Exclusive: Topson’s Play is “nothing like I’ve seen before”, Says Former T1 Teammate Whitemon

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When T1 announced that they had recruited former champs Topson and ana for the TI11’s regional qualifiers in Southeast Asia earlier this year, expectations were high. 

Many believed T1 would cruise straight through to the TI finals. But they failed at the final hurdle, falling to Polaris Esports in the lower bracket final.

That ultimately led to the dismantling of the entire T1 Dota 2 roster, sending ripples through the region. T1 had been one of the region’s top teams until this year.

And for Matthew “Whitemon” Filemon, T1’s former position 5 player, who got to observe Topson and ana in the flesh, playing by their side, the experience was unreal.

Whitemon (third from left) with Indonesia Dota National Team. Courtesy of ulti.asia

He was “astounded” by Topson’s technical ability and knowledge of the game, being able to control mid lane even with unconventional heroes. 

“It’s nothing like what I’ve ever seen and he is extraordinarily fast,” said Whitemon.

He acknowledged that the T1 team also suffered from a lack of quality training sessions. He claimed that Topson frequently criticized the T1 training menu, which he claimed has no defined objectives.

Speaking to Ulti Asia on the sidelines of the IESF WEC 2022 which was held in Nusa Dua, Bali, Whitemon said he has no regrets in playing alongside the best players in Dota 2 history.

“I was so happy to be able to play with the back-to-back champions of The International. At first I was nervous and excited because they are considered as high profile players, but we are both players and teammates. Eventually I shaped my mindset to consider these two as the same human beings,” he said.

image via T1 (twitter)

In fact, the team was not lacking in technical quality – with Topson, ana leading the line, complemented by SEA legend Kuku. The failure, said Whitemon, was in their choice of tactics.

 “I think we were overthinking about tactics, the opponent’s draft pick during the qualifier games” Whitemon explained. 

Many observers also noted that T1’s picks tended to the off-meta, like consistently picking Venomancer. This resulted in the meme Kukumancer – although both T1’s captain Kuku and Xepher both liked the hero.

Whitemon said, however, that Kuku should not be fully blamed for what happened at that time. He explained that Kuku’s position as offlaner and drafter at T1 was quite a heavy responsibility.

“I thought he had a lot of things on his mind, and it definitely played a part in his declining performance during these qualifier rounds. I myself still regard Kuku as one of the greatest in Southeast Asia,” said Whitemon.

For now, the Indonesian is looking to the future. He was signed by TSM in the US, the first time an Indonesian is playing in the North American Dota 2 league. He will join up with his teammates in Los Angeles in January to start preparing for the DPC season in 2023.

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