“Want a bold prediction?…NA and SEA are going to be considered the best regions.”
Although compLexity captain Kyle “Swindlezz” Freedman wasn’t entirely right, 2016 was indeed the rise of the SEA region in Dota 2. Back during the early years, the rise of SEA as a prominent region was unthinkable. Multiple times, including this year, redditors had been calling for the removal of one of the SEA seeds or qualifiers spots for The International so that more “deserving” teams could take their place. Even when you looked at the SEA scene holistically, it only ever had enough talent to scrape together one top team at any given time. The region’s most notable result was Orange making it to third place at The International 3.
Beyond that, SEA produced a few great players who went on to play in China, including Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, Wong “ChuaN” Hock Chuan and Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang. Mushi in particular expressed frustration with the SEA scene as many of the pub players weren’t playing seriously, and after getting to third place with Orange at TI3, he moved to China to join the legendary DK lineup of 2014. The rest of Orange formed the core that eventually became Fnatic.
But something did change that year with the entrance of Korea into Dota 2. Now let’s not make any mistake, that ended up being a disaster. The entry was far too late, and after an initial scene with a few tournaments, everything died out. Korea had no servers, no organizations and barely any players.
But from the ashes of the Korean scene came out two somewhat good teams in MVP.Hot6ix and MVP.Phoenix. By the end of 2015, they realized they needed to create an ultimate team to stand a chance. And that was when MVP Phoenix was born. And with it came a new style of play: The pure aggression dubbed “caveman” dota.
MVP was the pure-bred infighter of the Dota 2 scene. They could only do one thing, but they did that one thing to its extreme height. And with that style, they pushed the limits and made a miracle happen in winning two tournaments, finishing top four at The Shanghai Major, top six at the Manila Major and top six at TI6. This was a team of players no one could have or even should have expected anything from given their terrible starting conditions.
And if that wasn’t enough, Jimmy “Demon” Ho went to the Philippines and led four Pinoys to the biggest upset of the year as they eliminated the favorites OG from TI6. By the time TI6 had ended, three SEA teams had placed top eight at TI6.
SEA had come and everyone had taken notice. Everyone had come to respect it. And everyone decided to buy it out. Secret bought out Zheng “MidOne” Yeik Nai, Lee “Forev” Sang-don and Pyo “MP” No-a. Damien “kphoenii” Chok was brought out a year earlier and had joined the Chinese squads. Anathan “ana” Pham is a newcomer to the top tier of Dota and has been brought by OG to replace its former superstar player in Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi.
So the question is where to go now for the rest of SEA? Fnatic has fused together with three TnC players. TnC has picked up more players from the Phillipines. And the Koreans? They’ve fused their sister teams together once again in the hopes of replacing what was lost.
And that is what we’ll see at MDL. The battle of MVP, as they fight against a new world order of the Western-SEA mixes in Secret and OG. They will be the first team to see if they can rise above their players getting poached and prove that despite all of the roster changes, they can still put up a fight.
Cover photo: Patrick Strack/ESL, eslgaming.com