Thumbnail Image © Team Faceless
On December last year, I wrote about the dominance of Team Faceless, who shocked the SEA community at large, after finishing the Boston Major SEA Qualifiers undefeated. Back then, they were this newly-established, Singapore-based organization formed and funded by Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang.
Now, after more than nine months of dominance over the region, I’m pretty sure we all recognize Team Faceless. Team Faceless has been called by many names over the course of their reign: The Gatekeepers or The Kings of SEA, and the telling The Filipino Slayers.
Somehow, iceiceice and his squad were often viewed as a villain in the eyes of the Filipino Dota community because of them always robbing Filipino teams off their chance to qualify in premier tournaments. Even if Faceless didn’t do very well on the international stage, they still managed to claim every qualifier slot.
In every SEA Qualifiers, the predictions were always Team Faceless + a Filipino team. I’m sure the same predictions went for The International 7 SEA Qualifiers but, in everyone’s surprise, it went a different way.
After a year of dominance in the region, Team Faceless failed to qualify for the most important Dota 2 tournament of the year after suffering multiple beatings from the hands of Filipino SEA teams.
The International 7 SEA Qualifiers journey of Team Faceless in a nutshell
They ran into TNC Pro Team, then Fnatic-Dota, followed by an upset by Execration. Despite having three losses, Team Faceless would have still advanced onto the next round of the qualifier when Linuel “Teehee” Abanto’s Geek Fam got into the way.
Mathematically speaking, Geek Fam had no chance to qualify further into the next round. Nevertheless, they still fought their hearts out against Team Faceless to force out a tie-breaker against Execration. After that, we all know what happened next:
No matter how much I used to despise Team Faceless for stepping over the hopes of my favorite Filipino teams, their failure to qualify at The International 2017 brought legitimate sadness to me. I know that I am not alone on this one.
It’s like how we hated villains like Itachi Uchiha, or Severus Snape, all series long only to find out that by the time their defeat was to come, we found ourselves having grown to respect them. Despite being a tough villain to Filipino teams we just can’t hate Team Faceless and here’s why:
They are Good
Team Faceless legitimately play good Dota and that should never be a reason for hatred even if they do it against Filipino teams. As I said, they are so good that I am 99% sure that they were your SEA Qualifiers Second Place in your Battle Pass Compendium predictions (next to TNC Pro Team).
They’re a set of honest and driven players trying to prove themselves among the sea of contenders. More than that, Team Faceless are obliged to be good. As Dominik "Black^" Reitmeier revealed in an interview, they don’t eat if they don’t win as they rely on their winnings for their expenses.
They stood up for Singapore
For some, Team Faceless is a hero.
In a reddit thread posted after the round-robin stage of The International 7 SEA Qualifiers subsided, a fan expressed his salutations to the squad for giving the Singaporeans “a little bit of recognition over the past year.”
He wrote that for a society which disapproves of gaming, Team Faceless’ massive feats in Dota 2 is a “big step forward”. While, like me, he finds it sad for Faceless’ failure to qualify at TI7, he also hopes the best for the team.
They redefined SEA Dota
Team Faceless aren’t called The Gatekeepers of SEA for no reason.
If you want your team to qualify to a premiere tournament, you have to go through Team Faceless first. This has been the rule in the region for the earlier part of the season: beat Faceless or they’ll represent SEA like they always do.
In the same reddit thread above, a TNC fan thanked Team Faceless for “raising the bar of SEA Dota”. Back then, SEA teams were not as competitive as they were today. But with Faceless setting the bar, teams were forced to level up their skills.
We love iceiceice
Remember how we loved iceiceice’s antics during The Manila Masters despite eliminating the local heroes, Clutch Gamers? I can recall the hyped Manila crowd cheering every time the camera focused on the tongue-in-cheek owner of Team Faceless. Especially when he did this:
That’s iceiceice being iceiceice. But besides being a funny individual and, at the same time, one of the greatest offlaners of all time, iceiceice also stands as the father of Team Faceless. As some of you might not know yet, Team Faceless is funded by iceiceice’s tournament winnings.
His sheer passion and dedication to give his hometown recognition in Dota 2 led him to build the team despite countless odds stacked against him. In addition, iceiceice’s interest in the region also piqued his decision to move to SEA. For him, SEA lacks a consistent line-up that can compete in tournaments. Now it does, and iceiceice has played a hand in that growth.
But sadly, his transfer to SEA led him to miss The International for the first time.
As the dust settles, we can’t deny the fact just like Filipino teams, or any teams on that matter, Team Faceless are just trying to be the best in the world, and they’re still one of the best in the region.