So what does this mean for TnC, and what can we expect from them for the rest of this season?
As we all know, WESG is a unique tournament compared to other big tournaments that is held yearly. Although it has a huge prize purse, this doesn't effect the DPC points for the season. All teams participating is required that all of the members should have the same nationality. Some teams like Virtus Pro, who is considered as one of the favorites to win the tournament, replaced one of their member and for TnC, they added Eyyou and Raven from Lotac. We all knew the drama last year for TnC's off-laner KuKu and his racist remarks that he uttered during a match with Chinese players, resulting a ban from Chongqing Major, and WESG 2018 since it is being held in the same venue. Coming in the tournament, TnC didn't really suffered much since Eyyou and Raven were both original members of the team and it showed during the group stage, as they dominated their group. I'm sure a lot of Dota fans following TnC doubted Raven's playing in off lane, but he showed his versatility during the group stages. Eyyou on the other hand played, as usual, he is already one of the best support player in SEA.
During the group stage, TnC showed their dominance. This is where you can really tell the difference between a player who has tons of experience playing against tier 1 teams against those who are considered amateurs in the scene. One team, however, showed the same resolve, which is the Russian team consisting of four Virtus Pro members and one from Gambit Esports which is Afoninje. They also dominated the group stage and when they came head to head with the Filipino squad, the match went to a draw. First game went to TnC, with Eyyou on Chen and Raven as Slardar. We also saw similar picks on game 2, but the Russians did a good job on adjusting on TnC's gameplay and they evened the game to 1-1. The American Team Team were able to get it even with TnC as well during this stage of the tournament. But not so much with the other team like the Jordanians, where during in the match, there were some questionable decisions from them, but TnC really showed that they do not underestimate their opponent, which I think what happened during the upset of TnC vs OG in TI 6.
TnC went to face against the Brazilian team Canarinho. TnC went on and gave PA to Gabbi and Kunka for Armel, while Raven is on Puck. It wasn't really a perfect game for TnC, but they were able to grab the first win. By the looks of it, it seems that the Brazilians should have superiority in terms initiation and with Luna, they should have a very decent damage output, which actually gave TnC a hard time. The turning point of the game is on the minute 37:44 in the Rosh pit where Gabbi grabed the Aegis and then he just went all downhill from there and the Brazilians called GG after a minute from that Rosh fight. In game 2, TnC went for Morphling and Troll core, with Raven on Beastmaster. The Brazilians quickly grabbed PA, and went for Ember on mid. The game went back and forth for both teams, but then TnC went for early Rosh which the Brazilians were not expecting it. During the 20 minute mark, Armel's Morphling is just too much to deal with even with PA's damage, TnC quckly siege the racks without any real response from team Brazil. TnC got the win 2-0 against the Brazilians. The next match up is probably the hardest match TnC played as they face another favorite in the tournament, team Russia/White-Off which consisted of four Virtus Pro players and one from Gambit. During game 1, TnC drafted Morphling and Lifestealer core against PA, Ursa and Pangolier for the Russians. At minute 14 in the game, Solo and Afoninje tried getting Rosh, but TnC quickly reacted and got the last hit on Rosh including the Aegis. Morphling quickly took out Ursa and was going after for the rest of the team, where PA got caught and died. At 19 minutes in, TnC went high-ground getting the tower then backing it up showing respect and not underestimating the Russians. Usually, at this point TnC is very famous on their chokes, but they are really focused on this game, playing it safe and making sure no unnecessary mistakes being made. The Russians, really showed resistance killing Lifestealer and the supports but TnC's Morphling backed up by Lion's burst finger of death is too much and the Russians called GG at minute 25. The next game was epic, TnC drafted Ember and Juggernaut core against SF and Troll for Russia. At 10 minutes in the game, TnC is leading in kill-counts with 10 kills against WO's four, and it looks like TnC is going to end the game early but the Russian showed their skills, where at minute 18 getting a 3-man RP and Ramzees grabbed 2 kills. The game went back an fourth and went on for almost an hour. The turning point of the game was during the 54 minute mark where a team fight went off in the Radiant side, after killing Magnus, the Russian, went after TnC where SF, Slardar and Troll chased Razor and while doing this Armel quickly killed Solo. Troll, SF and Slardar were able to successfully chase and killed Razor but immediately bought back and countered the attack where Ember killed SF, and Slardar without any buy backs. Troll and Batrider are the only hero left to defend TnC's push on mid-lane but it wasn't just enough, and Ramzees was forced to engage the push but it wasn't enough against TnC's core, resulting a win for TnC. For some reason, the SF went to greedy knowing that he doesn't have buy back, didn't really tried to retreat during TnC's counter-attack after Razor bought back from the game. This was really unfortunate, and he failed to analyze the situation, underestimating TnC's core. I am not taking anything away from Afoninje, I understand that professional players do sometimes mis-calculate things in the match especially when you're on the verge of winning or getting knocked out from the tournament. Even though they lose, I still give props to the Russian team, especially Virtus Pro players, even without their mid-laner, they were able to adjust and played like how the normal Virtus Pro does. If the Russian team consisted of all Virtus Pro members, that match would've had a different result.
TnC will be up against Keen Gaming, a Chinese powerhouse, in the final game of the tournament. Keen Gaming players include Old Chicken, Eleven, and Kaka where previously they're in Ehome, and without a doubt they're one of the best players in China, however TnC showed that they really wanted to win and defeated Keen Gaming on both matches, within just 30 minutes. Game 1, TnC drafted PA, and Puck as their cores backed up by Chen and for Keen they went to pick Razor and Doom Bringer. As the game progresses, Armels Puch went on style against Keen Gaming, even stealing Aegis during a Rosh pit fight and they just rolled from there and pushed the top lane of Keen Gaming, the Puck went on god mode and Keen Gaming have no buy backs and left with no choice but not to engage resulting TnC destroying their top racks and from here on out, Keen Gaming couldn't respond TnC's push where PA and Puck is jumping in and out and bursting heroes to death, even Keens' Doombringer just couldn't handle TnC's damage output and had to consistently going back to their fountain, Keen called it at 24 minutes mark. Second game, TnC went to pick Ember and Lifestealer, which they had success on previous games, and Keen drafted Monkey King and PA, backed up by WD and with Nightstalker off-lane. With Eyyou's quick thinking, he immediately went on and to lure radiant creeps away from the mid to Ember, as normally Ember will have a hard time against Monkeyking in laning, but because of this, Armel didn't have a hard time in mid and even went to have a good laning compared to Monkeyking. Twelve minutes into the game, Gabbi was so farmed, that they don't have any problems getting kills and pushing lanes against Keen Gaming, meanwhile Lifestealer is sitting on the top of the net worth and getting key items. Keen Gaming tried returning the favor and setting-up ganks, but in 20 minutes in, Lifestealer was so much farmed which gave issues on Keen Gaming and TnC just don't care and went on killing heroes after heroes. TnC went on high-ground without any issues, with Ember dodging skills like a god At minute 26, Lifestealer has more net worth than both PA and Monkeyking combined, at this point Keen Gaming can only hope for TnC's choke, but it never happened, instead Armel went on a rampage, prompted for Keen to call GG and TnC goes to win WESG the second time around.
Looking at TnC's performance in this tournament, they really showed that they wanted to win the tournament more than ever. In the end, they got $500,000 for placing first. This might be the first time that I've seen TnC so focused, not committing any unnecessary mistakes, and more importantly not choking on the verge of winning. They really went into the tournament with their game faces on, and they got the win. Of course, this was with the help of Raven and Eyyou which is not an official TnC member, so the question in everyone's mind, can Kuku do the same, as what his team did in WESG? Raven did mention during the interview that he did received lessons from Kuku on playing off-lane and he was able to implement it during the tournament. Although he was able to use some of Kuku's advice or all of it, it really boils down to how versatile you are as a player. Switching position on this level of competition rarely happened, and when they do, it usually fails. I think TnC can still do this again, if they just have that mentality like what they had in this tournament. At this point of the DPC season, they should really put their game faces on and repeat the same mentality if not, improve it and gather more DPC points to be able to get an invite during The International which will be held in China. There are no reports that Kuku cannot play if ever they will enter TI, but they should be prepared just in case Raven and Eyyou's team will qualify in TI as well. I am really impressed of what TnC showed in this tournament, and how they were able to deal with stronger teams like White-Off, and hopefully we'll be able to see the same performance for the upcoming tournaments especially in The International if they will get the invite or qualifies.
Overall, this was a very impressive performance of the team, and they should really learn from this not just on skill wise and drafting, but also their mentality. I think many will agree with me that we've seen a different TnC on this tournament. Of course, lest we forget, they also have the tendency to throw (unintentionally), every now and then.
Thanks and congratulations to TnC for winning the WESG tournament for the second time!