I talked about how exciting Southeast Asian Dota can be in the preview piece for the region
and still wasn’t prepared for the fireworks of week one. An already hotly contested region got even more interesting as several top-seeded teams dropped their opening series. Here were a few of the best bits from week one of SEA action:
Big brands brawl
The region got started with one of the most interesting matchups in the Upper Division
flexing their newly-assembled rosters. I was pleasantly surprised by just how good Fnatic looked despite Djardel "DJ" Mampusti's move from position four to hard support. It helps when your replacement is a guy like Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong, who has been having position-four level impact on hard supports for the last couple of years. The Fnatic who showed up in week one looked well-practiced, motivated, and clean in their duel against T1. T1, on the other hand, had moments of brilliance but seemed like a team still in need of an identity. It makes me wish this series had been scheduled a bit later on when both teams had a little more time to develop. That’s mostly for T1’s sake, though, as Fnatic seem poised to retake the SEA throne once again.
A Neon sign of things to come
also kicked off their season in strong fashion by utterly dismantling a BOOM team
that looked like a poor imitation of themselves from six months ago. It was hard to tell whether Neon were just rolling over a team still reeling from the departure of long-time carry player Randy Muhammad "Dreamocel" Sapoetra. Neon’s second series, against the upstart 496 squad,
showed more concrete evidence that this really is a team to be feared as a foe and followed as a fan. You might have seen the clip of their pre-horn wipe of 469 and the aggression never let up from there. Despite dropping game one, the Neon team that regrouped to crush games two and three showed some excellent signs of growth.
They seem to have come into the DPC with several kinds of strategies at their disposal and are capable of playing both fast and more farm-oriented styles. In retrospect, it makes sense that they would be in good form having played and won more games in the last three months than any other team in professional Dota, according to our stats.
TNC is MIA
All signs pointed to TNC
’s opening week of DPC being a warm-up match for the region’s most reliable roster. Possibly, TNC viewed it as such as well, considering how ill-prepared they looked against Execration
. From the draft, TNC looked directionless with awkward, reactionary picks. Execration, meanwhile, came into the match against their countrymen with a clear plan and executed it beautifully. (https://www.trackdota.com/matches/57987761570
Execration punished TNC’s lackluster laning, abused stacks, and marched around the map as a unit. In team fights, the Execration combos were clean and well-choreographed, while TNC seemed to be playing a standard SEA region pub game.
It’s hard to read too much into this series because TNC has a history of coming out cold. I’d expect them to clean things up in week two and should still be on track to battle for a top spot though the road will prove more treacherous than expected. Execration should be an interesting team to watch next week to see if they can ride this momentum and their unique approach to the game.
Only one week into the season, the SEA region is already delivering the goods. Next week should be equally as intriguing, especially with a very important match between TNC and Neon on January 30.
With upsets, excitement, and aggression abounding, you won’t want to miss next week’s recap of the SEA DPC season one.