With his prized stars set to enter free agency, TNC owner Eric Redulfin bared that this is the most challenging situation for him since the post-shuffle that transpired right after The International Six, he revealed on Tuesday in an exclusive interview that aired on the organization’s Facebook page.
Last Monday, the organization announced that all five of its players, including the trio of Timothy “Tims” Randrup, Armel “Armel” Tabios, and Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte will officially become free agents on Wednesday.
Though the organization did not reveal if it is still re-negotiating terms with the trio, it looked like the three are on their way out of the squad during the exclusive interview.
“To be honest, this is the most challenging situation that we’ve experienced as an organization since TI6,” said TNC owner Eric Redulfin.
“Siyempre yung current situation natin uncertain, hindi natin alam kung kalian siya magiging normal, yung wait [or TI parang ang tagal talaga siyang hintayin hindi lang siguro sa organization pero sa players as well,” added Redulfin.
TNC achieved its first major breakthrough in the Dota 2 scene back in 2016 after becoming the first Filipino team to qualify for The International since Mineski in TI1.
The team composed of Carlo “Kuku” Palad, Polo “Raven” Fausto, Nico “eyyou” Barcelon, Samson “Sam_H” Hidalgo, ang Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho immediately made waves in the tournament, booting out OG in what could be the biggest upset in the history of The International.
TNC eventually bowed out of the tournament in the next series against Digital Chaos, but that 7th-8th place performance definitely put Philippine Dota on the map.
However, the team never reached full potential as regional rival Fnatic managed to lure TNC’s top stars in Raven, DeMoN, and eyyou out of TNC – leaving Kuku and Sam_H the only remnants of that historical 2016 squad.
Prior to TI7, Raven reunited with his former squad after a failed initial run with Fnatic. TNC then picked up a local rising star in Tims while also bringing in veteran internationalist Sivatheeban “1437” Sivanathapillai to bolster the squad.
TNC finished at 9th-12th in TI7, followed by a 13th-16th in TI8 with Armel and 9th-12th with the arrival of Gabbi in TI9.
With entering 2020 without veterans Kuku and eyyou, the troika of Armel, Tims, and Gabbi was finally leading the charge for the best Filipino Dota 2 squad.
And without a doubt, the three youngsters delivered – leading TNC to its first Major championship in the MDL Chengdu Major while also becoming the first Southeast Asian squad to win an ESL title in Hamburg.
Together with foreign reinforcements Damien “kpii” Chok and Park “March” Tae-won, the team surged to the top early in the Dota Pro Circui 2019-2020 rankings – becoming the first-ever Filipino squad to place number one in the DPC rankings worldwide.
All the hard work, however, went down the drain after Valve was forced to scrap the entire DPC season.
Due to travel restrictions, the team suffered ping issues with kpii and March playing out of the region which caused them to miss the ONE Esports Singapore Major after a disastrous fourth place finish in the opening season of the DPC Southeast Asia.
Though the team managed to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor in Season Two after fielding in an all-Filipino squad, it was still not enough to receive a direct invitation at TI10.
The team then had the chance to enter the prestigious Dota 2 tournament in the SEA Regional qualifiers but was handed a 3-2 reverse sweep by Fnatic – ending the organization’s TI streak at four appearances.
Now, with TNC set to enter a new era without the stars that helped them regain glory, Redulfin can’t help but be sad to see his players-turned-sons go. He, however, feels accomplished already knowing that his players have already built their respective foundations in life through the help of TNC.
And he’s just happy to see that the kids he embraced with open arms are heading out of the organizations as men and role models to the future generation of esports stars.
“I want them to set a good example para yung community and yung industriya na minamahal natin ay talagang mag grow. There’s a career in esports, na pagkatapos nila meron silang mapupuntahan.
“Kumbaga, yun yung isa sa mga dream ko nga sa esports athletes and players na sana ‘pag tapos nila as professionals mayroon silang napupuntahan na hindi yung wala na yung career nila, wala na rin sila,” shared Redulfin.
“At the end of the day magkakaroon din sila ng sari-sarili nilang pamilya, ‘di ba? Merong pupuntahan yung inispend nila sa oras sa career nila as Dota players. Sila, may mga TNC naman sila e. Aside from TNC, puwede rin silang mag open ng business o kung kailangan nila ng advice from us tutulungan din namin sila,” he added.
And for all the glory that they have given the organization, Redulfin said that he is not closing his doors on Armel, Tims, and Gabbi. And if they decide to come back, TNC will always be there waiting for them.
“Pero welcome pa rin kayo ha, welcome pa rin kayo sa TNC ha. Sabihin niyo lang sa amin, you’re always welcome kahit na hindi sa Dota. Kilala niyo naman ako, nalalapitan niyo naman ako.”