Singapore-based Dota 2 powerhouse Bleed Esports will be missing out on The International (TI) 2023 after they were knocked out of the tournament's Southeast Asian regional qualifier by Geek Fam on Wednesday (30 August).
It's a disappointing end to the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season for a team that was considered one of the strongest squads in Southeast Asia.
Bleed made their debut in the Dota 2 esports scene last December with a roster consisting of former BOOM Esports carry Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong, Singaporean rookie midlaner Teng "Kordan" Tjin Yao, former Fnatic offlaner Natthaphon "Masaros" Ouanphakdee, former Neon Esports position 4 support Prieme Ejay "PlayHard-" Maque, and former TSM position 5 support Kim "DuBu" Doo-young.
But after a sixth place finish in the Winter Tour regional league, Bleed parted ways with Masaros and PlayHard- to make way for star players Daryl "iceiceice" Koh and Djardel "DJ" Mampusti.
While Bleed placed sixth again in the Spring Tour even with their revamped roster, they bounced back in the Summer Tour and finished first in the Southeast Asian regional league to qualify for the Bali Major. Unfortunately, the team bombed out of the Bali Major in 13th-14th place and were forced to earn their spot in TI 2023 through the regional qualifiers.
Bleed had a strong start to the qualifier with a 2-0 sweep over BOOM Esports. However, their momentum was stopped short by Filipino rivals Blacklist Rivalry, who soundly swept them in the upper bracket semifinals and knocked them down to the lower bracket.
Bleed's hopes of making it to TI 2023 hinged on them first defeating Geek Fam and their ragtag roster of Filipinos, a Mongolian, and a Romanian. Geek Fam came out swinging to start the series, dominating Bleed in a 50-minute rout to the tune of a 31-13 kill lead.
Joshua "Kokz" Maraño on Puck and Stefan "Ulnit" Gavrila on Sven led the way for Geek Fam, with the former racking up 13 kills and 13 assists on three deaths while the latter had 12 kills and 16 assists on just one death.
Bleed were quick to bounce back in game two with a stomp of their own, forcing the series to a decider in 30 minutes of action and with a 27-3 kill lead. JaCkky on Wraith King led the way with a clean 11 kills and 11 assists, Kordan on Earthshaker had nine kills and 13 assists on one death, while DJ on Mirana pitched in with a clean six kills and 15 assists.
Unlike the first two games of the series, game three was a close affair before Geek Fam pulled away to claim the 2-1 series victory after 37 minutes.
Kokz paced Geek Fam's 32-12 kill lead with 10 kills and 18 assists on one death as Primal Beast. Ulnit on Terrorblade also added eight kills and 13 assists on one death while Ravdan "NARMAN" Narmandakh on Rubick pitched in with seven kills and 17 assists on one death.
With their victory over Bleed, Geek Fam advanced to the lower bracket semifinals of TI 2023's Southeast Asian qualifier, where they will face the winner of the other lower bracket quarterfinal match between Execration and BOOM Esports.
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.
China's Azure Ray, North America's Nouns Esports, Eastern Europe's Virtus.pro, as well as Vivo Keyd Stars and Thunder Awaken from South America were the first five teams to earn a spot in this year's world championship tournament for Dota 2 through the regional qualifiers.
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.