ACE Alliance’s King makes statement

Ever since Chinese teams’ losses at TI3, and even before that, fans and insiders alike have blamed the Association for Chinese Esports for vaious failures and draconic restrictions in Chinese Dota. Finally, earlier today, ACE’s top person, King, made a personal statement and response.

An interesting bit near the end is that ACE League will be inviting the top 3 at TI3 for a 3-month stay in China. The rest of the piece is very thorough and interesting. Give it a read and see what you think…


“Regarding ACE, I want to share some of my sentiments”

Recently, due to Chinese teams’ losses at TI3, the ACE Alliance has as a result been put on a spotlight. I hadn’t responded or explained anything until now, the reason being that these losses haven’t been easy to accept for anyone. Chinese teams failed to achieve good results, the Dota-ACE Alliance (the ACE Alliance has a D-ACE and an L-ACE, for Dota and LoL respectively) must also bear responsibility. With the spotlight now on myself and ACE, this could actually be a good thing for players and Dota 2 clubs, because in this process, we can make gradual steps towards more stability, and continue our work in the future. Here, I want to talk some of my own thoughts as well as share some realities.

Everyone has been questioning my devotion to esports. I can tell you all right now, since I helped form the Lion team in 1999, and then with YolinY, then to WE, it’s been 14 years. Perhaps the current me does not have that same kind of fervent love for esports as many other people, yet esports has already seeped into my blood itself, and so my relation with esports is a more personal, intimate one. So, compared to many esports fanatics, I might see things more objectively and logically. Even though when I’m chatting with friends, I might joke that if I’d gone to work in online games (like MMOs) or some other industry, I’d be better off right now. But I am clear on this fact: without esports I am nothing, or it could be said that I had always, from the start, planned on making this my life’s work, because I like to relate with fellow games, I enjoy collaborating with fellow gaming people. Because we’re all the same, straightforward, without ulterior motives, so please, I ask everyone to not doubt my passion for esports. It is merely a difference in opinion in many things, and thus people have a different starting point in discussions, so let me explain things point by point below.

First of all, I want to talk about the format and structure of D-ACE (Dota ACE Alliance).

1. D-ACE exists without any governmental backing. Its leadership consists of representatives selected via vote by all member clubs, and all major decisions are also determined by way of votes. For example, my role as leader of ACE comes by way of being selected by voting.

I was selected unanimously, and I appreciate the trust everyone has placed in me. Even though, before taking the position, I knew there would be many difficulties, I was determined to not let everyone down.

After coming into the position, my first challenge was addressing the poaching of players between clubs — if this issue was addressed inappropriately, I ran the risk of insulting the clubs. The second question here was, when it is players themselves organizing and forming their own ideal rosters, and ACE comes in and places barriers, then the players can become annoyed with us. Thirdly, events and tournaments at the time were relatively random and non-standardized, with many events not paying for travel and accommodations, delaying prize payments, etc — in handling this issue, I needed to be wary of offending event organizers. Fourth, for the fans’ point of view, the alliance equals an organization that holds power, and the word ‘power’ often in the current climate is equated with negative meanings, because a common sentiment has formed in which any organization with power is bullying others, and thus, any mistake from ACE causes widespread dissent.

Overall, at the time I had these and many more concerns. Everyone knew that the position was one with lots of challenges and little reward, and people around me all advised me to not take the role, they all said to me that I shouldn’t risk my years of esports reputation on such a position. After all, such a role has influences over the interests of many, many, people, and they could all come out and critique you at any time. I understood these things at the time.

Then why did I still take the role up, knowing all this?

In 2003-2004, I went with the team overseas for competition, and we achieved pretty good results. Foreign media wanted to interview me, and they asked me, “You guys actually have computers and internet in China? How much effort did it take to get that set up for you guys?” Back then, it would seem that foreign ideas of China were still stuck in the past, so my thought was that, by competing in esports events, we could not only achieve results and win titles, but also prove to the world that China is growing and developing, and that at least in terms of computers and internet, we aren’t lacking.

I found that esports was very popular amongst young people overseas, and at the same time those who misunderstood China the most were also young people, so I wanted to show them through our hard work that China can compete, and is excellent in esports. So, my dream at the time was to help the team take a world championship title, and prove to the world that we Chinese can do it. In the heyday of Warcraft 3, we achieved quite a few world titles, and many foreign competitors visited China in order to participate in events here. We had many large events broadcasted to the world, and we showed to the West that esports is strong in China, and it is popular. I was very proud then, because to be able to find so much glory, and help those around me gain recognition across the globe, this meant that I had also achieved my own dream. I should be satisfied.

After we had gotten so many world championship titles, I made a plan. From Beijing, to Shenzhen, to Guangzhou, to Chengdu, and many more places, I went and visited businesses and companies, hoping that they would sponsor us, recognize us. Even though I had lots of numbers and statistics to back myself up, that esports as an industry outstripped many other realms that they traditionally sponsored, that it provided greater returns, I was still rejected. Their response was that esports was not highly recognized throughout mainstream society, and that they were not willing to take this risk. I was young and headstrong at the time, and this was a big hit to me.

From these two examples, I began to realize, even though we’d taken some world titles, our industry was still not mature, and thus we had been losing out on many things of value. At the club level in Chinese esports, there lacked a standardized set of regulations for the market, and so all outsiders could see was that it was a mess, and thus frighten away potential investors, regardless of how much potential the market may have.

So, what could be done to standardize things? How to achieve mainstream acceptance for esports? This became my new goal.

Thus, even though I knew that taking my role at ACE would mean lots of sacrifice for little personal gain, that I would potentially make many enemies, and that there was the possibility of even ruining my reputation within, I still went straight in to do it.

It’s been nearly two years now, and I swear that every single action I’ve taken while with the alliance, I can answer for to my own conscience, and I can answer for to esports as a whole.

Next, allow me to address some issues one by one.

I have always felt that, in this industry, people who can talk far outnumber people who can actually do things. In fact, esports truly lacks people who can really do things. So in 2007, I closed down my personal blog, and it’s been some six years since then where I haven’t written anything — my writing might be awkward in places, I hope everyone can be understanding.

Regarding the most-debated ACE club tier system, and prize pool regulations

Around April and May of this year, ACE held a very important meeting. This meeting had not only club managers present, every club also sent a player representative to participate. At the meeting, I explained the current situation with Dota 2 to all of the managers and players. In this we talked about the lack of events, future events and their timing, and I went around and collected all of their opinions. At the time, some players said that China currently lacks tournaments — top tier teams can achieve top three at these events, they still have TI3 where top 8 is in the money, so top tier teams, relative to lower teams, still have prize money to earn. The lower tier teams, thus, have a lot less room to work with, since there’s a lack of events and those few events that exist will largely be dominated by the top tier teams, meaning that basically for many lower tier teams, all they had was their salaries. They were very concerned over the possibility of players at smaller clubs simply retiring and leaving the scene, especially because the Chinese Dota 2 scene currently lacks new talent. The threat of a growing gap in Chinese Dota was present, even the threat of a few clubs disbanding, things which would negatively impact the overall scene. At the time, we confirmed four different large events: 2 DSLs, and 2 ACE Leagues, so based on this, we determined that we should try to allow the smaller clubs to participate in more of the smaller events. This was how we came upon the club tier system, as well as the prize pool regulations, but we did not announce this publicly at the time.

A month later, we held a second meeting with managers and player representatives. The players felt that, prior to TI3, it would be best if they had more events in which to practice and prepare. We considered the reality at the time, and recognized that there indeed should not have been restrictions on events for teams, so we canceled that rule. This is why we saw these teams at Alienware, ECL, and NEST. I feel that the previous rule was a mistake by the alliance, one which D-ACE should take main responsibility for. We failed to consider what the teams and players needed most, and then we failed to communicate the change with the public afterwards, and thus caused a lot of commotion.

Why the tier system?

Locked in events for this year are: DSL (500k RMB for champions), ACE League (1m RMB for champions), and TI3 (1m USD for champions). Due to time restrictions, there will only be one iteration of the ACE League this year. Next year, there will be two each of DSL and ACE League, and what this means is that there will be a total of at least four events with half-million RMB prizes throughout the year, with another International in between.

As these events are improved upon and polished, we will also continuously re-evaluate the tier system involved.

1. Due to the fact that the aforementioned events (ACE and DSL) are all top-heavy prizepools, with top 3 getting most of the money, we must consider the smaller clubs. Thus, we think we should leave a reasonable amount of smaller events to them, in order to make sure the industry as a whole grows.

2. To our sponsors, having a tier system is more fair.

For example, a sponsor puts out 1 million RMB to hold an event, and they see that in the daytime the teams and players are playing in their big money event, yet later in the evening they’re playing in small prize online matches, then the result can only be one of two things. The first is that this sponsor decides to lower future investments, they will feel that the players’ aren’t worth as much. If they can invest 100k and get the same players, then why pay more? The second possibility is that the sponsor feels deceived, and completely pulls out of future inviestments. Of course, there’s a third option in which the sponsor continues on as if nothing has happened, and in this case then it is due to either the event is very profitable for them, or that they are directly involved with the game, as the game’s developers or such.

So, when determining tiers for teams and events, we must consider the long term, we must consider the industry’s growth as a whole. Should be focus on quality or quantity? Where is the balance? These have been things that we’ve been considering lately. As for what events top teams should partake in, we will continue to hold monthly meetings with club managers and player representatives, and come to conclusions collectively.

The lessons from TI3 are deep and extremely important. Many people concluded that, in order to win big titles, there must be enough events and matches normally. Of course, I have no way of countering this point of view, because after all, results are what speak loudest, and we lost. Indeed, we lacked events, this is the truth. But here, I want to say, from March to June of this year, D-ACE did not reject or refuse any Dota 2 event. Instead, D-ACE has worked to facilitate scheduling and timings for various large events.

Dota 2 Chinese servers are not fully open to the public yet, and many sponsors are still observing the situation.

At the end of last year, I think I may have been the only one who had a plan in hand and was out and about searching for sponsors for large Dota 2 tournaments. Even still, I was met with plenty of closed doors. Luckily, I still managed to get a large sponsor in the form of a real estate company, and I thought that this would bring me some appreciation, yet in the end I’ve been accused of taking money from Tencent in exchange for putting Dota 2 down, I feel pretty sad about that.

Regarding clubs, players, and contracts

When the ACE Alliance was formed, contracts between players and clubs were not guaranteed.

It was very possible for a club to bring up a new talent, grow them, and then have the player poached away once the player showed some results. If this becomes the norm, then no club would risk training newcomers anymore, a club’s investors would lack any kind of protection, and players would lack any kind of security. After the alliance was formed, much was done regarding malicious poaching of players by way of contract regulations, and nowadays there is hardly any poaching going on. This year, before TI3, the alliance specifically went to each club and had them each pay a deposit – 50k RMB per team. As deposits, the money is only temporarily with ACE, and if the clubs need the money back, then it is still theirs. This was in order to prevent, post-TI3, clubs disbanding and not paying players, or to address the potential of clubs kicking players without following their contracts. In doing so, the purpose was to at least guarantee the short term interests of the players.

Regarding the recent drama over players leaving teams, and players being replaced, I feel that the base reason is that competition prizes still far outweigh the salaries of players, and thus the players’ desire to build stronger teams to compete internationally is very normal. At the same time, this can cause rifts to form between players and between players and their clubs. This shows that there still lacks a systematic approach to things, an approach in which events and clubs work closely together. It also reflects that the clubs themselves haven’t unlocked the full potential of the market, they haven’t fully released their business potential. Players cannot possibly compete on their own, they must rely on their teammates as well as support staff behind the scenes of the club. Esports consists of many parts, and we must take into account the even growth of all its parts, and not only focus on any single part, because doing so will only bring failure.

In an interview in the past, I said, even if esports gets on mainstream television, this may not be a good thing for esports presently. Because things are still too disorganized, we aren’t ready yet. At least from my point of view, things are still all over the place at the club level. If the product itself is lacking, then no matter how much promotion you do for it is useless, maybe even negative. I think that clubs currently are still too non-standardized, and in the eyes of those who work in traditional industries professionally, they would laugh. So in order to have clubs become more standardized, to fully develop their market potential, these are things that we esports people must work towards.

Regarding WE.Dota

Ever since WE formed a Dota team, we’ve been developing fresh talent for the scene. No matter what else is said, WE has not done anything to harm Dota. Even if you think WE has not contributed to Dota, there still hasn’t been anything WE has done to harm it. As for why WE does not have a Dota portion any more, there are two reasons. First, after taking on the ACE role, I have lacked the time and energy to manage another Dota team, and so the management was lacking, the team’s results thus suffered, and so on. Second, Dota 1 is transitioning to Dota 2, and at the time, Dota 2 still lacked an official Chinese partner, there was no sponsor that was willing to sponsor our Dota 2 team. Without a sponsor, for a club such as WE that does not have any rich people propping it up, we couldn’t do it, so we regretfully let the Dota 2 team go.

Regarding myself, LoL, and Dota 2

One of the main points that I’m being flamed on right now is actually the fact that WE has no Dota 2 team, yet has an LoL team that has achieved some results in the past. This is the point that I most want to address, yet I’m least happy to talk about, because I’ve always felt that those who play games are all part of one big family, and had never previously considered the relations between games.

At the beginning of this year, I was reminded that I should be cautious regarding my role and place, that I should be wary of doing something that would bring negativity to myself. I was too naive at the time regarding this, I thought that as long as I concentrated on doing my best, people would understand, and within the alliance itself, I thought that if I had no Dota 2 team of my own, I’d be more able to objectively handle things.

Yet, before TI3, there was an incident in which doubt was casted upon ACE due to my own background with LoL, and I realized that things weren’t so simple anymore. In order to clear the doubts, I decided that I would no longer be directly involved with Dota 2 event decisions, that I must find someone whose club managed a Dota 2 team. Thus, I shifted my focus towards standardizing club and player regulations.

Once I got an ACE office in Shanghai at the beginning of the year, basically whenever I haven’t been away on business, if I was in Shanghai then I’d be in the office dealing with alliance things. Regardless if a club had matters of great or small import, I’d handle them as soon as possible, I never once dodged an issue or put things off.

In actuality, I do feel a bit ashamed in the amount of time and effort I’ve been able to put into my own club. To this day, I do not know where the new WE and PE team house is, because it’s been around eight months since I last visited, and back then they hadn’t moved yet. So here I want to apologize to these kids who are playing for their dreams, you’re all excellent, and I haven’t been much help to you guys. Yet it is what I have agreed to do that has brought upon you all a lot of trouble and pressure. I also want to thank Sky and Zax at WE for their support, for understanding my dreams, and for helping share the load of a lot of the club’s duties.

I’ve said so much, and everyone can see, ACE’s development hasn’t been all that smooth. We are all a bunch of esports lovers and fans, and without any governmental support, without any investment money to work with, without even sponsors’ support at times. We’ve met a lot of strong opposition and challenges, and I know, the alliance’s many regulations have been less than perfect, and cannot even be compared with the level that traditional sports has achieved, cannot even be compared with KeSPA. For the clubs’ survival, though, ACE must go on.

Here I also want to tell everyone D-ACE’s plans for the upcoming future. First, we will standardize club management as well as player regulations, then establish a D-ACE website upon which we will publicize these things. We will establish a system from which amateur players will be discovered, and given chances to grow, and thus promote Dota 2 in amateur player realms. In this first iteration of this, over 200 teams participated, and we selected two of the best teams and invited them to Shanghai, where they had the chance to play and train with professionals, and we worked on helping them find sponsorship. We will collaborate with colleges and universities in holding LAN events on campuses, and have professional players interact at these events with collegiate players in order to promote esports on campuses. We will establish offline training and bootcamp facilities, and provide every member club these types of facilities, where each Chinese team can gather to train before large events. Our ACE League will also invite the top 3 foreign teams at this year’s TI3, and if accepted, these teams will come to China and train and compete against Chinese teams for a period of three months. During the competition, we will hold promotional events for players to interact with the public, and thus promote esports to society.

Perhaps as I’m writing this, clubs around China are still undergoing a big shakeup of which even I do not know. Perhaps many fellow professionals are still laughing at the alliance. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said all the things I have. Esports as an industry is still one that needs everyone’s help and support collectively. In the past few years, it is perhaps the club development aspect that has held the rest of it back, but those of us that work on the club level really do hope that we can quickly standardize and professionalize things. Of course in this we need the understanding and support of all kinds of esports personalities and people — it isn’t time to laugh and marvel at the mess. The once-a-year million dollar International, perhaps our losses there still weigh heavy, but we need to start on a clean slate. Whether we go and build a dream team or we focus on steady growth of the industry as a whole, and thus win based on a stable foundation, and thus prove ourselves through our wins to all of society… this is a question that is worthy of consideration for every esports person.

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:




820 talks TI3, hopes for Chinese Dota 2

In this video interview, 820 talks about his thoughts on TI3, what went wrong for Chinese teams, and his hopes for Dota 2 in China…

As always, make sure your annotations are ON for Youtube!

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:






DK.BurNIng answered some fan questions a few days ago

On the Baidu Tieba of his own name, BurNIng answered some questions a few days ago, while all the drama and waves surrounding DK’s recent player departures was at its height… This Q&A was translated in a reddit post a few days ago, but I’ve gotten a request or two asking for me to translate it here for some reason as well, so here it is.

Q: Lately, ChuaN, Sylar, and xB have all been quite vocal on weibo. I’d like to ask you, B-God, can you share any thoughts?
For things related to transfers and retirements, it won’t be convenient for me to comment on today.

Q: What do you think about the player s4? Is your reasoning for often picking Furion in pubs related to having seen how effective Alliance’s system has been?
S4 I think has been the player who has seen the most growth as a newcomer. I hadn’t ever seen this player in the past, yet this year he comes out of nowhere and takes so many titles. The scariest thing is that, not only is he amazing on the solo mid position, he’s also the drafter for Alliance.

Q: As your team’s captain, what do you think is most important?
A: The most important thing is obedience (following the captain’s orders).

Q: I want to ask where in Qujing, Yunnan, is the DK base? I want to come visit with a few friends; we promise not to disturb the players!
Across the street from Tianyue Digital Mall.

Q: Where can we see your first person gameplay?
You can go search DK in the Dota 2 Community tab, and then check for replays from my profile.

Q: Will there be Dota 2 at this year’s WCG in Kunshan? Or Dota 1? Will you be there if so?
There is no Dota at WCG this year.

Q: Can you reveal to us what you know about competitions in the next half year? DSL and G-league? ECL, Alienware, G-1?
Right now I only know about the ACE League, and DSL might conflict with ACE League.

Q: So we can come visit your teamhouse in Qujing then?
Yeah, but right now we’re all on break.

Q: What do you do in your spare time outside of playing Dota?
Watch movies, listen to music, and occasionally play some Texas Hold’em.

Q: I have a few questions. First what you think about the usage of Lone Druid? Second, what is most important in drafting apart from trying to ban out the opponents best heroes?
To answer this question would take far too long. For Lone Druid, just watch AdmiralBulldog’s play and emulate it. For drafting, it’s like playing chess, back and forth. When you ban, you want to consider both what they are good at, and what your roster is weak against. For picks, mainly it’s considering what kind of lineup feels best together, leaning towards picking the hot heroes in the current metagame.

Q: What are your hotkeys? Do you have auto attack on?
Auto attack on, classic ability hotkeys. Item hotkeys are Q 3 ` Z F2 F3. This is mainly because it’s what I’m used to, so as long as it’s something you’re comfortable with it’s good, you don’t really need to go and specifically copy others’ setups.

Q: Is there room for Necrolyte in competitive? Why or why not? Will DK use Wisp more in the future? At TI3, non-Chinese teams were all quite good with Wisp. Why hasn’t Faceless Void been used in competitive lately?
Necrolyte is possible, but requires the lineup to be built around him. Faceless Void takes too long to come online.

Q: Do you feel that there are similarities between Alliance of now and EHOME of 2010? Whose style do you like more between Alliance and Navi? Can you talk a bit about why you think Alliance are so strong, from a strategical layer?
I tend to like NaVi’s style a bit more. Alliance’s power comes from their excellent distribution of resources and farm between the team, a clear tactical mindset and goals, and strong execution.

Q: B-god, will DK hire a coach? You’ve personally mentioned before that having a coach is an excellent plus.
It’s being considered, but we haven’t found a suitable candidate yet.

Q: B-god what’s your current weight? Have you gained a little bit?
I’m 180cm and 67kg, does that still count as fat? -.-

Q: You should stack more with longDD, that way we can see you more (longDD often streams).
I do like playing with longDD, it’s pretty enjoyable.

Q: My suggestion to DK: Find a professional coach, preferably a retired professional player, someone like 820. Create a statistical analysis team for research and reference purposes. I think for the latter, you could outsource to student Dota fans and thus not spend much, but potentially gain a lot.
Valuable suggestions, I will consider talking to the club about it.

Q: I’ve heard that B-god enjoys Linkin Park, have you ever been to one of their concerts?
To this day, not a single concert.

Q: B-god, there’s a video in which xB once said that apart from himself, the other 4 players in DK never went out much. Since you’d already been indoors all day from practice, why not spend some time going out?
Mainly it’s laziness.

Q: I want to seriously ask you this. How does one get on the path to playing professionally? No matter how tough it may be, I want to give it a try.
Right now it’s relatively difficult. First you have to make a name for yourself in pubs or semi-pro events, you have get noticed by someone in order to have a chance. And then the other problem is that pro teams right now focus on results, and thus are afraid to use newcomers. I hope that one day Dota can be like LoL where each club has 2-3 different squads, that way newcomers have much more room to prove themselves.

Q: I feel like Kunkka is a pretty good hero, and  you guys had seen good results with him as well, why hav eyou stopped using him? I feel like B-god should take some more time to interact with fans; you’re too quiet. Lastly, I wish you luck and success no matter what, and constant improvement in the coming days. Good wishes to B-god, good wishes to DK!
Kunkka is relatively needy in terms of having a lineup picked around him, so it’s harder to get him into a draft. I also hope to have more opportunities to interact in the future.

Q: Right now the Dota 2 scene really has a lack of new competitors. Which newcomers do you favor, so we can all pay some attention to them?
I favor CTY and fy.

Q: What degree is your myopia?
Around 200, I think.

Q: What are your favorite heroes?
QoP, TA, PotM

Q: Do you think PotM (Mirana) has potential for competitive? What about as an offlaner?
Alliance and NaVi have both performed well with her.

Q: Can you tell us which of the roles from 1-5 do you prefer the most?
If I say I like them all, will everyone believe me?

Q: First off, it should be said that Chinese TI3 performance was abysmal, due largely to an overly conservative, stiff, style and strategy. In the next year, do you think Chinese teams should participate in more smaller events, and get rid of the prize pool requirements for participating in tournaments? Secondly, can you talk a bit about your views of Orange and Mushi in the wake of their enormous performance at TI3?
More events is definitely something we all want. Regarding the restrictions, there’s nothing we can do either, we have to wait and see what the ACE Alliance does. For ourselves, we are considering the hiring of a coach. Orange is a team that tends to favor the early and mid-game, and their participation in some Chinese tournaments has helped them grow a lot as well. Mushi’s individual skill is exceptionally strong, he’s very versatile in his heroes, and if he can add some more steadiness to his play then he’d be even stronger.

Q: Which team’s drafts do you admire the most?
I most admire NaVi’s drafts.

Q: Ever since you said after TI3, that if you get Anti-mage then you can win, people in pubs have been picking Anti-mage every game. Of course, none of them have won, so what advice can you give to those people? That way they won’t be ruining Anti-mage’s reputation, and we can all learn a bit from you on how to play AM.
Anti-mage’s strength lies in overwhelming the opposition with items. If he can’t lead in terms of items, then he actually can’t out-fight many other lategame heroes. So don’t get Vanguard on him, just rush that fast Battlefury and farm it up.

Q: Any thoughts on starting up an esports academy after retiring? You can focus on training young competitors and teaching them the mentality it takes to be professional.
I don’t want to get arrested.

Q: Regarding fountain-related tactics, what do you think?
For entertainment purposes, sure, but I still don’t think it’s truly viable in competitive. In that game with TongFu, if they had some Necrobooks or Manta Styles then it shouldn’t have been so tragic.

Q: B-god, what does a carry player need in order to be considered a legit carry? Under average circumstances, is 100 creep score at 20 minutes acceptable? If not, how much more is?
Don’t miss last hits, or miss as few as possible, that’s the basic requirement. The bigger challenge for a true carry is decision making regarding when to join fights, and how to join fights (positioning, timing, target choice), as well as ability and item choice.

Q: In pubs, is it viable for Anti-mage to go straight Vlad’s then Manta?
I haven’t calculated, but I think it’s still best to go Battlefury, and if you’re still feeling squishy then finish your Power Treads first.

Q: How would you rate your own casting performances?
8/10, no less.

Q: You guys should consider acquiring an Xbox Kinect or similar motion-based gaming system, for the purposes of exercise and whatnot while at your teamhouse. It’s cheaper than gym equipment, and being physically healthy is true health!
good idea!

Q: Who are you closest with, in the professional scene?
KingJ, LongDD.

Q: In the card game Legends of the Three Kingdoms, who is your favorite, and who are you best with?
Huang Gai.

Q: Everyone says that Dota 2 needs more new players, and lately many people have been talking about a newcomer named Maybe. You’ve probably played with/against him before in matchmaking, what do you think?
I don’t really know him. For newcomers, as long as their mechanics are decent, they’re willing to practice and think, then nothing bad can be said. But the main problem is that there’s a lack of opportunities for them to prove themselves.

Q: B-god, many people say that Dota is going downhill, with many younger kids choosing to play LoL and not Dota. Older generations are gradually leaving gaming altogether, and as such, Dota and Dota 2 seem to have less attention than in the past. In terms of player ability, there’s a clear divide between the top and the rest, a disconnect. You’ve seen Dota from the beginning, to its glory days, to now, what are your thoughts?
I think we should wait until the Chinese servers go open beta first before we talk about this.

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

DK player responses to the big changes…

Just some quick translations of responses from DK’s Dai, 357, Super, and rOtk in the midst of one of the biggest shakeups in recent Chinese Dota 2… Everyone seems a bit surprised, and a bit sad…


” 😦 Our 4-man mahjong team has no more mahjong to play!!” (DK’s 4 non-BurNIng players were said to be a mahjong group, because they just hang out while BurNIng farms in games)

zhou’s response: “No more mahjong in the future, add oil.”
Dai: “Ok.”


“Do I retire or not!?”


“My chance at fighting another year has even gone away” (Super had said, after TI3, that he had decided to fight for another year)

Dai’s response: “It’s time to switch careers!”
Super: “Makes sense!”

Super 2:

“Thank you for everyone’s concern, I will definitely play for another year.” (even if it isn’t with DK…)

rOtk: onetwo

rOtk, as the first to speak, and as a typically outspoken character, has had the most to say, and his statements are worth a read.

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

DK manager Farseer response to rOtk situation, more change to come – with rOtk response

Update: rOtk has responded:

“I won’t say much else, but thank you for your understanding. You can talk about rules, and emotion and personal relations, I can’t accept any of this. If it were you, how would you respond? Oh, also, ACE is supposed to be for the good of the clubs, and the players. What about the previous agreement that any decisions would be made with players as well? No matter how you cut it, I’m a player representative as selected by the clubs and players themselves, so next time there’s something like this, remember to call me. We began amicably together, let’s end this pleasantly. Farewell, friend.”


After rOtk posted, then deleted an emotional response to his leaving of DK, DK’s manager Farseer posts his own response… xB is rOtk below. This is quite insightful, into many facets of the Chinese scene and ACE, and also confirms that DK is not done making changes.

Regarding what has happened today, let me make an explanation here. First, what xB has described is largely true, but contains some of his own emotions within. The reasoning for his response and the way he responded, I’m sure we can all understand. Here I want to do my best to objectively explain everything to everyone, and at the same time, I hope xB can see it.

When ACE was first formed, a major goal was to resolve the very serious problems at the time of clubs poaching players from each other, clubs suddenly disbanding, and clubs freely firing players. The clubs came to a set of agreements between each other, for players to transfer between clubs, the clubs involved must agree via discussion. Privately contacting players (AKA tapping up players, in football/soccer terminology) was forbidden. If a club decides a player is no longer needed, the club must still continue to pay the player according to their contract. If a club suddenly disbands or lacks the ability to pay salaries, then the player is entitled to continue being paid from the deposits that the clubs paid to ACE in the beginning, all the way until the player finds a new team. In here, there is content that relates to what happened to xB.

The decision to replace xB was made by the club, but the decision does not equal a voiding of the contract. Upon learning the news, xB’s emotions were affected. In my communications with him, we mainly addressed a few main points. First, the club respects his opinion, and allows him to reach out to other clubs in order to find his next home. Once he has confirmed a new club, then DK will handle the transfer details, fees, etc. Secondly, if xB does not find another club suitable, then DK will continue to pay him his salary according to his contract terms, till the contract ends. After hearing these things, what xB had to say was, “If the club wants to replace me, I have nothing to say, but if the club wants to use me to make money, then that is too naive.” This was the last I heard from xB, and afterwards, I saw what he had posted online.

Here, I want to tell xB why the club does not directly void your contract with the club. During this break, practically every club will face realignment and change, so what has happened to xB, will be happening at other clubs as well, it cannot be avoided. “We can, due to our personal relationships, allow xB to just go free, but other clubs may not allow their players to leave in the same manner, and ultimately if we did this, then it can make things difficult for other teams, as well as tread on a grey area with regards to regulations.” Whether you believe it or not, these were the words spoken by the boss earlier, and thus our hope is to play things by the rules. As for how we address your transfer with other clubs, perhaps it will be down to the fee, or some other conditions — these are all up to the clubs to determine. I can understand the unwillingness to accept that you still need to earn money for the club even after the club has decided they don’t need you, but this kind of transfer system is one that the clubs agreed upon collectively. Regardless of what kind of agreement the two clubs might make, these kinds of things don’t relate to players’ rights. Put simply, xB cannot lose out in this type of transfer, and we have already allowed xB to select his next club for himself, so where is this talk of the club taking advantage of players coming from? According to your logic, then it should be one club taking advantage of another, so if that is true, then why would the clubs agree to such a thing? Could the clubs truly need these comparatively small sums of money to stay afloat?

People online are now flaming the club, saying we’re shady, that we’re threatening to let players rot on the bench. In these past few years, which club has actually done such a thing in maliciously hanging a player out to dry without letting them play, can someone please tell me? IG and ch, their situation was ch no longer wishing to play competitively and so he faded out, iG continued paying him to the end of his contract, on this point, many other clubs that have since contacted ch can all confirm. People online are also saying that players should add a condition into their contracts, one that guarantees them a certain amount of games to compete in, otherwise the contract is null and void. I want to ask, in what sport exists such a contract? NBA? Football/soccer? Every sport has those players that barely get to play at all, those substitute players. Do you really think that clubs have eaten too much shit, and think it would be fun to spend a bunch of money paying people to sit around and not compete? Should it be that we just allow players to have this condition, and so when a player no longer wants to play with a team, they just miss a few matches and thus their contract is void? What kind of contract allows you to just up and leave before the contract is over? Or is it that you’ve all had no experience with contracts?

I can’t really speak much more now. I don’t want to, for the sake of affection, emotion, and relations, end this with emotions. As rumors have guessed, DK’s changes are not over yet. Right now there isn’t a clear end in sight that we can share with everyone, but I can say that the so-called ‘dream team’ rumored doesn’t have much to do with our reality.

I don’t know whether this road we’re taking is right or wrong, but the cost DK will be paying is truly enormous. No matter what, you guys are our brothers. You once were, you will still remain so. Let us meet again on the battlefield.

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

Sylar’s responses to official LGD statement on his situation

In response to LGD’s official statement regarding his situation, Sylar has made some responses on his QQ Weibo.

After responding to rOtk’s statement on how he was forced out of DK, Sylar further reiterated his position in response to the LGD statement. See below.


“I think the difference is that, I learned beforehand that the club was looking for a replacement for me. So as for when I would be notified that I’ve been kicked, I have no idea, but as a player, I don’t want to wait until all the other teams are done restructuring and regrouping, only for my own club to then tell me that I now have no team. I think if that happened, then at that time I would only get to be one of those ‘lucky’ AFK players.”


“On the surface, the club tells me that there’s been no talk of replacing me. But what I want to know is, how would the external world all know exactly who was going to be replaced? With even the replacement player confirmed, then any talk of there being no thoughts of kicking me, at most equates to having me sit around until someone pays a transfer fee for me. So why sugarcoat it thus?”


“Contracts nowadays are thus: if the player wants to leave, then he has to pay up. If the club wants to kick the player, then the player can only be hung out to dry until someone pays for you. I don’t even want to talk about how disadvantaged players are.”


“The ‘outside’ that I refer to is not the entire world, it is people within the scene — commentators, casters, and other professional players. Practically all of them already knew, they even knew the replacement player. Could this possibly still be fake? I can say with 100% certainty, that there had already been contact in place regarding recruiting someone to replace me. You don’t need to say one thing and do another, just go ask the players then come back and make another statement.”

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

LGD official statement on Sylar situation


In contrast to Sylar’s response to rOtk… LGD makes an official statement.

1. LGD Gaming Club has never, in any setting, discussed replacing Sylar, and has also never talked about having Sylar leave.

2. If Sylar personally believes that “I heard from outside sources that the team wants to replace me” is equal to “I have been kicked”, then from an emotional standpoint, we express our understanding. But from a logical standpoint, there is absolutely no sense. A club’s decisions must come from a consensus agreement, things cannot possibly be decided based merely on a few opinions and voices, and more importantly, cannot possibly be determined by what outsiders say.

3. In the same vein, Sylar himself, after the defeat at TI3 in Seattle, on multiple occasions suggested doubt in his teammates ability, and requested replacements. But we all believed that these were due to emotions at the time. Those teammates whose ability was doubted, none of them immediately came to the conclusion that this meant they’d been kicked. The club’s latest collective meeting was held in Seattle the day before heading home, with a focus on addressing internal concerns. Afterwards, the club’s only ask of players was to go home and rest, adjust, and reflect.

4. After returning back to China, Sylar, upon “Hearing from outside sources that the team wants to replace me”, took the decision to leave without consulting anyone from the team or club; it was a unilateral decision made by himself. We believe that this was not a reasonable response; and cannot condone this type of action.

5. Currently in the Chinese Dota 2 scene, free agents are a rare commodity, with top tier carry players even harder to come across. LGD would have had no reason whatsoever to replace an excellent player that has been growing with the club for nearly two years. We thus sincerely ask and request Sylar to please not allow outside voices and rumors to destroy something that has been nurtured over the past two years: your bond and growth with the team and club.

6. Lastly, under any circumstances, we will respect Sylar’s final decision. But we do hope that the player can come together with the club, and respect and follow contracts in place. Even if it ends up being the last time we stand side by side.

– LGD Gaming Club

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

Sylar’s reaction to rOtk’s statement reveals a bit more of his own situation…?


rOtk posted on his own QQ Weibo a response to being taken off of the DK roster. In response to this, someone posted, “The first one” (essentially saying that this is the start of the official changes within Chinese Dota).

Sylar then responds to this person, “You’re wrong, I was the first one. I was put in the same position [as rOtk]”

This all comes in the midst of rumors amongst fans that Sylar was to join DK soon… the plot thickens?

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

rOtk statement on leaving DK

Source: (now deleted)

rOtk, now-former 3 position player for DK, has released a fiery, personal, statement on his departure from DK…

Update: rOtk has since deleted the original, and posted a new post saying “Let the tears flow a bit more. Take care. For my next stop, I will still give everything! TI4, my fate is in my own hands.”

Everyone’s well wishes to me have been received. Yet for me, somehow I ended up learning the actual news slower than some fans on SGamer, haha.

Today it’s being officially announced, I’m being taken off the DK roster. Thank you to DK for their support and over the past. As for the reasoning, I don’t even know myself. In preparing for TI3, I feel that I did my utmost. In the everyday leadup to the event, I did everything I was supposed to, and I then went further and did even more. Watched replays, analyzed strategies to a relative degree of clarity. As for performances at TI3, I wasn’t the weakest in the team. So me being replaced can only be described as confusing.

When I first came to DK two years ago, at that time one of iG’s squads’ (iG.Y) xiaoT had at the same time invited me to join him at iG, offering 40000 RMB as a transfer bonus for me. This was a lot at the time. I chose DK in the end, and made not a single penny from the choice.

Today I received a message from the club, and upon hearing it I was taken with shock. The contents within roughly: If you want to keep playing professionally, if another club wants you, then they must pay a transfer fee to DK. If they don’t pay, then you just stay with DK. DK will continue paying you, but that’s it. When I heard this, I exploded in laughter. You want to kick me, but you also want to hold onto me so you can make some money before I go???? “Why don’t you come to my house?? I’ll take care of you, pay you, and you stay put and don’t go anywhere.” (sarcasm)

Sorry, please go easy on this poor bastard. I’m really not worth any money.

And then, talk of contracts. Haha, when I first came to DK, it was because I trusted DK. When I first signed my contract with DK, none of us really paid attention to the details within, we all roughly listened to what you guys explained to us, and when we felt there weren’t any issues, we just signed up. This was a representation of the trust. I originally believed that I would retire with DK, but it would seem that today, I have been too fucking naive all along. As a person, I’m like that. I never leave myself any paths of retreat, I would never go chat with other people while I’m still at DK, exploring options and looking for a move for myself. Speaking honestly, when I received the news that I had been removed from the team, at that moment, there was no other place I could go. Not because I literally cannot go, but because I do not want to go. I had rejected all others.

I can only tell you, I will absolutely continue playing professionally, I will not give up. As for the contract you spoke of? I truly do not believe that contracts hold the kind of life-ruining power that you’ve suggested. And even if so, then I can say that only a pig will sign it; maybe I am one myself?

Follow DOTALAND on Twitter for instant updates:

The International 2013 in my view (part 2)

This is part 2 of my restrospective on TI3. Part 1 can be found here. Fair warning, this is really long, like 4000 words for part 2 alone. Hopefully it brings some insight into additional things.

8/6/2013 – Pre-show day

I showed up at Benaroya to get my bearings, clarify on some things, and make sure I wasn’t needed for anything else. Double checked with the video guy that the subtitles for the 5 Chinese teams were good and done (we had just wrapped those up the night before). I had rented a car to run some non-TI related errands, so in some downtime in the evening, I took Black to the beach over in West Seattle. Then we took him to go eat some Northern Chinese style food. Dumplings and whatnot.

Alki and stuff. Downtown Seattle in the distance. Black in the foreground.

Dumplings in Chinatown.

8/7/2013 – Elimination day 1

Being able to see the team intro videos before each team’s first appearance on stage at Benaroya Hall was really cool. I’d been helping to work on all the Chinese team videos throughout the group stages, and the final versions of the subtitles on those videos were the result of my contribution. So that was really fun to see — my work on the big screen! And the screen this year was really big, something like twice as large in terms of area compared to last year. Of course, the team intro videos themselves were way amazing. I especially liked the DK one, with the TongFu one being my next favorite. I felt that all the videos did a great job at capturing the essence of the teams, but the DK and TongFu ones did that especially well. RattleSnake’s was pretty cool too, especially with LaNm making the effort to speak English. We often joked with him during the group stages that his English was quite good — and in truth, it is actually pretty decent. He scoffed at us, though.

TongFu: For the first interview post-game interview I would be involved in at TI3, originally we wanted to grab Hao, but he disappeared (turns out he was ambushed by Chinese media before we could get to him). We spent a few minutes running around up and down the stairs looking for Hao, before learning that the rest of the team was in the players’ lounge and thus deciding to run up there to snag one of them instead. After the players pushed the responsibility onto each other a few times, Banana was finally the unfortunate one. They almost gave us SanSheng again, but he got himself out of it by telling them, “I’ve done an interview with them already today!” This was true, but the interview with SanSheng might actually not end up getting played at all…

Also, is it just me, or do TongFu’s SanSheng and Banana look very similar, especially with their facial structure and the glasses they wear? They must be brothers. They even have the same surname. (spoiler: they aren’t brothers)

I asked Banana what he thought, and he noted that there had indeed been comments during TI3 regarding a certain familiarity.

Later that evening, I ran across mouz Black again. After they unfortunately lost out in TI3 at the hands of, apparently, Black’s stuff got stolen too. He had left his stuff in a Dota 2 drawstring bag up in the team booths (where they hung the flags). When he got back, the bag was still there, but the stuff inside was gone. He had a few things, including some plushies, one of which was his Earthshaker, which he was sad about losing… The first day was strange, in that any random people were getting into the team booth areas, including people with green passes. In fact, when earlier looking for his stuff, Black had come across some green pass people sitting in the mouz booth, and when asked, they just said, “Sorry man, my friends are coming back, they were sitting here.” Haha? Like, these dudes had decided that an actual Mouz player isn’t welcome in his own booth… We didn’t know whether to laugh or what, so I just said that I’d go talk to some people, and we ended up getting Black a new bag of goodies. No replacement Earthshaker plushie, though…

With that being one of the major events for me on day 1, I looked forward to day 2, where more Chinese teams would be playing, and as a result I’d be far busier with interviews, and being on standby for interviews… I also took some crappy camera phone video of the main backstage area, including what it would be like for players walking onto and off of the stage.

8/8/2013 – Elimination day 2

DK: After the DK vs iG upper bracket match, after the record-setting game… we pulled BurNIng into the interview room immediately after they won; BurNIng was still visibly shaking and wired. “So excited.” I asked him if he needed a minute to collect himself before we began the interview, but he took a deep breath, smiled, and said that he was ready. Utmost professional. “We lost to iG after taking the first game against them last year, I was so afraid that was going to happen again…” was what he told me as he gathered himself.

Yes, the game may have been grinding or meandering at various times… But certain casters crossed a line: writing swear words, directed at a competing team no less, on screen, really? It shouldn’t matter how serious or joking you are, that kind of disrespect should not be acceptable, especially not as such a large event with such respected teams and players involved. Sure, it’s true that the record-breaking game was only punctuated by action very sparsely, and that fans are free to have whatever reactions they want, but that does not mean that the teams and players on stage should be so blatantly disrespected as they were by supposedly professional casters. These players are people who have given their youths, dreams, and years of their lives to get here, playing and competing for the right to go home and show their friends and family that it was not all for naught… BurNIng didn’t even look at the timer until 70 minutes in, is what he told us. They’re all focused, and this interview and the minutes leading up to the interview itself showed me that at least for BurNIng, Dota really means the world to him.

And then we were on standby, the camera was running, so off we went into his interview. He gave the answers in typical BurNIng fashion: calm, introspective, yet easy to relate with, and ever the professional, they were good answers. “I felt that if we hadn’t forced the last fight, the game could’ve easily gone on like that for another 30 minutes.” Afterwards, he was waylaid by a mass of some 10+ members of various Chinese media groups for another 10-minute interview. “I feel like I just ran a marathon,” he told them as he stood in front of a dozen cameras. I held onto his jacket for him — he almost left without it at the end, but I ran and gave it back. With another small smile, he grabbed it and turned to go find his team.

The legend’s very own TI3 jacket.

For me, BurNIng has undoubtedly cemented his place as the legend of legends. He’s the biggest professional, polite, yet he’s passionate, and beyond talented at what he does. He holds himself with an air of quiet authority while maintaining a very sincere and approachable persona. Sadness after their elimination. Some sympathy from iG members, who had just emerged from the waiting room for their own match as left backstage. The members were broken… As iG gathers for standby for their upcoming match, YYF says, “It’s gotta be such a huge gap in expectations and reality for them, after all, they made top 3 last year…”

Apparently, that night, Sylar sat alone in the hotel lobby in the middle of the night… brooding? Thinking?

8/9/2013 – Elimination day 3

A long day of fiercely fought matches, and no Chinese team remains in the upper bracket. Even still, three Chinese teams remain, and hopes remain high for their fans. TongFu nearly defeated NaVi, but fell to a combination of weak decision making and insane fountain hooking from NaVi. Notably, Loda of Alliance spoke out against this tactic — he said he talked to Valve people about how it’s a truly cheap tactic, and reiterated his position on this in another interview with Chinese media backstage. Regardless of what the wider sentiment is regarding the fountain hook mechanic, I think Loda’s stance on this earned him and Alliance some more fans amongst Chinese viewers, and at least at the live finals later on, I anecdotally noticed more Chinese fans cheering for Alliance than NaVi.

TongFu’s Hao and Mu doing a dual interview with the Chinese media.

Mu is a quiet dude, in contrast to the flamboyant, boisterous, and always smiling Hao. It’s quite interesting that TongFu has built around these two, and that they seem to get along as if brothers.

I think on this day, when I went to get a temporary pass to show my girlfriend around at the venue, two dudes approached me at the entrance. They must’ve thought I might be able to get them in, and asked, or practically begged, me to get them in. One dude was ostensibly offering his iPhone to me as payment in getting them in?? Like, he held it out and said that I could have it. Weird… I obviously turned this down and said sorry. Sorry dudes. I don’t know if you were legit Dota fans or just looking to get in and buy thousands of dollars of the Secret Shop to resell (there were definitely people getting in doing this), but either way it’s not something I could do!

8/10/2013 – Elimination day 4

DK fades out. Usually when DK comes backstage after a win, you hear rOtk shouting fiercely, excited about things that had happened earlier in-game, yelling about how he got that kill, or how they took that fight. You see BurNIng walking next to him, standing tall, shaking a little bit from the leftover adrenaline. You see the rest of DK, sometimes quiet, sometimes animatedly responding to rOtk… DK’s departure from the stage, and from TI3, after their loss to Orange was silent, without fanfare, and perhaps the last time we’ll see BurNIng.

I’m glad I at least pushed to get BurNIng for the pre-interview, reasoning that fans all love him, and that there was the chance that it would be the last time we see him… We would normally try to get at least each member of a team for a pre or post-game interview at least once before we did repeats, but BurNIng… is, well, legendary.

TongFu reverses on iG, but then falls to Orange anyway. IG, before the reversal against TongFu, had been showing increasing amounts of confidence and form. They walked onto the stage and into the booths with an air of confidence… and they returned, defeated, but unbowed. Perhaps that is just iG’s nature — through the past week, they and TongFu were the two Chinese teams that seemed to react the same way regardless of a win or a loss. In iG’s case, perhaps it is, or was, an unassuming sort of self-confidence. A belief in themselves, that in their hearts, they were champions. And maybe it was also mixed with a silent fear of acknowledging a disturbing weakness that viewers could all see. Nonetheless, iG seemed to grow stronger as the tournament went on, and YYF and Ferrari both seemed quite relaxed in between. Ultimately they went tranquilly as they lost, and as ChuaN typed out ‘gg’, followed by a simple “tongfu jia you”, all the hopes of Chinese fans fell upon their conquerors, TongFu.

TongFu.KingJ’s similarly simple “ok” in response might be interpreted by some as him being dismissive of ChuaN, but that is far from the truth. What KingJ’s response represented was an understanding that, by knocking out an iG that was growing stronger with the tournament, TongFu, as the sole remaining Chinese representative, took on an almost unspeakably enormous amount of pressure, and responsibility.

Somewhere during this day, TongFu’s Mu also went missing shortly at a time when the team should’ve been on standby. We ran around looking for him for a bit before I said to Hao, “Don’t you have his phone number?” Hao replied that yes, and in fact Mu had activated global roaming on his cell phone service, so I called him, Hao yelled at him to come back, and all was good. Apparently, Mu was out having some lunch nearby. Also, the interview with Mu in which we asked about his popularity with female fans was one of my favorites (my absolute favorite being the post-game interview with BurNIng after DK vs iG).

Before game 1 against Orange, TongFu added a ‘CN’ after all their IDs, to represent the fact that they were the last hope of a nation of hundreds of millions of gamers. Pressure. After the loss in game 1 against Orange, TongFu’s Hao, during their brief intermission between games, says to his teammates backstage in his typically carefree fashion, “It’s alright, we’ll play properly now.” And thus, Anti-mage. TongFu brought the series back to 1-1, but ultimately the Orange wave could not be stopped, and the last Chinese team at TI3 crashed out. The pressure overwhelmed TongFu — maybe the added ‘CN’ brought a weight of millions that impaired the typically carefree and mildly flamboyant players of TongFu… or perhaps it was simply that Orange would not be denied this year.

Chinese casters forlorn, as TongFu.CN fall.

Three Chinese teams in the top 6 might seem to be an excellent result, but for any fan of the Chinese scene, it is a disastrous, despairing, and devastating end to the tournament. It is almost certainly worse than in 2011, when the EHOME juggernaut fell short in the Grand Finals.

So, as a light summer rain began to fall from the skies of a Seattle evening (melodramatic background music), with scenes of the despondent on-site Chinese commentators’ tear-streaked faces streaming live across the Pacific to a once-proud nation of fierce Dota fans, TongFu, with their .CN, in their bright red uniforms, the last Chinese hope, crumbled…

8/11/2013 – Elimination day 5

In previous days at Benaroya Hall, I’d tried once or twice to get Chinese teams out onto the main floor to do some signings, meet and greets, stuff like that. But invariably, my approaches were politely but firmly declined, with various reasons being cited. For some of the teams, such as RattleSnake, they didn’t even know where each other were, and for them, the tournament was by and far over so it seemed like they were ready to just go home. For, they were disraught and disappointed and were in practically no mood to even come to Benaroya Hall the first two days after their disastrous end. Other teams such as iG, TongFu, and DK were all in it until day 4, and it seems that Chinese players prefer to largely keep to themselves and amongst each other when they’re still competing, and then need some time to collect themselves after losing. For them, this is a game they love, but also one that they take very seriously as their job. Expectations are always sky high for them, both in terms of self-expectations as well as expectations from viewers back home.

On the last day at Benaroya Hall, I did manage to get some of the players out and about into the main hall area before the Grand Finals started. YYF and Ferrari, while walking with me to head out to the main area, were still debating the game in which Ferrari’s Storm Spirit died twice in quick succession against TongFu. YYF was talking about how a BKB was needed, very adamantly (but in a friendly fashion). Ferrari nodded in agreement, perhaps a little sheepishly. “And you told us you were feeling great! What use does feeling great about your play have if you don’t have a BKB there?” Funny interactions between teammates. I laughed and they did too. The losses at TI3 were tough for any of the Chinese teams, but life goes on.

Anyway, I got quite a few players to talk with some of the workshop creators, and we’re currently in preliminary talks to have player-specific hero sets made. BurNIng’s Anti-mage set anyone? Hao’s Spectre? Ferrari_430’s Invoker? Nekomata’s Huskar (this one is more for Chinese fans)? This and more may be in the pipeline within the next few months… (if you’re an awesome workshop creator and want to get involved, get at me. I talked to some of you guys at TI3).

Some of the Chinese players, at my urging, came along for an adventure in the main area on the final day. I really like this picture.

I recognize the fact that the Chinese teams tend to be more reserved, private, and conservative in the amount and manner of the interactions with fans at events, so hopefully at least some of their fans managed to meet them during that half hour they ventured out. There’s also the language and cultural barrier, and I think some of them are just apprehensive about wandering around too much into completely unfamiliar social situations. Those of you that got pictures, autographs, and other mementos with them should post them up and share them with us all, such is the rarity! If I get the chance next year, I’ll try to schedule more in terms of bridging that gap between East and West for the fans and players.

Other notes

All of Orange are really nice, polite, and invariably quite shy. They put up a valiant fight, but in the end, they fell against NaVi. Coming backstage, Mushi quickly walked alone and left, while kyxy and the others sort of mingled aimlessly for a few minutes before collectively leaving to the condolences and applause of Valve backstage staff. A few minutes later, Mushi would be found in the players’ lounge, nearly inconsolable. But all the Chinese teams, as well as his fellow SEA players, one by one came to him to offer a hug, or a pat on the back. After a while, Mushi got up, walked across the room to where the other Orange members were sitting together, and shook each of their hands, gave them a hug and shared some quiet words.

In the ensuing hours, Orange players sort mingled around in various places, the main hall, up and downstairs, etc. Before their match against NaVi, I had given them my support, and afterwards, I congratulated them on a valiant, amazing effort. They’re really nice people, all so humble and polite. I really hope that they’ll realize that, while they nearly had one foot into the door of the Grand Finals, third place is still spectacular. I hope kyxy comes back even stronger, because he’s still very young, but so talented. In the Orange vs NaVi match, despite the fact that Orange knocked out two Chinese favorites, Chinese fans seemed to largely support Orange anyway. Perhaps it was a simple East vs West dynamic, but I like to think that we could also all see Orange for the great players and nice people that they are as well.

Alliance dudes are all quite polite and well-spoken as well. People say Loda is arrogant, but I think it’s really just confidence that comes with having been around for so long. I fist-bumped AdmiralBulldog after their win, cool guy, seemed genuinely happy and humbled to be in such a position.

Of NaVi, I only really directly interacted briefly with Dendi, Puppey, and XBOCT. All three of them are funny and relatively approachable. Puppey has a thing where he won’t give interviews or really speak to outsiders immediately before games/matches. I guess lots of players would probably prefer this, but Puppey is very strict about it. Good on him, he takes his job as captain very seriously.

A major attraction, or distraction, perhaps, of the Chinese teams and players was the card game Legends of the Three Kingdoms. And apparently the Chinese casters/media people tended to play a lot of Mafia (yes, that party game). In a post-TI dinner hosted by Perfect World, the players were playing the card game, the casters were playing Mafia, and it was hilarious seeing and hearing Haitao and DC get into it regarding the game. I wouldn’t want to play against them — no way to out-talk them, they talk for a living. Hah.

Lastly, I tend to not ask for photos and autographs as a rule, and since I was there in a backstage access kind of way, I made that an even firmer rule, thus I hardly have any pictures and no autographs, etc, at all. The stuff I’ve shared in these two parts is basically everything I have!


TI3 after party

The afterparty was pretty cool as well. It was at a venue just a few blocks away from Benaroya Hall, and was open to anyone with a TI3 pass (I think there was some sort of limitation regarding being age 21 or not due to alcohol laws in the US, of course). There was a VIP area where players, staff, and whatnot mostly hung out, and the rest of the venue was open to anyone. The VIP area had some food, and drinks were open bar and free. I don’t drink at all, so I just got some food and hung around.

After a while, NaVi showed up. Or at least, Dendi and XBOCT did, that I saw. Dendi mostly just sat in the VIP area with some other players, and had a constant stream of people walking by to say hi, etc. XBOCT was XBOCT (as I’m sure most people have seen by now). One fan tried really hard to get Dendi to get on the floor and dance later on in the night, but Dendi would not be swayed, and smilingly declined. In his smile, though, it would seem to have a tinge of sadness — understandably so.

None of the Chinese players came to this, which is not surprising at all. I honestly couldn’t see many of them really being comfortable in an environment like this — they’re mostly low-key kids that keep to themselves, and I’d be surprised if any of them even occasionally went to bars or clubs back home in China, much less in the US where customs and language differences would make social experiences like this one even trickier for them. There were, however, a lot of SEA players — Zenith, Orange, I think even MUFC. And then ChuaN, of course, hanging out with his SEA buddies.

IXMike in the crowd

About halfway through the night, Alliance arrived, and the DJ got on the mic to herald their coming. “Give it up for Alliance!” The champions, holding the Aegis, strutted into the VIP area to a chorus of cheers and fanfare. This would have been the perfect time to start blasting Basshunter Dota. Because Alliance are from Sweden, Basshunter is from Sweden, it would’ve been perfect. Sadly, despite the fact that some of us went and asked specifically for this song, and despite promises that it would come, it never did. We were fully aware of how cheesy it would be, but at least it probably wouldn’t have been worse than the chiptune-style Mario theme that they blasted halfway through because we’re all “GAMERZ”.

Complaints about the music choice aside (it wasn’t actually all that bad, I’m just not a club/bar person), the afterparty wasn’t awkward at all, the Valve staff there were having a great time with everyone else, the fans present made a good showing in terms of being able to move about the floor, and I didn’t see anyone embarass themselves alcoholically. And even though it was really freakin’ loud (I guess clubs and stuff are supposed to be loud like this), I also met and chatted with some more people, including SeleCT of Starcraft 2 (and brief Dota 2) fame, Lumi, and Sheever. It was also great to get to meet some fans that approached me about my work at TI3. Thanks for the support, guys and girls!

To cap it all off, thank you to Valve for the amazing tournament, for having the trust and faith to place in someone like me whom you guys have never met before and giving me the chance to learn and try to not make a fool of myself in what is the biggest event of every year for you guys. I hope I have not let anyone down horribly, and will truly treasure the experience, memories, and friendships formed. Thanks to the fans that approached me during the event, I really enjoyed meeting and speaking to each and every one of you. Some of you had great words of encouragement and advice. Thanks to the players for accepting me as I am, and for being who they are in making such an amazing event be possible from a competitive point of view. Thanks to the viewers and community at large for being part of making TI3 one of the largest, most spectacular events in competitive gaming history. And thank you, reader, for reading my rambling and meandering thoughts and restrospectives.