Southeast Asian Dota 2 squad Team SMG will be fielding Nigma Galaxy offlaner Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov and Team Secret coach Lee "Heen" Seung Gon as stand-ins for The International (TI) 2023, the game's upcoming world championship tournament.
MinD_ControL will be standing-in for SMG offlaner Natthaphon "Masaros" Ouanphakdee, who was unable to acquire a United States visa in time for TI 2023, which will be hosted in Seattle. While MinD_ControL is tentatively listed as SMG's offlaner for TI, the team is still continuing to pursue a visa for Masaros.
Meanwhile, SMG also tapped Heen from Secret to be their coach for the upcoming world championship tournament.
"Team SMG regrets to inform that our player Masaros has not been successful at acquiring his USA visa despite multiple attempts. Whilst we continue to pursue visas for our core player, MinD_ContRoL will stand in as backup for Team SMG during the tournament while we await further updates from the embassy. We'd like to thank Nigma Galaxy for their assistance despite such short notice, and the fans for their continued support," SMG said in their statement announcing MinD_ControL as their stand-in.
"We are pleased to announce that Heen will be coaching us for this TI12 run, with his experience will prove to be invaluable to the team. Thanks to Team Secret for helping us to make this happen," SMG added in their statement announcing Heen as their stand-in coach.
SMG earned their spot in TI 2023 by winning the tournament's Southeast Asian regional qualifier with a 3-0 sweep over Blacklist Rivalry back in August. And while the team won't be fielding its full roster at TI 2023, they are being reinforced by two of the most prolific figures from Western Europe that missed out on the tournament.
MinD_ControL initially missed out on TI 2023 after Nigma Galaxy bombed out of the Western European regional qualifier, marking the second-straight year where the roster that won TI 2017 and finished second in TI 2019 failed to qualify for Dota 2's marquee tournament.
This also marks the third time this season that MinD_ControL will be standing-in for a team in a premier tournament. He previously stood-in for OG in the Berlin Major in May and in DreamLeague Season 21 in September.
Meanwhile, Heen and Secret were knocked out of the Western European regional qualifier by Quest Esports in the lower bracket semifinals. Secret notably missed out on TI 2023 after finishing second in TI 2022, which also ended Clement "Puppey" Ivanov's legendary streak of playing in every TI.
Team SMG are among the 20 teams playing in TI 2023, which will be hosted from 12 to 29 October in Seattle, the United States. There, the best Dota 2 teams in the world fighting to claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a growing prize pool.
For everything you need to know about TI 2023, check here.
Team SMG Dota 2 roster for The International 2023:
Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng
Volodymyr "No[o]ne" Minenko
Ivan "MinD_ControL" Ivanov (stand-in)
Tue "ah fu" Soon Chuan
Jaunuel "Jaunuel" Arcilla
Lee "Heen" Seung Gon (stand-in coach)