One of Dota 2’s top free agents has found a new home.
According to an announcement by the team on Twitter, Johan “pieliedie” Åström is the new captain of North America’s Forward Gaming. The move reunites him with former Cloud9 teammates Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling and Arif “MSS” Anwar.
Pieliedie is a familiar name for any longtime fan of Dota 2. A staple of the European scene from 2012 to 2017, he played with a number of top organizations including Mousesports and Team Secret. He partnered up with Jacky “EternalEnVy” Mao in 2017 in Team NP, and made the jump to Southeast Asia with him on Fnatic.
Though EternalEnVy returned to North America in 2018, Pieliedie remained in Asia, jumping from Fnatic to Clutch Gamers and eventually Mineski at the start of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season. Despite sporting an exceptional lineup on paper, Mineski missed out on the first two majors of the season. When the team finally broke through and competed at the DreamLeague Major, they endured a disappointing 12th-place finish. That led to the team parting ways with Pieliedie in March, leaving him a free agent.
The Swede now adds to an already solid Forward Gaming lineup, and could be the piece that helps the team break through to the next level.
Despite standing as one of the best teams in North America, Forward Gaming has struggled in international tournaments throughout the season. The squad has remained active and qualified for each major thus far. But every time Forward has stepped under the spotlight, it has failed to capitalize.
That led to an extensive roster shakeup in March, with early results looking positive despite a recent stumble at the OGA Dota PIT Minor.
Pieliedie replaces Kartik “Kitrak” Rathi as both captain and support. Though Kitrak has looked solid with Forward Gaming to this point, Pieliedie marks an undeniable upgrade in terms of experience and arguably in pure mechanical skill. Alongside the likes of MSS and Quinn “CCnC” Callahan, he could be the piece that helps bring Forward Gaming to the next level.
The team faces a big test on May 15 with the start of the North American qualifiers for the Epicenter Major. There are still several direct invites to The International 2019 up for grabs, and if Forward Gaming can live up to their potential they might have a real chance of securing one.