T1 takes aim for TI2022 with ana and Topson

T1 hoards the headlines this week after announcing their latest members, Anathan “ana” Pham and Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen. This came shortly after T1 bid farewell to their core players, who brought them glory in the last International.

Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time for OG fans because this time, they will be rooting for the Southeast Asian team.

T1 welcomes ana and Topson

T1 is an Esports powerhouse, well known in many other genres. Hence, picking up both ana and Topson was never a challenge financially.

However, it still came as a surprise that the two founding players of team OG decided to join T1. Especially Topson, who recently shared that he is looking to play with European players in an interview about his return to competitive play. Topson has spent quite some time in SEA, particularly Malaysia, where he stayed with his family. As such, he has played with SEA players enough to realize they don’t make for a great team, especially on Internationals’ playing field.

Whereas ana’s initial return to the pro scene is also surrounded by rumors that the two-time champion enjoys playing with Chinese teammates. Since coming out of his retirement, ana has subbed for Team Liquid and Royal Never Give Up.

Angry fans over Gabbi and Karl’s departure

Amidst the hype for T1’s new roster, there are also others who are angry about T1’s decision to remove Kim “Gabbi” Santos and Karl “Karl” Baldovino. This is because TI11 Regional Qualifier takes place within a month, and the finalized teams are also in place. Unless the finalized teams decide to replace their players for Gabbi and Karl, there is no opportunity for the duo to make it to the International 11 (TI11).

That said, T1’s crippling performance since the DPC (2021-22) season started, has only gotten worse. Considering there are rising stars in the SEA scene, T1’s decision is justifiable. The new contenders that T1 might be wary about are Talon Esports and Team SMG, which have been building momentum since DPC Tour 3.

T1 Gabbi Karl out

T1 at the SEA Regional Qualifiers

Ana and Topson are phenomenal players, period. Yet, there’s no guarantee that T1 will win all its matches in qualifiers, let alone make it into TI11. For starters, T1 has an unorthodox role assignment in their team, whereby the offlane player is the captain and drafter. Carlo “Kuku” Palad is infamously known for his greedy drafts, specifically in ensuring his offlane hero is aggressive, offensive, and impactful.

The only saving grace from having ana and Topson in this greedy line-up is that the duo has a versatile hero pool. This means, ideally Kuku has limitless opportunities to play any offlane he deems fit, since ana and Topson are the wild cards going into any match. It’s certainly a double-edged sword, but this is T1’s last-ditch effort to qualify.

Going after SEA’s first International win

Throughout the decade of the International Championship, various regions have had their shot at lifting the Aegis of Champions. Namely, the Western EU won four titles, China has three, Eastern EU with two, and even North America has one. That makes Southeast Asia the oddball among other regions, which has yet to bag a single International victory to date. In fact, there’s no shortage of promising SEA talents since the highest accomplishment a SEA team ever achieved, was Orange Esports’ third place.

Hence, this year’s TI11 will be a big moment for SEA region to become the first SEA TI Champion. Moreover, it seems fitting that this year’s TI is coincidentally the first held in this region, specifically Singapore.

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