Neon sign of things to come

By ElevatedFebruary 3, 2021
Week two of the Southeast Asian Dota Pro Circuit started off with business as usual. The higher expectation teams beat the underdogs. BOOM Esports were able to bounce back against 496 Gaming thanks to some incredibly strong performances by mid player, Rafli Fathur "Mikoto" Rahman.
Speaking of 496, the hyper-aggressive Vietnamese squad fell twice this week bringing their overall series record to 1-3. However, with a 5-6 record in games, 496 is proving just how competitive SEA is proving to be. Every team other than Fnatic, who have only played two series, have lost at least two games. Fnatic is also only one of two teams with an undefeated series record, the other being Neon Esports.

Neon Esports shining bright

It’s time to start taking this qualifier team seriously. In week one, Neon beat BOOM Esports 2-0. Considering BOOM’s recent roster moves, this wasn’t too big of an upset though Neon dominated both games. Neon then beat 496 2-1 in a series where they lost a hard-fought game one and then stomped two and three. Again, it was a bit hard to read into the results just because 496 has been taking games off of everyone in the region. Neon’s dominance in games that they were winning though has definitely been an indication of their ability to get a lead and run with it. Southeast Asian Dota has always been very momentum-based, and this is no exception for Neon’s style of play.
In week two, Neon would see their first true test against TNC in a battle for Filipino supremacy. Though TNC looked shaky in week one, dropping 0-2 to Execration, they had bounced back with an easy 2-0 win over Vice Esports. TNC has often been a team that plays down to their competition but steps up in bigger moments and harder matches. Because of this, it has been hard to gauge where they stand.
Neon came into the series with some momentum and showcased excellent flexibility in game number one. Faced with the prospect of having both of their first two picks hard countered by TNC, Neon opted to run a hard support Troll to get a better matchup later in the draft. Despite the wonky lineup, Neon took control of the game early and steamrolled to victory.
Game number two was some more weirdness in the drafting phase for Neon. This time, however, they gave up Morphling to Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte without much counterplay, and TNC utterly dominated from start to finish.
In game three, TNC snagged Morphling again a bit earlier in the draft. Neon responded with a more solid and standard pair of sidelines but ended up running a magic damage Gyrocopter as their mid hero. Though TNC took the lead early, Neon were able to outmaneuver them in the mid game and utilized excellent scouting and ganking to shut down the Morphling. Neon showed good recognition of their timing window and played to weather the storm long enough to out scale TNC’s all in style of draft.

SEA shake-up

The series left me with some questions about TNC’s stability but more importantly highlighted Neon’s rapid development as a team.
Only five or six months ago Neon looked like a talented but unorganized underdog in the many online tournaments in the SEA region. The flexibility, decisiveness, and creativity they have shown in the first two weeks make them front runners for a top-two finish in season one.
Though there are still some tough games ahead, week five against Fnatic stands out, Neon are poised to shake up the SEA power structure in a big way. It should also be noted that this is a team that has played more official matches than any other team in the world in the last several months according to our stats. Neon has seemingly ground their competitive edge to a sharpness capable of cutting down the mightiest names in Southeast Asia.
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