COMMENT: It's Singapore's loss not to have iceiceice at The International 2022

Team SMG's complete failure of getting the basics right means Singapore's most famous Dota 2 player, Daryl "iceiceice" Koh, will not be playing on home court.

The International 2022 (otherwise known as TI11), which will be taking place in Singapore for the first time, is likely not to feature any native players unless RSG or Nigma Galaxy SEA make it through the qualifiers.

It's a bloody shame, and I would have used stronger words to describe the situation if Yahoo Esports SEA allowed language of that sort.

Iceiceice's run this year to play at TI has been beset by his team's unlikely set of circumstances, where he had to deal with changing lane partners.

After getting replaced at Team Secret, he joined team Team SMG alongside Wilson "Poloson" Koh (no relation).

The team had shown strong performances at their first debut at Galaxy Gamers Thailand, beating Fnatic and RSG, but failing to make the playoffs due to the tournament's lacklustre format and tie-breaker rules.

Team SMG players ah fu, Moon, iceiceice, Poloson and Midone standing with arms folded in front of the SMG logo.
Team SMG's Dota 2 team was to have been reinforced by Singaporean players iceiceice and poloson for the upcoming Southeast Asian qualifiers for The International 11. (Photo: Team SMG)

But Team SMG's administrative error of not getting Poloson registered in time means the team has been disqualified from competing in TI11's regional qualifiers.

It's another year wasted, and iceiceice, at 32, is one of the oldest pro players around. Most players competing at TI11 are around the mid-twenties, and at six or more years older, his reflexes may not be as they used to be.

It remains to be seen if iceiceice will stay at Team SMG — which also happens to be owned by Singaporean pop star JJ Lin — or try for one last year.

Team Secret's Clement "Puppey" Ivanov is also 32, and doesn't look like he's planning to retire. But will teams still take the risk of getting an older player, or a younger, exciting player to groom?

With demographics of Dota 2 players getting older as well, it may mean that the game is also passing its peak of popularity.

How much TI11 will raise for its prize pool through its upcoming Battlepass will be an indication of its popularity. Puppey himself has raised doubts about the prize pool beating last year's record.

For iceiceice, playing at home may not matter as much as being actually able to play and compete.

It's probably what keeps him going, and well, winning millions of dollars at the biggest esports tournament in the world doesn't hurt either.

That said, there's still a chance of seeing iceiceice play at TI11.

He could still stand-in for teams who can't secure a visa, but Singapore's relatively open and that likely means no issues for players coming in.

Unlike, say the US, where so many teams competing at the Arlington Major had issues flying in that the event was dubbed by fans as the "Stand-in Major".

It's a slim chance, but surely if there's anyone that deserves to play at TI11 in Singapore, it has to be Singapore's most successful professional esports player.

Anything else would be f***ing tragic.

Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at Views expressed are the writer's own.

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