be bald. Congratulations!!” it signed off.
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