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Argentina’s Dota 2 pro puts it on the line for Pan American Esports Championships 2023

Mariano Andres Caneda risks visa for Santiago 2023, driven by passion and love for esports

Mariano Andres Caneda of Argentina, a professional Dota 2 player in Peru, was told he’d lose his travel visa if he came to Chile for the Pan American Esports Championships. Such is his dedication to esports, and excitement to represent his country at this prestigious tournament, he didn’t think twice.

Caneda, 28, has been a pro player for 10 years and has spent the last six of them between his homeland of Argentina and Peru, where he is part of a Dota 2 team.

When the chance came to be capped for his homeland at the first Pan American Esports Championships, staged by the Global Esports Federation and Panam Sports, at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, he leaped at it.

“I love my country, but it’s difficult to play for them because I make a living in Peru,” he says. “We don’t get any monetary rewards to do this, but I always want to play for Argentina when there is a chance. I calculated every day and took the chance to come.

“When I was coming to Santiago, there was an issue with my visa. They told me I could only travel on this passport three times, and if I came here, you’re going to lose it. You’re going to have to come back as a tourist.

“But this is the first tournament of this magnitude for me. I didn’t want to miss the chance.”

Such is Caneda’s commitment to esports and his country, that shouldn’t be a surprise. He has been risking everything for his passion since he was a child.

“When I was ten, I was a shy kid, my parents changed my school, and I needed to find something I was passionate about,” he says. “I dedicated five or six hours a day to Dota.

“I wasn’t professional, but I loved that it was challenging. As I grew up, my parents didn’t believe me that the pro competition existed. They said ‘this is a scam, you’ll travel then never come back. They’ll kidnap you’.

“There was lots of resistance. But when I was 18, I went and did it. Now, my parents love it! They watch every game I play and send me messages, ‘Let’s go, Argentina!’ That Dota 2 has been recognized at the Pan American Games is incredible.”

Esports becoming part of the traditional sports landscape feels entirely natural to Caneda.

“I love the Pan American Games,” he says. “Being here, seeing the basketball players and footballers doing their art – getting up at 5am, traveling, training, that is unbelievable.

“Seeing every discipline and every athlete here is fun to watch. I have been playing basketball with the Uruguayan rugby players and talking to the Argentina volleyball team.

“Nobody understands that we are here for esports, that we are included in this, and the reaction is amazing.

“They ask us ‘how do you make a living?’ and we explain. I love playing tennis, basketball, football, rugby, volleyball.”

Caneda, who hopes to set up and coach his own team in a few years when he stops playing himself, knows that dreams can be achieved in esports. “I had to save my own money, I had a month to become a pro,” he recalls of his tough beginnings.

“If you love the game and want to follow that way of life, you have to dedicate every moment to it. The start is the roughest. Don’t expect people to help you for no reason.

“But I love competition, I like travel. I know working hard makes me better at what I’m doing. Look for progression every day and you’ll get better.” Caneda is living proof.


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