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Dota 2

Team Spirit Break LGD’s Mental, Win PGL Arlington Major

Patrick Bonifacio

The rivalry between Team Spirit and PSG.LGD Gaming just saw another Grand Final match between the two teams at the Dota 2 PGL Arlington Major, with the former winning over the latter convincingly. Showing just how unshakable they truly are, the Russia-based squad proved that they are the team to beat right now.

PGL Arlington Major Team Spirit Win

Image credit: PGL

Fans were treated to a rematch of the Grand Finals of The International 10 – but things went a little differently this time. LGD dominated the group stage and breezed their way to the final round as expected, with Team Spirit having to get there via the lower bracket just like at TI10. The Chinese looked unstoppable as usual, as if they had seen this patch in ways that no one else did.

Unfortunately, the choke artists in them came out when it mattered most. They looked utterly broken after a certain point in the best-of-five series, whereas Team Spirit looked like they were just having fun in pub games despite playing at a Dota Pro Circuit Major. LGD’s mental state just did not hold up towards the end, allowing Team Spirit to clinch the series three games to one.

Game One: The Butcher Prepares a Feast

Ironically, LGD were actually the first to strike in the series, bringing out the carry Pudge for Wang “Ame” Chunyu to great effect. Picking Pudge in the last slot in the draft, LGD caught Team Spirit essentially by surprise, countering Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk’s Phantom Lancer from the off.

The Chinese squad crushed everyone on the side of Team Spirit, save Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek’s mid lane Tusk, to jump out to an early lead. With Yatoro not getting the best of starts, Ame was free to farm, sprinting way ahead of his carry counterpart on his way to a 16-minute Aghanim’s Scepter timing.

The game was pretty much over from there. While Spirit did manage a single kill on Ame, it just wasn’t nearly enough to get them back into it. The Pudge was simply unkillable past this point, and there just weren’t enough answers from Team Spirit to stem the tide. LGD strolled past their rivals in less than 40 minutes in Game One, setting them up for the success that everyone expected they’d enjoy at this Major.

Game Two: Spirit Are Too Legit to Quit

Game Two’s drafting phase saw LGD get the better of Team Spirit yet again, forcing them to last pick Queen of Pain (strictly an off-meta hero this patch) for TORONTOTOKYO, just so that they could have an answer to Ame’s Naga Siren. With no other reliable forms of illusion clear in their draft, it looked kind of like Spirit just panicked at the end of hero selection. A surprising development to say the least, given that they had secured the Viper-Marci combo at the start of the draft.

True enough, LGD’s draft really started to kick into gear past the 15 minute mark. Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang’s Keeper of the Light pick enabled them to be like sharks around the map, constantly picking fights and threatening kills on Spirit – even diving into towers to accomplish this. Zhang “y`” Yiping’s Dazzle helped facilitate such aggressive play as well, ensuring that his cores were healthy throughout the frequent teamfights.

Their lead only grew more massive going into the late game, fueled by Ame’s astounding 998 gold per minute. Near the 50 minute mark, LGD enjoyed a gold lead of nearly 30,000 – with a draft that could teamfight over and over as long as they properly baited the Wukong’s Command from Yatoro’s Monkey King. They did this pretty well to start, goading Spirit into blowing their cooldowns only to find that their targets just become unkillable thanks to Shallow Grave and Zhao “XinQ” Zixing’s Snowball saves as Tusk.

But just when everyone thought LGD had the game in the bag, the magicians at Team Spirit did their thing. With a Divine Rapier in tow, the defending International champions dug deep past the 60 minute mark, somehow outlasting LGD’s draft which was built to outlast that of Team Spirit. Yatoro simply played out of his mind, dealing a total of 121,900 damage – easily outstripping Ame’s own output.

With a few of their heroes down after a crucial late teamfight, LGD faced the full fury of Team Spirit bearing down on their base – but there was one last twist Game Two had to offer. LGD’s creeps were bringing down the Radiant Ancient while all the madness was going on near the Dire mid lane, making it seem like LGD had a chance via a base race.

It took Spirit some time to notice, but upon doing so sent both TORONTOTOKYO and Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov to defend. With their base secure and LGD on their last legs, Team Spirit turned their attention towards the Dire side once again, finishing the job in the face of insurmountable odds.

Game Three: Sven Puts His Foot Down

With the confidence and swagger of a team that just won a 75-minute game of Dota 2, Team Spirit strolled into Game Three seemingly without a single worry in their heads. Seeing LGD pick Naga Siren once more probably made them laugh a bit, knowing that they had just finished beating that hero into the ground.

Still, this didn’t stop them from respecting it somewhat with a Sven pick to counter it. Now, Sven has seen much better days, especially now that his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade no longer applies an instant attack on its primary target. But Team Spirit ran it to perfection anyway, clobbering LGD in just 27 and a half minutes in the process.

The Chinese squad looked completely lost in the mid game, completely unable to put a stop to Team Spirit’s rapidly growing advantage. One teamfight gone awry past the 25 minute mark was, in fact, enough to get them to tap out; it was clear that they had had enough and just wanted to reset for the next game.

Game Four: Spirit Completes the Lower Bracket Run

Resetting their mental state for Game Four actually worked initially. LGD held a small lead past the laning stage, and used their Razor pick for offlaner Zhang “Faith_bian” Ruida to great effect. Miposhka’s had a rough time as Chen as a result, and for once it looked like the hero wasn’t exactly the meta-defining staple pick that the Major had seen over the last two weeks.

NothingToSay winning his lane as Kunkka against TORONTOTOKYO’s Queen of Pain also bode well for LGD’s chances in this map. He was able to exercise quite a bit of control around the battlefield as a result, keeping Spirit’s supports in place for the rest of his team to follow up. LGD also successfully invaded Team Spirit’s triangle as soon as they realized that Yatoro’s Bristleback had left the safe lane, sniping their stacked camps all the while.

Things were looking up for LGD, and many thought that this was the start of another Game Five between these two storied squads. But, Team Spirit had plenty to say about that. Despite staring down a 10,000 gold lead on the side of LGD, Spirit capitalized on some very questionable decisions from both Ame and XinQ in the mid game. Ame in particular looked completely out of sorts this game – as if the fact that they lost Game Two the way they did weighed heavily on his mind.

This led to some terrible positioning and decision-making from him, which allowed Spirit to claw their way back into the game. And even when the rest of LGD were finding some good teamfights in hopes of saving their chances, Ame just kept undoing all their hard work with his tilted demeanor.

Smelling blood in the water, Spirit pounced on the opportunity to throw down the gauntlet and put their rivals to bed once and for all. TORONTOTOKYO, ever the eloquent sportsman, proceeded to type “HATERS WHERE R U NOW?” in all chat as they marched down the middle lane on their way to the Dire base.

Left with no answers and lagging so far behind at this point, LGD tried their best to fend Spirit off – but to no avail. They had choked away yet another best-of-five series, just as we had warned in our preview of the Arlington Major playoffs. They continue to break down in high-pressure situations, despite having some of the most outrageously talented players in the competitive scene.

With this victory, Spirit prove that they are here to stay and that their victory at TI10 was no mere fluke. They are legit, have the confidence of true champions, and show a desire to keep competing even when they have little else to prove now. For LGD, something has to change on the mental fortitude side of things. Their drafting after Game Two looked shaky to say the least, and did nothing to help their already shattered courage and determination.

These two teams are likely to face each other once again this October at The International in Singapore. Whether or not we will see LGD crumble in front of Team Spirit has yet to be determined, of course – but this is now strike two for the Chinese juggernauts. There are two and a half months left before TI11; will LGD get their best-of-five act together?

Spirit, meanwhile, will enjoy another premier title under their belts, as well as the lion’s share of the $500,000 prize pool at the PGL Arlington Major. They will also take home 820 Pro Circuit Points, which sees them move up to third in the overall standings. More importantly, though, this win boosts their morale heading into TI11, which we’re sure they’ll lean on as they defend the Aegis of Champions.