TNC - True UnderdogsTNC is reminiscent of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team during their 2015 season. At the exact mid point with only a few months left to go the Jays were 50-51, fans wondered if the Jays would once again fail to make it to the playoffs but the team wasn’t ready to accept that outcome. They made drastic changes, brought in 6 new players over the course of the season, and ended up finishing the season first place in their division. TNC has similarly been positioning themselves for their TI6 run for over half a year. They started maneuvering in October of 2015 when they brought Raven onto the team to replace Seven followed by picking up KuKu 2 months before the qualifiers began. TNC was not satisfied with their results however, and turned to an unlikely place to muster their strength, bringing Jimmy “Demon” Ho in as a last minute addition to replace TeeHee. These three moves have proven to be invaluable as TNC recently got through the open qualifier, eveni facing off against Fnatic, the 6th place finishers at the Manila Major, and beating them. Their victories over Fnatic and later Execration allowed them to take 1st place overall in the SEA Qualifiers and earn their tickets for TI6.
- Walt Disney
TNC’s gambit ended up drastically changing the look of the team but to great effect. They knew that as long as they found players with the same strong drive to win, success was possible even from a disadvantageous position. Demon in particular took a great risk, not only joining another team moments before the qualifier took place but even travelling to another continent in order to win. Everyone on TNC took a leap of faith together, trying desperately to reach their goal of making it to The International in Seattle. Perhaps what is most surprising about TNC is that before replacing TeeHee the team had been performing quite well, making it to a top 3 finish in multiple qualifiers and online tournaments. They really only had trouble facing the likes of MVP Phoenix and Fnatic but true competitors are never satisfied with merely having the potential to make it out of the qualifiers for TI. TNC will have their work cut out for them in Seattle if they hope to create more upsets during their TI run as they will definitely enter the event as underdogs.
World Cyber Arena 2015 - SEA Pro Qualifiers7th - 14th of October 2015Location: Online
Prize pool: $102,440 USD
BTS Southeast Asia #47th - 11th of April 2016Location: Online
Prize pool: $10,000
WCA2016 SEA Qualifiers29th of April - 21st of May 2016Location: Online
Prize pool: $56,488.60
The International 2016: Southeast Asia Qualifiers21st - 22nd of May 2016Location: Online
Winnings: The International 2016 Seed
PlaystyleIt was hard to say exactly what TNC’s style of play was during the Qualifiers for TI. This might be what gave them such a unique advantage over their competition as they were caught unprepared for TNC’s push-centric lineups. They played a mixture of comfort heroes and some off-meta picks, often picking up Juggernaut for Raven or occasionally KuKu. Demon and Eyyou swaped between Vengeful Spirit, Disruptor, Elder Titan, Dazzle and Phoenix as they roamed to secure their cores farm and space while also applying pressure with high damage or controlling spells. Offlaner, Sam H, finds himself regularly on a tempo controller, frequently playing Beast Master, Batrider, Void and Slardar. While this makes TNC seem like a team that tries to go all-in on mid-game pushes with no plan for the late game, that is where Kuku comes into play. Kuku will often take heroes like Terrorblade, Timbersaw (sporting an 8-1 record on the hero), Slark, and Alchemist to try to give them an edge not only in the mid-game but also ensuring a fighting chance, should the game go later. Demon’s drafting added another flair of uncertainty for teams facing off against TNC as no one knew what to expect from the worldly mercenary turned captain and drafter. Demon was able to fully utilize this and in certain situations would pick Oracle or Axe to directly counter his opposition or set up an uncounterable combo for his allies.
- Pat Williams
Demon taking the reins from Eyyou and leading a group of players he had never played with before could not have been easy. A player who used to be known for unpredictable “classic Jimmy” moments, Demon brought TNC an unexpected level of stability, thanks to his veteran experience. Win your lanes, be able to sustain your push without giving up too many kills, and snowball over your opponents with more levels, items, or an aegis to win the game. While the general game plan seems to be simple, it only makes what TNC has accomplished all the more impressive. Without bringing anything too unique to the table TNC managed to outplay their opponents through sheer mechanical skill and clockwork precision of when and where to strike. They minimize their weaknesses by playing as one cohesive unit; while at the same time looking to take advantage of any opening the opponent gives them. As a result, TNC has now ridden this textbook approach all the way to TI.
The offlane in particular is instrumental in making sure TNC can transition properly from their lanes with an advantage. Sam_H often rotates out of the offlane to try to secure Kuku’s mid lane, TPs to his safelane to assist Raven, or roams through the enemy woods with Demon and Eyyou to try to pressure his opponents while Raven and Kuku farm. His mid-game presence is always a factor as he initiates with Batrider, Beast Master, and Slardar to create opportunities for TNC to take fights. Often he will initiate into potentially deadly situations if his team is not there to support him immediately which shows the trust TNC have in each other and how reactive they are when it comes to split second decisions. TNC can often be measured by how well Sam H has been doing in a game and whether or not he is able to find a reasonably timed Blink Dagger or not. Overall we’ve seen firsthand how strong TNC can be when they follow through on their game plan but whether or not it will work consistently against the world’s best will be another story entirely.
Raven will be starting off his international LAN competition with the Holy Grail of Dota 2 tournaments, The International. Although Raven has played since 2014 he had never been in any tournaments of note until he was invited to TNC in late 2015. Raven was recruited by TNC to strengthen their roster in preparation for upcoming events with the end goal of making it to TI6; a surprise considering his lack of competitive experience. TNC saw the potential in him however, and he quickly proved his worth helping the team to multiple top 3 finishes in qualifiers and online tournaments alike. Raven might not be an overwhelmingly flashy player but he gets the job done, making sure that he gets his farm and can be relied upon to carry the game alongside Kuku. Raven played Juggernaut through most of the qualifiers for TI and made it known that he is very adept with the hero, often picking off cores with Omnislash and positioning both himself and his healing ward well in fights. Raven might be new to the professional scene but his understanding of his role and how his team needs him to play make him a very real threat on the map.
Kuku is the star of TNC. He is undoubtedly the key ingredient in what has made their hodgepodge of a stew work as well as we have seen in recent months. During the Frankfurt Major, Kuku was the primary factor in Mineski’s unbelievable winners bracket start after Mineski 2-0’d both Alliance and EHOME with incredible performances from his Phantom Lancer, Huskar, and Gyrocopter. Once again, we saw him outperform expectations, this time for TNC, as his Timbersaw alone stole the show multiple times in TI’s main qualifiers boasting an incredible 8-1 record. Kuku’s performance in the mid role is what makes fighting into TNC as they group together for their timings so difficult. Kuku often has an advantage in both levels and items that allows him to quickly turn any engagement into a one-sided slaughter at his hands. While people had been talking about the rising star, Kecik Imba, in the SEA region perhaps not enough light had been shed on Kuku as he continues to have stellar performances.
Sam is the oldest remaining member of TNC along with Eyyou and began playing competitive DotA with TNC starting in early 2015. He mostly plays initiating offlaners like Beast Master, Batrider, Slardar, and occasionally Axe to ensure that Kuku and Raven can safely engage and get kills without fear of retaliation on them. Sam_H is a very important part of TNC’s current roster as he controls large parts of the early and mid-game with his initiators. While he lacks the competitive experience of other offlaners his intuition and lack of hesitation make him a force to be reckoned with. Another strong point for Sam is his coordination with his supports. There seems to be very little miscommunication between what he is doing and what the rest of the team is preparing to do. This leads to some incredibly risky plays that tend to work out due to how in sync TNC have been playing.
Eyyou is the former Captain of TNC. Under his leadership TNC has had multiple top 3 finishes in the SEA region ranging from qualifiers to BTS online cups. He started playing competitively at the start of 2015 for TNC and has had moderate success for the last year and a half winning multiple online cups. Showing uncanny wisdom, Eyyou understood that without changes to TNC’s roster they would potentially miss out on The International and selflessly gave up the reins of TNC to Demon, who joined the team in the middle of June, in the hope that it would bring the team success. Much like this roster move, Eyyou’s play on support is very team oriented, focused on keeping his cores alive and securing team fights from the back lines. His Phoenix in particular is a great example as he often rotates to win Kuku’s lane mid, zone the enemy offlaner, or rotate with Sam_H in the offlane to try to keep the other team off his side of the map. Eyyou might not have the explosive team fights of Kuku but he makes extremely influential decisions that impact how much of the game plays out very early on.
Living up to his nickname of The Mercenary, Jimmy “Demon” Ho has proven himself to be an outstanding asset to have on a team. During his time on VP, as a stand-in for Lil, Jimmy demonstrated he could quickly adapt to any environment and had a great showing, taking 2nd place at Dota 2 League Season 5. Gone are the days of “when did EG throw last?” featuring Demon’s Blink QoP and other very unique item and skill builds. Instead we have seen Demon’s tenacity as a player shine through as he has made his way to TI on a different continent leading a group of players he had never played with before. His carefree attitude of the past, where he notoriously missed a game to go to the gym to work out, has been replaced by a serious demeanor in which he gives his all to practice and prepare for the upcoming trials his team will face in Seattle. Demon is back and we hope that this time he finds his comfort zone to show off what he is truly capable of.