The fourth season of the BTS Pro Series’ Southeast Asian Division will be beginning its playoffs on Wednesday (16 December) until 20 December, with the eight participating teams competing for the lion’s share of a US$50,000 prize pool.
Aside from being the last noteworthy Dota 2 tournament in the region for the year, it is also the last event before the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) returns in January next year under a new Regional League format.
Read on for our preview and predictions for both the tournament’s playoffs and how the Southeast Asian Dota 2 scene may look like once the DPC kicks off again:
Execration vs Vice Esports
The BTS Pro Series SEA Season 4 playoffs will kick off with a lower bracket elimination match between Filipino squads Execration and Vice Esports.
Execration fields a roster of multiple Filipino veterans while Vice is comprised of up-and-coming players from the country, though both teams had middling results in the best-of-two round robin group stage.
Execration had two series wins against two ties and three losses while Vice only managed one win against three ties and losses. Both squads haven’t exactly been the worst performers of the tournament, but they stand on treacherous ground.
While both teams had a 1-1 tie in their group stage matchup, we expect Execration to emerge victorious in a match where their tournament lives are on the line thanks to veteran leadership in Ralph Richard "RR" Peñano.
With that said, a breakout performance or two from former Execration midlaner Jinn Marrey "Palos" Lamatao may just turn the tides in Vice’s favour.
Prediction: Execration 2-1 Vice Esports
Motivate.Trust vs Neon Esports
Up next is match between Thai squad Motivate.Trust and the third Filipino squad of the tournament, Neon Esports.
Both teams have been dealing with roster issues as of late. Motivate.Trust notably lost carry player Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong to T1 and offlaner Natthaphon "Masaros" Ouanphakdee to Fnatic, being forced to compete in the tournament with stand-ins instead, including former Fnatic carry Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon.
Meanwhile, Neon welcomed John Anthony "Natsumi-" Vargas as their new carry player, which forced role swaps that moved former carry Andrei “skem” Ong to support and former support Prieme Ejay "PlayHard" Banquil to the offlane.
Those roster changes clearly affected the performances of both teams. Motivate.Trust only had one series win against two losses but were buoyed by four ties, while Neon had the worst showing of the group stage after failing to win a single series, only being able to force three ties.
Neon is still clearly struggling with the identity of its new roster, so we don’t expect them to put up much of a fight against Motivate.Trust. Their meeting in the group stage was a 1-1 tie, however, so there is still room for an upset. Even so, Neon are square in the middle of a rebuild and might already be looking beyond this tournament and towards the DPC restart instead.
Prediction: Motivate.Trust 2-0 Neon Esports
TNC Predator vs Fnatic
The second day of the playoffs will open with the upper bracket and the SEA El Clásico: TNC Predator vs Fnatic. Both teams returned to competition after a brief hiatus at BTS Pro Series SEA Season 4, though with different rosters compared to when they last clashed over dominance of the region.
Fnatic is now without star offlaner Daryl “iceiceice” Koh, who left for Evil Geniuses (EG) last month, with Masaros replacing him while Djardel “DJ” Mampusti took over captainship of the team.
Meanwhile, TNC parted ways with Park “March” Tae-won, who is now the coach of T1, and has competed with their coach, Kim "Febby" Yong-min, as a stand-in.
Despite March’s departure, TNC still had roster continuity and it showed, as they topped the group stage with four series wins and three ties.
Meanwhile, Fnatic are clearly still trying to iron out some wrinkles with an entirely new dynamic as they finished third in the standings with three wins, three ties, and one loss.
TNC seem to have the edge over Fnatic thus far, as evidenced by them winning their their first meeting, 2-0, in the first day of the group stage.
With that said, Fnatic have shown significant improvement since then, and should be able to better challenge their long-time rivals.
The release of the 7.28 patch will also shake things up, though we still expect TNC to emerge victorious in this must-watch series.
Prediction: TNC Predator 2-1 Fnatic
T1 vs Team Dog
The final matchup of the first round of the playoffs will be between T1’s revitalised Dota 2 squad and Team Dog, a temporary stack headlined by EG teammates iceiceice and Abed Azel “Abed” Yusop.
T1 has been very busy since going on hiatus in September, as they now field most of the former Geek Fam roster that dominated the region before they were disbanded, plus Thai rising star JaCkky.
Even if T1 has listed Carlo “Kuku” Palad and Matthew “Whitemon” Filemon as stand-ins for this tournament, sources tell Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia that they will be rolling out with this roster for the DPC restart.
That roster continuity has paid off for T1 thus far, as they placed second in the group stage with two series wins and five ties.
Meanwhile, Team Dog have performed admirably despite being a stack formed at the last minute, finishing just inside the top four with one win and five ties against one loss.
Of course, that shouldn’t be too surprising when iceiceice, Abed, and Muhammad "inYourdreaM" Rizky are in the same team.
But do Team Dog have enough talent to overcome T1’s admittedly more stacked roster? We’re leaning towards no, especially considering that four of T1’s players already have a lot of chemistry built up.
As with the TNC-Fnatic series, the release of the patch may equalise the field, though we still give T1 the edge in this matchup.
Prediction: T1 2-1 Team Dog
Will the upcoming 7.28 patch change anything?
Valve has announced that the 7.28 patch, as well as the new hero, will be released on Thursday (17 December), the second day of the playoffs.
Since the lower bracket matches will be played on Wednesday, the patch won’t have any effect on our predictions. Aside from the teams possibly being spurred to try out some crazy strats since there’s a new patch coming anyway.
Thursday is a bright day to enjoy a good cup of coffee, some time with the family and release the Mistwood update!
— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) December 15, 2020
However, with the upper bracket matches being played after the new patch is released, we might be in for some very interesting matches.
We won’t be seeing the new hero in competitive play right away, of course, but the patch will surely make some sweeping changes that could force teams to go in blind.
Will that heavily affect the outcome of the matches? Probably not, there should be a number of overpowered heroes or strats discovered immediately that teams will then try out.
But with no clearly superior strats in play, it should all come down to execution. We expect TNC and T1, whose rosters have more continuity and chemistry, to win out in that regard.
A preview for the SEA DPC Regional League
TNC, Fnatic, and T1 are looking like the top three teams in SEA ahead of the DPC restart and they should form the upper block of teams in the first division of the regional league.
There will be new teams springing up soon considering the number of free agents remaining in the region, of course, but they will likely fall in the middle tier of teams alongside the likes of Motivate.Trust and Neon Esports.
While we can see squads like Execration and Vice Esports break into the first division of the regional league, they will more likely settle in the upper tier of the second division.
But when considering how close in terms of skill level most SEA teams are, the lower tier of the first division and the upper tier of the second division should be fluid.
As early as now, the SEA scene in the next DPC should be familiar to long-time SEA Dota fans, with the established juggernauts of the region like TNC and Fnatic retaining their place atop the competition.
However, how the rest of the pack will shake out should prove to be interesting. Teams like Neon Esports have as good a chance as any to both climb the ladder and fall out of contention.
If nothing else, Dota in Southeast Asia next year should be very entertaining to watch, as it has always been. We’ll have another update on the DPC scene ahead of the regional circuit kicking off next year, so be sure to watch this space.
Check out esports videos from Yahoo TV: