The International 5: A Glass Case of Emotion
by Sören 'Fantasy' Vendsahm
Flashing lights. A roaring crowd. Ten stars on the stage giving it their all. They perform under immense pressure with two goals in mind: provide for themselves and their families and become the best there has ever been. Many average citizens would crack under the pressure, falter with that weight on their shoulders. In eSports and Dota 2, this is everyday life.
What the public sees is not always the full story. For a majority of the community, the life that these individuals lead is almost like the golden road, a guaranteed ticket to a better life. Few see the reality of what goes on behind closed doors. What actually happens on the other side of the highly-produced stream, the rock star-like treatment at The International and the glorious picture of five young men holding a 6.8 million-dollar check. The Truth: Over the course of a Dota 2 season, hundreds of dreams are shattered. Hopefuls risk their livelihoods only to watch their fates slip away. Doubts creep in and tensions run high. More tears are shed due to a heart-wrenching loss than a career-defining victory. The enviable illusion of “I play video games for a living” is a goal for so many, but once the goal is realized it’s a long, tough grind full of obstacles.
This is not a Disney movie. This is not all fun. It is a job. A highly demanding and time-consuming job in which the big payout is exceedingly rare. An accountant might not have the thrill, but he has security. He knows where his next meal is coming from and when he can pay rent. Very few eSports athletes have such luxuries. Some fight for themselves, for recognition and glory, while others fight for their families, to make them proud and secure a better future. Whatever it is that drives these chosen few, they are all united in their struggles, but separated in the defining moment in which the trophy is raised.
From the signing and announcements, to roster troubles, even to the curtain of Key Arena, I have had the privilege of going along for the ride throughout compLexity Gaming's Dota 2 journey. I had the opportunity to sit in their practice room for three weeks, where I could talk to them privately, observe the team dynamic, and witness meltdowns, arguments and raw emotion. Here is a look behind the closed doors of a practice room at The International, a glimpse into the private dining table conversations, a peek into the minds of the five men that were set out to make history, defy the odds and become the underdog story.
Downtown Seattle, home The International Dota 2 Championships
It was July 30th at the Westin Hotel in Seattle. The Dota 2 world was upside down as Team Empire’s base crumbled and the group stage for the biggest eSports tournament in the world came to an end. No dreams had yet been crushed, but disappointment was mounting for some. For others, their stars were rising and Cinderella stories were being written after upsets defined the group stage.
In the midst of all that sat the North American newcomers, compLexity Gaming. Though they were doubted by the masses, the team came ready to play and was one of the major stories from the first days of The International 5. So far the team had not won a thing. They had never been to a Dota 2 LAN, just HoN players making their debut on the big Dota 2 scene. Many hardcore Dota fans consider HoN to be the little brother, challenged in his own way and never really accepted in the family. As a result, the true HoN players were often viewed suspiciously, even maliciously called “Hontrash”. Now, they stood third in their group at the biggest Dota 2 tournament of all time.
Many didn’t believe in the success. Outside of the compLexity organization and the player's families, supporters were like white elephants. Only the players’ fans from their HoN days or longtime fans of the organization proudly cheered for swindlemelonzz and Co. on their journey to Seattle.
But there were two things that many people didn’t know about the squad. One: swindlemelonzz, Zfreek, Moon, Fly and Zyzz went to Seattle not to place low, but to actually win the whole thing. They arrived with huge momentum following their successful scrims at the practice house in Maryland. Two: The entire year long operation nearly imploded at the worst possible time. The players fell increasingly victim to nervous jitters and anxiety. Just a few days before the group stage officially started, the team was in turmoil.
All the positive energy was gone.
The momentum from previous scrims had vanished and nerves were clear as day. Constructive criticism turned into accusations, arguments erupted (even in the presence of Valve admins), and doors were slammed as communications ground to a halt. A meltdown just moments before the biggest challenge of their lives.
compLexity prepares under the watchful eye of managers and admins
The journey started with compLexity Gaming as an underdog. Many community members and even popular casters had openly declared coL as one of their picks for the bottom four slots. Others even thought that the compLexity Gaming roster might not even hold their own against the wild card teams. Fueled by that doubt, coL had come to Seattle with a work ethic rivaled by none. Nahaz even marveled about the number of scrims the team had put in just after qualifying for TI5. With battles against EG, VP, Cloud9, Fnatic and even Team Secret, compLexity had left no stone unturned in their desire to improve and be one of the best teams out there.
Going into the event, the looks cast on the players were more pitiful than hopeful – something that would change sooner rather than later. For captain swindlemelonzz and his crew, only one thing counted: winning TI. To check the mindsets of other teams, and to get under their skin, swindle spent the majority of the first day chatting up other teams. He posed the same question to every rival team: “If you could take fourth place right now, without playing a game, would you take it?”. Right after the answer the confident commander of coL.Dota would nod, look at them a bit and leave the table with a “good to know”. For swindle the question was nothing short of ridiculous. His team had potential to take the win, the TI championship.
No one could really blame him either; he was accustomed to winning. swindle and his brother Zfreek finished their HoN career on top of the world, claiming a second consecutive World Title in Bangkok. They had created their own brand, roster, and even a team house, all a part of making stayGreen the most prominent name in HoN’s history. The always confident swindle would have bet on himself every day of the week - twice in the Grand Finals of TI5. It was just his nature. He had the drive to compete and improve, a need to be the best.
For more than six months – half of the Dota season – swindle and his brother Zfreek were on a carousel team. compLexity Gaming had no stable roster, no big tournament results. All that was left was the two Freedmans, a vision and a dream. swindle and Zfreek stuck to the game plan and the organization stuck with them. In the end it worked out; they built a roster and made it to Seattle. For most, that would be a reason for joy and to call the project an overall success. For the Freedmans only a TI title would do.
The players use media day as an opportunity to show their captain how they really feel
That attitude and reservation after milestones was also visible on July, 30th. All the negative energy from the incredibly poor scrim results had disappeared. The suffering of an 0-18 Zeus game was in the past, the “game is over” mentality had vanished and the argument about a rotation had been deemed unimportant. Success cures all ills – a phrase also true for eSports.
Still, the team wasn’t satisfied. As I walked into the competition room right after the team defeated Fnatic I could see and feel the intensity. I was looking for a victory shot, players hugging each other as congratulations went around. In that regard I was disappointed. The first thing I heard when walking in was, “We didn’t do anything yet, no reason to celebrate.” It was a mentality present in the preceding days, too: “When we win, we don’t hug. You can hug each other and all that when we won a big game, not just a group stage match.”
What made for very lackluster victory pictures for me as a photojournalist made for an interesting dynamic inside the team. They were a team that might have had arguments and a complete breakdown in communications, but also a team that pulled together and were not likely to shy away from confrontation. I had heard it during scrims before. I had heard tales of this loud attitude from the General Manager as rumors or reports from Maryland, but I had never seen it myself.
Days earlier during a particularly loud argument in the boot camp room there were players being openly and overly critical of their teammates. Improvement was hamstrung by negative and even defeatist attitudes, but it was all tackled head on. When two were going at it, it was mostly Zfreek or General Manager Kyle ‘Beef’ Bautista who acted as the voice of reason or the mediator. After the discussion had run its course, someone would look at them for guidance or a ruling. In a video interview, swindle shared these situations with the world, saying: “I can always rely on my brother Zfreek to give me a no-bullshit answer. He won’t always pick my side. He will always pick the right side.” To some that might seem like a brotherly love answer. I experienced the veracity of the statement firsthand. In one argument Zfreek would go over the situation with incredible calm, adding his personal touch of irony or sarcasm. He would not just pick a side. He would be the guy to explain precisely why he picked a certain side. In a major argument about a rotation, he sided with his brother over Moon. A few days later he would openly, loudly and almost angrily question his brother’s call, siding with Fly and Zyzz.
After a group stage win, the complexity players watch closely as the other matches finish
Group stage success should have swept aside any hiccups in the inner workings of the well-oiled machine, but issues quickly resurfaced. Scrimmages were once more scheduled during the few days between groups and the main event at Key Arena. What started out solid, with great communication on one day, escalated into a massive argument just a day later. The team had granted me access to all communications, meetings, practice sessions and even media day appearances. This time it was different. During the games you could sense frustration and the team not being on the same page. Frequently conversations ended with “Whatever, dude” or “I don’t agree, but let’s play.”
The volcano that was the strong personality of each player was close to a massive eruption. As the game approached an ugly ending, GM Beef came up to me and the rest of the compLexity Gaming staff standing in the practice room and politely asked us to leave. “They are all frustrated to the core and this is likely to end up in a big argument. If this happens at our house, it’s just me and those five around. They might get even more frustrated if more people are in the room and involved.”
We obviously followed orders. Despite the thin walls in the hotel, it seemed to have gone as civilized as possible. We heard no door slamming. No loud noises. Even just two doors down the hallway, we couldn’t register a single yell. After a while Beef got back to the room and gave us the recap of the meeting. He said that they had worked things out, but he was visibly worried. I’ve known Beef for a while and seeing him stressed and tense was one thing, but usually he exuded confidence and faith in his team. A little sliver of doubt crept into his face and voice as he told us that the team agreed to stop practicing and go out on their own, looking to clear their heads.
Clearing minds meant something completely different for every member of the compLexity Gaming team. The quiet guy Zfreek relaxed best at the ping pong table or with a book and silence in his room. His brother swindle was either looking for company somewhere in the hotel or at the bar. For Fly and MoonMeander it meant scouting out some healthy food options or working out. Zyzz on the other hand would calm down in pubs or spend time with his girlfriend.
The incident happened three days prior to the main event, but it wasn’t the only stress-induced event the team had to stomach. Just a day later another clash broke out, this time with an unlikely combatant. For the most part the fighting partners were either swindle, Moon or Zyzz, arguing and constructively discussing certain areas of their roles, the tactics or the overall team performance. Sometimes it was a grievance against the captain, other times it was positioning and attitude, while miscommunication occasionally made an appearance. Whatever the cause, Fly usually stayed out of it remaining reserved and contemplative. Until now.
Practice in the bootcamp was often heated, even with Valve admins present
During the scrim against LGD one of swindle's calls had not met with the appropriate response, resulting in the Mid Laner's death. After the death he asked rather rudely what had happened, prompting Fly to get into the argument. A simple missed call and a lapse in focus on communication led to the first big argument between the two leaders of the squad. swindle died once more, slammed the armrests of his chair, typed “GG” to end the scrim and was ready to storm out of the practice room in anger. To his credit, he didn’t. To the team's credit, in this most precarious of situations, no one poked the bear or was sarcastic. The team showed me yet another side.
Previous arguments were sometimes angry, with players talking in condescending tones. They were generally put on pause by a player leaving the room to gather his thoughts or by a snide “Okay then, you are right, whatever.” This time it was different. The team knew what was on the line. Everyone could feel the intensity, and while no one would ever admit it, almost everyone in the room was aware of nerves and jitters. swindle's typical response to a loss before the group stage, "Who cares? We are still undefeated at TI!" was no longer valid. Playtime was over. Crunch time had arrived - and with it, the moment to either make dreams come true or watch them go up in flames.
The team talked it out. In my estimation, this process was about as civilized as the day before. Everyone pitched in words of encouragement, constructive criticism and hardcore analysis of the blunders made in the scrim. It was a beautiful sight to see. The bonds and inner workings of the team were functioning as they should. When push came to shove, they stood up for each other, had one another’s backs and were able to shoulder the blame, instead of assigning it.
That resilience was also the squad's defining characteristic in the moments after their most crushing defeat. After elimination from The International 5 against Virtus.Pro, the team did an amazing job looking out for one another. Confidence was high going into the event, so the fall was even more painful. Despite that, no one turned on each other in public, nor in front of me in private. At the dinner table a few days after the loss, MoonMeander openly defended his captain to popular caster and member of the TI analyst desk, Merlini.
“He has mechanical flaws, but you have to remember his position in the game. He is responsible for the drafting, for the direction and shotcalling in our team. He does it all. He does it well.”
Each member echoed that grateful tone in every public address and private conversation. No one lamented the pauses or assigned blame to swindle, who even showcased the ability to poke fun at himself after the dropped Eul’s Scepter.
Tens of thousands of Dota fans watch the opening matches of TI5
The big day was finally here. compLexity Gaming as one of the lovable underdogs had been picked by the North American juggernaut EG, looking to settle things in the first round of the Upper Bracket. The tales of that grudge match were put on display to near excess during the actual broadcast, as bystanders and analysts outlined all the storylines between compLexity Gaming and Evil Geniuses as organizations, those between the individual players, and previous interactions in Heroes of Newerth. Storylines and history fed into the coL camp’s excitement. They were happy to have been picked by EG and anticipation for the match got their adrenaline pumping. It was time to go out and put on a show in the North American battle. It was an opportunity to shock the world in front of a capacity crowd.
The team prepared with enthusiasm. Everyone pitched in, reviewing the replay of every one of EG's group stage games, examining drafts, studying ward maps and crafting general game plans. Overall the team looked ready, poised and focused on the task at hand. There was no mention of fear. There was no hesitation. The team's confidence had infected their manager. “Your boys made a big mistake picking us, Charlie,” were the fighting words when GM Beef met EG manager Charlie Yang somewhere in the hotel. The sentiment echoed during team meetings and in talks with other teams, even EG.
When the boys boarded the stretch limo on the morning of the match, the manager squad and I were looking way more nervous than the players. Their faces showed determination. They had a game plan and the right mindset, and were ready to take on the biggest challenge in this tournament. "Get pumped up" rap songs and team chants filled the limo on its way through downtown Seattle, straight to the red carpet of Key Arena.
“What we gonna do?”
The war cry rang through team's suite. Awkward and tense silence took over the elevator on the ride to the lower levels of Key Arena as the two rival teams stood shoulder to shoulder. Looks were exchanged, while some players didn’t even dare to breathe, staring straight ahead or at the floor. To me, it was exciting and mesmerizing to be a part of this, observing everyone in the elevator and trying to figure out the players’ states of mind. After leaving the elevator, coL and EG were separated and brought into the isolation rooms on different sides of the arena. They were given time to warm up their fingers, take a last call with mother nature, and pump each other up one more time before the big clash. The last brief moments in front of the curtain were spent in utter silence. None of the coL players were talking, neither of the managers saying a word. It was the pinnacle of concentration, only broken by the production crew making a countdown and the rattling noise of the fog machine. The basketball court was bigger, the lights were on point, but at least the comfort of a smoke machine connected the HoN veterans to their new Dota chapter.
The players compete from custom made and highly secured pods on the main stage
From the handshakes – denied in some cases – through a long and painful DDoS pause, til the bitter end, compLexity may have impressed, but they didn’t shock the world. Ultimately EG pulled ahead, leveraging the combined experience of several hundred games of Dota 2 on LAN and a great game from Suma1L. The coL squad was in a good spot at first, but then tilted and over thought everything in the break. During the long pause no one was allowed to talk with the players, or even see them. The security staff in the backstage area was on watch, only allowing managers to relay food and drinks – only after it was scanned by a metal detector and hand inspected. In the compLexity suite, tensions were high. The father of the Freedman boys, Evan ‘Papafreek’ Freedman, was notably absent from the suite, returning only after the DDoS pause. He was sporting his own stayGreen jersey on that day, telling me that his son had never lost a competitive game when he wore it. Seeing a proud father running around, nervous and anxious, reminded me of something I had seen before. It was the same behavior I had seen from hundreds of fathers on sports pitches around the world, cheering for their sons and daughters, being proud and supportive of them – whatever game they chose. Papafreek’s kids chose eSports and he supported every bit of it.
The rest of the suite was filled with the Freedman family and compLexity owner Jason Bass. Beef and the other Freedman brothers were giving the small crowd insight about the game, timings, item builds and where the coL team stood in the grand scheme of things. It was a positive atmosphere up until the moment the pause disrupted the entire flow of the game. Valve had protective measures, but they had been circumvented. Since coL was playing EG, some were passing the time talking conspiracy while I stuck with Beef and tried to gauge the mindset of the team. Getting them food was one thing, but once more he wore his concern on his face. “They aren’t experienced enough. They’ve just lost a team fight, Kyle will overthink now and they might be on tilt! God, I hope they won’t be on tilt!” Sadly, they were. EG took the rest of the game handily, as well as the second on the backs of an extremely impressive Ember Spirit by Suma1L.
Their first big showing took an unfortunate turn, sending them to the Lower Bracket. Once more the elevator ride was full of silence, but this time it was more thoughtful. The atmosphere wasn’t tense anymore, no light chatter, but analysis or slightly disappointed sighs filled the air. The sighs became even louder when the team approached the suite door. No one was really happy with the results, but they also didn’t want pity or words of encouragement. The way this team worked in these moments was solitary. Alone together, they would brainstorm and analyze, seeing where the potential errors and miscues were. The day before they had all bailed early on a dinner to get their prep done. This time they couldn’t wait to get out of Key Arena. Not even the handful of fans cheering from the other side of the suite balcony were able to truly put smiles on the faces of the defeated players.
A show of sportsmanship after a hard fought match
Next was Virtus.Pro, the Russian team from the Lower Bracket. Back in the practice room the atmosphere was similar to when the team was preparing to face EG, but with a slight change. The prep work took longer, was less enthusiastic and at some point a small argument arose. Following swindle’s “We just have to play our Dota, I don’t know what to prepare for them”, it was Fly once more raising his voice.
“I think that is horrible. We can’t approach the game like we are better than them. Look at what they are doing, how they are playing, what they are drafting. Prepare for them.”
Ultimately that is what they ended up doing, studying VP’s matches, their ward placements and favorite drafts. Once more a plan was made and everyone involved felt good about the chances. “In scrims we’ve beaten them more often than not”, Beef told me. Morale and enthusiasm was high again. Even the chant needed only slight letter rearrangements to help the team get pumped before the game. All seemed to be coming up coL’s way.
The limo and elevator ride were the same as they had been the previous day. Warm up sessions went without any hiccups and overall the atmosphere and mood was more light than the day before. The grudge match feel was gone, as was the pressure of the first match on the big stage, despite elimination looming. On the way to the curtain, everything was scanned. Every player and his “carry on” was scanned with a metal detector, including the binders with notes and even Fly’s pillow. Security stepped up a notch for this event; no foul play was going to go down.
The first clash between coL and VP was one of the most exciting games thus far. After 20 minutes it looked like a blowout in favor of Virtus.Pro, prompting the two managers and myself to go downstairs early. The ritual had started in the group stage. When the game seemed over the managers moved to the competition area to wait for the players just outside the doors. Their timing had only been wrong once before, during the very first game against MVP.Phoenix, when the concealed Refresher Black Hole created an instant comeback. This time the comeback took more than just one fight to be completed. Once we were down in the depths of the arena, the team started to make more intelligent decisions and take better team fights. With every kill, the spirit of the two managers next to me rose, while my arm and shoulders took some punishment. Several high fives, punches of excitement and yells later, coL had done it and walked out of the pod victorious.
The complexity squad emphasizes energy and getting loud during matches.
Just like during groups, the team's facial expressions were stoic. No joy, no relief, just pure and utter focus. One manager walked with them into the security box to talk strategy. Assistant manager Xen and I stood at the curtain. Looking out at the crowd through a little glimpse in the curtain, I could see several American flags among the cheers for compLexity. The team had earned their respect. They weren’t just this undeserving TI5 team from a weak region anymore. They had turned heads around and improved the image of their team's brand, as well as their organization. They weren’t done yet, but they had already accomplished a lot.
Sadly, all those things were an afterthought in the next and probably most frustrating chapter of the TI trip. When the second game of the series was interrupted due to “player sickness”, I was told to tag along with Beef; he wanted to address the “absurd pause”. On my way down we had a little chat, but he was furious and ready to aggressively demand an explanation. The admin got an ear full first. After a quick check up on rules, symptoms and procedure, Beef didn’t disguise his anger one bit. “I am asking these questions to know just what my players have to do or say to get a break from a bad game!”. The mood in the conversation instantly switched. The admin got defensive and told Beef to calm down or take it up with his boss, Erik Johnson.
It was that moment when we saw the coL team walk by, on their way back to the stage and into the game. The conversation with the admin abruptly ended and we ended up watching the game in front of the TV screen backstage. It was a bitter experience as the compLexity team once more couldn’t overcome the effects of a paused game. Standing there, Beef gave me a lot of insight into the team’s psyche, especially having to sit back and reflect on a game in a break – right after having lost a big team fight. It was clear to me that it was a high pressure situation from the start, but moments like those showed me the importance of a supportive surrounding and the difference between LAN and online. Back in the Maryland house Beef may have been able to help calm them down, keeping the team focused. Here in the Key Arena, he was as helpless as the fans in the stands or the Freedman Family in the coL booth.
After the team's loss, the compLexity General Manager was granted the right to go into the security box with his team.
Beef tried to calm them down.
Part of this was to tell swindle to take a little walk. Restricted space called for extreme measures, so an adjacent bathroom was the only thing available for the impulsive captain. Screams of frustrations and muffled noises were heard even a distance away from the box, as swindle tried to find a valve for his pent up frustration.
He was not just yelling and screaming, but also taking it out on the bathroom stall. The sounds were extreme enough to make the GM concerned about his captain's physical health. He reminded swindle midway through the ritual to be careful with his hands.
The players struggle to keep it together after yet another pause interrupts their momentum
During the break Erik Johnson, one of Valve's directors, went into the security box to give the squad an explanation and to apologize for Valves "fuck up". An admin in the VP pod had noticed G dry heaving and decided it was best to get him out of the pod. The second pause in the second game of coL’s main event journey, for the second time in an “icing” situation – gave the team enough time to drive themselves crazy.
As the team walked back into the arena for the “do or die” moment the admin walked by. He and Beef started a brief conversation with both parties being in an apologetic mood. Beef summed up his role in the team to the admin: “I am advocating for them, because they are in there and can’t always advocate for themselves. I am trying to get fair conditions and I was angry.” Both shook it off and apologized. Done deal, all over and forgotten, with focus back on the task at hand.
One game later the black and red journey in Seattle ended, torn apart by one of compLexity's nightmares: a big bad spider. Backstage the mood was no different. Not a single word was spoken for a while until Beef once again found his cool. “Look confident for them, not down. They need us now more than ever.” Xen and I tried. But swindle, the captain perceived as cocky and arrogant, spoke the only words for a while – words that will stick with me forever.
"I am sorry team. That was on me."
In the biggest moment of them all, swindle owned up to his mistakes. His voice cracked as he wrestled back tears. Very soon after, he disappeared into the men's room. The rest of the team just stood there, with no words of their own. Through the TV you could hear Redeye, 7ckngMad, and Merlini praise the team's efforts and TI performance, something no one in this group wanted to hear at that moment.
For a while the team just held position, trying to compute what had just happened and what was gone. Even after swindle came back from the restroom, the team stood there and waited, waited and waited. No one really knew what was happening, until an admin broke the silence: “We don’t really want you to go into the elevator with VP together.” In the middle of the devastating loss, that precaution almost humored the team: “We don’t really care, just let us up.” The wish was granted, the elevator ride was filled with silence, the sound of a head hitting the wall and the “ding” of the slowest elevator in the whole wide world traveling three floors up.
The presence of friends and family wasn't always a comfort, as some members preferred to be alone
One last time they entered the room full of caring relatives trying to lift their spirits. Once more the agony of that trip was clearly in the air. Just like clearing their minds after a fight, everyone on the team chose a different approach to dealing with the pain. GM Beef and veteran Fly sat in silence somewhere, watching the games or talking to friends and family. Zfreek was watching the games with his family, MoonMeander went down to the fans before taking off, swindle looked for some liquid solace to help him over the trouble, while Zyzz took a walk with his girlfriend.
Nothing could really cheer up the boys, as they had just witnessed their yearlong work being flushed down the drain against Virtus.Pro. Granted, that team later went on to also eliminate the big tournament favorite Team Secret from contention, but that was merely a little dose of balsam on an otherwise giant wound.
Still, what remained was an elevated level of attention for the cause. The story of the Dota 2 novices on the quest to Seattle was gladly picked up by mainstream media. Every member had his story to tell. For Zyzz it was a Spanish network interviewing him about his journey, while the charismatic captain of the team, swindle, got requests by the minute - including from NBC's The Today Show.
The last couple of days were a mix of vacation and hard work, along with some agonizing “Keep your head up” comments from random people recognizing the coL players. The players met sponsors, contract discussions began, team strategy for the upcoming season was discussed, and autograph sessions were prepared. The team, defeated as they were, took it in stride. No one appeared to be really down. The tears were dried and it had sunk in. While the ambition to go for it all was the right path, the little milestones on the journey to the top count as well. What the guys had accomplished was admirable. They had come out of nowhere, and worked themselves into the heart of the Dota 2 community.
Taken three days after elimination, this photo is the last to feature the squad in its entirety
The same Dota 2 community prompted Zfreek to utter words of sarcastic anger at the after party: “I swear, I will punch the next guy that pats me on the shoulder and tells me that we did good.” That phrase later turned into an inside joke for the team, as they spent the last few days together in Seattle. They were still a unit. When Fly and Moon left the Westin no one thought it would be the last time we would see those two sporting the red and black compLexity swoosh. As the news hit, I was in the middle of writing this long piece and I was deeply saddened. The team I had the pleasure of observing for three weeks was strong from within. The different characters, each with their own demeanor, had created a melting pot with plenty of talent and the potential to upset the Dota 2 world at The Majors.
Sadly, sometimes Dota 2, much like life, doesn't work out as you expected. Any kind of motivational or poetic ending to the feature was gone, and so I am only left to wish each individual best of luck in their future. The journey to Seattle was long, but I am sure you five will see each other again next August – maybe in different jerseys, maybe back together. Dota 2 is a fickle beast and no one can predict the future in the fast-paced world that we all love so much. eSports moves fast. Dota 2 moves fast. So long.
I'd like to personally thank a few people that have had a huge impact on this piece. First and foremost Kyle 'Beef' Bautista for guiding me around in Seattle and showing me the ropes. Secondly, Karin Krisher for her outstanding help in editing this piece. Outside of that, a big thanks to Swindle, Zak, Moon, Fly and Zyzz, as well as the entire compLexity Gaming organization.
The preceding piece is an editorial and does not necessarily represent the opinions of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.