TNC’s road to Shanghai, China for The International 2019 is perhaps the most eventful of any team fighting these days in the last Major of the season for the last four slots of the Dota Pro Circuit leaderboard.
Nobody could foresee the troubles that for the most part TNC created for themselves. The season started fairly well for the Filipino team. They finished top 6 at the very first Major in the DPC schedule and took 900 points, a hefty amount. However, the competitive year went from good to a complete mess when Carlo “Kuku” Palad was caught in a nasty racist scandal with the Chinese region. He is, in fact, the only player directly punished by Valve for a racial slur and because of all the events that happened around the Kuku drama his team has also got sanctioned with a penalty in DPC points and forced to play in the second Major of the season with a stand-in. It took TNC a few good months to recover from all that, but now when the season is about to end they seem more determined than ever to redeem themselves and clear the TNC name.
Qualified for the EPICENTER Major, TNC got seeded in what many considered to be “the group of death.” China’s TI8 runner up team PSG.LGD, along with OG, the TI8 champions, and on top of it all, the back to back double Minor Champions Ninjas in Pyjamas got somehow in the same group D. Except for PSG.LGD who already have enough points for a ticket to TI9, the other three squads’ faith is still in limbo. OG are somewhat in a better position with 1023 points, but to make the group even more thrilling, they came to their computers today without the team captain.
Early this morning, before the games in Moscow were set to start, OG announced via Twitter that Johan “N0tail” Sundstein isn’t able to join the squad for the group stage matches due to health issues.
Thankfully, they have a coach skilled enough to step in and help them use the group stage matches as practice at least. OG’s first series was held against TNC and it started all well with a Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen Invoker and mesmerizing team fights partially won by their coach with great Warlock plays. However, game two went TNC’s way in a rather brutal manner for the TI champions, but that proved to be only a dress rehearsal for what was about to come from OG in the drafting stage of game three.
A masterpiece draft where Ana plays all the heroes
Perhaps worth watching it again and again, the game looked like won from the drafting stage. OG managed to put together four heroes on which the Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade doesn’t benefit their ultimate, but instead one of their spells. The goal was that everyone will be a direct buff or a direct utility hero for Ana’s Morphling. He, however, didn’t rush the Agahnim’s Scepter for himself, going for the usual Morphling item build at start, Linken’s Sphere-Ethereal Blade-Manta Style. The key of the whole draft was revealed around the 30-minute mark when Ana was basically impossible to catch and kill due to his constant shape shifts. TNC were extremely close to being defeated 2-1 if they wouldn’t have been served with a few mistakes from OG, who wiped trying to secure mega creeps. TNC victory pushed them in the winner’s final of group C where they were put to test by Ninjas in Pyjamas.
In game one versus NiP, TNC matched Peter “ppd” Dager’s desire for a fast push game and were able to keep up the pace to drag what could have been a 20-minute GG match to a past one-hour battle where their cores scaled much better. Having Dragon Knight and Wraith king on their side, with an Oracle to save them in crucial moments, TNC overturned a 10k networth disadvantage and started to take the lead only past the 45-minute mark to steal the game from NiP’s hands. Game two went up to an hour as well, but this time around TNC were the ones in charge playing around their Alchemist’s farm.
Group D first seed comes for TNC with playoffs upper bracket slot, but their adversaries are also a team that managed to pull a huge upset in the group stage and a team who is on the hunt for a top 6 in Moscow. Royal Never Give Up finished second in group A, after Team Secret and will most surely bring their A game Tuesday, June 25 when their series with TNC is set to take place.