Infamous - Peruvian Vindication
After having poor results back in the Kiev Major qualifiers, going 8-1 during the group stage but then not winning a single game during the play-off stage, Infamous gaming decided to make a pretty drastic change in their roster. Even by South American standards.
Of the roster that participated in the Kiev Major qualifiers, only Benjaz and Accel remain. This decision was not made lightly; Benjaz is a solid carry widely acknowledged in the South American scene - he is known as 'Super Benjaz' after all (a reference to Super Saiyans from Dragon Ball Z). Accel on the other hand is, without a doubt, the player with the most international experience on the team, since he was one of the members of the Unknown squad that traveled to Frankfurt for the first Major during 2015.
Since the South American scene is a small and somewhat closed circle, Infamous decided to add fresh young talent to its ranks. That decision that led to them incorporating two players under 20 years (16 and 18 respectively) with short but outstanding careers: Timado and Matthew. Although the team had enough experience to warrant a third young talent, what was really needed was someone to assume a leadership role. As it is known that the carry position has more difficulties 'calling shots' during the early game, the team chose to pick up Kingteka, a well known Peruvian Offlaner, who assumed this role and thus allowed Benjaz to focus more on his carry gameplay.
The full-peruvian squad was already gathered, and this is also not a coincidence. In their previous iteration, the group decided to replace their brazilian offlaner with a fellow countryman. After we learnt how important nationalism is in south america, in either political matters or sport related ones, it’s not difficult to understand such a decision. With this, Infamous was now carrying both the expectations of a whole country, and their infamy, to the Seattle dream.
The changes worked wonders. After the Kiev qualifiers disaster, Infamous managed to qualify for Galaxy Battles; a tournament in which they had the opportunity to face some of the rivals they will soon meet in Seattle, such as iG Vitality and TNC. Although they were beaten pretty convincingly by most of these rivals in Shenzhen. Despite this underwhelming performance at Galaxy Battles, by facing tier 1 teams Infamous gained an important edge over their opponents in the South American TI7 Qualifiers, allowing them to achieve an unbeaten run in the play-offs. Finally, the earned experience has been proved fruitful for a South American team.
For them, this achievement is not only the fruit of their talent and experience, but of their hard work - or better said - improved work. Keeping themselves under control during the game, learning how to resolve conflicts, focusing more on replays, training around 10 hours a day and, in short, improving the team’s temperament are just some of the things the group had to do to become the region’s finest. With this preparation, it is not crazy to think that the squad believes in finishing their participation in the top eight of TI7. If other teams that came in with similar conditions to them could achieve it, why not Infamous?
There are things that no training can prepare you for; playing for the first time at the International, with a whole nation’s eyes on you and facing opponents you rarely play against. Infamous comes to the international as one of the least experienced teams - in a competition that already has lots of first-timers.
Infamous’ strength, while not falling completely on Timado’s shoulders, is based on the capacity that the team has to accelerate the pace of the match during the mid game, and this is how Timado becomes relevant. After all, the young and talented peruvian player has been known better for his tempo-controller hero pool. This squad can’t be praised for their early game performance, hence the pressure of salvaging as much as the early game as the team has relies on what Accel and Matthew can do. This duo, as others on this competition, showcases an experienced player and a fairly new player, even tho neither of them goes past 22 years old. With Accel’s experience and Kingteka’s shot-calling, Matthew, Benjaz and Timado can rest assured that their chance to strike will eventually come - it’s all about building up from there and not throwing the match. Something this team has been trying to improve since its very beginnings.
Unknown and SG Esports have already proven that the talent exists in South America, but as EternalEnvy mentioned in his AmA at Reddit, the difference resides not so much in skill, but in strategy. Infamous have never felt inferior to their opponents, but they are aware that the strategy is their achilles heel. A Peruvian team will usually focus highly on their skill, but this South American squad has been focusing heavily on watching replays and trying to identify each particular playstyle. This preparation may not help much in closing the gap between the top tier teams and Infamous, but it will hopefully, help the team to overcome their more direct rivals: the ones that are looking for that desired fifth day.
During his interview at NADota, Timado mentioned that Benjaz is the closest thing Peru has to what Fear is to NA Dota. The ‘old man’ was playing the Carry position during EG’s finest hour and, coincidentally, Benjaz is playing in the same role while being the oldest and most experienced player in this squad.
Benjaz career began early as most of the old school Peruvian players and in the same place: the cabinas (internet cafes). He would usually find shelter from the constant harassment and questioning from his parents in these places, allowing him to train more properly. As a talented player and a somewhat popular customer, the cabinas owners began to grant Benjaz his first sponsorships through lunches and free hours, it was good enough to keep playing, but not enough to consider it even an amateur career. Luckily for him, Dota became more and more popular and soon he found himself jumping from Cabina to Cabina, earning around 500-1000 soles (roughly 155 – 305 dollars), to get some pocket money. The payment was still not good enough, but he built a name for himself, and that led him to his first kind-of-professional team; Union Gaming, a team featuring players from Lima.
These days Benjaz will usually let his teammates Kingteka and Timado put on a show while he focuses on his own game. This helped him a lot; now as less nervous and calmer player, Benjaz has shown excellent results with Ursa and Juggernaut, two heroes that are very popular in today’s metagame. If Infamous needs him to play a more durable and team-fighting hero, Razor is an option in the safelane. ‘Super Benjaz’ might not be the most flexible player in the squad, but his remarkable performances with a selected hero pool and the stability in his gameplay are the asset that Infamous’ opponents might try to target.
Young talents like Timado usually have issues with their parents; after all, few people can stand seeing their children ‘wasting’ hours in front of a computer game, especially if they develop unhealthy habits, a vulgar vocabulary and if it diminishes their school performance and future options of higher education. This will usually trigger a conflicting relationship that, most likely, will end with one side giving it up. Luckily for Timado, his father believes that different persons have different skills, and in his own words “if your son is good at something, you should simply support him”.
The support from this father is one of many factors that contributed to Timado’s skill, but another common factor of the new players is the motivation that Dendi inspired in them. Timado mentioned this in his NA Dota interview, and his gameplay and hero pool proves it. Capable of taking control of the game at Infamous finest moment, the mid-game, Queen of Pain and Puck as tempo-controllers are highlighted as his most fearsome heroes. Timado’s playmaking style also transfers perfectly to more farmed-oriented heroes like Silencer, Lina and Ember Spirit. Whichever is the route the team decides to play, Timado is a vital piece of Infamous’ gameplay, and as his father did with his talent, Infamous duty is to support his skill and allow it to dominate the mid-game.
Also known as ‘Karateka’ in the South American community, Renato is probably the best offlaner the South American scene has to offer. And he owes part of his background to someone he has known for 9 years: his teammate Benjaz. Despite parting ways previously, Kingteka felt homesick after facing difficulties with his new squad and decided to come back to Benjaz’s side. He found a team with two new young and talented players combined with two seasoned veterans - “yes, we can do it” was the thought that crossed his mind. The confidence within the team was through the roof and Kingteka made an important decision: he asked to be the drafter and the ‘shot-caller’ of the team. A role that is mostly given, not requested.
Kingteka’s offlane hero pool has Batrider as his most dangerous hero, a usual pick for such a role, but a Peruvian classic; Legion Commander, shows up as his next most threatening hero. The rest of Renato’s hero pool is quite flexible, Sand King would be the best choice if the former two are not available, but Puck and and Faceless Void are quite tempting options too.
As the in-game leader of the team, Kingteka was also responsible of bringing P4pita, a renowned Argentinean player, to the Infamous’ gaming house. The original idea was just to help him grow in a more competitive environment, since Dota in Argentina is almost non-existent. Today, the Argentinean player is performing as the team’s Coach - a role that many Argentineans have in South American football teams.
In contrast to most of his teammates, Matthew was not well known before joining Infamous. In fact, the not-so-supportive Peruvian community was skeptical regarding his capacity of replacing Wudota or especially StingeR.
But as with other notable support players’ stories, Matthew quickly became quite an asset for the Peruvian squad: his pool consist of heroes like Bounty Hunter, Clockwerk and, most notably, the best Earth Spirit in the South American scene. This allows Infamous to stay close to the metagame in a tournament in which the strategy might be the deciding factor, after all, every TI has its own metagame. If things go rough and there’s the need to try a more sneaky strategy, there’s always the chance for Matthew’s Riki.
As the second youngest player of the team, Matthew will soon face his biggest challenge by orders of magnitude in Seattle. One should wonder if players like him, Timado and other young newcomers might fall to the pressure or, as Sumail did in back in 2015, they will use their chance to burst into the International history.
If Infamous has a father among its players, is definitely Accel; after all, he founded the team together with Joe Ccasani (CEO). Although during the previous iteration the idea of a full-Peruvian squad was not a reality due to having Mandy in the team, the intention of gathering a squad that would represent Peru in the pinnacle of esports – The International – was always there.
Accel, much like Benjaz, can be labeled as a member of the ‘old guard’ of Peruvian Dota and is the only South American player to participate in two Valve events – quite a feat for a region whose esports scene is so underdeveloped.
Accel’s hero pool is probably the most threatening one between him and Matthew: an outstanding Rubick and Crystal Maiden, a very effective Warlock, capable of performing well with Treant protector and some niche picks like Jakiro and Silencer. Accel’s biggest strength is the specific Valve-tournament-tier level of experience he brings to the team (even if it is one event), which should allow him to perform very well under the huge amounts of pressure that a stage like the Key Arena can put into a player.
His dream of arriving with a Peruvian squad to Seattle is a reality, and now it is up to him, Benjaz, and Kingteka to lead this squad in the most difficult challenge that the South American scene has ever faced – just some months after another squad from the region shocked the world at the Kiev Major.
Special Thanks José “Raylock” Gonzalez
Special Thanks José “Raylock” Gonzalez