Filipino Dota 2 organisation Neon Esports announced on Sunday (21 March) that they will be attending the upcoming ONE Esports Singapore Major without carry player John Anthony "Natsumi" Vargas, who the team says is "unfit to travel".
In his place, Neon have enlisted their former offlaner Rafael "Rappy" Palo as their substitute for the Singapore Major. Rappy first joined Neon in 2018 before being released by the team in July last year.
Rappy is expected to play the position 4 support role for the tournament, as Andrei "Skem" Ong, the team's current position 4 player, will be taking over Natsumi's spot as the carry player. Skem previously played the carry role for Neon before switching to support in order to make way for Natsumi, who joined the team last November.
"[Natsumi] is still very much a part of our team and we wish that he gets well as soon as possible. The good news is that [Rappy] has agreed to stand in for us. Rappy has played over 1,000 games with Neon and we feel his experience and synergy makes him the best choice for us," Neon said in a statement.
While Neon did not officially disclose the reason why Natsumi was unfit to travel with the team to Singapore, their statement implies that the player has some sort of medical condition.
The Singapore Major's rules state that players who have tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the event, even if they were able to recover shortly before the team's departure to Singapore, will be unable to play in order to minimise risk of exposure for other players.
Neon Esports is now the third team that will attend the Singapore Major with substitutes due to their players falling ill, joining CIS teams Virtus.pro (VP) and Natus Vincere (Na'Vi).
Na'Vi midlaner Bogdan "Iceberg" Vasilenko and team captain Andrii "ALWAYSWANNAFLY" Bondarenko both tested positive for COVID-19 while VP carry player Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko fell ill but tested negative for the virus.
Teams participating in the Singapore Major are expected to depart for Singapore in the coming days, if they have not already departed. Foreign teams coming to the republic will not need to quarantine for 14 days, instead being required to take a COVID-19 test and undergo a 48-hour isolation period upon their arrival to the country, and follow a strictly-controlled itinerary during their stay.
In addition, teams that have been eliminated from the Singapore Major are required to leave immediately in order to minimise the risk of further exposure to them and the remaining teams in the tournament.
The Singapore Major is scheduled to start on 27 March and will run until 4 April. The event will feature 18 teams from the DPC's six regional leagues competing for the lion's share of a US$500,000 prize pool and 2,700 DPC point pool.
For everything you need to know about the ONE Esports Singapore Major, check here.
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