Two-time The International (TI) champions Anathan "ana" Pham and Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen are making their grand return to competitive play after they joined T1's Southeast Asian Dota 2 roster in a bid to qualify for The International 11 (TI11).
T1 officially listed ana as their new player while Topson was designated as a stand-in, according to the announcement on Tuesday (16 August).
Ana and Topson will be taking over the carry and midlaner roles from Kim "Gabbi" Villafuerte and Karl "Karl" Baldovino, who parted ways with the team on 11 August.
We'd like to officially welcome the newest addition to our #DOTA2 roster, @TopsonDota(stand-in) & @anadota99.💚💜
Please support us as we prepare for TI11's SEA Qualifier.#T1WIN #T1Fighting #T1DOTA2 pic.twitter.com/2cSsQYnxo3
— T1 (@T1) August 16, 2022
Ana and Topson are both legends of the Dota 2 competitive scene, having played huge roles in OG's incredible run to back-to-back TI championships in TI8 in 2018 and TI9 in 2019. Prior to joining T1, ana was retired while Topson was inactive.
Ana announced his retirement back in June 2021 after a short comeback stint back with OG in the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season. He apparently warmed up for his return to competitive play by standing-in for Team Liquid in the Riyadh Masters 2022 and for Royal Never Give Up in the PGL Arlington Major.
Meanwhile, Topson announced in November 2021 that he will be taking a break from competitive play in order to spend time with his family. During his time away from competitive play, Topson was staying in Malaysia and focused on streaming.
OG offered well-wishes to ana and Topson as they joined T1, declaring both players as "forever family" in a tweet from the team's official Twitter account.
"Jerseys can change, but their friendship won't. We cannot wait to see you grow under new colors, and to hopefully see you both at TI. Take care of our boys, T1. See you very soon," said OG.
Jerseys can change, but their friendship won't.
We cannot wait to see you grow under new colors, and to hopefully see you both at TI.
Take care of our boys, T1. See you very soon. ❤️#UnitedInRivalry pic.twitter.com/8kJcF0OTYs
— OG (@OGesports) August 16, 2022
The two TI champions will be joining forces with Carlo "Kuku" Palad, Kenny "Xepher" Deo, and Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon in T1.
T1 were the best team in Southeast Asia during the 2021 DPC season, being the only team from the region to earn a direct invite to TI10, where they finished in 7th-8th place.
However, T1 have put on a relatively disappointing showing in the current 2021-2022 season, finishing the ESL One Stockholm Major in 9th-12th place and missing out on the Arlington Major altogether.
As a result, the team failed to earn enough DPC points for a direct invite to TI11 and will have to earn their place in the tournament either through the regional qualifier or the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).
Ana and Topson will make their official debuts with T1 in TI11's Southeast Asian regional qualifier, which will take place from 3 to 18 September.
The winner of the qualifier will earn a spot in TI11's Group Stage while the second and third-placed teams will get another shot to qualify for the tournament through the LCQ.
TI11 is this year's iteration of Dota 2's marquee million-dollar world championship tournament. It will be hosted in Singapore in October, featuring a revamped format with 30 participating teams and a new LCQ.
T1 Dota 2 roster:
Anathan "ana" Pham
Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen (stand-in)
Carlo "Kuku" Palad
Kenny "Xepher" Deo
Matthew "Whitemon" Filemon
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