The International 2022: Huge prize pool, top teams, and three M'sian players to watch

The Aegis of Champions trophy, which goes to the winners of The International tournament for Dota 2. — Valve Corporation

The top professional Dota 2 teams are set to duke it out for the coveted Aegis trophy at the upcoming The International 2022, arguably the biggest esports competition in the world in terms of prize money.

Dota 2 game developer Valve first hosted The International tournament in 2011 with a modest US$1mil prize pool. As of press time, the current prize pool for the upcoming tournament is standing at around US$12.5mil (RM58mil), according to a tracker on a website set up by Valve.

Last year’s competition featured a mouth-watering US$40mil (RM185.18mil) in total prize pool, with first place winner Team Spirit from Russia taking home US$18.2mil (RM84.25mil).

This year’s tournament will be held in Singapore – its first time ever in South-East Asia – starting with the Last Chance qualifiers on Oct 8-12, followed by the Group Stage on Oct 15-18 and then Playoffs on Oct 20-23. The finals will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Oct 29-30.

So far, 18 teams are set to compete for the tournament with two more spots up for grabs through the Last Chance qualifiers. The teams looking to get their hands on the Aegis trophy include reigning champion Team Spirit, PSG.LGD from China, Boom Esports from Indonesia and Evil Geniuses from the US.

Malaysian connection

In terms of local participation, Malaysian fans can look forward to seeing players like Cheng Jin Xiang or NothingToSay in action again with team PSG.LGD, which came in second in the last tournament and earned US$5.2mil (RM24.12mil). In an interview with Bernama last year, Cheng said his goal is to take home the championship title.

“TI10 was a very good experience for me, my ambition is to win the title,” he said. Cheng’s career in esports started at age 17, when he competed in small tournaments with friends.

He later received an opportunity to join and train with a team in China and never looked back. This year, his team seems to be off to a good start – in July, PSG.LGD faced Team Spirit in the Riyadh Masters 2022 finals and won 2-0, taking home US$1.5mil (RM6.93mil).

Cheng will return to The International with PSG.LGD. — Valve CorporationCheng will return to The International with PSG.LGD. — Valve Corporation

Two Malaysian players are also in China-based team Royal Never Give Up – Yap Jian Wei aka xNova and Daniel Chan Kok Hong aka Ghost. Yap competed in The International back in 2018 when he won second place with former team PSG.LGD.

Yap tweeted that it “feels good” to have qualified for the International while Chan posted “first TI wohoo” on Twitter. Team Royal Never Give Up also competed in Riyadh Masters 2022 and came in sixth, earning US$200,000 (RM933,800).

Now, local fans can also look out for Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung, widely considered as one of the most prolific Dota 2 players from Malaysia. Back in 2013, Chai with former team Malaysia-based Orange Esports came in third place at The International in 2013, earning at the time a sum of US$287,438. He also competed at The International in 2014, 2016 and 2018 with various teams.

This year, Chai is heading to The International as the coach for Boom Esports, a position he held since 2021.

One of the team’s best achievements for the year include winning first place at the Gamers Galaxy: Invitational Series Dubai 2022, taking home US$108,986 (RM503,406).

In an interview with Yahoo! News, Chai said he is still learning as a coach and feels that he has a lot to improve on, especially in terms of his communication skills.

“The way I speak can be a little bit crude, and on top of that, English is also not my strongest language. On the other hand, I do think that I have a great understanding of the players I have in my team, and being a former pro player, I am also knowledgeable about the game. I have a lot of ideas and opinions about the game,” he said.

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