Dota 2’s biggest brains shared some thoughts on TI10’s participants including T1, Team Secret, OG, and Team Spirit.
As The International 10 slowly comes into view, discussions and debates surrounding the gameplay and forms of participants grew. Pinnacle Esports brought together the biggest brains in Dota 2, discussing TI10 in a 45-minutes podcast. With Murielle "Kips" Huisman, Ben "Noxville" Steenhuisen and Adam “Lockeqwerty” pitching in their thoughts and opinions, here are some interesting highlights we got from the podcast!
Kips: "I honestly do not have high hopes for SEA this time around"
The Southeast Asia region is quite a mystery in the Dota 2 scene. It is filled with immense talent and creativity, with a formidable reputation since the earliest iterations of The International. However, no SEA team has ever lifted the Aegis of Champions.
This year, two representatives from SEA will be appearing on the grandest stage of Dota 2, T1 and Fnatic. T1, led by Carlo "Kuku" Palad has shown an impressive run in the WePlay Animajor, placing third. The squad had also claimed victory in the ESL ONE Summer 2021. However, the next few tournaments witnessed them slightly faltering. Fnatic, on the other hand, had a miraculous run in the regional qualifier, reverse sweeping the heavy favorites, TNC in the grand finals. The team has not really appeared in many international tournaments, thus it's quite hard to estimate their capabilities.
The host of the podcast, PinnacleJD, put forward a question regarding their form coming into TI10.
Kips didn’t seem too fond of SEA’s current shape. She stated, “I honestly do not have high hopes for SEA this time around.” In regards to T1, Kips explained that they performed well a couple of months ago but are slowly going down ever since. She also mentioned that T1’s mid player, Karl doesn’t have the adequate hero pool she deems necessary.
Speaking from her experience with SEA teams, she stated that T1’s long stay in Europe might have affected them. “It’s cold here, the food is bad; I don’t think they’re enjoying themselves that much anymore,” she laughed. “Of course everything is different at TI, but right now, with T1 being absolutely way stronger than Fnatic and them too getting wobbly, I’m concerned for them.”
Noxville agreed, “This is not necessarily the best chance for SEA at TI, but if anything, when you start doubting SEA is when they surprise you the most.”
The International is like this melting pot of creativity and ideas and every year the meta comes out in many unpredictable ways. Sometimes, it can even land in a way that clearly favors a team and their hero pool. Some teams are also able to adapt fast, like Newbee in TI4 and Noxville believes T1 has the same case.
“They could adapt and adjust well to a shifting meta. They definitely have some weaknesses but if the meta goes in the way that is favorable for them, they could perform much better than expected.” Noxville stated.
T1 consists of young TI first-timers except for Kuku, who had his share of TI experience since 2016. The playful squad, despite their inexperience, shows confidence when competing. A few solid performances place them on par with the international teams, however, according to Noxville, the expectations for them are quite low.
“A good performance for either SEA team would honestly be a 7th-8th position"
Can Secret finally get a TI win?
Team Secret’s curse is not foreign to Dota 2 fans. The team has a spectacular record. The memory of them winning tournaments left and right is pretty much stamped on our minds. Nevertheless, they often fall short during TIs and this time around, the community wonders if they will be able to break the curse.
Kips believes Team Secret is the biggest question mark of all the participants in TI10. “I think in terms of player quality they have one of the best rosters in the world right now. But for me, the big question mark is how they’re going to deal with this meta.”
She explained that the teams we witness doing well now have utility-based mid players and Nisha is more of a carry-style midlaner. She brought up the issue of Team Secret’s playstyle not fitting the ‘stacking meta’, “Have you guys ever seen Yapzor stacking, because I think he sometimes does it by accident,” Kips laughed. Due to this, they are likely going to show up as a very different Team Secret than the team witnessed dominating before, she said, concluding that they need to change coming into TI10.
“They [Team Secret] are definitely top 4 coming into this. But it’s just a question of how much time and preparation they put in behind the scenes and how much they’re going to surprise us when they come out.”
It has been a while since we've seen Team Secret in action, with their last competitive appearance being in June 2021 in ESL ONE Summer. We might indeed be able to see a different gameplay from the squad and it will be exciting to see what they will present on The International stage.
Noxville: "OG have the mental capacity to lose and bounce back"
On the topic of teams who booked their slots through regional qualifiers, the podcast members gave a handful of thoughts on OG and Team Spirit.
OG has always shown a different angle to how they approach their Dota 2 matches and that was possibly how they managed to claim the back-to-back TI championship. In 2020, two members of the TI winning roster, Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka and Anathan "ana" Pham departed the organization. Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan, known for his extreme talent and nonchalant attitude, joined OG as their new carry player, replacing ana.
Kips acknowledged OG’s well-known trait of being mentally strong. But what worries her about the team is if they want to perform like the previous couple of Internationals, all of the members have to commit a hundred percent. And her concern falls for their young, carry player.
“I’m worried that SumaiL is a bit more of a cynical type of guy and that he’s not going to be able to get swept up in that wave of momentum that OG always builds,” she said. However, she believes the patch could be good for the team as it fits their playstyle.
Kips is also eyeing Team Spirit among the teams from the qualifier rounds.
Team Spirit has four first-timers coming to The International but they barely showcase any amateurish gameplay. The team had a decent run throughout the season, even placing 7th-8th in the WePlay Animajor. Recently, in the OGA Dota PIT Invitational, they rose to the grand finals and battled the Chinese powerhouse, PSG.LGD, losing 3-1.
Kips mentioned how Team Spirit are very skillful and that they have a magnificent offlaner, Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov. According to her, great offlaners are crucial in TIs as they do well under pressure. She also admires their respectless behavior. “If you’ve seen TORONTOTOKYO around, this guy shows up in Arteezy’s stream and steals his mid and flames him,” Kips laughed. “They are not afraid and that’s what I like in a team that’s going in from the qualifier.”
Lockeqwerty agreed with Kips, “Team Spirit is off a fresh run in the OGA Dota Pit. Not a win but a beautiful run.”
Noxville gave his thoughts regarding OG's shape coming to TI10. “OG definitely have the non-gameplay elements which are required to win at TI. They have the mental capacity to lose and bounce back.” Noxville stated. But he feels so many other teams this year are stronger. He also commented on the SumaiL-ana fit. “I honestly think, ana was, by far, the most important factor in previous TI wins for OG. They still can do well, but I just don’t see a three-peat happening.”
The podcast was definitely helpful in forming some sort of perspective on what we can expect in the upcoming TI10. The grand event will take place on 7th - 17th October 2021 in Bucharest, Romania.