Surging Southeast Asian powerhouse T1 have been crowned the champions of ESL One Summer 2021, after they outlasted top Eastern European/CIS team Virtus.pro (VP) in a 3-2 thriller in the grand finals on Monday (21 June).
Following a strong third place finish in the WePlay AniMajor in Ukraine where they secured their direct invite to The International 10 (TI10), T1 stayed in Europe to compete in ESL One Summer 2021 against 11 other teams from the region as well as North America and the CIS.
With all of the teams in the tournament either already qualified for TI10 or fighting in the regional qualifiers, ESL One Summer 2021 proved to be a valuable proving ground for T1 as they prepared themselves for this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament.
As one of the Top 12 teams in the global Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) rankings, T1 were directly seeded to the second round of the upper bracket. From there, they cruised through European team Vikin.gg and North American squad Quincy Crew in back-to-back 2-0 sweeps to face VP in the upper bracket finals.
VP defeated T1 in the upper bracket finals to become the first team to make it to the grand finals. After getting knocked down to the lower bracket finals, T1 made short work of Alliance — the top team of the European regional league — to force a rematch with VP for the championship of ESL One Summer 2021.
T1 started the finals strong by dominating VP in a 31-minute game one which ended with a lopsided 24-10 kill score in favour of the Southeast Asian leaders. T1's star carry player, Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon, notched a game-high 11 kills against just one death with Phantom Assassin to pace his team's blazing start.
VP came back with a vengeance after losing game one, as they dominated T1 in back-to-back games to take a commanding 2-1 lead in the series.
With T1's backs against the wall, team captain Carlo "Kuku" Palad on Axe came up huge in a pivotal game four. He was able to catch multiple VP heroes with well-placed Berserker's Calls in team fights, allowing 23savage on Lifestealer and midlaner Karl "Karl" Jayme on Viper to freely dish out damage.
Kuku finished with a series-high 12 kills against five deaths in just under minutes of action to force the finals to a decisive game five.
T1 opened game five with a last-pick Broodmother for Kuku, who controlled much of the map for his team and gave them space to farm up their core items. That allowed Kenny "Xepher" Deo on Nyx Assassin to acquire an early Aghanim's Scepter, which he used to tank through VP's damage and give 23savage on Faceless Void and Karl on Leshrac the openings they needed to deal damage.
VP were able to draw the game out to just under the 42-minute mark, but they could do little to stop T1 from demolishing their Ancient and claiming the 3-2 series victory.
As the champions of ESL One Summer 2021, T1 claimed the lion's share of US$175,000 out of the tournament's US$400,000 prize pool while VP took home US$85,000 in consolation. T1's victory in a tournament featuring some of the best teams in the West also makes them a strong contender for the championship in TI10.
TI10, which will be held in Stockholm, Sweden from 5 to 15 August, will feature 18 of the best teams in the DPC competing for the right to claim the Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool.
Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon
Karl "Karl" Jayme
Carlo "Kuku" Palad
Kenny "Xepher" Deo
Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon
Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko
Danil "gpk" Skutin
Dmitry "DM" Dorokhin
Vitalie "Save-" Melnic
Illias "Kingslayer" Ganeev
Check out esports videos from Yahoo TV: