71 talks history, winning, team building

Source: http://www.imbatv.cn/special/xinsheng/10/

In a recent piece with ImbaTV, current EHOME coach and manager 71 looks back on defining moments and memories in his esports journey thus far.

71: Previously I’d always been a coach, there wasn’t any role where I needed to manage the club. Now that I’m a manager of the club as well I’ve taken on this role. I’ve just begun with this work, so right now I can’t speak much about any experience, and additionally I don’t really feel that we’re doing any particular thing very well yet, it’s just that I’ve got some things that I can share with everyone

Recently I just held a meeting with our team leads for our various squads, noting that we need to establish a team captain within each team, whose purpose is to be a connection between team leads, coaches, and the team itself and thus make it easier and smoother for management to do their work. Because I’ve been coach and team lead before, I feel that I was really lucky to have in the past DC and 820. These were two amazing captains – within the hundreds of players I’ve had, there are nearly none that come close to those two. 820 went from player to captain, it was kind of like he was DC’s successor at the time. So our management format is to establish a captain, and to have him play a role in connecting team leads and coaches within the management ladder.

Right now comparing international and Chinese clubs, there is still a massive gap. In terms of management, on one side it’s managing, and on the other side it’s organizing. So in our big team meetings I always say, if you need to organize something then you really need to organize it clearly. Including things like the situation for individual players, like what shirt size they wear, their height, weight, birthday, health, personal problems, any issues at home, etc, you’ve got to be clear on everything. Even their goals for playing professionally, their personal goals, so I always say you have to be really clear on the details and have depth to it all.

From our beginnings, with just one or two squads, we’ve now got eight or nine. We can no longer manage based on individual situations, we have to have a system. First you establish a team captain, and then the captain and team lead work together in accordance with the system to manage things. Once the system’s in place what you need is to establish the instinct behind it – down to details like penalties if the lights and computers are left on after a day’s training. The point is to raise their awareness, to establish the feeling that this is their home and they should care about it.

A few days ago the team lead for our Dota main squad went to get the players up from bed. We had scrims at 2pm, so by 12pm people should really be getting out of bed already. Our team lead and the players aren’t in the same house, so the team lead came over from the other house to wake them up. Old Eleven wouldn’t get out of bed, and our team lead couldn’t get him out so he just left and came back ten minutes later to try again. Eleven, in bed, then said “What do I need to get out of bed for”, the team lead stayed for another few minutes to try and get him out and then gave up. I was in the neighboring room during this and heard it all, originally I thought I might just go over there and drag him out of bed myself, but then I thought that this wouldn’t really have any long term effect. So I went downstairs and sent LaNm an email, telling him to gently but officially speak to this issue in the training room later. Because otherwise, stuff like this makes the team lead’s job too hard to do. In the afternooon I went down to watch them scrim. After they finished the scrim, I asked Eleven to go out for a smoke with me, and he immediately said “I know what the problem is,” and the other players were just sat there laughing at him. In actuality I was only asking him so I’d have a smoke buddy.

Speaking of captains, on the one hand they need to have the prestige and respect to focus the team around him, this is required. But only this is not nearly enough. On the other hand they need to have the ability to develop, and play things to their players’ strengths. For LaNm, in this latter aspect he cannot be considered to be excellent, though he does hold absolute respect.

Over all these years in China, from my point of view, from what I’ve understood there are only two people that meet these requirements in terms of captaining: xiao8 and rOtK. No matter how much people flame them, their results can be seen. Compared to the international scene though, perhaps it’s because Chinese players tend to be more reserved so there are fewer great captains. Internationally there are the likes of Misery, Fly, Puppey, Kuroky, etc. A good team basically will always have a decent captain. As for LaNm, when it comes major tournament time, he’s thinking a bit more about how to allow himself to play to 100% of his ability in order to have 120% of an effect on the team’s play. He can’t really do things like help the team and teammates adjust from a 50% status to a 70-80% status, so compared to some other more established captains he’s still lacking in various ways, though I’ve seriously seen him thinking and improving on these things.

I recall talking with LaNm prior to TI once. I said to him, “LaNm, we’ve been working together for a while up to now, and honestly there’ve been a lot of things that were kind of rough,” I listed them all out one by one. Previously during Manila I’d also spoken with him before, compared to working with you it was a lot easier for me to work with rOtK. ROtK communicates a lot, he uses a lot of affirmative language, and he has a clear sense of direction. This is actually a really important thing, because a lot of details really need you to go and figure them out. No matter how good the things in a person’s mind are, it’s all useless to a team because they’re only in his mind. But even if someone has bullshit on their mind but they manage to convey it to five people and get them to act uniformly on it, that is invaluable. ROtK does really well in this regard.

Talking on the point of good coaches, it depends on what your thoughts and requirements are. Some people just do their job, while others go above and beyond, there’s a difference between the two. Of course, there are also coaches that are just along for the ride. I’ve got my origins as a coach, I’ve led quite a few different teams in my day. I’ve got my own style and understandings, but I also change and adjust based on what I have available to me. For example, when I was coaching DK, no matter the results, I would always ask them to play and strategize extremely aggressively. Yet when I tried to apply this same school of thought to the team with Mushi and Inflame, the results were really poor. When that happened I needed to rethink things. The reason the original style no longer worked might not be because of the patch version, it was because my personnel and what their strengths and weaknesses were had changed, for example in terms of their on-the-fly decision making. And they were yet to fully understand the big picture: when you’re speaking with them about one set of things, and they think they’ve already fully understood and achieved it, yet from my observer’s point of view they’ve obviously done very poorly… so I can’t just complain, I have to find change starting from myself. I think about what changes I can make based on the personnel available, or from some other angle.

The things that a coach can learn are plentiful. Any competitive sport is one that I am interested in. Every good coach is one that I can learn something from, like Phil Jackson with the Bulls, and then achieving the same things with the Lakers later on. How he would manage those superstars. He’d be pretty lackadaisical during the regular season, but once it was postseason he’d have all kinds of defensive schemes, fully utilizing and displaying the effect of every single timeout. On key plays he’d have the team approaching things nearly perfectly. This is what a top tier coach can achieve, he can grasp the team’s current level of performance, he knows when it’s time to save effort and when it’s time to explode, he can control the timing of when the team gets hot. Another example is Mourinho in football, those who love him really love him, and those who hate him despise him to their core. Yet both sides see him as arrogant and loud, but what not everyone sees is that he attracts all the attention after matches because he is redirecting the pressure and criticism away from his players. There’s also Lippi who previously managed Guangzhou Evergrande, his autobiography I’ve read parts of as wll. And then there was the Beijing team in CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), who won the title a few years back. During the finals, no matter whether a game was won or lost, their star player Stephon Marbury’s interviews I watched all of them — he was really honest, the things he said were of value, showed his goals, showed that he took responsibility. They were things that every captain and coach can learn from.

In all my years as coach my deepest memories come from the time I was leading a Counterstrike team. Back in those days the conditions were exceedingly tough. To go to offline events we had to pay our own way, and forget about going overseas to compete. For players in that era, to go overseas to compete was an incomparable honor, it’s not like nowadays with so many international tournaments. My team back then had no sponsor, the team name was one I’d come up with: teAmart. In 2005 we were based in an abandoned elementary school on the outskirts on Nanjing. Within a radius of 500 acres there were just the six of us people. Every day we’d walk 30 minutes in the hills before getting a 40 minute ride on an illegal taxi (read: random guy with a car). Then at the internet cafe we’d play for some ten hours and head back in the same manner. There’d often be no running water, so we would go in pairs to the nearby well to get water so we could bathe. It would be in the open air in the village, bathing in front of other villagers and their cows. That cold, and the scenes, but there was friendship and there was fun. If you had me do that again today, I would still do it. But today’s players wouldn’t. Nowadays if there isn’t fruit in the training room they already want to murder the team lead, forget about having them wash next to a well… just think about how much time could have gone to streaming instead!

For Dota, my most memorable times come with EHOME in 2010, but those memories aren’t of the 10 championship titles. That year we were playing in the WCG Beijing regionals, Zhou and DGC with their team came to compete for a spot too, saying “We’re here to fuck that strongest team (implying us)”. So anyway, their team and ours got dragged into a rivalry, and we even put our money on the line by wagering 5000 RMB, with my players putting in half and me putting in the other half. In the winners bracket when we met, I remember that we got stomped. In those days tournaments were played with the two teams facing each other in a row, their team’s mid player would be flaming us while playing. A youngster, didn’t really understand things nor decorum, and he trash talked me a bunch too. I wasn’t really too fussed about it, but my players were really burning with shame, they looked really out of it while eating later. I said to them, just let me pay the money owed in the wager. KingJ and them wouldn’t accept that, saying that they needed to get their honor back. Things were spoken in that way, but honestly in our hearts we weren’t sure about it. The story afterwards is a comeback story. We ended up winning the regional there, and honestly this title was really important — it established trust and friendship, and it also established a neverending belief of not giving up, it was great. The team thus gained an underlying culture and purpose, so improvement was quick, and communication was easy. I would just say the things I see, and what I want to say in terms of strategy, and the players would go based on that to try and achieve those things. If someone performed poorly individually, I wouldn’t even need to say anything before 820 was already on their case. Players nowadays, you have to baby them, you have to leave them room to save face, it’s tiring.

And then there’s EHOME in 2015, a time when we had peaks and valleys alike. The peak would have been the end of the year. At that time the other teams were all not strong, while simultaneously LaNm had found some understandings of the patch. I remember we won, consecutively, Radiant and Dire Cup, SDO, and MDL. In terms of both form and mentality we were pretty much in the right place. But in reality I knew, these results were temporary, because previously I’d already mentioned that CTY’s style is one that likes to farm, the tempo in that version really suited him. Kaka’s Earth Spirit, Eleven’s Void and Lone Druid, these were all signature heroes for us. You couldn’t really ban us out so it was expected to be able to achieve some results on that. In the ensuing Chinese New Year break, with a new patch version in place it would be expected for our results to get worse.

The most difficult thing was probably TI6 this year. With Old Eleven’s grandfather in bad health, he went home to take care of things, and we moved FaN up to our main team to replace him. But the chemistry wasn’t good. Prior to the open qualifiers we scrimmed with fellow qualifiers teams, and there were at least six different teams where we couldn’t even hit a 60% win rate in training. So I calculated a bit, and at the time I thought our changes of making it through were less than 3%. This meant that we wouldn’t even make it to the main qualifiers, we would only get to watch TI at home, which would be a pretty big problem. The team atmosphere at the time was really bad, emotions were really low. Then in the end we made the decision to make another change, we asked Eleven to have someone else take care of his grandfather, we got him to come back and we had iceiceice go play carry. After this change honestly, it wasn’t really solving our problems either. We trained a few days in this way and then off we went to the qualifiers, and even during the qualifiers we were in a lot of danger. Really, our team has always been kind of interesting that way: oftentimes when the team is not very favored, it can find life in the most difficult of situations and bounce back from the bottom all the way up to a very good spot. But once they’re in that spot, they suddenly can’t do it anymore. TI was like that too, so many people were saying that EHOME were headed for the title, to the point that even I got a little bit embarrassed. Forget about our bans, just looking at our pick stats, our drafts didn’t look at all like a team that could win the title. Against EG we indeed should not have lost. People were saying how in game one we lost after having megacreeps, how that was an epic, legendary game. If you ask me, it was dogshit. At that time EG was noob, we were even more noob, I can’t see what part of that is epic or legendary at all. Mentally overall we couldn’t really get in a good spot either, the team stopped improving in-game, we just put our tactics out there for others to counter. It’s like you play cards with your hand open while the others are playing with their hands hidden, can you possibly not lose? Wings winning the whole thing was really commendable, their tactics and style have a lot of layers to it all. It was varied to the point that you couldn’t counter it at all, and they had such great mentally — playing TI like it was a giant pub, so they truly deserved the title.

This year’s post TI player transfers, I think domestically everyone has just done okay. In comparison I think the big Western teams, like EG, have done excellently in this regard. They’ll definitely be a strong team when the time comes. In China I somewhat favor VG, adding a new player on the original VG.R foundation. The other teams, well, it is what it is. In the very beginning we wanted to go get Maybe to play position one for us. We discussed it with Maybe, but at that time he kind of wanted to go to VGP. Sylar approached LaNm himself, and we felt it was pretty good so we just decided on him. In terms of four position we considered ChuaN. ChuaN plus LaNm we felt would be a pretty good combination, but it didn’t work out. And then Wings were rumored to be disbanding due to players wanting to continue their schooling, with iceice even dropping his team registration for a while, so we went to try and recruit him and have Fenrir and iceice be our support duo with LaNm transitioning to coach, but then Wings decided to not be making any changes anymore. Fenrir spoke to us himself about wanting to leave the team, we really really wanted to keep him, and we communicated many times afterwards to that effect. But in the end Fenrir felt that he couldn’t take back the words that he’d already spoken, so he went to VG.J. As for iceiceice, after TI he’d already told us that he wanted to go back to Singapore to play, and we respected his wish. I feel that the outside world is quite unfair to him, he is originally an offlaner, but in an emergency time of need he took up the responsibility of playing carry. This was a huge challenge for him, and it was a result of our team having no other options. Iceiceice practiced the most out of the team, he is actually really hard working, so no matter how poorly he might play I don’t think the blame can go to him! From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate iceiceice, I respect him.

Why would Wings’ TI6 win affect our methodology for team building? And if you say they are a brand new team I really can’t agree with that. I’ve been in the business of youth training and development for esports for so long, I’m fully aware of just how difficult it is for newcomers to get results. In the very beginning for Wings, they were SPG. That picture that you’ve all seen only of them being subs for DK, that was because I called them there. At the time DK had three people on break, yet there was still WPC that needed to be played. I felt that these three kids from SPG were pretty decent, so I grabbed them over to standin for us. I remember after winning, I specifically sent a note up to Zhou in the analyst room, asking him to choose the MVP for the match out of these three kids, and not from BurNIng or MMY. Afterwards, iceice went to this team and since then has played with them for over a year, so they can’t really be considered to be a new team. Prior to TI they’d won against top international teams, they’d won titles before, and they’d also been eliminated in the first round before. Teams have these kinds of fluctuations. They’ve experienced the things that they needed to experience along the way, their strategy and drafts are really unique yet calculated. Honestly, their style is really similar to that DK team, so perhaps you could say they are an improved and stronger version of DK.

In the end, I hope that EHOME can continue to improve, and continue to learn from the top clubs domestically and internationally in order to become a leading force in the next generation of this industry.

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The Summit 4 in my view

Another tournament, another writeup! TS4 took place in December 2015, and was a lot of fun and went by entirely too quickly as as result. Here’s a glimpse into the behind the scenes from my point of view…

Tues Dec 8

After an early morning flight, we’re in Ontario airport in Southern California once again.

Right away we’re shuttled off to BTS house – it’s a new house and significantly roomier, though it is further away from Ontario airport (with the tradeoff that it is closer to LAX, which means everyone flying in

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Southern Californiaaaaa

internationally gets a shorter trip from airport to house, which is nice). Once I get to the house, I’m informed that I’m needed for an interview, done with theScore esports (where I am behind the camera and their guys later transcribe/subtitle things based on what I say) first with LaNm and then with old chicken. LaNm seems to grow, or evolve, with each event I see him at, and he just seems to be more and more comfortable with the camera, media, and whatever gets thrown at him. Kinda the veteran aura, I guess. When he first sees me, he stares me down a bit then grins his big grin when he’s laughing, and then he actually laughs and we greet each other before we go to his interview where I’m translating for him…

Next up is old chicken, whom I’ve never met before, and who hasn’t been to that many events before either. Despite his relative newness, he doesn’t seem nervous, but nonetheless his answers in his interview are kind of short, though it’s more because it seems like he just doesn’t think he needs to say much more. Yet he’s always giving his answers with a kind of smirk on his face like he thinks something is really funny. This was the guy that, after all, made a joke about Chinese Dota being dead on stage at the Frankfurt Major.

After that, media day requirements for EHOME are done and they split off to their own thing. Some of them go shopping, the EHOME coach 71 wants to go get a tattoo of the EHOME logo on his shoulder: “This is something I’ve thought about for a long time now, and it is something I want to do”. EHOME has been his project and, well, home in esports for the greater part of a decade now and his words seem reasonable as I help him figure

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New kids on the block

out the logistics of it all over the phone later that afternoon…

 

What follows is some relatively carefree catching up with various people through the day – KotLguy says hi and we chat about his recent travels and work in Dota: “I do like hosting, but I also like casting because that’s what really rewards me for doing my research on the game and knowing about things.” Winter wants to go bowling again (callback to the time we went bowling with some of DK during TI4…), LD says hey buddy! in his usual friendly way, Slacks already wants me to help him with a completely goofy but somehow interesting interview with kaka and 71 of EHOME, I congratulate Kuro on his Defence win and Fly on his Frankfurt win…

The completely unserious interview that Slacks had me help him with was one where I would marginally ‘teach’ him how to ask certain questions directly in Chinese, and the interviewees would answer to the best of their ability based on what they thought they would be hearing out of Slacks’ mouth. In the end I don’t think this piece aired because it probably doesn’t transition very well at all onto a stream, but it was kind of funny seeing 71 and kaka from EHOME trying to figure out what Slacks would ask. One question was “Do you wanna go to the zoo?” and after some deliberating they thought it meant something to do with food, or something…

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The crown prince and the emperor

Then VG arrives for their media day stuff. While filling out forms, VG’s players do absolutely nothing and leave it all to their poor manager JaL, who to his great credit, has all of their relevant bank and personal information on hand to fill in for them. When he asks them to double check it, even when he warns them that he might have certain things incorrect, they all tell him “no need! we trust you!” Instead, they spend all their free time playing, as usual, free to play mobile games that are more pay2win than they are free to play. Asking some of them how much they’ve spent on some of these games, and the figures are relatively obscene.

Then it’s nighttime and the sun has set, and we head back to the hotel.

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A bright ending

EHOME guys want to eat, and of course they want to find some Chinese food. The only place within walking distance is a Mongolian Grill place, and they have fun putting together their dishes and having the cooks there cook it up, marvelling at the cooks’ skill in sweeping the ready food in one swoop off the grill onto their bowls. At the table, chatter is boisterous and loud as is often is, with LaNm and 71 going at each other with casual banter and insults: “shabi!” rings out frequently and it’s just as well that we’ve gone to the restaurant near closing hour, as their shenanigans threaten to disturb no one else as we are the only customers still there. The topics vary widely but with some guys it seems topics often run backwards in time, and LaNm and 71 spend a good part of the night reminiscing about old players they’ve interacted with: Ksss, xiaot, and so on…

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EHOME eating

Weds Dec 9

VG 2-1 VP, then VG 2-1 OG. Games are close and relatively interesting, where BurNIng in particular plays well. For post game interviews, it’s relatively hard to get them to come out for interviews – VG often plays a game of ‘let’s push the interview onto someone else’ until someone inevitably shouts that everyone will have to do an interview at some point so putting it off today just means you have to do it tomorrow, and then Super gets to do an interview. This kind of thing has been happening to Super since his time with DK at TI3, at the least. (Back during TI3 they even tried to send their manager before finally Super was the one forced into an interview)

After their matches, iceiceice notices the shirt I have on and goes, “whoa. Nice shirt.” It’s a DK iceiceice shirt and it is indeed a nice shirt!

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This pic is from later but that’s the shirt and that’s the iceiceice

Thurs Dec 10

 

EHOME go first against Liquid, and before the match they’re just chilling. Half of them are watching random Chinese streams and the chat. There’s some girl streamer that some of them are currently particularly infatuated with. Kaka is practicing his Wisp and 71 points at him and says “professional wisp”. Hah. They see old chicken’s pose on the BTS stream and all laugh at him for a minute while LaNm and CTY run down to imitate the pose on the camera downstairs by borrowing Tiffany’s glasses for the task.

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Teaching moments

EHOME lose and afterwards LaNm is immediately loading up the replay and gathering his players around him to debrief, pointing out everything he sees as the other players listen… “Come here and watch the replay!” is the command and the rest of them obediently gather around their captain.

 

VG went shopping in the day because iceiceice made his team promise to go shopping with him if they won on the previous day. Fenrir has a Gengar t-shirt on and I say that’s my favorite Pokemon, and he says hey, me too! The rest of them lounge around, except for BurNIng who is apparently shopping some more on his own (shopping addict). Fy and I play some Pro Evo Soccer, but evidently according to Fy, Benzema is imba and after two games Fy calls it quits in the face of laughter from their manager JaL, who finds it funny seeing Fy lose.

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Another Summit, more Pro Evo..

Later there is an iceiceice cast in which he pretends to be muted for the first minutes, but isn’t actually muted.

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Heh

Fri Dec 11

On the way to the house this morning, we’re riding with VG. They are discussing their respective ages, with BurNIng wondering if he should be considered 27 or 28. “My mom calls me and always tells me I’m 28 now,” he says somewhat resignedly. That’s kind of old, especially in esports, but I’m thinking that these guys are all mostly younger than I am anyway so what are they complaining about? I think, honestly, age doesn’t and shouldn’t really matter as much in Dota. As an entire generation of players are growing older, and perhaps finally realizing that they needn’t force themselves to retire (we ended TI5 without nearly any premature retirement announcements, after all), we may see a lot of these players going on into their 30s.

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Captain LaNm

After their match against DC, EHOME present LaNm for the post-match interview on the couch. After that, there’s another interview with theScore esports, and it’s once again LaNm. I comment that he sure does get interviewed a lot, especially on this team. Compared to when he was on DK, it’s a lot more interviewing, but his role in both teams has always been pivotal – it’s just that with EHOME he is much more visible because he’s surrounded by newer players that are still learning to come into their own in the scene…

Late afternoon and some of the VG guys want a snack, so Grace makes them some chicken nuggets in the oven. Fenrir eats, by his own admittance, probably 50% of the entire tray of chicken nuggets and announces that he is the “chicken killer” because

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\o/

he loves eating chicken.

 

At night, it’s the Gang Beasts tournament, which was pretty hilarious even though it had little to do with any of the other happenings at TS4. Tiffany wins it all in the end, and a few of us do in fact go to In-N-Out afterwards.

Sat Dec 12

Kaka wonders how much a house around LA costs, and 71 says, “after you move here I’ll come visit you, and I’ll tell you to come pick me up at the airport but you have to come in a helicopter, cuz I don’t wanna be seeing any plain old car picking me up.” I wonder aloud if kaka has a rich family or something, but it remains unclear whether or not he does, as at first he strongly denies it, but then later thinks that spending 50 euros on a single cigar isn’t necessarily expensive at all. I’m no expert in modern cigar pricing but I think that’s kind of a premium level price for one. Or maybe it’s ‘esports inflation’: everyone in the scene is making a lot nowadays?

The EHOME guys are pretty casually getting themselves into the atmosphere of their big match against OG, or rather, it would seem the match isn’t that much more important to them than an average match. After all, LaNm has said that they still need to grow a lot as a team and their newer guys are still undergoing that process. According to their coach, he already briefed them on what they needed to know last night and so today he isn’t going to be doing anything additional – a pretty large contrast with the high pressure world of an International, for example.

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The King of Fighters

They’re playing classic King of Fighters, LaNm vs eLeVeN, but LaNm loses pretty much every single game yet they continue playing for an hour. Seeing a Lycan in the Liquid vs VP matchup, CTY pipes up that his Lycan would be most excellent in this situation, claiming that he’d build Blink Dagger and Vladmirs – to which the rest of his team laughs at him heartily.

RTZ and 71 chat upstairs on the balcony – RTZ says “why’s CTY so crazy? control your players!!”, specifically mentioning CTY’s TA in an earlier game and 71 laughs and says, “it’s okay, he just wants to play aggressive… mostly”

Later in the evening, after EHOME has lost to OG, iceiceice and Fenrir show up, and seeing some EHOME guys in the kitchen, iceiceice quickly points and laughs at 71. 71 feigns outrage but iceiceice points out that EHOME had done the same to VG when they had lost in Frankfurt, and soon the next match is underway.

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Yes hello

Everyone chatters animatedly while watching the VP-OG matchup. At one point Fenrir is talking about iceiceice’s Night Stalker from the day before: “One minute after the game starts, we hear from his part of the room – oi! I can’t play anymore! Help!!” and 71 points out that every time they put iceiceice solo against Universe, he gets owned, and furthermore laughs at VG’s decision to put a Night Stalker solo against a Brood at all.

Upstairs, the rest of EHOME are on practice PCs just hanging out again, with LaNm feverishly practicing King of Fighters alone while eLeveN has been downstairs watching the games with us. Observing the two of them playing King of Fighters again later, LaNm still loses far more than he wins but his enthusiasm remains throughout.

At night back at the hotel, we’re going again to get In-N-Out and EHOME’s 71 and LaNm decide to come along too after hearing that

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More In-N-Out

In-N-Out is a California classic and staple of the local scene. While waiting for 71 to get ready, LaNm is playing some Hearthstone on his phone – he plays it very casually, he says, and he’s running what he calls an unorthodox deck so if he loses, it doesn’t matter, and if he wins then it’s funny.

 

True to his attitude towards the game, when 71 is ready we leave the hotel right away and thus LaNm loses connection to the hotel wifi and disconnects from his current Hearthstone match without a worry about ranking or record. On the way to, during the meal, and then on the way back the two of them are chattering about Dota and their team. These two are the masters and veterans of the team by far and there’s a steady strategic strand to their conversations as they flutter from one topic to another, never straying far from how everything relates back to their team’s performances and status.

Sun Dec 13

It’s the last day of the tournament, and by the time I’ve found a spot in the house to comfortably watch the first series, VG are already one game down. Before long, they’re two games down – and thus out, and so they head out to the back yard behind the house where they spend an hour and a half wanderingly discussing, and debating what went wrong while Fy kicks a soccer ball around next to them.

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Fy

I join him for a bit here and there, but mostly it’s to enjoy the California sunshine and get some fresh air. Then VG want to leave the house – some want to go back to the hotel, others I hear are going to the stores, or the casino, or something or other. Iceiceice is, almost as always, the only one of them to stay behind… so we hang out for a while in kitchen, bullshitting about this and that, here and there. When VP finally loses a game, ice remarks “VP’s on cooldown now..” and unfortunately for them, their CD ended up being really long and the night ended, again, with EG taking the title.

Iceiceice casts one of the games, but not before he tries to say that he’ll only cast if I cast (???), which came after he said that he would solo cast in both Chinese and English (a much better idea).

The night at the house winds down gradually but happily. Iceiceice and I play some Gangbeasts at some point, where we team up against the two other players and basically wreck them, which was fun because for once I wasn’t going against everyone else in the game. 😛 And then someone turned off the fun stream… so, sorry stream. I hope you guys had some fun when the stream was actually active, which I think it got more active as the week went on.

Jpeg

Enjoying the end

In the late evening it pours down rain rather uncharacteristically aggressively for Southern California, and after the rain stops we’re ready to head back to the hotel. I make a round around the house to say my thanks and goodbyes – Kuroky wonders if I’ll be at the Shanghai Major, to which I reply “maybe.” He goes, “come on man, don’t give me maybe” I ask him if he’ll be there, and he’s like…. “maybe.” So I point out that “maybe” is a good word and he seems to agree, and he and I and a few others chat for a few minutes before I run off elsewhere in the house…

Back at the hotel, LaNm is enlisting my help to make a late evening trip to the store to help him find things he needs to buy for his new baby. And, well, apart from my ability to read English labels I’m (far) less well-versed than he is in baby-related things so we spend a while looking for stuff at the store but mostly get everything that he needs. On the walk back, he looks up and seems surprised: “are those stars?! I haven’t seen those for years in China.” Thus the conversation lands for a while on the topic of air quality in China, or the complete lack of any sort of quality thereof.

2015-12-13 22.30.52

LaNm buying stuff for his kid

Afterwards the topic changes: “Wow, I think a Chinese team hasn’t won a LAN since D2L Season 5…” I believe he’s right, or close to it. LaNm goes on, “But time eventually changes things, so after a long enough time even the best can become the worst.” Back at the hotel, we bid our good nights and thus another Summit comes to an end.

Mon Dec 14

EHOME and VG are scheduled to leave the hotel at 8:30 in the morning to head to LAX for their flights, so we go down to the lobby around that time to send them off and make sure everything goes smoothly for them.

Goodbyes are exchanged, everyone says “See you in Shanghai!” even though I don’t know if I’m going to Shanghai or not, and it’s a long ways away anyway.

Summit 4 was undeniably a success, amazingly well-run, and overall just a smooth experience. As BurNIng says, it’s an iconic tournament at this point, the fun-filled foil to TI and the Majors in some ways, but in production value and competition it doesn’t lose out at all. All in all, I have to once again send my thanks and appreciation to everyone at the event that made it happen. Every Summit is the best yet but somehow you guys manage to keep upping the standard. So thank you to everyone at BTS for putting on another great show, and thanks for having me at these events.

Thanks for reading.

2015-12-12 17.11.18

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EHOME coach 71’s thoughts on the Majors, and coaches in Dota

The original Chinese version of his thoughts were sent to me via email. A Chinese version has also been published here: http://dota2.replays.net/news/page/20150810/1949948.html

TI is a a hallowed stage, and it is always the greatest event in each year. The players are treated like gods, spectators enjoy a live experience bordering on NBA-quality.

As a coach it is very difficult to be able to say anything that influences the game’s balance changes, or to have input in just exactly how transfer regulations and substitute player rules are set. Indeed, it’s only now – the 4th time I’ve been at a TI that I’ve finally gotten an International jacket that has my ID on it, and gotten a chance for a collective media interview (and unfortunately, because of the first question I ended up spending 3 minutes, or more, sobbing like a criminal being interrogated). So even though the coach position isn’t seen as that important with Valve and some clubs, I still want to say some things, and hopefully connect with those that agree with us as coaches.

First of all, you should know that coaches can have a very large amount of work both in and out of the game – a coach in many cases also acts as a team’s team lead and statistician. He needs every player to show up to practice on time, show up to matches on time, and hopes that the players can understand the style you’ve set for them. Creative drafts, offensive tactics, defensive must-knows, etc, etc, etc.

Our work can allow matches to become smoother, more pleasing to watch. In some ways, a game can be a fight between two coaches. But you must understand, in reality during a game, we as coaches have no idea how the players are communicating inside the booth, where problems may arise – whether it’s a mistake of the team in reading a situation, or lack of detail from an individual? I can only go off experiences collected from practices and make guesses, constructing the scenarios in my head. For every one of EHOME’s matches at TI, our team lead and I would sit backstage next to the players’ entrance to the stage and watch on a screen there: one printout map to record warding positions, another piece of paper to write down the opposition’s weaknesses and the types of adjustments they make, one more to record our own mistakes, and one last one with my thoughts on how I want us to adjust our style and draft.

At TI, there are only five minutes between games during a match. This includes the time given to use the restroom, so I have to stand next to the entrance and await the players, and shout over the live venue noise in order to relay the information I have recorded on the four pieces of paper during the previous game. Additionally I must control my speech tempo and emotions, I cannot give them pressure when they’ve just lost, or allow them to loosen up if they’ve just won. During these five minutes, Valve’s staff will also remind me to not touch the players at all as a rule. I’m unclear on what other teams’ coaches do as their work, because the two teams use different entrances, but I truly feel that in all this the amount that I can help the team is much too little.

How much I’d hoped, that at that moment IceFrog would walk through that corridor and see the imagery of that scene. See the look on my face when Josh told me that it might be best to hide those four pieces of paper, to prevent them being inadvertently filmed…

From 2003 when I first began coaching in Counterstrike, to today, it’s been 12 years (TI3 I took a break for the ACE Alliance). Many people will only say that in 2010 when EHOME won ESWC we had six people, and six versus five is lame on our part. Then you really should have checked out ESWC’s Counterstrike competition every year – they would always give me a computer, a Steelseries noise-cancelling headset with six meter extension cable for me to watch and give commands to the team. To this day I remember that, and the level of respect that came with it. Any and every professionalized competitive discipline has coaches, so I don’t believe that this is a pure 5v5 game. Teams that lack a coach should work to fill this void, or groom someone for the role. This is something they should be doing.

After TI5, we’re about to see the beginning of the Majors system. Valve will be giving every team two substitutes on the roster, so I want to know will these two players be free for coaches to swap in and out of any given game? Can we make subs in between games during a given match against another team? I believe that this is an interesting experiment, because like this, two teams and the competition between them has another added layer of considerations and it becomes even more difficult to counter and plan for an opponent. Matches will have even more variables, leading to even more exciting competition. But if this is only to try and prevent poaching of players and team-hopping, I do not believe it will be truly effective, and could even lead to teams eating themselves from inside (waste of talent).

I can imagine how much IceFrog and Valve love their child (Dota 2), I can imagine the looks of disappointment on their faces when the TI4 finals manifested in the form of a half hour push and push-defense game. But I would like you to listen a bit to this one coach’s words. Dota is also our child, or at least – I have fought for it for six years now, I hope to truly participate in it, be a part of it, and receive that respect.

WPC-ACE 2013 post-Finals interview with Team DK

After their remarkable comeback victory in the 2013 WPC-ACE League, taking the 1 million RMB (165k USD) top prize, Team DK were interviewed collectively. Some insightful answers, some jokes and laughter; this is DK after winning their first major Dota 2 title.

Video source: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNjU2MjA1NzE2.html

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71 has indeed joined DK

Previously we talked about the possibility of EHOME’s coach and manager, 71, returning to the esports scene after a long hiatus. 71 himself had said before that LaNm, BurNIng, and MMY are amongst his biggest prides in his esports management and coaching career, while LaNm and BurNIng have also publicly reciprocated, listing 71 as the most important person in their careers. Indeed, with these players as core members of his EHOME teams of old, 71 has long since established himself as a legendary contributor.

Recently, DK won the Fengyun Hegemony Cup, a mid-tier event, and just last night, they won their first large Dota 2 event, the million-RMB 2013 WPC-ACE League.

At the WPC-ACE League Finals, 71 was present and once again had an impact. His players thanked him and on multiple occasions outlined his influence in helping them turn things around, with LaNm noting that 71 had been with them and helping them since they returned late last year after MLG.

He was also the one in this gif, first celebrating outside the glass, then rushing into the room to celebrate with his players. 71’s joining seems to have been that final push that DK needed to break their long-standing streaks, and the ingredients are certainly there for 2014 to be the year of DK… just as 2010 was the year of EHOME.

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EHOME’s 71 to DK as coach?

Former manager of EHOME, the behind-the-scenes force during EHOME’s legendary run in 2010, 71, was seen at G-League with BurNIng and the rest of DK recently. Rumors are that he’s joined DK as their new coach, or has plans to do so… In the recent DK player bios, both LaNm and BurNIng listed their EHOME manager 71 as the most influential person in their careers. And in a recent Weibo post from 71, he himself included BurNIng and LaNm as amongst his best players. The respect is certainly there.

71 with DK at G-League…

Furthermore, in a recent Weibo post, 71 said “Hey, nice to meet you”, a cryptic message that could be suggesting that he has re-united with an old friend. In the responses, one fan asked if he had joined DK, and 71 responded with a “;-]” winky smiley face. Another fan said to him, “71, please bring us another glorious dynasty,” and 71 responded, “I will!”

DK has quietly re-assembled three of EHOME’s best ever players; if this rumor of the former EHOME manager and coach joining proves to be true, is this the missing piece that DK has been looking for all along?

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The Team DK Files

The Team DK Files

Learn more about Team DK, circa December 2013.

Name: BurNIng

Naming Anti-mage has been most important for me

Birthdate: Feb 16, 1988
Nationality: China
Height: 180cm
Weight: 68kg
Clothing size: XL
Favorite star: Leonardo DiCaprio
Games played in past: Warcraft 3
Biggest esports career achievement: Getting Anti-mage name
Most important person in esports career: 71 (former manager of EHOME)
Mouse: Ttesports Saphira
Headset: (I can’t find the set I was given)
Keyboard: Ttesports Poseidon – Brown MX switches
Mousepad: Ttesports Dasher
Single?: No
Favorite Dota version: 6.78
Favorite Dota item: Battlefury
Hero you most like seeing on your team in pubs: Heroes with crowd control abilities
Hero you most hate seeing on your team in pubs: Bloodseeker, Weaver, Meepo
Hero you most like seeing on opposite team in pubs: Meepo
Hero you most hate seeing on opposite team in pubs:
Most important person in life: Mom
Dream career when little: Scientist
Current goals: Play well professionally
Plans for after retirement: Work in a more ‘free’ (flexible) career
Biggest challenge/opposition in the future: Self
Most important gaming gear: Mouse
Favorite keyboard switch type: As long as it’s mechanical then it’s okay
What happens if girlfriend calls while you’re playing Dota: Don’t answer (she understands)
What do you do if your pro career causes a lack of time to spend with family: Make more phone calls
What kind of girl do you like:
Would you play games with girls?: Refuse
Do you like your new uniforms?: They look better than the old ones
Who’s funniest in the team?: iceiceice

Name: Mushi

Most hate iceiceice playing Invoker

Birthdate: Nov 27, 1990
Nationality: Malaysia
Height: (Forgot)
Weight: (Never measured)
Clothing size: XL
Favorite star: Lots
Favorite athlete: Lee Chong Wei (Malaysian star top-ranked badminton player)
Biggest esports career achievement: The matches I’ve won
Most important person in esports career: A lot
Mouse: Ttesports Saphira
Headset: Ttesports Isura
Keyboard: Ttesports G-1 – Brown switches
Mousepad: Ttesports Dasher
Single?: Yes
How did you spend Singles Day?: Training
Favorite Dota version: 6.78
Favorite Dota item: Blink dagger
Hero you most like seeing on your team in pubs: Chen
Hero you most hate seeing on your team in pubs: (iceiceice’s) Invoker
Most important person in life: Family
Dream career when little: None
Current ambitions: Take my whole family and emigrate to Australia
Plans for after retirement: Do investments. Not in esports
Biggest challenge/opposition in the future: None
Most hated thing: Losing matches
Most hated esports thing: Losing matches
Most important gaming gear: All are very important
Favorite keyboard switch type: Red MX switches
What happens if girlfriend calls while you’re playing Dota: Don’t answer
What do you do if your pro career causes a lack of time to spend with family: Have family watch me play televised matches
What kind of girl do you like: Good personality
Would you play games with girls?: If they’re friends then yes
Do you like your new uniforms?: Not bad
Who’s funniest in the team?: iceiceice

Name: LaNm

Dislike MMY playing mahjong

Birthdate: Dec 25, 1989
Nationality: China
Height: 181cm
Weight: 55kg
Clothing size: L
Favorite athlete: Li Na (Chinese star tennis player)
Favorite Dota hero: Pudge
Games played in past: Warcraft 3
Most important thing in esports: Winning titles
Most important person in esports career: 71 (former EHOME manager)
Mouse: Ttesports Saphira
Headset: Ttesports Isura
Keyboard: Ttesports Meka G-Unit White version
Mousepad: Ttesports Conkor
Single?: No
Favorite Dota version: 6.78
Favorite Dota item: Mask of Madness
Hero you most like seeing on your team in pubs: Heroes with crowd control
Hero you most hate seeing on your team in pubs: Invoker, Shadow Fiend
Hero you most like seeing on opposite team in pubs: Crystal Maiden
Most important person in life: Grandma, Mom
Dream career when little: Scientist
Current goals: Achieve good results and prove myself
Plans for after retirement: Be a coach
Biggest challenge/opposition in the future: Self, mentality is very important
Most hated thing: MMY playing mahjong, iceiceice being with his girlfriend (because both are very annoying things)
Most hated esports thing: Being unable to find that tempo in a competitive game
Most important gaming gear: Feel like they’re all similarly important
Favorite keyboard switch type: Black MX switches
What happens if girlfriend calls while you’re playing Dota: Don’t answer if during pratice
What do you do if practice leaves you no time to spend with girlfriend?: Don’t care
Would you play games with girls?: If I know them, yes
Do you like your new uniforms?: That white area on the chest…
Who’s funniest in the team?: ice

Name: iceiceice

Don’t like girls that play games

Birthdate: June 17, 1990
Nationality: Singapore
Height: 191.5cm
Weight: 75kg
Clothing size: XXL
Favorite athlete: Messi
Favorite Dota hero: Invoker
Games played in past: Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3, LoL (participated in WCG before)
Mouse: Ttesports Saphira
Headset: Don’t use
Keyboard: Ttesports G-1 – Brown switches
Mousepad: Ttesports Conkor
Single?: No
Favorite Dota version: The earliest version
Favorite Dota item: Support heroes
Hero you most like seeing on your team in pubs: Anti-mage
Hero you most hate seeing on your team in pubs: Anti-mage
Hero you most like seeing on opposite team in pubs: Anti-mage
Hero you most hate seeing on opposite team in pubs: Anti-mage
Most important person in life: Girlfriend
Dream career when little: Aviator
Current goals: Travel around the world
Plans for after retirement: Make money, commentate/cast, stream, stock market
Biggest challenge/opposition in the future: Self
Most hated thing: No toilet paper whilst in the bathroom, talking behind others’ backs
Most hated esports thing: Coming to bother me when I’m really busy
Most important gaming gear: Keyboard
Favorite keyboard switch type: Red MX switches
What happens if girlfriend calls while you’re playing Dota: Don’t answer
What do you do if practice leaves you no time to spend with family: Practices are more priority
What kind of girl do you like: Don’t like girls that play games, don’t like unfaithful girls
Would you play games with girls?: Depends on mood
Do you like your new uniforms?: It would look better if it was leather
Who’s funniest in the team?: Myself

Name: MMY

The white area on our new uniforms looks like a bra

Birthdate: Sep 10, 1989
Nationality: China
Height: 182cm
Weight: 80kg
Clothing size: XL
Favorite Dota hero: Wisp
Games played in past: Zhensan, Warcraft 3
Mouse: Ttesports Saphira
Headset: Ttesports Isura
Keyboard: Ttesports G-1
Mousepad: Ttesports Dasher
Single?: Yes
How did you spend Singles Day: Played Dota
Favorite Dota version: 6.78
Favorite Dota item: Magic Stick
Hero you most like seeing on your team in pubs: Crystal Maiden
Hero you most hate seeing on your team in pubs: Anti-mage
Hero you most like seeing on opposite team in pubs: Crystal Maiden
Hero you most hate seeing on opposite team in pubs: Anti-mage
Dream career when little: Scientist
Plans for after retirement: Haven’t thought about this before
Biggest challenge/opposition in the future: Alliance, NaVi
Most hated thing: Playing mahjong
Most important gaming gear: Mouse
What happens if girlfriend calls while you’re playing Dota: Don’t answer
What do you do if practice leaves you no time to spend with family: Call home
What kind of girl do you like: Cute (moe) girls
Would you play games with girls?: Refuse
Do you like your new uniforms?: The white area on the uniform looks like a bra
Who’s funniest in the team?: iceiceice

Source: http://dota.uuu9.com/zt/teamdk/