So the last time I did one of these was back in January 2017, and I decided to change things up to fit the “seasonal calendar” as many others in this industry do. That said, with the end of TI, comes my annual blog with my thoughts and reflections on the time that has passed. I think my main goal here this time, however, will be to try and make this actually somewhat short and readable, considering the last one was just a massive textwall.
Frankly speaking, since my last blog of this sort, nothing much has really happened, 2017 was pretty uneventful outside of Team Liquid winning TI7, and my experiences at ESL One Hamburg which can be found here. 2018, on the other hand, has brought on a whole host of other, somewhat newer experiences that might be more noteworthy in this blog.
Who Am I
I’m one of the writers over here at LiquidDota and one of the contributors to our now infamous TI8 Power Rank and I’m currently a law student studying at the University of Glasgow. That said, I’m, in fact, at this moment, on exchange in the University of Gothenburg for my third year of studies. On behalf of LiquidDota, I have attended ESL One Hamburg 2017 and ESL One Birmingham 2018, and majority of the content for both events was covered by myself along with ShiaoPi, thehexhaven, Julmust, and OmniEulogy. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be in Hamburg again this year.
Real Life Stuff
As with others, I have mostly been shitposting and talking about much of this in the GD thread, and I would personally see it as a rather heinous crime to hamper readers with a whole lot of random information. Hence, a quick summary would have to suffice. I had a surprisingly better year in my studies this year, though I did work much harder compared to the last year, qualifying me for entry to honours and consequently, Erasmus exchange under my university and so, here I am in the beautiful city of Gothenburg for the next 9 months or so. My greatest challenge here so far is undoubtedly picking up the local language. The signboards, the products, the information, everything; everything is in Swedish. That being said, I’m actually quite excited to learn a new language on top of the other languages I’m already familiar with, setting myself up to be a polyglot.
Little else has really changed in my life but with this opportunity presented to me in the form of my exchange, I’m hoping to finally take some real action to improve my health (i.e. losing weight and exercising) especially with the inspiration that comes from reading about people’s experiences in taking those same actions.
Esports 2017-2018: How’d We Do?
So in my last blog I talked about ESL One Hamburg 2017 as my first event, and that opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities and motivations for me. I met some really great people there and that motivated me to make an effort to attend other events in the future to meet more people in the industry. The industry’s growth has more or less peaked, to the point that it’s started breaking into the mainstream which some of the old dogs of the industry feel slightly spiteful about. Katowice was going to be a very real possibility for me, except that it clashed with a large chunk of my classes which was ultimately what factored into my non-attendance. The announcement of the Brexit Major aka ESL One Birmingham, was a breath of fresh air to satisfy my desire to do more esports events. It was only right, as someone living in the UK, that I jump at the opportunity to attend an event easily within reach. As a result, I got to know the people working behind the scenes in ESL better, and I met other individuals deeply involved with the industry, learning to appreciate the difficulty of their work and their dedication to it. These events are really tiring to work, and very surprisingly so, in my humble opinion. However, the satisfaction I get from it is kinda hard to put into words but I suppose it would be quite simply put as seeing the fruits of your efforts as you read even the few comments that praise and appreciate your coverage.
At the same time, putting more focus on my studies and other things, I did virtually nothing in terms of coverage this year besides interviews at events. It only makes me appreciate the rest of the team behind LiquidDota all that much more. It matters that they can remind you that you volunteered in the first place, and if you haven’t got the time, there’s no need to commit; yet at the same time, you’re always welcome to hop in and write again if you want to and you can.
Bridges Built and Burned
As some might know, I’m more or less a vegetative potato who spends the majority of his time shitposting in Discord, if not playing games or watching anime/movies. That said, I took what I perceive to be bolder actions this year in the sense that I sought to cut off ties with those that I felt I should’ve, and to similarly strengthen other ties with those I wanted to. The result? I waste less time shitposting and actually get things done, and I cherish the friendships I’ve made and maintained that much more, wasting less time on those that would fit the description of “internet keyboard warrior”. In reflection, I can’t say I’ve really regretted anything I’ve done in these terms this year; some are meant to last and some aren’t, but it still seems fickle most of the time and you wonder in your loneliness whether they’re truly worthwhile. So are they? I don’t know, but I will keep trying to move forward and take what comes my way.
Sometimes, what’s necessary is to reach out. After all, we’re not telepathic, communication is important. I’ve learned this year that sometimes when you reach out, you get bitten, and sometimes, your hand is taken instead, and people open up. Opening up is important, but at the same time, there may always be a lingering doubt. So why reach out at all? Because we as humans care for one another and feel the need to help each other, such is the nature of our being, our inherent proclivity for building communities, sometimes described as a tribal instinct that has lasted through the throes of evolution.
It was only a few days ago that I had my first “fika” here in Sweden, and talking to some Swedish friends, they said context matters. Just as well, it was pretty much icebreakers over coffee and cinnamon buns, and new friendships were born. Different people of different backgrounds coming together, it really dawns on you just how vast and varied the entire world is. There are plenty of things out there for you to discover and that is what I’m looking to do this time. After all, I’m here for a year, some are here for six months only, and I’m frankly excited to see what the remainder of the year holds in store for me. I look forward to every fika hereafter.
TI8 Power Rank
If there’s anything I’ve learned about journalism this year, it’s that controversy and drama is what really generates views and subsequently revenue. So here’s a little more controversy. Our power rank this year was more or less a last minute mish-mash on the whims of a select few and ultimately done by about 7-8 people or so, with the vast majority of us playing Dota very minimally and pretty much only keeping up with the competitive scene. We had our discussions and I think we, or at least I, can proudly say right now that we’re glad we were wrong, but we also maintain our sincerity in our extremely low expectations for the eventual champions, OG. TI was a hell of a rollercoaster and there were so many upsets and storylines this year, it was without a doubt, in my mind, the best TI to date.
It is important that I stress that this isn’t a defence of the power rank we did. After all, the two words directly preceding the rankings themselves were “flame away”, and so we were flamed accordingly. Having read the comments of our userbase, I can see a lot of the points for why they would not have ranked OG as low, and I admit we had made our mistakes. At the same time, some of the comments were also that of “internet keyboard warrior” material, and are rather regrettable.
Nonetheless, I feel the need to say that from my perspective at least, and this view is shared by some of the other staff, a power rank is meant to show how strong teams are looking as they go into an event, what they’ve shown us so far and how we perceive them in comparison to other teams attending the same event. It is not a prediction of the results, Dota is a constantly changing game, and we clearly saw that throughout TI8 as the meta developed very quickly and as mentioned above, many upsets occurred.
I suppose we did benefit in the end, we got publicity and advertising, and perhaps people will look at the power rank as a whole and appreciate that it wasn’t wholly inaccurate when compared to the results at the end of the tournament.
I’ve been paying less attention to politics in these last two years, mostly because I’ve been reading the news less and less, and in terms of the UK, at least, I don’t really feel much more than indifference in light of Brexit and just how difficult it was always going to be.
That said, I want to talk about Malaysia, my home country where I grew up. For the first time in the country’s 61 years of independence, governance was wrested from the hands of the corrupt Barisan Nasional (BN) government, and Pakatan Harapan (PH) came into power. I have thoroughly enjoyed the parliamentary debates that have taken place since, as it feels like there has been a breath of fresh air in what was previously nothing but a toxic playground for uncouth politicians with a biased Speaker. Some of the revelations of the wrongdoings of the past government have been shocking, but I can only be grateful there has been a change. What’s most important, in my opinion, is that Malaysians ultimately have to understand that change and reformation takes time, a lot of time, especially in such an institutionally corrupt country. Simultaneously, it must be understood that promises cannot always be kept, and sometimes they must be contravened for the sake of the country itself. Repealing laws is a costly and rather blanketed process, and it would often be better, in my view, to amend them and debate the amendment bills properly, in other words, using due process.
For a long time I mulled over returning to live and work in Malaysia. I’d said that it’d depend on the political climate and whether there were significant political changes. They did happen after all, and then I realised, I still love and care for my country very much, but at the same time, I’ve come to understand that I actually have zero intention of ever going back to live or work, perhaps only as a retirement option but that would be something to consider several decades later.
These last two years have gone by really quickly, and I have come to learn many lessons. Simultaneously, I've realised that some things really aren't lasting, and that we're painfully emotional beings, strongly driven by our emotional impulses. Interaction can be really difficult, and everyone has an ego. We're always afraid of hurting each others' egos but we contradictorily wish to boost our own by looking down on others and well, hurting their egos anyway.
However, I appreciate that we're capable of compromise, and that we often try to work one out, whether openly or behind closed doors, and ultimately we can still somehow live in peace.
I would like to thank everyone that has read my incoherent chatter this far and wish everyone another excellent year ahead, overcoming the problems that they may be facing and moving forward in their lives. After all, I intend to do just that too. Perhaps I will find myself covering TI9 in Shanghai this coming year. :D