Image by TNC Predator Twitter
Southeast Asia is probably the fastest developing region in Dota. Several years ago most victories by the teams from the region were considered an upset and any placement higher than top12—a success. Coming into TI9, SEA finally looks like a major contender and perhaps this is going to be the year the region claims its first Aegis of Champions.
The second, third and fourth positions in Dota are often the backbone of the team. They are usually the ones who make plays happen and set the tempo and it is usually players on these positions that are required to be flashy, bold and unpredictable. Fnatic certainly doesn’t lack in this regard.
Number seven team in the DPC rankings can’t boast amazing results or the highest consistency throughout the season, but it doesn’t mean opponents should underestimate them. The ultimate tempo-setting trio of DJ, iceiceice and SR.Abed is not only exciting to watch, but is also generally quite effective.
They are constantly looking for ways to engage the enemy, to get a kill, to take an objective. “These guys have no chill, man” would be the best and the most eloquent description and it is the team’s biggest strength and its biggest weakness.
Sometimes, you do need to chill in Dota. Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, sometimes you need to play defensively. For more casual viewers, there is no better team to follow than Fnatic—one way or the other they will make things happen. But it is also quite hard to be their fan.
When Fnatic look good, they look incredible, but any hiccup, however minor it is, can lead to the whole thing crumbling. They have the skill to backup aggressive plays, but frequently more patient and more calculated teams will find a way to expose this one, small opening that will force more and more mistakes from Fnatic.
Fnatic is not one of the favorites coming into TI9, but they are a team that can win it all. From the way they play, it is clear they are playing to win and while sometimes it will lead to unnecessary losses, they do have the championship-winning formula. Going in, we hope they will either further refine their aggressive moves or diversify their in-game tactics.
Number nine in the DPC rankings is a team that has Heen as their coach and it certainly shows. There is definitely a little bit of TI7 Liquid in the current TNC and their playstyle is far from what is considered standard for the region.
The truth is, no one can play “caveman Dota” anymore. At least not at the highest level or as the only strategy. Yes, sometimes you can punish the greed and brute-force yourself to victory, but this gets figured out fast and generally stops being effective after the group stages of any respectable tournament, when other players actually start respecting potential godly plays from TIMS.
TNC Predator fully understands it now. Over the last season, they went from what essentially was an incredibly high-skilled pub stack to an actual team with a variety of different strategies and play styles at their disposal. The process started before Heen joined the team as a coach, but it certainly accelerated after.
This is what allowed this roster to get top4 in the EPICENTER Major and it is what might carry them high into the International. That and the individual skill that never went away and while it might be hard to call them the tournament’s favorites, they might actually look a little bit scarier than their “bigger brother” of Fnatic.