We now know the two teams that will be battling for this year's Aegis of Champions in the Grand Finals of The International (TI) 2023.
Three-time Major champions Gaimin Gladiators soundly swept Chinese powerhouse LGD Gaming, 2-0, in the lower bracket finals to advance to the Grand Finals to face TI 2021 champions Team Spirit for the right to be crowned as this year's Dota 2 world champions.
The last time Gaimin Gladiators and LGD met in TI 2023 was in the very first day of the tournament, where the Chinese powerhouse scored a huge 2-0 sweep to kick off phase one of the Road to The International Group Stage with a bang.
Both squads ended phase one as the top two seeds of Group C, with LGD taking the first seed with a 7-1 record while Gaimin Gladiators settling for second with a 5-3 record. Their paths would then diverge in the second phase of the Group Stage.
LGD made short work of South America's Vivo Keyd Stars to secure an upper bracket berth in the Road to The International Playoffs. Meanwhile, Gaimin Gladiators were forced to a lower bracket start after getting upset by Southeast Asia's Talon Esports.
The Chinese powerhouse continued their dominant showing in the Playoffs, sweeping Eastern Europe's 9Pandas to earn a spot in TI 2023's Finals Weekend. Meanwhile, the three-time Major champions seems to have woken up as they swept through South America's Evil Geniuses and 9Pandas to also qualify for the last leg of the tournament.
The opening day of Finals Weekend then saw LGD take down fellow Chinese team Azure Ray to face Team Spirit in the upper bracket finals. On the other hand, Gaimin Gladiators extended their stay with another sweep over North America's Nouns Esports.
In day two, LGD were knocked down to the lower bracket finals by Spirit. Meanwhile, Gaimin Gladiators defeated rivals Team Liquid before cruising through Azure Ray to set up their revenge match against LGD.
In the inverse of their previous meeting, Gaimin Gladiators soundly swept LGD in a 50-minute game one and a 40-minute game two.
With their victory, Gaimin Gladiators have guaranteed themselves at least a second place finish as well as US$375,589 in winnings. Of course, they have their sights set on completing the perfect season by adding the Aegis of Champions to their historic three-straight Major championships.
In order to do that, they will need to defeat Team Spirit in the best-of-five Grand Finals. The odds are stacked against Gaimin Gladiators too, as no team has ever won TI after starting in the lower bracket.
But if ever there was a team to defy Dota 2 history, it would be the first team to win all Majors in a season back-to-back-to-back.
Meanwhile, LGD bow out of the tournament in third place and with US$250,530 in consolation. While they fall short of the Aegis of Champions once again, this is now the fourth third place finish in TI for the LGD organisation in its storied history — still a commendable achievement.
TI 2023's Finals Weekend will be hosted in the Climate Pledge Arena from 27 to 29 October in Seattle. There, the eight remaining teams will be battling to decide who will be crowned as this year's Dota 2 world champions.
For everything you need to know about TI 2023, check here.