TNC - Forged in the Depths
Up until the TI6 SEA Qualifiers, TNC Pro Team existed in the competitive Dota scene, maneuvering only but in the shadowy depths of it, desperately seeking the broad daylight that is international fame and recognition among the fans. But before they catapulted into the limelight at the behest of their stunning victory against tournament favorites OG a year back in Seattle, the relatively unknown Philippines roster was just another addition to the ever-growing saturated pool of SEA teams.
TNC Pro Team returned to Dota 2 in 2015 after a failed gamble 2 years ago. Consisting of the earliest fragments of a now star-studded roster, Sam_H and eyyou began their steep journey alongside 3 now forgotten players with a string of 3rd-8th place finishes, besides two golds at the 2nd and 3rd edition of the Corsair Gaming Arena. Unwittingly enough, a quick roster change took place, resulting in the addition of the giant-slayer, Raven. Before he was diving fountains on Sven, storming enemy bases with Terrorblade and securing half a million dollars for his team, he assisted their slow but steady climb in the SEA region.
A point of clemency in their tournament results brought about another change. The stars turned around in favor of our currently little known Philippines team. Jimmy “Demon” Ho, veteran player from the yesteryear of NA Dota 2 joined the ranks and files as captain of the orange brigade for the TI 6 SEA Open Qualifiers. However, more unexpected than this recruitment would be the results that followed. A game play strongly characterized around excellent teamwork and coordination resulted in TNC Pro Team crushing the Open Qualifiers. The ripples of surprise didn’t stop here however, as TNC also came first in the SEA Regional Qualifiers, stomping the likes of Fnatic and Execration among a slew of other fan favorites that could be considered safer bets for simply qualifying, let alone come on the top.
TNC Pro Team had played nearly 13 qualifiers for international LAN events. When the now pride of SEA stepped into Key Arena, little did they know that they were about to make history like never before. After a rough group stage, TNC had to play the main bracket through the trenches of the lower bracket. Continuing the string of surprises, TNC took down VG.Reborn in an extremely strong showcase of group play and aggression. Their next opponents however were already given the win in the minds of analysts, professionals and fans alike. OG was the Goliath of the match, accompanied by an unbeatable level of experience and victories. Being favorites for the tournament came as no surprise for the then 2 time Major champions, let alone being favored in this match up by a huge margin.
Game 1 began. A consistent farrago of pick-offs by Sam_H’s impeccable Axe saw a gradual shift, that in net worth and emotions, in favor of TNC. Key Arena blasted in cheers when TNC did quick work of OG’s towers mid game, and then erupted in chaos when DeMoN’s magic missile put the nail in the coffin on Miracle-’s Medusa, thus securing game 1. Eyes once asleep with certainty widened in despair as game 2 began with Miracle-’s Ember Spirit going down against Kuku’s Huskar, in what proved to only be the first of many such instances. While OG fans found comfort in seeing the net worth graph, TNC fans knew the future from the Drow-Huskar draft. A quick succession of pick offs and a team fight saw the Filipinos banging hard on the doors of one of Dota’s most successful teams ever, and when Raven’s skadi-decorated arrow left the bow to pierce the heart of Miracle- and the Green Dream, the ordeal was over, and their fate was sealed. TNC had defeated OG and knocked them out of the tournament, and what followed is history.
Post-TI6, the entire roster left the organization. Shortly after, 3 members joined a revamped Fnatic while Sam_H and Kuku returned to TNC alongside Teehee, ryOyr, and Cast. Together, the roster brought about barely any accolades, and unsurprisingly, Cast and Teehee parted ways to make way for Raven and former support for Rave, Tims. With a rejuvenated spark in their roster, the team laid waste to all those who came in way between them and the 1st prize at the WESG 2016. The Kiev Major later saw an inspired TNC, beating EG, Digital Chaos and Team Onyx in the group stages. As luck would have, their opponent in single eliminations were the team that read them like a book, Team Faceless, and they faltered to bag the 9-16th place. RyOyr was removed from the roster after another string of uninspiring tournaments, and in came a Canadian import for the Philippines. 1437, former coach for Secret and support for Team NP, took over the captaincy and draft to lead the boys into a grand 2nd place at the Starladder i-League, coming second only to Team Liquid. Off late, TNC qualified from The International 2017 SEA Qualifiers with a fantastic showing of integrity and consistency in an extremely competitive round robin, going 8-1 and securing the top spot and a ticket to Seattle.
TNC Pro Team have had a very Na’Vi-esque aggressiveness characterized in their game play since their explosion in the TI qualifier run during TI6. Their flair in the game can be identified right from their objective-focused and push-centric draft, much of it drawing on Raven’s and Sam_H’s choice of heroes. Few teams manage to counter the former’s Anti-Mage or Juggernaut and have an answer to the latter’s Axe and Sand King. A strong sense of team play also begins to emerge around the time their draft is strongest, which normally is around the 25-35 minute mark. Led head on by the 22 year-old offlaner, TNC manages to make quick work in pick offs and outer towers, unfailing in diving far and beyond for their bounty.
TNC Pro Team’s strategy is cemented on making things happen around the map in the mid game and looks to constantly bank on a multiplying momentum, sacrificing a strong laning phase in that process. But above everything else, TNC Pro Team carries an ace card up their sleeve, in case none of the decks turn in their favor. Very few can manage to conduct team fights with the level of coordination, teamwork, and faith in teammates as well as TNC does. Whether they lose their lanes horrendously, run a massive net worth deficit or have lost a lane of barracks, the Filipinos know exactly how to turn the tides in their favor. In their entire run to TI7, never have the players failed to take care of each other’s backs. Be it defending their high ground against a dominant GeekFam successfully in a 3v5 scenario or obliterating Team Faceless under their tier 2 tower at bottom around the 22nd minute mark, TNC have their player’s skill sets merged perfectly under the umbrella of a team eyeing for the grand prize.
Kuku has adopted the Queen of Pain as his prized hero for the current meta without much surprise. The Lady perfectly suits their play style overall, and has proved to be instrumental in their run. Insofar, he has managed a near-perfect record on the hero, winning 8 out of 9 games in 7.06. On the other hand, Raven’s choice of weapons has largely been traditional safelaners such as Anti-Mage, Juggernaut and Sven. While they do not strike one as heroes you would generally see him on, Raven has adapted to 7.06 with near-perfection, sporting a 7.5 KDA in it. Sam_H too has diversified his hero pool for the offlane. His unusual pick in Batrider against Execration and Mineski proved extremely lethal and game-changing, alongside clutch force staff plays. Without taking much farm off the map, Sam_H continues to unfailingly deliver with game winning moments. The addition of 1437 has resulted in Tims playing a greedier position 4 than usual. With heroes such as Nyx Assassin, Night Stalker and Sand King in the foray, the meta of dual-laning in mid and constant roaming in search of opportunities has suited the former Rave support well.
Perhaps most important and significant in shaping TNC’s present state and form has been the addition of Theeban ‘1437’ Siva, and with him, years of expertise and experience of the game. StarLadder i-League Invitational S2, his debut series as drafter and captain alongside the Filipinos saw him pull an unconventional pick in Jakiro for himself not once but 4 times in a row. The strategy worked, and struck gold every single instance too. The team put up a valiant effort in the tournament and went down only to a resurgent Team Liquid, in the finals. The bells were rung however, and it was clear to the universe of Dota 2 that in bringing 1437, TNC were a force to be reckoned with now more than ever. He ended the tournament with an impressive 15.55 average assists. The spoils of the prowlers didn’t end here, as they stomped the TI7 SEA Qualifiers under his leadership. Theeban scored great individual play points for himself, including a rampage while playing a position 5 silencer and some game changing Rubick plays.
The stats and records speak only but a fraction on the legacy that Raven, arguably SEA’s finest carry player, leaves behind him in this season. Time and time again, Raven continues to display why he is the pillar around which TNC cements their game. Reliability is only one of the many dimensions that earn him his stripes, for he has also proven his versatility with the advent of new metas. And more than ever, Raven also manages to be one of the most consistent players in the game. Unlike players who hit a meteoric rise, consistency has remained a core factor in shaping the Raven that we are going to see representing the Philippines at Seattle. While Raven doesn’t strike the spectator either as the most flashy player or one with massive play making abilities, it is regardless of these values that he can win games. Excelling in simple game-winning techniques such as efficient farming, strong team play and map presence, Raven will win you games.
It is difficult to write on TNC’s players individually, simply because they are but parts of a unit that together are an unstoppable juggernaut. And more so with Kuku. The 20 year old safelaner rose to popularity with incredible performances during his time with Mineski, most notably his Phantom Lancer that secured a 2:0 win against EHOME at the Frankfurt Major.
His contribution to the team dynamics of TNC vary with much more diversity in comparison to his counterparts. Understanding his play style is an uphill task more or less because of how it has undergone changes and tweaks over the years. He has transitioned from a farm-centric mid player around whom the team was woven into a more traditional position 2. While we don’t get to see much of Huskars and Gyrocopters, with 7.06 specifically, he has set himself a class apart on the Queen of Pain and Lina. Kuku’s greatest moments in his career occurred last year here at Key Arena itself. This year, given his current form, he just might surpass his former achievements.
There is little to be said that hasn’t already been spoken about Sam_H. The Filipino rose to prominence on the back of exceptional play making skills around the mid game for TNC during their TI6 run. Sam_H proved his worth on Batrider, specifically against TI6 runner-ups Digital Chaos, where he provided crucial catches on w33’s Dragon Knight and kept the pressure on the map perfectly for their Drow strategy, single-handedly securing them the win. His contribution in the legendary 1st match against OG was that of an impenetrable vanguard to the formula that took down the goliaths of Dota 2 then. With the signature Axe being drafted for the offlane, OG began regretting their draft choices early on in the game. Infest bombs coupled with perfect blink-call initiations pierced through the Medusa-Drow line up, and it was clear along the mid game that Sam_H’s exploits had made the game TNC’s to lose. Off late, he has begun experimenting with Dark Seer while turning back to his roots, toying with Batrider and Sand King. Sporting a 70% win rate in 7.06, and showcasing an extremely strong and resilient plethora of a personality in the offlane during the SEA qualifiers, Sam_H today stands worthy of having his name on the coveted shield.
Tims is often lost among the stardom garnered by the cores of TNC. While he isn’t one to be seen in the limelight, let that not meddle with your judgement over his effectiveness as a roamer. The former Rave and Execration support donned the orange jersey mid-December in 2016. Tims debuted for TNC at the World Electronic Sports Games 2016, and he excelled beyond par. With a flamboyant showcase of skills majorly on Earth Spirit in the main bracket, TNC ended the tourney on the highest possible note defeating Cloud9. He himself ended with an average assist per match at 15.94. The road only went downhill from this point sadly for the team, as qualifier over qualifier passed without results worthy of mention. In particular for Tims, a decent but at times underwhelming performance at each of them was the norm. It wasn’t until the TI7 SEA Qualifiers where TNC truly regained their lost spirit. Tims in particular though clearly has a long way to go before he could be considered to have the caliber for taking on the world’s best at Seattle. Tims’ arsenal has comprised mainly of Earth Spirit and Vengeful Spirit in the span of his entire career, while for 7.06, the need of the hour has been Night Stalker, Sand King, and an unusual Nyx Assassin on the position 4. The only hero that paid dividends in the TI SEA Qualifiers for him however was the Sand King, with sub par results on other heroes. Can Tims rise to the competition and deliver when it matters the most at Key Arena this September?
Tactician extraordinaire and decorated veteran, Theeban “1437” Siva is the final piece in the puzzle that completes TNC. With a largely celebrated career, both as player and coach, spanning over more than half a decade, 1437 managed to quell all ambiguity and hesitations regarding him switching to a team on the other side of the globe in style. His debut tournament with the Filipinos, StarLadder i-League Invitational #2, saw the team marching towards the grand finals with amazing flair and teamwork, extremely characteristic of the TNC we saw trumpeting at TI6. While coming 2nd probably wasn’t on their agenda, most spectators didn’t expect much from the newly formed team either, making this first milestone a largely unexpected endeavor. Thereafter, it was at Galaxy Battles where 1437 got a chance to prove himself worthy of his stripes again. They went down to Planet ODD and finished 3rd, but that after beating Infamous, iG.Vitality, and Boston Major runner-ups mousesports. With the signs largely favoring them to make it TI, Theeban continued to not disappoint but only raise the bar for his team as they secured the tickets to Seattle in fashion. 1437 has mixed and matched with a number of supports in the current meta, Rubick, Oracle, Spirit Breaker and Silencer to name a few. Being the drafter too, he has gambled with the Jakiro for himself too, with the odds shining in his favor 70% of the time.
Special Thanks Kipspul
Special Thanks Kipspul