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!"
After the exciting first weekend of the DPC Regional Finals, the second one flew by just as quickly, with some pretty thrilling matches and some expected stomps. For those of you who missed out, here are the results of the second weekend.
No surprise here as PSG.LGD proved that they were still in top form. Maintaining their win streak from the regular season, they remained in the upper bracket all the way until the grand final, where they had a rematch against Royal Never Give Up - the team they had sent down to the lower bracket the previous day. PSG.LGD proved that they are still a cut above the rest of their region and are looking good in their journey towards the next TI.
Despite winning The International, Team Spirit showed that they are capable of bleeding with a first round drop to the lower bracket after losing to HellRaisers. That seemed to be the wake-up call they needed and Team Spirit spent the next two days dominating their opponents without dropping a single game. The grand final match was expected to be a close one against Virtus.pro but it ended up being a one-sided stomp instead. Team Spirit still in TI-form confirmed.
This was the most interesting regional final to follow due to how close most of the teams were to each other and the biggest surprise being TSM FTX coming out on top for the first time. It was also the only region to have the grand finals going all the way to five games. TSM FTX, who had finished the DPC season in 2nd place (their first non-third placement in the circuit) have been playing with renewed energy and confidence ever since the boys got signed (they were previously Team Undying). Watching their games, you can tell how well they're playing as a squad right now, and they look like the best team in NA. We can't wait to catch them at GAMERS GALAXY.
With the DPC 2021/2022 Tour 1 concluded, it's almost time for the brand new Dota 2 patch - something that fans and players have been looking forward to. Balance changes mean a new meta and different strategies, which is always exciting to see. Stay tuned to eGG Network for more news and updates on the DPC!
The first weekend of the Dota 2 Major Regional Finals concluded early this morning and the best teams from Southeast Asia, West Europe and South America have been crowned. Here's the rundown of what happened last weekend:
BOOM Esports took the win in the region after dropping down to the lower bracket in the Upper Bracket Finals, they came back to beat Team SMG (a rematch of the first round) in a 2-1 series. Facing T1 again for the Grand Final, BOOM showed that they learnt from their mistakes of the previous day and beat T1 convincingly. While game 4 was rife with issues for T1 (Karl had internet issues and needed to be replaced), that didn't take away from BOOM's victory as they proved to be the better team that day. They topped the SEA DPC for a good reason! Hopefully, we'll get to see them on the international stage later this year, they're one step closer to The International.
What a ride the West European finals was - at the start, Liquid showed they were a cut above all the other teams dominating the first two rounds in clean 2-0 matches. However, Gaimin Gladiators managed to bounce back after losing the Upper Bracket Final to get their revenge against Team Liquid in the Grand Final. Their perseverance in the WEU DPC paid off and they managed to take the best-of-five against Liquid with a 3-1 score. Reminisce of Vikin.gg, it's great seeing ImmortalFaith's team at the top again! Tundra and OG had a pretty poor showing this weekend, but with the arrival of the next season, we're excited to see what the teams have in store.
It looked like beastcoast woke up in time for the finals, after an average performance during the regular season, they showed us why they've been consistently qualifying to international tournaments over the past couple years. The team had no trouble taking out Infamous, Thunder Awaken and Infamous again. They had the only 3-0 Grand Final this weekend, proving that they had Infamous figured out. Regardless, it was a great performance from the boys. Unfortunately for Thunder Awaken, their 7-0 score during the league wasn't enough to give them the top spot.
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.
Bad news for all Dota 2 fans and players in the Dota Pro Circuit, it looks like we won't be having the first major of the year. Valve has just put out a statement announcing the unfortunate cancellation of the DPC 2021-2022 Winter Major. Their reasoning: the discovery and spread of new strains of COVID-19 and the resulting increase of travel restrictions has made it unfeasible for all qualified teams to gather for a LAN tournament.
Since there will be no major, Tour 1 will conclude after the regional league tournaments have ended. This also means that points from the first Major will be redistributed to the second and third major. This last-minute announcement comes as a heavy blow to teams that have been performing extremely well during this season so far since they no longer have a big tournament to look forward to. The season has been a very interesting one so far, with many lower-ranked teams stepping up their game and the veterans with adjusted lineups showing great promise in the league as well.
Here is the new point distribution for the majors:
1st Place - 520 Points (previously 500)
2nd Place - 310 Points (previously 450)
3rd Place - 210 Points (previously 400)
4th Place - 105 Points (previously 350)
5th Place - 52 Points (previously 300)
1st Place - 680 Points (previously 600)
2nd Place - 410 Points (previously 550)
3rd Place - 270 Points (previously 500)
4th Place - 135 Points (previously 450)
5th Place - 68 Points (previously 400)
This change in point distribution for the Majors means that there will be a lot more emphasis on teams winning the event (not that teams aren't already gunning for that goal) and/or performing well in the regional leagues. Since there's no change to the regional DPC points, the leagues will be where teams can earn the most points in order to qualify for The International 2022.
We're not sure if Valve will be announcing further changes to the point system in the future (due to the outcry of fans and players on social media) but we'll keep you posted about any updates.
At the moment, there's not much we can do about it since the pandemic is out of anybody's control. We can only cross our fingers and hope that things get better in the near future. In the meantime, make sure you stay safe and catch the Dota 2 DPC live in the safety of your own home. eGG Network TV will be broadcasting the SEA DPC live on our channel and Astro Go, while you can catch everything else on other platforms. More info.
The playoffs have already begun, with the first four teams eliminated - Team Secret, Cloud9, X10 CRIT and Fnatic. Find out who will claim the title as the first-ever world champions for Valorant! More info.
Date and Time:
Now that the group stage is over, the most prestigious MLBB tournament moves onwards to its next phase - the playoffs. After a one day break, the action will resume this Saturday with BLCK vs BTK, and BEDEL vs EVOS SG. Make sure you tune in for all the action! More info.
Date and Time: Playoffs, 11-19 December
Date and Time:
Date and Time: 16 December, 9 PM
Where to Watch: eGG Network TV
Date and Time: 15-19 December, 1 PM
Dates: 16-19 December
Dates: 29 November - 21 January
Date and Time: 13-20 December, 10 PM
Date and Time: 14-19 December, 11.30 PM
Date and Time: 10-13 December, 2 AM
All dates and times in GMT +8