5 Unknown Players at ESL One Stockholm Major

5 Players at the Stockholm Major You’ve Never Heard Of… But Will

Vignesh Raghuram
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For many teams and players, Dota 2 Pro Circuit Majors have always served as one of the biggest and brightest platforms to showcase their skill and flair in the game. Apart from The International (TI) Dota 2 Championships, these tournaments are the most prestigious stages the game has to offer, meaning that the eyes of the Dota 2 fandom will be on them. After all, who would pass up the chance to watch the very best teams go toe-to-toe against one another?.

Many of Dota 2’s biggest names began their ascent to superstardom with their performances in these majors. Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi became a household name with his unprecedented mid-lane prowess at the ESL One Frankfurt Major 2015. The same goes for Anathan "ana" Pham who started off the Boston Major as an unknown player and finished as a Dota 2 prodigy who would go on to win two TIs. It was even evident in Majors as recent as the Singapore Major 2021 where Erin Jasper "Yopaj" Ferrer came in as a player with little notoriety and left as an “Idol.”

Unfortunately, emerging talents have been deprived of a chance to prove themselves to fans around the world due to the scarcity of Dota 2 Majors in recent months. Thankfully, the hiatus is finally over. The ESL One Stockholm Major 2022 marks the return of the biggest inter-regional competitions in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC).

Here are five players who would be looking to seize this chance and steal the spotlight, going from a player you’ve never heard of to someone who you will not forget anytime soon.

Denis "Larl" Sigitov — Midlaner, BetBoom Team

Larl was once a part of VP.Prodigy

VP.Prodigy

Not many believed that BetBoom Team would become the number one seed from the Eastern European (EEU) DPC 2021/22, at the start of Tour 2, but here we are. External circumstances forced Valve to rework the format of the event, which became shorter and rewarded momentum. This format was seemingly tailor-made for BetBoom, thanks to its wide variety of niche picks and off-brand strategies.

Carry player Nikita "Daxak" Kuzmin was the immediate talk of the EEU region after the team beat TI10 champions Team Spirit, with his unorthodox carry Visage. But after the dust had settled, and the team started making a deep run, the importance of Larl’s role to enable the rest of his team became more evident.

Despite not having the most impressive end-game stats, Larl has been crucial to the team’s success. He is the playmaker-in-chief for the team in the early stages of the game, often sacrificing his own farm to make space for his other two cores to get online. In later stages, he finds key initiations alongside offlaner Evgeniy "Noticed" Ignatenko enabling his carry Daxak to dish out the damage.

So it is no coincidence that his most picked heroes during his competitive career are spacemaking initiators like Void Spirit, Puck and Storm Spirit. However, he has also not been afraid to turn to pocket picks like Snapfire or Windranger when the situation calls for it. It will be interesting to see how he fares against some of the top midlaners in the world at the Stockholm Major 2022.

Crhistian “Pakazs” Savina — Carry, Thunder Awaken

Pakazs is statistically the most impressive player at the Major

Thunder Awaken

Pakazs is an interesting player, to say the least. The player had toiled away in the South American region for years only winning smaller sub-$10k USD tournaments before he finally had his big break with the NoPing e-sports organization.

With the NoPing roster (which would later be signed by Thunder Awaken) the player has become an absolute tyrant, tearing through the South American region for two tours in the DPC 2021/22 and overtaking beastcoasts’ Héctor Antonio "K1" Rodríguez to become the premier carry player in the region.

The sheer numbers are just staggering. In the DPC 2021/22 Tour 2 Pakazs scored an average of 13.53 kills per game, the highest across all regions and almost 3.5 Kills ahead of his next closest (Yopaj with 10.17). He also boasts the highest average GPM (777) and XPM (854), the highest average KDA (11.36), the second-highest hero damage dealt (32.33K), and the second-highest tower damage dealt (13.86K).

While these can always just be chalked up to the team’s sheer dominance over the South American region this season, if you watch Pakazs play you will notice that he clearly possesses that special ‘X-factor’ that makes great players, world-class. He will have the chance to truly show that he should be considered amongst the top carry players in the world at The Stockholm Major, his first-ever international LAN tournament.

Will he rise to the occasion or succumb to the pressure?

Henadzi "Astral" Motuz and Andrey "Dukalis" Kuropatkin — Supports, Mind Games

Astral and Dukalis are on loan from PuckChamp

PuckChamp

If things had gone according to plan, Astral and Dukalis would not be at the Stockholm Major 2022. They would be shining off the dust from their mouses and grinding out pub games in preparation for their upcoming grind in the Lower Division of the EEU DPC with PuckChamp. Instead, they have a chance to showcase that they simply do not belong to that division in this major.

Once Mind Games found out that its two supports would not be able to secure visas for the major, Astral and Dukalis were the two players they turned to. PuckChamp’s dynamic duo was an integral part of the team’s success in the DPC EEU 2021/2022 Tour 1: Division I where they finished in 2nd place, only next to Team Spirit.

The duo has been playing together for over a year and has stood out as one of the better supporting pairs in the region, with Astral making plays all over the map whilst Dukalis stabilizes lanes and plays as the selfless position 5 player, setting up their team’s core players for success.

Whether they will be able to play at their peak as stand-ins remains to be seen, but considering the fact that almost everyone sees Mind Games as the weakest team in the event, they have the opportunity to land a few sucker punches as the underdogs.

Jaunuel "Jaunuel" Arcilla — Support, Fnatic

Januel has become the heart and soul of Fnatic

Fnatic Dota

I am sure Southeast Asian (SEA) fans are already sharpening their pitchforks at Januel’s inclusion in this list, but hear me out. Januel is probably the least well-known player (at least to the Dota 2 fandom outside SEA) amongst the 15 players who will be representing the region at this event. Although his first appearance at a DPC Major came with Neon Esports at the Singapore Major 2021, he never really got his time in the spotlight since Yopaj deservingly got all the attention for his outstanding performances.

So this is his time to shine and become a household name just like the rest of his SEA brethren. The player is in fine form playing a key role for Fnatic which managed to secure a first-place finish in the SEA DPC 2021/22 Tour 2. While his laning abilities are definitely up there with the best in the world, his biggest strength is his warding game and overall macro play which often dictate Fnatic’s tempo and movements.

Januel has had an affinity towards lane dominating heroes like Shadow Demon, Treant Protector, and Weaver averaging an impressive 16.22 assists in the DPC 2021/22. ESL One Stockholm Major 2022 will be a test of whether he can maintain the same high-tier of impact in the face of international competition.

If he does, then he will truly be the next great support to arise out of the SEA region.

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Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.