T1 edged past Virtus.pro in the ESL One Summer 2021 finals to win their second Dota 2 tournament title of the year. They beat Virtus.pro 3-2 in the grand finals on Sunday, June 20.
The Korean esports organization T1 are mostly known for their League of Legends roster. However, they have recently started making some serious noise in the Dota 2 scene as well.
T1 formed their Dota 2 division in October 2019, and while the team hasn’t had much success in the earlier days, things changed drastically heading into the 2021 season.
T1 started the year with an impressive third-place finish at Dota Pro Circuit 2021: S1 – Southeast Asia Upper Division. There they finished ahead of BOOM Esports and TNC Predator to secure a spot at the ONE Singapore Major as a Wild Card.
The Southeast Asian roster failed to deliver in Singapore and crashed out of the group stage with a 1-0-4 record. However, they didn’t need long to get back on the horse.
In May, T1 achieved the unthinkable and won the second season of the regional DPC tournament to book a spot at WePlay AniMajor. There, they stunned the world and finished third, losing only to the eventual finalists in PSG.LGD and Evil Geniuses.
T1 carried over their impressive form from the WePlay AniMajor straight into ESL One Summer 2021, where they would go on to win their second tournament title of the year.
T1 (Nearly) Unstoppable at the ESL One Summer 2021
Despite their strong showing throughout the season, T1 entered ESL One Summer 2021 as one of the underdogs. The tournament featured some of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, including Team Secret, Alliance, Team Nigma, Team Liquid, Vicrut.pro, and the two-time The International champions OG.
With such a strong field, no one believed T1 can make it far. However, perpetual underdogs quickly proved everyone wrong.
T1 started their journey to the ESL One Summer 2021 title with two clean-sweep victories against Vikin.gg and Quincy Crew, and it seemed like they’re on the right path to end the tournament with a perfect record.
Their perfect run came to an end when T1 lost against Virtus.pro (1-2) in the upper bracket finals. That defeat saw T1 drop down to the lower bracket, where they annihilated Alliance (2-0) to secure a rematch with Virtus.pro in the grand final.
T1 started the rematch strong and grabbed the series lead, but their celebration got cut short, with Virtus.pro regaining control of the series with two commanding victories in game two and three.
What seemed like an easy victory for Virtus.pro turned into a remarkable comeback story for T1, who edged out the Russians on map four and five to seal the deal at 3-2.
T1 Eyeing the Aegis of Champions
Thanks to their remarkable performances throughout the season, T1 secured a direct invite to the season-culminating The International 10.
There they’ll compete against the worlds’ best team for the largest slice of the $40,018,195 prize pool and the title of world champions.
Seeing T1 make it this is remarkable. As an esports organization that has never before fielded a professional Dota 2 team, T1 now have a legitimate shot at the TI title, after just two years in the scene.
The esports bookmakers have yet to release betting odds for TI10, and it’s likely that the market won’t open for a while longer. As it stands now, there are only 12 Dota 2 teams that are confirmed to attend the event.
There are still six spots up for grabs, which will be distributed to the best-performing teams from six regional qualifiers. The TI10 qualifiers will begin on Wednesday, June 23, in South America and Eastern Europe and conclude on Saturday, July 10, with the Chinese qualifiers.
If T1 can upset the field and win TI10, they would become the first team from their region to hoist Aegis of Champions. No Southeast Asian Dota 2 team has ever come close to winning the prestigious title, excluding Scythe Gaming and Orange Esports, who made it to the semi-finals in 2011 and 2013.