Two-time TI winner ana will stand in for Matumbaman at the Riyadh Masters 2022 in Saudi Arabia
Retirement just doesn’t suit some people, and that’s certainly the case with Anathan “ana” Pham, who will reportedly return to competitive Dota 2 to stand in as part of Team Liquid for Riyadah Masters 2022.
The news was revealed in a document shared with Liquipedia by the tournament organizer, the Saudi Esports Federation, before being posted to the Riyadh Masters 2022 page. At the time of writing, Team Liquid had not announced the roster change.
The event will be ana’s first competitive event since 2021. In May of that year, he took part in DreamLeague Season 15 DPC Western Europe Upper Division. Ana subsequently announced his retirement from professional Dota 2 on June 14, 2021. However, retirement doesn’t seem to have stuck, yet again, for Ana.
Ana first took an extended break in 2017, before returning OG in 2018. This was for his TI8 winning run with the team. Ana’s next break took place throughout 2018-2019, before Pham once again returned to OG to help the team to victory in TI9. Ana’s record of wins after returning from break bodes well for Team Liquid.
Ana will be standing-in for Matumbaman on the Team Liquid roster. Matumbaman is absent from the event for a currently unknown reason.
More than just Ana as a stand in
Alongside the announcement of Ana’s stand-in, the document also revealed that BetBoom Team’s Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin would stand in for Tundra Esport’s Neta “33” Shapira. As an Israeli, 33 would be banned from entering Saudi Arabia.
Additionally, Royal Never Give Up’s coach Xie “Super” Junhao will be standing in for Daniel “Ghost” Chan Kok Hong. No reason is currently known, although visa issues are expected to be the cause.
Overall, the stand ins mean that some of the biggest names in the tournament will be without their carries. Instead, RNG, Tundra, and Team Liquid will compete with replacements. The return of ana to the competitive scene is definitely something to be exited about. But its unfortunate that Team Liquid will not have the chance to gain some essential international experience.