Carrying the expecations of an entire region on their young shoulders, T1 esports has fought its way into the upper bracket. A tough road ahead, but the players are not one to shy away from a fight.

With a 10-6 score, T1 esports qualified to the upper bracket at The International (TI10). As one of the few SEA representatives, expectations are high from this roster. The team has had strong performances this DPC season, including a top-three Major finish. But The International is a different ball-game altogether. In a press conference after the group stage, we caught up with the T1 players to talk about the team, their performance and the SEA region. 

Kuku: "Even when we were 0-4, I know that those matches were kind of winnable"

T1 did not have a good start to The International. In fact, the SEA team went 0-4 losing to both Invictus Gaming and Evil Geniuses. The disastrous start did not deter the players who knew exactly what to fix for subsequent matches.

I think our mentality is very strong. Even when we were 0-4, I know that those matches were kind of winnable.

Kuku on T1's slow start to TI10.

The 'fix' worked as T1 esports won all but one series (against OG) in the rest of the group stage. From 0-4 to 10-6 was an achievement and gave T1 enough of a lead to qualify to the TI10 upper bracket. 

:On the first day against IG and EG, we kind of threw the matches. We then fixed the problems, discussed what we need to do. Be normal, calm and collected.": Kuku.

This is the first time at The International for many of these players. With an upper bracket start to the playoffs, the players have had a pleasant experience so far. 

Thoughts on SEA Dota

SEA produces some of the most exciting Dota 2 players. While SEA players are talented, the exodus of talent to other regions is real. Meanwhile, SEA Dota 2 teams struggle with consistency issues. The team’s coach, March, believes the biggest reason for the region’s inconsistency is the lack of quality captains. 

I think SEA has very few stable captains. [...] There have been good captains like Mushi before. But I think the biggest reason is that SEA lacks captains like Kuku. - March.

The Southeast Asian region has its own share of toxic players. Xepher thinks toxicity is something that is not unique to the SEA region or even to Dota 2. He mentions his experience playing mobile games, where he comes across similar levels of toxicity. 

T1 March: “We know what PSG.LGD’s playstyle is like.”

T1 esports will face PSG.LGD in the upper bracket, a team many consider to be favorites for this year’s International. With a third-place finish at the Singapore Major and a victory at the WePlay Animajor, PSG.LGD’s players are confident going into the upper bracket playoffs. 

We played against LGD many times in matches and even in scrims. So we know what their playstyle is like. We are very aware that they are a strong team, but they are not out of our reach. 

T1 Head coach, Park "March" Tae-won.

But the T1 players are not bowing down to the Chinese giants. In fact, the team’s coach feels PSG.LGD are a team that T1 can beat. It all depends on how the teams are performing on match-day. 

With a minimum of 13-16th place at this year’s event, T1 has already secured itself more than $600,000 in prize money. How far the SEA team progresses will depend on the players’ form and momentum moving ahead, but first they have to cross the PSG.LGD hurdle in the upper bracket.

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