This is the latest in a series of articles profiling the 18 teams attending The International 8, which kicks off on Aug. 15.
From the ashes
In the weeks leading up to The International 7 last year, TNC was hyped up as the squad to watch out for from Southeast Asia. Coming off their upset victory against four-time Valve Major champions OG, and bolstered by the presence of team captain Siva “1437” Theeban, they blitzed through the group stage to earn themselves a spot in the main event upper bracket.
Their campaign fell apart completely upon entering KeyArena. They went totally winless in the main event, eventually bowing out to the very team they eliminated the year before.
Faced with the task of redeeming themselves this year, TNC come into TI8 with renewed hopes and high spirits. The contributions of maverick midlaner Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios have been obvious and impactful, and they will have to rely on him to come through in clutch moments. Team captain Carlo “Kuku” Palad has also made his home in the hard support position, despite it being a far cry from his heyday in the middle lane.
Heat of the sun
This time around, TNC will be going with an all-Filipino roster, as opposed to having a North American serving as their leader and shotcaller. For the first time, the Pinoys will have no outside help—though considering their silver medal at MDL Macau and the fact that they’ve kept their tier one status in Southeast Asia, they might not even need it.
They will, after all, have Armel on their side this year. The 18-year-old prodigy has proven himself as one of the best midlaners in the region, especially when he gets his hands on his signature hero Invoker.
Though the rest of TNC, like Marc Polo Luis “Raven” Fausto, Samuel “Sam_H” Hidalgo, and Timothy “Tims” Randrup certainly don’t slouch around, Armel will definitely be the X-factor for them.
Under serious pressure
Let’s face it: as a team with nothing but Filipinos in all five positions, TNC Predator will have the hopes of a true Dota 2-loving nation weighing on their shoulders. Pinoy Dota 2 fans are among the most passionate in the world, but they are also some of the most rabid and critical when their representatives fail to produce results.
Much like in the two previous iterations of The International, nerves and pressure will be their Achilles’ heel—though this year they will have to face the fact that they are nowhere near where they were in terms of power going into TI7 last year.
Their results have been objectively worse this season, after all, though they will have to put their past failures behind them if they want to do well in Vancouver. If they let the pressure get to them, it will be curtains before they even get off the ground.
Player to watch
Fans of the team and of aggressive, flashy players in general should keep their eyes on Armel. Whenever he’s on the ball, he is capable of pulling off some seriously amazing things. We can only hope that teams let Invoker through against him.
Their almost uninspired run in the Pro Circuit season means that many of the other teams in the field will be head and shoulders above them in skill and confidence—including their neighbors Mineski and Fnatic. Combined with the pressure that typically plagues Southeast Asian teams, they will have quite the mountain to climb.
TNC gets a C here, for the odds are clearly stacked against them while not looking like an outright walkover. They are talented enough to catch some teams off-guard, but they will have to find a way to be consistent against tougher squads.