Article by Daks Rosales
Author’s Note: All prize amounts headlined are conversions of US Dollars to Philippine Peso at the current rate of ₱50:$1. Photos belong to their respective owners
“Puro nalang DotA ng DotA, tama na ang pag-kokompyuter!” (“All you do is DotA, stop using the computer!”)
Many Filipino DotA players have heard that statement at least once from their elders. This is due to a misconception that gaming wouldn’t be useful for anything, besides for leisure. Instead, it has become one of the newest career choices for a modern generation. DotA 2, a game in which the aim of the game is to destroy the enemy’s ancient between 2 teams of 5, is one of the biggest markets for eSports. With the Valve-sponsored Majors and yearly “The International” tournaments, DotA 2 has made professional players millionaires due to the large prize pools at stake. In the Philippines, DotA was popular in internet cafes within Warcraft 3. This carried over upon DotA 2’s release, with many Philippine organizations having teams for both local and international competition. These Filipino teams have met with some success in the global scene, here are the stories of the top five largest prize amounts that they have won:
5. ₱ 1,687,500 – Execration’s 2ndPlace at ROG Masters
At the SEA Qualifiers for ROG Masters, Execration lost in the semi-final rounds to the Vietnamese team Next Generation. Next Generation later withdrew from their spot to compete in the WESG APAC qualifiers instead. With this opening, Execration went on to Kuala Lumpur last November 2016 in their stead. The team of Khim “Gabbi” Villafuerte, Abed Azel “Abed” Yusop, Djardel Jicko “DJ” Mampusti, Rafael “Rapy” Sicat Palo, and Kimuel “Kim0” Rodis won their group stage, dropping only 1 game. This trend continued on to the playoffs, sweeping both India’s Entity eSports in the quarterfinals and China’s Ehome.X in the semifinals.
— ROG MASTERS (@ROGMasters) November 13, 2016
Execration then went on to play a best on five against Team Secret in the Grand Finals. Team Secret constant outplay and aggression dominated Execration, resulting in a 3-0 sweep. The first game was a complete stomp, ending in a score of 30 to 3 kills in favor of Team Secret. While Execration put up a little more fight in the second game, it was still not enough. For the third game, Dj’s Axe gave Execration a good early game. Team Secret then took control by the 17-minute mark, taking advantage of Execration’s positions, steamrolling from then on. Factoring in a constant ban of Abed’s Meepo and dominant map control by Team Secret, the average match length was a short 33.4 minutes. Execration’s results bagged them the prize of $33,750 (₱ 1,687,500) of a $150,000 prize pool for second. While outmatched, it was still a fruitful result for a team that wouldn’t have been in the tournament in the first place.
Congratulations to 🇪🇺 @teamsecret , we lost boys. We definitely have a lot of room to improve.
— Execration (@ExecrationGG) November 13, 2016
4. ₱ 2,250,000 -Mineski.Sports5’s 9th-12thPlace at The Frankfurt Major 2015
The November based Fall Major of 2015 boasted a $3,000,000 prize pool up for grabs. To compete for it, Mineski.Sports5 had to go through the SEA qualifiers for a spot in the tournament. With a team of Carlo “Kuku” Palad, Ryan “Bimbo” Jay Qui, Ryo “ryOyr” Hasegawa, Julius “Julz” De Leon, and Jessie Cristy “JessieVash” Cuyco, they defeated Fnatic 2-1 in the Winner’s Finals. With their first place in the qualifiers, they secured their spot to Frankfurt. There, placing second in their group D, they went to the upper bracket, assuring a place of at least 9th-12th.
Mineski’s opponent in the upper bracket was Team Secret, Group C’s winners. In Game 1, Mineski had a strong early game, but Team Secret turtled, playing slow and safe, allowing them to hold out long enough to win in the late game. Game 2 was a completely different story, with Team Secret winning all their lanes against Mineski, and kept the lead for the whole game. Dropping to the lower bracket, they faced OG, who beat them in a 5 to 26 scored Game 1. A 30-minute Game 2, despite Kuku’s mid-lane performance on the Queen of Pain, sealed the 2-0 sweep for OG. Mineski’s two opponents later went on to compete in the grand finals of the tournament, leaving Mineski.Sports5 with a $45,000 (₱ 2,250,000) prize.
3. ₱ 7,643,800 – Rave’s 5th-6thPlace at DotA Asia Championships 2015 (DAC 2015)
When their Korean sponsor ended up dropping the team Eyes of Tiger, the rebuilding process fell to Mark “Cast”Pilar and Gwon “pYung” Pyeong. pYung took a managerial role, and instead formed an all Filipino DotA 2 team based in Korea. Rave comprised of Jio “Jeyo” Madayag, ryOyr, Dj, Cast, and Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr. They practiced and played in Korean leagues and infrastructure, with regional positive results. Due to this, DAC 2015, set from January to February 2015, gave Rave a direct invite among 8 teams all over the globe. DAC 2015 predated the Majors format for DotA 2, and as such the tournament’s stakes were like TI; with a Valve sponsorship and a community funded prize pool. Due to the fierce competition, Rave struggled in the group stages, and had to fight in tiebreaker matches for the last spot of the main bracket. The first day of tiebreakers ended up with a 3-way tie, forcing a second set of tiebreakers the next day. Here, Rave dominated Tongfu.WanZhou in a lopsided 32-9 game in their favor. They then survived CDEC Gaming’s onslaught in the next game, turning it around with a series of high-ground clash victories. Their 2-0 standing secured them the final spot in the lower bracket of the main event.
Rave’s first match in the main event was against Hellraisers in a best of one. Their decisive clashes after a farming-based mid game gave them the victory. Rave was still not done there, and were set to face Invictus Gaming in a best of three. The underdogs to the Chinese powerhouse, Rave surprised all with a series; Jeyo’s Medusa carried Game 1, who was able to farm and avoid dying against iG. After the item pickups of hexes for disables and a Divine Rapier for damage, Rave was finally able to take the fight to iG and won in an over 70-minute game. Game 2 was a different story, with iG’s domination leading to a short 20-minute game. Finally, a decisive Game 3 was one with Rave’s aggression setting the pace in their favor, and they took the game, upsetting iG in a 2-1 series.
With two sets of matches done and won, Rave faced the Chinese star-studded team of Big God in the third round of the lower bracket. Already seen as performing beyond all expectations, they were once again the underdogs in this match. The series started with a Game 1 that BG took control of, until ryOyr’s Tidehunter turned the tides with a Refresher Orb, casting Ravage twice at the 31-minute mark, disabling BG long enough for a full 5-man wipe. In 10 minutes, Rave erased BG’s lead and took the first game. Game 2 was all BG, in a very quick 15-minute match. Fielding a push lineup of Luna, Dragon Knight, and Shadow Shaman, Rave did not have any answer for BG’s lineup. With the score now 1-1, Game 3 became the clincher, and both teams gave it their all. In a grueling 72-minute match bothered by technical issues, the game concluded when Rave’s gank failed to kill Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei on the Juggernaut, with him having 5% HP remaining. The rest of BG teleported and fought back, leading to a full team wipe of Rave’s heroes, and BG seized victory. With a 2-1 series causing Rave’s defeat, they finished in 5th-6th place, earning them $152,876 (₱ 7,643,800). With their run over, Rave was gracious in defeat and were proud that they exceeded all expectations. Rave’s run revived the Philippine DotA scene, with local teams later using similar tactics Rave did in training to improve and compete better in the international level.
2. ₱25,963,100 – TNC Pro Team’s 7th-8thPlace at The International 2016 (TI6)
The International- the tournament that started DotA 2, and the competition that every team aspires to compete in. With the roster lock system in place, the team of Marc Polo “Raven” Luis Fausto, Kuku, Sam “Sam_H” Enojosa Hidalgo, Nico “eyyou” Barcelon, added the American Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho to captain their squad. This last minute addition forced TNC Pro Team to go through the SEA open qualifiers. In the first set, they lost to the Indonesian team of Rex Regum, raising concerns. They bounced back in the second set of qualifiers, and won the second slot for the main SEA qualifiers. In the round robin of the TI6 SEA qualifiers, they set a 7-2 record. With Fnatic and Execration tying them for first, they defeated both teams to secure the first place spot. While their victories assured them a spot in TI6, visa issues threatened what they earned.
— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) July 30, 2016
With help, the Filipino team secured visas for their players, and went to Seattle that August to compete in Group A in the TI6 Group Stage. With Alliance overtaking their standing on the last day, TNC fell to the lower bracket. Their first match on the main stage was a best of one against Vici Gaming Reborn. In a steady match, the game swung in TNC’s favor when Raven’s Terrorblade turned a 3v5 disadvantage at the 30-minute mark into a full team wipe. They won the next clash at Roshan, and were able to take the game. Their next opponent were heavy favorites to win the tournament – the European squad of OG. Underdogs yet again, TNC surprised everyone and brought the fight to OG in Game 1. While OG took the early lead with a good push, giving Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barkawi’s Medusa space to farm up items, TNC took out the rest of his team. With Kuku draining OG’s mana with a Diffusal Blade on Phantom Lancer, and the rest of the team in OG’s face, TNC took a decisive Roshan fight at the 45th minute. They killed OG and took the Aegis from Roshan, securing a second life for the push into OG’s base. TNC then took the first game, and a Game 2 was underway. The pace of the game was in OG’s favor, but Sam_H on the Faceless Void kept TNC in the game with critical Chronosphere casts. This skill stopping OG’s heroes, allowing him to either save his team or help kill OG. By the 57th minute mark, TNC decided to go on the offensive and went for a straight middle lane push. Their aim was to destroy the enemy ancient and end the game. With another great Chronosphere from Sam_H and a Gust, which stops the enemy from casting spells when hit, from Raven, TNC killed OG’s main damage dealers and destroyed OG’s ancient, winning the game and the series 2-0 to the surprise of all.
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) August 10, 2016
Their next opponent was the American team of Digital Chaos. Both DC and TNC were not expected to make it this far in the tournament, and the battle between the two underdogs was underway. TNC took Game 1 with an aggressive lineup, and key pickoffs set up by Sam_H on the Batrider denied DC their late game advantage. DC turned to a teamfight strategy by Game 2, killing TNC’s heroes and denying them of their item timings. While the game lasted almost 48 minutes, DC’s constant pressure chipped away at TNC, giving DC the victory. In their Game 3, DC destroyed TNC, winning with a score of 27-6 kills in a short 28 minutes, and taking the series 2-1. While this marked the end of TNC’s legendary run, they were able to take home an unprecedented $519,262 (₱25,963,100), to their delight. On a bittersweet note, TI6’s end also brought the squad to an end, with Raven, eyyou, and DeMoN leaving to join Fnatic, leaving Kuku and Sam_H to rebuild.
1. ₱40,000,000 -TNC Pro Team’s 1stPlace at World Electronic Sports Games 2016 (WESG 2016)
TNC’s WESG 2016 run was one for the books. They weren’t even supposed to compete in the WESG Asia-Pacific Finals last November 2016, but they ended up replacing Mineski.GGNetwork, who withdrew to compete in ROG Masters instead. In the quarterfinals of the WESG APAC Qualifiers, the TNC squad of ryOyr, captain Kuku, Sam_H, John Linuel “Teehee” Abanto, and Cast faced the Kyrgyzstan team NoLifer5.Reborn, losing 0-2 in a best of three match. TNC’s defeat forced them to play in a decider match against the Korean team of MVP Phoenix, which they won 2-1. Their victory allowed them to sneak into the final spot of 6 APAC teams, and they had two months to prepare for the WESG Finals in Changzhou, China.
In those two months TNC reshuffled their roster, with Cast and Teehee leaving the squad. In their place they added a returning Raven and Timothy “Tims” Randrup to their team, and went to WESG 2016 with a lineup of Raven, Kuku, Sam_H, Tims, and ryOyr. In the group stage, TNC took first place in their Group D, allowing them to go straight to the quarterfinals for the Main Event. Their first opponent was the Peruvian Team Dilecom, in a best of three match. In Game 1, TNC dominated Team Dilecom, with Kuku’s Shadow Fiend being the central source of damage. Game 2 was a much closer game, ending with Team Dilecom repelling TNC’s push on their middle lane by the 45-minute mark. With only Sam_H left to defend on the Sand King, Kuku on the Queen of Pain bought back his life, but the two were not enough. Team Dilecom slayed the two and went straight for TNC’s ancient to win the game. TNC bounced back and commanded Game 3, keeping the net worth advantage in their favor for the whole game. TNC proceeded to steamroll Team Dilecom, forcing the “GG” call before TNC could destroy the remaining top barracks. TNC took the series 2-1, and their next opponent was the Swedish team of Alliance.
The tempo in Game 1 between TNC and Alliance was set by Tims on the Earth Spirit, initiating kills for TNC. With enough space for Kuku’s Dragon Knight and Raven’s Slark to farm, TNC was ready to teamfight. With their items, TNC was winning teamfights by the 22-minute mark, and took the lead from there. By the 47th minute, the destruction of Alliance’s base and a use of buybacks and dying afterwards forced Alliance to concede the game. Game 2 did not take as long, for TNC demolished Alliance from the start. With a dive at the first bottom tower from TNC, they were able to kill 3 heroes from Alliance at the cost of only ryOyr’s Shadow Demon. At the same time, Kuku was able to kill Linus “Limmp” Blomdin on the Dragon Knight at the middle lane. The game ended in a hasty 28 minutes with a score of 9-23, and TNC took the series 2-0 to face off against the Danish team of Cloud 9 in the finals. In the first game, TNC took an early lead due to the initiations by Tims on the Earth Spirit, and followed up with their strong teamfight lineup. The game was all TNC, winning by the 38-minute mark with Raven’s Weaver ending with a 22-0 kill-death score. By the second game, Cloud 9 banned Tims’ Earth Spirit first and played an aggressive style, sticking together as a team to kill TNC’s core heroes. Both Kuku on the Templar Assassin and Raven on the Drow Ranger were sought after and killed over and over, while C9’s immediate responses to TNC’s attempted rotations gave them map control. C9 controlled Game 2, forcing TNC to surrender and play a Game 3.
Game 3 was an intense back and forth between the two teams, neither letting up the whole match. While C9, once again banning the Earth Spirit, took an early lead, TNC was quick in their attempt to equalize the game. The ganks and rotations were fierce, and during this time ryOyr’s Shadow Demon hampered the attempts of C9 with Disruption, hiding his teammates. Yet, after losing teamfights and their outer towers and shrines, TNC was at a disadvantage but Kuku on the Queen of Pain had the answer- Blade Mail. With an item that returned damage to enemies, and a combination of the Octarine Core (+5% on creeps/+25% on heroes) and his level 25 talent (+70%), giving the Queen of Pain life when doing damage with skills, Kuku had enough survivability to fight in the front lines. With 75%/95% spell lifesteal on creeps/heroes, Kuku could catch many area of effect spells C9 had and the bouncing glaives that the Luna of Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard tossed out. This redirected back the damage, especially in Ace’s case as he opted for a Linken’s Sphere (spell block) rather than a Black King Bar (spell immunity), killing C9’s main source of damage and pushing power. The final nail in the coffin for C9 was a failed gank on Kuku on the bottom lane at the 53-minute mark. With a clutch stun by Sam_H’s Sand King, Kuku was able to heal himself to full by tossing himself upwards with a Eul’s Scepter of Divinity, providing invulnerability, and then consuming his Cheese. A follow up stun from Tims on the Slardar allowed TNC to chase C9 back to their base, where Raven on the Juggernaut started destroying buildings and heroes. This sequence sealed the victory for TNC, taking the series 2-1.
TnC Pro Team (Philippines) are the WESG Grand Champions. Congrats. Cloud9 (Denmark) take 2nd place. pic.twitter.com/VuCBNxga7e
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) January 15, 2017
TNC’s victory is the largest amount any Filipino team has won in not only DotA 2 but also in any e-Sport. A whopping $800,000 (₱40,000,000), they have put Filipino DotA 2 in the minds of many around the globe. Their victory also gave DotA 2 attention in the local media, with a segment on it, like regular sports. TNC has raised the hopes of many Filipinos for a brighter future this year in e-Sports.
So, when someone tells you that you can’t make money from DotA, you can show they the many zeroes these teams have won “by playing video games”. The time, effort, and skill they put in these are the same as regular sports, while reflexes, strategy, and quick thinking and acting all factor into their play. E-Sports has become a dominant force within the internet with coverage, content, competitions, personalities, and fan followings. E-Sports also has a bright future, with many possible jobs besides being a professional player – like writers, managers, editors, casters, analysts, artists, any many more. There is a career in video games, and the five amounts above should silence naysayers. Everyone may not understand DotA 2, e-Sports, or video games in general, but all understand the value of money. There is money here. A lot of it.
Keep visiting esports.inquirer.net for the latest news, analysis and pieces on your favorite e-Sports scenes and don’t forget to like our Facebook page for the freshest news, pictures and videos straight on your feed.