I'm not sure where to begin so I'll start from where I last remember.
After the Frankfurt Major, I got to cast a second lower bracket finals and felt really good about casting, but was somewhat unfulfilled. The main reason I went to Germany was to join joinDota, but more then anything I wanted to work with Capitalist. I remember meeting Cap for the first time at TI2 as a casual spectator, for some reason I thought he was a huge douche, I think it was the haircut and his almost too easy going way, I am a cynical person who is sarcastic, Cap was positive, friendly, and engaging. It all made me question him off the bat. But I also like those 'Shes all that' style movies, so I figured I would turn this guy into a tier 1 caster. I had a plan almost from the onset, I wanted to be one of the first dedicated pairs in dota, so I told the bosses at jD that I almost exclusively wanted to work with Cap. So over the course of last year we really grew as a pair, we would stay up all night discussing possibilities, how to complement each other, and more importantly how to make our casts seem conversational. Anything I personally learned about Dota I would tell Cap, after I coached Liquid, I gave him as much information about strategy to try and get him caught up to speed. I shared everything Dota related with him and it paid off. Our casts became informative, as we got away from talking about hindsight and items and useless shit, and more about map movement and player psychology and timings. He did everything possible to make things accommodating for me, allowing me to speak as LONG as I want to in a cast without making it an ego thing. He simply just let me have my say and was comfortable with a 50/50 split in talking instead of the usual 70/30 you'll get out of most pairs. At Shanghai, we finally got our opportunity to cast the finals, and I was absolutely over the moon that we had finally reached a majors finals together. It meant a lot to me being up there with him, if it was Tobi or LD I would have had a great time but ultimately having Cap there was important, he was the main reason I have enjoyed casting as much as I did and our chemistry outside of casting reflects it in game.
Speaking of Shanghai, around a month before the event, I was up at 5am watching an MDL match when Kuroky messages me. He asks me for an invite so we could watch it together as he was too cheap to buy one himself. (A common theme of Kuro's. aka making me buy movie tickets and taxi rides / paying for food for both of us) He started talking to me about his team and how he needed pressure lifted off him, and I gave him some advice. Pretty much after four or five minutes of talking he invited me to coach his team. I was really stunned as I had no credentials and was really nervous, but he told me to think it over and he had a good feeling about these things. The thing about Kuro is that when he has these feelings or instincts they usually end up being right, its pretty uncanny. He told me at the onset that he felt that casting was not fulfilling for me and that I would enjoy coaching his team more. We started by hanging out online with his team who accepted me with open arms, and were an absolute joy to work with. Working with them leading up to Shanghai was one of the more memorable experiences of my life, and not being able to work with them at the event itself was heartbreaking.
After that, I discussed it with Valve and decided I would not cast the Manila Major. I wanted to see something through till the end, and I did not want to split my duties. We had a much rockier start then we did the first time around, but it ended up okay as the team finished in the finals once again. By some miracle (kuro) we managed to figure out a way to solve the teams issues and stay together as a group. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a pro, what they go through, and more importantly how they think and it really enabled me to grow as a dota player. I took this job to learn more about dota so I could improve my casts, but it ended up being a real passion for me. After this event, I thought about what I wanted to do and decided I wanted to go for the TI Finals with Cap, because he deserves it and I wanted to accomplish this goal with him because its something that meant a lot to us. I love the thrill of casting, it makes my heart skyrocket when I see everyone in the stands react to something I say, or learn something new about Dota. The players will ultimately have all the cheers directed at them, but I like to think that at least ten of the fans in the stands are cheering for a good cast and thats enough for me. Leading up to TI, I worked with Liquid during the bootcamp but told them I wanted to focus on casting which they were okay with, but it ended up not being okay with me. Seeing them so disappointed after losing to Fnatic in the ro8 was heartbreaking, and I knew I did not do my full duties as a coach. Shortly before this I found out that I was not casting on the final day much less the finals, and I felt I had really messed up. I still wanted to give it my all though and Cap told me he was going to miss this so I resolved to give him everything I had. I made sure to match him at hype, and really be engaged throughout the broadcast. I wanted people to remember us as a good pair that maybe got to cast a memorable match or two and have good thoughts about us in the future. I wanted Cap to be proud of me as his casting partner for the last year, and to show I really did appreciate him and did care about casting with him even though I didn't show it all the time.
I had been thinking for some time that I did not love casting as much as I used to, I am an intensely private person and I am introverted as hell. I am nervous and awkward and wrack my brain at what to do in a social setting when I am around more then 2 people, or people I don't know. I end up getting quiet, intensifying the situation in my brain, and panicking. I confronted a lot of those fears by casting, but ultimately they don't always go away. I did not enjoy the fan interaction of taking pictures of signing autographs, the fans were great but the experience always made me feel uneasy. I preferred just chatting with people and bridging the gap of information between me and someone else. I wish I was better at stuff like that or could rationalize what I don't like about it, but I tried hiding myself away as much as I could at this event. I felt bad, I am sure I missed a lot of people that wanted to see or talk to me, but forgive me. I did the best I could without just losing my mind, and tried to do a signing whenever I could.
After seeing what happened with Liquid I just felt disappointed, and I felt a bit tired of casting, so I decided even before this event that I wanted to take a break after this TI. I want to explore myself a bit more and just stay at home, grind some solo queue, get 8k, and have some free time, I have been home maybe 1 month out of the last 7, and I want to not worry about casting. I don't think I'm retiring, maybe I'll take some gigs here and there because I do enjoy it, but I want to start coaching a team full time or maybe something in a management role, somewhere out of sight for a little bit, and that might meant skipping some majors or a TI. A lot of people will say that I'm crazy for going out now, when theres a lot of money in working those events, but I want to still be in the scene and enjoy dota without getting jaded and ultimately burning out in a few months.
I guess I want to write something about the team before I conclude this. I want to give you guys some insight about the players and the team so I will write a message about them here.
Fata, maybe the most headstrong, we clashed at first but ultimately he was a natural leader and would ultimately help me a lot in my role. He was very willing to engage and always had ideas, it was a pleasure working with him as he always made me smile or laugh by poking my nose. I am really glad to call this person my friend, and I hope we remain so in the future.
Matu, the emotional one of the bunch, was almost always the happiest. He would smile, laugh, make jokes, ease up the tension, and would always give me a hug when I was down. He took losses the hardest out of any of us, but was always willing to do what he needed to to get back on the grind.
Jerax, the person on the team who was most willing to be criticized, he would always take things on the nose, and bounce back. This guy never gave me a malicious word and was always honest and did his best to defuse tension in the team whenever it happened. A very serious guy in a lot of respects, but had an easy smile at all times.
Mind_control, when I first met this guy he had a huge frown on his face and he looked scary, but he ended up being the teddy bear of the team. He almost never got angry and would always be honest about how he felt. He would do anything I asked out of him, and ended up being one of the nicer guys I've met in Dota.
Kuroky, I wish this guy would show himself to the scene more. He is funny, articulate, charismatic, and ultimately just a good person. He always treated me with respect, would empower me in team conversations, and trusted me as much as anyone can trust someone. I was more then a coach with him, it was almost like a marriage, we bickered and fought about what to do with the team, but we would always try and see each others point of views, and I don't think I ever walked away from a conversation with him without feeling satisfied. This man gave me another chance in dota, another life, and was never dishonest to me ever. If he ever said something to me, he always meant it, and it was odd taking someone at face value at all times. I am eternally grateful to Kuro for everything he did for me and with me, and I will always be available for this person. Maybe the coolest person I've met in the dota scene, cool as an igloo. (I told him I was writing a blog he told me to write that, I told him he was lame, I relented obviously) My favorite moment with him was after they lost to MVP at Manila, he looked at me and Heen and said 'two korean coaches, and we lost, suspicious' and said nothing else about the loss ever haha.
Mohamed, my partner in crime and my closest confidante on the team, he ultimately gave me the strength to keep going when I didn't know what to do, and kept me from losing my mind. He was the best manager I have ever seen personally, he would go above and beyond to make sure the guys were okay in my absence during events, and would always fill me in on what to do. This guy might have been the true strength of TeamLiquid.
Heen, I brought him in to work with the guys post ESL Manila, and he was incredible. We largely stayed out of each others ways, but he was incredibly pleasant to talk to and watching him work always affirmed to me that he was a great guy, and one of the more mature veterans in the scene.
I don't really know what I'll do next, maybe I'll finally stream again, or maybe I'll coach, manage, who knows. I might even be back for a TI. Working with Valve this year was so fucking awesome, they listened to almost all ideas and responded enthusiastically. At the same time I know I need a break, and it might last till at least this next TI. I'd like to work an ESL here and there or something like it so feel free to contact me organizers, but don't be upset if I decline.
Thank you to all the fan support I have had this year, I like writing these to show you a side of the scene you might not always get to see or hear about. There isn't really a point in writing these, it isnt even really a retirement letter or a hint of whats to come but when I'm done with the end of TI, I like to write these so one day I can look back and remember what it was like to be Blitz and not just plain William Lee.