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At the end of a chaotic fourth day of The International 10 (TI10) Main Event, a new contender for the Aegis of Champions has emerged while the defending champions fell.
Eastern European dark horses Team Spirit shocked the world by ending back-to-back defending TI champions OG's hopes for a three-peat in before outlasting regional rivals Virtus.pro (VP) to secure a Top 4 finish and over US$2.4 million.
Meanwhile, resurgent Chinese powerhouse Vici Gaming (VG) defeated top Southeast Asian team T1 to set up a meeting with regional rivals Invictus Gaming (IG) for the right to challenge Spirit for a Top 3 spot.
Team Spirit 2-0 OG
Spirit began the day with one of the most shocking upsets in TI history, as they ended OG's dreams for a three-peat in a resounding 2-0 sweep and made it look easy.
Spirit expertly outmanoeuvred their opponents, led by a masterful performance by offlaner Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov on Magnus, to take game one after 45 minutes of action.
Spirit midlaner Alexander "TORONTOTOKYO" Khertek on Ember Spirit notched a series-high 20 kills against just one death as his team started the series strong.
While OG put up a good fight in game one, their exit in game two was far from glorious as Spirit stomped them to submission in just under 30 minutes.
Collapse had another masterful showing Magnus to fuel his team's victory, with Spirit carry player Illya "Yatoro" Mulyarchuk on Lifestealer and TORONTOTOKYO on Void Spirit notably combining for 27 kills against just three deaths, as they eliminated the defending champions.
With their victory over OG, Spirit advanced to the fourth round of the lower bracket and earned the right to challenge VP for a spot in the Top 4 in the final match of the day.
Vici Gaming 2-1 T1
The second elimination match of the day saw VG continue their resurgence in the lower bracket by defeating top Southeast Asian team T1 in a hard-fought 2-1 series.
T1 started the stories strong by taking a convincing 41-minute victory in game one and putting VG on the ropes. However, the Chinese team managed to bounce back and emerge victorious from a 37-minute slugfest in game two to force the series to a decider.
VG went all-in on a midgame line-up in game three by drafting a classic Shadow Fiend-Vengeful Spirit combo on the midlane and offlane to go along with their carry Tiny pick. Even after T1 picked Batrider to counter their Shadow Fiend, VG were able to execute their strategy to perfection and take the series after 28 minutes of action.
Team Spirit 2-1 Virtus.pro
The day ended with a showdown between the last remaining Eastern European teams in TI10. While VP won nearly all of their previous matchups earlier in the year, it was Spirit that prevailed when it mattered the most to secure an unprecedented Top 4 finish.
Spirit kicked off the series with a bang as they took a 46-minute victory in game one, with Yatoro on Monkey King leading the way with 16 kills against just two deaths.
VP had a convincing 46-minute victory of their own in game two, with carry player Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko on Ursa notching a series-high 19 kills against two deaths to force the series to a decider.
Game three pushed both teams to their limits. VP got off to a strong start and were looking to be in pole position heading into the midgame, but that's when Spirit started to pull away thanks to their superior manoeuvres.
However, VP managed to grind things down even as their opponents continued to build a gold lead to force things into a heated stalemate heading well into the late game.
The Roshan pit ended up being where the series was decided, as Spirit managed to find the opening they needed to break through VP and take the 2-1 series victory after an intense 52-minute slugfest.
TORONTOTOKYO on Lina led the way with 11 kills while Yatoro on Tiny pitched in with eight kills of his own, three of which he got during the decisive clash of the game thanks to a four-man Scatterblast from Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov's Snapfire.
With their victory, Spirit secured a Top 4 finish in TI10 and have advanced to the lower bracket semi-finals. They will be facing the winner of the match between VG and IG for a spot in the Top 3.
After today's results, only five teams remain in contention for the Aegis of Champions: PSG.LGD, Team Secret, Team Spirit, VG, and IG.
OG and T1 bow out of TI10 in 7th-8th place and will be taking home US$1,000,500. Meanwhile, VP exit the tournament in 5th-6th place with US$1,400,600 in consolation.
The fifth day of TI10's Main Event on Saturday (16 October) will open with a match between VG and IG for the last spot in the Top 4.
Following that will be the upper bracket finals between PSG.LGD and Team Secret, with the winners becoming the first team to earn a spot in the grand finals on Sunday (17 October).
The penultimate day of TI10 will conclude with a showdown between Team Spirit and the winners of the match between IG and VG, with the victors securing a Top 3 finish and advancing to the lower bracket finals on the final day of the tournament against the losers of the PSG.LGD-Team Secret matchup.
Here's a look at the bracket at the conclusion of day four of the Main Event:
TI10 is this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament. The event features 18 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world battling from 7 to 17 October in Bucharest, Romania for the right to claim the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool as well as the coveted Aegis of Champions.
For everything you need to know about TI10, check here.
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