Fnatic DJ, T1 Kuku, BOOM Esports TIMS

Three SEA Storylines to Watch for at ESL One Stockholm Major 2022

Vignesh Raghuram
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With the ESL One Stockholm Major 2022 just around the corner, Dota 2 fans have already started to prepare for the massive tournament that will see a Major champion being crowned for the first time this Dota 2 Pro Circuit season. The fact that the tournament will be played in front of a roaring live audience just adds to the excitement surrounding the event.

Southeast Asia (SEA) fans in particular have a lot to look forward to. The region hasn’t really had too much success in international tournaments. Oftentimes, the region has only one team that makes a deep run and has the burden of carrying the hopes of the whole of SEA Dota 2 on its shoulders. However, this time at the Stockholm Major, it looks like things are going to be different.

Fnatic, T1, and BOOM Esports are arguably the three strongest Dota 2 sides that the SEA region has ever produced and look primed to take the Major by storm. Even popular Dota 2 streamer Janne "Gorgc" Stefanovski agrees that this will be "the SEA" Major.

Here are the best Southeast Asian storylines heading into the Stockholm Major.

Kings of SEA, Kings of the World?

BOOM Esports at Gamers Galaxy

In SEA, BOOM Esports made the biggest splash of the post-TI10 roster shuffle season after it announced the signings of some of the hottest emerging talents in the region with the new-look roster instantly becoming one of the top teams in SEA. But not many imagined that this BOOM Esports roster would look THIS good.

Despite only making it to Division 1 by a stroke of luck, the team went on a tear decimating the SEA region to win both the DPC SEA 2021/2022 Tour 1: Division I and DPC SEA 2021/2022 Tour 1: Regional Final, sporting its own unique flair that still hasn’t been figured out by the rest of the pack.

BOOM Esports then went on to underline its credentials against some of the best teams in Western Dota 2 by bringing home the Gamers Galaxy: Invitational Series Dubai 2022 trophy in style. While the team has slowed down a little, ‘only’ securing a second-place finish in the DPC SEA 2021/2022 Tour 2 due to internet issues, it still remains a favorite to take the Stockholm Major 2022.

What makes BOOM Esports incredible is that there is no single star that makes the team. It is a combination of Souliya "JaCkky" Khoomphetsavong’s reliable carry play, Erin Jasper "Yopaj" Ferrer unparalleled midlane prowess, CEO Saieful "Fbz" Ilham’s crippling teamfight control, and Timothy John "Tims" Randrup and Andrei "skem" Ong’s devastating ganks that makes it so hard to play against.

And the most worrisome problem for BOOM’s opponents is that even when the team is on the ropes, its incredible composure and ironclad mentality (which must be credited to coach Chai “Mushi” Fung) combined with its unsurpassed teamfight prowess makes it so that BOOM is never out of a match until its opponents have taken down the Ancient. When you are playing against BOOM, there simply can be no mistakes. You cannot give it any openings or the team will punish you and take away your hard-earned advantage with one beautifully crafted teamfight.

Expectations are high and all eyes will be on BOOM Esports this major as it begins its lofty endeavor to be crowned as the Stockholm Major 2022’s champion.

Can Fnatic overcome international LAN jitters?

Raven at TI10

Fabrizio Beladetti | Valve

Fnatic has a reputation for choking at international LANs over the years. The team is a powerhouse in regional leagues winning numerous regional Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC) leagues and qualifiers to become a regular fixture in the biggest LAN tournaments on the Dota 2 calendar. Sadly, this has not translated into championships.

In fact, Fnatic’s best finish at an international LAN since 2020 is 9th-12 place. For a team that is so dominant in SEA, that is a poor return, especially considering some of the superstars that it has had on the roster. ESL One Stockholm Major 2022 is a chance for the team to change this narrative.

The team looked in fine form in the SEA DPC 2021/22 Tour 2, securing the top spot, and is currently amongst the Top 12 DPC teams that will receive a direct invite to The International 2022. The team even bested BOOM Esports that was fresh off a win at the Gamers Galaxy: Invitational Series Dubai 2022.

Fnatic finally seems to have found the right mix of talent and experience which has given it an extra edge this season. Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong has been a revelation in the offlane, putting an unrelenting amount of pressure on the opposing carry with the help of Djardel "DJ" Mampusti, disrupting and flustering the entire enemy side. With Armel Paul "Armel" Tabios and Marc Polo Luis "Raven" Fausto being ever so composed even in grueling phases of the game, Fnatic has looked like a different unit in the tour.

In terms of talent, potential, and strategy; Fnatic has all the tools it needs to excel in the Major. Can the team penetrate this 9th-12th place barrier at international LANs and truly live up to its potential? That’s the big question that will be answered at the Stockholm Major 2022.

Freed from its internet shackles, T1 has a statement to make

T1 at TI10

Fabrizio Beladetti | Valve

If you tuned into the middle of a T1 match this DPC season, I wouldn’t be surprised if you encountered a pause screen. The team has been plagued with internet issues throughout the season, some of which were so severe that it had to travel to TNC Predator’s bootcamp in the middle of a series to play out the final game that secured it a place in the ESL One Stockholm 2022 Major. Now that it is finally there, T1 has the chance to show the world what it is truly capable of without the frustrating internet issues.

There is no doubt that T1 is a world-class team. The team was considered SEA’s greatest hope in The International 10 and was the best performing team in the previous DPC season, in fact, the only one to secure a direct invite to TI10. With a respectable 7th-8th place finish at the tournament, the team was projected to once again dominate the SEA region once again.

However, things didn’t go according to plan. The emergence of BOOM Esports as a powerhouse, and Fnatic’s resurgence have put a check on T1’s dominance. The team has indeed shown quick flashes of brilliance through this DPC season but is yet to showcase its awe-inspiring plays from last season.

The team is certainly good, but it isn’t the world-beater that it was deemed just a few months earlier. Perhaps this is why the team turned to Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte for Tour 2, replacing Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon in its lineup. At first, it seemed like T1 hadn’t quite figured out its optimal playstyle or how to adapt Gabbi to its playstyle, but as the Tour went on, it became clear that his addition has reinvigorated the lineup, slowly building up momentum heading into the major.

Whether or not this roster change or ‘the LAN effect’ is enough to return T1 to its former glory is left to be seen, but if it can recapture the form it displayed in last year’s WePlay AniMajor (where it secured a third-place finish), then T1 fans, Master Kuku and the rest of the gang will have reason to rejoice.

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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.