Peruvian Dota 2 stalwarts Thunder Awaken are the fifth team to qualify for The International (TI) 2023 from the regional qualifiers after they claimed the second spot in the South American qualifier with a 2-0 sweep over AcatSuki in the qualifier's lower bracket finals on Sunday (27 August).
Thunder Awaken started the season with Belarusian import Aliaksei "Smiling Knight" Svirydau alongside Peruvian players Ricardo "Alone" Fernandez, Mario "ILICH-" Valdivia, Miguel "Michael-" Gomez, and Cristian "Accel" Cruz.
But after only finishing fifth in the Winter Tour regional league for South America, Thunder Awaken replaced Alone and Michael- with Jordan "SLATEM$" Vega and Romel "Mjz" Quinteros. The team then managed back-to-back third place finishes in the Spring and Summer Tour regional leagues ahead of the TI 2023 regional qualifiers.
Thunder Awaken were one of the biggest favourites to come out of the South American qualifier, living up to their promise with a 2-0 sweep over Balrogs in the first round of the upper bracket. However, the next round saw them get knocked down to the lower bracket by Vivo Keyd Stars, who went on to claim the first of two regional qualifier spots for South America in TI 2023.
Thunder Awaken then defeated Qhali and Mad Kings to advance to the lower bracket finals, where they faced AcatSuki for the second spot in TI 2023.
Thunder Awaken came out swinging to start the series, dominating AcatSuki to the tune of a 21-6 kill lead in 35 minutes. SLATEM$ led the way on Leshrac by putting up eight kills and nine assists on one death while Smiling Knight on Morphling pitched in with a clean five kills and three assists.
AcatSuki put up a better fight in game two, though they could do little to stop Thunder Awaken from punching their ticket to TI 2023 in a 35-minute rout.
SLATEM$ spearheaded Thunder Awaken's relentless onslaught on Ember Spirit, finishing with a stellar 21 kills and 14 assists on zero deaths. Smiling Knight also did some heavy lifting with Drow Ranger and notched 12 kills and 15 assists on just one death.
With their victory over AcatSuki, Thunder Awaken are now the fifth team to qualify for TI 2023 through the regional qualifiers.
China's Azure Ray, North America's Nouns Esports, Eastern Europe's Virtus.pro, and Vivo Keyd Stars were the first four teams to earn a spot in this year's world championship tournament for Dota 2 through the regional qualifiers.
Thunder Awaken will also be the fourth South American team in TI 2023, joining fellow qualifier team Vivo Keyd Stars and directly-invited squads Evil Geniuses and Beastcoast.
TI 2023's regional qualifiers will run until 31 August, with the competition being split into three five-day phases where two regions will compete in each phase.
With the qualifiers for North America, China, South America, and Eastern Europe now concluded, Western Europe and Southeast Asia will then close things out from 27 to 31 August.
TI 2023 will be hosted across multiple weekends from 12 to 29 October in Seattle, the United States. This year's tournament also features a revamped format split into two distinct phases, called 'The Road to The International' and 'The International' itself.