TI11 preview: How far can Fnatic go in their quest for the Aegis of Champions?

Fnatic team visual image
Will Fnatic evolve from a regional powerhouse into an international threat at TI11? (Photo: Fnatic)

The International 11 (TI11), this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament, marks the first time the event will be held in Southeast Asia.

Fnatic, who have been to TI eight times but have yet to make a podium finish, are one of the "home" teams hoping to make a splash in Singapore

With the Aegis having been claimed by other regions before, Southeast Asia must be relishing the chance to witness their heroes claim that coveted prize. Could this year be the year?

Fnatic's unexpected invite to TI11

At the conclusion of TI10, Fnatic's Top 12 placement wasn't good enough for the team and changes had to be made.

Both Ng "ChYuan" Kee Chyuan and Yang "Deth" Wu Heng were released from the team and replaced by TNC's Armel "Armel" Tabios and Neon Esports' Jaunuel "Jaunuel" Arcilla.

The new Fnatic had an uneven performance in the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season's Winter Tour, placing second during the league but failing to win a single series at the Regional Finals.

The team weren't down for long, though, as they quickly bounced back in the Spring Tour regional league to place first, knocking powerhouse BOOM Esports to second.

Despite their success at the regional level, Fnatic were unable to achieve much success on the international stage.

They placed last at the GAMERS GALAXY: Invitational Series Dubai 2022 and were nearly eliminated in the Group Stage of ESL One Stockholm 2022 before eventually placing top eight in the tournament.

Most importantly, Fnatic couldn't replicate their earlier successes in the PGL Arlington Major as they were the team most hurt by visa issues during the event.

At the conclusion of the Arlington Major, Fnatic had 1020 DPC points — less than a point behind Outsiders, who held 1020.05 DPC points and 12th place on the rankings.

Since only the top 12 teams at the DPC would be invited to TI, it looked like Fnatic would have to make their way through the stacked Southeast Asian qualifiers if they wished to make their ninth TI appearance.

All hope seemed lost for Fnatic until Valve announced that due to the fact that DPC points are rounded down instead of up, it was Fnatic that secured the 12th spot in the DPC and the direct invite to TI11, not Outsiders.

Fnatic have had the toughest road among all invited teams to make it to TI11.

They had to rebuild their roster after their last TI appearance, compete in the brutal Southeast Asian region where competition couldn't be closer, and attended a Major with 60 percent of the team's lineup missing.

Despite all the setbacks they suffered, Fnatic are set to play in the biggest tournament of the year.

The question is, how well will they perform?

Will Fnatic sink or swim at The International 11?

As we've said so many times before, it is impossible to predict how well any team will do at TI.

One thing that has been relatively consistent at TI though is the relative underperformance of Southeast Asian teams.

At TI10, T1 were the highest-ranked Southeast Asian team and placed 7th-8th. In TI9, it was TNC and Mineski who both finished 9th-12th.

While Southeast Asia is an incredibly competitive region, the teams that make it through the SEA gauntlet falter at TI and rarely live up to fans' expectations.

Will Fnatic suffer the same fate this year?

Based on the results throughout the year, it does seem likely.

Fnatic's most recent tournament appearance was at the BTS Pro Series Season 12, where fans were treated to a preview of their TI performance.

Fnatic were top of the group stage, with two draws against fellow TI teams, BOOM Esports and Hokori. But the team were quickly knocked to the lower bracket in the playoffs by Execration, and then eliminated by Hokori.

Despite their struggles against teams both in and out of their home region, Fnatic have perhaps the most impressive lineup among all SEA teams.

Carry player Marc Polo "Raven" Fausto entered the pro scene on aggressive carries such as Morphling and Monkey King.

Since then he has transitioned into more late-game-centric heroes like Alchemist, Luna, and Terrorblade. Regardless of what he plays, Raven always delivers for his team.

While Raven is impressive, if I had to pick one player as the star of the team, it would be Armel.

Just like when he was the star of TNC's old roster, Armel does it all for Fnatic, whether it's rampaging across the map in the mid-game, pressuring the lanes, or carrying his team in crucial fights.

The team's midlaner plays mostly on mobile heroes who can do significant burst damage, such as Puck, Queen of Pain, and Kunkka.

The team's support-turned-offlaner, Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong (who also admitted to be one of those who woke up to the news of their TI11 participation), started the year by playing lane-dominant heroes like Mars and Timbersaw to varying levels of success.

As he's grown more comfortable in his new role, Jabz has turned into a micro-player, almost always taking Enigma, Visage, and Beastmaster.

As Jabz' playstyle has evolved this year, his laning partner, Djardel "DJ" Mampusti, also changed up his game.

DJ's role used to be to secure the lane for Jabz, and he often played Hoodwink and Shadow Shaman to accomplish that.

In preparation for TI, DJ wants to secure kills on all lanes in the early game and roams the map with Tiny, Tusk, and Marci.

Since joining the team, Jaunuel's job has been one thing and one thing only: enable Raven as best as he can.

Enchantress and Undying are Jaunuel's most often-picked heroes. He's no one-trick pony, though, as Jaunuel's aggression on Lich and Ancient Apparition has won Fnatic multiple team fights in the past.

As talented as they are, Fnatic aren't one of my favourites at TI11.

Even among the Southeast Asian teams, BOOM Esports have performed better and more consistently throughout the year.

I wish the best for the team but Fnatic looks like a 13th-16th place team right now.

Fnatic are among the 12 teams to receive a direct invite to TI11 out of 30 participants. They will be one of the 20 teams to start in the Group Stage alongside the other directly-invited teams, the six winners of the regional qualifiers, and the two winners of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).

TI11 will be hosted in Singapore from 8 to 30 October and features a revamped format with the new LCQ and a longer schedule. For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.

Fnatic roster:

  1. Marc "Raven" Fausto

  2. Armel "Armel" Tabios

  3. Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong

  4. Djardel "DJ" Mampusti

  5. Jaunuel "Jaunuel" Arcilla

Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.

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