be_ixf;ym_202112 d_06; ct_100
Photos of Evil Geniuses Dota 2 at the ESL ONE Hamburg Major

Another Mountain to Climb

Dec 012017

Winning one TI isn’t enough. You have a very short span where you get to be a professional gamer, so I think if you have the option to play, you should play. I know for a lot of players, winning TI can make you lose a lot of motivation but for me specifically, it created a new challenge.

I won TI as a carry player and now I’m determined to win it as a support and captain. In my eyes, this is a completely different goal for a completely different game. Instead of just being able to play a role and simply be really good at it, I have to micro-manage and evolve an entirely new skill set which is very interesting to me. It’s honestly really exciting and is giving me a whole new passion for Dota. While playing carry, it got to the point where everything was a routine and I just knew what to do at every point in the game because I’d been doing it for so long. The motivation to learn a new role as a support and captain has given me a new mountain to climb.


The first obstacle I’ve had to conquer is injuries. I had forearm issues back in 2014 which caused a lot of pain while clicking — to the point where it was really hard to move my fingers. Leading all the way up to TI6, which was the last TI I played, it was excruciating. It hurt the entire tournament and the experience contributed to my retirement, which then led to my coaching stint. The last year has alleviated a lot of my forearm pain; it has gotten better in a way but it’s gotten worse in another. I recently developed thumb pain so I am still constantly battling arm injuries.


However, coaching was able to give me a new perspective, and in a way fuel my desire to return. As a coach I played pubs occasionally and mostly studied the game, but I truly just missed being able to play with the team. I was removed from the execution of my ideas — it was hard and watching from the sidelines was very unsatisfying. Perhaps it would have been a better experience with the new rules of allowing coaches in the booth, but I wasn’t able to do that. The only thing I was able to do was help prepare my players outside of the game and whatever happened after that was out of my hands. I wasn’t the one competing, so I didn’t have all the thrills that came with it. The part I enjoyed the most was being able to see my ideas in action find out if they would be successful, but I wanted to be with them in the booth.


During this time, I was also called a mentor to the younger players on my team like Sumail and Arteezy and I suppose I would agree. When I mentored, I tried to stay out of their individual performance or how they like to play. I was mainly just trying to get them to where they needed to be to win. With Artour, he’s a very talented player but it’s my job to try and find a way for him to work so we can win games. The experience of coaching my players has given me a lot of time to observe how they think about the game, and that gives me a better understanding of how to formulate strategies and drafts — which is helpful as the captain of our team.


Drafting will be a new and very exciting role for me. There are a lot of things to keep in mind while drafting so it is a very mentally stimulating process that, while stressful, can be very satisfying.

As a captain, I think it's important to use my teammates to help come to the most optimal draft for the team. I don't think one single player can just draft something without taking any input from their team and expect them to play the draft perfectly. I believe an important role of the drafter is to be able to filter the players’ advice and work to make everyone's ideas work together without having an overlap of ideas. Finding a balance between utilizing a player's strengths with the overall strategy is my number one goal as the captain of this team.


While the transition from coach to captain will be natural to me, the move from carry to support has been difficult. Coming into my new role I have had to relearn a lot of different things because this transition to the 5 role will be a major adjustment. I will be going from the player with the most farm to the player with the least in just about every single game.

Mechanically, I have to relearn how to position my screen and be in a good position for team fights. As a carry, I would always have the camera centered on my hero and I’d always be in the middle of fights. Now as a 5 position I’m very, very squishy. Most of the time the camera isn't even on my hero and I’m just extending on the outskirts of the fights so it’s a lot harder to play teamfights than it was before.


To be honest, I knew it was going to be really hard to make this transition. I didn’t expect playing the 5 position would be a super easy role to get into. I always thought there are a lot of small things that people overlook while playing the hard support. I have to learn a new skillset, how to position and what items to buy. As a 5 role, most of these games I only get to buy one item so I have to choose it very carefully.


One surprising benefit of playing support has been for my arm pain. It helps because right now, a lot of the time I spend on Dota doesn’t have to be playing. I can research opponents, watch replays and stuff like that where I don’t have to click around as much. I don’t necessarily have to play as much in this position because while individual skill is important, it’s not going to be as crucial as it is for a core player who has a lot more items, a lot more timings, and a lot deeper of a hero pool.


Of course, I still have a lot to learn as I’ve only been playing the role for about two months. The more we play in scrims and tournaments the more comfortable I become. As of now, I’m happy with my progression and I know there are going to be new heroes that I’m going to need to learn every single patch. For now, I’m just trying to learn to play as many of the hard supports as I can because there are a lot of heroes that I’ve never played professionally. One of my goals is to have played every single hero in a professional game, to have a feeling of ‘completion’.


Yet what does it mean, to achieve ‘completion’? The goal I really have in mind is just to just play as a 5 position and win tournaments. Winning TI is obviously the ultimate goal, as the summit of Dota just keeps getting higher and higher. At the moment, I’m just looking at winning majors, winning minors and just being a dominant team. I want to be one of the top two best teams of this year, that would be ideal for me — or a Top-3 finish at TI this year would be okay.


Moving forward, the way it works is every year, you commit for one year until TI and then whatever happens during that year will determine what happens the following year. For someone like me, who’s already on the verge of retirement, I’ll make the decision after TI. I’ll be able to ask myself, “Do I want to step down or do I need to keep playing?” This is a question I can’t really answer right now without knowing how I’ll feel at the end of the year but more than likely I probably won’t be playing next year. There is always a possibility I keep playing but it depends on too many factors for me to know now.


Maybe the pain in my arm comes back. Maybe the pain of losing spurs me on. Or, maybe, I realize that the next mountain I must climb lies elsewhere. For now, the pain of missing the view from the top keeps me carrying on — or, I guess that should be “supporting on.”