Having only joined the Fnatic Dota 2 squad in June, Yang "Deth" Wu Heng found himself earning a trip to compete at the biggest Dota 2 tournament there is — The International 2021.
The 26-year-old offlaner had stepped in to help the team, which had been struggling in the middle-pack since a roster change in 2020. Fnatic let Daryl "iceiceice" Koh leave for Evil Geniuses, and struggled to figure out how to deal with their two position 4 players in the form of Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong and Djardel Jicko B. "DJ" Mampust.
The end result was picking up Filipino carry-god Marc Polo Luis "Raven" Fausto , dropping their mid-player Kam "Moon" Boon Seng, and moving their then Malaysian offlaner Ng "ChYuan" Kee Chyuan to mid, and grabbing up a replacement Singaporean offlaner in the form of Deth.
The newly reformed team showed its dominance, convincingly trouncing their opponents in their road to TI, and doing a reverse sweep over TNC Predator in the Grand Final.
Fnatic picked the Bloodseeker offlane for Deth in game 4 at the Southeast Asia TI Qualifiers Grand Final, which was an unconventional pick. It also turned out to be Deth's favourite hero, he told Yahoo Esports.
"Right now, I don't think anyone plays him offlane, obviously. I kinda see the angle where the hero is good at and I really enjoy playing it," said Deth.
While comparisons to Singapore's more famous offlaner are inevitable, Deth has not met or spoken to Iceiceice, despite the relatively small-ish Singaporean circle of esports pros. They also don't have each other on Steam.
They have, however, played each other online, but who is the better offlaner remains to be seen.
"I think we are so different — the heroes and the way he (iceiceice) likes to play are very different from me, I wouldn't even put us as the same type of offlaners."Deth
"But for sure, he's one of the best at what he does," said Deth.
Given that both are the only Singaporeans attending TI come October in Bucharest, it's likely they will meet at last in real life. And they may have more in common — Deth's also somewhat of a troll.
A decade's journey
For Deth, getting into Dota was always something he preferred over his studies. As the youngest child in his family, he had watched his older brother play and thought it was fun. He had finished secondary school, dropped out of Temasek Polytechnic and went to Republic Poly for three years before deciding to drop out at the start of the third year.
"I just really, really dislike studying, and part of me knew I didn't want to do it. I kinda forced myself to go through with it. But when it came down to the last year, I was really, really, done with forcing myself to do it," said Deth.
While he started playing Dota casually ten years ago with 6.11, it was only about six years ago when he considered it as a career option. His first big break came when he joined Team Flash as captain, having played in unknown stacks trying to make a name for himself prior.
Before joining Fnatic, he was with Galaxy Racer, a UAE esports organisation, for about two months before deciding to leave and be a free agent.
Eventually, about nine months later, he was picked up by Fnatic. He has yet to meet his teammates in person — the Fnatic bootcamp hasn't happened yet, especially given the recent postponement of TI10 to October.
Deth said he hasn't told his divorced parents, whom he is somewhat estranged from, but added that he had told his sister. Unfortunately, according to Deth, his sister didn't quite understand just how big TI is.
"I told my sister that I qualified for something, but she doesn't play or know about Dota," said Deth. And even if he wins TI and comes back as a multi-millionaire, he said it was likely he wouldn't tell them about it, either.
"Life just goes on as normal," he added.
Cool, calm, and collected
Deth remains focused on doing his best for TI10, though he admits that his team may not yet have that much of a chance given the strong competition they will face. However, the delay to TI10 only helps him and the team, giving them more time to prepare.
"It's a big question mark, after we bootcamp and train, and all that stuff, we will know where we stand. But right now, I think we don't really have a chance of doing that well," said Deth. "We are still a relatively new team, after all."
As the newest player on the squad, Deth says he doesn't want to let the team down, but he's not "super ecstatic" that he's heading to TI10, yet.
Don't get him wrong, though, he's glad he made it. That, he says, is just his personality. He just doesn't get overly excited about things.
"Even if I did win TI, I probably won't be jumping up and down," he added. "I'll just be glad we did it. I'm just that kind of person."
Deth admitted that he did have some trouble adjusting to Fnatic's style at the start, as he was used to a faster-paced style — he played with Neon Esports at the Singapore Major as a stand-in — but he has already found his footing in the game.
"In the moment when I'm playing, I definitely feel the intensity of competing and winning, and that brings me more joy than the win itself."Deth
Battling alongside DJ, his favourite teammate, whom he rates as "very calm and nice", Deth is already looking set to do his part.
"I definitely make calls, I definitely give input, I try to do my job as well. I think it's all of that. We already have a lot of good players in the team. I try to make sure the game is going in the direction we want it to, and we're not f**king it up or anything."
Catch Deth and Fnatic at The International 2021 as they look to take home the lion's share of the US$40 million prize pool.
Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com