Boxi, a player for Team Liquid, stands in the center with his Team Liquid teammates at Dota 2's The International tournament in Singapore in 2022.
Photo via Valve

Boxi gunning for a Dota 2 TI win despite health issues threatening to derail season

His resilience is awe-inspiring.

Only the hungriest and most dedicated Dota 2 players can make it to The International each year, but to walk away with the Aegis takes guts and sacrifice above all else—something that Team Liquid’s Samuel “Boxi” Svahn is all too familiar with.

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Boxi lines up for The International group stage this week, but just a few months ago, his competitive Dota career was scarily close to ending due to medical issues, as he revealed in a Team Liquid documentary on Oct. 8.

The full documentary gave fans an inside look into Boxi’s history—from his early days of gaming in Counter-Strike: Source and Heroes of Newerth to joining Alliance and later Liquid in Dota 2.

Boxi was forced to make a shock exit mid-way through Liquid’s Lima Major campaign in March due to a stomach problem, with a trip to the emergency room at a hospital revealing he had suffered major gastrointestinal bleeding. Stomach issues had been recurring throughout Boxi’s life, but he described the events at the Lima Major as “a big wake-up call.”

“I needed to both take care of myself physically and also to properly see a doctor,” Boxi reminisces, adding that issues with his stomach had gotten worse heading into the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit season. Boxi went on to say that, should his condition not improve, he may no longer be able to travel long distances—effectively ruling him out of professional Dota.

Boxi ultimately returned to compete online during DPC Tours Two and Three as well as at DreamLeague Season 19, before making an offline return at the ESL One Berlin Major in May.

It was the second time Boxi had taken a temporary break from Dota after originally stepping away from competing in 2021 to care for his mother, who sadly passed away after a long fight against cancer. He returned to the team ahead of the TI 2021 qualifier but the squad fell short of a spot at the pinnacle tournament.

Between his mother’s passing, missing TI, and the vitriol directed to him by the community who weren’t aware of Boxi’s situation, the Swedish star nearly threw in the towel—but during the TI break and after time to think, he was ready to recommit to Dota in a big way.

“At some point, we just ignored the noise, we didn’t think about the stakes,” Liquid coach William “Blitz” Lee said, with he and the rest of the Liquid roster more than willing to see Boxi return after his hiatus—and return he did.

Boxi was a major component in Liquid’s stellar 2022 online season which eventually culminated in a top three finish at TI 2022. Now, despite incredible hardship and tenacity, he’s back—and won’t let anyone stand in his way in Seattle this week.

Liquid enters TI 2023 as serious contenders after a season playing second fiddle to Gaimin Gladiators. The Road to The International and the group stage begins this Thursday, Oct. 12 at 12pm CT.


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Author
Nicholas Taifalos
Weekend editor for Dot Esports. Nick, better known as Taffy, began his esports career in commentary, switching to journalism with a focus on Oceanic esports, particularly Counter-Strike and Dota. Email: nicholas@dotesports.com