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For Gaimin Gladiators, it’s ‘win or nothing’ at The International 11 in Singapore

Oct 15, 2022

They have creativity on their side, but will the Gladiators win the crowd and the Aegis at TI11?

The International 11 (TI11) has finally begun, featuring 20 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world vying for the chance to claim the lion’s share of a massive multimillion-dollar prize pool as well as the coveted Aegis of Champions.

Among the competing teams is rising Western European squad Gaimin Gladiators, who burst into the scene during the Winter and Spring Tours of the 2021-2022 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season and secured a direct invite to this year’s world championship tournament.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Esports SEA, Gaimin Gladiators’ carry player, Anton “dyrachyo” Shkredov, succinctly described the team’s goals for TI11.

“Win, of course. Win or nothing,” said dyrachyo.

It’s a sentiment echoed by almost every team in the DPC, with how much the Dota 2 esports scene is centred around TI.

But just looking at how Gaimin Gladiators will perform at TI doesn’t do justice to the team’s journey to get there.

They have creativity on their side, but will the Gladiators win the crowd and the Aegis at TI11? (Source: Gaimin Gladiators)

Starting life as Team Tickles

The Gaimin Gladiators roster began the season as an unsponsored stack called Team Tickles. The team surpassed all expectations when they placed second in the Winter regional league, which prompted the Gaimin Gladiators organisation to sign them up.

That partnership immediately bore fruit as the team won the Western European Winter Regional Finals in their first event as the Gaimin Gladiators.

Team captain Melchior “Seleri” Hillenkamp noted that getting picked up by an organisation felt like winning a prize after working so hard. “For me, it feels like there is less pressure now, and it’s like we got rewarded for grinding for three months, practicing more than any other team while being Team Tickles,” said Seleri.

Gaimin Gladiators continued to dominate in Western Europe, finishing second in the Spring regional league, and qualifying for the ESL One Stockholm Major, their first Major and LAN event as a team. They finished the Stockholm Major in fourth place, which was enough to secure a direct invite to TI11.

But there were some hiccups for the Gaimin Gladiators before they got to TI11, as they barely escaped relegation in the Summer Tour. Seleri believed that the long DPC season took its toll on some players and affected their gameplay.

“Some of us felt a bit burned out. Speaking for myself, I was at least. We had a really long boot camp before the Major and our coach, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to Sweden so we also had the additional burden of drafting,” said Seleri.

“We did it together and everything was prepared in advance, but I still had to execute it on stage, even though we did everything together. That took a lot of extra energy from us.”

Bad luck, not a drop in motivation

One of the interesting things about the DPC is that, after qualifying for TI, teams aren’t incentivised to place first at either the regional leagues or the Majors. Avoiding relegation is usually the primary goal for most teams after they secure their spot at The International.

When we asked Seleri if the team’s motivation dropped after two fantastic Tours, he stated that it didn’t and it came down to bad luck in the third Tour.

“We really want to play every tournament and try our best to win. It’s true that it feels like you already achieved something you were working for during the year, but I think us not performing in the third season had more to do with the reasons I named prior, and some random factors as well,” said Seleri.

But all that is behind them now.

The Gaimin Gladiators are now playing in the most important tournament of the year, and they took their preparations for it very seriously. Midlaner Miroslav “BOOM” Bičan told us the things the team did every day ahead of TI11, and it was a very busy schedule.

“Basically everyone started playing a lot of pubs after a break and before bootcamp started, which is very important to get familiar with the new patch and all the heroes. And then we started scrimming slowly from home,” said BOOM.

“We bootcamped in Malaysia and we played basically all day, like four to six scrims plus replays and as many pubs as we can.”

Going to TI is a massive achievement for every Dota 2 professional player. The first-ever TI was in 2011, more than 11 years ago. Multiple players going to this year’s TI weren’t even teenagers in 2011.

For BOOM, playing at TI has been his goal since he first watched the tournament all those years ago. “It has always been my dream to play at TI, I remember watching TI with some of my friends and saying that one day I’m gonna play there, and they would just laugh and say that it’s almost impossible,” said BOOM. “Now I’m actually gonna play there and they are gonna watch, so it is very exciting and I’m super motivated.”

And as dyrachyo said, the Gaimin Gladiators are all-in on claiming the Aegis of Champions. As with every team in Singapore, it’s win or nothing for them.

Gaimin Gladiators are one of the 20 teams competing in TI11, which will be hosted in Singapore from 15 to 30 October and features a revamped format and a longer schedule.

The tournament will begin with a Group Stage from 15 to 18 October, where 20 teams will fight to become among the 16 squads to advance to the Main Event.

TI11’s Main Event will be a double-elimination bracket and is split into two phases, the first being held from 20 to 23 October while the second will take place from 29 to 30 October.

For everything you need to know about TI11, check here.

Gaimin Gladiators roster:

  1. Anton “dyrachyo” Shkredov
  2. Miroslav “BOOM” Bičan
  3. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard
  4. Erik “tOfu” Engel
  5. Melchior “Seleri” Hillenkamp
  6. Daniel “ImmortalFaith” Moza (coach)

Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.

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