by Sören ‘Fantasy’ Vendsahm
It is that time of year again, when Seattle becomes the Dota 2 capital of the world. The sixth International tournament is only hours away, but before that it begins, four hopeful teams will battle it out in the Wild Card to try to secure their spot in the biggest eSports tournament of all time. Among those four squads are the compLexity Gaming boys, with returning TI veterans Zakari ‘Zfreek’ Freedman and Kyle ‘swindlezz’ Freedman. For Rasmus ‘Chessie’ Blomdin, Linus ‘Limmp’ Blomdin, and Simon ‘Handsken’ Haag, the goal of reaching their first TI is just a few good games away.
In preparing for the event, the team left no stone unturned, trying every trick in the book to get an edge in the competition. For the first time, the team will go to a premier event with a designated coach and analyst, on-air personality and Professor of Economics Alan ‘Nahaz’ Bester. With his expertise and the input of an outside voice, the team hopes to not just overcome the challenges that the Wild Card presents, but also at least return to their form at the Shanghai Major. Back then it was coL.DOTA shocking the world, ousting team after team, including Alliance and LGD Gaming, to secure the 5th/6th place at the second Dota 2 Major.
Some media day bonding at The International 2016
To get back to that mindset, the team didn’t only put their faith in Nahaz as an addition – they also went down the route of traditional sports with expert help of IMG Academy’s James Leath, who traveled down to Fort Lauderdale for one day. It’s the mental fortitude and emphasis on team dynamics that makes Dota 2 so unique and challenging, and so that’s what they focused on – playing and winning as a strong unit.
Swindlezz and his crew need to be strong, as no team in the Wild Card round is a pushover. Against the European team known as Escape Gaming, formerly No Diggity, the red-black team has good memories of Wild Card duels. Back in Moscow at the Epicenter festivities, the two teams had squared off for a spot in the main event, with coL coming out ahead. Since then both teams have stepped up their games, making the matchup an intriguing one to watch on Wild Card Tuesday. With former HoN pros Adrian ‘Era’ Kryeziu and Maurice ‘KheZu’ Gutmann on Escape Gaming’s roster, a lot of nostalgia will be in the mix as the individual players have made the step up from premier HoN tournaments to the biggest Dota 2 event in history.
The team relaxes following a long day of photoshoots and interviews.
To only focus on those two players would be foolish though, as China and Southeast Asia throw their hat in the ring as well. For China it will be the legendary organization EHOME fighting for a spot, an organization that had the Aegis within reach back at the first ever International in 2011. From then the organization has changed rosters again and again, adding two more TI appearances over the years. This time they head into the Wild Card with Singaporean star Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice’ Pei Xiang leading the charge as the carry for his four Chinese teammates. For support player Zhang ‘LanM’ Zhicheng, a ticket to his sixth TI tournament is on the line, his fourth with EHOME. Only three other players to have attended TIs with the same team: xioa8, Dendi and Puppey. Elite company for a legend of the game.
Last in the mix, trying their luck for a Wild Card ticket into the 19 million dollar tournament, are Execration. The Filipino team surprised everyone at the SEA Qualifiers a few weeks ago, especially with a stellar performance in the Group Stage. The team was on par with TNC and powerhouse Fnatic after the group play had concluded, entering them into a tiebreaker round. Losses there and in the Upper Bracket against WarriorsGaming.Unity didn’t phase them, as they kept their eyes on the prize. With a “never give up” attitude, they pulled through the Lower Bracket, won their rematch against WG.Unity, and only fell to the mighty Fnatic in the Grand Finals. Their reward was a Wild Card spot and a long wait for clarity on their visas – now they’re in Seattle, ready to make a mark on the International for Southeast Asia and the Philippines.
Inside the training room, coL.Dota prepares for their wildcard match against Escape Gaming.
So strap in for the most exciting tournament of the Dota 2 year, as “The International 2016” kicks off tomorrow at 9 AM PST / 12 PM EST / 6 PM CEST with the clash everyone has been waiting for. compLexity Gaming against Escape Gaming, former HoN professionals on both sides, fighting for the ultimate prize in Dota 2 – to be a part of the biggest eSports tournament of all time.