Dotaland note: Really cool reflections on 2012 written by Efeng, CEO of Invictus Gaming, and before that, manager of PanDa. Looks into behind the scenes stuff, his reflections, happenings, events and more. Just an overall excellent read for anyone interested in going through the past year in Chinese esports.
“2012, a transitional year”
January, PanDa set out to Beijing for the WGT, a very important competition at the time. At the time, this competition would directly influence PanDa’s sponsorship situation in the upcoming year, so every player was going all out — it was such a heart-warming scene to see, because the atmosphere was one where you could feel every member of the club was in it together, with a willingness to fight for the club, and exceptional teamwork and togetherness. Sadly a miscue in the form of accidentally denying the Aegis meant that their goals were ultimately not achieved, yet in the end we all felt fulfilled in one way or another, Lyn took the SC2 title, Toodming took third place for the same, and in Dota it was a second place finish, leaving us as the best overall results as a team at WGT.
“How come I’ve got a bad feeling about this…”
February, PanDa moved their team base to Nanjing. Upon arriving in Nanjing, I commented, “How come I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” The weather there in February was very cold, PanDa’s new base was located next to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, everyone arrived on time. But because it was so cold in the dorms, our entire Dota team chose to sleep on the floor in the training room. Thinking back a bit now, the scene was quite moving… despite the conditions, there were few complaints at all. At the time, all Hao had to say was “I only want results this year, nothing else”; no one could predict what might happen afterwards. This month, I was very disorganized, and the club’s direction ended up creating a gap between the boss’s wishes. Mr Yu, the boss, was constantly un-contactable, our monitors at our new base did not support Dota2, our players couldn’t practice, Lyn’s salary went unpaid. Plus I had family issues back at home, my relationship wasn’t going well, so my emotions were frayed and all over the place, and all of a sudden I wanted to just get away and take a break… and then I managed to talk with Mr Yu, who said he would deal with the club’s problems as soon as possible, and I went to Hangzhou to clear my head and heart, and ultimately decided to resign from that position.
Compared with WE’s ups and downs in no less than the past 10 years, where regardless of financial, sponsors, or any other problems, they always stuck closely with one another and ultimately were rewarded with glory, just one month of missed salaries and everything fell apart, it was something that made me think quite hard.
March, I had resigned from the position of manager for PanDa. PanDa was the club that I had put the most blood and sweat into at the time, and so the decision was extremely hard to make. But the situation at the time led me to no other choice, and afterwards I began a life in Beijing of playing poker. At that time, when chatting with Old Liu we came to the topic of iG. In 2011, iG had actually approached me, but at the time I was putting everything into PanDa and so I had laughed it off. Yet now, I had no job, and had not given up on esports management, so I was immediately interested. The conflict at the time was between going on to play poker professionally, or to come back to this industry that I was familiar with. I chatted with many people, asked their opinions, and decided to go to iG and give it a try. I still felt I could contribute something, and additionally there was another big reason, that at the time I could only keep to myself. At the end of the month, Yaobai (of PanDa) suddenly messaged me on QQ, said he was done with his work with the team, he hadn’t been paid, Mr Yu was out of reach… I tried to talk with him about it, but he said he was really upset, and wanted to just leave, at least until people were paid again. At the time no one thought too much of it, and it just happened. Who would have expected this all to lead to the earthquake that was PanDa disbanding. And so it was a series of events, and fortunately in the end nothing terrible happened, everyone managed to find a stable new place to call home. Thinking back, PanDa at the time was solidly in the ranks of top4 Dota teams, and its SC2 team ahd Lyn, Toodming, Ash, and its sponsor situation was stable. Compared with WE’s ups and downs in no less than the past 10 years, where regardless of financial, sponsors, or any other problems, they always stuck closely with one another and ultimately were rewarded with glory, just one month of missed salaries and everything fell apart, it was something that made me think quite hard.
April, I officially joined iG, and began my professional manager career with them. IG’s Dota team, ever since SMM hadn’t achieved much in any way, and were undergoing a fierce practice regime. The NGF competition at the end of the month everyone felt must-win, yet in the end iG lost to LGD, who had barely trained. ChuaN cried tears of real sorrow below the stage, yet it was just that type of atmosphere that let me know that this was a team that was destined to achieve results, because of that hunger for victory, one that exceeded anyone else’s.
One loss after another drew them each closer to one another, and the arguments and disagreements of wayward days lessened, in its place there appeared more trust and understanding.
May, the ACE League began. A glorious new page in the history of esports, ACE League is to-date the most ambitious and large-scale project and competition, and was also the hope and dream of every team that joined hands in the alliance. That month, iG started training on Dota2, starting at a worldwide Dota2 team ranking of 447. So it was under these conditions that YYF began his 30 games per day training regime. One loss after another drew them each closer to one another, and the arguments and disagreements of wayward days lessened, in its place there appeared more trust and understanding.
June, iG’s management had stabilized, and a formerly messy situation gradually calmed down. This month, because of internet issues, the decision was made to move the LoL team to Shanghai, and after that iG’s YY channel (a live audio streaming platform, popular in China) went online, marking an effort to build up our Fan Club project.
July, was CCG, and iG’s SC2 team getting crushed to wrap it up. But perhaps because of just this devastating loss, iG’s SC2 team became more motivated. On the 15th, at CCG’s evening reception, I met a girl.
On the 29th, we arrived in Seattle, and five days later, iG were up on the stage of the finals. When NaVi typed out GG, we all broke into tears.
August, on the 5th, the whole team arrived in Shanghai, for what could be said to be the most important competition of the year for iG — G-League. Fate finally smiled upon us, and iG successfully took the first big title of the year, thus writing the first chapter in our Dota team’s glorious journey. Teams under me had taken Warcraft 3, SC2, and FIFA championships, and watching them accepting their winnings up on stage was truly an emotional event for me; it could be said that we finally achieved a goal of ours. On the 29th, we arrived in Seattle, and five days later, iG were up on the stage of the finals. When NaVi typed out GG, we all broke into tears. As they waved Chinese flags on stage, and as they hoisted the Aegis of Champions up high, we all knew that that 447th-ranked team from three months ago were the ones now standing on top of the world. Additionally, we would continue the glory, TI2 undoubtedly became iG’s most meaningful competition of the year, yet the reason I labelled G-League the most important was because winning G-League was what gave the players the confidence and desire to win more, ultimately serving as the door to triumph for the team.
September, iG’s management changed, with Old Liu leaving. Looking back on the year, he has absolutely been an amazing mentor and friend to me. I’ve truly been lucky, every time I enter a tough period, I always meet someone who can give me a hand up, so here I truly thank Old Liu for his unwavering faith and trust in me and his help. On the 14th, iG took the ACE League’s first season championship, taking home the year’s third major trophy. On the 19th, the team headed back to Xi’an for WCG qualifiers, and were very lucky in that the FIFA team took the Xi’an regional title without training at all beforehand. At the end of the month we learned that Leiyu Esports had met problems with finances, and after contacting them we were able to give a whole new face to our CF team by signing their former members, and the new team repaid us all by winning the CFPL.
October, all of iG’s teams officially made the move to Shanghai, settling in the Xujiahui district. The various teams thus began another phase of dominance, achieving 3 golds, 1 silver, and 1 bronze at the China region WCG finals, to place as the best team present. And, in the beginning of the month, that girl I had met at CCG became my girlfriend, and apart from that I devoted all of myself to the business side of things.
November, a month of business development!
December, iG took the Dota and CF titles at the WCG World Championships, putting a perfect end to the year. The LoL team began to undergo planned changes.
This past year, a year of joy and sorrow intertwined, endless challenges, changes and rebirth, ends with a gladness that I went on with my original dreams and didn’t go down the path of poker. There are too many memories, I’ve learned more than ever, and it’s ultimately been a very lucky year of the dragon for me. Thank you to all the friends who came to celebrate my birthday at the end of the year, I’ve never had one with so many people. Hopes are that next year will go smoothly for all, that the team and the ACE League can achieve all goals and ambitions, and that everyone does well!