Some babble about dota stuff and life! excuse the grammar and typos
I don't usually write these things so here it goes.excuse the grammar and stuff. i also didnt edit because its just my thoughts so sorry for format!
The whole era of playing video games professionally came out of no where. A bunch of young individuals suddenly gaining fame and a career off playing their favorite game blessed myself and several others. I can only speak for other pro players in DotA since I dont know many pros in other video games but i think sometimes we do take it for granted. Getting to travel the world and doing what we love is a dream come true. I dont think many people in the world get to do what they genuinely enjoy as a profession and meanwhile we get to do it and get paid for it. But for many of the pros, it has become a routine of sorts. Most of the ones that consistently go to Ti every year have done it for around 8 years now and some of them even more like the Dota 1 pro players. Most of us started this when we were just teenagers and our entire life was built around this.
The thing that differentiates what esports has become at least in dota compared to other sports is the level of interaction between most of the pros and the community. The community is essentially what built us up, no denying that. Without forums like Gosugamers posting replays from dota 1 inhouse leagues and random matches and promoting the game, I wonder what would have been different. I still remember coming back from high school and downloading random Lightofheaven replays and vigoss replays and looking at what they do and then reading all the gosugamers comments below. I remember even making a forum account and posting my own fanboyish thoughts about the games, whether it be spamming vigoss memes or flaming Maelk's plays. I remember the first time I got one of my own replays on the site from some tournament I played with Demon and Fear. It was called MYM prime nations and fear, demon, myself, powernet and some guy called hai lua represented america. The tournament was structured to be like a World cup where players represented their countries. Getting to play with Fear and demon was so exciting. The day of the tournaments I remember ditching school and lying to my mom that i was sick and then playing the tournament. Logging on ventrilo, playing on 150-200 ping to some hostbot in the UK and getting to play versus the players i idolized like Dendi and Artstyle. We somehow won the tournament and i remember spending the entire night reading all the comments in the threads. It was so exhilarating and It became somewhat of an addiction. I know several dota 1 players at the time would do the same. Sit and read all the threads and browse gosugamers 24/7.
Thinking back, at least for myself, it didnt change much as the scene progressed. Having an entire community online and in one respectable website felt cool in a way. We browsed gosugamers to read news, check match threads, download replays and eventually watch Chinese streams to see the famous Chinese teams play across the world at 6 am EST. Ti2 passed, ti3 passed and so on and this never changed for me and im sure for other players as well. Forums changed from gosugamers -> joindota -> reddit but the premise was the same. Sites that harnessed most of the communities interest in the specific period (ti2-ti3 -> joindota etc) and an area for everyone in the community to contribute. These communities in essence built the scene and laid the foundation along with Valve and Ti of course. Joindota came out with tournaments like the defense and had places to watch streams and check news/drama that was honestly way more funny back then. Some of us even made up a word (not literally made up but you get the point) to describe the action : to fiend. I remember a cold evening in Columbus when Artour and pieliedie were at dinner after winning MLG columbus and pie was just 'fiending' forums nonstop.
I dont think any of us expected dota to blow up this much. All these big companies investing, millions of dollars in tournaments, and our names being recognized across the world. Taking time and actually thinking back at my life 10 years ago, i was hoping to be some doctor somewhere or computer programmer. And now, all of this, playing the same old game ive played since high school and as a career! I am truly grateful to be part of it and the community that stuck by and supported the pro players is the reason all of this happened. The thousands of people from across the world that stay and watch as many pro games for the last 10-15 years is why all of this happened.
My point for even writing this was sparked because of what Sebastian said (7ckingmad) about reddit and a few threads that popped up about the community discussing teams or players .Funny enough a lot of the pros in the scene read all those threads religiously and not just in our scene. I spoke a lot to kpii about the Chinese scene and he told me that the Chinese fans are even more harsh than their Western counterparts. Yao, one of the nicest players in the Chinese scene, thats been playing since LGD ti2 (Chinese favorites to win the tournament) told me the same as well. And i see after every match, the chinese players (win or loss) checking their weibos, checking the chinese reddits and gosugamers reading all the comments.Honestly the Chinese pro players are bigger fiends than the Western players. I swear i see them on their phones 24/7 checking their forums and social media all the time.
I had my own issues with this. I would read a lot of the forums and it was a habit ive built from the dota 1 days itself. Validation built on what others say about you breeds insecurity. Just as getting happy from some comment praising you, a comment flaming you can do the same in the opposite manner. The worst was when I joined Liquid after ti6. It was a pretty weird turn of events for me. I was going to play with Envy after ti6 but out of no where i got the opportunity to play with Liquid and Miracle. I had made a promise to Envy to stick with him after ti6 but I sure as hell didnt expect an offer from Liquid coming in. I remember immediately calling up Phil and asking for his advice and in supreme Phil fashion he gave me the positives and negatives of both in crisp words and told me to take some time to make the decision. Ill be honest, the decision was made as soon as that call ended. What followed was probably some of the worst months in terms of my mental strength but something i definitely do not regret. I learned a lot after that experience and honestly, every experience ive had whether it be in dota or in life, i try to learn from. Some are easier than others for sure.
Fast forward a few weeks and the announcement is made. I know that if i read the forums or check social media, there will be criticisms. But the habit was built for many years and i couldnt control myself. I read it all, the positive comments and the negative comments. The twitter messages telling me to kill myself and not play with Miracle. The messages that wished me luck and hoped to see me do well. As usual in these circumstances, the negative comments are the ones that stick. Even if i choose to ignore them in my head, the thought is still stuck in my head. the stress that i have so much to prove playing with them was there and to be honest i wasnt a strong enough person at the time to ignore it all. Thats the thing, I look back and remember how mad i was at those comments. How annoyed i got. But thinking back, it was my mistake. My mistake to go and open that Pandoras box.
What followed was probably the worst night of my life. It was around 10 days before I leave to go to the Netherlands to bootcamp for the upcoming qualifiers. I was playing a dota game in my room and I got a call from my dad. I didnt answer the first call and then I got another call. This time i paused my game and answered it. I heard someone screaming in the background and took my focus into the call. My dad said "your mom just got hit by a car while we were walking back from the grocery store. I called the ambulance and my friend is coming to pick you up and take you to the hospital. make sure you have your phone on you. I have to go now, please be calm" and he hung up. Ive never really had a panic attack before but my god, whatever i had was definitely something associated with panic. I still to this day hear my mother's cries on the other side of the phone. I remember calling the first person that came to my mind, Phil (thanks phil!) because i felt suffocated. Like my breath was slowly dwindling away. I told him what happened in tears and he calmed me down or attempted to. I remember rushing to the hospital and getting there and seeing my mom in the room and not being able to go inside. Thankfully she was alive but the injuries were severe and something I do not wish to talk to into detail. I did not leave her side for the rest of the night as soon as the doctor allowed us to go inside the room. The next few days was so damn stressful. Thinking back, it was a mistake for me to go and play. I should have told Kuro and Mohammed that i wasn't able to. But my mom knew how much it meant to me and she told me to go. To leave her like that and travel to a different continent was a horrible feeling. The rapid thoughts in my head didnt stop. The next few weeks was not the best to say the least. I didnt know how my mom was and i also had to play qualifiers with a brand new team. She was getting better at a slow rate but the one time she needed me, i left her and the painful feeling in my throat didnt go away.
We ended up losing a lot the next 2-3 weeks up till the boston major qualifier. I talked to my parents every night and i remember them telling me to try my hardest and focus. I know i could have done more and i Know i could have done better but mentally it was too difficult. We kept losing to the brand new Virtus pro roster and had no idea they would end up being a top 3 team in the world in the next 2 months. The nights after losing some matches, i would lie in my bed and check my twitter messages. I should have deactivated it but i didnt and that is my fault. I would read every flame and feel sad and i think that was the first time i actually ever felt depression. its a sad feeling, like no matter what you do, nothing will get better. A sense of hurt that cant be fixed. I wallowed in my misery and made the worst mistake. Reading it all and continuing the habit that i had built over the past years. Eventually we lost boston major and im glad to say i think i put up a good fight. But I knew what was going to happen and thinking back it was probably the best. Originally i was upset after getting kicked but part of me knew i deserved it. And if anything i needed the time off to build myself up again and use what i had learned. I went home and spent a few weeks with my family and eventually misery/blitz asked me to coach DC for boston major. I remember not wanting to do it and just staying at home. Sitting there being depressed but blitz spoke to me one night and said "hey sam i really want u to come do this, i promise it will be for the best." with hesitation i told him yes and realized just sitting there at the bottom is pointless.
Overall something like this changes your life. It put a lot of things into perspective for me over the year but it took some time. I am more grateful in general for the people i keep close. I try not to take things for granted and appreciate what i have because at any instance, any of it can go away. After coaching Dc at boston major, i felt motivated. I made team Onyx with a few of my friends and building something and taking it to top 9 at ti didnt even feel that bad. Most people will be like ugh top 9, thats shit but thinking back im kinda proud. I had a lot of fun building something new and i got to meet people along the way (shoutout to abed,dubu,mason,forev and demon!)
I remember crying in the interview after we lost at ti7, Those tears were my entire year racing past my head in a fraction of an hour. I immediately thought of my mom and my dad and i felt sad that i maybe let them down. I thought about getting kicked from liquid, my magnus being afk at kiev major. I remembered the games versus newbee and og in the groups where we had 30k leads and we threw that made us stuck in the loser bracket. I thought we had more potential! All these thoughts came racing in my head but i didnt go and sit in my room that night! I went around to the event and spent time with friends. And i started thinking about us winning Kiev major qualifiers and ti qualifiers and how happy we were. I started remembering the fun times i had at the team house with mason and abed and dubu and forev. Its hard to constantly keep reminding yourself this but my mentality is that whatever i have learned in the last 6 years of playing this game as my career, i will use for the rest of my life. The biggest thing is to be aware! Not being aware and blinded by your own ego is a big mistake for everyone. Ive met amazing people along the way and im glad to say that most of them will probably be my friends for a lifetime.
I wrote this because i had so many thoughts about everything. Seeing the threads about my good friend 343 and even seeing the threads about 7ckingmad. My point is that there are two sides. Us as pro players respecting that the community and the people that play dota are why we are able to live the lives that we have. But also maybe a message to the community that we are also human beings too. Humans that have emotions, feelings and sensitivities. We all came from the same place. A love of something that brings us to a union. Whether you are a 9k pro player or a completely new 300 mmr player, we all have used dota as a distraction and as an escape from life's stresses. We can also try to be better human beings while doing so!