Even as Singapore hosts the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, Dota 2's The International 11 (TI11) is waiting right around the corner, the dream of hundreds of pro players in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) every year.
While we still have the Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ) to look forward to, there are already a number of veteran players who have missed their chance of making it to this year's crowning event of the DPC.
Seeing how these players have attended several previous TIs, their absence from the event will be felt.
Let's take a look at some of the familiar faces who won't be making a competitive appearance in Singapore.
SumaiL (Nigma Galaxy)
Since winning TI5 with Evil Geniuses (EG), Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan has attended the next five TIs, notably leading the North American powerhouse to two Top 3 finishes in TI6 and TI8.
Before TI10, SumaiL left EG and decided to try his luck in Western Europe, joining OG and placing 7th-8th with them.
SumaiL decided to stay in Europe for the 2021-2022 DPC and joined Team Secret at the start of the season.
However, the new Team Secret roster couldn't find their footing and placed 5th in the first two Tours. With TI getting closer and closer, Team Secret and SumaiL parted ways and the king of the mid lane found a new home with Nigma Galaxy.
Nigma Galaxy did well in the third Tour, where they went 14-1 in Division II.
However, international competition is significantly harder than Division II, and Nigma Galaxy found they still had kinks to iron out when they placed 5th-6th at Riyadh Masters 2022 and 7th-8th at ESL One Malaysia 2022.
The most important tournament of the year for SumaiL would be the Western European Qualifiers for TI11, but that didn't start well for the 'king' of the midlane and his team
Nigma Galaxy dropped to the lower bracket in the first round after a surprising 2-1 loss to GoonSquad, but their TI11 chances were ended by none other than Team Secret.
Secret dealt the killing blow to SumaiL and co when they defeated Nigma Galaxy 2-1 in the lower bracket quarterfinals, marking the first time SumaiL misses out on TI in his professional career.
It's going to be fascinating to see what he does next year to ensure he makes a comeback at the event... but he wasn't the only Nigma Galaxy face on this list.
KuroKy (Nigma Galaxy)
For the second year in a row, the captain of Nigma Galaxy won't attend the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year.
Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi has been a TI legend, playing in the first nine TI's, winning TI7 and getting second place twice.
In fact, up till TI10, Kuro and fellow long-timer Clement “Puppey” Ivanov were the only two players who had attended every single TI. Now, with Secret having to fight through the stacked Last Chance Qualifiers, even Puppey's record might be at risk.
But back to the German legend. Since leaving Team Liquid and forming Nigma Galaxy, KuroKy and his team haven't been able to play at the same level as they used to.
The team scraped by in the first DPC Tour with a sixth place finish, narrowly avoiding relegation, not something you'd expect of a team full of former TI winners.
KuroKy stated that they were stronger in LAN events, and that's true based on Nigma Galaxy's best performance this year, which was at GAMERS GALAXY: Dubai 2022, where he and the team placed third.
Fans had renewed hope in the team after Dubai, but unfortunately, Nigma Galaxy were relegated in the second Tour of the year.
Deciding to switch gears, the team parted ways with Igor "iLTW" Filatov and brought in SumaiL. But we all know how that turned out.
It's not all gloom and doom. Nigma Galaxy will start the next DPC season in Division I, due to placing first in the third and final Tour of the year, and the team still have a strong following across the globe, if their fan meetings are anything to go by.
However, they will not be at TI11, having placed 5th-6th at the Western European qualifiers.
With two TI's missed in a row, time will tell if it is the end of an era for KuroKy, or if the legendary captain still has some fight left in him.
Fy (Invictus Gaming)
As one of the best players in China and a contender for being the best position 4 support in the world, Xu "fy" Linsen has accrued an incredible list of achievements throughout his career.
He has played in six TIs, and made it to the podium in three of them. The former PSG.LGD player was also instrumental in the team's success at TI8 and TI9, before joining the supposed Chinese "superteam" Elephant, which disappointed with a 13th - 16th finish in 2021.
After TI10, fy left Elephant and joined Invictus Gaming (IG).
It had been a rough start to the DPC year for IG, as they were relegated to Division II after placing seventh place in the first Tour.
That proved to be the undoing of their TI ambitions.
It took IG two Tours to get back into Division I, and by that point, it was too late to qualify for TI11 through DPC points, and the team had to risk it all at the stacked Chinese regional qualifiers.
IG had a good run at the qualifier, winning three rounds in the lower bracket.
However, a defeat by Vici Gaming (VG) in the lower bracket semifinals sent IG home in fourth place with no chance of making it to Singapore.
It also seemed poetic to see VG defeat fy, as he had been a member of VG for four years — his longest tenure with any team.
After years of being one of the most exciting players to watch at TI, fy will be sorely missed this year.
Still, we hope we can see the god of fireworks there next year, wherever the tournament might be.
Iceiceice (Team SMG)
It's one thing to miss out on TI, it's on a whole other level to miss out on TI when it's happening in your own backyard.
What could be worse than that? Not even getting the chance to play in the qualifiers.
Daryl "iceiceice" Koh has been to the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world an incredible nine times, and he's seen it all, from third place at the first TI as a sub to last place in the playoffs at TI9.
Not only has iceiceice played at the tournament as often as KuroKy (9 times), but he's also done so with more teams than anyone else.
Throughout his decade-long career so far, iceiceice has played at TI with eight different teams, including EG, Fnatic, Mineski, Vici Gaming, and Team DK. Only Team Zenith have had the honour of playing with him for two TI's in a row.
Unfortunately for iceiceice, the 2021-2022 DPC season just wasn't his year.
After leaving EG for Team Secret and playing in Western Europe, the his team struggled and placed fifth place in three DPC Tours in a row, enough to avoid relegation but just shy of making it to a Major and earning enough DPC points for a direct TI invite.
This led to iceiceice being dropped by Secret as they decided to shake things up to increase their odds ahead of the regional qualifiers.
That was when the Singaporean moved back to Southeast Asia to try his luck at the qualifiers for TI with Team SMG.
In another series of unfortunate events, Team SMG weren't able to register in time to join the qualifiers, leaving iceiceice with no chance of appearing at TI11.
After nine appearances at TI, it is almost criminal to see iceiceice not make it to Dota 2's biggest event when it is hosted in his home country.
Hopefully, he can attend the event as a guest analyst, so that fans can still get to see him. As someone who has put Singapore on the Dota 2 esports map, it's the least he deserves.
TI11 is this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament with a multimillion-dollar prize pool. The event will be hosted in Singapore from 8 to 30 October and features a revamped format with the new LCQ and a longer schedule.
For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.
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