The Top 5 SEA Dota 2 Teams in 2021
Southeast Asian Dota 2 (SEA) experienced an increasing level of competition in 2021, with different teams gaining prominence in different tournaments. It is no surprise that an overall improvement in gameplay and drafting has led to this level of competitiveness, but it would also be disingenuous to discount the inconsistency of SEA Dota 2 teams through the year that has contributed to it. Just when it would seem like the team was in great shape, it would lose all momentum and go on a downward spiral and as a consequence, the region was one of the hardest to predict out of all the six Dota 2 regions in 2021.
Only a handful of teams achieved the desired results throughout the year with some notable international runs and with that in mind, here are our picks for the top five SEA Dota 2 teams in 2021.
Keep in mind that this list is a subjective opinion where we ranked teams based upon their performances throughout the year with added weightage given to their accomplishments in official Valve tournaments like the DPC 2021, The International 10, and DPC 2021-22.
The Best Five SEA Teams in 2021
5. BOOM Esports
In early 2021, SEA was a very competitive region, but BOOM Esports was on the receiving end of some hard losses thanks to this competitive intensity. For example, in season 1 of the SEA DPC (Dota Pro Circuit) 2021, BOOM Esports finished seventh with a 3-4 W-L record, while Execration finished with a 4-3 W-L record. However, Execration moved on to the Major with a third place finish, while BOOM Esports got relegated to the Lower Division despite only losing one more series.
BOOM Esports had an average run in the DPC 2021. The team came close to finding success, being only one series win away from qualifying for both majors.
However, the tides may have turned for BOOM Esports because after TI10 (The International 10) the team now looks like one of the best squads in SEA thanks to its revamped roster. The team is currently undefeated in its last 19 series, winning 16 games and drawing the remaining three. The team has already won the Mineski Masters and BTS Pro Series Season 9: Southeast Asia signaling its strength in the region.
The team has also won four series in the DPC SEA 2021-22 Tour 1: Division 1 and they appear to be well positioned to qualify for the first major of the season. Although the year did not get off to the best start for BOOM Esports, it might just reach new heights in 2022 with its new roster.
Surprisingly, it was OB.Neon who lit SEA's torch in the DPC 2021. They finished second in the first league of the DPC 2021, impressing many in the region and exploded in the Singapore Major playoffs despite playing with stand-ins. OB.Neon's unique play style caught several of its opponents in the Major with their pants down. The team was eventually eliminated in a commendable 5th-6th place after going toe-to-toe against European giants Team Secret in a full BO3.
OB.Neon has unfortunately regressed since then. The performance in season 2 of the DPC 2021 and the TI10 SEA qualifiers was not good enough to secure them a place in LAN events. OB.Neon's downward trajectory also resulted in roster adjustments, which has subjectively resulted in a decline in quality,
OB.Neon’s new DPC 2021-22 roster is devoid of wins in all three series it has played so far. The roster consists of misfits who have the potential but lack the experience of past results. A tough road lies ahead for this squad.
3. TNC Predator
According to the rankings, TNC Predator was the third best team in SEA in 2021. However, according to TNC Predator's standards, it had its worst year since 2015 since it did not qualify for TI10 for the first time since its appearance on the mainstage in TI6. In a DPC format that is already unforgiving, TNC Predator did not do well to start off the year, as it failed to qualify for the first major of the 2021 DPC.
However, it reshuffled its roster and signed an all-Filipino lineup, which resulted in a brief resurgence coupled with signs of promise at the WePlay AniMajor. Although they started out slowly, the team became a consistent performer with balanced drafts. But the underwhelming performance in the first league hurt its chances, as it failed to qualify directly for TI10.
A few days later came the TI10 qualifier, and TNC Predator was considered the favorite. While the team showed great tenacity in its upper bracket run, a heartbreaking reverse sweep in the grand final ended its streak. Despite being 2-0 ahead in the grand final, it lost the next three games, thus missing out on TI10.
The failure to qualify for TI10 despite the team looking like it was back on track led to the departure of all five players, in particular the trio of Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte, Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios, and Timothy John "Tims" Randrup who had been with the lineup since 2018.
Kim "Febby" Yong-min, former coach and captain, returned to lead a roster of young players in the DPC 2021-22, but honestly, it seems to be one of the weakest teams in the Upper Division. With four losses in four games, relegation to the Lower Division seems very likely.
For an organization like TNC Predator that has enjoyed success with its Dota 2 roster and has produced top results consistently, relegation to the Lower Division is going to be a significant blow. So, Febby and his teammates will be under a lot of pressure and they will have to come back after the ongoing break, and show why they should be given another chance.
Fnatic had a roller-coaster of a year in 2021. It had its highs but also suffered several setbacks due to the competitiveness of SEA Dota 2. Despite a stellar start to the DPC 2021 with a first place finish, the team did not perform well at the Singapore Major nor Season 2.
Fnatic had to play a last chance TI10 qualifier at the biggest tournament of the year and by the narrowest of margins, it edged TNC Predator in the grand final to qualify for TI10. Over this period, the team continued to make roster changes, trying to find the best combination of players and roles that would bring them success.
A lot of what the side did in TI10 reflected the mixed performances it had overall. Fnatic delivered results in some series, such as a 2-0 win against Team Secret in the Group Stages, but underperformed in others, eventually ending up eliminated in the 9th-12th place.
At present, Fnatic looks average in the DPC 2021-22 with two wins in four series. Due to its players’ skill coupled with a stellar track record, the team could mount a serious comeback in the second half.
There was one team in the region that remained strong despite the intense competition and consistently performed well throughout the year, and that was T1. The team had a terrific year with the exception of its second last place (15th) finish at the Singapore Major 2021, where it was without its captain Carlo "Kuku" Palad. Among the top results were top three finishes in both leagues, a third place finish at the WePlay AniMajor, a win at ESL One Summer 2021, and a top eight finish at TI10.
The caravan that launched SEA's international presence began with OB.Neon, but T1 carried it all throughout the year, establishing itself as one of the top teams in the world. T1’s teamfight execution was one of the main talking points of this season as was its ability to mount late game comebacks. Despite being behind early on in many games, they fought back with vigor in teamfights to turn things upside down several times this season, displaying remarkable poise and tenacity that was rare in SEA, in the past couple of months. T1 was also one of the few SEA teams that produced exceptional drafts.
As the only SEA team to have retained its roster in Division 1 of the DPC 2021-22, T1 continues to be in top form. It has won all three series it has played in the Winter Tour and once again appears to be on track for a Major spot along with claiming its place in the upper echelons of SEA Dota 2.
Subscribe to AFK Gaming's Newsletter
Get a weekly recap of all the latest developments in the global esports industry with our esports business insights newsletter: AFK Weekly
Subscribe for free to receive insights, analysis and opinions on the biggest developments in esports business, provided by our team of experienced journalists in collaboration with thought leaders across the industry.