2021 didn’t start off in the best way for Dota 2 esports squad Team Spirit. After benching one of its starting players, the group had to quickly adjust to a new team composition. Following the conclusion of the 2021 Dota 2 Pro Circuit, Team Spirit didn’t qualify for an invite to The International 10, the biggest yearly tournament in Dota with the biggest prize pool in all of esports.

Team Spirit would have to fight their way through the bracket at the Eastern European Qualifiers, a tournament in which the grand prize was a spot in The International. Team Spirit was able to eke out a 3-2 win over Team Empire in the Grand Finals, punching their ticket to the biggest tournament in esports.

At The International 10, Team Spirit would come out of the lower bracket, knocking off teams like Fnatic, Virtus.pro, and Invictus Gaming on their way to a Grand Finals match against PSG.LGD. After Team Spirit took the first two matches, PSG.LGD would respond by taking the next two, notting the set at 2-2. In the final match, Team Spirit emerged victorious, taking the set 3-2 and being crowned champions of The International 10 2021. The team took home their $18.2 million USD slice of the prize pool.

Team Spirit bounced back in a year that didn’t seem promising for them early on, and accomplished the seemingly impossible. Team Spirit is just the second-ever Eastern European team to win The International. The adversity that they faced and triumphed through was admirable, and it’s enough to award them as the Esports Heroes for 2021.