We catch up with the recently-concluded Regional Qualifiers for the SEA region ahead of The International 11.
Although South-East Asia has historically been one of the weakest regions in the world of competitive Dota 2, the region boasts a massive community of Dota lovers and a number of excellent teams. Although no SEA team has as yet won The International, they have come closer than teams from some other regions, and can hold their own against the best teams in the world.
This year’s Dota Pro Circuit rankings saw two teams — BOOM Esports and Fnatic — receive automatic invites to Valve’s flagship tournament, with the latter squeezing through on what was little more than a technicality. A further 14 teams were invited to the Regional Qualifiers, but SMG were disqualified shortly before as they had been unable to register their full squad before the proceedings began.
The thirteen teams were sorted into Double-Elimination Brackets based on their DPC seeds, and duked things out over the last 5 days. Talon Esports emerged victorious while T1 and Polaris will get to take part in the Last Chance Qualifiers. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at how things went.
In our first year, from open qualifiers to TI, thank you for all the support you've given us thus far.
— TALON (@Talon_esports) September 17, 2022
Eight teams began their journey in the Upper Bracket – 6 from Division 1 and the two top teams from Division 2. The first match featured Talon Esports and Lilgun, with the former having no real trouble against the Division 2 side and beating them 2-0. The next match saw Nigma Galaxy SEA get owned 2-0 by eventual Lower Bracket finalists Polaris Esports, who took less than 40 minutes to beat them each time.
This was followed by RSG also winning 2-0 against Neon Esports. Although the first match was quite one-sided, the second one was a much more exciting affair that went on for 53 minutes. Execration vs T1 came next, with the latter trouncing their opponents in the first game but struggling a bit the second time around in a game that dragged on for almost 52 minutes before they secured it.
Talon would go on to meet Polaris in the first Semifinal, with an epic 66-minute clash deciding the first match in the favor of the former. The second match, while quite competitive, ended in the 44th minute.
RSG’s clash against T1 was a lot more straightforward, with the latter triumphing after 45 and 34 minutes to close out the series in straight games.
Upper Bracket Final
At long last, it was the match everyone had been waiting for, with Talon and T1 locking horns in the Upper Bracket Final. The likes of Anathan “ana” Pham and Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen tipped for the win considering Talon’s recent lack of form, but the team pulled off a fantastic performance to knock T1 down into the Lower Bracket.
T1’s draft of Viper, Pudge, Lion, Marci and Morphling had plenty of damage, burst, catch, and even sustenance, but it lacked heal and any real teamfight. On the other hand, Talon’s Slark, Puck, Beastmaster, Earthshaker and Disruptor had everything T1’s had, but also excellent teamfight.
The early game went in favor of T1, with their veteran cores getting extremely fat. However, ana began to drop off and the opponent Slark, Nuengnara “23savage” Teeramahanon, began to get fat. After many back-and-forth fights, he outscaled the Radiant cores and, with the help of his teammates, managed to take firm control of the map and the game before finishing the game off in the 57th minute.
In Game 2, Talon opted for a more catch-based lineup, albeit a little lacking in sure disables. They had Faceless Void, Void Spirit, Primal Beast, Ancient Apparition and Enchantress. On the other side of the coin, T1 went heavier on teamfight with Venomancer, Lone Druid, Marci, Dazzle and Invoker, but only had one sureshot lockdown mechanism to start with.
Talon took the initial lead this time around, but T1 managed to catch up in the early-mid game. However, the former’s superior draft began to show its effects soon after, with the team gaining a considerable gold advantage. T1 tried hard and had a good teamfight, but Talon were simply too strong by that point and destroyed the enemy Throne in the 46th minute.
The first round of the Lower Brackets only saw one Bo1, with the rest of the teams getting BYEs. That sole match was between XERXIA and TNC Predator, and the formerly powerful clan was simply outclassed by XERXIA.
Round 2 saw Army Geniuses edge out Lilgun in a tough 2-1 series, while XERXIA continued their lower bracket run with a 2-1 victory of their own over NGX.SEA — disappointing local fans of the popular franchise.
The matches between Neon Esports and Atlantis were hard-fought, but Neon’s experience came out on top for the third 2-1 victory of the tournament. Execration then broke the trend by taking Summit Gaming to the cleaners in an easy 2-0 series.
In Round 3, Army Geniuses managed to take a game off of XERXIA as the teams exchanged thrashings. However, the last game of the series was a doozy which went on for almost 54 minutes before the Filipino squad managed to put an end to their Indo rivals’ TI hopes. In the other matchup, Execration looked good in the first match, but Neon Esports came back strong for a reverse sweep.
XERXIA’s amazing run was ended by RSG in the first match of Round 4, with results going back and forth before settling in the latter’s favor. Polaris, who had looked decent in the Upper Bracket, booted Neon out of contention 2-0.
Polaris then went on to beat RSG in similar fashion in the Lower Bracket Semifinal, and after three incredible games where two went over the 50-minute mark, even defeated mighty T1 to claim a spot in the Grand Final.
Talon Esports looked far stronger on paper, but Polaris had plenty of heart. With this heart, they would create the best Grand Final of any regional qualifier this year — and one of the best of any year.
Talon’s picks of Morphling, Tiny, Primal Beast, Rubick and Undying may seem well-rounded and potent, but it was thrashed by Polaris’ Marci, Lina, Omniknight, Viper and Pudge.
Polaris worked out an early lead and never really relented, keeping the pressure up and gaining more and more map control. By the 33rd minute, they were in the enemy base with an insurmountable advantage, and Talon tapped out shortly after.
Hungry for revenge, Talon went for Slark, Pangolier, Undying, Earthshaker and a Soul Demon for a saving mechanism. Polaris answered with Marci, Viper, Omniknight, Ember Spirit, and Phanton Lancer.
Although Polaris draft had promise, their lineup needed way too much farm to activate and it showed. Talon won this one by a country mile, brutalizing their opponents to a 25-5 kill difference within 37 minutes to take the win.
With the scores level, Talon opted for a 4-protect-one strategy with a Terrorblade being helped along by Batrider, Undying, Tiny and Enchantress. In response, Polaris drafted Marci, Lina, Viper, Oracle and Doom.
Like the first game, this one only stayed competitive for a while before Polaris’ Doom-induced gold lead gave them a significant advantage. No matter how hard Talon tried, they just didn’t have the firepower to take out Polaris’ more balanced draft. The match was all but a foregone conclusion for a while, and it finally ended in the 44th minute.
It was Polaris’ turn to get greedy as they went for Keeper of Light, Ember Spirit, Undying, Omniknight and Luna. However, Talon answered in kind in terms of greed with Slark, Invoker, Marci, Queen of Pain, and Disruptor.
If you’ve been sensing a pattern so far, you’re right. It was Talon’s turn to wield the spanking paddle. Once again, the game was over much earlier than it actually ended, with Talon in pole position for a long time before Polaris finally bowed out in the 39th minute.
There was everything to play for in this veritable Bo1, but Polaris chose to go for a lineup that lacked almost any physical damage with Keeper of Light, Queen of Pain, Undying, Bane and Pudge. Talon’s draft, on the other hand, lacked magical damage. Their picks were Doom, Visage, Pangolier, Marci, and Dazzle.
This was by far the most defensive game in the series, with only 25 kills between the two teams in almost 49 minutes before the game finally ended. Polaris managed to maintain the barest of gold leads for the first 25 minutes or so with their early-game draft, but Talon eventually took over the gold lead – and how. When the game ended, they were a mind-numbing 52k gold ahead. Plus there was the small detail of the team having qualified for TI.
Feel free to read our recaps of the other regional qualifiers, and please do join us again when we cover the Last Chance Qualifiers. There will also be a ton of Dota 2 content including predictions, player previews, and other stuff before TI, so stay tuned!