We Have the Most Stacked SEA Region for Dota 2 in Years
It’s the opening salvo of the 2016-2017 season for Dota 2. Evil Geniuses has cemented their early lead as the best team around with a win at MDL Autumn against other international rosters. Not to be outdone, The International 6 winners Wings Gaming, are also flexing their muscles with a win against Newbee at the Nanyang Dota 2 Cruise Championships.
There’s plenty to be happy about, particularly in the SEA region. When Alan “Nahaz” Bester said that SEA Dota 2 has long transcended the condescending moniker of “up-and-coming’ region, this might be the year where it actually sticks.
Just take a look at the teams competing in the SEA region today:
- Mineski, with a core roster that has competed in two Majors last season. Ryan Jay “Bimbo” Qui and Julius “Julz” de Leon are still actual monsters.
- Execration, with a core roster that competed in the TI6 last chance qualifier and a nuclear-grade weapon in Djardel Jicko “Dj” Mampusti.
- MVP Phoenix, with a core roster that has competed in two Majors and TI: placed in 4th place at Shanghai, 6th in Manila and 6th in Seattle.
- TNC Pro Team, who retained Carlo “Kuku” Palad and Sam “Sam_H” Hidalgo and finished 8th at Seattle this year, picked up Rave/Mineski alumni Ryo “ryoyr” Hasegawa and Mark “Cast” Pilar and rocking their old core in John “Teehee” Abanto.
- Fnatic Dota, with a core roster that has competed in the last two TIs, finished 4th in TI6 and picked up the core trio from TNC’s top 8 run: Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho, Marc Polo “Raven” Fausto and Nico “Eyyou” Barcelon.
- Team Faceless, led by veterans Daryl Koh “iceiceice’ Pei Xiang and Dominiki “Black^” Reitmeier and recently qualified for The Summit 6 where they will be facing three of the best teams in the world right now: Wings Gaming, Digital Chaos and Evil Geniuses.
That’s not even counting the strong Tier 1.5-Tier 2 teams that are popping up to continually challenge the top levels of the food chain: Power Gaming and Warriors Gaming Unity.
SEA Dota 2 is literally strong enough to export players. 3/5 of Team Secret is made up of SEA alumni: FoREV, MidOne and MP.
SEA Dota 2 is the strongest it’s ever been in years, but why does it feel like things are moving slowly in this part of the world? With all that talent here, you’d think your feed would be blowing up with insane plays and highlights pitting these world-class teams against each other every damn day.
The reality of tournament scheduling and the subsequent opportunity cost assessment that comes with it has unwittingly robbed fans of SEA Dota 2 of some of the best games they could be watching right now.
Because Valve took so long to announce the schedule for the Boston Major, many teams in SEA turned down leagues, online matches and qualifiers for fearing that they might miss out on the most important event before year’s end: the Major.
Add to that, because some teams are placing a lot of weight on the upcoming Majors, many aren’t even scrimming right now much less attending tournaments. They would rather save up the energy and take this time to fulfill other duties and focus their attention on the Major instead, where bootcamps should start in a few weeks’ time.
Other tournament formats, such as WESG’s forced nationality clauses are also a big turn-off for SEA teams who have been historically populated with different nationalities anyway (that, and the fact that WESG was criminally under marketed by its own organizers). Just yesterday, Mineski announced that they are to miss WESG in favor of joining ASUS ROG Masters instead as the former would have forced them to play without their core player, Gavin Kang “Meracle” Jiang Wen because of his Singaporean nationality.
Speaking of ASUS ROG Masters, even that tournament will only feature Fnatic and Mineski as the top teams of the region from a list of six. The reason: ASUS ROG’s regional qualifiers allowed mostly smaller teams to qualify through the event. While it would be a great learning experience for them, the event might just end up as a whitewash.
At the last minute, Team NG of Vietnam even dropped out in favor of joining WESG instead. Presumably? To dodge the other teams entering ASUS ROG. In their place, Execration will play in Malaysia.
It would be naive, however, to think that because they aren’t appearing in tournaments together, these teams aren’t scrimming each other as well. To the contrary, the SEA region is at its strongest right now because it has a very tight network between the top teams.
But on the tournament level, where we can see the application of their preparation and see exactly how good the teams are, they are all essentially playing dodgeball; the only LAN that matters is the Major in Boston in December.
Lots of sharks in a small pond
There’s a saying in poker: too many sharks scare away the fish. While SEA’s crop of teams might end up forcing away the small fish, it might have the opposite effect. The amount of great teams we have right now is a direct result of years of developing regional talent, playing against each other endlessly in qualifier after qualifier.
Because of that, I would like to see the teams compete more in tournaments and online matches instead of just hedging for the biggest tournaments of the year.
The fact that SEA is at its strongest in years is a direct result of a highly-competitive past. Slamming the brakes right now is an unfortunate if understandable effect of the Majors system.
For what it’s worth, SEA is so strong in Dota 2 right now that it’s exporting players. Let the people have their games and all will be well in the world.
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