It’s not easy to come out of the shadows of a player like Sumail. But his brother YawaR has managed to do that by breaking into the scene and making it to TI8. I caught up with him on the press day of The International 2018 to talk about his journey from Pakistan to where he is now.
Hello YawaR! This is your first TI. How does it feel to be here? Any nerves?
Being here at TI8 is just like being at a normal tournament. Nothing special.
I don’t think anyone expected VGJ.Storm to top the group, especially a group that had Virtus.pro and Secret in it. Were you guys expecting to do so well?
I was expecting to get top 4. Topping the group wasn’t on our mind. We won the first two series and just kept the momentum going.
The last series against Virtus.pro, you guys went down 2-0. Was it because VGJ.Storm had already topped the group and there was no real motivation to play that series?
Yeah, it was kind of like that. When there is nothing on the line, you tend not to try too hard.
That does tend to happen. You picked OG as your opponents for the first round of the main event. Any reason for that?
I mean, the options were OG or PSG.LGD. You would have to be dumb to pick LGD! OG are good too, but LGD are on another level.
I can’t argue with that logic! When the season started, VGJ.Storm weren’t doing too well. But there was a sudden turnaround in the middle of the season, even before Resolution joined and Timado was still a part of the roster. What led to the turnaround?
We were losing all scrims and qualifiers and were frustrated. The team went into two qualifiers thinking let’s just not give a damn and play without fear. And we made it!
If you wouldn’t have won those qualifiers, would the team have been dissolved?
We might have changed some players…
I thought the team was doing a decent job with Timado. Was Resolution brought in just for his experience?
There were a number of reasons. The main reason was Timado could not come to the bootcamp because of visa issues. Resolution could make that trip and to add to that, he was more experienced.
Makes sense. Coming to the meta, do you like it?
I think the meta is pretty good. It favors the teams that do well in the laning phase. If you win the lanes, there is a high chance that you will win the game.
And is it a good meta for mid players?
Yes, I think it is. If you first pick a hero like Tiny, you can lane against anyone. The worst thing about the mid lane is the two minute runes, like when one of the players gets a double damage rune, the lane becomes one sided. I think for the first ten minutes, the runes should just fill bottles and not give any benefits, because that is broken.
It’s no secret that Sumail is your younger brother. Are you close to him?
Sumail and I are like best friends.
Was he like a motivating factor for you, to break into the scene?
Not really, I was motivating myself. I had the goal to become a professional Dota 2 player.
Last year you were so close to making it to TI7 with Team Freedom, but fell short at the last step. How difficult was that to come back from?
Last year I was finishing my high school so didn’t care too much about it. I just gave it a try to make it to The International.
I am from India and have an idea about the Dota 2 scene in that region. The scene has been getting better bit by bit, but we still have quite a way to go before the top teams match up with those of Europe or North America. What made you and Sumail stand out? If you had to give advice to the players back there to make it big, what would it be?
We had a friend called ‘Danger’ back in Pakistan who played Dota 2 as well. He told us to stop playing in the Pakistan region (SEA) and start playing on the Europe servers. Playing with better player helps you improve.
Did coming to the United States help with that in any way?
Not really. We played on the EU servers even when in Pakistan, with a ping of 200 and that was what made us better.
Coming to things that you like to do outside Dota. What do you enjoy?
I like listening to music a lot. I listen to Atif Aslam and Arijit Singh. I also like to smoke hookah!
Hookah reminds me of the good times! Any shoutouts?
Shoutout to my manager, Jack ‘KBBQ’ Chen. He’s been under a lot of stress lately.
More interviews from The International 2018:
– ppd – OpTic Gaming: “We have a better chance against PSG.LGD than versus VP”
– N0tail – OG Interview: “The deny mechanic takes some of the fun away from the game”
– Sylar VGJ.Thunder – Interview: ”I will retire when I’ll feel I’ve become a burden to my teammates”
– 33 – OpTic Gaming: “I don’t know where some of the changes to heroes are coming from”
– Resolut1on – VGJ.Storm : “OG is still an interesting matchup for me”
– Solo – Virtus.pro: “I believe he [KuroKy] is the best leader”
– Fly – Evil Geniuses: “I will get to my side of the story one day, but right now my focus is completely on TI”
– Iceberg – Winstrike: ”If you are afraid to play someone here, then you just shouldn’t be playing at TI”
– XinQ – Team Serenity: “I was wild and out of control”
– No[o]ne – Virtus.pro: “I hate the mid lane right now”
– KuKu – TNC – “If you are playing good Dota, there are no individual plays”
– PSG.LGD – Chalice: “Virtus.pro drafts are not that good”
– TNC – Raven: “We messed up the drafts”
– Team Liquid – MinD_ContRoL: “We picked Optic because we don’t have a good history against Team Secret”
– paiN Gaming – Tavo: “Every defeat is a lesson…I’d just rather not lose here, you know?”
– OptTic Gaming – Pajkatt “OpTic is better than any of the teams I’ve played in before”
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