Hong Kong-based organisation Talon Esports has officially announced its entry into the Dota 2 competitive scene with a star-studded international line-up headlined by Israeli-Canadian captain Tal "Fly" Aizik, star Filipino carry Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte, and Australian offlaner Damien "kpii" Chok.
Rounding out the squad are Indonesian players Rafli Fathur "Mikoto" Rahman and Brizio Adi "Hyde" Putra Budiana, who will be filling the midlaner and position 4 support roles, respectively.
Talon Esports' new Dota 2 roster will be based out of Manila, Philippines and will be competing in the Southeast Asian regional league of the upcoming 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season.
With Fly now revealed to be the captain of Talon Esports, it confirms his departure from North American powerhouse Evil Geniuses (EG).
He is one of the most decorated captains and position 5 support players in Dota 2, known most for his time with OG from 2015 to 2018 and EG from 2018 until his departure to Talon Esports.
Fly won four Majors with OG before leading EG to Top 3 finishes in six Majors as well as a third place finish in The International 2018 (TI8) and a Top 6 placement in TI9. In the previous DPC season, he led EG to back-to-back Major finals but only managed a Top 12 finish in TI10.
With Fly at the helm of his first Southeast Asian squad, Talon Esports is already expected to be one of the top teams in the region.
“The Southeast Asian region has always held a special place in my heart, with its passionate fans and raw Dota power. It will be intense, yes, but I am looking forward to competing under a fresh banner and alongside this talented roster. I am excited for a new era of SEA Dota,” Fly said in a statement.
Two more stars in Talon Esports' lineup are Gabbi and kpii, who were notably former teammates in TNC Predator from September 2019 to March 2021. Gabbi became a free agent after TNC Predator released its entire roster in September while kpii left the team in March to join Team SMG before becoming a free agent himself in October.
“I'm super excited to play at a globally successful organization like Talon Esports. I will work my hardest to get the best results and represent The Philippines proudly,” said Gabbi.
Finally, Mikoto and Hyde round out Talon Esports' roster after standout stints with BOOM Esports. Both players joined the Indonesian organisation in November 2018, with Hyde leaving on August 2021 while Mikoto followed in October.
“Talon will be my first international team officially and because this is Talon’s first Dota 2 roster, I hope we can do well for the entire season. I’m also looking forward to playing with the rest of my teammates and achieving great things with Talon,” said Mikoto.
"Dota 2 has been a game that we have long sought to enter and finally in 2021, we have arrived. The Philippines will be the home of our new squad and we look forward to embracing the passionate fan base of the country,” added Sean Zhang, CEO of Talon.
“We have put together a supremely talented roster with the goal of contending for majors and of course the International next year. With a team of content creators and social media staff we will look to engage closely with the community so that all our fans can come with us on every step of this journey.”
Despite fielding some of the biggest names in the region, Talon Esports will have to start the DPC's Southeast Asian regional league from Division II before they can compete in Division I and look to qualify for the Majors and TI11.
Three slots are available in Division II of the regional league, with the teams taking those spots being determined through an open qualifier that will take place shortly before the 2021-2022 DPC season kicks off on 29 November.
The 2021-2022 DPC season has been split into three Tours for the Fall, Winter, and Spring, with the regional leagues taking place from November 2021 to July 2022.
Talon Esports' entry into Dota 2 also comes at a time of great growth for the game, following the conclusion of TI10 — this year's iteration of its annual world championship tournament that had a record-breaking US$40 million prize pool — in October.
TI10 also broke Dota 2's all-time viewership record with 2.7 million peak viewers and had the third-most viewers ever for an esports event, according to esports charts. Russia's Team Spirit defeated Chinese powerhouse PSG.LGD to claim the title and the grand prize of US$18.2 million.
Talon Esports are known most for their League of Legends team, PSG Talon, which has dominated the League of Legends Pacific Championship Series for the last couple of years. Aside from PSG Talon, Talon Esports also operate teams competing in Arena of Valor, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, Street Fighter V, and Tekken 7.
Talon Esports Dota 2 roster:
Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte
Rafli Fathur "Mikoto" Rahman
Damien "kpii" Chok
Brizio Adi "Hyde" Putra Budiana
Tal "Fly" Aizik