TI11 Regional Team Preview: North & South America
The International 2022 (TI11) will soon be upon us, with 20 of the best pro Dota 2 teams in the world descending upon the island country of Singapore come October 15th. Squads from the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), the regional qualifiers, and the last chance qualifier will battle it out for their share of the nearly $14 million prize pool — which may still increase by way of the Battle Pass and its crowdfunding campaign.
Before the teams clash in Singapore, however, it’s worth taking a look at the regions involved and the clubs representing each one. Expect another two articles in this series after this one, as we will include two regions per preview. For starters, we’ll be looking out west, beginning with North and South America.
North America: TSM, Evil Geniuses, Soniqs
The home region of Dota 2 developer and publisher Valve Corporation, North America has always been a huge fan favorite. Producing beloved (and equally polarizing) personalities like Artour “Arteezy” Babaev and Quinn “Quinn” Callahan, there is no shortage of North American players for fans to follow all the way to the ends of the earth.
NA, as it is officially and affectionately called, is also home to the 2015 International champions Evil Geniuses. Led by the legendary Dota mind that is Peter “ppd” Dager, EG crushed all opposition at TI5, including the red-hot CDEC Gaming — whom they faced in the Grand Finals. Outside of The International, NA has found success in premier tournaments, mostly on EG’s back in recent years as well.
They’ve not had much to be happy about lately, however. With the pandemic shutting down travel between 2020 and 2021, as well as the noticeable drop-off in both consistency and skill versus the other regions in the Dota 2 scene, North American Dota has seen better days. Not even EG is a reliable pick that will get punters far these days, as they have lacked the stability they were known for in the last two years. In fact, they only qualified by a hair’s breadth in terms of the DPC standings, with only 32.5 points separating them and the 12th place squad Fnatic.
Heck, they may not even be the best bet for NA in Singapore. TSM in particular has shown the kind of adaptability that serious contenders must have in order to compete at The International, and their experience against some of the stronger teams from the other regions will likely serve them well at TI11.
Veteran team leader David “MoonMeander” Tan Boon Yang and the rest of his crew were also one of the first in the DPC to clinch a direct invite to the tournament this year. This only lends more credence to the theory that they may just be the dark horse squad to watch. Remember, TSM made it all the way to the Grand Finals of ESL One Stockholm. They are not to be underestimated.
As for Soniqs, it’s sad to even say this, but they’re probably going to be one of the first teams eliminated from the competition. They haven’t had much time to test themselves against international opponents this season, and when they did, they bombed out of the Arlington Major in 17th place. We’ve seen them punch above their weight class on several occasions before, but they face a very difficult road ahead in Singapore.
Overall, we’re not too confident in North America’s chances this year, with the sole exception of TSM. Sure, Evil Geniuses still have the kind of talent in their roster that carried them to so many great results last year, but their consistency (or lack thereof) leaves a lot to be desired. And given what happened to their International campaigns over the last few iterations, they could very easily finish in 12th as well as in third. You truly never know with them.
South America: beastcoast, Thunder Awaken, Hokori
Year in and year out, the community hails South America as the next up-and-coming region in Dota 2. While it’s true that there is plenty of untapped potential here, the community has been singing this same song since Infamous was the first to represent SA at TI7 — and unfortunately nothing has really come of it just yet.
Five years removed from Infamous’ International debut, and here we are with not just one, but three separate South American teams representing the region. This gives them more chances to plant their flags on the ground this year, and honestly this may be the best time for them to finally make good on the hype that’s been surrounding them for the past half decade.
It all starts with beastcoast, rocking the same roster that they’ve had since TI10. Along with Thunder Awaken, beastcoast finished sixth at ESL One Stockholm, which is a surprising result for both teams all things considered. Even more shocking is the fact that they both finished above the top eight spots in the DPC rankings, with beastcoast in fourth and Thunder Awaken in eighth.
Aside from having veteran members in their respective rosters, both squads also have experience playing against those from other regions. As the tournament is indeed called “The International”, this gives them a distinct advantage in comparison to their neighbors in Hokori.
Hokori only managed to get here by way of the South American regional qualifiers — which is impressive for a team that got relegated to Division II this season — but not really enough to make it past the big names in Singapore. Their lack of experience in LAN environments is the biggest problem for them, but at least they’ll get their baptism by fire here.
So again, it’ll be up to beastcoast and Thunder Awaken. Unfortunately, their past International runs weren’t exactly confidence-inspiring, with beastcoast in particular finishing below the top 12 at TI10. Thunder Awaken, on the other hand, is kind of a wildcard when it comes to this tournament; their predecessors lost every single game at TI10, but this roster is completely new. We’ll just have to see how well they fare.