T1 Dota 2 Roster Profile – The International 10 2021

by in Dota 2 | Oct, 10th 2021

It’s hard to describe what T1’s entry into Dota 2 felt like when the announcement was made back in 2019. Few organizations can boast the number of achievements T1 (formerly known as SK Telecom T1) has across games like Starcraft: Brood War, Starcraft 2, and League of Legends. T1’s roots in esports history has informed its excellence as a modern organization that looks to continually expand its horizons to achieve greatness across a variety of titles. Will Dota 2 and The International 10 contribute to T1’s legacy as an esports franchise?

We’ve been doing team profiles on Dota 2 teams participating at The International 10. Even though we’re already past the first day of group stages, the goal is to provide detailed team profiles on all teams competing to give new viewers and returning fans improved insight for this year’s event. If you’re curious, check out profiles we’ve published on Team Undying, Elephant, OG, Team Spirit, Beastcoast, SG Esports, Evil Geniuses, Alliance, Team Secret, and Fnatic. As always, stay on the lookout for more blogs on T10 to come in the future.

Who are T1? Korean Royalty in Dota 2’s Most Competitive Region

If there’s a word that can easily describe what Southeast Asia feels like at the moment, the word is: crowded. SEA has historically been one of Dota 2’s most competitive regions, with legendary organizations such as Fnatic, MiTH, Mineski, and Team Zenith helping put SEA Dota in the sightlines of teams across the world. The region’s fanatical obsession with Dota 2 has helped forge it into the powerhouse region that it is today. Despite Southeast Asia’s regional enthusiasm for Dota 2, the region has historically lacked the infrastructural framework and funding to bring some of SEA’s top talent into the international foray. Wild and frenzied roster changes are common, and instability has been a growing concern in a region that’s begun transitioning into competing in mobile titles more and more with each passing year. According to a report by Newzoo, the SEA market was dominated by mobile gaming in 2020, with over 70% of the market’s revenues coming from mobile gaming. As mobile gaming in SEA grows, the presence of games such as Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth dwindles.

T1 came into Dota 2 at a time when the region really needed another heavy hitter to invest in SEA talent. In August of 2019, during the playoffs of TI9, T1 announced they would be entering Dota 2 by signing their first talent, Lee ‘Forev’ Sang-don, a South Korean Dota 2 pro who had played in the first MVP Phoenix roster back in 2013. Forev’s achievements up to that point included being one of the first South Korean players to attend The International, a fourth place finish at The Shanghai Major, and 6th place at TI6.

After announcing Forev as their first player, T1 would form a team around him consisting of German veteran and Dota 2 commentator Dominik ‘Black^’ Reitmeier, Void Boys support Yixuan ‘ xuan’ Guo, and Boom Esports (formerly BOOM ID) players inYourdreaM and Jhocam.

T1 (esports) - Wikipedia
T1 is an incredibly prestigious esports org

The inaugural T1 squad would see decent showings at various qualifiers throughout 2020, but fail to really solidify any substantial gains in individual tournaments or cup series. The roster would also go through various swaps and changes that would see Indonesian Dota 2 legend Meracle play for the roster along with veteran Indonesian captain Poloson.

In October of 2020, Park ‘March’ Tae-won would join T1 as the organization’s head coach. Known for being the captain of MVP Phoenix during the height of its career in Dota 2, March was tasked with creating a new squad that could bring results to the T1 name and legacy. March would bring in former Geek Fam players Karl and Xepher to bring some more aggression to the T1 squad. Laotian player JaCkky would be brought in to play as the team’s safelane carry. The team would sub in another Geek Fam member in Kuku in their run at BTS Pro Series 4 for Southeast Asia, earning the team a respectable third place finish at the event.

T1 – Recent Results & Roster Changes

As 2021 rolled around, Kuku would be brought in as a permanent addition, along with the latest Geek Fam addition in Whitemon. The team would bring in one of Thailand’s best modern carries in 23savage, who had just come off a brief stint with Chinese team Vici Gaming. The new T1 would combine 23savage’s late-game oriented playstyle with Geek Fam’s sturdy, flow-like playstyle to create a team that would dominate the latter half of the 2021 DPC season.

While the beginning of 2021 wouldn’t impress viewers, T1 did a great job at remaining competitive in their region, placing third at Season 1 of the DPC Southeast Asia Upper Division. Season 2 would see T1 buckle down and secure wins against both TNC Predator and Fnatic, their biggest rivals in the region. Season 2 was still competitive, however, as weaker teams such as Boom Esports showed that nothing can be certain in the SEA region by winning against T1 2-1.

T1 would become the breakout stars at the AniMajor, securing themselves a spot at the playoffs stage of the event. They would manage to deftly dismantle Team Aster in quick, short bouts before moving onto Quincy Crew, known as the second best team in North America. T1’s games against Quincy Crew showed how the SEA giant could handle teams from regions many suspected they would do poorly against, utilizing heroes with strong teamfight resets like Winter Wyvern, Warlock, and Doom. They would move past Quincy Crew to face PSG.LGD in the upper bracket final only to lose 2-1 against them. Eventually, they would be eliminated from the Animajor by Evil Geniuses, earning T1 third place.

T1 made a big name for themselves at the AniMajor

T1 did not satisfy themselves solely with the AniMajor, however, as they went on to win ESL One Summer 2021 against Russian team Virtus.pro, showing exactly how competitive they could be in an international setting. While T1 didn’t face some of the better European teams at the event such as Team Secret and, arguably, Team Nigma, T1’s games against Virtus.pro really showed their capacity for adapting to new teams. The grand finals of ESL One Summer 2021 was a heated contest between the two with both teams relying on comfort picks and tempo drafts, choosing heroes that could swing momentum in fights based on skill and execution. T1 would win the series 3-2, but not without scars to show. However, that series would be a solid exercise that would encourage Virtus.pro to buckle down and play harder.

T1 would follow up this win with fourth place finishes at ESL One Fall 2021 and the OGA Dota PIT Invitational where they would show a losing efforts against a re-invigorated Virtus.pro and fall to Tundra Esports, a team who adapted to the new patch early and was playing a few months ahead of other teams at the event. ESL One Fall 2021 was an important wakeup call for T1 as it showed they were struggling to adapt to newer drafts that saw innovative hero picks such as mid KOTL and support Pangolier. Dota PIT fared slightly better for T1 as they were able to adapt meta picks to their drafts. However, they would see defeat at the event by Team Spirit, a crew of CIS rookies who are competing as the region’s dark horse as of late.

Overall, T1 have shown themselves to easily be considered the best team in SEA, but they need to translate this status to crucial wins against regions other than Europe.

T1 – Predictions for TI10

As of this writing, T1 are currently 0-0-2 (Wins/Ties/Losses) in the round robin stage of The International 10. Their losses are coming from games against Invictus Gaming and Evil Geniuses. With Invictus Gaming currently leading group A, T1’s loss against them feels appropriate. However, their series against Evil Geniuses certainly feels like it should have at least resulted in a tie rather than a 0-2 loss.

T1’s remaining games aren’t much easier as they’ll have to play against Virtus.pro and OG. With OG and Virtus.pro looking like the likely favorites for top 4 in group A, T1 should strive to at least tie their matches against these teams if they want to see the main event of The International 10.

T1’s ability to play reactive, tempo-based drafts along with signature SEA aggression should make them highly competitive at The International 10, but their lack of experience at big LAN events certainly puts them in a weaker position. When competing as Geek Fam, T1 saw decent results at smaller lans like DOTA Summit, but the level of competition they saw there doesn’t compare to The International 10.

With many teams playing either flowchart Dota or bursty mid-game oriented line-ups, T1’s preference for super late game cores like Terrorblade and Medusa puts them at a disadvantage, but they have shown some creativity as of late by drafting heroes like Nyx Assassin who has become a definite favorite of Chinese teams at The International 10. Whitemon’s Warlock could be considered one of the best in the world, and his ability to excel during the laning stage and the midgame with the hero really shows how much potential the hero has. Doom being a flex pick for T1 gives the team options in terms of actively shutting down spell-reliant cores such as Death Prophet, Void Spirit, and Storm Spirit, but the hero really relies on having a draft that can support his laning stage to make him shine later on during the game.

23savage’s potential can’t be understated. His time on Vici Gaming helped inform his mechanics and decision making which supplements an active playstyle that loves to punish opponents for being out of position. 23savage’s playstyle combines well with the rest of his team, but it can often seem like T1 games are the 23savage show as T1 can sometimes fail to execute in their own lanes or during the mid game.

As a pick to win The International 10, T1 seems unlikely, but we shouldn’t be surprised to see the team take 5th or 6th place overall. Their matches in the group stages will definitely help inform them about opponents they have little experience with which could prepare them for a Cinderella run during the playoffs. Based on what we can see scheduled for them for the rest of The International 10 group stages, T1 has a hard road ahead of them. However, it’s unlikely that T1 would have endorsed March and his squad of SEA hopefuls if they didn’t think victory at The International 10 was impossible. There’s definitely a spark in this team that matches T1’s legacy.


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