Wings Gaming wrote one of the most impressive dark horse stories of all The Internationals. Back in 2016 they came from Chinese qualifiers to crash all their competitors and hoisted the Aegis above their heads. Their run at TI6 will remain in the Dota 2 history books as one of the most spectacular ever, but in the aftermath, the Wings players went through a hideous drama and because of it, they are also the only team not to make a return to the next TI to defend their title.
With just two weeks ahead of The International 2018, we had the chance to talk to the former Wings Gaming carry, currently substitute player for Eclipse, Chu “shadow” Zeyu, who shared with us his thoughts on the Team Serenity chances at this TI, his advice for the TI8 newcomers and his plans for the future.
Hello Shadow, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How are you doing, how’s the summer treating you?
Hi, it’s pretty nice. I spend most of my time streaming and practicing Dota2. I was getting anxious sometimes when I first started to stream and I’m still learning how to be a streamer. My main goal is to improve my skills and my rank (Shadow is aiming Top 50 on the Chinese leaderboards), because I still want to win more championship titles in my professional career.
I’d like to ask you what happened with Eclipse, why did you leave in May, so close to the TI8 open qualifiers?
There were multiple reasons. We had a player meeting where they told me that the team wants to replace me with Sakata and swap Ghost to carry position. I understood that decision, because I was not in my best shape at that time and if the team wants success, they have to make some changes. So, it was a mutual agreement. I’m a substitute player now so I started to stream as I want to improve my skills. I didn’t have the chance to play for TI8 this year, but I will keep working hard since I still want to continue my professional career.
Are you planning to join a new squad in the post TI8 shuffle or do you have something else in mind?
I still have a contract with Eclipse. I’m still a sub-player for them.
Would you be interested in making a region swap and move overseas if a non-Chinese team would invite you to play with them in the next season?
I’ve actually thought about that before I joined Eclipse. I’ve thought about joining a non-Chinese team, but the language and culture barrier is too big, so it’s difficult.
Since the very beginning of your career, you’ have been fighting through the open qualifiers gauntlet in the Chinese region. Given your experience, could you tell us when was the Chinese Dota stronger, back in the 2016-2017 season or in the current one?
I think the open qualifiers of this year TI were actually pretty good. However, I want to see less direct invite slots for regional qualifier and more slots for opens. So that the new teams can have more chances. Last year for example, there were 8 teams invited in the regionals and just two slots for open qualifiers. I find that way too few for the newcomers to actually have a shot at making it in the regionals.
A lot of people from the western scene compared Serenity with Wings. They seem to play a lot of heroes, they have a super aggressive style, etc. Do you think they really are as good as Wings at TI6?
The chemistry between all the Serenity players is very good. We played a lot of training games with them and saw them using the 2-1-2 laning with 3 carries really well. They can adapt very quickly to a new meta and they have pretty good ideas. For them making it to TI8 is already a great success and their advantage, once they get to Vancouver, lies in their youth.
Also, they are extremely motivated. Their work hard and their achievements so far gave them confidence. Their disadvantage is that they don’t have LAN experience. So, I hope they will be able to cope with the pressure any TI event is placing on the players. I hope they won’t worry too much of what could happen in Vancouver. If they lose a game I hope they will just shake it off fast and do a better preparation for their next game. Always look forward, not behind. I wish them good luck!
At TI6 you were at your first International, so were all your teammates, but that didn’t stop you from delivering the most beautiful newcomers story in the history of all TIs. What would your advice be to all the TI debutants from this year?
The live experience in the TI venue is super impressive, there are a lot of fans there cheering and chanting. It’s like at an NBA game so, it may affect the newcomers. I would tell them to keep good communication with their teammates and don’t put too much pressure on yourself guys, just go for it!
How do you plan to watch TI8?
I’ve received Valve’s invitation to be on the Chinese broadcast for TI8. It’s a great honor for me so, big thanks to Valve!
Who do you think has the best chances to take home the Aegis of the Champions this year?
I think PSG.LGD has the best chance. In my opinion, they are the strongest team and the most steady team.
And what’s the team you cheer for?
Team Serenity has a good chance to be the dark horse.
I remember you saying at TI6 that Huskar is your favorite hero. Is he still your top choice?
I said that because I had a good understanding of Huskar at TI6 and not many teams were playing that hero back then. Actually, I like a lot of other heroes, like Anti-Mage, Faceless Void, Morphling, Drow Ranger, and Juggernaut.
As far as I know, some of the friendships you guys made during the Wings Gaming time have been broken. How are things now, between all of you, should your fans still hope that one day we will see the Wings players reunited?
After the Monkey King patch, when the talent tree came out, our form dropped a lot, we didn’t perform well and our status as a team was falling as well. We were young and a little too impulsive at that time…I feel like if the fans really want, then there is a chance for us to reunite. I’ll take this occasion to thank all our fans.
If you could turn back time what would be the first thing you would do to prevent the Wings Gaming disbandment?
Have more empathy, better communication and take into consideration the other teammates’ view. Overall, we were a team that fought together for two years and won TI6! I hope that each of my Wings teammates will succeed on their career path!
Alright, I wish you all the best with your future plans and I hope to see you playing again on the International stage. Any shoutouts?
Thanks to all our fans for their support! It was an honor to have you cheering for us when we won TI6 and also supporting and caring for us when we were low! I hope everyone is doing great and I promise you guys that I will keep working hard!