After proving themselves in the Southeast Asia Qualifiers, Team SMG set their sights on the biggest Dota 2 stage.
Southeast Asia has always been full of daring Dota 2 teams looking for a shot at The International’s stage. You only need to look at how fierce the fighting was in the SEA Qualifiers to see the region’s drive. In the end, Team SMG came away with the right to be the second team to represent SEA in The International 2023 and it’s a moment they’ve been preparing for for years.
Team SMG (which stands for Still Moving under Gunfire) is a professional esports team established by the popular Singaporean singer JJ Lin. They’ve been kicking around since 2017 and have a presence in mobile esports such as PUBG: Mobile and Mobile Legends. Their Dota 2 team is still young however, only established in 2021, and it’s been an uphill climb ever since.
In short, Team SMG’s Dota 2 history can be described as full of ‘almost there’ moments. They’ve had middling results with occasional flashes of brilliance in the SEA Dota Pro Circuit. This unfortunately meant that they’d miss out on Majors, with the first one they’ve ever attended being the 2023 ESL One Berlin Major. In fact, it’s safe to say that people weren’t expecting them to win the SEA Qualifiers. The Philippines’ Blacklist International were the favorites yet Team SMG managed to sweep them twice to take their International spot.
It comes down to their unshakable attitude thanks to their team captain Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng. As one of SEA’s premier Dota 2 veterans, MidOne is no stranger to adversity in his career. Coming from humble beginnings, he’s played for international powerhouses like Team Secret and OG before returning home.
As rough as the season has been for Team SMG, the fact they were able to make a strong rally at the end shows that they are not to be trifled with. They head into The International as underdogs but are determined to prove that there’s another SEA team to watch out for.
Banner photos from Team SMG and Epicenter.