The grand final round of Dota 2 The International 12 Regional Qualifier for Southeast Asia has concluded with Team SMG’s big win over Blacklist Rivalry with a final score of 3-0. The team will accompany Talon Esports as a representative for the SEA region when the game takes place in Seattle, USA, in October.
The recent addition of Kenny “Xepher” Deo and Adam “343” Shah to the coaching team showed that Blacklist took the final qualifier with the highest level of seriousness. Through their tactical experimentation, they showed improvement and managed to beat fan favorites like Army Geniuses and Bleed Esports to reach the upper bracket finals. However, it was clearly not good enough to overcome the highly rated veteran Volodymyr “no[o]ne” Minenko, who replaced Lee “CDR” Jia He earlier this month.
Blacklist learnt the hard way when they faced SMG in the upper bracket final and fell 2-0. In the lower bracket final, they defeated Geek Fam and returned to face SMG with great optimism. Unfortunately, the new formula they devised was still insufficient to beat the rejuvenated SMG.
In game 1, Blacklist dominated the first seventeen minutes through the duo Carlo “Kuku” Palad and Karl “Karl” Baldovino who used Invoker and Batrider respectively. Despite having a higher kill count at the early game, their aggressive play failed to break SMG’s strong defense, and no[o]ne who completed his core items turned things around in the 19th minute. In the 31st minute, he and team leader Yeik “midOne” Nai Zheng went on a rampage, finishing out the Blacklist players and overturning their deficit from 12-4 to 13-21. In the 38th minute, the increasingly tough combo of SMG’s Earth Spirit and Lifestealer prompted Blacklist to GG.
Things worsened for Blacklist in game 2, when SMG completely annihilated them. No[o]ne led the slaughter in a game that lasted around 34 minutes and ended with a score of 3-28. With their backs against the wall, they doubled up on their attacking play in game 3 with the Phoenix and Templar Assassin combo draft. Unfortunately, their lead was short-lived once more, as no[o]ne’s excellent Puck play rendered him unplayable late in the game. After 41 minutes of play, SMG won the final game 27-24.
Given a string of terrible SEA DPC results a few months earlier, no[o]ne’s arrival proved to be the final piece of puzzle that SMG badly needed to turn their fate. And if they can sustain their consistency, this team definitely has a chance to equal Talon Esports as the next big surprise from SEA.