Spotlight: Our Local Heroes at TI9
I don't know about y'all, but as a filthy casual, I usually choose which teams to root for by the amount of Malaysians in them. (Sorry la I'm a scrub, but I'm a patriotic scrub, okay?)
At the time of writing, there are still 4 Malaysians in the running for that sweet, sweet 15 million USD grand prize.
Without further ado, let's dive in and take a look at our local warriors contending to bring the coveted aegis home!
1. Yap "xNova-" Jian Wei
Here's a fun fact: In his first Dota team - Lowyat Esports - xNova played alongside fellow future TI veteran Adam "343" Shah, who went on to place 4th at TI6 under the Fnatic banner.
Later on, xNova rose to fame as part of WarriorsGaming.Unity, a local team that went on to place 5th-8th at the Boston Major 2016 as well as spawn a whopping total of FOUR TI veterans: xNova, Moon, ah fu, and Ahjit. (Aiyo, what happened to the last guy sia?)
In early 2018, xNova was courted by LGD Gaming to replace the legendary LGD veteran Yao, who was looking to take a break from the competitive scene. This courtship soon blossomed into a fruitful romance, with PSG.LGD placing second in TI8 - the furthest a Malaysian has ever made it in TI since Chuan lifted the aegis way back in 2012.
Apart from being one half of arguably the most lengzai support duo in modern day Dota (with LGD being pretty much the Dota equivalent of a kpop band - according to my non-Dota playing colleagues), he's also known as a formidable pos 5 who frequently earns respect bans for his Bounty Hunter and Chen.
To think that just 8 years ago, xNova was just a wee baby looking for a team to adopt him :')
If anyone still doubts his prescience as a support, take a look at the following clip, where he predicts the opponent's Global Silence and self-purges the silence at the very last possible moment, enabling him to save his core with False Promise.
Betcha couldn't do that!
2. Kam "Moon" Boon Seng
If the name 'Moon' doesn't ring a bell, maybe his old alias 'Nana' does.
That was what he was formerly known as during WG.Unity's short-lived but meteoric rise. Apart from that, he also drew attention with his consistent presence on the SEA MMR leaderboards.
In 2017, he joined Mineski and won his first major the very next year at DAC 2018. Currently playing alongside notable veterans like Damien "kpii" Chok, Moon is not known for flashy plays, but is generally a consistent and reliable mid player that fares well under pressure, as evidenced by the clip below:
If that were me, I'd probably have tossed my mouse away and gone to get a drink already la, just saying.
3. Tue "ah fu" Soon Chuan
Ah fu is yet another prodigy hailing from WG.Unity. After the team's fateful showing at the 2016 Boston Major, he was scouted by LGD.FY as a support, and has been a crucial factor in the team's overall success ever since.
His crowning achievement is undoubtedly his iconic aegis steal with Earth Spirit during TI7. The moment was seen by millions of fans around the world who probably peed their pants a little when he managed to make it out of the pit alive, losing his aegis reincarnation, but otherwise walking away unscathed.
With ah fu's consistent contribution to the team's performance, LGD.FY ended their TI7 run at an impressive third place, walking away with a cool $2,592,230 in prize money.
4. Yeik "MidOne" Nai Zheng
Highly competitive from a young age, MidOne has always had a deep interest in video games. His competitive mindset led him to join many tournaments around Malaysia, slowly accruing valuable experience and knowledge as a Dota 2 player.
At one point, he was on the brink of quitting after a series of losses, but decided to persevere and group up with his friends as Team DOT. They went on to beat notable local team Gizmo 3-0 in the finals of the 2015 Mountain Drew Dota 2 Challenge, and he was finally noticed by senpai and recruited into Team Fnatic, where his career blossomed exponentially after.
He then achieved further recognition by becoming the first player to hit 8k MMR on the SEA leaderboards, before hopping over to join Team Secret, where he netted a series of Major wins under his belt as their mid player.
Did you see that shit? That kind of mindfucking outplay is why he's known as one of Malaysia's most talented exports.
Honourable Mention: Cheng "vtFaded" Jia Hao
Although vtFaded's team, Chaos Esports Club, has already been eliminated from TI9 at the time of writing, we at SNN still believe that he deserves his time in the spotlight.
Coming from humble beginnings, vtFaded was shuffled around minor China teams before being noticed in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor SEA qualifiers, where his team - the aptly named Power of MYSG+AU - was commended for an excellent run, playing a mind-numbing 11 games back-to-back before finally falling in the finals to Mineski.
Although he was eliminated in the group stages this year, we commend him for making it this far and wish him all the best next year!