COMMENT: YawaR's message to SumaiL is the human moment esports needs more of

·Head of Video and Esports
·6-min read
SumaiL and YawaR (Photos: Saharnaz Farahmand via Dota 2 TI Flickr, Dota 2 Twitch)
SumaiL and YawaR (Photos: Saharnaz Farahmand via Dota 2 TI Flickr, Dota 2 Twitch)

It might have been a blink and you'd miss it moment, but the ending of the lower bracket elimination match between Quincy Crew and title hopefuls OG included a bittersweet moment many sports fans could've related to.

The second day of the Main Event at The International Dota 2 Championships 10 (TI10) saw some really intense matches, but it was the final game of the Battle of the Brothers (or HassanBowl, as some fans called it) that would capture the hearts of those watching (and spawn a thousand wholesome memes).

North America's Quincy Crew, with Yawar "YawaR" Hassan, faced off against back-to-back TI winners OG, who had Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan, YawaR's younger brother and the most recent member of the defending champion's new line-up.

For the Dota 2 uninitiated, both brothers currently play in the same role, the Position 1 or "carry" position, which sees them get the highest priority when it comes to gaining experience and gold in game. The characters (called heroes, in Dota 2) they choose are often those that excel when given this "farm priority", racking up levels and items that will give a boost in the team fights later in the game. In most cases, the rest of the team will invest in these players' heroes, making them a key priority to winning the game.

So the chance of one brother playing a large part of the reason the other brother was eliminated from Dota 2's biggest stage was undoubtedly there.

And at both TI8 and TI9, YawaR’s respective team (VGJ.storm and the North American version of Newbee) had been seen off by OG, although SumaiL had been with EG at the time.

This time, the younger Hassan was across the stage. Combined with OG's midlaner, Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen, running rampant on his Void Spirit in game one and surprise Dawnbreaker pick in the second game, it was YawaR and team who again bowed out.

But before logging out of the game, YawaR had one final all chat message in the broadcast that was captured around the world.

GG gl lil broYawaR in all chat

Good game, good luck little brother.

It's probably not unlike some of the messages that might have gone on between tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams in their clashes on the tennis courts, or even between some of the great siblings in football during their times in separate squads.

But in this day of Twitch, YouTube and other streaming platforms, with the in-game chat on display for all the world to see, it was a moment fans on both sides could experience, further amplified by social media.

OG's Twitter account basically summed up what everyone watching would have felt, which was an undeniably human moment in a sport where most player interactions happen in text on a screen.

There’s an added layer that will tug at your heartstrings when you realise that YawaR and SumaiL are children of Pakistani migrants in the United States. 

In fact, SumaiL has previously talked about how his family wasn’t wealthy, and he had to sell his bicycle to a stranger just to be able to afford to play more of [the original] DotA at a LAN cafe in Pakistan when he was 8. 

While SumaiL called it “a bad move”, he went on to become the youngest TI winner with Evil Geniuses in 2015 at the age of 16, a record that still stands to this day.

Now, it’s safe to assume YawaR will be cheering SumaiL on again as he looks to make history with OG. YawaR started his professional career around the same time that SumaiL won TI5 with EG, though it was only when he made Top 8 at TI8 with VGJ.storm (together with some of his current Quincy Crew teammates) that more people started to take note of him. 

Since then, there have been several HassanBowls, with SumaiL coming out on top most of the time, although there was a brief period in 2019 when both brothers were playing on Quincy Crew’s roster.

So much focus is always on the "toxicity" of what players say in-game to their teammates or opponents, which might be a bit surprising if you've experienced a derby match in football. 

That's not to say unacceptable behaviour should be deemed acceptable, of course, especially considering some of the other problems with the scene that have been raised in the last two years.

But it would be good to remember that, with regards to chats, we've all probably sent a text or two in anger that we wished we could unsend.

It's understandable that esports gets more scrutiny in the public sphere precisely because such comments are available for all to see, and even the banter between players gets attached meanings that give these in-game words a life of their own. (Which is why the quote of the Singapore Major was "?")

But there's also a lot of fun from these chats, such as when T1's Carlo "Kuku" Palad made a mistake while diving into PSG.LGD's base, died, and used the chatwheel line, "We need wards."

And, with a scene like Dota 2's, where your opponent today could be your teammate tomorrow, there is a sense of camaraderie that those on the outside may not always see.

These players play together and against one another both professionally and casually, meet up at offline events, banter on social media. A failed tournament could mean the end of a roster, a successful one may snowball into an amazing run.

Longevity is not something the Dota 2 scene is known for, which is why OG winning back-to-back TIs with the same roster was such an amazing feat that may never be repeated.

But the human bonds that exist and are formed between these players, their coaches, staff, as well as the casters, analysts and hosts that break down their plays — these carry over as the players move into other stages of their time in the esports industry. It's a good reminder that esports athletes are as human as any one of us.

And what better way to have that than a heartfelt congratulations from one brother to another.

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