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Photos of Fnatic Dota 2 at the ESL ONE Hamburg Major

EternaLEnVy: The Unlikeliest Option

Nov 172017

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have many options after TI7. The period between TI6 and TI7 was the worst season I’ve ever had in my professional career.

The obvious option was DC. That was the best Western option that I had, but I didn’t really want to go that route. Another option was to stay a free agent, wait for some teams to fail — I was the second choice for many teams — and then join a team mid-season. I could hang out in pubs and focus on raising my MMR. However, I wanted to keep on playing. I don’t want to stop for any amount of time.

That’s when DeMon introduced me to the idea of joining Fnatic. He brought up the possibility of playing on the same team with me and Abed, but Abed wasn’t going to join at first. He was also just one of their options, but I went and talked to the organization anyway. They told me that they wanted to get me and reiterated that DeMon was just one of their options, and that’s when I recommended Pie.


There’s this meme about going to SEA because it’s easier, that it’s a big risk, but that’s just not true and I never considered that as a reason to change regions. I just wanted to find the best team possible because my goal in Dota is to win TI. With Abed now on-board we have the team that we had originally planned. The only thing that region affects is the training and pubs. In fact, the main thing that was swaying me away from SEA was the fact that the pubs are awful to play. They’re actually so awful.


That was probably the biggest adjustment I had to make when I moved to SEA. One of the main problems is MMR. I haven’t played NA in a while, but in EU your MMR is generally higher. It’s easier to get MMR in EU because there are more high MMR players. Right now, we’re jokingly saying that it’s our job to take MMR from Europe and donate it to SEA, because it’s impossible to increase your MMR in SEA. 


One of the best examples of this is MidOne. He transferred to SEA and went from around 9.9k or 9.8k to 10k. Everyone was saying how amazing that was, but if you look at what actually happened, two players went to SEA — QO and MidOne. QO was at 8.9k and MidOne was at 9.8k at the start, and by the end of it, QO was less than 8k and MidOne was 10k. What actually happened was that QO and MidOne faced each other again and again, and MidOne beat QO almost every single game. Because of their extremely high MMR the only way to increase it was to beat each other. That’s why your MMR is generally going to be lower in SEA, which is kind of bad for you overall in the scene.


As for the play in pubs, there’s actually so many problems. There’s a lot of micromanaging that I have to do and the support players are really bad in SEA. The core players are amazing; they’re actually better than in Europe a lot of the time. The support players are really bad though and I’m laning with them so it's just a big struggle. The most obvious problem is the courier usage. In SEA, players will not give you the courier. If they start using the courier and you send it back, they will spam it. They will SPAM it. You could be trying to get your Butterfly, saying “Please, I just need my ****ing Butterfly”, but they’ll brush you off and say “I need my branch, I need my clarity.” They want their Clarity right now and they’re not going to let you use the courier. You’re just going to want to stop playing.


That’s why you have to talk, you have to scream. In Europe, I was winning every pub and didn’t have to say a word because players understood their roles. In SEA I have to spam. If they start diving, they just won’t stop; they’ll keep diving until they all die. They’re really stubborn about their movements and that’s why you have to talk a lot.


On the other hand, players in SEA are sometimes a bit more tryhard on average. Maybe they feel the same; even though they’re all from different nations they feel that they’re all from the same region. In Europe it’s not like that. There are some players who will just run down mid at minute 0 because they hate the other guy. They would never do that in SEA, they always try at the beginning and try to win. 


There’s a downside to that. I personally mind that they waste a lot of time. By the end of the game, if there’s no chance to change the outcome, they’re not really trying to win, they’re just trying to waste your time. You could be facing mega creeps and the game is completely over, and they still want to matter. They will buy back and defend not because they want to win but because they want to all-chat you and flame you — they just want to delay and ruin your life.


There’s this meme that I destroy all my items, which is definitely true. It’s been true since I first started playing, and I’ve always destroyed my items in every game that I lose. Every game I’ve lost, literally every single game I’ve lost, I’ll destroy my items because it’s the fastest way to end the game. I won’t play as Furion and TP to the other base if I don’t get my role; I’ll try my best to win the game. But if the score is 0-20 and the enemy has a Spectre, Anti-Mage and Alchemist at the same time and my team is 5 support heroes, there’s no point. I always destroy my items and run down mid, and I do that in every single server that I’ve played in. 

For some reason, I got a lot of flack for it in SEA, which I was very surprised about because I’ve been doing it forever. My teammates actually don’t mind; neither does the enemy. The enemy doesn’t care that I’m throwing, my team doesn’t care that I’m throwing, but for some reason all the fans care. Which is ****ed up because all the people that matter in-game don’t care. It’s these little annoyances that make pubs so difficult to take.


This is why scrimming is a lot more important in SEA and than NA or Europe. One benefit is that the scrimmers try harder in SEA. They’re more disciplined and competitive. 


Finally, there’s the team, which is probably the most difficult adjustment to make. I didn’t really know what we had to adjust or what we had to do until I physically joined the team. Once I did, I realized where the team was at and I always learn some things from my teammates, and I have to teach them a lot too. 


There are a lot of things to think about, of course. There are some things that move along smoothly, but there are some things that move along instantly that it’s impossible not to be surprised. You can teach one concept to three players and one guy will pick it up and be better than you within a week. He will actually learn the concept and be better than you at it, at least in certain areas. Then there’s one who will not understand the concept at all, even though they’re playing the same game. They take a month or two to get it, or they might not get it at all. That’s how difficult it is to improve a specific part, and then you have to adjust differently to various things. Different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, different drafts. It’s actually so hard. I could write a book about it, how to adjust a team.


That is why I wanted to play with Pie. We just have a mutual respect for each other as players, and it’s easy for me to talk to him. He has a natural intuition for the game, and that allows me to talk to him about my ideas — and he’ll actually understand them. He will even understand in a way where he can disagree with me and find a way to make sense. A lot of the time, when I talk to someone about ideas, they don’t really understand what I’m saying or at least they kind of do, but not really. It’s really important to have someone around like that, where I can talk to him about Dota and he’ll understand.


Another reason is that the most success we’ve had is with each other. We have never found success when we are not with each other, actually. There was one time when I won DreamHack, but other than that, every success I’ve had, every tournament I’ve ever won, or every good result I’ve ever had, is with Pie.


However, we started off super bad this time. We were losing every qualifier to shitty teams. I mean, at that point they were shitty, but they have gotten a lot better since then. We were losing to teams like WG.Unity and Happy Feet back then, but they’ve since had a bunch of roster changes and have really improved. We’ve also improved and we’re now coming 2nd or 3rd in qualifiers — which is still not where we want to be. It’s been a big adjustment.


As the captain of Fnatic, there’s a few things I can do. We talk one-on-one, and talk as a team. Personally, I look at their past and figure out what kind of player they are, and what heroes they like to play. I talk to my teammates a lot, and we discuss our games because I consider myself really good at watching replays. I can understand why people do things or why people shouldn’t do things based on a replay. I can analyze what we should have done instead, and teach my teammates about how I understand the game. So far my teammates agree with me. This is because my mid game and late game understanding is extremely good. Mostly, the late game is about movement and I will say that this is probably my best quality. Another thing is I have a really good understanding of item builds. I generally understand what items to go for in any situation. I think these are my best qualities as a captain.


I know that a lot of people have this misconception about me as a high risk player, but that’s not true. The way I talk to my team, I always say we should go for the lower risk play. I think the best example is whenever I buy a Rapier. For me, buying the Rapier is actually lower risk than not buying the Rapier in the games where I decide to buy it. Let me explain.


I think the most famous Rapier game I’ve had was the game against EG. I had 2 Rapiers and 2 Battlefuries as Ember Spirit. In that game, we were down a rax in 20 minutes, and I was getting one shot by every hero. If Axe calls me, I’m dead. If Wyvern touches me, I’m dead. If there’s Shadow Shaman, I’m dead. If I get darkness and feared, I’m dead. I had no vision, it’s dark everywhere because of Night Stalker’s ultimate, and we had no summons so we could never really scout. And if I die once, the game is over.


So, for me, the only way to win the game is if I die zero times. And if I’m going to die zero times, then I might as well buy a Rapier. That’s my thought process — the only reason I’m buying Rapiers is because the only way to win is to not die.


I looked at it another way as well: if I die, could I still win? If I die without the Rapier, I will still lose. But if I die with the Rapier, I can still win because I can put a spirit on my Rapier, right where I die, instantly buy back and pick up my Rapiers. That gives a chance for me to have two lives with my Rapiers. 


These are the things I think about when I play. I actually think I have the lowest winrate with the Rapier by far, of any player. Everyone who has bought it has above 50% winrate because they only buy it when the game’s basically over. When they’re actually winning. But for me, I only buy it when I’m about to lose and it’s my best chance to win. I’m not the sort of player who will get a Rapier when I think I can win without it. The lowest risk play is the one with the highest chance of winning, and sometimes it’s the unlikeliest option. 


To a lot of people, me joining Fnatic was that unlikeliest option, but I don’t consider it a risky decision. Moving to SEA has been difficult, but I joined Fnatic because it gives me the best chance of winning. We’re focused on the late game — The International — and I have Pie, Abed, Ohaiyo and DJ with me. 


Hopefully, I won’t have to buy a Rapier.