T1, Fnatic, BOOM and SMG rivalries tested – DPC SEA Regional Finals

It’s a fine week to deliver a cold, calculated speech about team politics, brotherhood, glory, and rivalry at the DPC SEA Regional Finals. The Dota Pro Circuit 2021-22 (DPC2021-22) Southeast Asia has been a treat to watch and follow for several weeks.

It goes without saying that nobody anticipated BOOM Esports, Team SMG, and Fnatic to make up the top seeds playing in the DPC SEA Regional Finals. Even more surprising is that T1, hailed the strongest SEA powerhouse since the International 10 (TI10) fell short behind two opponents.


Image source: BOOM Esports

BOOM Esports and SMG miracle runs in Tour 1

BOOM is plausibly the luckiest team in Dota 2 history to be blessed by Valve and fated to play in the DPC SEA Division 1.

For starters, BOOM initially got relegated to Division 2 last DPC season due to placing bottom seeds. However, OMEGA Esports’ match-fixing controversy disqualified the team from DPC SEA, landing BOOM a Division 1 slot. Although the match-fixing case is disputed and OMEGA Esports is unbanned, the repercussions have stayed.

This came at the nick of time for BOOM, which recently revamped its roster and took the opportunity to display overwhelming dominance at DPC SEA. In fact, this is easily BOOM’s greatest accomplishment in their age-long participation at DPC events.

SMG is yet another team that shocked the crowd during their debut in Division 1, kudos to their stack of talented prodigies. Their most accomplished player is undoubtedly Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, who was once regarded as Team Secret’s power forward.

That said, SMG isn’t an overnight success since we disregarded the many roster movements this team had in its early days. SMG started as a team with high expectations, notably due to Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung serving as captain. Other veterans included Damien “kpii” Chok and Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr, who has since “left on their own accord.”

BOOM Esports vs Team SMG

Well, grab some popcorns as Team SMG faces off against BOOM Esports, currently coached by Mushi, their ex-captain. On paper, BOOM Esports is undeniably stronger in its form, execution, and drafts. They took every series clean, with only one loss to T1. However, there’s a potential what-if that we overlook about SMG’s game-winning stunt, but with absurd winning conditions.

SMG quite literally had to change their playstyle to be late game-oriented, which is a high-risk investment over the typical fast-paced snowballing draft. It’s how T1 successfully outlasts BOOM in hour-long games with high-stake carries such as Terrorblade and Kunkka.

Besides the unorthodox draft, SMG also had to halt BOOM from executing their midgame pursuits. Else, BOOM would just stampede over SMG before their late-game draft could become viable. Despite the mission impossible, SMG shouldn’t be under any pressure since they would lose if they don’t attempt anything alternatively.

T1’s underwhelming showcase after TI10

Well, well, well, how the turntables! T1 securing third place at Division 1 scoreboard is anything but satisfactory for a proclaimed SEA superstar at TI10.

Due to their unexpected upset by Neon Esports, T1 had to play a nerve-wracking 2nd-4th place tiebreaker with Fnatic and SMG. The outcome concluded with their sloppy loss to Fnatic but managed to salvage a win from SMG.

Their past matches reveal a crippling flaw in how the powerhouse drafts, notably in how they disregard opponents. Fnatic and Neon Esports found the crack on T1’s impeccable form when they pick elusive heroes to counter T1’s carries. Heroes, such as Queen of Pain, Morphling, and even Broodmother have been a menace for T1 to deal with.

As such, T1 inevitably had to pick strong disabling heroes, such as Faceless Void. Even so, it comes with caveats due to how occupying the skill is, oftentimes crippling Carlo “Kuku” Palad’s potential.

The tale of DJ and the four musketeers in Fnatic

From humble beginnings, Fnatic has once again risen back to relevancy after missing out on most parts of last season. Their recipe for success has much to do with yet another revamp on their carry players. Meanwhile, Djardel Jicko B. “DJ” Mampusti, the support player remains the powerhouse’s most valuable asset. Over the seasons, the spotlight on DJ’s role as the playmaker shifted towards the new carry talents. Instead, he remains as Fnatic’s mastermind, working behind the scenes when it comes to drafting.

Hence, their latest additions, Armel Paul “Armel” Tabios and Jaunuel “Jaunuel” Arcilla are set to deliver great things, which they didn’t disappoint.

T1 vs Fnatic

With T1’s flaws figured out, Fnatic will not hesitate to capitalize this advantage to its utmost potential. Fnatic is in a position to execute such tactics all thanks to their roster of seasoned players. Fnatic won every encounter versus T1 in DPC SEA thus far, so the lather might just see themselves overwhelmed again.

Given the long duration before DPC SEA Regional Finals, T1’s best move would likely be to opt for elusive heroes too. Elusive heroes have leverage in the wow factor and initiation, providing an even playing field for T1 to instantly shut down Fnatic’s combo beforehand. With both teams competing for which side catches the other first, T1 might be able to pull off a fluke.

Whereas Fnatic has a much bigger concern than T1, that is BOOM, whose midgame teamfights pose a heavy threat to many teams.

The first rounds of DPC SEA Regional Finals are not the last hurrah as these teams have another shot in lower bracket. Every team must plan out a well-thought tactic to deal against each opponent.