The Southeast Asian qualifier for The International 10 (TI10) begins today (30 June). With only two slots for the region in TI10 and with its top team, T1, the only one directly invited, competition in the 15-team qualifier — the most of any region this year — is sure to be fierce.
With how competitive Southeast Asia has been during the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), all of the teams arguably have as good a chance as any to qualify for the latest iteration of Dota 2's world championship tournament.
However, six teams in particular stand out from the rest of the competition: TNC Predator, Fnatic, OB Esports x Neon, Execration, Team SMG, and Motivate.Trust Gaming.
These six squads are definitely the ones to watch during the qualifier and stand the best chance at being Southeast Asia's second representative in TI10. Read on to find out why:
Filipino powerhouse squad TNC Predator has established themselves as the second-best team in Southeast Asia behind T1 as well as the heavy favourites to win the qualifier and join them in TI10.
TNC finished Season 2 of the Southeast Asian regional league in second place to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor, where they reached the Top 8 after a huge upset over Chinese top seed Team Aster. The key to TNC's return to being one of the top teams in their region has been the addition of Jun "Bok" Kanehara and Marvin "Boomy" Rushton, who provided a steadying presence that gave the team's talented core of Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte, Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios, and Timothy "Tims" Randrup more opportunities to shine.
With Southeast Asian Dota legend Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung joining the team as their coach for the qualifier, TNC are clearly expecting they will be their region's second representative at TI10. It's hard to imagine any other team beating them to it.
TNC are the heavy favourites to win the Southeast Asian qualifier mostly because they have shown that they are better than the rest of the competition. However, one thing that does help their case is the fact that many of their biggest rivals have made roster changes for the qualifier and won't necessarily have the continuity and chemistry needed to make it to TI10.
Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte
Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios
Jun "Bok" Kanehara
Timothy "Tims" Randrup
Marvin "Boomy" Rushton
It was not too long ago that Fnatic were considered far-and-away the best team in Southeast Asia. But now many are doubting their chances of making it to TI10.
Fnatic struggled all throughout the 2021 DPC, bombing out of the ONE Esports Singapore Major despite getting directly seeded to the playoffs and failing to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor altogether.
As a result of their struggles, Fnatic's roster has seen a lot of changes leading up to the qualifier. After their loss in the Singapore Major, Fnatic replaced Natthaphon “Masaros” Ouanphakdee with Ng "ChYuan" Kee ChYuan.
Their failure to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor then resulted with the departure of longtime midlaner Kam “Moon” Boon Seng, with ChYuan taking over his role as Yang "Deth" Wu Heng joined as their new offlaner.
Despite all the roster turnover, Fnatic remains a formidable squad thanks to its core trio of Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto, Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong, and Djardel "DJ" Mampusti. If they can somehow get their groove back in time for the qualifier, Fnatic can definitely prove their doubters wrong and qualify for TI10.
Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto
Ng "ChYuan" Kee ChYuan
Yang "Deth" Wu Heng
Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong
Djardel "DJ" Mampusti
OB Esports x Neon
OB Esports x Neon were the darlings of Season 1 of the Southeast Asian regional league, finishing in second place over the likes of T1 and TNC. They then went on a spirited run through the Singapore Major, finishing in the Top 6 despite playing with stand-ins after carry player John Anthony “Natsumi-“ Vargas sat out the Major due to illness.
OB.Neon were unable to keep their momentum in Season 2, however, failing to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor and secure a direct invite to TI10.
That then resulted in the departure of Prieme Ejay "PlayHard" Maque, with Michael "Enryu" Ladines coming in to take over the offlane role while Andrei "Skem" Ong was shifted to the position 4 support role.
Despite their recent roster changes, OB.Neon still stand as one of the strongest squads in the qualifier. However, Enryu's relative lack of competitive experience after only starting his professional career last year remains one of the biggest question marks for the team.
With that said, Neon have already shown they have the chops to go on deep runs in the biggest of stages. They can certainly do it in the TI10 qualifier, and maybe even in the tournament itself.
John Anthony “Natsumi-“ Vargas
Erin “Yopaj” Ferrer
Michael “Enryu” Ladines
Andrei “skem” Ong
Jaunuel “Jaunuel” Arcilla
After barely managing to stay in the upper division of the Southeast Asian regional league in Season 1, Filipino team Execration rose to the occasion in Season 2 by finishing the league in third place and denying Fnatic a spot in the WePlay AniMajor.
While Execration were unable to get out of the Major's Wildcard Stage, they did show a lot of promise by taking games off of top teams such as Invictus Gaming, Vici Gaming, and Team Secret.
Execration can further build on the potential they've showed thus far with a successful run through the qualifiers and into TI10.
While they may not be the favourites to win every matchup, they have shown they are capable of pulling huge upsets. If there ever was a dark horse pick for TI10's Southeast Asian qualifiers, then it would have to be Execration.
Jinn “Palos” Lamatao
Yuri “Yowe” Pacaña
Nikko “Nikko” Bilocura
Don Carlo “BDz” Manalo
Ralph Richard “RR” Peñano
The JJ Lin-co-founded Team SMG only managed to enter the DPC in Season 2 and had to start from the lower division. However, they were able to finish with a 6-1 record there to qualify for the upper division of the league in the next circuit.
Now they have their sights set on something bigger.
With former Team Secret and OG player Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, TI finalist and former TNC offlaner Damien “kpii” Chok, and former Fnatic midlaner Moon in their roster, Team SMG have a lot of big names in their roster.
While those three core players certainly have the experience of qualifying to and playing in TI, it still remains to be seen whether that is enough to carry Team SMG all the way through to TI10.
For that to happen, their supporting cast in Tue “ah fu” Soon Chuan and Roger “Roddgeee” Tan have to step up. But regardless of what happens in the qualifier, these newcomer team are bound to make some heads turn very soon.
Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng
Kam “Moon” Boon Seng
Damien “kpii” Chok
Tue “ah fu” Soon Chuan
Roger “Roddgeee” Tan
Thai squad Motivate.Trust Gaming looked like Southeast Asia's rising stars prior to the start of the 2021 DPC.
However, their ascent was halted when their two best players, Souliya “JaCkky” Khoomphetsavong and Natthaphon “Masaros” Ouanphakdee, were signed by T1 and Fnatic, respectively.
JaCkky and Masaros returned to the team in time for Season 2, leading them to a clean sweep of the lower division and promotion to the upper division next season.
Of course, a young and hungry team like Motivate.Trust are aiming to accomplish more by qualifying for TI10.
Motivate.Trust certainly have the talent that can win the qualifier, but they will need more than just skill to outlast the veteran powerhouses of the region. If they can temper their edge in talent with solid chemistry and synergy, then the sky is the limit for this young Thai team.
Souliya “JaCkky” Khoomphetsavong
Poomipat “Fearless” Trisiripanit
Natthaphon “Masaros” Ouanphakdee
Worawit “Q” Mekchai
The second stage of TI10's regional qualifiers from 30 June to 3 July will see North America and Southeast Asia determine their final representatives in the tournament. The regional qualifiers will conclude with its European and Chinese legs from 7 to 10 July.
TI10 will feature the 18 best teams from across the DPC and will be held from 10 to 15 August. The tournament will start with a Group Stage from 5 to 8 August before the Main Event kicks off from 10 to 15 August, where the last team standing will claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool.
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