Undying: Talked with 15 teams before staying independent for TI

Kenneth Williams • July 27, 06:51

In the rocky world of professional Dota 2, North American squad Team Undying has chosen to go it alone. 

The champions of the North America TI10 qualifier have confirmed that they will attend The International 10 as a completely independent roster with a slight name change. The Team Undying name and brand will continue to be owned by the players and staff. The move comes after a flurry of rumors and Undying’s own hints at a potential sponsorship. WIN.gg spoke with Undying manager Peter “Panders” Anders to learn why the players chose to remain independent and how they will prepare for The International 10.

WIN.gg: There were rumors about many prominent esports organizations sponsoring your team. The TSM FTX rumor was most prominent. Why did Undying ultimately choose independence?

Peter “Panders” Anders, Undying manager: I don’t want to go into this in too much detail, but I will say that we were in contact with many [esports organizations]. Between July 3 when we qualified and July 23 when we had to submit our logo and team name, I had video meetings with about 15 teams. We reached favorable terms with several, however due to the short time constraints and the legal complications, we decided it would be safer to stay independent. 

Many top Dota 2 teams are owned by players. OG, Team Secret, and Nigma are among them. Why do some Dota 2 teams prefer the player-owned model?

It depends largely on the region. (North America) is particularly difficult because the price of living is so high, but one of the appeals of being player-owned is safety. Organizations can become financially unstable, can pay out slowly, try to take unnecessarily large cuts, ask for unreasonable things from players. The financial security and support [of being sponsored] are often outweighed by the potential risks.

Team Undying dominated the North American qualifier to earn an invite to TI10. Did the team expect to perform so well? How did you celebrate?

We came into the qualifiers confident, but not cocky. For reference, we had roughly an hour-long discussion on how to approach our first match against The Cut. Every team was treated seriously and with respect.

As for the celebration, we didn’t do anything special. After all, this is just the beginning, not the end.

What’s the future for Team Undying? Merchandise, content, branching into other games? 

The future is hard to tell. I can say with confidence that the team has very good synergy and [the players have] grown tremendously with each other. That said, everything will likely come down to our TI10 results. Before managing this team, I was at university, however I’ve taken some time off to properly prepare and participate in TI. If Undying becomes a larger-scale organization with a level of financial security, that break may extend.

For this TI, I think our merchandise will be limited. I’m in the process of finding the best jersey supplier for the players. If we can’t find an easy way to produce a small number of jerseys, then we may try to sell some. Content will mostly be me and the players doing a bit of vlogging at our bootcamp. 

The International 10 is three months and likely one major patch away. How will the team prepare to play against teams from other regions? Does being independent affect the squad’s ability to train?

We plan on bootcamping thoroughly before TI, as will every other team participating. We will build more strategies as we scrim more, but we are quite excited to play against more teams outside our region.

If anything, being independent makes training easier, as we have no media obligations. Bootcamp is a little more tricky, but that’s what I’m here for.

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