Steven R. April 23, 2019
The most beloved player in Dota 2 has once again been left without a team.
Speaking on the team's Facebook page, Southeast Asia’s Tigers announced that it is parting ways with Danil “Dendi” Ishutin and support player Kenny "Xepher" Deo.
“Today we bid farewell to two of our dearest players, who we have gone through so much together with,” the team said in the announcement. “Both players have shown great camaraderie and dedication to the team, and the bootcamp will be a little more silent without their laughter, which will be sorely missed.”
In a statement of his own, Dendi acknowledged that the team’s poor results at recent events was the root cause of the breakup.
Tigers started the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season as one of the scene’s hottest new rosters. The former TNC Tigers squad split off from its previous organization and kicked off the year with first-place finishes at Southeast Asia Cyber Arena 2018 Finals and the Dreamleague Minor.
When the team finished in last place at the Kuala Lumpur Major and failed to qualify for the Chongqing Major, the wheels quickly came off. Carry player Lai "Ahjit" Jay Son and Muhammad "inYourdreaM" Rizky both left, and were replaced with a pair of veteran stars in Dendi and Chai "Mushi" Yee Fung.
While the lineup was attractive on paper, it were much less attractive in practice. Tigers failed to qualify for a number of notable tournaments including ESL One Mumbai and the MDL Disneyland Paris Major. That led to more changes, with Sivatheeban "1437" Sivanathapillai being the only constant.
With Dendi and Xepher now splitting from the team, 1437 is joined by only Kim "Velo" Tae-sung and Trịnh "458" Văn Thọ. The team will need a new mid laner and another support in order to make a run at the final major of the season, but it is uncertain if Tigers will even exist for that long. Shortly after the announcement, 1437 posted a lengthy thread on Twitter expressing disappointment in how the season had shaken out for Tigers and noting that he is “not sure what [his] future holds.”
As for Dendi and Xepher, it is unknown if either has anything lined up. Dendi remains listed as an inactive member of Natus Vincere. He has taken multiple stand-in opportunities during the year and seems likely to continue competing elsewhere on loan. Xepher enters free agency at a tumultuous time for the pro Dota 2 scene, which has been rocked by a number of high profile roster shakeups.
Answers for all parties are likely to come ahead of the qualifiers for the Epicenter Major qualifiers, which will begin in May.