Yesterday, we sat down with Zeal, a Malaysian pro Dota 2 player to get his thoughts as a professional player on the upcoming premier Dota 2 tournament in Malaysia, ESL One Malaysia 2022.
Good to have you with us again Zeal, can you do a quick introduction on yourself?
Z: Hello I’m Nicholas Lim also (zeal). I’m currently playing offlane for EHOME.
You mentioned that EHOME will not be participating in ESL One Malaysia 2022. Assume if you do, which team will you be looking forward to face? Which team will you be scared to fight against?
Z: Playing against teams like OG and Team Liquid would be challenging and scary but it will be interesting to see how we do against them.
What are the top 5 heroes you expect to be picked the most on ESL One Malaysia 2022?
Z: Marci, Dawnbreaker, Beastmaster, Winter Wyvern , Razor
Are there any heroes that are not popular in the meta, but you expect to perform well? Why?
Z: Maybe Dazzle? Because I believe there is a ton of players trying it out and I believe the hero does have his potential.
We are seeing heroes like Dawnbreaker, Marci and Razor rising up in terms of pickrates. What made those heroes strong?
Z: Heroes such as Dawnbreaker and Razor has alot of flexibility and very less direct counters to them. It allow teams to pick it early and flex their role based off what enemy picks. For Marci, the hero gives alot of kill threat on early game and the hero doesn’t really fall off because of Sidekick. Marci can also be played on both position 4 and 5 and sometimes even position 3.
Which team will you be rooting for in ESL One Malaysia 2022?
Z: I would like to see other teams do well but I root for OG.
Can you give some advice to your fellow Malaysian players aiming to play professionally?
Z: Grind and watch more replays of pro players so you’ll be able to get an idea on what to do.
If you ever stopped playing professionally, what would you be working as?
Z: I’ll be probably working full time on something IT related.
Top 3 teams in the world right now? Since you are playing as an Offlaner for EHOME, who are the top 3 Offlaners in the world right now?
If you were to form a team with you included, who will be the other 4 Malaysian players be and what will be their roles? This is assuming you can take your picks on anyone.
Random question. Assuming you can only play the grand finals of The International without a mouse. Will you play the game with a Joystick or a Steering Wheel?
Z: I would like to play with a Steering Wheel and play as Pangolier so I can roll on people.
eGG Network would like to thank Zeal for his interview with us, and may EHOME finally hold the Aegis this year!
Nicholas Lim, better known as zeal (named after the Zealot from Starcraft), is a 24-year-old Malaysian, currently playing in the offlane for the Chinese organization, EHOME. Despite Liquipedia stating he's a stand-in, Lim is a permanent member and has been one for the past four months. "I've been a permanent member since the start!" he clarified about his place on the team.
Lim recounted to me the story of how he ended up in EHOME last year. Unsure of what he wanted to do after graduating with a degree in computer science, zeal received an invitation from EHOME to play Dota 2 for them. “The deadline for the DPC (Dota Pro Circuit) registration was ending and they didn't have a lot of time to try out new players. They asked me, 'do you want to play with these four guys? They are young, around your age.' I took some time to consider their offer," zeal told me. Since he was interested in playing Dota 2 professionally, it was no surprise he said yes.
Prior to accepting EHOME's offer, zeal had no experience playing with his current teammates. Shiro, 7e, planet and zzq were four rising stars that EHOME had signed for the new season after their previous roster parted. By happy chance, zeal fit right in with the guys and they went on to finish top four in the DPC CN 2021/2022 Tour 1. EHOME had a 4-3 score, with their losses handed to them by the big boys of the division: PSG.LGD, Team Aster and Royal Never Give Up (RNG). An impressive result for a somewhat new team.
I asked zeal what it was like to have to play against some of the best teams in the world. He responded, "they are more experienced so they have better in-game decisions than us. But it's kinda fun to play against them especially since I have friends on the opposite side." Just like EHOME, a handful of Chinese squads also field Malaysians in their roster. JT and Oli in Invictus Gaming, xNova in RNG, and NothingToSay in PSG.LGD. Going against them reminded him of the good old days back when he was a nobody competing in amateur Malaysian Dota tournaments.
"I used to go up against players like NothingToSay and he would always demolish me, so I escaped to the offlane, where I don’t have to see him for ten minutes!" zeal joked. In case you didn't know, Lim used to be a mid player but switched roles because he felt he couldn't be the best. He played mid in his earlier teams because none of his friends wanted the responsibility. Once he got to know better carry and mid players, he transitioned to the offlane where he found himself performing better. He believes he has much more potential as an offlaner than a mid player.
While it's a dream come true for zeal to play Dota 2 professionally, competing in China is a far cry from the events he used to compete in during his secondary school and college days. "In China, teams are much more structured. I had to learn to play Dota the same way. It was hard at first but after some time I got used to it." No longer was he playing for tiny prize pools or arbitrary titles, the Malaysian now represents one of the oldest organizations in the game's history.
It's also one of the reasons why a lot of Malaysians have moved to China to compete in Dota 2 professionally. "A lot of Malaysians play in China because of the infrastructure and tournaments. There are not enough organisations to back up new and younger players in Malaysia. Malaysian Chinese players can also communicate with Chinese players easily."
That being said, zeal still hasn't gone to China yet, and likely won't until May or June this year. Issues with visas (possibly due to the pandemic) have left most of the Malaysians playing remotely for the Chinese DPC this season. Fortunately, ping isn't a huge issue - playing from Malaysia through a VPN gets him about a 50 ping connection to China, sufficient for a game like Dota 2. He has seen a preview of EHOME boot camp and looks forward to going there someday. Until then, he'll be busy playing and training from Malaysia.
Lim's daily routine consists of 2-3 sets of scrims a day (best-of-twos) in the afternoon until night, with an hour break in between for dinner. When they run into problems with the game, they have lane practice against each other (sometimes before their scrims). After training, they are free to do what they want though they are encouraged to play solo rank to improve their mechanical skills. They get one day off (Sunday) for breaks and use it for additional practice when they have tournaments coming up. When he has some downtime, he unwinds by playing games like Monster Hunter, CS:GO, and Apex Legends casually. During busy periods, he doesn't touch other games at all.
Zeal used to stream his games on Twitch but stopped due to lack of motivation. Not having a strong following when he's the kind of person who thrives on viewer interaction felt depressing after a while. Perhaps one day he'll pick it up again.
Wrapping up the interview, I asked him a hypothetical question. If a huge organization came to Malaysia to start a new Dota 2 team and he got to play position 3, who would fill up the other slots? His answer: NothingToSay in the mid lane, MidOne for carry, and ah fu and Oli as supports. However, he mentioned that it probably won't happen.
"The thing about an all-Malaysian squad is - there are motivation issues. Everyone has different commitments and when you're based in Malaysia, everyone is more chilled and tend to do their own things. Everyone won't be pressured to improve and will stay in their comfort zone, which is why I believe that's one of the reasons why Malaysian teams haven't been thriving. Everyone is too comfortable with each other." What a bummer. Perhaps things could change in the future?
He also shared some advice for people interested in improving their offlane skills. "Watch good offlane players, not me, watch Faith_bian, Collapse and iceiceice (his favourite offlaners) - they have very unique hero pools and tend to take over games by themselves and they are cool people. Watch a ton of replays, play a lot, die a lot and try to get experience from dying to see how far you can go."
"If I have any fans, thanks for supporting and continuing to support me. I'll try my best to get into The International this year and hope everything goes well for me. Stay safe and stay healthy." To his haters, "I don't really care about the comments that people say though some of them can be really cruel. But I'm happy to be playing Dota professionally, and they're not!"
The GAMERS GALAXY: Dota 2 Invitational came to a conclusion early this morning after an intense 5-game series between BOOM Esports and Tundra Esports, with the Southeast Asian team coming out on top! After an exhausting 8-game day, the boys from BOOM Esports walked away as champions of the tournament (and USD 109,013 richer).
The final day started tough for them, with the loser bracket final against Nigma Galaxy. It went all the way to the third game, which BOOM managed to easily take after shutting down NGX.iLTW's Luna, with an unstoppable BOOM.JaCkky Medusa to seal the late game.
Tundra Esports waited for them in the grand finals and started the series with a quick 1-0 thanks to the surprise Legion Commander mid, that was key against Yopaj's signature Ember Spirit. It didn't help that 33 and Skiter popped off on their heroes as well, ending the game with 0 deaths each.
Boom Esports struck back in game 2 to equalize the series, carried by BOOM.JaCkky's stellar performance on Faceless Void - his numerous multi-hero chronos were key to winning multiple skirmishes throughout the game. Tundra's inability to hold back BOOM.Fbz's Death Prophet was another problem with the draft.
For game 3, Tundra.Nine's brought the mid Timbersaw back in style, which BOOM had no answers for. Running from lane to lane, causing havoc and killing heroes, BOOM had no way to deal with him and quickly crumbled. The series was back in Tundra's favour.
Game 4 started out in Tundra's favour with them securing the early kill lead, but BOOM.Yopaj's Templar Assassin's farm wasn't stopped. Once TA had her items, Tundra's heroes didn't have enough in the tank to withstand the assault. BOOM.Fbz's Sand King was also key to initiating multiple skirmishes and tanking spells for the team. The series was tied 2-2.
The final game was the Fbz (Brewmaster) and Yopaj (Templar Assassin) show. With the only Brewmaster pick of the tournament, BOOM Esports showed us why teams shouldn't be sleeping on the hero. The game started out even but got out of hand once Brewmaster got Aghanim's sceptre. With Primal Split available for almost every teamfight, Tundra couldn't deal with the pesky bears even though they had answers for the Templar Assassin. Yopaj still managed to play his own game and ended it with zero deaths.
Congratulations to JaCkky, Yopaj, Fbz, TIMS and skem on their stellar performance this tournament. Even though they claimed they were only in Dubai to gain experience for The International, it looked like they were teaching the other teams instead. Also, a shoutout to Mushi who couldn't be there in person, but drafted for the team online instead. With this morning's victory, BOOM Esports have proven themselves to be the SEA team to look out for at upcoming events.
Since the pandemic, Dota 2 events with teams from multiple regions have been far and few between and with the cancellation of 2022's first Major, fans and players have been feeling the void. Fortunately, we have third party organisers willing to pick up the slack. Galaxy Racer officially announced today - Gamers Galaxy: Dota 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022, a tournament featuring some of the biggest teams in the professional scene. Notably missing are teams from China and South America (and EG and T1), but we've got a good mix of most regions.
Here are the invited teams:
The tournament will take place behind closed doors in Dubai Studio City, UAE (with no in-person attendees) from 2-6 March 2022, and features a whopping AED 1,000,000 prize pool (RM1,140,249). Not bad for 5 days of play!
The teams will be split into two groups of five for a best-of-one round-robin group stage. The top two teams proceed to the upper bracket playoffs semifinals, while the third and fourth teams will go to a best-of-three play-in stage with the winners moving onto the playoffs (6 teams in total). The playoffs will be a double-elimination best-of-three format, with the grand final being a best-of-five.
The tournament is also said to be held on the latest version of the game (speculated to be 7.31 when it arrives - after the regional Major finals) - we can't wait to see all the teams trying to work out the latest meta!
While the cancellation of 2022’s first Dota 2 Major came as a blow to fans of the game worldwide, it was somewhat placated with the announcement of the regional finals. While they come nowhere close in terms of excitement and stakes, it was better than nothing in their stead. Weeks have passed since the conclusion of the regular DPC season and it’s almost time for the top teams of the region to shine. Over the next two weekends, we’ll be witnessing the best of what each Dota 2 region has to offer.
Here’s what to expect:
The SEA DPC showed that the region was as volatile as our regular pub games, with what seemed like an easy sweep for T1 turning into a walk in the park for BOOM Esports. After ditching their all-Indonesian roster and bringing in Filipino blood, they’ve been giving the rest of the region a good spanking and ended the season with a 6-1 score. Making up the rest of the top four are T1, Team SMG and Fnatic (all of them 5-2), who established a clear divide between them and the rest of the teams who finished with 2 victories or less.
T1 have proven themselves a worthy squad, finishing top eight at the last TI and multiple top fours (including some wins) over the past year, so they’ve always been a team to look out for. However, they did make a last-minute roster change this week, swapping 23 Savage out for Gabbi. Will they be able to retain their chemistry or will they surpass expectations? Only one way to find out. Fnatic have found success this season after some roster changes, but the core of the team has always been part of the region’s gatekeepers so it’s no surprise to see them here. Team SMG performed remarkably well this season, and after going through the grind of open qualifiers and lower division, it’s great to see MidOne back on top. It’ll be the biggest tournament he’s been part of for a while, so we’ll have to see how it plays out. More info.
Frequently referred to as the best region in the world due to the prominence of the players and organisations in the scene, expect a bloodbath this final. Team Liquid, Gladiators (formerly Team Tickles), Tundra and OG will be the representatives.
Liquid’s revitalised roster outclassed the rest of the region this season and gave them an almost flawless finish (their only loss was against Nigma who won’t be present here) so they’ll be coming in as heavy favourites. Gladiator, who were underdogs at the beginning of the season are another team to look out for. They have proven that they have what it takes to hang with the best, coming in at second. Tundra and OG have both shown sparks of brilliance this season but leave a lot to be desired in terms of consistency. Perhaps they can show their true forms this weekend. More info.
It’s a bit disappointing to know that we won’t be seeing our SA boys creating upsets at the major this season, but they still know how to put on a good show. Heading to the final are Thunder Awaken (previously Thunder Predator), Infamous U.esports, beastcoast and APU King of Kings.
Thunder wrecked everyone during the DPC with a 7-0 score, so they will be the heavy favourites, with Infamous not far behind. beastcoast, whose players have been together since July 2019 are beginning to show their age as a squad. Can their 4-protect-K1 strategy continue to work? They definitely need to show more of their hand. APU King of Kings haven’t been around for too long nor have they won anything significant, so they’ll be the underdogs for this final - maybe it’ll be their time to claim their first major W. More info.
For over a year, PSG.LGD has remained one of the most consistent Dota 2 teams in the world, finishing top 4 in every tournament they’ve been a part of and winning more than a few. While they failed to win the aegis last year, they’re still a very good team and it’s no surprise to see them here. Team Aster, the hometown slayers along with Royal Never Give Up (Somnus`M’s current team) will have to play their hearts out on the weekend to stand a chance against PSG.LGD. EHOME is a big surprise here, as the organization has been pretty quiet in terms of Dota 2 results over the past couple of years but their latest roster has shown a lot of promise. More info.
As expected, the TI winners, Team Spirit had no trouble during the DPC, only dropping a single game (not match) all season. Second place was a surprise, belonging to the fresh faces of PuckChamp - they finally get a spot in the limelight. Virtus.pro, last year’s EEU top dogs have been a little shaky since their roster change but they still managed to top four the season. Lastly, we have HellRaisers, another brand new squad looking to prove themselves. It’s probably going to be a Team Spirit victory, but stranger things have happened in the past. Keep an eye out for Magnus on Collapse. More info.
This was probably the easiest region to predict, with Quincy Crew, Team Solo Mid (previously Undying), Evil Geniuses and 4 Zoomers representing the region. Not much to say except that EG has been left pretty shaky since their roster adjustment, while Quincy Crew seem to be flourishing despite their changes. TSM are as solid as ever, with Moon and the boys looking to show to the organization that they made the right decision signing them. 4 Zoomers might be the weakest of the four teams, especially since they lost to the other three teams during the season. Hopefully, they’ll have some hidden strats to unveil. More info.
All the action starts tomorrow with the SEA region, do follow the official Dota 2 Esports website for schedules and more information.
The playoffs SEA Esports Championship 2021 Valorant tournament will conclude this weekend - which country will be the best in the region? Still remaining in the event are BOOM Esports (ID), ONIC Esports (ID), Shiba n the homies (SG), Sharper Esport (TH), Bren Esports (PH), South Built Esports (PH), Kingsmen (MY) and COPIUM (SG). More info.
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