A recap of Fnatic’s journey from DPC top dogs to last chance qualifier squakers, all the way to The International 10.
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Considered as one of the most passionate communities in the esports scene, Southeast Asia (SEA) is home to several of the most competitive Dota 2 teams. The region is no stranger to “El Clásico” team matchups when it comes to regional and international tournaments. Fnatic are currently the top seed in SEA thanks to stopping TNC Predator’s The International 10 (TI10) run.
It was a grueling match, with TNC having to play eight straight games just to have a shot at qualifying for the showpiece event. Fnatic came out victorious, utilizing a meta matchup with a carry Axe and support Phoenix.
Aside from T1, Fnatic are SEA’s representatives this coming October in Bucharest, Romania. It’s up to them to raise the region’s banner, and they are expected to display top-tier Dota in the international stages as usual. Fnatic’s previous season was hampered, and their momentum shattered due to the pandemic. Still the team came back stronger in 2021: even with numerous roster changes, they still managed to qualify to TI this year, taking the road less traveled along the way.
The road to Singapore: Dota Pro Circuit 2021 Season 1
Together with T1, TNC and Boom, Fnatic was one of the four direct invites to the DPC Season 1 SEA Upper Division. A single round robin tournament format would determine who qualified the playoffs of ONE Esports Singapore Major. Fnatic showed a dominating run in this tournament, with only one series loss. Their overall performance boasts 13 match wins and four match losses, which was enough to win the division.
Fnatic bulldozed through enemy teams during the Upper Division matches, except for Boom Esports, who managed to tarnish the team’s 100% win rate throughout the tournament. The final series against TNC Predator pushed TNC further into fourth place, securing Fnatic’s ticket to Singapore.
Singapore Major and the DPC 2021 Season 2: a major disaster
After the impressive SEA Upper Division run, Fnatic ended up going from Singapore home earlier than expected. Matched straight into the playoffs, they faced Evil Geniuses (EG) for their first series in the major. EG has recruited Abed Azel “Abed” Yusop, Fnatic’s former midlaner, as their very own Position 2. This, and as well as Abed’s exceptional skill, may have caused Fnatic’s downfall, plunging them into the lower bracket. However, Fnatic didn’t give up without putting up a fight, with game 2 reaching up to 50 minutes.
Stuck in the lower bracket after being 2-0’d by Evil Geniuses, Fnatic now had to overcome their fellow SEA team, OB Esports x Neon in a best-of-three match. The decider went the other way, crushing Fnatic’s Singapore Major dreams.
With no DPC points gained from their 9th-12th placing in Singapore Major, Fnatic had to fight for their TI life in the next DPC 2021 season. A fourth-place finish meant they’d miss out on the upcoming WePlay AniMajor in Kyiv entirely, at the expense of T1, TNC and Execration. This meant that Fnatic’s only hope to attend TI10 was to win the regional qualifiers.
SEA qualifiers: Fnatic’s redemption
With one last push for the ticket to The International, Fnatic had to once again face their fellow SEA teams. TNC Predator was hungry as ever, with OB Esports x Neon biting on their tails for a shot in joining the top teams on the world stage. Faced against Omega Esports, Fnatic advanced to the Upper Bracket Round 2, with Puck as their winning hero. Marco Polo Luis “Raven” Fausto carried the team on both games, with his Medusa and Spectre dominating games 1 and 3, respectively.
Now faced against the team who sent them home last Singapore Major, Fnatic was rabid and ready to duel against the resilient OB Esports x Neon. The classic Io-Gyro combo netted them the win in the series opener while their opponents won game 2 with an unstoppable midlane Zeus and Position 1 Nature’s Prophet. Game 3 was a decimation with a ruthless Terrorblade played by Raven.
The upper bracket round three match pitted them against their classic rival, TNC Predator. Fnatic showed them who is the boss by sending TNC Predator to the lower bracket with a lossless series. Now all they need to do is get ready and wait for the grand finals.
TNC clawed their way back through the lower bracket for a rematch with the golden ticket on the line, going into the big series straight after winning their previous matchup. Though TNC dominated the first two games, the Dota gods favored Fnatic: Raven’s Terrorblade once again entered the arena, and with the help of Djardel Jicko “DJ” Mampusti’s amazing Phoenix plays, Fnatic was able to snag a match point against TNC.
With the momentum gained on game 3, Fnatic annihilated TNC Predator’s hopes for attending TI10. What a fantastic way to showcase an “El Clasico” rivalry, pretty much akin to what OG and Nigma had going on in the shadow of TI9.
Now that they will be attending the 10th iteration of The International as the winners of the Southeast Asia Qualifiers, Fnatic are the classic underdog team to watch out for. They may have had a rocky and bumpy start at the beginning of the year, but Fnatic will be raising the SEA region this year.
With so many intense plays and games coming from the region, it isn’t far-fetched to say that 2021 is the year of SEA doto. Fnatic will have just enough time to get in shape, and there’s still a long way to go until October. We’ll just have to wait and see how Fnatic will fare against the world’s best Dota 2 teams: but for now, they have the right to call themselves the kings of Southeast Asia.