The International 2023 review: the end of the DPC eraS0d
The International 2023, the Dota 2 World Championship, has come to an end. At the Seattle Convention Centre's Summit and Climate Pledge Arena, 20 of the strongest teams from around the world battled it out for $3,181,424 in prize money and the title of The International champion. At the end of two and a half weeks of battles, Team Spirit became the two-time champions of The International, repeating the achievement of the legendary OG and becoming the second such esports organisation.
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In this article we will look at why South America can once again be considered one of the weakest, if not the weakest, region in Dota 2, how China, despite a rather poor year, managed to perform well at the World Championships, how Eastern Europe rose to the forefront of the professional scene, and why Gaimin Gladiators and Team Spirit are two of the brightest and most memorable teams of this season.
South America is once again the weakest region in Dota 2
Some people had high hopes for Latin America at The International. Yes, the teams from this region are not famous for winning big tournaments, but some of them have always been ranked in the top 8 or even higher. Also this year four teams came to the championship: Evil Geniuses and beastcoast on the basis of DPC points for the season, and Keyd Stars and Thunder Awaken on the basis of regional qualification.
The problems for the players from South America started back in the group stage. The teams did not win a single bo2 series, and beastcoast sensationally took the last place in Group C and left the tournament as one of the first. They were joined by TA. Keyd Stars and Evil Geniuses, although they made it to the second phase of the group stage, but lost their matches 0:2 to LGD Gaming and Team Liquid, respectively. Both teams did not survive the first round of the loses and finished their participation in the tournament on the 13th-16th line. Overall, this is the region's worst performance in recent years. Thus South America can once again be called the weakest region in Dota 2.
China is gaining momentum on the professional scene
Recently we could see the decline of the Chinese region on the professional scene. Fewer and fewer teams from the Middle Kingdom took high places in international tournaments, and Chinese victories on the world Dota 2 arena became a rarity. Even the titans of Chinese Dota 2 like LGD saw a clear deterioration in their play.
As a result, only two teams represented China at The International 2023, namely LGD Gaming, who managed to score the required number of DPC points, and Azure Ray, who passed the regional qualification. The teams did quite well in the group stage, with LGD Gaming winning Group C. In addition, both teams were able to head to the top set of play-offs.
Azure Ray defeated nouns in the quarter-finals of the tournament and met LGD in the Chinese derby, which took place in the semi-finals of the World Championship. After losing to their compatriots on two maps in a row, Somnus and team travelled to the bottom set. There they sent home BetBoom Team. But the clash against Gaimin Gladiators was the last one for them. LGD Gaming celebrated two victories in the upper grid, which allowed them to reach the winner final. Future champions from Team Spirit left no chance for the wards of xiao8. Two lost maps against Gaimin Gladiators ended the participation of the Chinese club at The International 2023. The third place for LGD can be considered an excellent achievement, although the players clearly wanted more.
The Rise of Eastern Europe, or how three teams from the region made it to the top 8
Unexpectedly, Eastern Europe has emerged as the leader of the European Dota 2 scene. With the exception of Team Spirit's win at The International 2021, teams from this region haven't shown much in terms of game play in recent years. But at The International 2023, all four representatives of the region in the form of Virtus.pro, BetBoom Team, Team Spirit and 9Pandas managed to make it to the final stage of the tournament.
The first to go home were Solo and Team Spirit, who first Ledge and LGD Gaming with a score of 0:2, and then lost to Gaimin Gladiators with a similar result. So 9Pandas took the 9th-12th places.
Virtus.pro and BetBoom Team players lasted a little longer. The lower grid was formed in such a way that in the third round of losers both these teams played against each other. As a result, VP finished in 7th-8th place in the standings, while BB Team lost their next match against Azure Ray, finishing in 5th-6th place. Team Spirit became champions, but we will talk about their performance a little later.
The fact remains that Eastern Europe gained a decent form at the end of the year. And it was enough to become one of the strongest regions in Dota 2. Next season will show whether the performance of Eastern European clubs is the beginning of a new trend on the professional scene or was just a fleeting episode.
Gaimin Gladiators - the most titled team of the year
Gaimin Gladiators, even before The International 2023 started, were the team that won all three Major tournaments this year, DreamLeague Season 19, DreamLeague Season 20 as well as BetBoom Dacha. In addition, Seleri and team have been consistently in the top 3 of the regional league in Western Europe, as well as making it to the top 4 of the Riyadh Masters 2023, earning $1,200,000.
And those achievements would have been enough to be named the most decorated team of the year, but a 7th-8th place finish at DreamLeague Season 21 has dampened expectations for GG in the main tournament of the current season. In the group stage of The International 2023, the European team looked less confident, finishing in second place in Group C with a 2-1-1 record. GG Ledge then defeated Talon Esports 1-2 in the second phase of the group stage and travelled to the losers' bracket.
On their way to the grand finals Gaimin Gladiators were able to gain excellent form and defeat such teams as Evil Geniuses, 9Pandas, nouns, Team Liquid, Azure Ray and LGD Gaming. It's worth noting that prior to The International 2023 Grand Finals, the only team to win a map against Gaimin Gladiators was Team Liquid. In the grand finals, Gaimin Gladiators faced Team Spirit. They lost to their rival by a landslide. The defeat on three consecutive maps secured Seleri and his teammates a silver medal at The International 2023, as well as $383,088 in prize money.
Thus, we can safely say that Gaimin Gladiators had the most successful season in Dota 2 of any team. And this is despite the fact that they didn't get the Aegis of Champions.
Team Spirit are two-time champions of The International
Team Spirit became the champions of The International 2023. The Russian team showed an almost perfect performance, although the team gained momentum towards the end of the season. Yatoro and team won Group A with four victories. In the second phase of the group stage, they outplayed Shopify Rebellion by two maps to a row and advanced to the top set of play-offs.
Team Spirit first defeated Virtus.pro and then sent Team Liquid to the lower grid with a 2-1 victory. In the final of the top set, they confidently defeated LGD Gaming on two maps and advanced to the grand finals of the tournament. An extremely convincing three-map victory over Gaimin Gladiators earned Spirit the championship at The International 2023 and the top prize of $1,436,792.
The Eastern Europeans repeated the OG's achievement of becoming two-time Dota 2 World Champions. Team Spirit boasts one of the best carry players on the team and overall great performers. Spirit players looked extremely convincing and maybe this was not their last championship at The International.
Aegis of Champions is back in the hands of Team Spirit and the professional Dota 2 scene is going on a break. Given the cancellation of the DPC system, we should expect a completely different esports season. Valve has yet to reveal their plans for how teams will qualify for next year's World Championships. But it's already safe to say that professional Dota 2 will change drastically. For some it will be an opportunity to play more often at major tournaments and fight for big prizes, and for others there will be fewer opportunities to get to international championships. Will this make esports in Dota 2 better? We will find out very soon.