The Alliance team is aching – really hard – to recapture the glory of winning The International. Doesn’t 2013 feel so long ago?
A recap: Then, the Dota 2 team blazed through the group stages with a stunning 14-0 record before defeating former TI champions Natus Vincere in the grand finals. The roster was a tried and trusted, battle-hardened one – made up of Jonathan “Loda” Berg, a true legend aka Mr Alliance himself; along with Gustav “s4” Magnusson – now back in the Alliance fold as captain. And who could forget the rest of the team? Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg, Jerry “EGM” Lundkvist and Joakim “Akke” Akterhall. All legends in their own right. Epic times!
But things unravelled quickly after clinching the Aegis. At TI 2014, The defending champs were booted out in the group stages and finished a dismal 11th, and the roster fell apart with the departure of s4, AdmiralBulldog and EGM.
It’s been a process of rebuilding since, with the team going through roster change after roster change, and not even qualifying for TI 2017.
Now, Alliance is back with a vengeance and on the up, blitzing through DreamLeague Season 15 DPC Western Europe Upper Division. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Alliance were accused of cheating when new coach Peter “ppd” Dager gave in-game instructions to the players. Of course, OG captain Johan “N0tail” Sundstein had to wade in with his views, mincing no words in a tweet.
Things were clarified when it emerged that it was in fact the tournament organisers who were unclear in relaying the new rules. However, had the damage been done? Following the controversy, ppd left Alliance, after just a month.
Despite such a storm, few would deny that Alliance have cemented their status as one of the region’s best to qualify for TI 2021. They do mean business now.
In fact, Kelly Ong, chief strategy officer of Alliance, said the team is now well and truly past the rebuilding period. No longer are the team finding their way, but they are surefooted and pulling in one direction.
She said in an exclusive interview with Ulti: “I believe between April to December last year was when the team was really going through rediscovery and rebuilding – and now it’s game time, everyone is focused and working on more advanced stuff as a squad.”
And with phenoms like Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov in their ranks, who’s to stop them? One of the best carry players out there, he absolutely killed it in Season 2 of the 2021 DPC WEU Upper Division, with the highest average kills per game (9.15).
Kelly calls him “the hottest rookie of Dota 2”, having made his TI debut in 2019.
With players like Nikobaby, she has full confidence in the current roster. “It’s a really exciting period for all Alliance fans and staff alike – we see a lot of potential in this team, we see the old championship-winning team AND MORE in them.
“Our current squad has got the skills and the spirit, with a little bit more fine-tuning, I believe we are a good underdog gunning for another Aegis.”