Last season, New season, TI7…

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.

Picture from cybbet.com

Picture from cybbet.com

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.

maxresdefault.jpg

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.

new season

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.

seemsgood

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.

Seb.

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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.

Twitter : https://twitter.com/7ckngMadDOTA / Insta : https://www.instagram.com/7ckngmaddota/

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The non-DotA part of DotA – Insights on TI6 

Hello everyone ! I finally got some time to sit down and write an article I have been dying to write. A lot of things happened since I published the last one and thus I have plenty to write about. I want to do something slightly more special this time around. Indeed, I will obviously write about DotA; but I really want to emphasize the non-DotA part of DotA, if that makes any sense.

 Before I jump into the specifics, I want to share a bit about what happened in the last few weeks. As many of you, I have been coaching OG for quite some time, and I will continue doing so. This year’s TI outcome was obviously a huge blow for all of us. The team was performing very well pre-TI, wining the Manila Major, ESL Frankfurt, finishing second at the Summit 5, etc… The thing is, TI is a very special tournament, and I will try to help you understand in which ways this tournament is very unique. We learned it the hard way, but well, as long as we learn, I’m personally happy. I like to approach competition in a certain way : you got to convince yourself that, eventually, you will succeed. You just have to learn and improve enough to get there. So when you look at things this way, you understand it is just a matter of time before you achieve what you dream of achieving. Losing is learning – if you learn how to approach losses – and learning means getting closer to your objective.

At the end of the day, we all are very well aware of this fact : competition has the highest highs and the lowest lows. As I hinted earlier, facing defeat again and again is a winer’s quality. It is the only road to victory.


Let’s get started. We all felt it at some point in our “Dota adventure”, wether it was in a pub game, during a casual talk about the game with friends, or when the biggest match of your career just ended : DotA is not only about DotA. When you start realizing it, a whole new world suddenly appears in front of you. It is very obvious that skill, communication, synergy and teamplay are crucial. Nevertheless, there are other things that come into play – that actually make the real difference. You often hear teams say that what will matter is ‘if they can bring their A game’ or that they can ‘only lose to themselves‘, the reason for that is because they understand that a lot of different things can actually prevent them from performing. I like to think that the best game you ever played determines how good you are at DotA – wether it is as a team or individually. But there are a lot of factors that usually interfere with your pure gaming abilities. That ‘best game’ occured because you dominated – wether it was on purpose or not does not matter – these ‘outside’ factors.

I could list all these factors, as I’ve learned one after the other, year after year : The ability to focus on the game, your mindset when you start competing, the team atmosphere, the pressure, etc… Every TI is a lesson about DotA. TI5 was about teamspirit, trust and respect. Coming into TI6, all the teams, especially the favorites, had that lesson in mind. But this time around, something else happened. A newer lesson was learnt, and the price for it was paid by the top contenders.


Four teams were arguably the favorites to win TI6 before it started : Liquid, Wings, OG and Newbee. Obviously other teams were good enough to win it all, but it is a fair statement to say that on paper, their past results made them look weaker than the four I mentioned above. I do not believe in coincidences, and the fact that three out of four of these top teams completely crashed during the tournament is not a coincidence. Liquid, Newbee and OG crashed during TI, exactly like Secret did before TI5. I’ll come back on Wings slightly later. Let me tell you what happened at TI6 in one word : “Pressure” happened. The pressure that tournament puts on players’ shoulders is immense, it’s the good old win or die situation. These three teams, from both an outside and inside perspective were playing games not to win them, but to avoid losing them. The difference might seem minor, but it is actually decisive. Wining groupstage games, or first rounds of playoffs does nothing for these teams, because they had convinced themselves beforehand that they were deserving to achieve top 3 at TI6. So wining was just something normal, indeed, they were the better teams after all. Nothing to win, everything to lose, game after game.

picture from thescoreesports.com

The pressure is huge, everyone stares at you, waits for you to show weaknesses. How can they be blamed for that ? They are just hoping for a better show. On the other side of the river, the teams these ‘topdogs’ are facing are fearless. They are just happy to be here, they are grateful, they came to play DotA and to enjoy themselves while doing so. Obviously they are also here to win, but they approach one game after the other. They take enough time to enjoy every single inch they fight for. They have nothing to lose, and they will give it all in order to win. They do not think about the grand finals, or the title, never. They have that ‘fire’ going for them. The same fire that once made the top teams become top teams – unfortunately for them, it is long gone.

Rewatch the series between OG and TNC, and take enough time to study both teams movement and decision making. You might end up feeling the difference between a team that wants to win, and a team that does not want to lose. It is massive, and as unfair as it might sound, it is game-losing. DotA is not only about DotA, and acheving dominance is about mastering the ‘non-DotA’ factors, like in every traditional sports. Now you might argue that Wings were one of the best teams pre-TI, yet they won it all. Well, take a closer look at their run. Manila went horribly wrong for them, they collapsed like OG Liquid or Nb did at TI. So they probably humbled themselves before TI6. Losing groupstages would mean that their performance would be even worse than Manila, so they played with immense pressure. They struggled, they lost many games, and played very poorly. But sometimes pure individual skill and a bit of luck kick in, and even though you do not perform well, you still end up in the winer bracket. At this point, they already did better than what they achieved in the previous Major. It is crucial, because it relieves the pressure. They suddenly grow wings, they are happy with themselves, and they approach one game after the other, they know there is nothing to be lost from losing. They became another team, and that is what controling pressure does for you.


There are defenitely many ways to deal with pressure. I guess the easiest approach is to humble yourself, truly. I do believe that certain players need that arrogancy to express themselves. Confidence is very important, and the border between confidence and arrogancy is very thin. So there must be other ways to deal with pressure. There is a lot to learn from traditional sports, because there are ‘team sports’ in which favorites always come back to win tournaments. The biggest difference is the mental preparation these guys go through almost on a daily basis. I believe this type of coaching is a very logical step for professional DotA…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your read. Remember, this is nothing but my opinion. Feel free to leave comments on the website or just message me on social medias, I’ll be happy to discuss these matters with you.

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