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TI 7 profile: TNC, the SEA dream infused with NA Dota magic

Dota 2 Andreea “divushka” Esanu

TNC’s Dota 2 team has a four years long history, but their real breakout happened only towards the end of 2015. The first half of 2016 was not a particularly good one either, but the team commitment to create something unique for its players paid off, and from yet another SEA team that couldn’t breach out from regional qualifiers TNC blossomed into one of the biggest surprises of The International 6. Their Seattle run from last year was often regarded as the biggest upset of TI 6. TNC’s 2-0 victory in the second round of lower bracket over OG, the two times Major Champions (at that time), made the top page of all the esports outlets. In the end they made top 8 at The International 2016 and interestingly enough, their roster from last year’s International has a lot of similarities with the one that qualified his year, although it’s not the same.

The TNC story from TI 6 to TI 7

In a year, where the SEA battles for the region supremacy and a place in the biggest Dota 2 event were between Fnatic and MVP Phoenix, with TNC always coming on a third or fourth place, the Filipino based team took a big decision and brought in a North American veteran player to bring their game to the next level. Jimmy 'DeMoN' Ho, who last played at an International back in 2014, flew to Philippines to become TNC’s captain only weeks before the TI6 qualifiers and that one big gamble TNC took by bringing him in pushed the team in the open qualifiers for the event. Jimmy’s desire to make a historical competitive comeback, along with TNC’s determination to prove themselves as the best team in the region forced the TI6 regional qualifiers to a three way tiebreaker between them, Fnatic and Execration for the first place in the group stage. TNC won the tiebreaker and were the first qualified squad from the region. However many looked skeptically at TNC’s chances going into the main event, but all the non-believers were proved wrong by their top 8 finish.

In the post TI 6 shuffle, however, something quite unexpected happened. TNC lost three members (Demon, Raven and Eyyou) to Fnatic, who despite finishing top 4 at TI 6 still wanted to make a change. Staring with 2016 August 19, until very recently, both Fnatic and TnC had their fair portion of big disappointments and for both, the road to TI 7 was a difficult one. Of course those who follow the Dota 2 scene closely, know that Fnatic had the roughest year of their entire existence, but we will talk about that in a separate feature.

During their roughly three months stint at Fnatic, the three ex-TNC players accomplished little to nothing, the True Sight episode 2 being focused entirely on their failure and the communication issues they had to deal with. While Demon and Eyyou never returned to TNC, Raven didn’t let any sort of pride keep him away and he rejoined the team at the end of November 2016 to carry once again the Filipino squad to greatness. At the beginning of 2017, after her contract with Fantic ended, Muriel 'Kipspul' Huisman, one of the analytical minds behind Fnatic’s success at TI 6, joined TNC as well.

But things didn’t go too well right away. Left without a captain and an in game shot caller, TNC had to charge Kuku again with both responsibilities and that lead once again to an underperforming period for both him in the mid lane and TNC as a whole. On top of their own internal issues, TNC had to also deal with a new force in the SEA scene, iceiceice’s Team Faceless, who took over the region and became the biggest obstacle for TNC.

The Faceless vs TNC rivalry defined the entire competitive season in SEA ahead of the TI 7 with Faceless prevailing in most of the key encounters. TNC did qualify for Kiev Major however, and had a really good group stage run with victories over Evil Geniuses, Thunderbirds (Planet Odd now) and Digital Chaos. But the group stage Swiss format, which was used for the very first time in Dota 2, got them seeded in the main event against their arch enemy, Team Faceless. That’s where their Kiev journey ended and the bottom four finish at the last Major ahead of TI 7 came with more roster changes as it was clear for them that the only LAN victory from WESG would not be enough to be even considered by Valve for a direct invite to The International 2017.

In a recent interview with Redbull esports, Kuku bluntly declared “I just can’t captain while playing mid lane”. There’s a history attached to his words given the fact that he had already tried to captain from a support position in 2015-2016, before they recruited Demon, and it was not a successful experiment. So, TNC decided to pull another “Jimmy move” and brought in another North American support player to take over the leadership duties. Theeban '1437' Siva, ex-NP player, joined TNC in the post Kiev Major Shuffle, on the 16th of May 2016 and only three days later the new roster traveled to China to play their first LAN event together. The challenge was two-folded for 1437, who not only had to take StarLadder i-League Invitational 2 as his first test leading four guys he never played with, but also the 7.06 patch had been just released a day before he joined the team.

TNC's roster from position 1 to 5:

Philippines Marc Polo 'Raven' Luis Fausto
Philippines Carlo 'Kuku' Palad
Philippines Sam 'Sam_H' Enojosa Hidalgo
Philippines Timothy 'Tims' Randrup
Canada Theeban '1437' Siva

Theeban’s first LAN event with TNC was a true success. With Kips behind them to help them figure out as fast as possible what the new meta was all about, 1437 introduced Jakiro as one of the strongest support heroes of the new patch. Theeban’s pushing strategies, with Jakiro prioritized in the first drafting phase, got TNC to the grand finals undefeated against the likes of Invictus Gaming and Newbee and forced Team Liquid to use their first ban on the double headed dragon in four of the five games played in the grand finals. TNC lost 2-3 to Liquid in China and with a 3rd place finish a month later at Galaxy Battles they had to find the strength for TI 7 regional qualifiers, where Faceless were also playing. The nearly one year long fear of Faceless finally vanished and TNC came prepared with a different game approach for each and every team they played against in the SEA group stage. In the direct confrontation against Faceless, 1437 took the Singaporean based squad by surprise with a last pick Luna, a hero that in the 7.06 patch Raven had played only once before .

Since 1437 joined TNC, which for them coincided with the 7.06 gameplay update, the team seems to feel comfortable playing either side of the map, Dire or Radiant and apart from the obvious preference for fast pushing drafts, they’ve shown in the TI 7 qualifiers that they are on the right path of delivering once again a big surprise.

TNC in numbers in the 7.06 patch

33 matches
15 matches as Dire
18 matches as Radiant
69.70% winrate, 23 wins/10 losses

TNC’s most played heroes in the 7.06 patch

Hero Total Wins Losses Winrate
Jakiro 10 7 3 70.00%
Batrider 9 9 0 100%
Queen of Pain 9 8 1 88.89%
Sand King  9 7 2 77.78%
Sven 9 5 4 55.56%
Lina 8 6 2 75.00%
Juggernaut 5 3 2 60.00%
Slardar  5 3 2 60.00%
Dark Seer 5 3 2 60.00%

 

TNC’s most successful hero combos in the 7.06 patch

Heroes Total Wins Losses Winrate
Lina + Jakiro 6 5 1 83.33%
Lina + Slardar 5 3 2 60.00%
Queen of Pain + Rubick 4 4 0 100%
Sand king + Batrider 4 4 0 100%
Queen of Pain + Sand King 3 3 0 100%
Queen of Pain + Batrider 3 3 0 100%
Lina + Dark Seer 3 3 0 100%

stats gathered from datdota.com

This year’s International features the largest amount of debutants on the KeyArena stage. Some players will be at their first experience at a Valve event even. TNC are at their second TI participation, however, they are on the hunt to improve their top 8 finish from last year. For three of their players this team truly is their home. Sam_H, Kuku and Raven are bound by a real life story of a great friendship. Friendship that helped them through the hardest times and gave them the strength to chin up and start over again and again. Their faith kept them together and united this team in one big family that works for a common goal. The top 8 finish from TI 6 was not just a stroke of luck and seeing how hard they worked to secure a spot at The International 2017, it is clear that TNC will not go down without a fight at the KeyArena.

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Andreea “divushka” Esanu

I can resist anything but temptations... Follow me @DivDota

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