Fnatic are going to be the second and only other Dota 2 team after T1 to represent South-East Asia in The International this year.
Their ticket certainly did not come easy as they only got it after a hard-fought reverse sweep 3-2 over TNC Predator.
A reverse sweep in a qualifier bo5 is an extremely rare sight, and the tight match-up schedule played a role in this one.
TNC Predator’s road to Dota 2’s premiere annual tournament ends here
Despite TNC Predator’s best efforts, their current roster proved inadequate. They were among the crowd favorites for the qualifiers, but that does not say much in SEA.
The SEA region is the site for an extremely competitive Dota 2 scene. This year’s SEA qualifiers being concurrent with the relatively tame NA regional qualifiers highlights this fierce competition even more.
Even outside heavyweights like Fnatic, the newly formed Dota 2 rosters like Team SMG are nothing to scoff at, either.
The SEA Dota 2 scene has also been quite unstable in terms of roster changes of late. Except for T1, this year’s breakout SEA stars, the average DPC points scored by SEA Dota 2 teams have tanked as a result.
TNC Predator are probably the biggest example of this lack of roster stability. Ever since Carlo ‘Kuku’ Palad’s departure in 2019, they have failed to find the right chemistry.
Their first Dota 2 roster change this year was after the upper division games in their regional league. Letting Damien ‘Febby’ Chok and King ‘kpii’ Yong-min go has ultimately been a wildly controversial move among their followers, one that will likely cost them their TI seat.
The reason was probably ping issues, which is why they ultimately opted for local Filippino talent Jun ‘Bok’ Kanehara and Marvin ‘Boomy’ Rushton. They also did not have a coach throughout the second season of DPC 2021.
Fnatic have had their fair share of roster swaps as well. But their current stack is looking fine going into TI; Mar Polo ‘Raven’ Luis Fausto, their carry, went the last 3 games of the qualifier grand final with zero deaths, which is no common feat in tier-1 Dota 2.
The highlight, though, is Yang ‘Deth’ Heng, their new offlaner, who had a major impact as Pangolier in the game 3 turnaround. Compared to Fnatic’s Deth, Bok as an offlaner clearly looks like TNC Predator’s weakest link.
But TNC Predator’s biggest poison was perhaps not a lack of discipline – but a hectic DPC schedule. Counting the bo3 lower bracket finals, they played 8 games back-to-back.
Playing 8 games of Dota 2 at the professional level would take its toll on anyone.
The exhaustion was quite apparent in the decisive 5th game, as TNC Predator kept meandering into one misplay after the other. Having been denied a TI seat after 8 games, they are in a rough patch now.
They have had no tournament prizes throughout the year and if they don’t end up disbanding, they will be in dire straits.