Western European powerhouse Gaimin Gladiators have been crowned as champions of the Dota 2 Lima Major after they capped off a perfect run in the Playoffs by soundly sweeping regional rivals Team Liquid, 3-0, in the tournament's best-of-five Grand Finals on Monday (6 March).
Gaimin Gladiators claimed the grand prize of of US$200,000 and 400 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) points. Those DPC points places them second in the DPC leaderboard, in good position to receive a direct invite to this year's iteration of The International (TI), Dota 2's annual world championship tournament.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid end their run in Lima with a commendable second place finish and with US$100,000 and 350 DPC points in consolation.
— GG | Gaimin Gladiators ⚔️ (@GaiminGladiator) March 6, 2023
Gaimin Gladiators and Team Liquid have been carrying the banner for Western Europe, the strongest region in the circuit, at the Lima Major.
The Gladiators finished the Group Stage as the top seed of Group A with an 11-5 record, giving them an upper bracket berth in the Playoffs. They then cruised through China's Team Aster and regional rivals Entity in back-to-back 2-0 sweeps in the first round of the upper bracket.
Meanwhile, Team Liquid topped Group B with a 14-2 record, the best among all teams in the Major. They then cruised through Southeast Asia's Talon Esports and North America's Shopify Rebellion to meet Gaimin Gladiators in the upper bracket finals.
Liquid were already the overwhelming favourites to take the Major championship and were expected to take the series over the Gladiators.
Unfortunately for Liquid, they had to play without position 4 support player Samuel "Boxi" Svahn, who was forced to exit the tournament due to a medical emergency. The team tapped analyst Mathis "Jabbz" Friesel to be Boxi's stand-in.
Boxi's absence was apparent, as the Gladiators soundly swept Liquid to become the first team in the Grand Finals and sent them down to the lower bracket finals against Talon Esports. Liquid bounced back to defeat Talon once again to earn a rematch with the Gladiators for the Major championship.
Gaimin Gladiators stomp an undermanned Team Liquid
The Gladiators came out swinging to start the Grand Finals, picking the carry Lina — by far the strongest hero of the Major — for Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov. Quinn "Quinn" Callahan on Timbersaw and Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard on Primal Beast formed a formidable frontline while Erik "tOfu" Engel on Rubick and Melchior "Seleri" Hillenkamp on Treant Protector brought support from the sidelines.
The Gladiators dominated the laning stage and looked to take a quick victory, but Liquid were able to stall with multiple pickoffs thanks to Michael "miCKe" Vu's carry Nature's Prophet, Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg's Magnus, and Jabbz's support Riki.
Despite their opponents' efforts to stall things out, the Gladiators got back on track once they got their deathball going, with tOfu notably shutting down Liquid in teamfights to give his cores free rein to run rampant.
Game one ended after 45 minutes with the Gladiators leading 34-18 in kills. Quinn led the way with 11 kills against one death while dyrachyo pitched in with 11 takedowns on four deaths, notably getting a Triple Kill to close things out.
If you though game one was one-sided, then game two was an absolute stomp. The Gladiators got Lina for dyrachyo once again and looked to push the pace with Quinn on Pangolier and Ace on Beastmaster.
The Gladiators' draft worked perfectly, as they simply ran over Liquid and forced them to tap out in just 21 minutes of action. Quinn once again led in kills, notching 10 against just one death to pace his team's 27-6 kill lead. Dyrachyo also pitched in with a clean eight takedowns of his own.
Both teams pulled out unorthodox drafts in the do-or-die game three. The Gladiators once again got Lina for dyrachyo then ran with a heavy sustain lineup featuring Ace on an offlane Witch Doctor, tOfu on Undying, and Seleri on Io. Quinn brought utility and damage with a mid Tusk.
Liquid looked to counter their opponents' regeneration-reliant draft with a mid Ancient Apparition for Michał "Nisha" Jankowski. They then went for burst damage with miCKe on a carry Tiny and zai on Earthshaker.
While Liquid put up a much better fight compared to game two courtesy of some great teamfight execution, the Gladiators' draft allowed them to outlast whatever their opponents could throw at them.
Despite Liquid's best efforts to mount a comeback, the Gladiators simply could not be denied as they completed the sweep after a thrilling 42 minutes and with a 31-19 kill lead.
Dyrachyo led the way with 13 kills against three deaths while Quinn racked up 11 takedowns of his own on two deaths.
With the Gaimin Gladiators' victory at Lima, Ace claimed his second Major championship six years after he won his first with Team Secret in DreamLeague Season 8 in 2017. Dyrachyo also joins a long and illustrious list of Russian players with a Major championship.
Quinn and Seleri have also become the first-ever players from their respective countries to win a Major. Quinn hails from the United States while Seleri is from the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, tOfu is the first German player to win a Major since Kuro "Kuroky" Takhasomi won the China Dota 2 Supermajor with Team Liquid in 2018. TOfu is now the third German player to win a Major.
The Lima Major was the first Major of the 2023 DPC season and featured 18 of the best teams in the circuit battling for their share of the US$500,000 prize pool and 1,900 DPC point pool.
For everything you need to know about the Lima Major, check here.
Gaimin Gladiators roster:
Anton "dyrachyo" Shkredov
Quinn "Quinn" Callahan
Marcus "Ace" Hoelgaard
Erik "tOfu" Engel
Melchior "Seleri" Hillenkamp
Aske "Cy-" Larsen (coach)
Team Liquid roster:
Michael "miCKe" Vu
Michał "Nisha" Jankowski
Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg
Mathis "Jabbz" Friesel (stand-in for Samuel "Boxi" Svahn)
Aydin "Insania" Sarkohi
William "Blitz" Lee (coach)