Dota fever is in SEA and it’s washing over fans all over the world. After the conclusion of the Last Chance Qualifiers, which ended this week with veteran teams Team Secret and Team Liquid taking up their spots, the stage is set for the best of Dota to clash in the group stages which begins tomorrow (15 October 2022).
Unless you have been living under a rock, or without an Internet connection, you would know that the group stages consists of two groups of ten teams each. No one quite knows how Valve decided the groupings but it’s enough to say each group has their fair share of top seeds.
Who will prevail and who will fail to turn up? We have been watching the qualifiers and the DPC the whole year and we believe we have the right to call it (actually anyone can, it’s just whether they get it right or not).
We present our picks for the underperformers, the eventual challengers and the underdogs of TI 11. Let’s roll!
Traditionally, South America is seen as the weakest among the regions. Few teams from that region make it to the higher levels of competition. In TI 10, both SG eSports and Thunder Predator (now Thunder Awaken) were bottom of the lists and kicked out at the group stage. Only beastcoast managed to make it through the play-offs. Even then, beastcoast was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs
Hokori is a new entrant to TI and they are likely to be the first to get knocked out too. They recently played in the BTS 12 series in SEA and came up third. But their DPC performance has been patchy at best, with a third placing as their highest.
That said, it’s still a feat to have made it to TI in the first place. It will give their players precious experience and some cash to continue pushing ahead. Hope they manage to try some local food before they go!
It would be easy to toss Thunder Awaken as the next likely drop-out but the easiest option is the lazy thing to do. Instead we have to single out a SEA team as the next candidate.
Fnatic is a legacy team, having played in TI since 2015. They have a solid team – DJ is one of the best Pos 4 in the game – and a fan base that borders on rabid. But there is a sense that they are the “just about’ kind of team – just about made it to TI and just about made it to the group stages. They are a good team, just not great.
Their recent performances are also showing that the chemistry is missing. They may do well to get into the playoffs but we don’t foresee them progressing very far beyond that.
- Evil Geniuses
Yup. We are putting it out there. The top North America team, and one of the pedigree teams in the game, will again underperform in TI.
Look, it’s simple. NA is seen as just above South America in terms of skill. Evil Geniuses have had a fantastic run and feature some of the game’s top talent – fly, Abed and Arteezy – but they have this knack of choking at big tournaments.
Last time round in Singapore, they were up 2-0 against Vici at the Singapore Major 2021. And guess what – they blew it. In T1 10, they were up against Vici again, having scrapped past Elephant in the lower bracket. And they lost again.
Individually, their team is brilliant. But when you put them together, they just fail to perform. Some critics say it is the drafting that gets them out. Or Abed’s propensity to make mistakes at critical moments in the game. Whatever it is EG will see the End Game very early on.
This doesn’t even have to be an entry. The Chinese team is the best team in the world currently. They have a kind of magic in the team, with faith.bian directing the flow while Ame is undoubtedly one of the top carries in the world today.
But more than that, they are all better than the sum of their parts. The team, together since 2020, just feeds on each other, with an uncanny ability to act in concert. Watching them is like watching the Barcelona of old, playing tiki-taka football around their mesmerised opponents. (Sadly PSG with Neymar and Messi today are nowhere near Barcelona 2014).
They lost at the last stage in TI 10 to dark horse Team Spirit but we can safely be sure they will be fighting for the Aegis this year too.
- Team Spirit
Last year, they were the underdogs. This year, the come in as the reigning champions and the pressure is on.
In truth, they have shown that the TI 10 win was not a fluke – their performances this year have been top-drawer as well. They won the Arlington Major and came second in the massive cash mash at Riyadh, while topping the CIS region.
Stability is another key element of the team. Same team, with some changes in hairstyle for yatoro, provides for a base to launch their shot at a second Aegis. Will they resume their rivalry against PSG.LGD again? After last year’s thrilling finale, we certainly hope so.
The OG of Dota, OG refreshed their legendary squad this year with a team of newcomers. And they have risen above all odds to stamp their mark as the team to beat this year.
WIth their new team, they won the Stockholm Major and ESL One Malaysia earlier this year. Bzm is seen as an exciting midlaner, able to set the tempo early and technically brilliant at the same time. While ammar, that lovable trashtalker, loves to man up to big carries and take them down.
Their play is exciting, their team is young, and they continue to be guided by noTail. They are hungry and they are out to claim glory. Watch out for this new OG.
- Team Secret
Puppey is the grandfather of the Dota 2 pro scene, having appeared in every single TI since the start. And he has seen through the changes at Team Secret, itself a legendary powerhouse in the game.
This year, the team had to qualify through the Last Chance qualifiers after a very poor showing during the DPC. The team also had to go through some major changes. SumaiL and iceiceice were kicked out in favour of Zayac and Resolut1on. Yapzor had to bow out due to health issues, making space for Crystallis.
But the new additions have stabilised the team for now. Reso’s gameplay is also more aggressive than iceiceice, allowing the team to play for tempo. They head into TI with Puppey wanting to prove that he is not just a veteran, he wants to be a winner too.
- Boom eSports
The other darkhorse is relative newcomer Boom. Hailed as this year’s top SEA team, Boom has been lighting up the scene with tremendous performances all around.
Their play is directly mainly through their midlaner yopaj, who has been brilliant the entire year. But it also means that if the other team manages to shut their main man down, it’s going to be hard for Boom to take the advantage.
Will they challenge for the Aegis? Who knows but the pride of SEA will rest in their hands.