Reigning TI champions Tundra Esports are at risk of exiting the Dota 2 Riyadh Masters early, and their chances of surviving the group stage have been dealt a further blow with the loss of their support for the second-straight major tournament.
Entering day three of the group stage, Tundra currently sits at just 2-6 and is tied last with TSM, with neither team progressing should they not reverse their fortunes in the final two matchdays. However, Tundra will have to continue their Riyadh campaign without support Martin “Saksa” Sazdov who has withdrawn from the tournament.
Tundra’s post to Twitter on July 22 confirmed the Macedonian would be ruled out for the remainder of the Riyadh Masters, citing illness as the main reason. Saksa himself tweeted an hour later with a more in-depth explanation. “[I] have been struggling a bit lately with anxiety, sleep, and mental health, and due to that I won’t be playing more at Riyadh,” Saksa said, apologizing to his teammates and his organization.
The ever-capable Aui_2000 will enter Saksa’s place, with the player-turned-coach standing in for Tundra for the second major Dota 2 tournament in a row. Saksa was unable to finish with the team at the Bali Major in late June with his late withdrawal there also due to a medical issue. Unlike in Bali, however, Tundra hasn’t yet secured a playoff spot in Riyadh and must win at least one of their remaining series to give themselves a decent shot at the playoffs.
While it is believed Saksa’s absence in Bali was due to a physical illness, members of the community are beginning to question the busy back end to the competitive Dota season which has seen teams travel across the globe frequently over the past few months—no doubt taking its toll on players’ mental health.
Oversaturation, among other issues, is one element of the Dota Pro Circuit calendar that players want to address with Valve following the return of The International to its ancestral home in Seattle, Washington in October.
Before then, Aui and Tundra must negotiate the rest of the Riyadh Masters tournament. Tundra takes to the server against TSM and Team Liquid—both of whom will be looking to correct their failing campaigns.
The Riyadh Masters resumes today at 4am CT, with the group stage wrapping up on July 23.