If Season One of the SEA DPC was any indication, Season Two
was destined to be a wild ride. Season two delivered a bit of everything and made sure the drama did not stop until the final game was played. Here is the final seeding of the teams after all a grueling six weeks of highly competitive play:
1) T1 (5-2) - Qualified for Major Playoffs
T1 came into season one as one of the most hyped rosters in the region. Their results were good enough to make the first Major but after replacing their carry JaCkky with 23savage they promptly bombed out of the tournament. T1’s second season started off slow, going 2-2 in their first four games and even losing to the newly promoted Omega Esports team. In week four T1 hit their stride and the team reached a new level of performance. After taking out Execration, Fnatic and OB.Neon, T1 were able to tie for first place with TNC. The T1 that showed up in the tiebreakers should excite fans for the chances at the upcoming Major as they executed a clean 2-0 to lock in the top seed from SEA.
2) TNC (5-2) - Qualified for Major Group Stage
TNC is a team synonymous with the SEA region at this point. It is no secret that their season one performance came as a huge disappointment when they fell just short of the Major on the final day of play. In season two, TNC showed up more prepared and they jumped out to a 3-0 record before dropping a series to T1 in week three. TNC seemed to be back on track after their win in week four but week five brought the biggest surprise of the season. The winless Lilgun squad 2-0’d TNC with an Anti-Mage strategy in game one and a Pudge in game two. TNC has been an organization that has struggled in the past at keeping focus and it is clear that they underestimated Lilgun. Though they would go on to beat Fnatic in week six, TNC had fallen into a tie with T1 and ultimately lose the tiebreaker to finish in second place. Though they are safely into the Major, TNC’s road to a good placement and thus The International later this summer is much more difficult.
3) Execration (4-3) - Qualified for Major Wild Card
In season one, Execration scraped by in their final series to keep their spot in the Upper Division. That one game may have changed the rest of their season it seems. The Execration that showed up in season two was both dangerous and resilient. After dropping their first two series, Execration woke up. They beat Fnatic, OB.Neon and played T1 to a close three game series. Execration’s growth from season one was clear as they played their way into a tiebreaker with Fnatic for the third seed in the region and a shot at the Major. In two wild, back and forth games Execration were able to best the former number one seed and claim their spot in the Major Wild Card.
Fnatic finished season one as clearly the best team in the region at the time. It is clear that since then the rest of the region has caught up. The meta has shifted as well and Fnatic still seem to be plagued by the same issues they always have had. This is a team that can out skill and out play any team in SEA. On the other hand, they seem to rely so heavily on their own individual skill that a more coordinated team can exploit their style of play. Fnatic ran with a somewhat different approach to the hero meta than many other teams in the early season. As they adopted the more popular heroes towards the end of the season it was clear that the team had not fully embraced the change in playstyle. By missing the second Major and with their disappointing run at the first Major, Fnatic will likely find themselves needing to play their way into TI through qualifiers.
As the Cinderella story of the first Major, OB.Neon came into season two with a lot of hype behind them. That hype died quickly after they went 1-3 in their first four series. With a solid chunk of DPC points already in their pocket, a decent showing in season two would give them a decent chance at directly qualifying for TI. It was a bit surprising to hear rumors that they had not taken the early matches very seriously. In the final week of the season OB.Neon faced off against T1 for a shot at tying for the third seed in the region. They lost the series 1-2 and instead found themselves playing a three way tiebreaker to stay in the Upper Division. Neon survived the tiebreaker and still sits in the 12th spot for DPC points, a position which would qualify for TI but has little chance of holding after the second Major.
Omega Esports is a great story about perseverance. Team Adroit had been building towards great results before the COVID-19 lockdowns hit. After being dropped by the organization the squad joined Omega Esports but barely missed qualifying for the Upper Division by one match in season one. They fought their way forward to an Upper Division promotion and promptly had two of their players poached by TNC’s roster shakeup. Despite all this, Omega battled all through season two to retain their spot in the Upper Division and even beat top seeded T1 along the way.
BOOM has been around the SEA block for a long time now. The fully Indonesian team has shown plenty of promise and looked to be building towards a strong 2021 campaign before the DPC started. Then they made a strange roster move, dropping their long term carry Dreamocel and then bringing him back just a couple months later. BOOM never really showed their former spark in 2021 as they have found themselves firmly planted in the bottom half of the Upper Division for two seasons. Unfortunately in season two, BOOM lost out in a three way tiebreaker to fall in relegation to the Lower Division.
Sadly, it’s back to the Lower Division for the Mongolian team Lilgun. It is always fun to see a new team rise up from an underrepresented country and put on a show. Unfortunately, Lilgun still have a ways to go when it comes to refining their Dota. They played their own brand of Dota and often found themselves outmatched in both the draft and macro game. The big step up in competition they experienced should be a great learning opportunity and they can look back on spoiling TNC’s first seed hopes as a bright moment in the season. Hopefully they continue to build and come back stronger in the next year of Dota.
It’s wonderful to see teams like T1 and Execration build on their results from season one and develop as a team. It is also disappointing to see teams like Fnatic and OB.Neon suffer from the same issues that have plagued them all year. With five teams finishing at either 3-4 or 4-3 records, the level of competition in the region is about as even as it gets. Perhaps more concerning for SEAs prospects in international competition is that the top two seeds both recorded a 5-2 record and required tiebreakers to settle the seeding. We have yet to see a really elite team in Southeast Asia in 2021.
The saddest story of the season is that BOOM Esports is now relegated to the lower division despite tying for the fourth-best record in the league. The level of parity between the teams is extremely high and the region appears to be fielding more competitive teams than ever before. As a fan of the region, I hope they put on a strong showing at the Major and are able to retain the three qualifying slots allocated to them this year.