TI10 Alliance - the league smashers
TI10 should have happened in their backyard and 2021 should have been the year when Alliance reclaimed their former glory.
When TI10 was announced to take place in Stockholm, Sweden, Alliance was basically offered an impossible to refuse challenge. After TI9 was over for them, unfortunately with a historical draft mistake that eliminated them in the 9-12th spot, Alliance entered a race against the clock. Their only mission for the new season leading to TI10 was to become the strongest team from the European region at least. And despite a few too many unfortunate events, none of which they could actually have control over, Alliance climbed the ladder and got back into the top of the region.
Gearing up for TI10
In the post TI9 shuffle, they lost the entire team when the players wanted to make a change and left as a group to join Team Liquid. That forced the organization to rethink its strategy and bring together a group of individuals who would do justice to their banner. Sailing a rather hectic shuffle window, they managed to sign extremely skillful players, who under Adrian "Fata" Trinks’s leadership would find immediate success. DreamLeague Season 12, the first LAN event after TI9 came with a trophy for Alliance and it was followed by a top-three finish at ESL One Hamburg 2019, but only a top eight placement at MDL Chengdu, the first Major of the season. Despite becoming a true contender in a region dominated by Team Secret and OG, Alliance released Fata and Neta "33" Shapira citing a disconnect between the team members.
"The group has been a bit divided for a long time. Not that there have been any major differences, but more that it has been quite clear that they want to work in different ways. I, who have played myself, see a great deal of importance in having a balance in the team and team dynamics,” commented back then Jonathan "Loda" Berg for the Swedish outlet EXPRESSEN. What was seen as a shocking roster change, at the end of March 2020, was followed by even more surprising additions to the team.
Gustav "s4" Magnusson returned to Alliance after four years of playing for OG and Evil Geniuses and took the challenge of bringing Alliance to the highest ranks. The roster was once again completed with the arrival of Artsiom "fng" Barshak, who became an official member of Alliance after playing on loan from Gambit for nearly four months. The two of them ensured that Alliance was covered in both analytical and draft strategy departments and the prolonged online season gave them the time needed to find the balance and get everyone on the same page in order to avoid getting in the same trouble as they previously did with Fata and 33.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented fng from joining his teammates in the Alliance bootcamp from Sweden, and that might have played a role in the team’s inconsistency through the online 2020 events. However, when the time came for Dota Pro Circuit matches, although they played with fng still stranded at home, Alliance was ready to take over the European region.
They made it to the first Major of the year as Europe’s second seed team and went to Singapore with high hopes, but the first LAN of the year brought a disastrous result as they got knocked out of the contention in the group stage without a single victory to their name.
Alliance’s completely unexpected early exit from the Major, along with Team Nigma’s disastrous wild card performance, was a wake-up call for the European region, who was clearly far behind others and it also opened the discussion about the DPC schedule. The Singapore Major revealed that after a very relaxed year and the first DPC regional league season, where they had a week to prepare against an opponent, Alliance, and not only, were not prepared for a fast paced tournament schedule with two to three series a day.
While nothing changed in terms of seasonal league length, games played per week, or even point distribution, Alliance went to the drawing board and acknowledged the fact that going to the Major without a coach got them in trouble.
Something else that transpired from their games was a rather inconsistent, if not even weak presence, in the offlane. s4, although he is a veteran of the scene and a true master of the game, has struggled to keep the pace with those who are offlaners by trade and when the opposing safe lane duo was not pressured enough, Alliance’s transition to the mid stage of the game went poorly.
With that in mind, Alliance approached the second season by bringing aboard Peter "ppd" Dager, who took a strategic coach position, and that propelled them to the first place in the second season of Europe DPC league and ensured them the ticket to TI10.
Nonetheless, Alliance’s approach didn’t go unnoticed and, unfortunately, they’ve been the centerpiece of the biggest controversy of the second season when it became known that ppd was in the team’s comms during some of the games. Although all they did was to act in accordance with a rule changed by the league organizers, the drama outshined their seasonal performance.
Headed to the second Major, the team was once again eliminated without landing any victory, and the bad news continued to come for Alliance. Right after the AniMajor, Valve announced the possibility of moving TI10 from Sweden, and while the organization jumped immediately in and tried to ease the communication lines between Valve and the Swedish government, their efforts were in vain and the TI10 location has in the end changed to Bucharest, Romania.
That was another blow for Alliance, who worked a whole year towards building one of the greatest TI comebacks stories. From marketing plans to actual Dota 2 team performance, everything seemed to be against them this year, but hopefully, the last straw, the TI location change, will actually turn to play in their favor.
Alliance’s claim at the Aegis
Despite not delivering on LAN this year, the spike in form for Alliance is obvious. They have players with vast experience, who shouldn’t have any issues performing under pressure. Nikobaby has already shown on the TI stage what he is capable of. His TI9 run under the Mineski banner was his breakout. Limmp is one of their most constant players, and when the game plan goes smoothly he often grabs the limelight.
By now, although they are once again without an official coach, they also should have figured out how to adapt to the LAN schedule and if they find the formula that will allow them to make quick preps for each team that they will be facing, then Alliance should have a smooth group stage.
Perhaps the greatest news Alliance received ahead of TI10 was the 7.30 patch, which brought back many of their signature heroes. From Nikobaby’s Slark, Limmp’s Shadow Fiend and Queen of Pain, to s4’s Batrider, the draft strategies should only be way more diverse for Alliance now. They are definitely not a team to be ignored or overlooked. On the contrary, if anyone can deliver some huge upsets, it’s them. With TI10 not being hosted in the Avicii arena from Stockholm, Sweden anymore, the pressure of performing in front of a home audience should be gone from players’ shoulders. That alone might also play as a motivating factor for Alliance to do everything in their powers to bring the Aegis to Sweden this year.