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Over the past few years, fan interest in esports betting, as well as esports in general, has grown, and it’s mostly thanks to the success of Filipino players, as well as all-Filipino squads, in premiere esports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO.

TNC Predator, in particular, has been the gold standard for SEA excellence over the past few years now. According to EsportsBettingTop, the team has been the most popular in terms of volume for esports betting in the Philippines.

The Philippine-based squad first put their name on the proverbial map after pulling off arguably the biggest upset in TI history by knocking out the then-two-time Major champions, OG, at The International 2016. Since then, they’ve consistently remained either the best or second-best team in Southeast Asia, with teams such as Mineski and Fnatic, the only ones capable of challenging their claim.

Unfortunately, these days, being the best in Southeast Asia no longer means as much as it used to.

Why? Because SEA teams hasn’t exactly had a lot of success at Dota 2’s biggest annual tournament, The International.

Ever since the days of Chai “Mushi” Yee-Fung leading Fnatic to deep runs at The International, no SEA team has achieved anything higher than a Top 9-12th finish at a TI.

For a region considered to be a hotbed for some of Dota 2’s finest talent, that’s not a good sign.

 A Missed Opportunity

TI9 was supposed to be THE chance for TNC Predator to truly make their mark.

For the longest time, TNC Predator was a perennial dark horse – a potentially dangerous squad that had the talent to go toe-to-toe with the best that the world had to offer, but lacked the discipline to pull everything together consistently.

Through various shuffles and roster changes, TNC Predator’s identity remained.

Then, Lee “Heen” Seung Gong, the former coach of Team Liquid when they won The International 2017, joined TNC Predator earlier this season and everything changed.

TNC Predator’s signature aggression and chemistry remained, but Heen added a layer of strategy behind their chaos, and turned the once-undisciplined team of upstarts to a team truly capable of becoming one of the world’s finest, and at TI9, it certainly seemed like TNC Predator would give SEA a team that they could cheer for all the way to the final few days of the event.

Unfortunately, everything fell apart once the main event started.

Kudos to TNC Predator for showing a lot of grit. It’s not often that you’re matched up against two of the tournament’s best Dota 2 teams in Vici Gaming and Team Liquid.  

Yet, instead of taking this opportunity to prove that they were truly an elite team, TNC Predator failed.

Even though they put up a good fight against both teams, TNC Predator frequently fell back to their old ways. In short, they became their own undoing, showing the same kind of unchecked and undisciplined play that made them so frustrating to cheer for.

Is Change Imminent?

Not a year has gone by that TNC Predator did not try to change their roster in an attempt to improve. However, if TNC Predator are smart enough, they’ll keep their roster intact, including Heen if that’s at all possible.

While TNC Predator fell short of making a deep run at The International 2019, they shouldn’t feel too bad. Instead, they should use this setback as motivation to do even better next year.

Considering how most Dota 2 teams who’ve stuck together for more than a year almost always seem to do better the following season, now might be a good time for TNC Predator to start doubling down on their current lineup, even if it’s only for the next season.

If they do this, other Philippine Dota 2 teams might follow suit, and in doing so, they might usher in an era of stability that should give the massive Filipino Dota 2 fanbase a chance to cheer for a team that they truly deserve.

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