To be honest, I really don’t think I could go back to my younger self and give any advice because I just don't regret anything. If you gave me the opportunity to go back and say anything, I’d say nothing. I’d inform myself to stay the same. Be YOU, not anyone else. It will work.
You know what? Scratch that, I would probably not tweet bad things about China, it was a learning experience — you make a mistake and you learn. I learned the hard way with that experience.
Growing up around my teammates was the largest factor during my professional upbringing. I learned to respect the game more, of course. EG was always a tight-knit family, and it was a reason we stayed. Though everyone thought Fear stood as a “dad” figure to me, I looked to him more so as someone I could say ANYTHING to — he was ‘insensitive’, but in a good way. He’s the only Dota player I’ve met who you can say anything to or make any type of joke and he wouldn’t mind. Having someone like that as a 15-year-old really allowed me to express myself and be who I was.
The same goes for me now, you can joke or say anything you want around me and I won’t care. It created some of the best chemistry (between him and I) out of any of my Dota peers. It became an important element of our success as a team.
To be honest, I think most of my success comes from my attitude towards the actual tournaments themselves. I’d go in and play the tournaments like every other Dota game I’d played, no matter where I was. Nevermind the importance of the tournament, what the stakes were, or who I was playing. I am me, and nothing could’ve changed that. We didn’t feel the pressure, and I seriously didn’t give a f***. We were who we were, and being so carefree gave us the peace of mind to perform at a high level no matter the situation. That’s why I wouldn't go back and change a thing.
The real reality check was a slap in the face, and it came along when we started losing. The depression-like feeling of losing is greater than the joy of winning, and, it hit us like a pile of bricks. I developed a hatred of losing — I couldn’t stand the thought of losing— and nothing helped me become a stronger player than that.
How you react to those experiences is what separates the best players from the good players. Some people lose and react by giving up and saying they can’t do it anymore. It’s just different to lose and acknowledge what went wrong, and do the best you can to address those issues. I’ve always felt that way. The hatred of losing pushed me further, it forced me to pick myself up, go to the next f***ing tournament and destroy it. Winning was never a thrill, we just hated losing.
After winning the first International, I didn’t really appreciate tournaments for what they were, and I’ve given thought about my mindset towards tournaments. On the one hand, my nonchalance had helped me become the best in Dota. On the other hand, the spectacle is truly something else. I can’t explain the magnitude of Internationals now. Losing TI6 made me realize how important it was, and how much I wanted it. I blamed myself completely for our loss and it made me really upset. I was the star player, and your best player can’t have a bad game.
Artour joined soon after that TI, and we all thought that this was going to be the best squad ever created in Dota. Our expectations were to win, and even though we didn’t do that bad during that year, it was below the standards that we had. There was a bit of complacency from everyone — except Artour who still wanted his TI. Everyone stopped putting in the work, there was no practicing, and we didn’t even really look for a coach. Everyone had their TI, but I still wanted more. The losses during that year motivated me more than any other victory in my life.
Jordan once said, “You know, when you hate losing more than you love winning, you take excuses off the table. A loss is not a failure until you make an excuse.” It’s one of his defining traits, and it helped him become the greatest. That is the kind of legacy that I want to leave behind: to be remembered as the greatest. First, I want to win another International. After that, I’ll see where I’m at with myself, and I’ll continue playing. My goal is to win six TIs like Jordan won six rings — then there will be no debate.
It’s the only reason I play Dota. I never wanted to be anything else. I was hungry to be at the top, superior to everyone else, and to be something bigger than someone who “just plays video games”. Once I’m gone from Dota, and my days as a professional come to an end, all I want is to be remembered as the greatest. I want people to know that I made it to the top.
I could be mediocre or even really talented at the game, but if I’m not remembered as the greatest to play the game, what does it matter?