Earlier today, the third day of The International 2017 group stage was graced by DJ's signature Enchantress when Fnatic-Dota went against Team Empire.
We've seen how lethal the greatest Filipino player can be using this hero. Fnatic was able to reach their peak last year thanks to DJ's meta-defining four-position Enchantress.
However, the Enchantress DJ displayed earlier today against Team Empire was way far from the one we knew. We were used to seeing his jungling Enchantress sit at the second or third of the net worth chart, but a while ago, DJ ended his Enchantress game as the hero with the least amount of farm.
A 1/9/9 Enchantress with 4.8k gold in a 40-minute match. Ever since he returned to lead Fnatic in absence of Mushi, DJ has not really been himself. Gone were his moments with Enigma or Chen who would constantly micro out his way to the win or provide clutch, game-changing plays. What's left is a stuck playmaking potential playing ineffective supports like Witch Doctor.
Fnatic constantly ended all three days of their group stages at the bottom of their group. Sporting a 2-12 win-loss record, the chance of having another SEA representative at the main event relies on Infamous' performance. If the Peruvians manage to lose all their remaining matches and Fnatic win all of theirs, DJ's best chance of leading his team before KeyArena's massive crowd may be through a tie-breaker.
This may not be a major concern but right now, DJ has been failing to live up to his title from last year as the best Filipino Dota 2 player.
Could it be because Fnatic lacks a core player to play around like they did with MidOne (and to a certain degree, occasionally, Mushi)? Not that QO lacks the skill to carry his team but his specialty of melee agility heroes tends to disrupt Fnatic's economic equilibrium by requiring more gold. During DJ's time with Execration, the Filipino team proved that giving DJ more gold and a deeper role in teamfights was the best way to utilize DJ's talents, regardless of his position.
Another factor can be pointed to communication barrier. Their first attempt to build a SEA all-star team was a failure especially after Meracle failed to work out with them. It was only a few months before The International 2017 SEA qualifiers when this version of Fnatic was formed and have DJ take the helm. However, as confirmed by their coach and manager, Eric Khor, communication was never an issue. Then maybe it's DJ's leadership? Could he not be ready to wear the captain's mantle? He was always, after all, a fairly quiet player, best left to his own (effective) devices.
Or maybe, just maybe, DJ misses home. Playing overseas can be hard on anyone, no matter their abilities in Dota 2.
Fnatic's fate will be determined tomorrow as they face Evil Geniuses for their last group stage match.