South Korean organisation T1 announced on Thursday (4 March) that they have signed Thai prodigy Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon as their Dota 2 team's new carry player ahead of the ONE Esports Singapore Major later this month.
23savage's signing comes just a day after T1 surprisingly released Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong, their carry player for the first season of this year's Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) that helped them finish third in the circuit's Southeast Asian regional league and qualify for the Major.
23savage was inactive for much of the first season of the DPC after he parted ways with Chinese team Vici Gaming (VG) in early January. He first joined VG in mid-September last year, but did not end up playing a single game for the team before they ultimately parted ways as he was unable to physically join them due to visa issues.
Prior to joining VG, 23savage was arguably the biggest rising star in Southeast Asia as the carry player for Fnatic, the team he joined in September 2019 for the 2019-2020 DPC. After last year’s DPC was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic, 23savage helped Fnatic win five-straight tournaments from March to June to become the most dominant team in the region.
However, Fnatic released 23savage to make way for then-Geek Fam carry player Marc Polo “Raven” Fausto in late July in one of the most surprising roster moves of the year.
23savage's departure from his VG made him one of the biggest free agents in the scene ahead of the start of the 2021 DPC, but it was already far too late for him to join a new squad by that point. He returned to competitive play in mid-February as a stand-in for BOOM Esports in the Southeast Asian regional league, helping the team finish in fifth place.
23savage also recently made waves as the first-ever player to reach 12,000 matchmaking rating (MMR). MMR roughly determines the skill rating of a Dota 2 player, as it increases with each ranked match a player has won and decreases for every ranked match lost. The previous high mark for MMR was 11,000.
T1 will have great need for 23savage's talents for the Singapore Major, as they will be starting the tournament from the wildcard stage alongside five other teams from the European, Chinese, and CIS regional leagues. Only two teams will be able to advance from the wildcard stage onto the group stage.
Controversy over JaCkky's release
T1 raised eyebrows for releasing JaCkky ahead of signing 23savage, as their former carry player played the entirety of the regular season with them and helped them qualify for the Major. He joined T1 in November last year, having been one of the rising stars of the Southeast Asian scene as the carry player of Thai team Motivate.Trust Gaming.
While DPC rules allow for teams to switch out a player even after qualifying for the Major, they will be penalised by having the amount of DPC points that they can earn in the Major reduced by 20 per cent. DPC points determine whether a team will receive a direct invite to The International (TI) at the end of the circuit.
In addition, another DPC rule states that teams who make roster changes in the middle of the circuit will have the amount of DPC points they earned prior to the roster change reduced, with the reduction depending on the number of players removed from the team.
In the case of T1, they have received a 15 per cent reduction on the 200 DPC points they received for finishing third in the Southeast Asian regional league. They now have 170 DPC points, good for 15th in the entire circuit thus far.
If T1 wishes to add onto to its DPC point total, the team will first have to make it to the Top 8 of the Singapore Major. However, that will be a tall task considering they will be starting from the wildcard stage.
The Singapore Major is scheduled to be held from 27 March to 4 April as an in-person LAN event. The tournament features 18 of the best teams from the DPC's six regional leagues battling for the lion's share of a US$500,000 prize pool as well as a 2,700 DPC point pool to go towards securing a direct invite to The International 10 (TI10) in August.
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