It’s been quite a while since I wrote something about DotA… If you’ve been reading me before, you are probably not going to believe it. Nevertheless, it is nothing but the truth. As much as I enjoy coaching OG, there are things that I’ve had to give up along the way. Not allowing myself to share publicly my thoughts and impressions about DotA is a part of that sacrifice. As much as I miss casting, writing articles or just casually joining some shows/interviews, I must make sure I keep what I know about the game for myself and my team. To be fully transparent, it goes heavily against my nature as a person, but I’ve come to learn that competition gets rough, and since my direct competitors act this way, not respecting it would just put me and who ever I work with at a heavy disadvantage.
Now that the reason for my non-writing has been clearly detailed, let’s jump to the ‘writing-again’ part, which is a lot happier. I just felt like sharing my reflections about my last year with OG, as well as what’s next for me this season.
Plans & Coaching :
I will start off with my plans, on the short-term. I will keep coaching OG. I did consider different things moving forward this year, i.e. my different tweets in early September. There’s a simple reason for that: I am constantly looking for new challenges. As a coach last year, I’ve proven to myself that my ideas about DotA were valid and good enough to impact the most contested tournaments. Last season was amazing. The post TI6 shuffle left me quite skeptical. Although I respected everyone’s decision after the huge TI disappointment, it looked like we’d have to build everything again from scratch, since we would be bringing in three new players.
Coaching, especially when I started, was a quite ungrateful position. I was very lucky to work with players that truly made up for that with the respect and the general relationship they built with me, but still, from a very personal perspective, coaching remains an ungrateful role for now. As many other coaches, I am before anything else, a true competitor. That is to say: a player. When you coach, you must accept to let go a lot of the control you thought you had as a player (whether you truly had it or not does not matter). You won’t be playing the game, and you can work as hard as you want to increase your control on the games that are going to be played… it still ends up being what it is: you’ll never have any direct control over things.
«Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on». Eckhart Tolle
Letting go is not an easy thing when you’re so passionate about DotA. I’ve learned to accept it, and it has help me grow a lot as a person. Back to the last season with OG, I’ve decided to stay because I believe in justice and fairness in life. It felt like Fly and N0tail really did not deserve ending up with a 2-man roster after TI6. It’s funny how TI always puts everything in question. It’s just a god damn tournament, and it shouldn’t mean that much to anyone if you try to look at it clearly. Winning or losing means the world to players, and that feels wrong. I say that and at the same time it also means everything to me, just trying to be the devil’s advocate here. Either way, I’ve decided to stay and help them rebuild something stable and successful, and successful it has been. The new additions, ana s4 and jerAx, ended up fitting amazingly well with what we already had going.
Last season was truly amazing to experience, and for that I am very grateful to everyone in my team. For this season, I am again looking for new challenges, and that’s why I gave myself the right to, for the first time in my career, look at other opportunities for myself. I considered playing, for instance. Although the ‘know your coach place’ kind of lines don’t get to me at all, it still messes with my competitive obsession. I end up thinking, why wouldn’t I try to prove myself I could make it with playing instead of coaching. After reflecting a lot on all that, there’s still a lot for me to learn as a coach and keep improving. Setting standards when it comes to that role is quite exciting. I do believe you get rewarded in life for making the right choices, and I welcome this new coach-drafting thing as a reward for my decision this season haha. It is a true blessing to now be able to participate in drafts. It is, with no doubts, the part of the game that interests me the most.
I have had so many talks with people about the eventuality of coaches being involved in drafting phases, or even allowed in-game. Even though it has always been of my wildest dreams, I’ve never actually allowed myself to say I was in favor of that. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to DotA, I love the game as it is and I am sure that like many of you, I have a hard time welcoming big changes. Even though, as far as I can remember, I have always ended up liking all the changes that has been brought to the game. Now that this one happened, I just accept it and embrace it. It will help increase the level of the drafts, strategies and even overall gameplay.
Competitive system :
Before I get to the first purpose of my article, I would still like to add slightly to the competitive system for this season. I was very happy to hear about the minor/major system, as I think it is a great step forward. Nevertheless, I am quite worried about the qualifier/invite system that goes with it. Haters will probably seize this opportunity and call me subjective, as my team failed to qualify for the first major. Had we been invited to these tournaments, and we will most likely end up being invited to some of them, my opinion remains the same. The competition should be as fair as possible, and only results should get rewarded. With the current state of things, it is a lot more about contacts, reputation, fan-base and other differents. I do not deny their importance, I am just saying that their weight compared to the result-based system is too big for my taste. I don’t have a way to fix it, or make it better, it is not my job and I would be awful at it. But facts remain facts, I do think that the system is flawed. It has been brought up by other persons to this day, I’ll just add my name to that long list. The qualifying system also make taking a break after TI and a full year of traveling/competing not viable anymore. A bit of insider OG info there, you can tell that several weeks of break are having a huge impact on the beginning of the season… as you end up having to play very important games early in September… there’s no time to rest after TI anymore.
The International :
As I don’t want this to be too long to read, I’ll attempt to be brief for that last point of discussion. I just wanted to share some thoughts about TI and being able to come up with a rational explanation for the set-back. I am becoming a specialist in TI failures. As you can notice, I also call it a failure, although, realistically, it is not. And don’t get me wrong there, if you’re OG fan, do not think we are giving ourselves an easy time. It is quite the opposite, and we need to lighten the mood in order to be able to move forward, because that is what matters now. It’s just that the International just weights too heavily in player’s minds. I do think that the level of DotA played at TI is amongst the lowest throughout the year. I say that and I might get a lot of flames because of it, but that is nothing but my opinion. You have absolutely every right to disagree with it. The pressure and the stakes are too high. The lack of balance in the season makes TI a win-or-die tournament, it has always been the case. When it comes strictly to DotA, it makes the overall TI level quite low, except for the very late stages of the tournament. You basically have 15 teams choking, and 3 teams playing good DotA. I am obviously pushing it a bit, but the bigger picture still looks the same.
At the same time, it is the beauty of it. As a spectator, it is what makes me enjoy TI the most. That tension is like nothing else. I am not saying this should change, I am just stating facts.
Another year, another season. I am looking forward to how the game will develop, what teams will bring to the table and to all the wonderful people I might meet this year, through the game that we all love and play.
Couple resolutions for this year that I’ll be applying, if you think they might also help you…. Keep working hard and giving your everything to achieve your dreams. One thing though, don’t lose yourself along the way: remember the reasons and your original motivation, whatever it is that you were seeking. Do not go away from certain values, you’ll need them to succeed anyway : Respect, humility, self-discipline etc…
Don’t mind me :
This also makes me think of something I do want to write, even if I know what answers or comments I will get. This is for the people that spend a lot of time flaming or criticizing players through social medias or reddit (the latter not being social/media xP). I hope you realize that, unlike other traditional sports, in DotA, players are very close to their fans. Your opinions matter a lot to them, and even though a hate message might not mean anything, hundreds of them end up having an impact. Whether it is directly, or because it has an impact on people around them, people they truly care about, people they listen and trust. What will naturally happen is that a distance will be put between players and fans, as it is in traditional sports, so that they can truly focus on the game. They’ll miss the support, that matters a lot and has even more impact, but they’ll avoid the social media bullets. I personally think it’s a shame it has to be that way. I am just sharing thoughts, this won’t change anything, but still. We all have goals we pursue in life, and we all hate being talked down or discouraged when we’re in the process of trying to be successful. So, what’s the point? This is a blow in the waters, like they say. Still feels good to put it out there.
Either way, hope the read wasn’t too long. Remember this is strictly my opinion, you’re more than welcome to disagree and share your thoughts about it.
Take care everyone.
NB: If you want to react to this, you can drop comments here but the best is still Twitter & Instagram, I am the most active there.
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